Hell's Kitchen - Season Three, Episode Two Recap

Originally aired on Monday, 06/11/2007

Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: The women's team try to recover from their disastrous first service on Hell's Kitchen while the men struggle to maintain their momentum.

Episode Highlights:

  • After being ripped apart by Gordon Ramsay for their poor attitude, the women's team tries to regroup.
  • Aaron continues to struggle with his nervous reaction to the competition.
  • The service is a slam dunk for one team, but a total catastrophe for another.

The chefs return to the house after the last elimination, and the women’s team is in disarray. Bonnie Muirhead can’t believe that Ramsay called the team “evil” and “twisted” (why would anyone be surprised that a man famous for fits of rage might indulge in hyperbole?), while Joanna Dunn thinks she was on the chopping block because of her strength.

Meanwhile, the men are united in their concern for Aaron. He hasn’t eaten, saying he’s worried about being “fat and slow” and holding back his team.

The next morning, the chefs are woken up bright and early by Ramsay’s chefs banging pots and pans. Bleary-eyed, they trudge out to the kitchen, where Ramsay informs them that, due to the thousands of dollars worth of food they wasted in the previous service, they will be heading out to catch their own fish.

The chefs are initially excited, until they head outside and realize that the phrase “catching a fish” can have a very different meaning than the most common one. They have to literally catch the fish thrown by delivery people from the back of a truck.

After the catching, the chefs have to bring buckets of fish into the restaurant, and Aaron begins to struggle again. Then, as Ramsay addresses the chefs, Aaron blurts out an expletive when Ramsay explains the fish-prepping challenge. Aaron is mortified, saying with dismay, “I said a curse word!” It’s a very odd and very sad moment; Aaron seems desperately out of sorts with the whole process. Even Ramsay seems to realize this is not normal nor an act, as he gruffly, but with more compassion than we normally see, tries to focus Aaron and get his head back in the game.

The challenge if to prep the most acceptable Dover sole filets in thirty minutes. The men start out strong, while Joanna cautions the women to look at quality not quantity.

And it turns out she had the right idea. Only eight of the men’s soles are acceptable, with half of those being contributed by Josh Wahler. On the women’s side, Melissa and Julia Williams both do okay, bringing the women’s team to six quickly. But when Bonnie and Jenn do not have a single acceptable fish, it all comes down to Joanna. All three of her completed fish must pass for the women to win. They do, and Gordon announces the women will join him on a fishing expedition. The losing men’s team will have to stay and prep all the sole filets for the evening.

After the losing and winning teams each have their own fishy experience, it’s time for the next service. Aaron is given a special duty to help de-bone the sole table-side. Gordon seems to be giving him this special task as a way to boost his confidence, but while he is describing the task, Aaron seems to zone out and go unresponsive. Eventually he comes back to life, but it’s disturbing. It doesn’t help that once the patrons arrive, Aaron decides to go around introducing himself to the guests. Ramsay puts a quick stop to this.

Both kitchens get off to an initially rocky start, but the women’s teams difficulties are quite minor. The men’s team, on the other hand, cannot seem to get it together. Little guy Eddie Langley has problems with his pasta starter when the other chefs interfere in his station and he doesn’t assert himself in time. Aaron takes fifteen minutes to debone the fish, resulting in cold entrees. He also doesn’t do a complete job, leaving large pieces of bone for the patrons. Ramsay chews him out for this, and he apologizes, then says in interview that maybe he’s not cut out for a top class place. It’s rather sad – maybe he doesn’t have the skill or knowledge, but he seems to be unable to see himself as worthy of being there, and the self-doubt compounds his lack of knowledge.

The women’s team gets out their appetizers and entrees and keeps problems to a minimum. The men's team struggles all night. Josh’s chicken is dry, and Vinnie Fama’s Wellington is underdone. Ramsay gets so frustrated that he throws out the men’s team and has the women finish. They are thrilled at the opportunity and it seems to give them a boost.

So, clearly, the women are safe this time, and the men are on the hot seat. Rock Harper is named the best of the worst, and has to make a decision. Eddie, Aaron and Josh all plead for their life, and Rock ruminates.

Back at the kitchen, Ramsay asks for the decision. Rock picks Eddie and Josh. Much like Melissa’s picks last week, this seems to be a strategic ploy; clearly Aaron is the weakest link for the men’s, but by leaving him off the chopping block, Rock can maybe eliminate a stronger competitor, leaving Aaron to be picked off by another chef at another time.

Ramsay decides to give Josh another chance, so it’s little Eddie that is sent packing.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of Fox)