Laverne Cox’s Frank-N-Furter is Just Too Hot

I love Laverne Cox. I really do. And previously, I had mentioned that when FOX announced they were “remaking” Rocky Horror, that we shouldn’t panic.

…. Start panicking.

Today we got to see the first image of Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter via Entertainment Weekly. Immediately, we all want to compare to Tim Curry. How can you not? He is the essential, definitive Frank-N-Furter. But let’s put the defensive, protective anger aside for a minute, and look into why he worked that corset so well.

The beauty of Tim Curry playing the transvestite from transsexual Transylvania is simple: It’s not based on visuals. When you look at Curry, you’re supposed to be confused. He’s very clearly a man wearing makeup and fishnets. He’s feminine without hiding his masculinity. It’s intentionally designed to make your brain go WTF?

But the real truth behind that visual decision is that the characters (and probably the viewers) are still sexually attracted to Frank-N-Furter. Because it’s not about his appearance, it’s about his sexual essence. That sexuality comes from an energy, a personality of confidence and playfulness, not a visually-identifiable gender.

Laverne Cox? She’s stunning. But in making her gorgeous, the bizarre, gritty, titillating confusion that is the core of RHPS is lost.

I don’t want to give up all hope just yet. But these images are a big, red flag. So… we’ll see.

RECAP! Face Off: Sinister Showdown Part 2

Friends, we’ve made it to the end. After last week’s revealing screen test, we now get to see how the final three artists will step up their game and become the newest Face Off Champion.

The episode begins with Melissa, Rob, and Walter on the patio sharing their experiences from the camera test. Walter’s in a good place, with minimal changes. Rob, on the other hand, is pretty much back to “square one,” as noted by Mr. Westmore last week. Melissa falls somewhere in the middle.

When they head into the lab, Melissa gasps. The finalists’ family members are standing there! What a great way to do this. In the past, they’ve done “surprise” Skype sessions, which were always emotional. But there’s nothing like seeing your most avid supporters in the flesh. And how cute is Rob’s mom?  I’m not crying. You’re crying. Shut up.

But that’s enough of that. It’s back to work, as the previous contestants pop back in to join their finalist. Rob is resculpting everything. He’s making big design changes, since his director apparently liked nothing. Melissa’s focusing on the possessed character changes. And Walter is just adding to what he’s already got, creating a full torso. The day ends with little fanfare.

Suddenly, it’s Application Day. Melissa’s crew pulls up to the set, the huge scary mansion where their movie will be filming. From what we see, it looks like a pretty legit shoot full of trailers and pop-ups and equipment, complete with an incredibly professional makeup trailer, brought to you by Kryolan, of course.

Melissa is running a piece in foam, while Yvonne and Johnny are working at applying. Johnny’s got 11 appliances to apply to the possession victim and he must make sure the pieces don’t come off when the actor sweats. No easy task, there.

After furiously painting, they load up and head to the set, where the judges are ominously awaiting their arrival. From quick glances, Melissa’s two characters look pretty great. Her first scene is a nighttime shot with the victim, then on to the demon reveal. The director asks for some additions, and Melissa and her team respond well and quickly to the requests. The judges seem to have positive things to say as well. Her shoot seems to end on a high note. #TeamBadAss

And it’s team Rob’s turn. He helpfully reveals they have 5 hours of application. Rob has developed a little physical gag where the demon can cry oil. At time, Rob is thrilled with his makeups – though he smartly recalls that he felt the same way before the camera test and that didn’t pan out quite so well.

When they arrive on set, the judges seem impressed with what they see so far. The director seems happy, too, and let’s hope he means it. Rob is clearly nervous through both the demon and the victim shoots, but he keeps his cool. From what we see, both shots look pretty freaking amazing. The oil dripping out of the demon’s eye was timed perfectly with the light. And the victim’s creepy “You shouldn’t have come here” moment was terrifying. It’s good to see he was able to pull off all those changes.

Finally, it’s Walter’s day. While he didn’t have a lot to recreate, since he added so much more, his application became that much more complicated. Mel is working to avoid her painting errors from the camera test and Robert is in detail-mode, working on the teeth and a bunch of bugs that will be apart of the makeup.

On set, the judges seem to react immediately to the sheer amount of work on the demon, who is a huge dude. The first shoot with the victim goes well, and the judges show appreciation for the vines on the face sculpt. During the demon shoot, Walter is extraordinarily confident. Glenn is super stoked about it as well.

