It’s ironic for a show with such a great format, amazing challenges, and a generally insane season to have a finale that feels like a chore. This season of Ink Master was epic. Scott Marshall was a trash-talking mercenary set on winning the seasonal competition. He enlisted Matti Hixson in an attempt to get Sausage eliminated, but instead Sausage made it to the top two. He was talented, quiet, and a generally nice guy. Frontrunner Halo got eliminated despite being sure he’d make it to the finals. Three people had breakdowns. Returning contestant, Kyle Dunbar trashed a fellow artist for freaking out then physically attacked judge, Chris Nunez. All that, and there was a freaking appearance by Hugh Jackman. But this finale felt crammed with so much wasted time.
After years as a rock star, Dave Navarro is not afraid of anything. Especially cutting people off on a reality show. This season finale didn’t opt for juicy reality TV moments. Whenever things would get really tense, Navarro would cut everyone off. They took time to read real tweets including one that accused the judges of favoritism in the Scott vs. Sausage beef. Given the large number of boos from the audience, this may be the case. They also were pretty short when they talked to past contestants. Halo was cut off despite having a debate with another contestant about how he “played the game.” He was one of four former contestants who even said anything.
We were also robbed of the whole point we were there. This is a competitive reality show. We didn’t get a chance to see any elapsed footage of the elaborate 35-hour back pieces getting done. Instead we saw them as sketches and saw them completed. Viewers were asked to vote before even getting the chance to really look over these pieces or hear the judges critiques. Plus, anyone anxiously awaiting the return of Kyle Dunbar to see what he had to say it was cut off. He was a favorite to win but was a bit all over the place all season. Rather than hear what he had to say for himself he got cut off.
Instead of hearing from the former contestants, seeing the current participants working, or even hearing what the judges had to say we got to watch Season 3 winner Joey Hamilton live-tattooing. But honestly, by the time he’s in the studio and they’re filming he’s just adding details. The tattoo doesn’t look particularly different at any point that the show cuts to him. Also, there was more time discussing the format for Season 5 than spending any time with the cast. Season 5 will revolve around rivals and bring back Season 3 rivals Joshua Hibbard and Jason Clay Dunn. We didn’t really need a reel of them fighting to add any excitement to this finale.
In the end, Scott wins amid boos from the audience. It isn’t clear why he won and from Twitter it seemed like Sausage was a favorite. But it’s pretty funny that they did close to the same tattoo. It was a great season and the final pieces really were of equal intensity. However, this finale was overly saturated with product placement, had undefined relationship lines, and seemed both rushed and too long.