Team Team Team Team. Team Team Team Team. Na na na NA na NA! TEAM!
Let’s talk about teams here on Face Off since this season is all about the teams and the teamwork and the teaming up. Is this a bad thing? you ask, rhetorically, as always, because you never call and just leave me sitting here, alone, in the dark? In principle, no, of course not, I respond, thinking of the children. One of the great things about Face Off is its lack of jerks.1 But through the first five minutes of this week’s episode, I’d pretty much had my fill of anything team-based, on TV or elsewhere. It had turned me into a curmudgeon. One does not sit together in the dark, that would just be creepy.
The season’s meh concept of three teams coached by three former champions kept rearing its head all through the last few episodes as Team Rayce dwindled down to but two members. Which two? And which three have been eliminated? I have no idea – so many of the elimination challenges to date have been pair or group pieces, and the pairings never (by design) hew to the tri-team approach.2 The result has been a half-hearted attempt to inject the champion vs. champion conceit into the show now and again; when it shows up, it feels forced.3
The pairings and groupings also often muddle things more than build them to new heights. It’s rare that partners have really complimentary skills. It’s even rarer that any two people on a reality show can put their heads together and come up with a unified concept. Plus – plus – as was massively the case in last week’s body-painting challenge, these additional hurdles became the episode’s focus meaning half of the (really cool looking) quickfire pieces at the top of the hour were relegated to posed shots and no discussion or commentary. Teams – they keep getting in the way of my television.
That was a generic bundle of generic complaints, and one that I was thankfully able to put aside this week. Not only was it a solo challenge – creating horror villains in the vibe of next generation Clive Barker, inspired by avante garde futuristic fashion4 – but it took the entire episode. And it filled the entire episode. And aside from a couple of vague mentions of the duo that was once #TeamRayce – no anvil of team concept!5
The one downside to this return to standard reality show form is we’re still in the middle a 15 person winnowing. There’s still some chaff in the wheat, and still plenty of cool designs that don’t translate from the sketch, plenty of really cool looking sculpts that wind up looking flat or meh when painted. I was kinda disappointed by the unevenness on display across the nine remaining competitors. Four – four6 – looks were cited by the judges as top looks, which strikes me as them being relieved to once again see stuff that wasn’t horribly fumbled by an unfortunate pairing that couldn’t work together.
- For a poor counter argument in favor of jerks, see Framework. ↵
- Why would you want them to? It would be the same people working with each other week after week and probably getting irritated and eventually acting like jerks. ↵
- I said it at the top – the idea of coaches and more personalized coaching is great; the idea that I’m thinking of any of the competitors in terms of the team on which they are hashtagged is more of a burden on my already taxed attention span than a reason for me to tune in. ↵
- Half of you just quit the show on the basis of that description. Don’t. It was a really good prompt and produced some pretty strong results. ↵
- It’s never been anvil-licious, it’s just been… ‘Why?’ ↵
- Why do I keep using italics? Stop me before I emphasize again. ↵