The artists all seem genuinely happy about their filming time. They each express gratitude for their teams (no team drama this season!) and the deep desire to win. They’re all very likable and equally matched. But they’re also stylistically similar, or at least there simply aren’t enough differences to make any one of them stand out. It really is anyone’s game.

It’s finally The Big Night. Arranged in a square are the contestants, their families, and (all?) the former contestants. The directors are there as well, and of course the judges with McKenzie and Jason Blum. McKenzie asks the directors how they feel things went, and they all seem to have good things to say.

Each of the contestants gets to stand in front of the judges and explain their concept and receive some feedback. The judges all have good things to say, as per usual for the finale. Then, we get to see each of the films.

My Amateur Impressions:

Team Melissa: The movie was great. I’m not a huge fan of the victim’s makeup – particularly the sticks coming out of his head. But the demon looks amazing.

Team Walter: There’s no denying how awesome the makeup looks. The movie isn’t quite as good as Melissa’s, but that’s no fault of Walter’s. The victim was pretty frightening and the demon was a beast. It was really good.

Team Rob: The makeup looked really great onscreen. But I was a little disappointed in how little screentime the demon got, though I imagine that’s often true with many effects in film. Also, I thought the victim’s line was better before the voice was altered, but what do I know? Still, the color worked great for the director’s theme.

The Professionals’ Impressions:

When the judges privately deliberated, the only negative comment was about some initial confusion over Melissa’s victim. But Ve felt the sticks (which I didn’t like) helped the overall vision. Everything else was lots of positive comments.

And the winner of Face Off is —— Rob. Congrats!!

Called it. Just sayin’.

Honestly, he was consistently phenomenal. Both Walter and Melissa should also be incredibly proud, and I doubt they’ll have any trouble finding work now.

Overall Thoughts: I was glad to see the family members in this episode. It’s such a sweet moment. They didn’t make any crazy additions to this final challenge, and I’m curious as to why – maybe time? I still think the film challenge is the best, most exciting challenge for the contestants – they’re always so pumped to be on set and it’s very revealing.

Here was the most shocking thing about this episode: they revealed the next season won’t start until 2017 – NEXT YEAR. Wtf, SyFy? There’s no late summer-early fall season? We have to wait a whole year?

While little has been published about this, there’s a note on a Face Off subreddit that Season 11 will be an All Star season, which could be why the lead in for the promo was “It’s hard to say good-bye.” I guess we’ll have to wait til next year to find out. Which really bummed me out.

Look out for a separate post recapping the entire season, along with my favorite makeups and #Nevilleisms from Season 10!

RECAP! Face Off: Sinister Showdown Part 1

We’ve finally made it. The last challenge. The big one.

After all this, it’s come down to Walter, Melissa, and Rob. Only one will be crowned the Face Off Champion. Any guesses yet?

The three remaining contestants are brought to an oil field, which is very strange. McKenzie meets them, and introduces the special guest — producer Jason Blum. She explains that this final challenge will be horror-themed, and each artist will create two (only two?) characters who will star in a horror film.

This is essentially the same final challenge as last season, which was a huge success. Previous finales have always involved some kind of practical performance element – dancing, fighting, appearing at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. But there was something really intense about last season’s film challenge. It was the most real-world application, working with a director, with lighting and cameras. If an artist can do that successfully, they really can make it in the professional makeup world.

This season, the film was inspired by a short story titled “Hell Hole,” involving a family buying a house that’s possessed by a demon. Each artist will work with an “up-and-coming” director (all males, btw. What’s up with that? Come on, Face Off, you couldn’t find one female horror director?), each with HIS own specific take on the script and what the demon should look like.

McKenzie introduces the directors, and it appears as though they were all asked to dress as identical hipsters – dark skinny jeans, blue shirts, same height, dudes. Anyway…

As is often reality-competition tradition, some former contestants have returned to help the finalists with their task. It’s nice to see the familiar faces of Kaleb, Yvonne, Mel, Anna, Johnny, and Robert.

Before they break, McKenzie also reveals that Mr. Blum will also be a guest judge for this final challenge.

Each team gets their version of the script, and they narrow in on the descriptions of their respective demon. Walter’s script uses “gourd” and “sinewy,” which is a little disappointing to Walter, who doesn’t like doing the tree thing. His director, Ryan, goes into more description, talking vines, dirt, etc. Team Water decides that their demon is half pumpkin/half tree and their possessed victim will have vines around and through her.

