This episode’s challenge was to create a Skeksis, the bird-like, reptilian creatures from the 1982 movie The Dark Crystal, who has been banished to a faraway land but is returning, changed and evolved, after its time away. The contestants will be judged on sculpting, mechanization, and costume.
The contestants are combined into groups of three, and Russ and Tina are grouped together AGAIN. After their horrible blow-up at each other during judging last week, I was excited to see how Round 2 would go in this episode. Russ says that he is pleased to work with Tina once more so that they can redeem themselves, but I’m a little skeptical about that. Especially after the personality clashes begin all over again as soon as they start to work. I feel bad for Ivonne because she’s paired with these two, but it also gives us some perspective: Tina really is the problem because she’s basically just annoying and hard to work with.
Each team is assigned a different land for their Skeksis to be returning from: frozen wasteland, decaying forest, or arid desert – everyone is happy about their faraway lands of banishment.
This week the creatures are much more complex and, therefore, a lot more exciting to watch. We get to see what goes into the mechanization of the creatures. Here’s a hint – it’s complicated and deals with robotics. All of the tech talk went over my head, but that’s the great thing about the show: you don’t have to understand exactly how it all works. Getting a glimpse behind the scenes and then seeing it all come together at the screen test is like magic. Too much technical jargon would take away some of the mystifying qualities of the creatures, and therefore, the joy you feel when you see them come to life. Thankfully, the show keeps the jargon to a minimum and doesn’t try to over-explain the nuts and bolts of the mechanizations, much to the benefit of all of us non-engineers watching.
Tina volunteers to work with the animatronics on her team even though she’s not quite sure what she’s doing, and she, of course, wastes a ton of time and then screws it up. Ivonne and Russ end up having to pick up Tina’s slack. Ivonne has a ticket on the Tina Trainwreck this week, and she doesn’t seem too happy about it. Russ, admirably, manages to not yell at her this episode.
Ben does an amazing job with his group’s animatronics, making a fin that pops up, eyeballs that move via remote control, and a nose that kind of snarls.
Two groups decide, independently of each other, to add a little extra creature onto their Skeksis design. Uh oh! Now it looks like they copied each other! This, however, never seems to cross the judges’ minds during the screen test, so Melissa stressed out for nothing. Melissa does, however, endear herself to me this episode with her positivity and enthusiasm. She’s just very likeable. Her group makes a little bug creature that she controls during the screen test, which the judges love. Tina’s group made a little squirrel creature that apparently was supposed to provide pee for their creature to drink in the desert?
Yeah, the judges don’t get it either.
This week’s screen test is WAY more awesome because the creatures have so much more to do. Last week they just flopped around, but this week they walk across the stage, make noises, and the creators use remote controls to move their Skeksis’ eyes around. One creator from each team gets to perform with another puppeteer inside their Skeksis, one mans the remote control for the animatronics, and the third is just there for moral support, I guess.
Robert, Josh, and Melissa get overall good marks, and their creature eventually wins. Robert wins the challenge after being in the bottom two last week, but I personally think that Melissa should have won. She was the real leader on the team, and she created the little extra creature that the judges really liked. Because she is an awesome person, she congratulates Robert and seems genuinely happy for him.
Jake, Lex, and Ben’s Skeksis also finishes in the top because they worked so well together and created a really cohesive creature. Ben was also a contender for me to be the winner this week because of how great his mechanics were, but hey, I’m not a judge on the show.
Ivonne, Russ, and Tina are on the bottom. Their creature is pretty much a hot mess. It’s especially embarrassing when the mechanized parts don’t work at the judges’ table. They don’t like the eyes, the little extra creature, the animatronics, or the costuming, which is pretty much the whole creature. In a shocking twist, Tina gets eliminated! She totally deserved to go, but I thought that a character as polarizing as her would stay around and cause conflict until at least the midpoint of the season.
Maybe there’s some integrity to this reality show? It seems like there just may be, and I give the producers a lot of respect for making decisions based on actual talent instead of who will create the most drama.
I give this week’s episode a 4/5 – up a whole point from last week as I was sure it would be. The creatures are getting more complex and we’re starting to get to know the personalities of the contestants. It can only get better from here.