In this Ink Master season 9 episode 13 review we want to talk about what this episode excelled at (which is a number of different things), but what we appreciated about it more than anything was how it managed to pull off having three different challenges in the span of a single hour — and it actually ended up working fairly well.
If there is one thing you can quibble about, it’s whether or not the judges made the right move in the end. If you were judging the final American Traditional Tattoo based solely on its merits, to us there’s no question that Empire State Studio was better than Old Town Ink, which didn’t fit as perfectly suited for the style. Yet, at the same time we’re at the point now where the competition has to be considered somewhat cumulative, and the same goes for the three tattoos of the night. We’d argue that DJ Tambe and Bubba Irwin’s creation in the second tattoo, a magical castle surrounded by clouds, was actually the prettiest tattoo of the entire episode and they should’ve been saved in that round because of that. This is why we don’t have an issue with them staying over Empire State, though it is weird seeing a artist of Tommy Helm’s caliber go in and out of the competition in just a handful of episodes. At least he knows that he didn’t create any certifiable disasters during his time there, right?
We liked the theme of the episode of marketability given that this is a very important part of being a successful artist no matter what line of business you are in, and it also enabled the remaining shops to prove that they can work with clients and be collaborative. The first part of the challenge was finding a way to appeal to your clients in an interview process, that way they could ultimately get the canvas that they wanted. Basilica Tattoo won this, which makes some sense given that what Christian and Noelin came up with here was pretty fantastic (although that weird sad clown riding a rubber chicken Cleen and Aaron did was kind of amazing in a creepy way).
This was around when we started to get super-worried about Black Cobra, since we saw repeated confessionals of how confident they were and they ran into some trouble courtesy of their mermaid’s face. Luckily, they killed the American Traditional component at the end of the episode and they were fine, given that they didn’t even get a chance to compete during part 2. It was in this part that four canvases chose who they wanted tattoos from based solely on tattoos from the challenge before. This was the round won by Unkindness Art, and while we liked Old Town’s castle in the clouds more, this was still a pretty cool tattoo and a real moment for Doom Kitten, who’d been accused of being second banana to Erin Chance most of the season. (Erin did most of the first tattoo, and Doom most of the second.)
It was once we got to the final four of Black Cobra, Golden Skull, Empire State, and Old Town Ink that American Traditional was chosen by Basilica, and snakes were chosen as the subject by Unkindness. There was some strategy for both shops here, given that Christian & Noelin wanted to help Golden Skull and Black Cobra while Unkindness wanted to help Old Town. Empire State didn’t get any help at all, so it’s really only fitting that this was their fate at the end of the hour to go home. We do think that the show is probably going to be harder on shops like theirs and Golden Skull the rest of the season, mostly because they arrived late and they are the hardest sells as winners to America. Granted, we also do think that it’s a benefit to the show as a whole to have Cleen Rock One and Aaron Is there as long as possible, and it certainly helps them that they keep producing some really cool artwork.
Structurally, Ink Master season 9 episode 13 was a really interesting episode since there was SO much content in it. We’d almost advocate that this should’ve run for an hour and a half just because the Empire State Studio elimination was a little rushed. Nonetheless, there were some great tattoos in here and the competition remains fairly unpredictable with five really good shops left. Grade: B+.
What did you think about Ink Master season 9 episode 13? Be sure to share in the comments below right now! (Photo: Spike.)
Also, head over here to preview more of what’s coming on Ink Master season 9 episode 14.