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Episode Recap: Return of the Champions

Fifteen new artists – coached by three returning champions - join forces to spawn a legion of alien creatures. Guest Judge: Rick Baker.


In a palatial purple ballroom, 15 fresh faces take in the arena of their first challenge in this season of Face Off. As their imaginations race to different possibilities for the task ahead, McKenzie appears as if descending from Mt. Olympus with divine news: three former Face Off champions will be guiding the neophytes through this season, offering advice and coaching on their way to victory.

How to Watch

Catch up on Face Off on Peacock or the SYFY App.

If the newbies were excited before, they totally blow their lids when they see the champs: Season 2 winner Rayce Bird, Season 4 winner Anthony Kosar and Season 5 winner Laura Tyler!

McKenzie tells them that the makeup stations around them will be illuminated with monitors showing iconic works from the champions’ past work: Laura’s earth mother, Anthony’s bioluminescent hybrid and Rayce’s Burtonesque cellist. On McKenzie’s go, each hopeful runs to the makeup they most admire to create a companion character for the original. The champs observe the progress from afar, noting who they’ll choose to coach. They better choose wisely – if someone from their team wins, the coach wins, as well! But if the coach’s team is completely eliminated, the coach is eliminated, as well.

McKenzie calls time and the artists drop their brushes. The champs, joined by Ve Neill ("the Aretha Franklin of the effects world," as contestant Kelly calls her), survey the companion characters and choose their teams. But before the artists head home for some much-deserved rest, Ve has a little surprise for them: she’s going to pick a winner for this Foundation Challenge, and give that person immunity in the Spotlight Challenge!

Ve loved the detail and texture that Rob put into his wizard character, a companion to Rayce's cellist, and lauds the detail and clean application of Darla's ballerina, also a companion to Rayce's piece. Darla lights up with joy and surprise when Ve names her the winner, and her whole team celebrates. (Laura gives herself a modest pat on the back for choosing Darla, as well.)

Dreams keep coming true the next day when the contestants find themselves at Vasquez Rocks, site of many otherworldly movies, to start on an alien-themed Spotlight Challenge – with feedback from seven-time Academy Award winner Rick Baker! The champion-led teams of five choose their favorite extraterrestrial crash site and start dreaming up two characters that emerged from it. Mr. Baker drops in on their brainstorms and offers his input – it's like a master class in creatures!

Back at the lab, the champions join the artists ... and so does Mr. Westmore, making this day a true academy of monster-making. Each champion gives as much advice as they can squeeze into their brief time with their teams before heading out for the day. Some teams are scratching their face sculpts and starting over, some are carefully molding and measuring cowls, and everyone wants at least five more hours to work as they pack up after the first day.

When the artists return to the lab on Day Two, an adorable menagerie of primates is poised in the middle of the room. The contestants are charmed – and also bewildered. Where are their sculptures? McKenzie shocks them, champions and all, when she reveals that the challenge has one more element: the aliens they're feverishly creating didn't land on Earth – they crashed on a planet ruled by primates of a different sort, and the teams will choose one of the furry little bundles they see before them as inspiration for a hostile third character to face their invaders.

You didn't think we’d make it through the first challenge without a twist, did you? And now we have to wait a whole week to see which team comes out on top!

See all the looks from this episode's Foundation Challenge.