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: Skull Island: Reign of Kong

We’re down to the semi-finals. Four contestants left. Only three can move forward into the finale. Here we go.

Mel, Melissa, Walter, and Rob are being driven through what looks like the Universal Backlot (or subsequent outdoor set) in a green caravan. The dramatic music combined with the overreactions of the artists make it seem like it’s much scarier than it is. Once they arrive, McKenzie greets them, then informs the remaining crew that their challenge will involve Skull Island and King Kong.

Standing with McKenzie is Executive Produce for Universal Creative, Mike West. He’s here to explain (read: plug) Universal Orlando’s new attraction – Skull Island: Reign of Kong. He tries to explain the ride without giving too much away, and I’m left a little confused. Is it like Indiana Jones, where you’re in a real vehicle going through a real set? Or is it more of a virtual reality + ride like Transformers? I just don’t know.

But it doesn’t matter right now. The artists are tasked with creating “evolved” intelligent being from a set of animal-like creatures. Bonus! The winner of this challenge gets a trip for two to Universal Studios Florida. Hooray!

By claiming fossils of these creatures, the artists choose their inspiration.

Walter has a Terapusmordax. Looks like a giant, giant bat. Walter’s deciding the move the wings from the arms to the back, leaving the creature with arms free for fighting.

Mel’s is really bug-like, with insect armor.

Rob is working with a dinosaur hybrid – Vastatosaurus Rex, or V. Rex, to his friends. Rob is making a conscious effort to keep realistic goals and not over-burden himself like last week.

And finally, Melissa’s got crab. Well, it’s a huge crustacean-like scavenger.

Back at the lab, Walter’s spending lots of time on the face. Lots of wrinkles and details. Melissa’s already planning the weird antennae and all that she’ll be sticking onto the face. Rob’s initial sculpt is a little silly-looking, with a big grin, so he adds teeth to… well, give it some bite.

The Westmores show up. Mr. Westmore warns Rob to pick and choose what will be seen and to hide everything else. With Melissa, he suggests she bring the face sculpt down to the neck, just for seamlessness. He gives some painting advice to Walter. And with Mel, it’s a little tougher. She’s putting in several fake eyes, and Mr. Westmore warns this could look too much like a mask.

This promptly puts Mel in panic-mode, as she realizes she’s doing things the judges hate: static eyes, beak around the mouth. She decides to start over.

Rob is putting lots of effort into the scaling of his piece. Melissa is adding texture to her piece using pearls.

Day 2 starts with Walter making a slip cast of his face so he can properly line it up with his cowl. Mel is starting all over again, again. Now, she’s creating plates out of geometric shapes, placing them on the face, trusting they will work together. So far, they do.

Rob is working on a back piece, giving his overall character a cool silhouette, he hopes.

Walter is now fabricating the giant wings. His plan was to create a mechanism where his model can pull a string and the wings would pop up. But, as is often the case in these situations, it doesn’t work. The springs bent, and now Walter must think of a new plan involving static wings.

Melissa is also fabricating like a fiend, creating pinchers and a piece that will go around the back of the head, in lieu of a cowl.

Mel, on the other hand, is hesitantly fabricating. She admits it’s not her strong suit, but she’s gonna have a go at it. She’s creating a chest and an “insect butt” with l200 and A LOT of duct tape.

Day 2 ends with Walter frustrated about his latex wings and the crew sit around mulling their futures.

On Application Day, Mel is working hard on painting her fabricated piece. Melissa is still fabricating away, before jumping into painting. Rob only begins his paint job with less than an hour until Last Looks.

In Last Looks, Mel is still using duct tape to put her look together. Rob is really unhappy with his progress, and ends up throwing grass onto his model just to cover him up.

My Amateur Impressions:

Mel’s Decarnocimex: Hmmm. I kinda like it. The back is really cool. And I like the colors. But there’s something weird with the mouth.

Walter’s Terapusmordax: Truthfully, not a huge fan of the wings. The face is good, though it eerily reminds me of a silicon mask we have at the haunted house.

Melissa’s Arachnocidis (or Arachno-Claw, because only some get nicknames): It looks pretty cool. The paint job and detail are amazing. You can see the model’s lips, though, and I’m not sure if that’s intentional, but it throws me off a little.

Rob’s Vastatosaurus: Ummmm…. huh. Kind of disappointing from Rob. While the detail scale work is obviously incredible, the paint job and bare skin on the model are total drawbacks.

