Cosplay Melee is back for it’s second installment with a Game of Thrones-themed challenge. The freshman season for the competition series has a new set of four competitors, including Edgar Mayoral, Emily Ann Schmidt (Go Big or Go Home Cosplay), Ruth aka Jackie Craft (Jackie Craft Cosplay), and Jennifer Anne Rose (Jinglebooboo).
After last week’s impressive first episode we were looking forward to see if the second would still keep hold of our interest. While last weekend each cosplayer was able to pick their own source universe within a general theme of “Space Opera.” This week everyone had to create a costume which would fit into the world of author George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.
The series once again does a solid job of casting a range of individuals, this time showcased in a range of body types. Where last week Xavier spoke of how the kids with the big glasses often gets picked on, Cosplayers have been long plagued with body-shaming both online and in real life. The evening’s episode is a solid reminder that no matter a person’s height or shape, what’s important is their enthusiasm for their fandom and crafting epic costumes.
Since last week’s premiere episode there’d been some kvetching online about how the costumers were made to work on such a tight deadline doesn’t give a good comparison to individuals who spend months working on their entries for costume contests. I’d thought about those comments and on the one hand, it’s the nature of the format of competition series that they’re time-based. However if we’re being honest about it, no matter when any cosplayer plans on starting a costume, they’ll always be panicking the week before a convention racing to get it finished on time. So racing against a clock is actually pretty close to the real thing.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead! If you don’t want to find out what happens and who wins, click away now. If you keep reading after the image, then all bets are off.
The first found which would trim the four down to three, was kicked off by host Yvette Nicole Brown (naturally wearing a Hand of the King pin) presenting everyone with the Bowl of Scrolls. Each person stepped forward and randomly selected one and revealed the name of the weapon type that they would have to create for their character and to help them pass the initial round of judging.
Edgar drew sword, Emily a flail, Jennifer a crossbow, and Ruth rounded out the drawing with a shield. With eight hours on the clock they had to come up with their character concepts and create their assigned weapons.
Just to be clear on the fact that there’s some fans out there following along, none other than Star Wars’ own Peter Mayhew Tweeted:
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) March 29, 2017
The first round went relatively smoothly, with Edgar’s fantasy-leaning sword being the main exception – while tooling the bone hilt of his sword, it cracked causing him to have to scramble to devise a way to get it to hold together under the strain of the multi-segment blade. The end of the round winds up with Emily taking the win for her flail, and Edgar being chopped; the judges felling that his sword didn’t really feel like it fit into the Game of Thrones universe, and his straying off-theme caused him to fall short.
In another new twist added to this episode, the second round was opened up with a spin on the Wheel of Thrones (yea, we groaned as well, but it was cute all the same). Each contestant had to spin and whichever house came up would be the one that their costume had to reflect. Emily as the winner of the first round was given the opportunity to take two spins and choose whichever of the two houses she preferred.
In the end, Emily wound up with Wildling, Jennifer with Baratheon, and Ruth as a White Walker. Emily first had spun Dothraki but opted to pass since she wanted to go the armor route rather than to go with something as simple as leather leggings and tunic.
Not everyone’s character concept went as well with the house that they wound up with. Jennifer’s original character concept had been her take on a Game of Thrones elf (so she was leaning towards one of the Children of the Forest). When the wheel gave her Baratheon she had to pivot the design – eventually creating a headdress and breastplate emblazoned with the house animal, a stag.
Where some series focus on interpersonal drama, Melee makes the choice not to go there and to not try to stir up any artificially. Once again whenever one contestant needs a hand, the others will step in to help out (which in itself is reflective of how costumes are most often made). What cosplayer hasn’t been in a hotel room helping friends put on finishing touches or have someone come swooping in with a hot glue gun in hand to help save the day.
In addition to Jennifer’s costume, the final results included Jackie in a frost-covered and leather-armored White Walker, and Emily as a metal-armored, fur-wearing Wildling.
When the dust settles and the judges have had their say, it’s Emily that winds up that takes home the prize. Given the theme of the episode, it’s hard to debate with their choice. She would fit in with the march of the Wildlings towards the wall without a blink, and really I would love to see who would win in a fight between her character and Dwalin from the Hobbit. Of the weapons, however I will comment that Jennifer’s crossbow looked to me neck and neck with Emily’s flail (at least on the version of the video I saw).
The episode does again focus on costumes which lean towards armor builders. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for those who are A-grade armor makers, I am looking forward to getting some love for the soft-costume cosplayers – superhero costumes, steampunk, and the other varieties which highlight some of the other tailoring and sewing skills.
My other hope is that should the series get picked up for a second season, that Syfy might do some web-segments that focus on the details of the construction techniques that are being used. We know that the casting call had already gone out for season 2, so hopefully that bodes well for at least one more round of episodes.
As Twitter user Crix of Spoons put it, it’s still refreshing that there’s a show that celebrates cosplayer’s talents.
— The Category Is: (@crixlee) March 29, 2017