Photo: Ben Cohen / Oxygen

And Then There Were 3(D)

The final four go head-to-head with photorealism. Crackerjack, or Memento?


Alayna wants to prove she deserves final four, and isn't just a strategic pawn. Darnell will have to beat Willy sometime. Karly feels the pressure of bread-winning. Etc.

Flash Challenge

The Inkers find Joe Capobianco in the infield of a stadium. The Challenge: paint 3D designs on demolition-derby cars, then whomp into each other in the cars, then incorporate the damage into their art. The women whimper about what bad drivers they are, in 2014.

Everyone talks about their strategies for the art; nobody's art looks 3D to me; the chyron alerts us to the presence of a Fall Out Boy song on the soundtrack as the Inkers flail around in the dust and crash into one another; weeks pass. It's interminable, irrelevant, and inadvertently showcases everything that doesn't work about the FCs.

After judge Justin Bua coins the term "mish-mosh," Darnell wins for the "interactivity" of his art.

Ink Challenge

Wentz appears to announce the final-four challenge: super-realistic tattoos in 3D. Darnell is psyched; Alayna is concerned; Willy notes neutrally that photo-realistic tats are hard enough, never mind to make it look like it's popping out.

Capo says the artists will face off against each other in pairs, with both losers in danger of going home at panel. Darnell's FC win means he gets to pick his opponent. My prediction that he'll pick Willy to get it over with is not borne out, as he decides to go head-to-head with Karly.

The skins talk about their kids, their wives, and feathers at a crossroads (that's actually kind of neat, but hilariously, the Inkers all dread getting her because the color story is too flat).


Karly pulls the feather lady, and tries to pitch her on the concept of a feather pen in an inkwell just to give herself more to do. Fortunately, the skin goes for it.

Alayna's skin wants a box of chocolates…Halloween chocolates…and Alayna's like, I just hope I'm not embarrassed by my work when I inevitably get sent home. Not sure what the issue is here: it's too typically-of-Alayna sweet subject matter? it's all brown and won't pop in 3D? Capo amps up the pressure on her by noting that she probably should have gone home instead of Lara.

Darnell's tat is flowers; he says it's hard to get them to read realistically. Capo warns Willy not to make the film coming out of his camera look too cartoonish, so Willy axes that aspect.

Alayna complains that lining and shading, her biggest strengths, don't come into play in photo-realism. Darnell wants the title of Best Inker more than any of the other prizes. Karly's is turning out muddier than she'd planned. Capo doesn't sugarcoat Willy's racing the clock, and Darnell realizes he misunderstood the 3D part of the challenge (and this is where the time the show splashed out on the Flash Challenge would have come in handy with a detailed explanation of what qualifies as 3D and how it gets done).

Biggest Gap Between Challenge Brief And Tattoo Art

The judges don't seem to agree, but Karly's doesn't pop out for me, except for the ink blots.

Tattoo I Would Consider Copying

Willy's vintage camera is gorgeous, and meets the challenge without feeling show-offy.

Client Who's Saving For Laser

It's not bad; I just don't like the purple/green ribbon that dominates the color story in Alayna's.


Good tips from Capo about how Karly could have punched up the dimension with whites; he then reams Darnell for wasting his time on background instead of cast shadows that would have brought the flowers into three dimensions.

He's not a huge fan of Willy's, either; he likes the warm/cool contrast in Willy's shading, but points to a painterly quality that lessens the realism. Hannah agrees that it needed sharpening.

Everyone's quite complimentary of Alayna's -- or gentle, I guess, because what's the point of hammering on her if she's going home anyway, maybe?

No! The women both win their face-offs; I get it in Karly's case, but don't see it in Alayna's, though Capo makes sure to say they each earned their spots in the finale. Darnell is nervous about getting out of the bottom when it's a choice between him and Willy, whom the judges are slamming for not getting the challenge at all, and I'll have to call shenanigans on that -- it's not completely off-base, and this is probably a misdirect so we think Willy's going home.

After much discussion of how everyone thought we'd see these two in the finale, Willy is going home, so I guess the ginned-up-seeming statements about how he didn't meet the challenge were actually justifications instead. Either way, it's a context fail. Darnell looks genuinely stunned.

Quote Du Jour

"I'll see y'all soon, or I'll see you later." -- Darnell

Crackerjack Or Memento?

A lot of wasted time in the front half and an under-explained brief, but I'll give the show this: even when I don't agree with the assessment or outcome, Best Ink keeps it about the work and doesn't always do the expected thing. FF to the Ink Challenge, where it gets a little less Crackerjack, but...still pretty Crackerjack for a late-season episode.

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