The Professionals’ Impressions:

Glenn wishes Mel’s mouth was synthesized with the model. They wish Walter’s wings were instead folded on the back instead of up and out. They are very impressed with Rob’s sculpture, not so much his cover-up job.

The three going into the finale are… Melissa, Rob, and Walter, with Melissa winning the trip to Universal Studios.

Poor Mel is going home, just missing her shot at the finale.

Overall Thoughts: Even though I can’t necessarily argue, I’m really sad to see Mel go. I’m also curious to know how Rob’s makeup would’ve been judged in an earlier round, without all those wins behind him. The challenge itself was okay, and while there was the usual stress, there wasn’t much drama, which is also usual this season.

Beauty in Words:

“I don’t want to toot my own fabrication horn but…… toot toot.” — Mel.

“It’s super good to meet you I’m just spray painting your butt right now.” — Mel.

“I really did like the form language.” — #Nevellism. Drink!


One more left, folks! And a 2-parter!

(I need something else to RECAP until Face Off comes back! But what? Kimmy Schmidt? Game of Thrones? Help me out with some suggestions!)


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.

RECAP! Face Off: Bottled Up

Before we begin, I’d like to apologize for missing a week. I was unexpectedly whisked away on a trip, and I felt that posting a recap nearly a week later was silly. But briefly, I was sad to see Anna go. I liked her.

With six contestants remaining, we’re nearly at the end. Right now, I’d say Rob has the best odds of taking the whole thing, but we’ll see where it goes.

Tonight, we’re teased with the challenge of genies, and plenty of Whole New World puns abound.

Upon lab arrival, it’s clear we’re being set up for a Foundation Challenge. Darn. The artists must develop a valkyrie using the model’s given wings as inspiration. McKenzie hits us with a little Norse mythology before introducing Douglas Knoe as the guest judge here, asking “Will your valkyrie tell your story without uttering a word?”

Of course, we can’t have a valkyrie challenge without Robert singing “Ride of the Valkyries.”

Knoe seems to like most of the makeups, having many good things to say. He favors Yvonne and Melissa, with Melissa winning the coveted immunity for the week. And that’s that.

At the start of the Spotlight Challenge, McKenzie is standing in front of a set of itty-bitty living spaces, explaining the challenge would be to create their own genie. But she doesn’t really give parameters on what the judges might be looking for, other than using the words colorful, devious, and mysterious. So going in, I’m already a little confused as to what I should be expecting.

Mel zeroes in on the carving of a gazelle on her genie vessel, so she starts on a human-gazelle hybrid, though her initial sculpture looks very cat-like.

Melissa admits she knows very little about genies (aren’t we all kind of in the same boat here?), but she has immunity, so it’s not a big deal.

Walter is pulling inspiration from the dragons on his vessel, creating a reptilian fantasy character.

Robert’s bottle is probably the prettiest, and he’s developing a cat creature who loves to party. Sure.

Michael Westmore offers LOTS of advice to each of the artists, solidifying the idea that no one actually knows what they’re supposed to be doing. He suggests Mel start over, using the patterns from the vessel, not the animal. Michael isn’t quite sure what to make of Robert’s cat. There’s clearly some work to be done.

Day 2, Mel’s feeling better about her plans. Walter’s hard at work on his cowl. Robert’s molding away. When it comes time for Walter to mold, he’s lost track of time and is just covering everything as fast as humanly possible. With “mere minutes” left, he attempts to open his mold. With help from Melissa, he manages to open it, then Yvonne jumps in the help him clean it. Team work!

On Day 3, Walter sees his piece, and it seems to be okay. But it’s kind of fuzzy how this happened. The show never really explains *what* the artists must have done at the end of the day. From what we saw, Day 2 ended with Walter’s (mostly) cleaned-out mold. Now, he has a fully formed piece, meaning overnight, someone actually ran the mold in foam (or whatever substance they decide to use), let it set, and got it out. Meaning, this step in the process seems to be taken care of by, I don’t know, Face Off PAs? And that’s fine, but sometimes it makes the “drama” of the clock a little confusing, since we’re not actually certain what should be done by time.

Anyway, the models arrive and it’s time for application. Everyone seems to be mostly okay, justifying their paint choices. Rob is the only one who seems a little concerned about time. Last Looks goes by uneventfully.

At the reveal stage, we see  Bill Corso is a guest judge.

My Amateur Impressions:

Mel’s Former Gazelle now Green Goblin: Odd. The face is really strange, and the nose looks sloppy. I’m a little disappointed. But I like the cowl.

