"Face Off" Season 3: Borg this way


Well, THAT was a bummer. Last night's "Face Off," in which we went from five contestants to four, felt more like a slump to the finish line than a race to the finale. Burnout is to be expected at this stage of the competition, but it's really starting to affect several of the competitors, and one in particular basically demanded that the judges send her home.

The task this time saw the Final 5 - Derek, Nicole, Laura, Roy, and Sarah - sent to a junkyard, where they had to salvage wreckage. Their found objects then had to be incorporated into a cyborg look. Perhaps I'm being ridiculous here, but I found "build a cyborg" a little bland as far as challenges go. We've had some cool tasks on this show, and some bizarre tasks (remember last season's animal/plant hybrid?), but this seemed...uninspired. Cyborgs. I feel like we see something at least related to that on a weekly basis on this show.

The only plot points worth noting before we got to the final looks were Sarah's continued implosion and Laura's surprising falter. As to the latter, we've all come to expect Laura to send out impeccable, interesting work every week. Up until last night I don't think she created a make-up all season long that wasn't extraordinary. But competition fatigue must be setting in, because last night she was all over the place. She couldn't settle on a concept, going between two very different ideas and then foolishly trying to merge them together at the last minute. She created this really ugly, poorly constructed fabrication piece for her model's back. None of it worked, and I actually worried that she could be sent home - she's my favorite to win the whole thing.

As for Sarah, I really have no idea what happened to her. In the beginning of the competition she was killing it week after week - her "Star Wars" and her pirate looks were exceptional. But for the past month at least she has churned out weak make-up after weak make-up, doing considerably less work than most of the other designers and barely skating by. Her go-to excuse is that she doesn't get the references they're asking for, because she had a fairly sheltered childhood. She used that line last night related to cyborgs, and again in the "Alice in Wonderland" zombie challenge. I guess I don't understand how you go on a show like this, which is so steeped in sci-fi, without making sure that you have a pretty good grasp on major genre conventions. That seems very foolish to me.

The remaining three designers - Derek, Roy, and Nicole - all turned in very good work. Derek's head sculpt ended up being my favorite, with the light-up Cyclopean eye, and I loved Roy's peel-away scalp to reveal brains (plus his giant fabricated mech pack). But it was a resurgent Nicole and her glamorous yet deadly cyborg queen that got the win. I thought it was a cool make-up. Very sexy, very dangerous, and as judgeVe Neill said, ready for filming. But it did not read "cyborg" to me. That may be why Nicole won - it was an unfamiliar take on a familiar concept. Anyway, that's two wins in a row for the returned contestant. She admitted that the second time through she's making work she would like to see, as opposed to what she thinks the judges want. Smart answer!

Ultimately, for I think the first time in the show's history (possibly any reality show, actually), there wasn't even a Bottom 2. The judges said there was just a straight-up Bottom 1. They dragged Sarah out to the middle of the stage and basically said, "Baby, it's over." She knew it was coming, and I think she was partially relieved, as well as partially frustrated. I would like to read an interview with her, because I suspect she ended up psyching herself out to a fantastic degree over the past few weeks. There's no question she's got the goods. I mean, come on - that urchin pirate was creative as all hell. How do you go from there to a handful of wires? It makes no sense.

Too bad, because I initially figured she'd be in the finale with Roy and Laura. Now it'll be an interesting battle for third between Derek and Nicole - unless Laura's slide continues next week, which would absolutely break my heart.