Last night’s live episode of “Ink Master” is down to the final three tattoo artists competing for an editorial feature in Inked magazine, the monetary prize of $100,000 and the most enviable of all prizes; the title of “Ink Master.” Last week, awesome tattooer and cancer survivor Halo was sent home, in a controversial decision, which even left Dave Navarro with a lump in his throat. Never before has the competition been so tightly matched at the end.
As the episode titled, “Ink Master Live” begins, the three finalists were introduced; Walter “Sausage” Frank, Matti Hixson and Scott Marshall to loud screams, cheers and applause from the live audience. Among the audience members were the first three season winners, Shane O’Neill, Steve Tefft, and Joey Hamilton, who tattooed live during the entire performance. Also among the audience members, were the three amazing tattoo artists from Spike’s “Tattoo Nightmares.” Big Gus, gorgeous Jasmine and runner-up on season one of “Ink Master,” Tommy Helm. A reference to the theme of season five that rivals will be appearing, gave a sneak peek of two bitter rivals from season three Jason Clay Dunn and Joshua Hibbard, who will be appearing in the season five which begins on September 2.
Next, Dave read some tweets from fans, showing their admiration, empathy and voicing their opinion about the overwhelming consensus of favoritism towards Scott. Chris Nunez added his assessment that it was a game intended to push the artists to do their best work, but it is also entertainment. It is meant to push buttons, and it is how the game is played by the individuals, who must remember they are there for $100,000. Sausage gave his thoughts, that his problem was never with the judging, but with Scott. Whenever Scott won a challenge, he would just return to the loft and boast like a proud peacock. Scott countered that he heard him crying under the covers, and he would rather be a proud winner than a whiney crybaby. When Sausage called him a bully, Dave reminded them of the time constraints and ended the argument then and there.
The next segment showed the work involved in doing the three large back tattoos, done by the three artists. Scott and Sausage each had a woman to tattoo while Matti had a man. The master canvases were presented next, and each was a woman with interpretations added by both the artists and canvases. The 35-hour tattoos were all beautiful, and as the judges critiqued them, there was little negative to say. Clips of the tattooing being performed were shown, and 35-hours is a long time, even when spaced out in shorter increments.
When asking the tattooers that did not make it to the final three about “playing the game,” Melissa Monroe stated in response to a tweet, that everyone "should play the game like Scott," she said Sausage played with integrity, and it is not necessary to throw everyone under the bus to win. Scott defended himself by stating that he helped Melissa in her showdown versus Gentle Jay. Then Jay stated that he had to help her, because if she did not win, he would now be up there against him.
Dave then introduced an artist who was not yet seen on stage. He was voted back to season four as America’s favorite, but his time in the competition came to an explosive end. He then introduced Kyle Dunbar, who came to the stage and shook hands with all three finalists. After that he confronted his accuser, Chris. Kyle defended his feelings by stating that when Chris called him a name and told him he could have justifiably gone home when his name never came up in the deliberations. He felt that he should not have been singled out and then to have another artist relay the message to him, put him over the edge. Oliver asked Ashley to comment on her explosive departure, when Kyle berated her for leaving, she stated that karma was a bitch.
When the critiques of the three master canvases began, Sausage was first. Oliver liked his design, the way it fit her curves and even tied in nicely with her previous tattoos. There were no anatomical flaws, one thing he did not feel was something they did not see from him throughout the competition was the color saturation. He knew that both judges do not like wall-to-wall color and wanted to keep the tattoo feminine. In his defense, he knew that there was healing involved in such a big piece, and the 35 hours flew by. When he does pieces this large, he spends more time on them.
Matti’s critique consisted of Oliver telling him that there were some anatomical flaws in the girl’s neck and the snake could have been shaped better, he also stated that the bottom looked rushed and unfinished. Chris mentioned the open areas, and the solid areas needed to flow more and were the parts that needed more work.
Scott’s tattoo had the most dynamic color that Oliver said punched through, but by putting so much emphasis on the key areas, he did not spend enough time seeing how the tattoo would finish. Chris liked the tattoo, as well as all his other work; he agreed with Oliver’s critique, but the focal points were what gave it life.
Dave then announced the winner of America’s vote as to who should be in the final two, and it was overwhelmingly, Sausage. The other finalist was Scott. Sorry Matti!
Just before naming the winner, the judges spoke to each of them. Oliver addressed them, he mentioned how the top four, Sausage, Matti, Scott and Halo won all the competitions, and now they are down to the final two, who put forth such a quality of work. Chris said great minds think alike, and they basically did the same tattoo, each putting their own spin on them. Although they are rivals, great minds did think alike. When Dave made the announcement, it was dead silence in the studio as everyone waited, then Scott was told by Dave, that he did have what it took to be “Ink Master.” As the finale ended, there were a mixture of applause highlighted by loud boos.