Melissa’s … genie: It looks okay, I guess. Sprightly.

Walter’s Dragon Witch: Tons of detail, and it looks great. I’m not sure if it reads “genie” to me, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

Yvonne’s Elephant Man: It’s a smooth, clean sculpt. It feels odd she went with skin tones, but it’s okay.

Rob’s Incan Handle Head: I kinda like it. I like the coloring and the handles are pretty cool.

Robert’s Cat Woman: Oh god. That’ll induce some nightmares. She looks like a reject from Cats, and that’s pretty sad. But it’s not bad. It’s just really scary. And not genie like. At all.

The Professionals’ Impressions:

Glenn thinks Melissa’s is more pixie or fairy than genie. Ve questions if Yvonne’s elephant counts as a genie. Glenn, like Mr. Westmore, just doesn’t know what to make of Robert’s Cat Woman.

Rob and Walter are the top looks, with Walter winning this one.

And sadly, Robert is leaving us. They kept him around as long as they could. The remaining contestants just got a lot less interesting. Ah, well.

Overall Thoughts: Not one of the better episodes thus far. As an audience member, I just wasn’t sure what the challenge was looking for, and I think that came through in the makeups. Here’s hoping the last remaining episodes pick up the pace a bit.

Beauty in Words:

“It’s Bill Corso!” a very excited Rob, with an adorably cracking voice.

“It’s an absolute literalization of a pachyderm.” – #Nevilleism

“…form language.” – #Nevilleism AND Glennism. Drink!

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.

RECAP! Face Off: Death’s Doorstep

It’s episode six and like a first-year journalism intern, we’re neck-deep in the obits.

The contestants are brought to a printing facility. After a brief, somewhat unnecessary history lesson on the facility, McKenzie segues into the real challenge, which stems from the obituaries. McKenzie stresses these “freshly minted ghosts” must comically reveal how they died through their appearance.

The Spotlight Challenge is simple: They must create a “whimsical ghost,” using the obits provided. In other words, they’re creating a character who would be found in the waiting room of Beetlejuice (even though, in Beetlejuice, which I LOVE, Barbara and Adam show no signs of their presumed drowning… ). And to reinforce that concept, they’ve even included the “Take a Number” machine.

The characters include:

Sally Slopes – Mel’s person died skiing, so Mel developed a character whose bottom half got twisted around to her front side. Could be funny.

Thomas Watts – Robert’s electrocuted dude, complete with rubber duck, was taking a bath when his hair dryer falls into the tub.

Wendy Wand – Rob’s designing a magician’s assistant who was sawed in half. But the real unique aspect here is he’s making her in grayscale – “As if she walked right out of a black and white television.” I don’t have the heart to tell him that there was no television in the ’20s, but it’s fine. I know what he means.

Rose Mary – Anna’s grandma cook died in an explosion while she was making pasta. Is that a thing? Can that happen? Now I’m scared.

Jerry Rig – Yvonne’s DIYer will get a holesaw in the face. She’s a little worried, since her last crack at whimsy didn’t go over too well.

Finn Waters – Kaleb’s victim was a scuba diver who died under “fishy” circumstances. (Hey, Face Off, who wrote these obits? Can I do it next time? Seriously. Let me know.) Kaleb decides to take the fish part literally, designing a fish on the top of the guy’s head.

Sarah N Geti – Johnny’s safari explorer got trampled, and he starts sculpting hoofprints to go on her face. His sketch is just a headshot, so it’s unclear how whimsical this will be, though Johnny believes he can do it with the paint job.

Suzanne Stitches – …who died from some kind of sewing accident? Melissa struggles a little with a concept (while I’m thinking — sewing machine! Her arm got caught in a sewing machine! Or her hair — pulling her face into… okay. Sorry. It’s writing season at the haunted house). Melissa concocts a story about Suzanne falling into her sewing supplies and having pins stuck all over. I’m about as excited as Melissa is about that. Not very.

Seymour Sharp – Walter’s amateur juggler will be a clown, who dropped everything he was juggling, including bowling balls, chainsaws, and knives.

During Michael Westmore’s rounds, he wisely advises Mel to include some twisted skin around the midsection that the judges will see, because apparently she decided to sculpt the entire lower half. He also warns that this is a time-consuming piece, so she better get it done today. And Mel promptly enters panic mode, which might be warranted this time. With Walter, McKenzie blinks in confusion at his concept. Mr. Westmore advises against the bowling bowl idea, but Walter doesn’t agree with just one appliance.

