CLIFFHANGER

LEGO® Masters USA – Season 2, Episode 11: Cliffhanger

It’s Semi-Finals time on LEGO® Masters USA, Season 2. Aptly name ‘Cliffhanger’, this episode is the penultimate installment of the season. We finally have a top 3 and it was quite a fun episode getting us there. The theme this week is castles. The main objective is to build a castle that hangs off a large brick-built rock wall. And here’s the diabolical part: there’s only ten 1×2 bricks that they can anchor their builds to. Half that brick is already embedded in the wall. Basically all you get is ONE stud of depth to work with, roughly 20 in total. Dang. The team that builds out the furthest will clinch a spot in the finale. By this point our teams are pros and we get some amazing results after a 12 hour build time, so let’s take a look.

©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

Full Cosplay

This week’s intro is full Medieval Times realness. Jamie, Amy and Will present the challenge in costume. Jamie really sets the tone in a FULL suit of legit armour. Great reveal and ‘hear ye’ work by our Brickmaster. Talking about it afterwards on his Instagram, Jamie reveals the suit came in several pieces, took a team to help him and weighs 70 lbs. That’s basically half the man’s body weight, so, mad respect 🤣. Amy looks regal and lovely while brandishing a wicked cool brick-built bow and arrow. Can we also take a minute to admire her awesome side braid? Ok. Thank-you. Will is King for a day and British for a minute, ditching the accent quickly enough before presenting the challenge. Overall this is a really playful intro and everyone looks to be having just so much fun.

Super Castle Bros.

A new challenger has entered the arena! Emboldened by this week’s theme, Caleb & Jacob decide (get voluntold) to make a little side wager with Mark & Steven. Apparently the non-identical pair are known in AFOL and convention circles as the Castle Brothers. Being castle experts themselves, Caleb & Jacob want to take the title if they can win the challenge. Will even helps out with a contract that Mark & Steven sign to make it official. Jamie even gets back into full armour for it. I hope they read the fine print. I would hate to hear Mark & Steven lose their voices to a sea witch. And before you laugh, it has happened. This is a cute little extension of their rivalry/arch enemy storyline. It plays cutely for the camera and is that right level of family-friendly entertainment.

The signing of the intent to steal the title of “Castle Brothers”. ©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

Zack & Wayne – Heaven’s Castle

The brothers with the technical skills pull out all the stops this episode. Going for broke (as they do), they create the farthest extending build at a mind-boggling 6 feet. This secures them an automatic spot in the top 3 of the finale. Nicely done. Zack is definitely showing himself as a powerhouse of LEGO® engineering, the man can plan. As a further flex, they build their main building in the middle of their ‘bridge’ piece. They are the only team to even remotely move away from the main wall. And as an even further flex, they do not use all the connection studs on the rock wall. At least 4 bricks are still visible with no connections. That is wild!

©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

Now the building itself, while beautiful, is definitely on the smaller side compared to the other teams. It reads exactly like a traditional Chinese temple. But it does feel like it was just ‘added’ on and not cohesively part of the final design. The build as a whole is also a bit rougher in spots. There is a lot of support structure visible, with quite a lot of exposed connections, brackets, etc. The underside is a nice bit of rock work, but it abruptly changes colour and technique and looks pretty jarring. Blocky design notes are common in their final build critiques. Although it’s more likely just issues of time and needing to hammer down the technical parts first and focus on aesthetics and story later. They are definitely consistent builders with a great eye and congrats to them on making the finals!

©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

Caleb & Jacob – Collapsing Castle

This week the twins pull out ALL the stops and score the big win for the episode and a spot in the finale. Their build is absolutely amazing. Their story is hilarious and silly. And their technical skills are in full force. Caleb was especially hard on himself last week and the brothers showed some real self doubt. But that is all gone this week with a lot of confidence to boot. They even win their totally natural, utterly unscripted challenge to Mark & Steven for the coveted (I assume) title of Castle Brothers. Jokes aside, it’s a very deserved win.

The twins did their best to go for the length record. Incorporating a collapsing bridge theme in their build was pretty ingenious. The storyline of the fisherman and his giant catch that’s just too heavy is great. The knight in mid-joust going down with the bridge is freaking adorable too. Jamie even calls the build an ‘engineering marvel’. The design is so complete and cohesive, the details all mesh together beautifully. I love that they use such fun colours for the actual structure as it stands out against the grey. It’s classic castle without being exactly classic castle. It was definitely the right call for the win.

