After Krupa, demonstrating the definition of irony on Monday’s episode, found herself ejected from the beer-themed episode because hangovers and activity do not mix, we were left with ten competitors. Though they all allegedly get paid to cook, I’m pretty sure we don’t have anyone left on either team who hasn’t utterly dropped the ball during dinner service at some point. Will, maybe? Jennifer?
As Krupa slides down the tear-soaked hallway toward the exit door, Gordon informs his remaining victims that the big issue for each team is lack of leadership. He wants the members of each team to nominate their strongest leader and report back to him in the morning.
And by strongest, he means who can bench the most, right?
Not that I don’t appreciate Gordon’s theories and opinions (sort of), but I see a few problems with this approach. One of the characteristics of a good leader is the ability to take charge at a moment’s notice, and the person on the Red team who has consistently done this has been Elise. However, the same personality traits that allow her to lead are also the ones that allow her to act like a horrific twat. Whether her attitude is more of an asset or detriment to her team is up for debate, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks she could benefit from a roundhouse to the teeth. If nothing else, she won’t be able to talk through the jaw wires. Plus, practicing my high kick might benefit my overall flexibility, so it’s sort of a win-win.
On the Blue team, the issue seems to be that everyone is just competent enough to handle themselves (for the most part, anyway, but we’ll get to that later), and no one really has Elise’s order-barking personality type, so as long as no one is actively fucking things up, they all leave well enough alone–which sometimes leads to communication issues. Anyway, my opinion matters exactly jackshit to them, so let’s see what the teams think.
Back at the house, a couple of the girls tell Jennifer they think she’s leader material. Jennifer is pretty blown away, and I’m surprised to see that Elise agrees with that selection, because I’d have bet my firstborn she’d have cast a vote for herself. Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t. The Blue team roundly nominates Will, and Paul says he’ll follow him to Hell and back, hands folded in prayer, tongue extended to catch stray droplets of Will’s leadership brow sweat. Not really, but isn’t nice to see a group agree on something? Especially since we all know that this discussion will not go smoothly in the Red end of the house.
Sure enough, Elise takes it upon herself to inform Carrie that she and the other girls have already nominated Jennifer. Then Carrie up and disagrees, which is no surprise at all…except she follows that up by nominating herself for team leader. Say what? If you’ve been following my recaps, it should come as no surprise that I’m not usually on the same page as Elise; however, Carrie needs to pull that wagon over to the side of Delusion Boulevard. Not only is she the antithesis of the Pied Piper, but she’s not even up to par with the little crippled kid who lagged behind. She’s like the kid who got distracted by a humming bird, wandered off the Piper’s trail, got lost, fell down a ravine, and was eaten by wolves. Not qualified, in other words.
I’m getting the sense these two aren’t destined for friendship.
Though this is common sense to anyone paying attention this season, we still have to hear Elise give a pie chart presentation about Carrie’s condescending attitude, lack of food knowledge, and general dipshittery. It’s all par for their course, and Jennifer tells us she doesn’t even know if she wants to lead this particular group of fuck ups. I can’t say I blame her–would you want to bear responsibility for some of the bullshit that flies around in that kitchen? Not I.
When they announce to Gordon the next day that Will and Jennifer have been selected as the leaders, Gordon looks just surprised enough to be offensive. Gordon, seriously–look who’s left. When it comes to competent leadership, it’s slim pickins at best with this group; who did you expect them to nominate, Tommy’s ever-present headband?
Sadly, that’s actually not the worst choice.
Gordon says the mark of a great leader is the ability to recognize the team’s strengths and weaknesses. He then asks Jennifer who on the Red team has the weakest set of leadership skills. Jennifer picks Carrie, and Carrie puts up a fuss, but no one else disagrees. Will nominates Tommy for his team, and Tommy and Carrie are given a chance to prove their leaders wrong by running the kitchen during the morning challenge. HAHAHAHA!! That’s what’s known as backfiring, people.
The teams are tasked with turning American comfort classics into something special, with Tommy and Carrie at the helm. I bet WIll and Jennifer are both wishing they’d been a little less honest and gone for the middle ground in their answers. To be fair, I think Jonathon is probably a weaker link than Tommy on the Blue team, so maybe that was a lucky answer on Will’s part. Just hide the canned pineapple, and everything should be fine.
What could possibly go wrong?
The teams are working with Cobb salad, hamburgers, pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken noodle soup. Since Elise is physically unable to take direction from the likes of Carrie, she has to raise a stink about being stuck with spaghetti when she wanted to cook the pizza. For the next 45 minutes, it’s literally all she talks about. Hey, thems the shits, baby, but you’re not in charge this round. It would be just like her to try to sabotage Carrie’s leadership opportunity by making as big a fuss as possible and ruining things on purpose. I wonder if that’s what she’s doing.