Johnny has decided to add porcupine quills to the face, thinking that it’s whimsical. To be fair, when he describes the scene about the girl being trampled in a stampede by zebras and all, followed up by a lone porcupine who wandered over her — it’s funny. But the end result appearing on the model? Not really funny. Kinda confusing.

Mel’s FrontButt piece is huge, and she’s freaking out about it. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why she molded that giant piece if no one will see it under the pants. She could have padded the costume to get the same shape, and it would’ve taken half the time creating and no time applying. I guess once you’re committed, it’s hard to think outside of that.

Day 2 shows Robert making some changes to his face sculpt. Johnny explains his very complicated process of sculpting his hoofprints. Mel needs an army to carry FrontButt to the molding room. We see Robert’s duck and bar of soap. Sadly, the duck doesn’t seem to have a name or a theme song. Robert is slacking off, man.

Anna’s working on a wig for her grandma, using a Kryolan product, of course. Yvonne makes a smart comedic decision, making the holesaw larger than in reality — something Johnny could’ve taken notes from. He’s just now realizing that he might have spent too much time on the hoofprints.

On Application Day, Mel’s thrilled with FrontButt. Rob’s model has a tiny waist, so he adjusts his midsection piece and seems happy with it. Walter’s knife, on the other hand, is not working. It’s too heavy, so Walter uses just the tips of the blades, as he has no other choice.

Anna plugs for Kryolan again, this time using their old age stipple to get, well, an old age effect. Yvonne wants a whimsical paint job, so she goes with yellow, and I’m immediately having flashes of Crayon Man. But at least she applies several shades of yellow for depth and shadowing. There’s hope.

Mel wants to do a frostbite makeup, but it’s coming out more of a zombie green. Going into Last Looks, everyone’s a mess over their paint jobs. It’s Rob’s turn to plug for Kryolan, using their aqua colors to get a good gray going.

My Amateur Impressions:

Yvonne + Jerry Rig: I actually laughed out loud. It’s truly funny. The swirl of the face going into the holesaw is brilliant, and yellow color isn’t nearly as distracting as I thought it would be.

Johnny + Sarah N Geti: Well, she’s… pink. From my couch, I can really only see one hoofprint. Shouldn’t the other side of her face be smushed and dirty? I’m not sure this is nearly as whimsical as it needed to be.

Kaleb + Finn Waters: The fish cowl is well-painted, I think, though it’s shape is weird. Not sure why he went up instead of out. But it’s whimsical.

Melissa + Suzanne Stitches: Looking like Sally’s older sister (of Nightmare Before Christmas fame), Suzanne is okay. The face looks whimsical, but is it enough? I’m can’t say.

Rob + Wendy Wand: She looks exactly like his sketch. The vision was clearly successful. But her injury seems a little too subtle here.

Mel + Sally Slopes: I’m so sorry, Mel, but this is kind of a hot mess. The ski suit doesn’t lend itself well to the FrontButt, and the paint job doesn’t make sense. There’s no sign of snow or ice.

Robert + Thomas Watts and Duck: Meh. It’s okay. I’m not sure he went far enough into the electrocution element, but the duck and soap pieces stuck to him are clever. Have we seen a really killer piece from Robert yet? Feels like he’s coasting through.

Walter + Seymour Sharp: Honestly, the best part was when he smiled and teeth fell out. I like the clown makeup.

Anna + Rose Mary: Well, it’s kinda whimsical. She could have gone heavier with the explosion aspect of it.

The Professionals’ Impressions:

The judges are confused by Johnny’s porcupine. They are not impressed with FrontButt. Glenn wants to know why Thomas Watts wasn’t wetter. And he and Neville note the lack of story with Rose Mary.

The winner? Yvonne, hands down.

With Mel, Kaleb, and Johnny in the bottom 3, it’s Johnny who bit the dust. A tough one, because his makeup wasn’t terrible. He just made some questionable decisions. But sometimes, that’s enough to send you home. Sorry, Johnny.

Overall Thoughts: Loved the challenge. They spent quite a bit of time with the artists as they worked, which was good. But the initial scene at the printing facility seemed like a waste; it had very little to do with the actual challenge.

Beauty in Words:

“But where’s the angler? Where’s that funny thing that could be hanging out there and he’s constantly going ‘pfffff’ ‘pffff’ ‘pfffff.’ …… It’s funny.” — #Nevilleism, an explanation of comedy, about Kaleb’s character.

