So! That’s over, then. Moving on.
No? Not yet? You’re really still expecting me to recap this thing? FINE. BUT FIRST I HAVE TO EAT SOME CADBURY CREME EGGS.
*eats some Cadbury Creme Eggs*
Okay, let’s get this over with.
Paul and Sarah get the details on their final challenge, which is all that stands between them and that $125,000 prize. Unless your name is Paul, because you’ve already won that much money already, but hey! I guess more would be nice. Might as well, right?
The challenge is basically Restaurant Wars, without the superfluous trip to Pier 1 Imports: Create a four-course tasting menu at the “restaurant of your dreams.” They’ll be cooking at two actual restaurants, among the finest in Vancouver. The fact that Padma clearly and awkwardly voice-overed the names at a later date suggests that “finest” is probably more like “whichever restaurants eventually agreed to shut down for the night in exchange for some publicity.”
They’ll also have “talented” sous chefs. Bitch, please.
Rather than just parade in a bunch of eliminated contestants, though, we get something much more unnecessarily complicated this time. A handful of random, regular-strength contestants (Keith, Nyesha, Ty-Lor, Grayson, Malibu Chris, and OH GOD HEATHER), two James Beard Award-winning “master chefs,” plus three never-weres from the elimination rounds are brought in and ordered to cook a dish to compete for the sous chef spots.
At first I was confused, because why the frig should these people care about getting the sous chef job? I always felt like getting brought back to help the person who beat you to the finale was just one of those things the show forces you to do, contractually speaking. Yeah, you might get 30 more seconds of airtime but that’s just 30 more seconds to quietly seethe and/or risk screwing something up for a fan favorite.
But it turns out, like everything this season, the point of this “competition” is just more cheftestant torture. Sarah and Paul will taste all the dishes and select their sous chefs blindly. Sure, you might end up with one of your buddies or a master chef…or you might end up with Tyler Stone, the TREMENDOUS douchebag who got canned 10 minutes into the very first episode when Tom saw his terrible butchering skills (that almost cost Grayson her spot, incidentally). Man, that was an awesome moment.
Who knew the season had already peaked, right then and there? Good times.
Paul and Sarah debate who might come back while the wannabes cook their dishes. I hear Sarah mention Beverly’s name and the word “monster,” but after rewinding I think she actually means it in a good way: “I hope they bring Lindsay and Beverly back, because they’re monsters.” Wuh?
Dodgeball picking time! Paul gets Barbara Lynch, Ty-Lor, Malibu Chris and Keith. And because he is Paul, whom I just in this episode realized is totally an Eeyore, he finds something to worry about re: having a master chef as a sou chef, because omg what if she tries to take over and he has to say “no” to her and EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE RUINED.
*runs to bedroom, slams door, sobs*
Sarah gets Nyesha and Grayson. She wants Heather and thinks she’s figured out which dish is hers, but at the last minute second-guesses herself and ends up with Tyler. I LULZ like a goddamn troll because HAAAAAAA KARMA OR SOMETHING. Her next guess is correct and gets Heather, and I stop laughing because I sense karma just swung back around and nailed ME, because dammit, I could have really done without seeing Heather ever again.
The other master chef is left unpicked and haz a sad. The other two elimination-round losers also leave, having just wasted a tremendous amount of their time for nothing. AGAIN.
Plotting time! Sous chef undermining abounds, especially in the form of Tyler, who keeps suggesting modernist cooking methods Sarah is unfamiliar with, like sous vide-ing her pickled vegetables. She shuts him down, saying that she couldn’t forgive herself if she went with it and lost.
REMEMBER THOU THIS MOMENT.
Now is not the time to do anything new, she says, basically summing up the competitive strategy of most of the chefs this season. Y’all play it safe and stay in your tidy wheelhouses! (Unless it’s Asian.)
Shopping time! Sarah is giving Tyler busy work and then patronizing him just enough so he thinks he’s helping and part of the team. Heather compliments Sarah’s natural-born leadership skills. Good God, they must be a hoot and a half to work for, no? Paul asks his team if he should buy some spot prawns just for the hell of it. Barbara Lynch advises him to stick to the plan, but he opts not to listen to her.
ALSO REMEMBER THIS MOMENT.
Prepping time! Paul and Sarah tell us their menus and it does all sound pretty amazing. I mean, maybe not Cadbury Creme Egg amazing, but I guess those weren’t in season when this was filmed. Tyler is bugging the crap out of Sarah and apparently the crew, because they glamour-shot-close-up on his spectacularly terrible knife skills. Hah!
Product placement time! That I’m not recapping and you can’t make me.
Crisis time! Keith thinks Paul’s crabmeat has gone funky. Paul smells it and agrees. Hmmm, if only he’d bought some other back-up protein or something OH RIGHT THE PRAWNS. Crisis averted.
Grayson gets the line of the night: “We’re gonna jam out with our clams out!” Half Bushel style!
Actual serving omg final finale challenge time! The judges are split into two groups, so the chefs will need to execute their menu perfectly at least two times, since I don’t think (?) the diners get a vote or anything this time. Screw the diners! I’d just send out chicken nuggets or something. Their families are brought in, and Beverly and Ed are there too. Beverly is shockingly gorgeous when she’s all done up and out of her chef’s jacket, incidentally. And while it’s probably super anti-feminist of me to suggest that perhaps certain other chefs’ animosity towards her was rooted in good old-fashioned girlie jealousy, I am going to go right ahead and suggest that.
Paul’s parents are adorable, and his dad is literally weeping with pride and can’t stop hugging his son. Sarah’s fiancé whispers in her ear that his fish had a bone in it, which sends her racing back to the kitchen in a panic to re-examine all the filets.
Sigh. Not a whole heap lot of stuff happens from this point on: Most of the judges’ criticisms are minor. Paul’s chawanmushi is perfect for the first set of judges, but the second batch is overcooked. Sarah’s pickled beets — despite being prepared according to her exacting old-school standards — are not pickled enough. (Tom thinks she probably should have listened to Tyler.) My husband seizes on this opportunity to try to convince me that we totally DO need our own personal sous vide machine thing for what feels like the millionth time this year. Desserts are universally praised and it’s all much, much closer than I would have predicted.
The good news, though, is that Paul didn’t choke or second-guess himself into disaster. And going into the final commercial break, he’s still my pick to win because while Sarah’s food was all more or less technically proficient, Paul’s was clearly more exciting and creative.
And hold onto your butts, because…I am right. We are right! And vindicated! Adorable Paul is our adorable winner.
I admit having the families there is a nice touch, since Paul’s family screams and cries and run in for hugs, while Sarah is also quietly surrounded by hers as she deals with the disappointment. She really thought she had it, she tearfully interviews, and it turns out that one benefit to a never-ending 17-episode season is that I am just plum out of snark at this point. Losing sucks. Sorry, Sarah.
But congrats to Paul! You deserved it. You also deserved a better season, but at least you aren’t Ilan or Hosea so I guess we technically ended on a high note.
(And for the sake of completeness, here’s Sarah on Watch What Happens Live attempting some image rehab regarding The Beverly Thing. She and Bev are “really really good friends” now, so it’s all good! It was just stress and stuff! And you know, not realizing that Beverly would get the sympathy edit and the rest of them would get the raving bitchmonsters from hell edit.)
Next week: Episode 18! The reunion! I just…