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At long last, my fine readers, we have reached the end of things. Or, rather, the thing right before the end of things, with this recap of the final group service and elimination before the actual finale. Fox went ahead and crammed it all into one two-hour block, and I will be bringing you the first half of that block in these paragraphs to follow.
With the surprise elimination of Jennifer in last week’s episode, we are left with the final four to battle it out for the BLT prize. Before we can get to the action, we’re treated to a montage of the whole season, with a focus on the ones left: Paul the Pit Bull, Tommy the Wild Card, Will the Machine, and Elise the Lunatic Harpy. I mean, Elise the Fighter. Yeah, fighter. That’s the ticket. I’m not sure what criteria production used to come up with those last-minute nicknames, but I think mine works better in her case. I love how they call Tommy the Wild Card, though. He’s such a likable goof. I hope he wins, because I would love to see him prove himself to everyone. He has the reputation of being sort of dim and flaky, and it would be cool to see more of the talent and brains he has to possess in order to have gotten this far.
That said, I’m not holding out too much hope.
So getting back to the point, the big question on everyone’s mind is who will win the BLT position. This whole season has looked like a setup for Will, but I also thought that Jennifer had a good shot to make it to the final two, and that ended up getting blown out of the water, so maybe I’m wrong about Will, too. Will they slide a dark horse in at the last minute? As long as it’s not Elise. I hope she loses and we get to see her cry.
After Jennifer buggers off, the final four return to the back, reassuring each other that they made the right choice in keeping Elise around. Will convinces himself that he was “being real,” not doing anyone any favors or taking sides. Keep telling yourself that, Will. Though if he was smart, he’d have kept the weaker player in the game to dial the competition factor down a notch. Tommy, who sided with Jennifer during elimination, tries to backpedal and assure Elise he has her back, but she doesn’t buy it. Like my daddy used to say, don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Tommy.
I’m going to assume whatever happened here was Scott’s fault, since Elise will never cop to anything else.
They line up the next morning, sparkling fresh and bright eyed, and Gordon informs them that inspiration is very important at this stage of the game. Then he hauls out Elise’s Aunt Delores, husband Chris, and really cute son, Chris Jr. She goes straight for the kid, and they have a little family cuddle time. This is the first genuine happiness we’ve seen out of Elise that wasn’t based on mean-spirited smugness, and it’s strangely disconcerting. I am not used to seeing a smile in those eyes.
Next out is Tommy’s mom, Diana, and his much talked about sweet young thang, Kaitlin. He jumps right on that piece and soaks up some lovin’, while Will and Paul give each other “damn, bro” glances and try to hide their blatant jealousy. Elise is surprised that Tommy’ girlfriend is pretty, which is kind of hilarious. Who was she expecting, the herpes-spreading prostitute from that South Park episode?
Paul’s brother Chris is brought in next, giving us an overabundance of Chrises. Paul leaps on him like he’s a ham steak, and treats us to a blurred out ass cleavage shot in the process. Wow, thanks, Paul. I hadn’t realized until how empty my heart–nay, my soul had been, until you came along and filled that void.
Finally, Will’s gets rushed by his mom, Michelle, and his wife, Tara. Will informs us that he think of nothing but his wife and mother every single day. Okay, then. That’s sweet and all, but still a little weird. Maybe he’s a mama’s boy, and maybe his wife is on board with that, but personally I’d start pricing umbilical shears.
In the midst of everyone’s weepy reunions, good old Tommy wastes no time hooking it up with Kaitlin, tongues and all. He even slides a marriage suggestion in between smooches, while his mom just hangs out next to them. Gordon admonishes Tommy for engaging in foreplay in front of the woman who bore him, but you can tell she’s used to it, because she hasn’t batted an eye. I’m thinking her pearls were clutched their last sometime around the mid-90s, and at this point she’s just glad her baby boy is following his passion in Hell’s Kitchen instead of doing a dime in Green Haven Correctional.
That black jacket could very well be an orange jumpsuit, but for the grace of the baby Jesus.
Elise is regaling her family with tales of her time in the competition, and gripes about having been nominated for elimination about a thousand times. Her husband somehow manages to guess that this is because of her personality and not her cooking, and we can feel it as he struggles to keep the total lack of surprise out of his voice. What sort of binding spell did she cast on that dude, and how hard is his soul struggling for its freedom? The kid isn’t listening, just happy to see his mom, and they have a sweet little moment when he proclaims his love for her. I hope, for the sake of that poor chid, that she’s a different person at work than she is at home, because holy crap. On the plus side, I doubt he’ll grow up to be a discipline case, because I’m guessing Mama doesn’t much truck with unruly behavior.