Over in the Blue kitchen, everyone is yelling at Tommy, and Jonathon is proving to be the roadblock to Tommy’s success. He stands around, asking inane questions and crapping on Tommy’s ideas. Tommy gets annoyed at having to repeat himself, and Jonathon is following Tommy around, then downshifts to merely standing around, awaiting instructions instead of making his pizza. Meanwhile, Carrie is micromanaging, and Elise is throwing handfuls of attitude into the air so it rains down on everything around her. As the clock ticks down, everyone is shown scrambling and fucking up, but since this is supposed to be all tense, it’s probably production just splicing things together to make it look like everything is coming out raw. We shall see.
Gordon announces that he has a very special judge, and suddenly Wolfgang Puck appears, descending the staircase to the sound of seraphim trumpets. Everyone is star-struck, and I can’t wait until he has to choke down all the slop they’ve laid before him.
We begin with the burger comparison, with Jamie’s lamb burger slider with red onion comfiture and rosemary garlic oil, struttin’ all fancy-like toward Wolfgang’s maw. Wolfgang says it’s overdone, but has good flavor. Tommy serves a Japanese-themed, soy-glazed, boring lump of shit, and Wolfgang remarks that Tommy’s tat sleeve is way more attractive, but that’s a debate for another time. It’s also a moot point, as the burger tastes as bland as it looks, so the point goes to the Red team.
Is that a TAIL hanging out of that thing??
Next, we have our very own resident expert on Asia, Elizabeth, serving a traditional Cobb salad, with breaded chicken and a honey dijon dressing. Wolfgang P. likes the flavor, but says the presentation is unexciting. Natalie lays down what she calls a remix of a Cobb salad, with salmon instead of chicken. Wolfy says he wouldn’t call it a Cobb, per se, but it was good enough to serve in his restaurant under a different name. He gives the point to the Blue team, and Elizabeth is pissed that Natalie won a Cobb salad challenge with something that wasn’t a Cobb salad. Life is so unfair.
It’s spaghetti and meatballs time! Elise plunks down a messy bowl of noodles, and Wolfgang points out its ugliness while Carrie giggles with glee. Since the whole challenge is sort of riding on her leadership skills, I’d think she’d be more worried to see a point lost, but clearly the joy of seeing Elise take criticism trumps that little detail. However, when Wolfgang tries to fork up a bite of Team Leader Supreme Will’s pasta, all the noodles follow each other, and the entire bowl of spaghetti leaves the dish as one. Come on, Will, it’s spaghetti–it’s literally the easiest fucking thing in the world to make, outside of cereal or Hot Pockets, and Mr. Team Leader has bunged it, hardcore. Since Wolfgang thought both dishes sucked, neither team gets a point. Money says Elise will bitch that she should have been working on the pizza, and that’s why she ruined her dish.
“Zee fahck eez dees?”
We breeze through the soup category, since I guess no one cares, and it’s pretty straightforward. Jennifer’s southwestern chicken noodle soup gets praise from the Puck, and Paul’s Italian-style soup doesn’t. Jennifer gets the point, and there is much rejoicing.
Finally, we are left with Carrie and Jonathon presenting their pizzas. Now, this pizza battle is interesting from the start for two reasons: One, it’s the Blue team’s chance to tie the score, and if they lose, the Red team will automatically win, despite poor showings in the spaghetti and salad arenas. Two, this is the dish that Elise wanted but Carrie delegated to herself, so if she screws it up, Elise will fly up her ass. The fact that Elise herself fucked up the spaghetti and didn’t earn a point will, in this case, be irrelevant, of course. Also, Jonathon acted all bewildered in the kitchen, didn’t like Tommy’s ideas, and will probably blame Tommy if he loses. Turns out, he doesn’t even want to take the pizza up for judgment, but Tommy tells him to get his ass up there because they need the point. Jonathon is making a big prissy scene, being as diva as redneck kitchen help can possibly be, even when Gordon yells at him. He finally drags ass up there so we can get on with this bullshit. Way to impress the Wolfman, Jonathon.
Carrie presents a shrimp and basil pesto pizza, which Wolfgang immediately notices is raw. He literally crumples it up in his hands and orders her to take it back. Was that his own little bitch move, or did Gordon instruct him on it off camera? Whichever it was, I applaud you, Wolf. Gordon is just disgusted, and Tommy whispers that at least theirs is cooked more than Carrie’s. Jonathon sighs through his presentation of the flatbread pizza with honey and white truffle oil and some green shit that might be pistachios, that’s covered in liquid and super fucked up. Jonathon says all he did was roll the dough out and didn’t have anything else to do with it. Well yeah, but it was still your responsibility, right Jonathon? I mean, even if you didn’t agree with the ingredients, it was still up to you to cook it, was it not? Tommy tells us that Jonathon is an idiot (like we didn’t know already), and the pizza would have been fine had it been cooked properly. Gordon refuses to let Wolfgang taste it, and instructs Jonathon to take it far, far away, burn it, bury the ashes, and salt the earth.