Team Rob has “massive horned figure” to work with, which is a little vague. Director Bryce also uses “of the earth,” and suggests dry, cracked, and white (white?). Kaleb asks how he feels about a goat. Bryce is not pleased with the goat suggestion. No, he wants something new. Their possession victim will be the “basic possession makeup” with some oil dripping.

Over on Team Melissa, their script is oozing with specifics: “a chupacabra mashed with the face of the hatchetfish and the teeth of goliath tigerfish.” Oh, and it’s a Cyclops. There’s also a doll named Mr. Sticks. That’s a lot. Melissa is initially worried about mimicking her previous Cyclops makeup, but that was so unique, I don’t see why she’s letting it get to her.

In the lab, Rob is unhappy with his idea for his face sculpt.

Melissa decides on doing a Cyclops creature without the eye, a bold choice.

The Westmores appear — but they are not alone — Mr. Westmore reveals a surprise guest – none other than the lovely Lois Burwell! They make their rounds and offer lots of advice, of course, with Lois asking lots of questions.

Day 2 and Rob has decided to completely start over on the face, sort of using a mole, then a rhino as inspiration. It sounds a little weird, but he seems happy.

Walter has in insane amount of detail on his demon’s face.

Team Rob is having a major issue – half of the cowl is locked, and the three team members are desperately trying to pop it out. Rob is coming to terms with the fact that they might have to break the mold a bit in order to get it out.

Day 3 and the artists examine their pieces. Rob’s demon cowl is in rough shape, but at this point he has no choice but to make it work.

Melissa recognizes Johnny and Yvonne’s application talent, so she lets them have at while she prepaints.

Walter is having Mel apply while Robert is casting the other model’s teeth, and now I’m having panicked flashbacks of the orthodontist.

Rob is also prepainting while the others apply.

And before we know it, we roll into Last Looks before the camera test.

Team Melissa and her characters are looking pretty gnarly in a good way. When she heads over to set, she’s super excited and nervous. The director gives some suggestions about the chest piece and some coloring, but ultimately, the demon comes off well. No resculpting there. But the victim needs some work. Okay, she’s got some work to do, but it’s not a total disaster.

Team Walter: In Last Looks, Mel is trying to salvage her paint job. By the end of the hour, Walter is fairly confident. As they walk to the soundstage, it’s apparent how HUGE the demon is, both the model and the makeup. It’s a little intimidating. The director loves what he sees initially, and only has minor notes on the demon. Mr. Westmore also has some advice, but again, minor, which is a good sign for Walter. On the possessed makeup, the director asks them to take it down a notch. Over all, Walter is in a good place.

Team Rob: Rob is having issues with the face sculpt sliding under the weight of the cowl. When they get to the soundstage, the director loads up on notes. More pale, more claws, different horns, different nose, different color, more natural elements. Rob pulls the old “worst case scenario” line, but this might really be it. The director is essentially asking for a whole new makeup. I’d be curious to know what Mr. Westmore thinks of this, but we don’t get to hear from him. The victim, who can do an impressive backbend, doesn’t fare much better with the director. He wants A LOT less.

At “To Be Continued…,” it’s evident that Walter is in the best position right now, with minimal changes. Rob has a massive amount of work ahead of him, and Melissa is somewhere in the middle.

Overall Thoughts: As a Part 1 – this was enjoyable.

— Surprising to see Rob flounder so badly, but I blame the director, in part. We didn’t see their full discussion early on, but Rob is usually much clearer with his ideas.

–It was kind of disorienting to hear the Last Looks music three times over, but that’s not a complaint. I love that music.

— There seemed to be a few elements missing – did the finalists get to Skype with their families? Will that be next week? Also, what about the “last minute” challenge – an other character, or a change in requirements? Two characters seems a little easy given that in the past, they’ve had to do three, even four characters.

Beauty in Words:

“She’s just so cute and British.” – Rob

“Is there a way to make the ear hole more of a hole?” – one of the dude directors.

Sadly, Neville did not appear in this episode, so we are left without a #Nevilleism.

RECAP! Face Off: The Art of Warcraft

Tonight’s challenge was no secret: World. Of. Warcraft.

After the judges used their immunity card last week, we’ve got the same talented 5 contestants this week, which is great.

The goal this week is to adapt a character from WoW to a realistic creature ready for the film. Chris Robinson, WoW’s senior art director, appears on the scene to offer advice both to the group and individually once they develop their concepts.