“I really wish the splits were more of a gaping maw…  like fun, family-sized guts and gore.” — Glenn.

“It looks like Blue Man Group gone elfish.” — Ve, discussing Finn Waters’s fish hat.


What did you think? Was it Johnny’s time? I wanna know!


RECAP! Face Off: Foreign Bodies

Episode 5 and all we see is slime. Could the artists be recreating You Can’t Do That On Television?? Sadly, no. They’re just making scary aliens bursting out of people. I suppose that’s acceptable.

The remaining contestants enter the lab where they’re met with “Science!”-looking equipment – microscopes, vials, bottles of chemicals. Without wasting a beat, McKenzie dives right into the week’s Spotlight Challenge. Calling out films like Aliens and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, we learn this challenge will be about parasitic creatures taking over their host body, taking inspiration from a microscopic image of a real parasite.

And now I’m putting down my sushi until a commercial break. The parasite images are freaking terrifying, especially blown up on a screen. Yeah, that’ll haunt me for a little while.

Lance Henriksen, whose IMDb page is ginormous, appears as the special guest.

Now that we have an even number of contestants, we’re back to a team challenge, and the contestants choose with whom they will work. Only mere minutes into the episode, and we’ve already hit the Design Phase. Something’s up.

Anna and Yvonne have what might be the scariest organism, and their design involves the creature coming out of the side of the model’s face – like half-human, half-alien, judging by the sketch. Cory points out this is not “bursting from” but “transforming into.”

Katie and Robert have a tentacle-y, worm-looking parasite. Katie is not thrilled with her choice in teammate, referencing the difficulty they had the last time they worked together. Their design consists of a tumorous head where the worms will (theoretically) burst from. It makes sense, though it looks a little boring.

Rob and Kaleb, whose microorganism is maybe 2nd scariest, are making it so their creature can be “revealed” on the back of the model. Definitely dramatic, though I’m curious to see how the judges feel about it.

Before we get any further, McKenzie walks in with Mr. Henriksen. McKenzie’s in a smashing dress, by the way.

(Side note: I feel terrible when the only thing I have to say about McKenzie is what she’s wearing. She’s a likable host, and a lovely actress. But her wardrobe on here is always so noteworthy, it’s hard to avoid talking about it.)

Apparently, there is another step to this challenge. Mel is already mid-panic attack (I get it, girl! Been there.). Every good alien makeup, according to Bishop, must have SLIME. It’s funny, and a testament to my generation that when I hear slime, all I can think of is Marc Summers, Nickelodeon Studios, and a bucket of the green stuff. I know good horror aliens have slime, but that’s simply not my association. It’s not film, it’s my childhood TV that makes me feel like a slime expert.

Anyway, this slime element turns into the season’s first Foundation Challenge – and what a great way to do it! Foundation Challenges can sometimes feel like a waste of time and talent, just a way to get a famous face in as a “judge.” But by both interrupting the process and making the it apart of the main Spotlight Challenge, this one feels more integrated and necessary, upping the drama and the stakes. I like it.

The teams have 2 hours to develop a slime that will work for their character design. They’ll be judged on color, texture, and “if it works the way you intended it to.” The slime will be “tested,” — thrown, dripped, or otherwise placed on a model in a hazmat suit. The materials they get to use are wheeled out, and I spy lots of Gatorade, food coloring, and highlighters. (Every haunted house has used highlighter ink at some point. I’m also betting there’s laundry detergent and KY on that cart somewhere.)

McKenzie announces that for the first time ever, the winning TEAM will get immunity. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, it takes away that awkwardness of making one person on the team bear all the responsibility of a bottom looks makeup. On the other hand, why even let that team compete? Hm.

Mel and Melissa’s concept is an alien literally bursting out of their model’s face, where the human face will be draped around the neck of the alien. A pretty genius design, if the human face looks real enough. Mel wants their slime to be sticky, and here’s where I start yelling at the screen: Glycerin! Mel hears me, and uses that in conjunction with corn syrup and lube (called it).

Johnny and Walter have a microorganism that kind looks like a pig or a bear. Their design is a little confusing. Walter says the parasite will be shedding it’s human skin. They also want it bursting through the chest, where the slime will shoot out. Johnny’s using laundry detergent (also, called it) but he sneakily pulls flocking from the lab to give their slime a unique quality. But SSSShhhhh. Keep it on the down-low.

As the other teams work on their slime, I can’t help but want to be there. This looks like the coolest, messiest thing ever.