©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

Mark & Steven – Gem Mine Castle

The Castle Brothers – oh, wait, my apologies – the former Castle Brothers (sorry guys) also show some mad skills with their amazing build. Last week’s winners create a fun story with an angry dragon wanting its gems back. Mark & Steven realize they don’t have quite the right technical skills to win the length criteria, so they wisely focus on story and design. Saying they are hyped about this challenge is an understatement. Their past castle work is displayed on screen and it is super impressive stuff. I love seeing a team just totally at ease in the theme because we always get A+ work from them. Maybe they can take the title of ‘Castle Crushers’ or ‘Castle Siblings’. Just an idea 😊 In the meantime, congrats on making it to the finale!

Mark & Steven make the most castle of the castles this week. The build is gorgeous. Early on they decide that white is the best way to contrast the grey rock wall and it’s a smart choice. The turrets, towers, battlements are spot-on. I especially love the blue and orange accent colours they add. It elevates the build from being just a recreation to something with playfulness and imagination. Also, their dragon build is ingenious. Creating a creature out of trans clear pieces again takes it up a notch in the storytelling category. Brickmaster Amy says some wings and more creature elements would take it just that one step further, but it sill impresses. The tiny boats are a great little touch and flesh out the scene nicely. It’s absolutely one of their best builds of the entire competition.

©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

Natalie & Michelle – Kid’s Cardboard Castle

Our only non-sibling team did not make it through to the finals and that’s a big bummer. Natalie & Michelle are an absolute gem of a team and I’m sad to see them eliminated from the competition. The DIY moms really entertained and made the best of their screentime this season. Natalie’s rapport with Will is some of the best comedy of the season. Will even jokes that we will see her hosting the show next season. And I am here for it. Let’s make it happen.

©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

I love the concept of this build. Instead of focusing on architecture, they focus on imagination and storytelling. Building a ‘box castle’ or essentially a box fort is really clever. The story is so sweet and really pulls at your heartstrings. The drawings on the boxes are perfect, done in a childlike scrawl that read really well. All the items inside are recognizable and built with great finesse. Those crayola markers are perfect. Seeing those simple yet easy to identify objects make me smile. It’s pure nostalgia. Sadly the telescope build doesn’t work out and the overall design is fairly simplistic. It’s a real shame to see them leave, but they do so having had a great run all season.

©2021 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Tom Griscom/FOX

I’m Not Crying, YOU’RE Crying

Natalie’s exit from the competition also gives us one of the sweetest moments of the entire season. Before leaving the room she gives a beautiful thank-you to Brickmaster Amy. She thanks Amy for being such a role model to kids and young girls everywhere, her 5 year old daughter in particular. It’s such a sweet and inspiring moment that had Amy in tears. Me too….*cough*. Amy then thanks Jen & Natalie for no doubt doing the same thing for all the young girls watching at home. Couldn’t agree more. These two have been such a joy to watch and seeing that representation on TV is so important. I’m really happy we get to see that moment and it speaks to the power of inspiring children to reach for their goals. My favourite moment of the season by far.

Final Thoughts

We have a top 3! And while I’m happy we get 3 very strong teams, it’s a bit weird to have a finale of brothers. With Natalie & Michelle leaving, the variety of our teams has certainly gone down a smidge. But I’m sure we will get 3 VERY awesome and probably gigantic builds. Brothers vs brothers vs brothers is a fun theme for the big showdown and makes for good TV I guess. I am officially on #teamCaleb&Jacob. I’m excited to see the twins really build without restrictions, especially fresh off their win and with that self-doubt behind them. It’s going to be a fierce competition for sure.

  • One more shout out to Natlie’s beautiful note to Amy. It was wonderful
  • Also wonderful? Amy’s amazing silver shirt, she looked fierce!
  • The Viking’s gem-built dragon is amazing. I would love to see it fully realized
  • How much fun was Jamie having in that armour? haha
  • I’m still in awe that all these builds were just hanging on 20 studs 😮
  • Natalie as next season’s floor correspondent is something I want to happen
  • I was hoping for another Star Wars episode like last year’s semi-final. Oh well. Next year

OVERALL SCORE: 9 / 10

So what team are you guys rooting for? Are you excited for the battle of the brothers finale? Were you loving these builds as much as me? What are you hoping to see in the big final build of the season? Please comment below and as always, keep on brickin’.

-Frank

LEGO® Masters USA airs Tuesdays at 8:00 PM ET/PT on FOX in the US, and on CTV, CTV.CA and the CTV app in Canada.

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