Right off the bat, Melissa and Walter are the most pumped. Melissa is practically giddy with joy. Mel, on the other hand, is bumming hard. She is not familiar with the WoW life and feels she’s already at a disadvantage. She’s going with a Troll. And when Chris shows up, she assaults him with questions.

Melissa’s got the Worgen. Chris recommends to work on the profile, specifically the snout. Walter’s got a Draenei. Rob’s got a Tauren, which looks like a bull. He’s got a lot planned. Yvonne has a Goblin. Her model is female, so she asks Chris if there’s a difference, and how important it is to stick to said difference.

Rob starts on his cowl. He feels it’s an important shape for a true Tauren. Yvonne oddly ditches Chris’s advice and decides to make her female Goblin uglier.

Walter starts working on tentacles using an assortment of materials. Melissa’s struggling a bit with her werewolf face sculpt.

Rob is getting very disappointed in his cowl. He feels it looks stupid and since immunity is no longer on the table, he’s feeling particularly stressed. He decides to set the cowl aside and move onto the face.

The Westmores appear. First, Mr. Westmore advises Yvonne to bring out some features, highlighting the fantasy element of the challenge. Over at Melissa’s station, he winces at her concept, and suggests she elongate the muzzle. He tells Rob not to hold back because it’s looking good. Finally, he warns Mel that she’s lost some of the character in her face sculpt.

Rob is really not having a good day here. He thinks his face looks like a “werewolf teddy bear thing.”  For the second time today, he sets aside his current piece to work on something else. Walter tries to boost Rob’s self esteem, but to no avail.

Day 2 starts with Walter prepping his mold. Rob is starting the day on a better foot, hopping up and down, “I figured it out! I figured it out!” He’s determined a shape for his face, but now he must make some difficult decisions concerning time. The cowl, he decides, must be scrapped. He figures he can create the silhouette he wants through fabrication.

Melissa is sculpting like a fiend. She speed-sculpted hands, which she’s not happy about, but is of the mindset of just getting it done.

Yvonne is working on the giant ears of her Goblin. She tries to explain that she’s scaling down the ears from the game, trying to make them more human-scaled, but when we see them, they look ginormous, like the entire size of the face. Not sure her “scaled down” was scaled down enough.

Melissa’s troubled hands are not popping out of her mold. She must chisel out one hand, but that results in losing some fingers. Walter starts working on a tail, and seems to enjoy testing it out.

Rob’s horns are one full and one half. But as he’s molding in silicon, he realizes he doesn’t have a enough silicon to fill the full horn. Plan B is to double-mold the broken horn, but that must wait until tomorrow.

The remaining artists have a little meltdown together on the patio – sharing feelings about being homesick.

Application Day.

Rob is molding both his horns and his fingers today. Horn 1 comes out beautifully. Horn 2, however, sticks to the mold, and Rob has a mini temper tantrum out of frustration we’ve all had at one time or another.

Melissa’s working on the paws, but it is also proving to be difficult. Mel is laying a giant red mohawk, and once she starts styling it, she’s loving it. It looks pretty cool from my end.

Walter’s working hard on his paint job, basing out in white then bringing in blues.

Rob is miserable with his design. He feels this is his worst case scenario, feeling as though his final design has come down to the bare bones of his original concept.

At Last Looks, Yvonne seems to know her paint job is a muddy mess. It really is. Mel is feeling really great about her character, and it’s nice to see her *not* in panic mode.

This week, we’ve got special guest judge Rob Kazinsky, who is in the upcoming Warcraft movie. He reveals he spent a year of his life playing WoW, gaining sponsorships and getting paid just to play all day.

My Amateur Impressions:

Yvonne’s Goblin: Ugh. I like Yvonne, but this is not good. The paint job is a disaster and the ears seem too big.

Walter’s Draenei: Damn. That’s gorgeous. Incredible detail, crystal clear features.

Rob’s Tauren: Um, I think it looks kinda cool. The horns are creepy. There’s a lot of detail on the face. It’s definitely not the disaster Rob made it out to be.

Melissa’s Worgen: Oh, I’m disappointed. The sculpt doesn’t look right and the paint job is lacking detail.

Mel’s Troll: Totally digging it. Love the mohawk, the color palette. It really looks great.

The Professionals’ Impressions:

They do not like Yvonne’s paint job. Rob K. is impressed with the realism to the game with several of them.  Glenn likes Melissa’s profile better than straight on. They have mostly positive comments for Rob, except for Rob K. who says while it looks great, it doesn’t look like it’s from the game.

