Face Off” finally whittled the competition down Tuesday night to three finalists who will compete for the final win and grand prize next week. Four veterans did their take on exotic birds and “Fantasies of Flight” in a real clash of the titans of makeup artists to determine who would continue in the competition. But one had to go home, just short of their shot at the grand prize they sacrificed so much to fight for.

After last week’s controversial ending, with no one going home despite a very unfinished makeup from Miranda, Laney’s voluntary departure ended up being the only artist going home for the week, clearly saving Miranda. The crazy thing is, Miranda has done so well all season, but as things progressed the last few weeks, she seemed to sort of psych herself out. Perhaps being so close to the prize got her in the wrong headspace, but she suddenly started having a terrible time making decisions and getting her work done.

Even after last week’s fiasco — which even she admitted her model did as much work on as she did — Miranda started off the spotlight challenge again spending too much time sculpting her head piece.

As bystanders and armchair makeup artists, none of us fully understand the pressure these contestants go through, and I always try to be kind, but I found myself wanting to have a Cher moment from the movie “Moonstruck…” I just wanted to smack her and say “Snap out of it!”

I don’t mean that in a mean way. Really. But even as a fan, it’s frustrating to see somebody blowing their chance. Miranda’s human and silvery-cheeked hornbill hybrid was a lot more sparse in design than the other three contestants from the get-go, so she already set herself up at a disadvantage for judging.

Tate chose the Egyptian vulture. Golly, that’s a big surprise… the horror guy taking a vulture. Tate has spent the whole season being Mr. Cool, helping other people while pulling off these huge elaborate concepts and makeups without getting stressed or losing his composure.  And he never seemed to be pressed for time except when a hand injury put him a little behind.

But tonight we got to see Tate a little more stressed out. He decided not only to do a huge elaborate sculpture but to integrate the feathers into it individually, in the mold itself. I know that’s not a good description but you’ll be able to see in the photos what I mean. It was an unreal amount of work, and this is the first time we’ve seen him show any doubt or waiver at all in his decision-making in the work room.

“You can go big, but you have to finish your work or the judges will send you home,” he said.

(Well, unless another contestant voluntarily leaves that same week.)

Laura had a cockatoo for her bird of choice. She wanted to give it some character so she decided to make it an aged version of the bird. She’s another one that usually stays very cool and collected and is known for staying composed and getting an insane amount of work done in very short time frames. But as she was doing her feathers, she realized they were taking a lot more time than she anticipated, so she was starting to worry about running out of time as well.

Laura is kind of the one that flies under the radar as far as the final TV edit. She doesn’t get into a lot of drama, or a lot of fuss… she just hunkers down and gets her work done and does the most immaculate paint jobs. She has been one of the most consistent contestants all season, and it carried her to the finals her last time around on the show.

What I’m trying to say is, if it seems like I don’t give her a lot of coverage, it’s because every week is just “Laura did another great makeup.” I’m having a hard time thinking of creative ways to rephrase it. Screw up every now and then, would you, girl? Just a little bit so there’s something to comment on, but not enough to get eliminated.

Speaking of which, was there anyone watching the show whose heart didn’t just sink when Roy dropped and broke the back part of his mold? He had suffered one other technical disaster early in the season, and barely escaped elimination. But that was when there were a ton of rookies still in the field, and plenty of people that could do worse than him.

Now, maybe I’m biased because I’m an old fart compared to most, which is to say, I’m the same age as Roy. But that moment was what defines the makeup artists that make it, and the makeup artist that don’t.

As soon as that mold fell, Roy felt his chances of going to the finale were shattered along with the bottom of that mold. “I may as well go home and pack my bags right now,” he said. And it did look hopeless. But instead of freaking out, or crying, or running to someone else to tell him what to do, Roy just took a few moments and collected himself.

And then he decided he was going to make this motherfucker work.

So he put a support on it with wood and Tate helped him flip it over to assess the damages. And instead of giving up, Roy jumped in to salvage what he could and patch it the best he could.

Having said all that, I definitely disagreed with his choice of the camouflage pants. He felt that some kind of a human and bird hybrid would be in the military serving some kind of surveillance function, I believe. I’m really not sure what the story was, but the camouflage pants were just weird. I have to confess I was shocked that no one in the judging panel nor Michael Westmore said anything about those camouflage pants. At least nothing was said in the final edit for TV.

After watching all the crap Roy went through, though, watching Miranda continue to fret over whether or not she could get all of her work done was starting to work my last nerve. She had basically a headpiece and some feathers on the arms. Everyone else did full body makeups except, well, Roy had a half-body makeup with those silly camouflage pants. But he had a full set of wings, not just a few feathers on top of his model’s arms.

When they went to final looks, and they showed Miranda asking her model to paint some of his hands, that was it for me. I believe I actually said to the TV something to the effect of “Are you seriously [BLEEP] kidding me?”

The judges critiques this week seemed much less harsh than last week. But they did have little things to pick out on almost all the makeups. On Roy’s, they hated the black squiggly lines around the eyes. Which did look kind of funny, but they didn’t seem to mind the pants so hey, they know better than me. On Laura’s they loved her aged makeup and another very nice paint job, but they did point out that the body seemed kinda bulky, which was sort of my critique of it. Maybe I’m just so used to Laura’s makeups being really elegant even when the subject matter is dark, so I was wishing it had a sleeker body. On Miranda’s they pointed out the very monotone paint job on the headpiece, but Glenn Hetrick did touch on the point that it was a “bad time to be phoning it in and ending up in the safe zone. I mean, the challenge is so much bigger than that.”

Pretty much the only criticism they came up with on Tate was that perhaps, perhaps, the paint job was a little muddy from a distance. So it was no surprise that Tate was crowned the winner of this challenge, and the first finalist.

Next, the judges announced that Laura would be the second finalist, leaving Roy and Miranda vying for the final spot.

To be honest, without a complete screw-up by Roy this week, it’s doubtful that Miranda could’ve overcome the disaster of the prior week. And because Roy held it together, and still salvaged a very nice makeup, he earned the third spot in the finale. This will be his first time making it to the finals, unlike Laura and Tate on their previous seasons.

So that means Miranda went home and certainly condolences are in order, but congratulations as well for making it so far. When Miranda was on the show before, she went home very early… In fact, I think she might’ve been the first to go home? But anyway, she went very far this season and did some really beautiful makeups. So live and learn and keep going. Have some faith in yourself and you’ll get there!

So that’s it, we’re down to the final three and the finale of “Face Off” is next Tuesday night on Syfy. Check out the gallery for some behind the scenes photos and all the finished looks this week.


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