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Episode Recap: Abstract Aliens
16 Face Off alums return for another chance at winning, but there is a new twist. Oh, and there’s aliens.
Everybody's coming back together for one more reunion. Gage, Ben, Cig, Spicoli, Mr. Hand – OK maybe not those last two. But it seems like the world's greatest high school reunion with some of our favorite artists from all 10 Face Off seasons, so why not throw in a couple more icons?
The vets will team up with only one partner for the whole season, but that's not the only way this go-round is different. Each week, one team will win immunity for the next challenge; but the following week, one team will be eliminated. That means everybody has at least one chance to bite it hard (creatively speaking) without getting eliminated. What a relief!
The contestants stand on a seaside cliff awaiting their first challenge, where McKenzie ramps up the excitement by arriving via Coast Guard helicopter. She steps out, shakes her hair out Top Gun style, and tells everybody not to let their egos write checks their bodies can’t cash. And also that they’ll choose a rare sea creature as inspiration for this week’s challenge. They'll be creating aliens unlike any ever seen on Face Off, because this time they’ll be able to use green screen technology to realize their imaginations’ wildest visions. Their creations can float, fly, disappear, or have holes right through their chests – welcome to the future, where anything is possible.
Ben and Evan are especially excited about this challenge – they were hoping for it all through Season 9. Their creature is a Japanese spider crab, which of course calls for two enormous, segmented legs instead of eight. But they have trouble recovering from a heavy hit – that is, their heavy clay sculpture hitting the floor. They lose a bunch of time and a bunch of self-confidence, and they can't quite make it back on track. When it comes time for Evan to sculpt and fabricate the giant legs, detail is lost, and the sense of proportion goes out the window. They wind up with what Ve calls “totem pole legs painted by a three-year-old”. Ouch. That hurts more than 30 pounds of clay smacking the floor at full speed. With that critique, it's no surprise that they're in bottom looks. Per the seasons rules, they're not eliminated - but they're going to have to show and prove next week in order to stay alive. Not literally. There's no corporal punishment in Season 11.
That we know of.
But there's always a twist, so who knows.
Stella, that wild child from Season 7 and Jasmine, also a wild child from Season 9, are teamed up and ready to bring the ruckus. They have a great idea to have the long tentacles of their Helmet Jellyfish puppeteered by the model wearing the costume. But their calculations on what would disappear in the green screen composite are wrong. DEAD wrong. Could this be the corporal punishment moment? No, that doesn’t come until season 12.
Oh no, I’ve said too much!
Anyway. Stella and Jasmine’s model’s camouflaged hand and camouflaged puppet stick can be seen whenever they pass in front of her body as little green silhouettes that look like a hand and a stick. It ruins the illusion, but the judges also have issues with the fabrication and form language of the character. They're in bottom looks, and thanking Cthulu that this isn’t an elimination challenge.
Team Love gets a special mention – it's Cat and Nico! They're still together, you guys! And they're still just as cute. Makes you want to barf. To get the fat “mall cop” aspect of their vampire squid alien, they take a picture of George's chubby belly. He's happy to help out! And we must say, his belly looks simply dashing with Team Love’s flowy, stretchy, squid skirt.
George is always up for a laugh, especially when teamed up with Cig Neutron. They discover their Roughback Bat Fish has a snooty, aristocratic-looking face. They decide to let that lead the design of their character, a sort of Humpty Dumpty by way of “FarScape”. When Mr. Bat Fish hits the stage, he's downright laughable, but in a good way. Like we're laughing with him, not at him. OK, we're laughing at him. And he loves it.
Rachel and Gage, aka Team Rage, are taking a big risk with their design. The sculpture is fairly minimal in details, but the structure of their skeleton shrimp is highly complex. They're painting individual scales onto a skeleton that they've built so that the green screen image will look like we can see right through the model. The judges love the use of the technology, as well as Rachel's choice to insert a single cord into the see-through claw to suggest the shrimp’s internal nervous system. It's a definite success, and one of the top looks.
Also in top looks is Team Mer-wolf – that is to say, Melissa from Season 10, and Keaghlan from Season 7. They have created a psychic alien queen from their Flying Grenard fish. She is an organism that is more than an individual, made up of a hub and its collection of drones. The design and form language are so skillfully merged that you would think the creature was created by one person only. She floats and undulates in a truly aquatic way, and the shape of the head, the paint job, and the tasteful use of LED lights under the eyes make the creation rise above the rest. They are this week's winner, and have immunity going into the next spotlight challenge. We can't wait to see what happens next!