The top looks included Mel, Walter, and much to his own surprise, Rob, with Walter rightfully winning.

Bottom looks were Mel and Yvonne, with Yvonne going home.

Overall Thoughts: One of the better episodes this season, I think. The challenge was interesting and appropriately understood. Even for someone like me, who has never played World of Warcraft. I was surprised there wasn’t a double-elimination, since there was the immunity last week, but I’m not complaining. If that means one more episode squeezed in, then great. Rob K. was a very honest judge.

Beauty in Words:

“For a worst case scenario, I think it’s phenomenal.” — Glenn, to Rob.

“I’m like Simon Cowel.” — Rob K., after offering harsh criticism.

“She looks like pea soup from here.” — Ve.

“The face doesn’t feel Gobliny…” — #Nevilleism

 

RECAP! Face Off: Keep One Eye Open

So, I’m dealing with a lame Megara on Once Upon a Time, and now I’m faced with the Cyclops on Face Off. It’s officially time to watch Hercules.

Now, with 5 contestants remaining, the pared-down crew walk into the lab, which has been turned into an apothecary of yore. (From Pottery Barn? Perhaps.) McKenzie explains this week’s Focus Challenge is about creating a Cyclops. The artists must choose an eyeball floating in a jar to create a character around it. And there’s another week where they stretched the set up and the challenge. “Stretch” is putting it nicely.

McKenzie also mentions that they’re bringing in special models this week to truly represent the physicality of a  6’4 and 7 feet tall. A few short jokes fly at Mel’s expense. Once the artists choose their eyeball, they immediately start sculpting.

Walter’s purple eye inspires the Son of Hades, a demi-god.

Yvonne’s red eye becomes Satan’s Blacksmith. She’s talking horns and spikes, making him very demon-ish.

Rob’s eye is probably the coolest – all blue with a triangular pupil. He’s thinking aquatic.

Mel has a very human eyeball. But she deems human too dull, so she’s creating a human-dog hybrid, reasoning that the blue eye is similar to a husky’s. Right off the bat, this seems like a questionable idea.

Melissa’s working on a lizard-snake-monster-warrior. Her green eyeball looks reptilian, so she goes from there.

Rob got this crazy idea to put the eyeball on the mouth, trying to be creative, trying to be different. But he struggles. He’s wasted a good part of his time on this concept, only to scrap it and start over.

Walter is taking special care of his model, making sure he can see when he needs to.

Melissa is attempting to create her own scale pattern on her sculpt. She does half of it, waiting to show Mr. Westmore before she commits that much time, a very move.

Lo and behold, Michael Westmore enters, and offers his advice all around the room. He suggests tweaks here and there, and emphasizes with Walter that he should incorporate lavender in the skin tone to bring out the purple eye.

Yvonne is having a hard time with the anatomy around the eyeball, and Rob steps in to help her out. Rob, on his own, is having some issues with symmetry. Yvonne returns the favor, but offering him her perspective. It’s so nice to see artists helping each other out.

Walter molds early, a pride point.

Mel isn’t happy with her sculpture. But she explains a cool process using a clay extruder, a happy little device pushes out clay in long strings, which can be be applied to a mold to help get an even edge.

Yvonne is still fretting over her brow, and the “unfamiliar” anatomy. She can’t seem to wrap her brain around the formation of a Cyclops eye. I’d say that’s kinda fair.

Rob knows he’s pushing his time, but decides to spend as much of it on his sculpture.

Since Walter has nothing better to do, he decides to practice his Mr.-Westmore-approved lavender skin tone. Melissa is doing something similar, though on a much smaller scale, just to see how she can really get her hand-carved scales to pop.

Mel is working on creating a mohawk through a bald cap. She’s practicing on herself, and it creates some fun banter between her and Walter.

Rob is desperately trying to clean his mold before time’s up. And it must be pitch black, because those are some wicked flood lights.

Application Day. Mel knows her last attempt to save this bizarre sculpt is her paint. Walter is having an unnecessary amount of trouble with the bald cap. Melissa is using a python for inspiration in her paint job. Yvonne’s using red on her skin tone, then black horns.

Rob is doing something awesome with his Cyclops, giving it a yellow face, but going over the back with a bright blue pattern, to match the given eye.

