goes Hollywood and gets weird this week. Tonight's back-to-back episodes leap from a baffling international mystery box challenge to the set of Glee
, where the home cooks prepare fried chicken, salmon and vegan lasagna for the cast and crew. Which meal do you think goes first? Hint: It's probably not what you'd think. And which cooks do you think go home after this culinary labyrinth of reality TV? It's probably not who you'd expect (and probably not who deserves
to go home, if you ask this recapper). MasterChef
is determined to defy expectations, it seems.
International Tour De Force
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International dishes appear in American cooking all the time, but not usually in the form of baby eels and Chinese ground moss. The judges are all about throwing the cooks for a loop, though, so this week's mystery box is filled with ingredients with Russian, Japanese and Chinese labels. After a few bad jokes about the ground moss, the cooks turn out some pretty decent dishes, including Eddie's winning grilled elk flank with Okinawa sweet potato puree. After weeks in the middle, the NFL pro pulls to the head of the pack.
Eddie's reward for winning the mystery box challenge is, of course, the power to control the next elimination challenge. The theme of the challenge is filled pasta (yum!), and when given the choice of agnolotti, mezzelune and caramelle pastas, Eddie chooses the agnolloti -- the dish that looks toughest to execute. That's no problem for Eddie, though. He has immunity!
Since few of the cooks know how to prepare agnolotti (and because MasterChef is pulling celebrity guests out of its chef sleeves), Lidia Bastianich will teach the cooks to prepare the obscure Italian dish. But wait! As a bonus prize, Eddie can pull two cooks out of class and handicap their performance, so he chooses James, whom he views as a threat, and Lynn, who's too good a student to leave in Lidia Bastianich's schooling. James manages to steady himself after the blow, but Lynn is hit like a bull's eye. Well played, Eddie. You win this round.
Luckily for Lynn, though, one cook gave an even more offensive performance, and it somehow wasn't Beth, who served raw pasta after failing to boil water. No, it was Howard, whose California swagger wasn't impressing Joe's Italian mom. Howard offended with his misty-eyed presentation of San Diego-inspired agnolotti with jalapenos and cumin. Cumin isn't used in Italian cooking and is somehow more upsetting to the Bastianich family than cooking pasta with maple syrup, so Howard is pushed into eliminating himself for being a "narcissist in denial" who commits crimes against stuffed pastas. So long, Howard. I'm not sure why you're being iced out, but at least you're leaving with dignity.
Hollywood Beauties and Beasts
The cooks then move on to the main event: cooking for the cast and crew of Glee. Top pasta chefs, Krissi and Jessie, captain teams chosen by Jane Lynch, who dons her Sue Sylvester persona and divides the cooks into teams of Beauties and Beasts. I give Krissi credit for taking the joke with a great sense of humor, but that's all the credit I give her for tonight. Predictably, Krissi bitches about her team assignments and regrets having Bime on her team because she thinks he's an idiot. I think Bime seems like a sweet guy, a loyal teammate and a good chef, but what do I know?
The teams are asked to make fried chicken, salmon and vegan lasagna for the Glee staff, and everyone assumes the Californians will be picky eaters with dietary restrictions and so on. This group isn't too keen on salmon and vegan pastas, though. These people want fried chicken, fast, and lots of it, please! Bime makes his spicy chicken as quickly as possible, but a few plates go out raw and Joe starts throwing them in the trash. Meanwhile, Jessie's team is slowed by their captain's encounter with a mandolin blade.
When the votes are tallied, Jane Lynch announces that of 127 hungry Glee staff members, 90 preferred Jessie's team over Krissi's. Krissi predictably throws Bime under the bus, but the judges correct her. Of the 37 votes Krissi's team received, 30 were because of Bime's excellent fried chicken. Bime was an asset to his team, not a handicap.
Lime Curd Cocktail
When faced with the pressure test, everyone wonders if captain Krissi will save herself or another teammate from elimination. As you may remember, Krissi tore into Jordan for saving himself when he was given the chance. Unsurprisingly, Krissi plays the game and declines to compete, using her son as the reason for her decision. It's obvious, political and annoying, but that's the game. She also saves Natasha (because you keep your friends close and enemies closer) and Jonny. Bethy, James, Bime and Jordan face the citrus meringue challenge.
Jordan blows the competition away with his gorgeous pie that makes Graham giddy as a school girl, but no one else impresses with their desserts. Bethy's curd falls apart like a house of cards, and James doesn't give his pie enough time to cook. Bime makes the costliest error, though, when he mistakes cream of tartar for cornstarch and his curd fails to set. Gordon dramatically pours Bime's pie into a martini glass, then chokes on the contents and accuses Bime of trying to poison him with lime and lumps of cream of tartar. The safe chefs cringe at the comically horrible scene. Bime's chicken was the star of the Glee lunch, but with one baking mishap and a back-stab from Krissi, he's unduly sent packing.
It's painful to watch Bime go. Krissi is a front-runner who's a lot of fun to watch, but it's hard to cheer for someone with such a disregard for justice.
(Image courtesy of FOX)