Divide & Conquer on season 12 of Face Off


After an all-star season 11, Syfy put an all-new season of Face Off on the air so quickly it made our heads spin. The network did very little to promote the new season and the press site is devoid of any photos for the season premiere so one has to wonder … could this be the final season? I hope not because the twelfth season of the special effects make-up competition series has added a new “twist” that ultimately makes a lot of sense.

Season 12 of Face Off is subtitled “Divide & Conquer” for good reason – for the first time ever, the twelve artists have been divided into two “shops” because, in reality, no makeup artist ever works alone. It makes sense to put these people in groups to work together to create makeups as they would if they were working in a real world situation. Of course, the show has put the artists into team of two or three in the past (like the previous all-stars season), but this is a first and I like it because everyone has to turn in their best work because each week one team wins and one team loses. Now unless someone’s feathers get ruffled along the way, I don’t see any sabotage coming … and I’m sure at some point when the contestants begin to dwindle, they will move to individual challenges. It will be interesting to see if there is a back-and-forth win-lose situation with the teams, or if one team will become so decimated that they need to move people over from the winning team.

And fitting for the first Spotlight Challenge, the teams had to create their own werewolf pack including an Alpha, Beta and Omega wolf based on one of the three real wolves the artists met while getting put together into their own packs at the top of the show. The teams also had to come up with shop names and choose a foreman before getting to work. The teams chose the names Ethereal Effects and Twisted Six Effects.

Etheral: Faina Rudshteyn, Nelson Cooper, Andrew Freeman (foreman), Joseph Drobezko, Suzanne Bostwick, Kierstin Lapatka

Twisted Six: Alan Tuskes (foreman), Laura McCormick, Nick Fischer, Phil Harrah, Jill Burgner, KC Mussman

Both teams gelled well for the first challenge but when Michael Westmore arrived for the consultations, Etheral got higher marks for their sketches and sculpts, while the Twisted Six team seemed to be having problems making their characters look like wolves, going a little too much on the human side. Twisted Six also made the bizarre choice of taking the largest of the models and then making him the Omega wolf, supposedly the weakest of the pack. It’s hard to make a hulking giant look weak, and it may have been a really bad decision.


Etheral only had one minor mold mishap with a headpiece that nearly locked but they got it free with minimal damage. And any mistakes they had could easily be covered with hair. Andrew was doing a good job of keeping his shop’s looks cohesive but Alan seemed to be going in too many directions, not really paying attention to his artists’ strengths and weaknesses. Case in point: Laura, who was tasked with creating the chest piece for their giant Omaga. Laura struggled, saying she’d never made a chest piece before but she would do what the foreman told her to do. Maybe her youth made her the Omega of the team, but she really should have told Alan that was not her strong suit. The result was an anatomical nightmare that Mr. Westmore said looked like rows of sausages. But what surprised me the most about this challenge was that on application day, no one had taken any time to actually punch hair in or lay hair on their makeups. Everyone resorted to gluing large hairpieces on which made their wolves more human than lupine.


In the end, Etheral’s lumberjack wolf pack was the more cohesive of the two shops, although the judges seemed to be very lenient with their critiques for this first challenge. The Alpha wolf looked like any werewolf Halloween mask you could buy at the Spirit store (or Party City). The female Beta looked … sassy and for some reason they didn’t bother to extend the nicely mottled paint job into the eye area, just applying black makeup that was almost completely worn off by the time the winners were announced. The Omega got the highest praise but Ve Neill did (finally) point out the absurd white highlights in the paint job. Nevertheless, Joseph was the first winner thanks to his contributions to the Omega wolf.


Twisted Six didn’t fare as well. I think their first mistake was choosing the white wolf to base their makeups on. In real life, it’s a very cool animal but it does not translate well to the pack of “genetically engineered albino” werewolves the team created. Although, while not perfect, I felt their Alpha and Beta — with a nice story twist of the Beta becoming the Alpha — were more successful than Ethereal’s. If they hadn’t gone for the white wolf, they may have actually won the challenge. But they didn’t, and it was all because of that overgrown Omega with the hideous chest piece and a head that looked more like Sloth from The Goonies than it did a werewolf.


But the question came down to whose fault was it? Was it Laura’s fault for making that chest piece and not speaking up, or was it foreman Alan’s fault for not recognizing her weakness and assigning her to do something else? Had I been judging, I would have sacked Nick for the headpiece because it was just ridiculous looking and you could even tell the model was embarrassed by it. But honestly, it should have been the shop foreman who got the ax because he did not lead his team very well, he did not keep an eye on the looks to make sure they seemed to be of the same wolf pack, and he didn’t see that Laura was struggling, even after Mr. Westmore’s comments. In the end the judges sent Laura home for her general lack of anatomical knowledge. It was probably Neville’s comment that he was concerned that he didn’t understand her chest piece that was her downfall.

It was a bit telling on Alan’s part too that when they announced Laura’s elimination and that he and Nick were safe, Alan just took off back to the waiting area without saying a word to Laura while Nick gave her a hug. Perhaps he realized he dodged a bullet, but it was really unprofessional and discourteous to not say a word to her, especially since he could have said or done something earlier that may not have resulted in her elimination. Poor sportsmanship, Alan.

What did you think of the premiere? Did you agree with the judges, or should Alan have been eliminated? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!


Face Off, Season 12


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  1. Gosh I feliyexactly the same. Why the rush? However the new format is fun and more realistic. Alan should’ve gone home. I’m hoping we see more unique challenges, too. Kinda bored with their themes.

    • Yes, they have a template for production and stick with it and a lot of people find it repetitive. I guess after 12 seasons there are only so many different fantasy/horror makeup one can do. They really rely more on the personalities to make each season interesting, which is fine with me, I just hope to see a higher level of work moving forward.