Photo: Ben Cohen / Oxygen

Getting It In Gear

Is Best Ink's biomechanical-tattoo episode more Crackerjack or Memento?


Joe calls dating "a bad investment" and "pretty much" prostitution, and makes a bunch of other sophomoric pigtail-pulling statements about how much girls drool. Alayna and Karly give him the stink-eye, not seeing that he's likely only doing it for camera time.

Flash Challenge

Hannah Aitchison's brother guy -- "tattoo legend" Guy Aitchison and a leader in the biomechanical-tattoo genre -- announces their Flash brief: they'll have to turn the faces of their fellow artists into biomech art, drawing on big photos.

Lara struggles because Willy has a beard and neck tats; Karly's also up against it thanks to Darnell's beard and darker skin tone. Still, some cool stuff is going on, like Romeo's Danny cyborg featuring lots of silver marker, and Lara's pipe nostril for Willy.

Guy clocks many of the Inkers for overambition and failure to unify their art, and Romeo missed opportunities to incorporate Danny's Mohawk; Darnell and Karly end up on top, with Darnell the winner of a thousand dollars and an advantage in the main challenge.

Ink Challenge

It's the face-off episode, with the artists paired off against one another; the winners skate through, the losers could head home. Darnell's advantage is that he gets to pick the match-ups, and it's a genuine leg up this time.

Pete Wentz, wearing a men's top this week, says somewhat redundantly that it's a biomech challenge, and Alayna something something where did she get that rad lobster necklace? Want. And at first I thought it was a tiny lobster tattoo -- also rad. Anyway: she has no biomech experience and she's concerned.

But she's paired against Danny, which gives her a better shot. Romeo's against Lara, and ready to put her in her place (Lara, of course, is "insulted" that Darnell thinks that's an even contest); Karly's against her chauvinemesis, Joe; and Darnell picked Willy for himself. This is more peacocking than decent strategy, but Darnell's like, to win I have to beat the kid eventually, "so why put it off."

The skins talk about their inspirations, including being plump as a child, a skateboarding accident, biomech hearts to remember sick parents, and "a tattoo about psychology"? Okay then.


Karly has a future in the diplomatic corps based on her tactful "…sure?" response to her skin wanting a cancer ribbon somewhere in his biomechanical heart. She makes a "why don't you just shoot me out of a cannon to LAX, it's faster" face but hides it from the client, and comes up with a compromise where the cancer ribbon powers the heart that isn't too smurfy.

Danny's skin, meanwhile, just bails; he gets another skin, and the full five hours, but he'll have to design on the fly and he's annoyed that it's unfair.

While Willy admits that Darnell's skills are getting in his head, Joe finishes early yet again and rolls over to Karly's station to talk shit.

Biggest Gap Between Challenge Brief And Tattoo Art

Lara's looks like a pin-up with tentacle hair to me, nothing we haven't seen from her before and not that mechanical in my opinion.

Tattoo I Would Consider Copying

I don't love any of them, but Danny really rules grey-scale work, and his dropped-jaw skull with clock elements is pretty nice.

Client Who's Saving For Laser

Darnell's color story -- bloody heart center with rot-green edges -- is not purposefully ugly; it's just ugly. And I like Karly's workaround, but the tat itself, just no.


Hannah and Capobianco mostly agree with me about Darnell's -- cool composition, ugly color clash -- but because Willy's lacks depth and incorporates yet another signature microphone, Darnell wins this face-off. Based on the challenge brief, I'm fine with it.

Danny is also clipped by Sabina for not showing much variety -- he always uses skulls and stacks his images the way he's done here. Good note; I wouldn't have spotted that on my own. Hannah loves his saturation and line weight, but isn't sure it's biomech, technically, and I wish they'd taken some time to say why it isn't, but Alayna's is. Regardless, and even though Alayna's looks "plopped down" per Capo, she has the "classic elements" (again, that needed more specifics for the viewers), and she's the winner. Disagree.

The judges don't hate Lara's, but Sabina points to the dead eye of the girl, and Romeo "impressed the shit out of" Hannah with his pistons. That is pretty original, and he wins.

Karly is also praised for getting "the fundamental look" and for getting ambitious; I think Joe's is better, but the judges' comments on why his glass effect didn't work are interesting, and he has immunity, so I'm okay with Karly winning that pairing.

Karly is the overall winner, because evidently she does the best job with the biomech part of the challenge, but we civilians needed a little more help with the rationale there. Willy, Lara, and Danny land in the bottom, and because it's two top dogs and one guy who did a decent tat with his back to the wall, Capo has to waaaaaay exaggerate the shittiness of their results. The reality is, none of the work is awful, but Capo has to hammer how far each of them departed from the biomech brief; his heart obviously isn't in it, possibly because he doesn't have time to get into it so the audience will get it.

In any case, Danny is sent home. Was he going to get much further? Probably not, but to go out on good work is a shame.

Quote Du Jour

"Put a lot of girls in a room together and watch nothing happen." -- Joe thinks you can't spell "ladiez" without "lazy"

Crackerjack Or Memento?

Danny is hilarious on his way out about how he's psyched to do a tattoo without Capobianco over his shoulder; overall, an entertaining and well-paced ep not harmed too much by slightly contrived judging. Memento.

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