Walter decides to paint the arms, even though it’s clearly a totally different shade of lavender. And this is a Focus Challenge. Poor time management, Walter.

As we get to Last Looks, Mel is really unhappy with her eyeball placement. Through this whole season, Mel has been living in a panic attack. And trust me, I can relate. But at this point, it’s starting to get more difficult to determine when she’s really in trouble. This might be it.

Melissa’s working to lighten up her paint job. Mel, in a panic to fix her makeup, just makes it worse. Walter’s bald cap issues come back to haunt him, as it’s shifted completely, leaving unpainted skin visible.

Oh my god, Mel walking her model out of the makeup room is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.

Today’s guest judge is Douglas Smith, an actor who actually played a Cyclops, so he should know what he’s talking about.

My Amateur Impressions:

Melissa’s Lizard: It looks a little busy, but I’m guessing it looks pretty awesome in person. On the screen, it’s hard to decipher the face structure, and the feathers on top don’t help. But again, I’m sure in the room, it looks amazing.

Yvonne’s Demon: So…. pretty much a demon. It’s weird though. The facial features seem a little out of proportion – like the lips and nose are too big for the one eye.

Mel’s Dogface: Oh boy. It’s just strange. The eye does not match the sculpt. And it looks goofy. Not Mel’s best. By far. I feel terrible for her when the judges chuckle. What happened to her mohawk plan?

Walter’s Purple People Eater: The color is an issue. And the face is a little… vague. I don’t know.

Rob’s Trident-Maker: I love the paint job. It looks really great, very professional.

The Judges’ Impressions: Glenn thinks the horns on Yvonne’s are a bit contrived. They are shocked at the amount of work Melissa put in to hers. Glenn and Neville share utter confusion over Mel’s. They do not like the wrinkles Walter so intentionally placed wrinkles. They agree Rob’s looks better with the hood down.

Melissa and Rob were the top looks, with Melissa winning this one. They will most definitely both make it to the finale.

Walter and Mel are in the bottom. And it’s Mel who will be — SAVED. That’s right, the judges finally cashed in on their Savior card. A good call, I think. I mean, kind of their last chance. Saving someone next week would mean only a single elimination.

Overall Thoughts:  An interesting episode, more so than last week, I believe. Not to sound like a broken record, but this whole season has been lacking in drama and genuinely interesting characters, so at this point, it’s set the bar pretty low. I hate to say that, because these artists are all very likeable, most are fairly talented. But it just doesn’t make for the most captivating of seasons.

Beauty in Words:

“My hair was a bit longer and just flopped like a horse. I felt regal.” Mel, describing her “weird scenester adult” mohawk from 2 years ago.

“Cyclopian droopy dog” – #Nevilleism

“He looks like…’Huh???'” = #Nevilleism, explaining how Mel’s Cyclops appears.

Once Upon a Time’s Megara-Fail

What a wasted opportunity Sunday’s episode was.

When it was announced that the second half of this season would focus on the Underworld and Hades, I was stoked. Because I love Hercules.

Yes, in the great pantheon of Disney animated features, it doesn’t quite live up to the best. The music is all over the place and anticlimactically arranged. The only things they’ve actually taken from Greek mythology are names. Everything else is Disney mythology. But it’s filled with great moments. Hades is a brilliant villain, fast-talking, witty, and smarmy, like the older guy at the bar who keeps trying to impress you with his fancy suit and high-paying job, only to blow up when you dismiss his advances.

Hercules, in the movie, is a bit of a rube. Super naive and singularly focused, he’s not the strongest of male leads. But don’t worry – Meg makes up for it. Voiced by Susan Egan, Megara is the queen of sass, accenting her quips with a hair flip or hip sway. I love her. In the grand scheme of female leads, Belle is my hero, but Meg is me.

Meg is not an official Disney princess. But that’s part of what makes her so great. She’s a complex female with a past. She’s made mistakes. Unlike most Princesses, she’s not the result of her upbringing – overprotective parents, royalty strains, or feeling like she doesn’t belong. We don’t know anything about Meg’s family. She’s like the princess after the first movie, when it didn’t work out. We only know she made a mistake – she saved her boyfriend’s (Boyfriend?! Disney princesses do NOT have boyfriends.) life by offering her own, and then he ditched her, leaving Meg to serve out her sentence to Hades. A fact that Hades brings up for exposition’s sake, but it doesn’t feel out of character for him. Like he enjoys twisting the knife.

