The winner and loser this week on Face Off.

Every reality TV contest has to up the ante from season to season, and Syfy’s “Face Off” added a twist to the special effects makeup contest by bringing back eight former contestants to face off (pun intended) with eight newbies this season. In the premiere Tuesday, they even divided them up into two teams of vets vs rookies, which just wasn’t fair.

But hey, someone’s head has to roll, right?

The series kickoff introduced the newbies at a masked reception party, and the eight souls had a big surprise when McKenzie Westmore asked the other eight cast members to come out: The eight vets had been mingling in the crowd with masks on.

As you can imagine, the newbies were less than enthused.

The vets jumped out right away with the first challenge to pick one of the reception guests and create a makeup to go with their costumes. Three looks stood out above the others: Laura Tyler’s Underworld Queen, Roy Wooley’s incredible caricature makeup, and Tate Steinsiek’s Evil Princess makeup. While all were amazing, Tate won the challenge, although I thought Roy’s character, who looked like he was an animated sketch, was stunningly original.

Face Off - Season 5

But one thing was clear even on this first challenge for immunity… this season’s competition is going to be fierce. And epic.

So they went on to the big challenge were the contestants were split up into two teams: Vets vs rookies. Each team of eight had to create five classic fantasy characters: the ogre, the witch, the troll, the faun and the pixie, with all belonging in the same fantasy world.

Both the ogre characters took more than one team member, and both with seriously ugly results. The bad kind of ugly, unfortunately. Proportions were off on both team’s creations, putting both sets of artists on the potential chopping block. But with a huge win for the vets overall (surprise, surprise) the vets ogre team was safe. That left Eddie Holecko and Steve Tolin with their feet to the fire. But one other rookie team member — Adolfo Barreto Rivera — found himself in hot water when he had many technical problems with cracking molds and was barely able to even get his prosthetics in place before the last hour. So he only had one hour to try to do all his painting.

To his credit, Adolfo knew he hadn’t done his best work. The same couldn’t be said for the other two artists, and Tolin, in particular, who rated it a 7.5 out of 10 when asked. To say judge Glenn Hetrick didn’t agree… well, you could feel the collective cringe in the room when Tolin gave him that answer.

“I find it hard to get behind any decision you made with this makeup, at all,” said Glenn, in typically blunt fashion. And ultimately, Tolin, who had sculpted the head of the ogre, was sent home.

On the good side, Alana Schiro and Miranda Jory’s pixie collaboration was gorgeously sinister and technically sound, earning them the top look and Miranda the win for the day. Another standout this week came from a rookie team: Laney Parkhurst and Rick Prince’s faun was a top look and contender for the win, which means these two rookies may be ones to watch, despite Rick’s less than stunning performance on the immunity challenge. But they held their own in week one against the vets, so keep an eye on them.


Tate’s baby-eating troll and Laney and Rick’s faun.

Face Off airs Tuesday nights on Syfy.  Check back for weekly recaps and photos from each episode.

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