Face OffEpisodes

Swan Song
Season 5 - Episode 13
Swan Song
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A fantastic season is drawing to a close, and the three finalists prepare to head into the finale challenge, Laura and Tate for the second time, and Roy for the first. On the morning before they receive their last assignment, they each awake to find a video call from their loved ones - Roy from his wife, Laura from her husband and mother, and Tate from his parents. This reminds them why they're here, and who they'd really like to win for.

They meet McKenzie in the lab - for the last time! - and she introduces them to two stunning dancers from the Los Angeles Ballet, who perform a piece from the epic "Swan Lake". The artists know what's coming: They're going to have to create the enchanted swan princess and the evil sorcerer, and the makeups will have to stand up to a live performance of the ballet. Roy's heart sinks - ballet is not his metier, man! He knows he can pull through, however. What the artists couldn't see coming was the twist - each pair of dancers will exist in a different period of time: Industrial Revolution, Ming Dynasty, Roaring '20s, or Italian Renaissance. And of course, since it's such a big project, they'll have some help from their newbie and veteran friends. Laura picks Miranda, Eddie, and the Italian Renaissance, Tate picks Alana, Lyma and the Industrial Revolution, and Roy goes with Frank, Scott, and the Ming Dynasty.

Things start a little rocky for Roy since he feels out of his depth with ballet AND Ming Dynasty, so when Frank throws out the idea of having the sorcerer be an alchemist and the swan an automaton, Roy's team runs with it. Laura has a fairly clear sense of how to build some of the designs of the Renaissance into her sculptures, and with such skilled artists as Eddie and Miranda on her team, she's able to get the bulk of the head and cowl pieces blocked out quickly. Tate directs Lyma to sculpt some texture for the bird-like look, but it just isn't going in the direction he'd like, and he's losing valuable time.

When Mr. Westmore does his walk-through with McKenzie, he notices that Roy is not being as strong a leader as he needs to be, and cautions him that this has cost past finalists the prize. Roy takes this in, and the next day decides that the alchemist will instead be turning the young princess into gold, and then into a swan. The transition from human to gold to swan will appear on the dancer's torso as a striation from flesh to gold to feathers. The gold paint not only ties her in with the concept of alchemy, but also gives Roy a great color palate to work with, one that's coherent with his chosen era. Tate also has new, problem-solving ideas: instead of struggling with Lyma creatively, he's going to make the swan a porcelain figure turning into a clockwork figure. Lyma will paint metallic feathers to add to this effect.

One solved problem gives rise to a fresh problem: The mold for Tate's swan headpiece is full of holes. He has to spend valuable time patching it up so that the detail will show through, a job he manages to complete, but this means the headpiece for his sorcerer suffers. He'll have to run the head piece for his sorcerer in latex polyfoam instead of foam - a weak place to be going into application day.

But in what feels like a miracle, each team gets everything done, and they all look amazing! The artists are on the edges of their seats through the performance, not only because it's breathtakingly beautiful, but also because they're praying that nothing falls off! The live audience roars with applause for each makeup, and as the energy settles, it's time for the judges to look close-up. After a thorough deliberation, they realize they have perhaps the toughest decision in Face Off history on their hands. Tate's swan is beautifully conceptualized and executed, with exemplary use of asymmetry and gorgeous color work; Roy's couple are evenly matched in color palate and style, and he delivers his signature imaginative fabrication, and Laura's swan-sorcerer combo are the yin and yang of the Italian Renaissance, with an incredible amount of detailed sculpture work and a truly masterful blending of the esthetic of the time into two practical and beautiful makeups.

It is Laura's overall excellence and awareness of each element of the challenge that make her the winner! As Glenn announces her name, she can hardly believe it, and it almost looks as if Roy and Tate are holding her up with their congratulatory hugs. They warmly share in her joy as she takes her place with the Face Off champions of seasons past.

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