Shake it Off

Haukur Örn Hauksson
5 min readSep 26, 2018

You know me. I’m not one for hyperbole. I keep it real, as they say. But here’s the thing: That was hands down the best episode of Inkmaster I’ve seen in a while. Certainly not because of the quality tattoos, no. We witnessed some truly heinous scribblings, and terrible placements (Turk’s ghoulish abomination on that poor man’s neck still haunts my dreams, and probably will for a while).

Instead of a picture of Turk’s nightmare-fuel, let’s just look at this cute lamb instead.

So yes, the tattoos were mostly crappy, but what truly elevated this episode was all that emotion. Raw, illogical, pure emotion. And that vulnerability is exactly what makes a reality TV show about badass tattoo artists so magnificent.

It begins.

The freight train that is this episode throws us right into the action, and the deep end, when Jimmy Snaz, rumored Jimi Hendrix aficionado, immediately says, “I’m not gonna lie, I’m shaken up.”

Cleen Rock One, recognizing that a member of his team is openly admitting distress, breaks out his premiere coaching skills, and impatiently advises rabid Jimmy Page fan Jimmy Snaz to “shake it off.”

Now, you just know that anytime someone casually invokes Taylor Swift’s 2014 pop masterpiece “Shake It Off,” s**t is about to go down.

Case in point.

Brotherly Love.

It’s important to remember that Jimmy Snaz loves his younger brother Kyle Mackenzie dearly, took him under his wing, and taught him how to tattoo. Kyle has since flourished, while Jimmy Snaz has been forthcoming about his progress being halted from dealing with substance abuse. This seems to have caused some festering resentment in Mr. Snaz. Or maybe Mr. Snaz simply loathes his younger brother for constantly ignoring his hot style tips.

Anyway, my point is that this is the most beautifully dysfunctional brotherly relationship since the The Town.

“Whose caaa are we gonna take?”

Jimmy Snaz ignores Cleen Rock One’s solid advice, and proceeds to criticize Kyle for “being too confident,” which is not really the words of a proud teacher, but rather a insecure man with a minority complex. He gets aggressive and berates Kyle for not showing him respect, until Kyle snaps, they get in each other’s faces, and Kyle pushes his older brother over a flimsy sofa.

Pictured: Not shaking it off.

Their love is like the sea. A lot of tormented masculinity and guilt. It’s beautiful.

As Cleen himself says lovingly, in response to the brothers falling apart before his eyes: “Irish motherf*****s.”

Stacy Smith Quote of the Week:

When asked to design a creative work of art with electrical tape, Stacy utters this gem: “I’m not an electrician, I don’t know how to use this stuff.”

Let’s be fair here though. She does make a great contribution in the Flash Challenge with her textured palm tree leaves, but it’s such an anomaly that Teej worries that “oh my God, they’re giving Stacy props, they gotta be doing something good.”

She reverts to form with her FUBAR Foo dog performance, when she tells the Canvas she doesn’t know what a Foo dog is (Get out!), or how to tattoo it, and proceeds to tattoo an anatomically impossible wolf instead. She’s gotta be in the bottom three, right?

Wait, what?

That’s whack. You may have laughed off my suggestion last week that Stacy has latched onto this series like an incredibly incompetent parasite, but let’s be honest here. This is a safe space, we can talk openly about our feelings. That feeling of dread and unease in the pit of your stomach when you consider how many great artists have gone home already…it can’t really be denied, can it?

Most Unexpected Emotional Outburst of the Week: Christian.

Was there anything more infuriating than watching Chris walk around at the Flash Challenge shooting every idea down with “Keep it simple?” It reminded me of Ross Geller, doing this:

You’re the worst.

Christian doesn’t mess around, he’s a self-professed snake, and it was very satisfying when he took Chris behind the shed and put him in his place, sternly, calmly.

So when JP got eliminated, I was expecting a nasty barb, seeing as how Christian has spent the last four weeks belittling, mocking and humiliating him.

Christian got misty-eyed instead, saying a fond, respectful farewell. And that’s when it occurred to me, the fundamental difference between the two coaches:

Christian is your father. Cleen is your buddy.

Emotional Moments Etched Into my Soul and Living in my Heart:

Number 3:

Jimmy Snaz’s weird, awkward, slow motion fall from grace, while simultaneously shouting “What the f**k you gonna do?!” is basically the compressed, TL;DR version of this episode.

Emotional resonance.

Impulsive Bonus Addition:

Dave Navarro’s feathered hat.

Number 2:

Oliver Peck(er) squinting his eyes, gnawing his toothpick and lazily drawling, “Throats, armpits, necks, butts. You name it.”

Number 1:

Your good buddy, Cleen Rock One, admitting…



Haukur Örn Hauksson

Writer/basketball lover/semi-professional dog sitter. Born on a savage, volcanic island in the North, currently residing in the Big Apple.