by Karina “Cinerina” Montgomery, contributing writer

A commenter on my 6/24/14 episode recap noted that the show was presenting the contests in a very different light than attendees actually witnessed. This week, I don’t understand how the two episodes’ contests could possibly take place on the same day, but readers take note: always be skeptical. Everyone is wearing different clothes – even the boys we saw compete last week – so definitely some time has passed, at least.

With that skeptical eye, I followed the journey of the group contestants whose competition makes up the entirety of this week’s episode. Team LA (Chloe, Jessica, and Holly) continue working on their Peter Pan’s Labyrinth concept, while Team Atlanta (Indra, Katie, and Riki) are assembling their Soul Caliber trio. A shout-out to the Batman villain group that proclaimed itself as having been randomly assembled from attendees: that’s the group for me!

Miguel and Carl party in NOLA with Yaya Han! Source: Yaya Han's Facebook page

Miguel and Carl party in NOLA with Yaya Han!
Source: Yaya Han’s Facebook page

While Yaya Han was a judge last week, this week she is both judge and host, which means she has put an immense amount of pressure on herself to really blow it out of the water with her costume. (Though now I think, isn’t it rude to show up the contestants like that?) Increasingly, I feel like Yaya’s friendship and connection with (and insider knowledge about) the other participants in the show is clouding her capacity to be objective in the contest judging. She knew the other week that Riki’s bow was supposed to light up, but it still looked like a cool ice thing even without the LEDs, so why out her failure? Sure, there are always 2-3 other judges, but still. This is not to dismiss the work done by the participants! No matter what, the work that walks out on stage is always really elaborate and almost always very impressive. When Yaya shows up to party with her winners, I just feel like maybe everything isn’t as above board as they should be pretending.

It's blurry but dang.

It’s blurry but dang.

Since last week we already established the cast feels rushed and under pressure to come up with something great, and covered their concepts and decisions, this show has less of a narrative arc to lean on. As a result, a lot of this episode consisted of variants of the sentence, “I don’t know if I can finish this on time,” and, “Will we have time to do this at all?” This got tedious very quickly.  Why couldn’t we hear about their skit plans while they sew? How do you pick music? We take a break between shots of Team LA and Team Atlanta stressing out about details and fabrication to watch Miguel and Carl relax in a bar and talk about how they thought they did great and how awesome it would be to work together.

Yaya has a full-on freak out and pulls an all-nighter – something we haven’t seen before. Everyone is so stressed out and so pushed for time, but Yaya has never visibly suffered from the “how will I get this all done?” doubts before. Her Enira the Banshee Queen is crazy elaborate and of course her personal standards for craftsmanship are pushed to the limit. This whole episode had the least shots of the works in progress and the least how-to technical stuff of any episode I have seen. Part of why I watch Heroes of Cosplay is because I love to see what is possible with paint and worbla and foam and cloth – it’s inspiring and amazing. I’m already in this universe – would this show draw non-initiates to this world, or repel them? This episode was just a lot of faces and piles of unformed materials and whining, with not much about how they actually did any of it. The Enira costume went from being a pile of sleeves to a full-bore, winged, wigged, 8-foot-tall masterpiece without any middle steps witnessed. At least last week we learned that casting pewter is not as light and quick as using resin.

Like, I really hope I can pull off this project!

Like, I really hope I can pull off this project!

In Atlanta, Riki and Indra, as usual, have finished some really great, elaborate work, while Katie still seems to spend a lot of time complaining about lack of time, though she’s making basically only a simple toga that we can see. She even brings her sewing machine and all her raw materials to the hotel with her. Once she’s done, I really can’t tell what took her so long. This is not to take away from the sculpted belt pieces or the wig styling, but honestly, what was she working on all that time? Draaaaaammmaaa! And, of course, it comes out fine.

Meanwhile, CrabCat and Chloe seem to really work well together, even though Jessica and Holly seem much too snarky for Chloe’s good attitude. While I understand that reality show producers imagine that we’re interested most in interpersonal shenanigans, I feel that the audience for a cosplay show is interested in, well, cosplay. Chloe is the opposite of what a reality show needs: she’s all love and good attitude and her tears at the end prove her to be a real person you want to know. Thank Yog Shoggoth she’s on this show.

Chloe, Holly, and Jessica pose with a "fan"

I quote this blog but also it’s the only photo of Peter Pan’s Labyrinth I could find.

Syfy could take a note from its other excellent reality shows, Face Off and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, where the show is about the work first and the personal stuff just comes down to how the artists work together in the lab and on teams; still it’s more about whether this person is the stronger sculptor or if someone can take direction and stave off being eliminated. HoC has devolved into something mostly about how the artists have poor time management and are dysfunctional whiners and/or egotists. But man, the costumes keep you hooked.

While combing the web for photos to share with you, this blog said it best: “I’m including this picture here because I was practically forced into taking it. These girls were surrounded by cameras as they are cast members of the Syfy show “Heroes of Cosplay.” One of the producers saw me and kept saying, “WE WANT YOU to take their picture! GET UP CLOSE! NO, not there, GET UP CLOSE.” They basically just wanted a shot of a bunch of people taking pictures of these cosplayers. Oh, manufactured reality television!”

Enjoy this week’s episode for what it is – lots of footage of cool things to look at – and try not to listen to anyone. Watch Blizzcon 2013’s Epic Cosplay & You Panel to learn more about costume-making than any season of Heroes of Cosplay could ever do.