"Face Off" Season 3, Episode 2: The pirate life for me

Eric's take on the sci-fi make-up competition's "Pirates of the Caribbean" challenge


Following the excitement of the season premiere's team challenge -- and I'm referring more to Joe's five-star nuttery than the "Star Wars" task -- last night's episode gave us a better sense of the S3 competitors' individual skill levels. Seems to me that, on the whole, we have a bunch of very good technicians, but the creativity seems to be lacking.

The task was to create "Pirates of the Caribbean"-style characters that had been consumed by the sea; each contestant was assigned a pirate-related item (kelp, shells) that had to be incorporated into the looks. The good news is that there are at least three or four VERY skilled members of this group, who are already performing at higher levels than most of what we saw during Season 2 of this show. In fact, most of the creations that fell into the middle of the pack had at least some redeeming qualities about them.

Before we get into the individual looks, some notes on a few of the contestants. Rod, who won the "Star Wars" challenge (although it seemed from my couch that his partner on the task, Roy, did the lion's share of the work on their ambitious project), started off the second episode with his arm in a brace. He apparently worked so hard, so fast during the first challenge that he inflamed the tendons in his hand/arm. He knows that by continuing on the show his injury could possibly get worse, but he refuses to quit. I think I find that admirable, but I worry about the long-term health consequences for the guy.

Tommy, the floppy-haired kid who get bulldozed by crazy Joe last week, did OK on his first solo challenge. I was hoping he would turn out something amazing and shock everybody, and his kelp creation was solid. But he made a couple of rookie mistakes (the wig, which was central to his look, didn't fit properly). He's likable, but probably too green for this show.

But not as green as Alana, who is already grating on my last nerve. Listen, Alana is cute, seems sweet, and has a good story -- she's the girlfriend of S2 runner-up Ian. But she is SUCH a spaz in the workroom that it's impossible to root for her. Two episodes in a row she was running around the studio like a crazy person, injuring herself on the equipment, and freaking out about not having time or knowing what she was doing. In both challenges she has required help from other designers to get her works finished (I think she had three other contestants helping her with her molds this time, and that's not counting the advice she was constantly seeking from her competitors), and she just BARELY got her make-ups ready in time. Thing is, she is talented. She's creative and can do the work. She just has such poor time- and stress-management skills that I find her exhausting to watch. Girl. Calm down. Focus. Do your work. Enough with the histrionics.

At judging, the top looks were easy to pick out from the rest of the lot. Roy's dagger pirate had a spectacular color palette -- a purple base with an elaborate sea urchin-festooned headpiece -- and he worked in his daggers in a cool way, by having the knives embedded in the pirate's ribcage. Laura's shell creation was a real show-stopper, with a headpiece that totally changed the shape of her model -- it was the only one that didn't look baseline human -- and the make-up even "breathed" with the monster. Very cool stuff.

But the win, I think correctly, went to Sarah's sea-urchin-infected sea wench, whose skin was cracked and bursting forth with urchin spines and yellow goo. The whole look was sick, and Sarah's costuming background was put to great use. Sarah also understands the importance of presentation. She waited for the judges to take a closer look before having her model activate the ooze trick, which, in the words of head judge Glenn Hetrick, pushed her over the top. Sarah's got the goods -- as do Roy and Laura -- and I hope they can sustain this level of work throughout the season.

The Bottom 3 were markedly less impressive, with CC's uninspired barnacle dude, Eric's amateurish spyglass guy, and Jason's completely baffling jewel pirate getting drubbed by the judges. CC seemed lost from the very beginning of the episode -- I wondered if she didn't know what a barnacle was -- and her make-up was boring, too symmetrical, and oddly colored. Eric did an OK job with the majority of his look, but the most important part -- a spyglass that he had built into his pirate's eye -- looked like a joke, with a really hokey paint job. It's something you might see in a high-schooler's homemade horror video. He also did not take criticism well, letting out a string of obscenities after the evaluation. If the producers are hoping for a brother vs. brother finale they're going to have to string these guys along, because I don't think either of the twins has what it takes at this point.

Pretty, pretty Jason really worried me this week. He went SO off the map with his jewel assignment that I can't imagine he's long for this show. His concept, a jewel thief who got attacked by an octopus that then...impregnated him, I guess, went in such a bizarre tangent, and the final look resembled a sweaty Vegas lounge lizard more than anything sea-related. He argued that he was going for a believable creation, but to me that was about as lifelike as something out "The Klumps."

CC was the easy boot this time, but I'm worried for both Eric and Jason. They're my eye candy this season, and both of them displayed some very poor creative instincts that should get them axed sooner rather than later. Eric has the twin gimmick working in his favor, but yeah -- overall, not a good showing for either of them.

Next: the Chinese zodiac, with an added acrobatic element.