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Episode Recap: Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Inspired by the new attraction at the Universal Orlando Resort, the artists must create an indigenous species which would inhabit King Kong's Skull Island.


Elimination used to mean "Pack up your kit," but as the final four artists rumble through dark forested trails in an open jeep, they begin to wonder if it actually means "Take a dirt nap." Melissa spots an archaeological dig site and crosses her fingers for a dinosaur challenge while Mel is glad Walter's sitting closer to the edge of the jeep, since any passing dinos will bite his head off instead of hers.

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McKenzie meets them in a clearing alongside Mike West, executive producer at Universal Creative, who uses his Moviephone baritone to welcome them to their next challenge: create an evolved version of one of the monstrous animals from King Kong's home turf of Skull Island. The winner of this challenge will not only be the first to advance to the finale but will also win an all-expense paid trip for two to experience the new attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, at Universal Orlando. Melissa wants this so bad, she can taste it; it goes without saying that she wants to be in the finale, but ohmigod it would be so cool to take her son to Universal Studios!

Melissa's creature is a crab-like arachnid which she textures with all kinds of pearls and wrinkles and such. She focuses her attention on the face, and once that's curing in the mold room, she stretches her comfort zone to fabricate a cowl/headdress, pincers, a chest plate, antennae and a moving mandible. She's gunning for that prize, baby!

Mel also makes a foray into the land of fabrication, but only after scrapping her face sculpt not once but twice. Is it risky to start the face from scratch at this stage in the game? Sure ... but what is life without a little risk? Her third and final go-round involves switching and swapping different geometric shapes around the model's face until they resemble an evolved bug. She takes the evolution a step further by moving the creature's original exoskeleton into a man-made (or, in this case, bug-made) suit of armor.

Rob thought he lucked out with his dinosaur creature –- a veritable T. Rex! –- but the pitfall is the ease with which a literally cold-blooded killer can turn into Barney the Dinosaur. He spends a lot of time getting the dino's goofy smile to resemble an intimidating sneer, and by the time Application Day arrives, he hasn't budgeted enough time for a decent paint job. Add to this mess the fact that the wardrobe doesn't cover the model's torso -- leaving acreage of skin unpainted -- and Rob starts to come to terms with the possibility that he may not be moving on to the finale.

Walter has had a smooth time with his bat-dog creature, applying wrinkles, folds and scars in the face (as is his wont) and even sculpting a unique cavernous eye shape. He wants to do something really special by creating spring-loaded wings, but as he's testing them out, the spring gets sprung! It loses all its bounce and he doesn't have time to start over. The wings are certainly not as cool as he wanted them to be, but he moves his attention on to applying a killer paint job.

Four rather excellent makeups walk onto the reveal stage and the judges have a very tough decision ahead of them. There's one clear leader, however: Melissa. The amount of work she put in, the thoroughness of her vision and the attention to detail make her creature shine. She'll be taking that trip to Universal with her son!

Next to enter the finale is Walter. He has consistently conjured gorgeous works, and this week is no exception. Although the wings could've been a lot simpler (and cooler), the creature he built is still terrifying and stunning.

Rob and Mel hold their collective breath as they wait for Glenn to announce the final winner. Mel knows she represented her talent well in the elegant, weathered character she created but wonders if her body of work over the season is strong enough, whilst Rob has faith in his sculptural powers but knows there's a lot to be desired in his paint job ...

Finally, Glenn announces the third and final finalist: Rob! He's aglow with joy at having made it to the finale, and Mel is grateful to have learned so much and come so far.