Ink Master season 11 episode 15 review: Shot through the (sacred) heart

Ink MasterTonight, Ink Master season 11 episode 15 delivered an episode that was, from start to finish, all sorts of intense. Yet, it was also sad, given that we arguably lost one of our favorite artists of all time.

Tim Stafford is a rare unicorn within the Ink Master world. This is a guy with an exceptional ability to draw and come up with designs that are different than what you’ll see almost anywhere. His problem over the course of the season was just that he didn’t have the same experience doing a wide array of different styles. That really came to fruition in the final challenge of the night, a tattoo marathon between himself and Tony Medellin where the two had to do 1) some script, 2) a new-school apple, and 3) a single-needle sacred heart. After looking at the way in which that was applied, we’re pretty sure that this is the last tattoo we’d ever want done in a million years.

For the record, of the three tattoos we did think that Tim’s apple was better than anything that Tony did; yet, Tony was more consistent throughout his work and that was enough to get him to the end. The one thing that was a little unfortunate was the predictability of it all — it felt clear even from the start of this episode that, based on past results alone, we were probably going to be seeing Tim go home this week.

Leading up to the final elimination, there were some other interesting things that happened from top to bottom. For starters, the first part of the episode featured all four tattoo artists having to design a drawing for another artist of their choosing to do. Teej Poole made an interesting choice from the start targeting Tim and then giving him a shaky drawing of a face — something that he didn’t know how to do all that well. Ironically, if Teej handed him a different drawing, there’s a reasonably good chance that he would’ve advanced first offer Tiffer Wright. Because that didn’t happen, though, Tiffer was able to move on.

In the second round, Teej, Tim, and Tony all had to tattoo their own drawing from the previous round — Teej reworked parts of what didn’t the first time around and delivered something that was far and away better than what he gave Tim / what Tim was able to execute. We got no issue with him moving forward here, leaving Tim and Tony to battle things out in the end. We do even understand where the judges were coming from in the final result of the night — two of Tony’s tattoos were better than Tim’s and that was enough to secure him that final spot in the finale.

The bad news for Christian Buckingham now is rather simple — he’s gotta figure out a way in which to handle the final face-off with Cleen despite not having as many artists in the finale. He’ll be sabotaged more and he’s going to have to find a way to deal with that. Yet, we do think that there’s something about the underdog spirit that causes people to work harder and do even more. Take, for example, Cleen finding a way to rally his team despite being down in the numbers with his artists over the past few weeks.

Want details on what the final three contestants are doing in the finale?We’ve got those for you over at the link here! This was a key part of the end of tonight’s episode, but it merits its own, separate discussion.

CarterMatt Verdict

The fall of Tim may have been easy to telegraph, but that doesn’t make us any less sad given that he’s an enormously-talented dude with a talent that makes him stand out from the pack. He’s also easily the most-creative person in terms of style this entire season. (Gotta love the shirts!) He’ll be more than fine after the fact, though, and we do think that the finale is going to be a fascinating one given that you’ve got three very different artists facing off. No offense to Cleen or Christian, but we’ve seen them square off before. Teej vs. Tiffer vs. Tony is something different and with that, there’s something special in the air here with them. We do think that there are a number of different scenarios that can dictate the winner here and that no one artist is a complete slam-dunk.

What did you think about Ink Master season 11 episode 15 overall? Be sure to share right now in the attached comments. (Photo: Paramount Network.)

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