Film Meg doesn’t take kindly to being rescued. She fights her own battles. She plays Herc for the innocent chump that he is. She can’t believe she finds herself falling for him. She ultimately sacrifices herself to save him — the 2nd time she’s done so for love. It’s true that in the end, Herc had to save her… but she was kinda dead, so there wasn’t much she could do there. She had given everything she could. Not only did Herc bring her back from the dead, but he gave up his immortality for her.

Anyway, Once Upon a Time, a series I truly enjoy, completely sputtered when it came to representing Meg. What’s worse is that this could have been a prime theme for the entire episode – women who kick ass.

The main story here revolved around Mary Margaret and how the young Snow White became the kick ass Snow White we all know and love. It was Herc. They were teenage crushes, and Herc taught young Snow all she needed to know about being a leader and shooting an arrow. In current time, Mary Margaret is having a personal crisis, coming to terms with the fact that she’s become pretty wussy since living in Storybrooke. I like that the show has decided to confront one of the main complaints about Ginnifer Goodwin’s character — the Snow White flashbacks are always amazing. (One of her best episodes is when she meets Red Riding Hood.) But how is that person the same wispy, hope-spouting maternal soul we see in Maine?

Maybe now, the real Snow will stand up. Regardless, it was a good story about a strong female character finding her strength and acknowledging she may have lost it. It was also great to see Regina be the one to give MM a pep talk, when it could have just as easily been Charming.

Also in the strong women department, we come across the lovely Cruella De Vil, who manipulates Henry into helping her come back to life. I adore Once’s take on Cruella, a boozy socialite who was just born bad, and Victoria Smurfit does a great job. While the overall plot of the quill being a living thing seems a little too convenient, I appreciated that Cruella was wise enough to use the idea of restoring Emma’s purity to convince Henry of her plan.

So how, with all this great female interaction, how could they allow Megara to be a sad, scared little girl, who would rather stay in her cell than face Cerberus?? Even if, even if she didn’t want to leave her cell, at least make her brazen about it. Not all whimpery.

I was really hoping at the end, when Herc gave Meg his dagger to help kill the Hound of Hades, that she would turn on them, that she had been playing them the whole time, an aide to Hades, with Cerberus under her command. But sadly, that was not the case. No, instead, Meg helped defeat Cerberus, was revealed to be the girl Herc died trying to save, and together they walked hand in hand to Olympus or heaven or wherever that bridge leads.

From what I can find, it seems as though that was their only appearance. And if that’s the case, then WTF. Seriously. Maybe they’ll come back. Maybe Meg’s character will come into play later on down the road. Maybe?

Once Upon a Time likes to take elements of the Disney films we all know so well and spin them. Rarely are any of the characters identical to their Disney origins (except for Frozen, but of course),  making Pan evil and Hook a good guy, making Belle’s father a bully, etc. And that’s fine. But why make a strong female character decidedly weak? Meg’s oft-quoted anti-princess mantra is “I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle this.”

So, Once staff, what’s the deal? Will Meg be brought back and redeemed? Or did you just waste one of the strongest female characters in the Disney canon?

RECAP! Face Off: The Gauntlet II

It’s back and better than ever: The Gauntlet.

At this point in the game, we’ve got 8 contestants left. And a good old-fashioned Gauntlet competition will help whittle it down a bit more. First appearing the season before, the Gauntlet, as McKenzie reminds us, is a 3-part competition, each part with a very specific focus, in an effort to put certain skills on display.

This year, two winners from both Round 1 and Round 2 will receive immunity, and won’t have to participate in the final challenge, pitting 4 contestants against each other at the end. That’s brutal.

Let’s get crackin’.

Round 1: McKenzie calls out Hook (yay!!) and Pirates of the Caribbean, referencing ship captains. The challenge is to create a captain of a specific mythical ship, with the requirement of hand-laying a beard. Confidence ranges from absolute (Melissa’s got it down) to not at all (Anna’s never laid a beard before!) so this will be interesting.

We see some glimpses into the creations. Mel’s doomed herself to the next round already. Melissa explains her technique she’s honed after 7 years of experience. Robert names his character Captain Dishwasher… okay.

When time is up, the judges are revealed to be…. the judges! Neville, Ve, and Glenn will be critiquing these rounds, so that’s not intimidating at all.

This round runs a lot like a Foundation Challenge, so it’s too quick to really break down. In general, the judges seem mostly positive about what they see, and from my perspective, there are no train wrecks.