During the judging, Lance takes the slime very seriously. His favorites are Johnny and Walter, and Mel and Melissa. The latter win the challenge and immunity. Hopefully, this means Mel can relax and enjoy the creative process.

Back to the main challenge. Kaleb and Rob are working well together, and from what’s shown, it’s clear Rob has real leadership skills. After his win last week, I’m sensing a finalist here.

When Michael Westmore arrives, McKenize skips Mel & Melissa, given their immunity. But JK. Over with Robert and Katie, Mr. Westmore advises to limit the number of tumors on the head. We learn that Walter and Johnny are making their chest piece swirl using a drill, which is pretty clever. Anna and Yvonne are warned about the non-bursting qualities their piece has right now. Lots of torn skin advice.

Aaaaaaand Mel is upset now. She’s miserable with her face sculpt, freaks out a bit, starts over, and the day is done.

Day 2 is all about finishing these sculpts and molding.

Robert’s main focus is the alien worm, who he’s named Hans. Hans even has his own theme song, of course, which Robert sings on the spot.

Johnny is having trouble with polyfoam (surprise, surprise). The chest piece is just a pile of goo, so they must try again.

Rob is now uncharacteristically panicked. Afraid he spent too much time on the sculpt, he’s muttering to himself and throwing things around the molding room. Kaleb tries to offer help, but Rob stalks out, feeling “claustrophobic.”

Application Day will be Johnny’s bitch, or so he says.

Everything seems to be going relatively well, except for Katie and Robert, whose cowl is showing a huge edge right across the forehead, an issue that carries through Last Looks. Robert and Katie are very unhappy going onto the Reveal Stage.

My Amateur Impressions:

Mel & Melissa’s Face Melt Burst: Genius. The face skin on the shoulders just makes it work. The moving mouth is pretty creepy, too.

Johnny & Walter’s Drill Chest: My thoughts are the same as when I saw the sketch. The chest looks great, but I just don’t understand what’s happening on the head.

Robert & Katie’s Lumpy Skull: Ugh. That edge looks a million times worse under this lighting and now that some time has passed. Not helping the situation is the difference in skin tones between the face and the cowl piece. Bottom look. No question.

Anna & Yvonne’s Face/Off: It doesn’t look terrible, but it really is split half and half. No bursting here. The color palette is a little bland, too, but I guess that was intentional?

Kaleb & Rob: A nightmare. In the best possible sense. The front of the makeup is sickening, but the back? Utterly horrifying. Really well done. See, Rob? All good.

The Professionals’ Impressions:

Ve likes Mel & Melissa’s blue slime, Neville loves the human teeth.  Glenn thinks Anna & Yvonne’s doesn’t have enough detail, and Neville questions why they split the face right down the middle, while Ve says what we’ve all been saying – no bursting.

Top Teams? Mel & Melissa and Rob & Kaleb, with the boys taking the win this week, making it back-to-back wins for Rob.

Katie is headed home, which was justified given her choices with the makeup.

Overall Thoughts: A fun episode, despite a very specific challenge. A great use of a Foundation Challenge. We’re finally seeing more personality from the remaining contestants, and the real talent is showing itself.

Beauty in Words:

“I love what you did. You mastered… the chunk.” – Lance Henriksen, describing Johnny & Walter’s slime.

“It reflects San Andreas Fault in the middle of her head…” – a sarcastic Robert, offering a purpose for the glaring edge across the forehead of his makeup.

“I’m a lot happier with Robert’s worm than the rocks-in-a-sock Katie put on her head –” – Glenn. #rocksinasock

“I just wish it wasn’t bifurcated almost perfectly.” – #Nevilleism, showing off his fancy vocabulary.

RECAP! Face Off: Covert Characters

Episode 4. The contestants are on a mission – a mission to disguise.

Before the opening sequence, we get a glimpse of what’s to come, and there’s a lot that we’ve seen before: Michael Westmore throwing around the term “cartoony,” Mel with neurotic self-doubt. I’m already disappointed, so here’s hoping the episode has a little more to offer than the usual.

And we do start a little differently. Four of the contestants are sitting around an outdoor table, discussing their current status. We haven’t seen many out-of-the-lab moments thus far, so it’s a nice change.

The contestants walk into the lab, I think, where McKenzie is standing, all formal-like, in front of a mock government seal and 2 rows of metal chairs. In a slightly cheesy fashion, McKenzie does her best FBI impression, telling the contestants that this week they’ll have a “focus challenge,” meaning it’ll all about that face, ’bout that face, no fabri…. cation… sorry. These challenges entered the competition a few seasons ago, after the fabrication factor got a little out of hand. I think these challenges are necessary and can tell a lot about an artist, but they don’t always make for good TV.