Speaking of unruly behavior, Gordon manages to pry Tommy’s jaws off Kaitlin before she gets swallowed whole, and he kicks all the family out of the place, figuring everyone has been inspired enough for the day. Gordon then reveals their next challenge: Taste It–Now, Make It. Each contestant will taste the dish he presents to them and have 35 minutes to recreate it. The winner will get to spend the rest of the day with their family, so Tommy is extra motivated.
They all taste, then get to it. Elise’s palate is failing her, and Gordon tells her to keep her beasty little eyes to herself and stop worrying about what the others are doing. Will and Tommy I’ve guessed monkfish a the protein, and Elise thins it’s halibut. Paul is torn between monkfish and cod, so sears both, which gordon had just informed them they weren’t allowed to do. Tommy goes for the Serrano ham, while the others choose prosciutto. And all have chosen mushrooms, kale, and cream as a garnish. Well, no two of these are exactly the same, unless Paul ditches his cod at the last minute, so let’s see who’s right.
Tommy is up first, and Gordon likes it, but won’t say if he’s close or not. Next is Elise, then Will and Paul . Gordon asks Will if he’s copying Tommy, an it’s hilarious because you can tell Will is pretty offended to be compared to Tommy. He also doesn’t appreciate the implication that he’d copy anyone. You know, because they should be copying HIM. Will is all ego.
Get out of my fucking kitchen.
Unfortunately for Tommy, he blew it with the Serrano ham, and is dismissed. That leaves three different types of prosciutto wrapped fish, and it all comes down to who picked the right one. Turns out, Paul ditched the monkfish in favor of the cod, and that was the right choice. He is sent off to hang with his brother at a Dodgers game. Will makes sure to let us know that Paul isn’t better than him–rather, he only won because Will himself screwed up. I sort of hate Will at this point. Not that he was ever my favorite, but his attitude is really starting to grate on my nerves.
The rest of them have to move all the stuff out of the Hell’s Kitchen dorms, and Elise immediately starts to cry, probably because there’s no way for her to avoid doing the work with so few people left.
Paul and his brother are greeted by Tommy Lasorda, who’s old as shit. He takes then out to the field, and Paul tries to make up for being a Yankees fan. Then he gets to meet Don Mattingly, and he’s so pumped I doubt he even cares about the Hell’s Kitchen result. Gordon throws out the first pitch of the game, then brings Paul and his brother Dodger Dogs and beer.
Meanwhile, the losers have changed into moving shirts and are dismantling the dorms. They’re unearthing all sorts of nasty flotsam: old Doritos, rotten, half-eaten burgers, and crusty plates and silverware. How is it that sort of behavior has been allowed to slide? Wouldn’t Elise herself have noticed the stench? She blames it all on Jennifer, who I guess just habitually leaves half-finished snacks under other people’s beds. That’s no way to land a portly baseball fan, Jennifer.
Yes, ladies, he’s still single! Line up while the lining is good!
That night’s service is all about leadership, and will test the contestants’ ability to run a kitchen. Gordon informs them that each will have a chance to lead, and the results of the service will determine who makes it to the final two. It’s a double elimination that night, and they’ll be sneaking in a few quality control tests to keep everyone on their toes.
Paul is first to lead, and of course Tommy stops communicating, as per usual. He then brings up a rawr piece of fish. Paul tell him to stick it on the oven for a minute while he readies the other plates, but doesn’t freak out and splatter it all over the table, so he’s holding it together better than Gordon so far. Then comes the first quality control sabotage test of the night: Gordon has Scott replace the lobster in the capellini with shrimp, I guess to see if Paul is totally retarded. Apparently Paul is, in fact, totally retarded, because he doesn’t catch it and Gordon has to tell him before he sends that shit out to some poor bastard in the dining room. Tommy is unintentionally throwing his own wrench in things, by not answering Paul fast enough, and Elise, of all people, informs us that yelling does not equal leadership. Holy living fuck, who is this, and what has she done with Elise? Though to be fair, she is criticizing him, so that’s in character at least. Even Will thinks Paul is losing his cool. Because Paul is so very, very cool, I guess.
Ain’t no doubt.
Next up for the leadership test is Tommy, who is determined to be loud and assertive. He describes himself as articulate and thorough, which is a lot more syllables than I thought he knew. That boy may actually have more beneath the surface than pigment/carrier blends and residual THC. Despite Tommy’s articulation, Paul still seems to have a bug up his ass. He’s interrupting Tommy, which we all know breaks Tommy’s concentration and throws him off his game. Tommy is a singular-focus type of guy, people. Meanwhile, James delivers a fudged ticket, which confuses the hell out of Tommy and everyone else. He recovers, though, and manages to get through the rest of his challenge without fucking anything else up. It’s sort of depressing, because I love Tommy, but I really don’t think he’ll win.
