And then there were 14 …

“Ink Master” judges Dave Navarro, Oliver Peck and Chris Nuñez are slowly weeding out the Season 8 cast members until only the best of the best remain. Last week’s episode of the Spike reality series was a rough one as one contestant from Team Peck and one contestant from Team Nuñez had to pack their machines. And the competition is only heating up in episode 5.

The girls successfully got “two-faced” Dave kicked off in episode 4, but now the other guys are starting to catch onto the alliance that has formed. Realizing that the finale could come down to all female tattoo artists, the men on Team Peck decide to form their own alliance to fight back.

Team Nuñez is up for elimination this week, which means that they’re the ones that have to complete the flash challenge. And, unfortunately for them, it involves using a 12 volt battery and some electrical wires. They must use the live wires to burn a design into the canvas — and to top it off, they’re being tested on legibility.

Since Team Peck is safe, they have the opportunity to assign what style Team Nuñez will be following. Although the ladies have some friends on the other team, they don’t hold back. Team Nuñez has to create an underwater marine life canvas in five hours.

Kevin quickly finds his groove, but other Team Nuñez players aren’t so lucky. Nikki has a complete meltdown over working with the difficult medium, and it shows in her work during the critique.

The judges don’t hold back, finding most of the finished products very remedial. However, some canvases do shine. Eric, Kevin and Sketchy Lawyer all kept their cool during the flash challenge, and ended up creating some clear pieces. Despite feeling “let down” by his team, Nuñez reveals that Kevin is the winner of the challenge. Kevin now has the power to assign all of the human canvases for the elimination tattoo.

kevin - Ink Master Kevin won the flash challenge in episode 5 of “Ink Master” Season 8. Photo: Spike

Elimination tattoos are always stressful, and the flash challenge is not doing anything to help calm down Team Nuñez. Nikki is ready to snap, and things don’t get any better when Kevin reveals that he plans on giving her a tough canvas. Kevin does not want to assign canvases maliciously. Although he wants to win, he does realize that he’s still on a team with these people. He explains to Nikki that with her skills she can handle the worst. But today is not the day for that. She warns him that she’s in a bad mood and has no patience.

The artists have six hours to complete a watercolor tattoo. And, of course, there is a twist. They will be tested on legibility, which is tough with watercolor. As Eric explains to the cameras, color tends to run in this style, and that makes legibility difficult.

In a surprising move, Kevin gives Nikki and Kelly pretty easy canvases. Tito and Sirvone aren’t happy with who they get assigned, but Kevin makes it clear that he’s playing fair by taking a difficult canvas for himself.

The critiques play out like this:

  • Kevin — Kevin chose to listen to his canvas, which ends up biting him in the end. The judges all agree that the middle of the tattoo would have been legible had he just outlined it like the rest of the piece.
  • Eric — Peck doesn’t think that Eric pulled off the watercolor challenge, but Nuñez disagrees with him.
  • Tito — There is no denying that Tito’s tattoo is legible, but it’s not a good tattoo. All three judges have issues with it.
  • Sketchy — The judges are torn on Sketchy’s tattoo. Navarro and Peck think it looks like he just spilled color on it and called it done. However, Nuñez argues that there are no clear rules for watercolor. He thinks that Sketchy pulled off the tattoo.
  • Nikki — Nikki completely knocks this challenge out of the park. All three judges love her piece.
  • Kelly — Just like Nikki, Kelly delivered a great tattoo.
  • Sirvone — Sirvone completely missed the watercolor challenge. The judges tell him that it looks more news school with melty edges. Ryan from Team Peck even chimes in, saying that it looks like an inexperienced tattoo.

Nikki ultimately wins the elimination challenge, but Kelly is a close second. As for who is going home? Team Peck forms a jury of peers and nominates Sirvone for elimination. Tito and Kevin join him in the bottom three. The judges agree that while Kevin’s tattoo is weak, it’s not enough to send him home this week. Peck wants to send home Sirvone, but Navarro is leaning towards Tito. Nuñez has the deciding vote and sends Sirvone packing.

Sirvone - Ink Master Sirvone was eliminated in episode 5 of “Ink Master” Season 8. Photo: Spike