This is also the first individual challenge (yay!), which is a TON of pressure – a focus challenge and individually? No blaming the teammate? Yikes.

Each contestant must develop a realistic disguise makeup, with an attempt to make their model as unrecognizable as possible. Damn. That is HARD.

McKenzie points out that this isn’t just something that happens in the entertainment industry. (Good, because at this point, all I can think of Mrs. Doubtfire/Ve.) In order to put people deep undercover, the FBI and other government agencies rely on extremely talented artists to assist with disguises.  Surprisingly, it’s Michael Westmore who has tremendous real life experience here. Mr. Westmore explains some of his experiences, including disguises for Michael Jackson, the LAPD, and… wait, did he just say he helped someone hold up a casino?

Mr. Westmore offers some sage advice, and then the artists are presented with their models. It’s also revealed that this week’s guest judge is Gale Anne Hurd. Before releasing them, McKenzie offers a stern warning that the judges will be looking for detail and perfect edges. Easy-peasy.

Njoroge decides he’ll be changing his blonde female model into an Asian male, a drastic change right off the top. I’m eager to see how Njoroge performs on his own, since he’s proven fairly useless on teams. He’s extraordinarily confident he can kill this, which leads me to believe the final makeup goes strong one way or the other.

Melissa is super stoked for the challenge, saying she’s got a ton of experience changing herself into a male character. In fact, when she’s discussing how she dresses up as Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny, I honestly can’t tell if the image they pull up a picture of her or Charlie himself. Impressive. She’s turning her female into an older female, so this will be all about aging.

Robert is changing his female model into a male maintenance man. He immediately expresses my concern, that she is a tiny, tiny person. Making her a believable male will be difficult. Robert is just happy he doesn’t have to work with anybody else.

Yvonne is turning her average-looking male model into…. a heavy metal musician? Part of the challenge is to make sure that these “agents” can getaway without being noticed. Heavy metal musicians aren’t particularly average-looking… This is a questionable decision, Yvonne.

Just before we move on to Mel, I said to Cory, who was watching with me, that the artists who got females really lucked out. It’s much easier to change a small, feminine face into anything, as opposed to a larger, more structured male face.

Mel reiterates my exact sentiments. She’s turning her female into an elderly man, apparently something that brings her great joy.

Kaleb is looking to hit it out of the ballpark, so he’s planning to turn his white female into an Eastern Indian woman… And I can’t help but think that it would be poor form to turn any agent into a completely different race – putting aside the PC-ness of it, I would also imagine it’s incredibly impractical. It would probably mean much heavier makeup, more drastic appliances, making the odds of being spotted much, much higher. Just a thought…

Rob is going for the “blend into a crowd” look, changing his young model with darker features to a fair-skinned, strawberry blonde, middle-aged man.

Anna’s design is aiming for the hipster look, but… given her male model’s headshot, it looks more like she designed a costume. It’s gonna take some tough facial work to get this guy to look like a different version of himself.

Anna also mentions that the challenge must be completed today — did I miss that? Maybe those are the general rules for a Focus Challenge, and I just forgot. 10 hours in the lab Day 1, then 4 hours for application on Day 2 + last looks. Got it.

Mr. Westmore is back for a walk-through. He meets Walter first, where we see he’s changing his black male into an older, (white?) biker dude. Here’s where “cartoony” comes in, though it’s not nearly as drastic as last week’s situation.

Katie is going for an older, darker-skinned maintenance man, now making me forever question every maintenance person I see.

Johnny, who we hadn’t seen much this episode (meaning he’ll be safe, at the end), explains to the Westmores his concept. His model, who has very, very distinct features, will be turned into an African-American male (I think).

With Njoroge, McKenzie expresses her surprise at the concept, and Michael makes some very strong suggestions about the eye shape.

Melissa is working on skin texture, using a technique where she sculpts through a sheet of plastic, giving the sculpt softer, more natural detail. It looks pretty amazing right now.

Again, we see a rare scene of the contestants eating at said table, which I now realize is attached to the outside of the lab. How long has that been there?

