There’s something about a show like Ink Master that finds a way to make even the toughest of people break down into a mushy, vulnerable sad sacks that are in need of a hug. Tonight, Kyle MacKenzie may be that person.
As a reality TV character, Kyle is incredible television — he’s fantastic as a tattooer, but also prone to outbursts. He allows the attacks of others to get inside his brain and fester. It started before his brother Jimmy Snaz departed, and since that time it has only blossomed out (cherry blossomed? Too soon for a challenge-of-the-week pun?).
Tonight, Kyle found himself packing his machines and going home after Christian Buckingham’s team first chose him to have to do a Elimination Tattoo themed around a Japanese temple on the ribs. The ribs may as well be re-named “the Ink Master contestant’s Achilles’ heel.” They are hell to do. They are extremely time-consuming, the skin is delicate, it’s seemingly impossible to pull a straight line and you have contestants who squirm around like Jell-O after an hour or two of work from the pain of it all. Yet, Kyle’s canvas was relentless about keeping the tattoo on his ribs and after several affronts to his ability by Christian and others, Kyle felt he had no other choice but to try and do a line intensive piece on the ribs. His tattoo, despite some structural issues including a bridge leading the wrong way, wasn’t terrible. You can even make an argument as to whether or not Amanda should have gone home over him.
With that, let’s have that argument. Was Kyle really worse than Amanda? For us he had the stronger design and it also seemed as though his temple was the star of the show as it was supposed to be, whereas Amanda’s we saw the bird in the foreground taking the spotlight over everything. (Alas for her, the theme for this composition challenge was not birds.) Her tattoo may have been stronger slightly in terms of line-work but her temple looked as though it’d fade within a couple of years. Artistically Amanda’s was more interesting, so that may have been enough to give her the nod even if Kyle was perhaps beat up a little too much for what was a fairly-strong design.
Seeing Kyle leave, after watching him get broken-down the past few weeks, was a pretty sad slow-walk out of the tattoo studio. He’s a good artist who may need a little more confidence and consistency; it was also nice to see him form a better relationship with his brother. This goes back to the theme of tough-guys breaking down; where else are you going to see two tattooed-up brothers get in a fight one episode and then hug it out on the next?
Tattoo of the Day recipient…
It’s Teej Poole! He seems to have figured out what the judges, though we’re not sure that it’s something to brag about since we’ve seen the judges make some really strange decisions over the years (anyone else remember Nunez giving Scott Marshall his vote for a tattoo of the statue of liberty that was missing a spike in her crown?). His line-work in his tattoo was stupendous and his art was all sorts of creative. It was basically a temple atop a head and we don’t know a whole lot of people with the guts to even try something like that on this show.
The best thing about Teej’s rise to glory is that it suddenly changes the narrative from “let’s just watch Tiffer Wright win at the end of this.” There’s suddenly more of a real competition here, and it seems like there’s a good secondary group of contenders here with Tony Medellin and Chris Shockley. The rest of the artists could go at some point within the next few weeks. Side note: Wouldn’t it be fun if one of Christian’s final artists was Chris, given how much they have clashed? At least they each seem to realize that they need to find a way to work together to go far in this competition.
CarterMatt’s Final Verdict
This was a good Ink Master episode, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the season’s central problem: There’s no iconic, water-cooler moment that everyone’s talking about. Also, does anyone else feel like the Flash Challenges this season are a little weak? They’re great for setting up the skull picks, but so often this season they’ve felt like afterthoughts because nothing within them really matters besides who got the advantage. Christian’s team winning did have a huge impact on the episode since Kyle’s undoing seemed to be brought about by the canvas.
What did you think about Ink Master season 11 episode 11? Will you miss Kyle and his emotional stream-of-consciousness? Let us know in the attached comments. (Photo: Paramount Network.)