Ink Master season 12 episode 2 review: An unfinished tattoo debate; a surprising exit

Elva StefanieInk Master season 12 episode 2 certainly checks off some boxes for things you don’t see everyday. First, you have an artist win Tattoo of the Day despite showing up with an unfinished design (the part that was finished though was incredible). Then, you have someone leaving on their own accord rather than being eliminated by the judges.

Let’s just start off with the return of two masters in Ryan Ashley Malarkey in Joey Hamilton who both came back to be the best coaches that they could … and also to win a little bit of money. The winning coach had an opportunity to come back for the finale, where they could compete in a face-off that would earn then $25,000. Yet, they were solely dependent on getting their whole team through. That’s where some of the problems turned up.

For the women, their struggles started off with the Flash Challenge. They actually had possibly the better coffee-bean design of the two teams, but where they dropped the ball slightly was in the application of it. Also, the guys just showed off something that required a great deal of technical mastery and that enabled them to be able to come out on top. We don’t necessarily think that the overall visual style was that much stronger, but this gave them the power of the skull pick and that really seemed to be the thing that altered the course of the whole episode.

The path to Elva Stefanie’s exit was one of many steps. First, it was the men winning the Flash Challenge. Then, it was handing her an almost-impossible tattoo to do this early in the season — a black-and-gray Medusa, which is something we have seen sink many artists. She probably bit off more than she could chew with it, but she was proud of the tattoo and the amount of work that she put into it. We’re with Joey that it probably wasn’t the worst tattoo that we ended up seeing of the bunch. It wasn’t even the worst on the women’s team. Yet, she was still put into the bottom with it and at that point, she decided to withdraw from the competition, saying that her bipolar disorder wasn’t a great match for this environment so she took the right steps for her own self-care and removed herself.

It’s hard to be upset over any of this in terms of it being a factor for her decision to leave. This is a grueling competition that constantly beats you down and if you feel that you can’t balance that with Bipolar disorder then self care has to come first. There were a couple of scenes in the competition that were subtle, but also powerful. First, you had Big Jaz (who seemed to have a bond with her) doing his part to help encourage her, even though she was not a part of his team. Then you had Dave Navarro applauding her for her decision to put self care first before she departed. It was the right way for him to handle this as a representative for the show — not everyone is right for this particular competition and you don’t really know what it’s like until you’re there.

As for the Tattoo of the Day…

Fon getting it certainly raised an eyebrow given that as good as it was, it wasn’t done. We’d understand not putting it in the bottom because of the quality, but there really should be a rule against rewarding someone who doesn’t finish this early on in the show. This has been something that we’ve long disliked about this competition ever since season 3 where Tatu Baby produced multiple unfinished tattoos and still managed to be standing int he final 3 at the end. Time management is part of this competition! Like Dave said, we’d be bummed if we were a client and left with an unfinished piece. Even if the start of it is amazing, you have to finish. (Hopefully, Fon offered to finish the piece after the show.)

The real argument against rewarding Fon here is that the tattoo of the face portion may have been so good because he didn’t have to spend any time working on anything else. If other artists had been able to leave parts of their designs unfinished, maybe they could make a similar argument.

CarterMatt Verdict

There were some other notable moments in this episode, including Alexis Kovacs bringing up Elva’s bipolar diagnosis to some people who didn’t know about it. That is only a decision that Elva can make when it comes to who she wants to tell and while we don’t think Alexis was talking about it with the purpose of driving her to want to leave, it did feel like that was a factor in her choice — she felt like she was having to battle both her own team and the other.

It was nice in this episode to see Ryan and Joey again, mostly because they were each featured just enough to be relevant, but not so much to be a distraction from the rest of the show. The only thing we wish was a little bit better was the overall work at the end of the challenge. Some of these elimination tattoo designs left a little bit to be desired for much of the field.

For more Ink Master news, including a preview for what’s next…

Be sure to visit the link here, and tell us what you thought about tonight’s new episode and Elva’s decision in the comments. (Photo: Paramount Network.)

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