Rob, who seems to be very nervous, asks Melissa about her past experiences. We see more photos of Melissa dressed as male characters, saying that she was the tallest in her costuming group, so she often got stuck as the male. She also explains how, when playing a male, it’s not so much the face as it is the body language. This is true. I’ve been in many an acting class where the sole activity was learning how to carry yourself like the opposite sex. It takes some practice, but it makes a big difference. Stuffing can also help, but that’s a conversation for another day. True though, because the girls then have a laugh at men adjusting themselves, something Walter seems to bristle at a bit. Sorry, Walter, I have no sympathy for your offense at sexist generalizations.

Mel, as per usual, is having severe doubts about her old age gender swap.

The day ends with minimal panic.

Application Day starts with Melissa punching hair into her piece to create eyebrows, but she’s not thrilled with how it’s turning out. Rob is spending a lot of time perfecting the bald cap, since his guy will have a receding hairline.

Mel’s confidence comes back as she’s painting, giving the model (and us!) a lesson in the vascular system of the human body, and how it creates our skin tone. Basing out the makeup in red seems very smart.

Njoroge starts laying facial hair, which he admits is not something he excels at. He’s not particularly proud of it, but when comparing himself to the others, he’s 100% sure he’s got it.

Katie has given her model an accidental spray tan, which she can’t seem to rectify.

Robert shares his tape trick to laying hair, and from what we see, it looks genius.

Kaleb’s East Indian skin tone is looking like The One With Ross’s Tan: 2016-02-04 15.45.09

So that’s problematic. Going into Last Looks, Kaleb is sad. At time an hour later, Kaleb is still very sad.

My Amateur Impressions:

Anna’s Hipster Dude: I have no idea how he looks in person, but he looks pretty terrible from the nose down on screen. The facial hair is falling strangely, and there’s odd texturing on his cheeks. Huh.

Katie’s Repairman man man man: Uh….. well… he’s looking a bit Wayne Newton-y. but with a sneer and a ‘stache.

Walter’s Biker Bro: Hm. It’s okay. The eyebrows seem a little too large, but the paint job is good.

Rob’s Tourist: I LOVE IT. Love it. Up close, on screen, there is nothing signaling that this man is fake. The skin texture and coloring looks right, the eyebrows and facial hair look good. Love it.

Robert’s Tiny Maintenance Person: She looks pretty good. The facial hair works.

Yvonne’s Rock Star: Um…. no. Well, not no. Just not yes. The face is bland, man. I don’t buy him as a rocker. An aging rocker would certainly show more signs of his lifestyle. And to be honest, he doesn’t look that different.

Njoroge’s Asian Kid: I don’t know. Still looks like a girl to me. The facial hair is a major distraction.

Melissa’s Boss Lady Agent: Whoa. So the mouth and neck look amazing. (My mom always says you can tell a woman’s real age by her neck.) But something disastrous went down with the eyes, and since the show spent so little time with Melissa once she started applying, I have no idea what happened.

Johnny’s Dreadlock Dude: It’s not terrible. The wig is questionable, but not detrimental.

Kaleb’s East Indian Woman: Yeah, there’s obvious problems with the paint job. The edges around the mouth are glaring, as well.

Mel’s Old Man: I kinda like it. The wrinkles and lips look good, although there might be some color differences between the top of the head and the rest of the face?

The Professionals’ Impressions:

Neville calls the Hipster “toy-like.” Glenn thinks Katie was trying to make her dude look sweaty, though he might be giving her more credit than she deserves there. After removing her glasses, Tiny Maintenance Person looks even better (ah, a classic make-over story). Gale, a very serious judge, questions the choice for Njoroge to go Asian. She also likes the neck of Boss Lady, while Glenn questions what happened above the eye.

Top Looks? Robert and Rob, with Rob taking the crown for this difficult, individual challenge.

At this point, I think it’s time for Njoroge to go home. He was a failure on a team twice, and hasn’t proven much on his own here. ….. Aaaaaand, he goes. Sorry, Njoroge. You seem nice. But it really was time.

Overall Thoughts: This was an episode where the challenge was really tough and important, but unfortunately, tiny detail work and skin tone struggles don’t make for interesting TV. Some of the editing choices were odd, too. Why didn’t we see what happened to Melissa’s makeup? It’s ultimately an episode for someone who really, really likes this show.

Beauty in Words:

“It’s like that scene from Scarface. Hey Clay, say hello to my little friend! …. It’s bliss.” – Robert, discussing his love of the power washer.

“The hair… it’s possible that somebody can have that big a hair –”
“I’m sitting right here.” Neville and Glenn, discussing Katie’s work. You decide who said what.

–Tonight’s #Nevilleisms happened as Neville was live-tweeting the show:

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