“So, I am to dreenk dees pizza, yes?”
Jonathon gives a bitter, profanity-laced excuse about how he was screwed by a teammate and made to look bad. No points are awarded, and the Red team wins by default. Carrie is happy they finally won a challenge, and that it happened under her leadership. Elise says Carrie has nothing to celebrate, because she did nothing to help the team win. That may be true, but neither did you with your amateur, no-points-won, sloppy-ass plate of noodles, Elise, so close it on up.
Gordon sends the Red team on a drive down Sunset Strip, then to a Laugh Factory comedy show. Ok, so now the big reward is the opportunity to drive down the street? Not quite as awesome as a spa day, but better than the cleaning and prepping the Blue team has to do. Hell’s Kitchen will be open for dinner that night, and Gordon instructs them to deep clean the dorms on top of everything else. The Red team is super excited to actually be leaving the house, but Jonathon is mooning around downstairs, saying he has a pinched nerve in his neck. Scott tells him to leave all the heavy lifting the everyone else, which I’m sure they’ll appreciate so much. Paul tells the camera that Jonathon’s injury is quite convenient, and that he’s just being a little bitch. I have to wonder if he’d be all weepy and paralyzed if his team had won the challenge, or if he’d have to forgo cruising through town because of his boo boo. Hillbilly harmonica music plays while the Blue team gets to cleaning, Jonathon mopes, and the Red team rides away.
The boys and Natalie are sent to scrub up the dorms sans Jonathon, and Tommy is given a toothbrush to scrub the bathroom. Meanwhile, Elise is taking some heckling at the Laugh Factory for her head feather. Everyone is so happy to not be scrubbing bullshit off the floor that they don’t care what they’re doing. No so much on the Blue team, where Jonathon is MIA for dinner prep. We see him resting and giving off pained, dramatic vibes, telling the camera how much it hurts to move.
But his smoke-holdin’ hand is in top form, praise be to Jesus.
The Red team returns to find they each get a set of gourmet cookware to take home, which is probably the most realistically useful prize of the season thus far, and way better than a drive in a convertible, for damn sure. I hope Elise thinks of Carrie every time she uses hers.
Everyone on the Blue team is pissed off that Jonathon hasn’t done one damn thing all day, aside from rubbing his neck, sighing, and smoking. Normally I’d be sympathetic to someone with an injury, except the last time I had a pinched nerve in my neck I was two days away from a cross-country move with a husband and five-month old baby, and I spent fourteen hours packing boxes with my head tipped to one side, so Jonathon can just nut up, already. He’ll get no pass from me when it comes to pinched nerves. I’m thinking it’s not going to be a split vote on the Blue team when it comes to picking someone to go home that night, and by split, I mean everyone will vote for Jonathon, and Jonathon will vote for Tommy.
And Will will vote for whomever he feels is responsible for making him do women’s work.
An hour before service, he comes waltzing in and starts asking questions, and no one gives him the time of day. He sits at a table to slice tomatoes, or open cans of pineapple, or whatever it is he does best. Elise is barking orders in the Red kitchen, telling everyone they need to get on the same page. Hey Jennifer, now’s the time to whip out that leadership skill set, and tell the bitch to shut it.
Gordon’s special guests that evening are servicemen from the U.S. Coast Guard, and he demands the Red team show respect when preparing their food. Carrie is rolling out pizza dough and screwing it right up. Why they put her on this station after she bunged up pizza at the challenge is a mystery, but it’s their funeral. Gordon yells at the Blue team to kindly avoid fucking up their Coast Guard table, and yells at Jonathon to get it together, because he’s sort of standing around in a daze, looking like someone slipped some hashish into his Skoal tin. When he overloads the pasta basket, Natalie gets yelled at also because she’s on the same station, and is apparently supposed to be monitoring his dumb ass. Then Gordon saunters over to yell at Carrie some more because she’s burning garlic and holding up appetizer service for the whole Red team. I think it’s clear who will be going home tonight on both teams. Double elimination, maybe? That’ll trim some fat, for sure.
“I don’t know what happened, chef–I wrote the recipe right on the dough, and now it’s gone!”
Jamie steps to help Carrie, which is a rare but good show of teamwork, and it gets them back on track. They start sending out appetizers, and the Blue team’s Coast Guard table is getting pissed because they ordered before some of the Red team’s tables, but haven’t been served any food. The Blue apps are being sent back by Gordon, and Jonathon continues to stand blankly in front of the pasta, ruining it time and time again. Unfortunately for Natalie, this is throwing her game off, as well. Gordon screams at them, and Jonathon fucks up the capellini once more. Capellini! I make capellini at least once a week, and have yet to render it inedible. Aren’t these people paid to cook in their real lives?
