Ink Master season 9 episode 10 review: Cleen Rock One, Aaron Is make quick impact

Cleen Rock OneIt really didn’t take all that long on Ink Master season 9 episode 10 for the last duo of the season (Cleen Rock One and Aaron Is) to come into the picture and take ownership- of the competition. One episode in, and they already have a victory under their belt! Not only that, but it was for portrait day , which is always a challenge on this show — and it’s one that the two of them have struggled with the most in the past.

If nothing else, what this episode showed beyond all else is that the idea of momentum for this competition may very well be a myth. You can enter the competition blind and still perform fairly well, but remember that both of these artists have been here before so they have a bit of an advantage that the newcomers didn’t. The person who came in second place in the Elimination Tattoo was Empire State Studio, and they only entered the game last week! (For the record, we personally thought that Empire State had the better overall portraits of the day, but alas, we aren’t the judges.)

The entire premise of this competition was a little bit wonky, given that the idea here was to show precision, and that meant each artist doing their own portrait and having them look as similar as possible, Yet, Erin Chance and Doom Kitten of Unkindness Art did tattoos that couldn’t have been more different, only for them to somehow be safe and out of the bottom three. Doom’s a great artist in certain things, but this wasn’t the first challenge that Erin carried them. Her tattoo was awesome (best of the day for us hands down), but if the rules of the competition are what they are, they probably should’ve been in the bottom instead of Artistic Skin Design.

As for the elimination of Classic Trilogy Tattoo, we like them a lot given that we’re nerds and would therefore probably get along with them better than anyone else (although Matt and Katie seem to get along with everyone!). However, their exit does show that there are problems that come with riding the middle of this competition sometimes. If you don’t have enough victories, then eventually the judges start to penalize you for every little thing. You could’ve argued that Allegory Arts had a tattoo that was equally weak, but they’ve also had some highs this season. Granted, they’ve also been in the bottom more, but they’ve shown a little bit of a ceiling. This is probably a rough exit for Classic Trilogy to swallow, but kudos to them for making it all the way to Cleen and Aaron arriving in the competition! Not an easy feat.

Now, the newbie artists are starting to be whittled down, and we’re probably going to see the veterans go at each other more than ever before. This should be fun, mostly because you do have some built-in rivalries in this group including Christian and Cleen from season 7.


It was a great relief to see Oliver Peck back for the judges’ critique — especially after learning that his medical emergency was a little bit more serious than we even knew (you can read more about that over here). The episode itself overall was entertaining, though you can make some clear arguments that the editing telegraphed the elimination at the end a little too much. As soon as Classic Trilogy started to say that they were happy with Black Cobra winning that Flash Challenge, we knew that they were in some deep doo-doo moving forward. No real surprise to seeing them go home, but it was still a bummer. Grade: B.

What did you think about Ink Master season 9 episode 10, including the elimination of Classic Trilogy Tattoo? Share in the comments below!

Also, be sure to head over here in the event you do want to get some other news and insight on the show, including a preview for what is coming up next. (Photo: Spike.)

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