12 July 2006

[distractions] Hell's Kitchen, Epi Five

We find ourselves, while pleased that the story is progressing, fairly irritated by the mix of promo teasing and editing. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the narrator say, of this weeks epi, that there "would be celebrities in the restaurant–but Chef Ramsay would be all business?"

Where were the celebrities? Can I believe anything the teasers tell me? Did I dream that?

Anyway! It's fun and frolic and multiple donkey-whipping in HK this last time. Virginia comes into her own but acts like a complete boob, and Kevin surges to the front.

And did Sarah get booted? Sure should have...

But first, this word about Keith

He may have it in the kitchen but he ain't got it in the style department. Last epi, when everyone was tearing back to the restaurant to get ready for Hell's Kindergarten, he loped far behind everyone else, stutter-stepping it. In an interview, he opined that "that's how K-Grease rolls".

Now, cards on the table: I'm not the most fashion-platy person on earth, it's jeans and polo shirts for me most all of the time, and I could stand to lose rather a few pounds; as far as looks, I'm hardly preposessing. That said, someone of Keith's physique and looks should never accept the nickname "K-Grease" and should never, ever, say that "that's how he rolls".

That, and get rid of that damn' Kewpie doll hairstyle, and his creep-out factor should decrease by at least a little.

There. I've said it. I feel better. Or, at least I will, until I see Keith's twisted visage again.

And, now, as the dude likes to say, the continuation

In the dorms after the disaster that resulted in Tom's going home, Virginia tries to ring Sarah up for hanging her out to dry in The Turbot Incident, but Sarah wasn't having it, and Virginia's passive, wishy-washy way of pushing her on it was making no impression other than Virginia doesn't know how to get agressive when someone gives her the shaft. Sarah saunters out of the commons muttering "Oh, well, I'm not popular again." Again? This is her MO?

What a creep.

The teams awake next morning and proceed to the dining room for their challenge of the day. Arrayed before them is a small morning buffet of haute cuisine appetizers: caviar, kebabs, pate, and fondue. Quite a breakfast, yes?

Actually, no caviar or pate for me before noon. Or, for that matter, before 8pm. Or, for that matter, at all. But this gourmand digresses. Anyway! The chefs dine and taste and find most of it quite okay, with Virginia tellingly commenting on how the last time she'd had caviar (ewww! Lips that touch caviar will never touch mine!) it was all fishy and awful, and this stuff was quite amazingly good.

Of course, nothing here is ever as it seems, and this is no exception: we find the Ramdog has set up them the bomb. The pate: ground up and formed hot dogs. The kebabs: fashioned from a single TV dinner (looked like sliced turkey-n-gravy). The caviar: "fake" caviar harvested from a catfish (still, ewww. WTF is it about gourmets and fish eggs? Is it sort of a rich-person club badge to eat really horrid stuff with a straight face?) The fondue: aerosol-can cheese. Most of the chefs laugh about it except Virginia, who got in a snit about it in the one-on-one.

Yeah, it smarts when your idol disses you, I guess.

And now, the daily challenge: Get Tasty!

This is a lead-in to the challenge of the day; the taste-test. The two teams go head-to-head to identify, blindfolded and ear-plugged, a variety of ingredients, that go from the sophisticated (sea urchin) to the mundane (hot dogs, potato). This was Virginia's moment in the sun, where her relatively accurate palate (identifying four of five at her go) assured a win by the Red team.

Oh, and Keith? Hot dogs, as it turned out, are slammin. He should just stop talking. Really.

The prize: a photo shoot for TV Guide and pampering beforehand, complete with The Ramdog. The penalty? Remember how everyone was simply sent off to the dorm at the end of that last dinner service? All that cookware was allowed to sit out and season for a night and get really nasty. The kitchen needed attention at the end of that night; it really needed it now. Have fun, Blues.

While Blue gets busy (grimly but determinedly; you've got to like them for that) Red enjoys the attention. Just to rub it in, however, when they run out of champagne (another Rich Person Food I Just Don't Understand) Garrett is made to run some more bottles to them–and by run, we mean on foot. He tried to hang about for a few minutes after the delivery was made, but Chef was having none of that.

During the shoot, Sarah proves her class to us by letting one rip: yes, she farted. Full of the gas she's been a-cookin her sinister little plots with, no doubt. And, of course, in true Sarah style, was proud of it: "Yeah, I lifted a leg and let one go". Creep.

Just one more digression before I move on: What is it that when Reds win they get high-class and face time with the Chef, and when Blue wins they get dropped off, all by themselves, at the amusement park like the stepkids? Just what is up with that?

The Dinner Service: Will They Finally Get One Completed?

I'm a johnny-come-lately to HK, it's true: we only watched the last few epis of the last series and missed the climax. We are invested in this one, though, so could someone tell me how much of the last drama went by before the teams actually connected and did what a restaurant's supposed to do?

Are these people that sad?

On the Red side we got to see Rachel tank big-time. All the night long–even after a heavy pep-talk by Chef–she was like a deer caught in the headlamps, paralyzed and overwhelmed. After all-but-burning a quail and sending it out anyway, it became Communications Breakdown all the way around for her. Afraid to tell Chef she'd misjudged the time on a Wellington, she didn't communicate, and by the end, with only three tables remaining to complete the entree service, she attempted to doctor up a well-done Wellington to make it look medium-rare.

Big mistake. Chef can tell by touch that the meat is done properly. And this was after the heartfelt pep-talk.