Elise is next, and Will informs us that it’s time for her back up all her big talk. Or, to quote the beloved, late George Carlin: “let’s see a little smoke to match that fire in your belly!” We still miss you, George.
Elise is doing fine until Gordon’s cagey ass replaces her squeezy bottle of cauliflower purée with with a squeezy bottle of potato purée. Even though she tastes it, the potatoes sneak past her stellar palate. He confronts her, not even yelling, and she immediately tears up. Jesus. Did seeing her kid flip some kind of switch? What happened to the stoic, raging superbitch we’ve been despising all season? All of a sudden she’s weeping at the drop of a hat.
It’s all just Charlie Brown’s teacher at this point.
Human emotions coming from her make me uncomfortable, so thankfully, she gets back on the horse pretty fast. Then Scott replaces the potato mash with parsnip purée, and i brace myself for more tears, but she catches it and vents her rage on Tommy, yelling at him about his bass. Tommy yells “it’ll be cooked right, babe,” at her sarcastically, and this does not go over, but is pretty hilarious, especially since Tommy came off looking like sort of a stud at the family reunion. You can see him getting away with a lot of borderline sexual harassment by dropping a well-timed wink or two and charming the ladies, but since Elise is married and also a total fucking shrew, it doesn’t work on her. Anyway, Elise rocks the rest of her service, and then it’s Will’s turn.
Will starts strong, immediately calling out Scott on his sneaky lamb and beef switcharoo, which is pretty impressive. Then Elise sends up some spinach with a piece of raw pasta in it, which is not part of the planned sabotage. Will catches it, and it’s hard to know if Elise risked slipping that in there in hopes he wouldn’t notice, or if it was an honest mistake, but it’s clear he suspects the former. They start bickering, and the service grinds to a halt as they argue about spinach and pepper and minutiae, and Elise refuses to accept blame. Everyone stops communicating, and everything shuts down. Hey Will, remember when you lost your damn mind and decided to back this bitch over Jennifer at elimination? Reaping what you sowed, big boy. Thems the breaks.
Somehow he pulls it together, then Gordon takes over and things finish up without further incident. Instead of having them choose nominees for elimination, Gordon sends them all back to compose sonnets to themselves, which should be easy peasy for Will’s giant inflated head. Tommy is trying to net some approval from his peers, but no one is paying attention. Paul is worried because he thinks Elise outperformed him, but Will actually approaches her and compliments her skills. She so doesn’t trust him, though. I guess once he was done vouching for her last episode, she had no more use for his dumb ass. Who ever could have seen that coming?
In the final lineup, Gordon informs them that there is one person he has learned to understand and appreciate, but he knows this person is not ready to be head chef at BLT. I have a pretty good idea who he means, and if you guessed Tommy, that means we both guessed right. Everyone hugs Tommy, and Gordon says he loves his attitude and to keep working toward his goal. See, I know Tommy came off as a moronic stoner dumbfuck in episode 1, but he’s really come a long way, and proven he has talent and a work ethic, and maybe more to offer than just a lazy eye and some charm. But then he starts to leave, and Gordon has to remind him again to leave the jacket, so maybe not.
Oh, Tommy. Don’t ever change.
The final three have to argue for their places in the finale, and it’s everything we’ve heard before. They toot their own horns and yodel on and on about their talent and drive and passion, as if he hasn’t already made the decision. At long last, Gordon announces the first person to make the finals: Will. No big shocker there; they’ve been setting us up for a long haul with Will since the very beginning, and he knew it as well as we did. It’s one of the things that slowly made him more and more insufferable. Paul and Elise are left, and Gordon says he could visualize either of them on the finals, it was that close. But one can command the kitchen better, and that person is Paul.
She’s weeping already, and Gordon tells her he’s never met anyone so resilient in his entire life. He tells her to keep her head up and to keep her jacket as a symbol of her failure. Or maybe he didn’t want to have to wrestle it away from her. Tommy let his go easily enough (once he remembered he was still wearing the fucking thing, that is), but Elise was in an emotional state, and therefore unpredictable.They clap her out of the room, and we get the Asshole’s Greatest Hits montage, that really just blends together. Ugh. She was truly awful, and just knowing I don’t ever have to see her again brings sunshine and happiness into my world.
So that’s it for the first half! Will and Paul will battle it out in the final finals, and I’ll leave it to Medusa to tell you what happens. Thanks to everyone who read and commented this season. I appreciate it so much! I’ll be back soon to recap the best show ever, so if you’re a Dexter fan, catch up with me in a couple weeks, and I’ll let you know what that adorable sociopath is up to next season.