I have to give a lot of credit to SyFy. The live Face Off finale last night was one of the better reality TV reveal episodes I've seen. McKenzie Westmore got to show off her great personality that makes the contestants like her so much. The judges (sans Ve, who had to work on the second Hunger Games film, proving she still does application work) got to show off a more casual side and even the contestants who didn't last long were given the chance to shine. SyFy is fast becoming one of the top networks for original reality TV programming and they're doing it without sacrificing their genre focus. The final three contestants were given another live performance challenge as their final task. They had to create a good elemental witch and a wicked demon (allegedly Halloween themed, but the judges hated the Halloween-looking demons) that could survive a high energy stunt show in front of a live audience. They had three days and the help of the eliminated contestants.
The eliminated contestants part was interesting. Alana and C.C. weren't chosen. I understand why these two would be left behind. Alana was burned out and needed a lot of help in the early part of the season. C.C. struggled with big prosthetics. However, it became clear with the difficulty level of the challenge that if Joe didn't quit in the first episode, each finalist would have had three assistants.
The quantity of work weighed down on the contestants and each finalist struggled to create two cohesive, innovative, and well-polished looks for the finale.
Laura teamed up with Rod and Tommy to create an earth witch and demon. Her concept was a witch clearly of the earth and a demon from another world. The witch was sharp and brittle, inspired by the bark of the birch tree and filled with natural elements. The demon enemy was unnatural--flabby, misshapen, and toxic looking. I thought it was a great pairing, but the judges hated how the demon looked nothing like the witch. Laura locked onto the Halloween theme of the challenge and was knocked down a bit for choosing not to make an earth demon.
Nicole chose to work with Roy and Sara. Conceptually, Nicole wanted her water witch and demon to look like they came from the same world. Her witch was beautifully styled with natural elements like sea shells and clearly read as a good (rather than evil) character. Her demon was a little less successful because of a blocky sculpt, but the rigid angles in the face and body immediately put him at odds with the witch. It was a very cohesive look, but not the most imaginative design in the contest. Her character choices were predictable and perhaps too reminiscent of the pirate challenge earlier this season.
Derek worked with Eric and Jason on a fire theme. He chose to design his characters to look good from the stage. His witch looked the most dynamic from a distance. The neon flames and molten lava exterior really popped during the stunt show. Once the camera zoomed in, the paint job was a bit too heavy-handed (very streaky and filled with over-sized clumps of unvarying color) to read as well as the other designs. His pale, almost translucent, demon was shocking. I just don't see how it was connected at all to the witch. The judges praised his demon design after dumping on Laura for not making a demon that matched her witch, so something was edited out that explained the response.
On the live finale, Nicole was declared the winner of season 3. She earned it. The edit really showed her off well on the final challenge and the judges praised her the most. The designs looked great together and Nicole had a fantastic redemption arc on the show. The Tuesday night episode was also the most watched episode of the season, so people who otherwise never saw the show judged the winner on a challenge Nicole nailed.
Nicole was a strong competitor from the start and probably shouldn't have been eliminated in the Alice/Resident Evil challenge. She had a very distinctive style and it took the judges longer than expected to realize that. Her technical execution was only topped by Laura, but Laura often toned down her vision to allow for a perfect application. And when Nicole had a working airbrush, no one could touch her paint work.
Patrick Tatopoulos said something very telling at the live finale. He was shocked that Nicole was eliminated before the redemption challenge. In two challenges (first episode had a Foundation and Spotlight challenge), he was so blown away by her vision and quality of execution that he was sure she would be a contender for the win. With Patrick at the judges' table the whole season, she might not have been eliminated at all.
What did you think of Season 3? I thought the best moment on the live finale was McKenzie Westmore realizing the show was a success when the season 4 teaser premiered. No one expected this wacky little SyFy show to get past season one and now it's one of the network's most successful--with critics and viewership--shows. Sound off with your thoughts below.