The “Ink Master” Season 7 premiere brought the drama last week by introducing a game-changing twist. Not only will a veteran contestant be returning each week, but that artist will also have the opportunity to assign the subject mater for the elimination tattoo. St. Marq of Season 6 managed to knock out newcomer Corey, and in episode 2, another former “Ink Master” player will enter the competition to shake things up.

Alex, Anthony, Ashley, Christian, Cris, Megan Jean, Picasso and St. Marq are still in the running for the title of “Ink Master” and the $100,000 grand prize. However, another returning cast member will be introduced following the flash challenge.

This week, the flash challenge focuses on contrast. The contestants must dig through trash to build a structure that when placed in the light creates an image with its shadow. To make things even more difficult, judges Dave Navarro, Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez reveal that the artists must work in teams of two.

Although nobody likes working in teams, three out of the four groups do really well. However, there can be only one winner. Despite being at the bottom in week 1, Ashley and her teammate Alex come out on top during the flash challenge. That means they have the opportunity to assign the human canvases for the elimination tattoo.

Of course, this upsets St. Marq, who knows that as a veteran he has a target on his back. But fortunately for him, another returning player might take the heat off of him. The judges reveal that the latest addition to the Season 7 cast is Cleen Rock One — and he wants revenge. Cleen Rock One competed in Season 5 of “Ink Master” and was considered the front-runner throughout the competition but lost in the finale to Jason Clay Dunn.

Cleen Rock One “Ink Master” Season 5 runner-up Cleen Rock One returned for Season 7 in episode 2. Photo: Spike

“No way in hell I’m coming in second place again,” Cleen Rock One tells the cameras.

Since he’s the returning player, Cleen Rock One gets to assign the episode 2 elimination challenge — hot rods and choppers in neo-traditional style. But the contestants must remember that they’re being judged on contrast this week.

Although Cleen Rock One gets to assign the challenge, Ashley and Alex still have the upper hand with the human canvases. They attempt to give Cleen Rock One and St. Marq the most difficult canvas, but that ends up backfiring on them. It turns out that the canvases assigned to Cleen Rock One and St. Marq are actually fans who watched them on their previous seasons! This is a big game changer for the returning players, who are able to successfully convince their canvases to give them free rein over the design and placement of the tattoo.

After six hours of tattooing, the artists meet with the judges for the elimination tattoo critique:

  • Cleen Rock One — He’s praised for the color, line work and saturation in his piece. Peck says it’s a nice, “slick” tattoo.
  • Christian — Christian’s tattoo has good contrast and a “sticker-like” quality to it.
  • Picasso — Nunez thinks the drawing is great but that the tattoo could have better contrast to it.
  • Ashley — Ashley’s canvas had a problem with the drawing, and the judges agree. Peck says the mechanics of the bike don’t line up and that the canvas is bound to get made fun of by motorcycle fanatics. Ashley argues that her canvas was the expert and that she shouldn’t be penalized for a topic she doesn’t understand.
  • Anthony — The judges love Anthony’s piece; they believe it’s a great example of creating something that’s dark but still has great detail.
  • Cris — Cris not only missed the mark on the neo-traditional aspect of the challenge, he didn’t deliver contrast. The judges have a hard time reading the tattoo.
  • Megan Jean — Megan Jean came out on top last week, but this challenge definitely threw her. The judges don’t like her drawing and think she was weak on contrast.
  • Alex — The perspective is off on his tattoo, and Peck says the color is not as dynamic as it could have been.
  • St. Marq — The judges have no complaints about his tattoo and are happy he finally used a liner.

Anthony, Christian and Cleen Rock One have the best tattoos of the day, but there can be only one winner. Navarro, Peck and Nunez agree that Cleen Rock One won the episode 2 challenge.

As for the worst tattoos of the day? Alex, Ashley and Cris find themselves in the bottom three. The human canvas jury feels that Cris had the worst tattoo, but his canvas disagrees. He says he loves the tattoo and would go to Cris for another one. Unfortunately for Cris, the judges don’t feel the same. Although Ashley’s tattoo was “janky,” the judges eliminate Cris during episode 2 for failing to deliver contrast.

Ink Master - Cris Cris was eliminated from “Ink Master” Season 7 in episode 2. Photo: Spike