Another Red low point was a big black hair on a foie gras which caused it to be returned to the kitchen. Prime suspect: Maribel, but that plot thread (sorry) wasn't followed up.

Virginia got kudos, for communicating. She got an actual compliment from Chef, which sent her into waves of smugness that almost resembled orgasm. In the one-on-one all she did was grin like a lobotomized cherub (with harp backing on the soundtrack, indicating that someone over there has a definite sense of humor). Well, she's back in the good books of her BFF Chef Ramsay, I guess.

Sarah just stayed in the background, cooking up more nefarious schemes, I don't doubt.

The Blues were better, but today it wasn't because of Heather, it was because of Keith. Heather got knocked off her stride early, when she moved to start preparing pasta way too early and Chef rang her up on it. All that focus evaporated like morning mist, she fell out of the zone, and didn't get back in the entire night. All she could do was, first, chew on Garrett for talking to her and then invade Garrett's station to try and help him get his job done.

Heather wasn't just off her game; she was so far away from it she'd of had to have made a toll call to it.

Keith pulled the Blue team though the night but he wasn't without his flaws. When a dish was returned to the Blue kitchen he started shifting and shuffling about and wouldn't look the Chef in the eye and he kept fidgeting so much even I wanted to get in there and smack him one. He acted just like a kid caught doing something he should have known better about.

Between Heather's crisis and Keith, Garrett kind of moved into the background. I don't think he had much of a chance to screw up.

Chef was impressed enough with Keith's gumption that he gave him the most honestly sincere pep-talk we've heard yet. Chef sees the culinary professional hiding out behind the "Cha-ching" and the "Slammin" and the "K-Grease". We sure wish he would.

The Shut-it-down moment

It was the silence of the lamb...sauce. Someone forgot it. Garrett got it up to the pass. Chef insulted him for it.

All but three Red tables served. So. Damn. Close. With this group, you didn't actually expect them to complete anything now...be honest with yourselves.

Sappho Must Not Be Denied

Of course, little as I want to, I've got to mention the cheapass way the show tried to make the friendship between Heather and Rachel into The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name™. This was even more hackeneyed than the "Battle Between The Sexes" subplot which was put out of our misery by the expedient of the men dwindling so fast.

To be honest, I was inspired by seeing such warm, human affection between two colleagues who clicked.

Which, of course, Sarah had something to say about; she thought thier behavior 'unprofessional'. I mean, look who's talking?

The Elimination, or Virginia Makes An Ass Of Herself

The Reds were tonight's losers, and no surprise there. Despite another dinner service not completed, the Blues served every entree, and this with one less chef than the Red team, who left three tables hungry. Virginia, being the best of the worst, is given the task of nominating two of her Red colleagues for elimination.

Heather, in what has to be a bizarre attempt to score gravitas points, pipes up and speaks for the entire Blue kitchen in saying that nobody performed up to potential and all Blues really deserved to be on the chopping block. Sa'what, Keith's look seems to have said. This is a strategy I think of as tearing down your colleagues when you're having a bad day to make yourself feel better. This was Heather's low point.

After Red sturm und drang, Virginia made her noms: Rachel, which nobody was surprised at, and Maribel, on the basis of the hair, which did surprise everyone, especially in as much as Virginia delivered a long, (picture Garrett yawning), pained (picture Chef massaging the bridge of his nose), somewhat self-indulgent speech about why she considered nomming Sarah.

To nobody's surprise, Rachel was 86'd. It was a particularly heartfelt sendoff by Chef, who gave her props for working her ass off in that kitchen.

The State Of Play

The original field of twelve has been winnowed to six: on the Red side–Maribel, Virginia, and Sarah; on the Blue–Heather, Keith, and Garrett.

I'm sure that the teaser had something tittilating about next weeks show but I don't remember it and I don't trust it anyway. Altho I do remember that we are having a redux of last season's Red vs Blue menu competition...at least they had pictures of it. And something big's gonna happen...altho they've said that in weeks past, something big's always gonna happen.

The Smart Money

I'm still, despite Heather's shabby performance this epi, expecting Heather to make it though to the final two. Keith's gumption stood him in good stead; despite his endlessly-irritating 'white rapper' style, he's got the passion and the smarts, and I think it just may be Heather vs Keith in the final.

Garrett is fading, just a bit. He's got the drive but seems to be weakening. He does strike me as smart enough to win though, so while I don't see him winning out I'm not going to count him out just yet. He could yet surprise us.

I've just about written the three other women off; Virginia came up strong but she's got to have more than communication skills to make it there, and the school-girl crush thing has gotten way old. Maribel; is anyone else getting tired of the homesick-shtick? Did nobody explain to her that she'd be away from home for a while? Did it not occur to her? This is the most exciting thing she's likely to do, with the possiblity of the payday of a lifetime at the end, and she can't focus. I think her husband and family will be there when she gets done–in the meantime, if she doesn't focus, she's doomed. I don't get the idea that she has a vision of herself as a chef. And, of course, Sarah. I'm starting to think they are maniuplating her appearances for maximum Omarosa; otherwise why do I have this sinking feeling she won't soon get the comeuppance she so richly deserves? Of course, don't get me wrong; I still think she's a creep.

Best Remark of the Epi

This one goes to Chef Ramsey: Donkey's Kitchen! Should we change the f***ing logo? DK???

Next week, then, everyone.

Recommended extra reading

The snarky, sidesplitting recap of the show over at TVgasm.com. Just go, read. It's the sort of stuff that the abbreviation ROFLMAO was invented for.

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