Warning: spoilers ahead for the third episode of LEGO MASTERS.
Ready for the grand final, a challenging week of building natural models saw two build teams sent home. Matthew Ashton, Sean Kenney and Bill Bailey picked out who had best succeeded at decorating a tree with LEGO builds full of character and creativity.
The top team was Nate and Steve for the second week running, with Jamil and James impressing too. Jessica and Faolan and Guy and Abraham were considered to have not quite met the brief, bringing their competitive building journey to an end.
Jme, Séb and Daniel have been convened once again to share their expert LEGO view on whether the judges made the right call, and share their thoughts on which build teams are the ones to watch.
This week’s episode was easily the weakest of the bunch so far. I’m once again left wondering how much behind the scenes time the contestants are given to prepare for their builds, or even the amount of time given to them for the opening challenge. It’s hard to gauge how well the teams did without knowing how much time they had.
The second challenge was interesting, and certainly something different. Nate &and Steve were the clear choice again this week. I would hazard to say that unless they somehow fail spectacularly in the final episode, they’re most likely to walk away with the win. They’ve shown a consistent level of skill, adaptability, and understanding of the tasks presented to them.
As for the two losing teams, I didn’t feel they were given enough credit for the work they did. Guy and Abraham had perhaps the most cohesive theme of everyone. True, they built it all on a baseplate, but they did have a moving butterfly and it was a great execution of their idea. Jessica and Faolan had the most unique theme of all, and while there was nothing mind-blowing about their builds, they were still pretty solid.
James and Jamil showed the most varied techniques, but their ‘squirrel’ was unrecognisable. I thought it funny that Sean Kenney’s criticism was that the ball joints they used gave it a ‘robotic’ look. This is something the LEGO Group does all the time, and something I complain about constantly. How about making joints in new colours, LEGO parts guys?
The team I personally found the most disappointing was Nicolas and Kobe. Throughout the entire series so far, they’ve demonstrated the least variety of build techniques, and everything they have done feels a bit samey. They also seem to have an idea and stick to it, regardless of how relevant it is to the brief. I felt their orangutan was okay (I’m sure it would have been better given more time), but it didn’t feel natural in the landscape. They also lacked a solid theme, and probably would have been on my list to let go from the show.
I started to predict that Jessica and Faolan would be leaving early on. I was actually quite impressed with the idea behind Guy and Abraham’s final build and the fact it had a moving mechanism was not something I expected to see from them. It was quite painful to watch them go as they were clearly devastated which must make it bittersweet for the remaining teams to feel good about beating nine year olds – though probably inevitable from day one.
The unplanned challenge felt frantic as the builders didn’t actually know how long they would have to build. While this may seem to produce compelling TV drama, I actually found myself quite stressed watching the teams fumble around for the right pieces in those seemingly unorganised drawers of elements. Most of the teams produced fairly creative results, though it was hard to tell if the judges were more impressed by quantity or quality. Sadly Guy and Abraham were lacking quite significantly in numbers on this round showing the limitations of their ability to work under immense pressure. I’m not sure I’d do much better though.
Following on it was nice to see the builders outside of the ‘build room’ planning their ideas to accommodate the unpredictable nature of the outdoors. Nate and Steve came up top trumps with a highly imaginative concept that made great use of storytelling, combined with big, bright and instantly recognisable models. I also liked James and Jamil’s map, book and key though Matthew seemed a bit disappointed they hadn’t spent more time on the wildlife aspect.
Having seen Nicolas and Kobe’s skills in action on large pieces before, I don’t think they needed to worry impressing the judges on that front in this task and should have concentrated on medium-sized builds with a more connected theme. You couldn’t fault them for achieving what they set out to do, but I don’t think it was their best build so far and they clearly felt the pressure of time.
Jessica and Faolán clearly love to plan but seemingly unable to react without one was their downfall. I liked the idea behind their models, but if they’d gone a bit bigger they would have had a better chance of staying in. Overall, it was a very tense episode and will be interesting to see if the remaining teams will apply all the feedback so far on their final builds.
I felt like this episode of LEGO Masters really showcased the weaknesses of trying to translate the building experience into a reality television show. Despite the offscreen time given to planning, 14 hours is not enough time to execute a challenge like this one in anything but the most basic of builds, and that is what we got. Overall, I was unimpressed with any of the builds as, despite a few exceptions like the tortoise, most of the builds were very basic. This is more a function of the constraints of the medium than a judgement on the builders, I can’t imagine trying to execute this week’s challenge in that amount of time.
With that being said I was in agreement with the judge’s choices. Jamil and James and Nate and Steve were hands down the best of this mediocre bunch. I could have gone either way on Nicolas and Kobe or Jessica and Faolan. The clear losing team was the intrepid young duo Guy and Abraham. I confess to being a bit mortified when I saw that they were pairing teams of kids against AFOLs – there was no way they could win, which was setting them up for inevitable disappointment. This episode showcased that as the boys found the limits of their otherwise very impressive skills. I felt bad for them as the first bit of real drama and emotion that seemed genuine on this show were their tears. That felt a bit cruel to me.
With next week the grand finale, the final three teams will have to build something based on a child’s imagines story, before the final two teams have two weeks to work on their master creation. The episode will air on September 14 at 8.00pm on Channel 4.
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