A terrifying mystery box challenge leads to some lighter fare and uplifting departures on this week’s MasterChef. After a vegetarian’s nightmare of a competition, the chefs prepare a wedding meal and some delicate macaroons to sweeten the deal. Former winner Christine Ha returns as a guest judge.

“A Bad Day for Vegetarians”

When the episode opens with vegetarian Bri wishing for a veggie mystery box challenge, we all know there’s gonna be some gruesome meat in that container. I doubt anyone could predict just how dark the scene would be, though. The cooks uncover their ingredients and find massive pig heads waiting to be sliced, diced, fried and presented as culinary art. “It’s a bad day for vegetarians,” Bri tells us in the understatement of the season. After the stampede of lambs, live lobster murder and now this, I may officially be through with meat forever. 

Luckily, the cooks don’t have to break the heads down themselves. That’s already been taken care of. The heads are just for shock value and unsavory symbolism. James tells us that kids will have nightmares over the scene, and I’m pretty sure a few adults may as well!

Despite the ugly nature of the challenge, the cooks do turn out some lovely meals. Bri’s farmer’s breakfast is admirable, although it falls somewhat short of Lynn’s braised pork cheek, Jonny’s tacos and Jessie’s pork with beans and corn. Ultimately, Lynn scores the win and gets the advantage in the elimination test. 

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Cooking Blind

This week’s elimination test includes some unusual perks, as Lynn gets to choose one tricky ingredient to throw at one cook, and another ingredient for everyone else. He gives Krissi the catfish, expecting her to mess it up (which she does, creating a fried fish meal worthy of a “TV dinner” according to Gordon). Everyone else is tasked with killing and cooking a live crab. (When is the tofu challenge on this show?!) 

Winner Christine Ha joins the cast this week, too, and the catfish and crab ingredients are chosen based on their use in her new cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food. The judges tell the cooks that they’ll have to prepare their crabs while blindfolded since Christine Ha is visually impaired, but this turns out to be a twisted joke and an opportunity for the chefs to better understand Ha’s brilliant talent. The cooks are amazed by what Christine is able to do despite a limitation. Luca’s just glad he doesn’t have to lose a finger while killing a live crab.  

Wedding Party

James and Natasha shine with their crab creations, so they’re team captains for the next challenge: preparing dinner for a couple’s wedding reception! It’s an honor and a privilege that I’m honestly surprised a couple would want to share with a reality TV cast and hundreds of thousands of viewers. At any rate, the cooks take the challenge seriously, delivering halibut, lamb, eggplant and grilled mushrooms for the happy guests. Krissi and Bri are chosen to sit this effort out (they’re given a free pass), while Beth is absent, sent home for her crab dinner but leaving with inspiration and newfound self-awareness.

The wedding guests choose Natasha’s blue team as the winners, and the judges choose Jonny and Lynn from the losing team to face-off in the elimination test.  

Messy Macaroons

Lynn and Jonny are both skilled chefs, but Jonny makes a rash mistake, shoving too many of his delicate macaroons into a presentation box, while Lynn wisely places the extra cookies on top of his container. In the end, Lynn gets to stay while Jonny is honorably dismissed. The judges applaud him for elevating tailgating food the way he does, and they encourage him to keep following his dream. 

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Contributing Writer, BuddyTV