Gordon says he’ll serve the capellini to the servicemen over his own dead body, and calls everyone over to taste the abomination, which he says is worse than canned spaghetti. He sends Paul over to demonstrate how to do it, and Jonathon continues bumbling all over the place. He blames it on his neck, and Gordon drags him aside to tell him to cut the shit, that a pinched nerve shouldn’t affect him using his brain. I can see his overall point, but this is Jonathon; his brain functions at limited capacity under the best of circumstances, so we shouldn’t set the bar too high. Gordon says if he’s given up, he can clear out, and Jonathon vows to step it up.
Any minute, now…
Once he actually starts working, the Blue team is able to send some appetizers out. In the Red kitchen, things are starting to come together, and the girls are working in harmony, despite hating each other’s breathing guts. Even Carrie is just tucked off in a corner, not fucking things up for once. Gordon condescends to tell them to keep it up.
Back in the Blue kitchen, they’re literally falling all over each other. Natalie trips over Tommy, and he lets out a stoned little giggle, which of course is taken as a sign by everyone that he’s not serious chef material. He gets yelled at, then we go back to witness a meat overload in the Red kitchen. Elise is on the meat station, and all the orders coming in are for beef of some kind. Jennifer, with a lone fish order to keep her busy, offers to help, but Elise is determined to prove herself, and sends out plate after plate of perfect meat. Dear God, she’s going to be intolerable after this. I hate it, but at the same time I’m impressed.
Not so impressed with the Blue team, however, who Gordon pulls off their stations to observe the clockwork order of the Red kitchen. Natalie and the boys in the middle of a clusterfuck, though. No one is communicating, Tommy’s flailing around, everyone is yelling, and Tommy screws up a meat order. Meanwhile, the Red team is on its last ticket, and Elise says she’s very impressed with how the team allowed her to lead them to victory. Bitch, please. The Blue team also manages to finish their tickets without getting booted to the anteroom for a change, so good for them. They’ll probably lose, though, because there was so much drama.
Secret ingredient: Ramsay tears.
Gordon announces that the Red team is the winner, and says Elise impressed him above all others. The Blue team is sent to choose their nominees for elimination. Tommy nominates Natalie and Jonathon because of the appetizer snafu, and Natalie jumps right in and says it wasn’t her fault. Jonathon, she says, did nothing all day, then continued doing nothing for the first half of service, and she’s not about to take the fall for his bullshit. Jonathon says that he was helping her by cooking the capellini. Considering that’s all he did, and that he managed to fuck up even that singular task, I’d stop bragging if I was him. It doesn’t count as helping if you’re efforts don’t help, dude. Also, let’s not forget who sat around all day. He votes for Tommy and Natalie, and blames Tommy’s lack of communication. Tommy says he doesn’t like people all up in his station, and Paul tells him to get a backbone and start kicking people out, if that’s the case, instead of retreating to Tommy Land.
A special land, where the “grass” is green and plentiful, and no one yells.
Once gathered for elimination, the Blue team hangs its screw ups on the appetizer station as a whole, and sends up Jonathon and Natalie. Gordon calls them forward, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to figure out who the real fuck up on the team is this episode.
Jonathon says he’s not a quitter, and he doesn’t know the definition of “give up.” Given the state of Tennessee’s public education system, that’s actually not too shocking. He says he learns from his mistakes, and will stick it out until the bitter end. Natalie gets called out for buckling under pressure, which is like Gordon’s ultimate pet peeve. Natalie says Jonathon’s half-assed efforts frustrated her and threw her off, and she felt like she was babysitting all evening. Gordon asks where her “fight back” was, then asks Natalie to step forward, pulling his trademark fake out move, before sending her back in line right as she breaks down in tears. He loves that shit.
Jonathon is sent home, which comes as no surprise to anyone who watched the episode. Good. I’m sick of him anyway. Natalie is consoled by her teammates, and Jonathon exit interviews in his wife beater, saying Gordon will soon see through Natalie’s exterior and glimpse the darkness that inhabits her soul. Wasn’t he taking pictures of her ass not two episodes ago? How fickle is the human heart?
Gordon tells Natalie she needs to make the most of her last shot, and compliments Elise once again on a good performance. Jennifer shares my fears, though: she predicts Elise’s attitude is going to be well nigh unbearable on the heels of such praise, and she’s probably right. Elise has a tendency to conveniently forget any mistakes she makes.
This bitch…I swear to god, people.
Next time, we see a bunch of awful dining room marriage proposals (blegh), a bunch of Elise tears (because she has passion), a bunch of confrontation between her and Carrie (what else is new), and Elise vowing to send Carrie home. Carrie and Tommy talk back to Gordon, and it’s all so suspenseful! Medusa will break it down next week, so don’t forget to follow up!