The top looks for Round 1: Walter and Melissa. They’re done competing for this challenge. But there’s more! McKenzie reveals that they’ll also enjoy a night on the town, complete with limo service. How very Hell’s Kitchen.

Round 2: Pandora’s Box. The artists are presented with a box of pre-made prosthetics. They must use all pieces in their creation — but not where they were meant to be used. So ear pieces can’t go on the ears, etc. That is a real challenge. Playing with face shape in a short amount of time is insane. Neville warns the crew to not be lazy about it, i.e. putting a chin on the forehead and calling it a “chinforehead.” This challenge will really test the creativity of the artists under specific guidelines. Very interesting.

Each contestant is hard at work re-imagining their prosthetics. There’s a lot of cutting. Some are struggling with positioning, but by the end, everyone seems on track. I really like Rob’s forehead and paint job (Neville and Ve agree), and Robert’s demon is utterly terrifying. Using the ears as eyebrows was really smart. Poor Anna got stuck with a jaw piece, complete with teeth. She used it as a crown, and the judges seem to approve. With Mel, they question the chin pieces under the jaw.

Top looks from Round 2 are Rob and Robert. Rob is adorably excited.

The remaining contestants are told to go home for the night and return tomorrow for the final challenge.

We get a few scenes of the winners enjoying their limo and dinner at the Castaway. Are these the final four? It’s definitely possible. Robert and Walter could go either way.

Day 2, Round 3. McKenzie is very serious, standing in front of a big red curtain. When the curtain drops, there are 4 sets of 3 models, each with a black band around either their eyes, mouth, or ears. Wait, are they going to have to do THREE makeups? Damn. That’s just mean.

The challenge is to show how “Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil” might manifest itself in a horror makeup. Who thought of this? This is crazy.

Mel develops a post-apocalyptic group who have sacrificed their sense, like a religious leader. Kaleb wants to go tribal, but he’s unhappy with the costume choices, so he reconsiders. Anna’s going with zombies. It’s a solid concept. Yvonne’s struggling with an idea. When she finally comes up with one, it’s a little confusing. Something about a king and acid torture and civilians revolting. Ultimately, they’re ghostly figures who bear the scars of an acid attack. I think.

Mel’s idea in pretty twisted. She creates skin flaps that have been cut and pulled up over the respective sense. It’s gory and horrible and a great idea, if it comes out clearly. Kaleb is now going with a crew that tempts others to give up their senses, which doesn’t really sound like the challenge, but maybe the judges will dig it.

At this commercial break, we see a “behind the scenes” clip about how Mel’s boyfriend’s favorite German word is dishwasher, and how now it’s an inside joke with the contestants, and that explains Robert’s captain. Got it.

Last Looks, or “Fast Looks,” as Yvonne calls it, is kind of a madhouse. None of the contestants seem to be in a good place except for Mel, which is nice to see. Kaleb looks near tears.

My Amateur Impressions:

Anna’s Zombie Team: They’re…. okay. They look a little plastic or something. I like Hear No Evil.

Kaleb’s Aliens (?): They don’t look terrible. I kinda like See No Evil, in an American Horror Story kind of way. But I still don’t know if it meets the challenge.

Yvonne’s Ghosts: Oooooh. Scary. I LOVE Speak No Evil. The bald cap over the mouth was a great idea. They all look cohesive.

Mel’s Sacrificees: Holy scary. Freaks me out. Which, I suppose, is a good thing?

The Professionals’ Impressions:

They aren’t fans of Anna’s color choices or mouth prosthetic. Glenn questions Kaleb’s choices. Glenn is super impressed with Yvonne’s wardrobe selections.

Mel wins, comparing it to the Hunger Games, which sound about right with this challenge.

Kaleb must pack up his kit. I don’t disagree. And like that, we’re down to 7.

Overall Thoughts: Another fairly drama-free episode, the challenges in person were probably incredibly tense, but that didn’t come across really well here. Doing a Gauntlet Challenge is a good idea, though, so I hope they continue. The last challenge was particularly well-done. I missed Michael Westmore, though. 😦

Beauty in Words:

“You are a strange, strange man. I like it.” — Glenn, to Robert and his Capt. Dishwasher.

“It’s better to have a bad idea than no idea.” — words all Face Off contestants should live by, courtesy of Mel.

“Evocative. Emotional. Visceral. Creative. But I’ll end with a ****-yeah.” #Nevilleism. Please insert exclamation points on your own time.