Face Off Season 10: Designing In Tongues

This week, our contestants meet McKenzie in an outdoor set with faux ruins. For the first time this season she’s got a guest who is not an employee of the show on hand to introduce the challenge–David Peterson, the man who is famous for creating the Dothraki language on Game of Thrones. (He was also contracted by SyFy to do languages for Defiance and Dominion, due to the fame GoT brought him, but since those were canceled last fall, he’s not doing anything directly associated with the channel.)

Though McKenzie is clearly excited to be name checking the biggest show on TV, this challenge is only very tangentially related to it. Instead it’s a language challenge. Peterson has designed a set of six languages, which the production has created a few faux artifacts for. The twelve contestants–in trams of two–get to design the race that spoke that language and left those artifacts behind. This is the first time they get to pick their own teams.


To wit:

  • Katie & Melissa: Winged angel-like statue
  • Kaleb & Mel: Snake Deity
  • Yvonne & Anna: Gold&Jeweled Mask
  • Rob & Walter: Wolf-like skull
  • Johnny & Robert: Squid painted vase
  • Njoroge & Ant: 1950s looking ray-gun

Though the contestants all dutifully listen to their languages, it should be noted that not all of them seem to be inspired by what they hear as much as they see.  Teams Rob & Walter and Johnny & Robert are both openly guilty of this, basing their designs directly on the artifact designs instead of the spoken language. The others seem to at least take how the sounds would be made into their designs, though in the case of Yvonne & Anna, it’s more about what the language sounds like character might be saying.

Let’s see if Michael Westmore catches which teams are faking it, and which teams are actually doing the challenge.


  • Robert&Johnny: Westmore notices right away that they’ve missed the point of the challenge and calls them out. Robert tries to bullshit him, but it doesn’t really work.
  • Kaleb & Mel: Theirs is one that takes how the sounds would be made into consideration, but Westmore is far more excited by the Star Trek-alien like ear designs, which he’s gaga over.
  • Njoroge & Ant: I suppose a 1950s raygun requires a 1950s alien. Westmore calls it a cartoon.
  • Yvonne & Anna: Their face looks like it’s based on the mask, but since they took how the character spoke into account, Westmore is just worried they go caricature.
  • Walter & Rob: Michael doesn’t notice their cat versus dog design is based solely on the artifact, which serves them well.
  • Melissa & Katie: He is is so shocked at the concept he doesn’t even notice it’s more based on the snakes on the vase than the language. As he notes, an “Angel of death” type character has never been done before on the show.

Njoroge and Ant attempt to resculpt, but in do so they seem to go off in completely the wrong direction–their design now looks like a living Roswell tchotchke.

Day Two doesn’t see much improvement on that team. Walter and Rob cast their own feet to turn into lion’s feet, which, well…no comment. Once again, Robert gets the “German accent” edit, naming his character Octo-Man. Perhaps the language barrier is why he didn’t understand that the judges were laughing at his “Board Game Man” name last week, not with it. His team also gets the “Mold Drama” edit. Of course it came out fine. It does lose them time though, which means they’re trying to make tentacles on Application Day.


Speaking of Application Day, while Robert is doing the Polyfoam Run of Shame on their tentacles, the rest of the teams seem to mostly be running on time. The Polyfoam run fails, for the record, one of the few times we’ve seen that happen. Only Walter and Rob are also shown cutting details (laying hair on the wolf head) because they need to finish. Only Kaleb and Mel are shown actually spending time on how to their model can recreate the proper vocalization.

Let’s see if the Judges and Peterson agree on the same criteria for the win.

Ve, Neville and Glenn are all in residence this week, with Peterson down at the end. McKenzie is wearing a distractingly blue and silver metallic mini, with makes her look more robotic than usual.

Mushy Middle

Rob & Walter

Rob & Walter: It’s a very humanoid face, for all the talk of a “cat race,” but then again he speaks a pretty humaniod sounding language, not a cat one.

Katie & Melissa

Katie & Melissa: I really like their concept, and I love the way she looks speaking the language–she does seem like a priestess. I’m just not sure they did enough to her face.


Mel & Kaleb

Kaleb & Mel: I can see why Westmore loved this. It looks like Star Trek would assume a snake-like person to look. The language is also pretty hissy, which is how Star Trek would assume a Snake-like person to talk. The judges love the snake-skin details. They also note how much extra work went into the vocal bladder to make sure the language sounds made sense. Personally, that should have been the deciding factor in their favor, but sadly no.

Anna & Yvonne

Yvonne & Anna: Their Egyptian-esque King sounds like he looks and looks like he sounds. It also matches their artifact pretty spot on. Glenn and Neville are gaga over the Egyptian hallmarks, and tell them the point of the challenge was that they got the character’s whole story in one look. That’s odd, I thought the point of the challenge was to create a character that could produce the language. But as the team cut the teeth at the last-minute, there’s nothing “impeding” the ability to speak the language, so Peterson has no major objections to giving them the win, even if the other Top team focused on the language more.


Robert & Johnny

Johnny & Robert: The language and acting are great. The make up is painful and laughable. It looks like a drag character out of Spongebob Squarepants. But what would you expect out a character named Squid-Man? Peterson points out theirs is the only makeup where they so did not take the sounds the character should be able to make into account, that they made the mouth a beak, when it’s lots of popping lip movement sounds. To me that’s why this should have been the ones up for elimination, but somehow they are both safe, as the judges once again pick bad make up over failure to follow the challenge.

Ant & Njoroge

Njoroge & Ant: Hi ho, and welcome to Roswell. Myron the Frog here, you might have heard of my famous younger brother Kermit? Yeah, he’s got a show on network TV now, while my best hope is to do a special guest appearance as a losing look on a basic cable competition.

This is second time Njoroge has been in the bottom, but every bad decision on this look came from Ant. Once it is determined they are the team losing a member, there’s no question he’s the one to go.


5 thoughts

    1. You’re right. i was so annoyed Mel was robbed. I have to admit, I am glad that Yvonne won though after having been in the bottom last week. Being paired with Robert seems to be bad news.
      And I hadn’t caught that about Anna, but you’re right–that is three weeks in a row. Keep an eye on that one.


    1. I know it’s partly the edit, but I don’t like Robert. He seems to be a burden on his teammates and a hindrance to them being able to do their best work. The worst part is I think if their team *had* been determined as the one to eliminate from, it would have been Johnny to go.


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