MasterChef: “Top 6 Compete”
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MasterChef: “Top 6 Compete”

Tonight’s episode begins with the judges standing in front of the remaining six cooks and telling them that they won’t be cooking today, which is the editor’s cue to start looking for close-ups of contestants appearing to grin at this news, as if they thought they were going to get ice cream and foot massages. Nope; the reason they’re not cooking is that, in one of those little reality-show twists that would make me piss on the floor and talk about the judges’ mamas if I was a contestant, three already exiled cooks have been invited back to compete among themselves for an extra apron that Graham has been using to clean the grease traps. Joe has invited back the prodigious but apparently easy-get-rid-of Lynn; softhearted Graham has summoned back Bime, so that he and his sponsor can take turns talking about how much he loves his daughters; and Gordon welcomes back Bri, despite the fact that she’s only been gone for two weeks, and Krissi is still celebrating her departure. Krissi is annoyed but untroubled by the prospect of having to compete with Bri again: If she has to, she says, she “can cook her little vegan ass under the table.”

The first thing the judges have to do is narrow this crowded field of three into a more manageable two-person race. With that goal in mind, the cooks are instructed to collect as many eggs as they like from the pantry and get to work; the object will be to turn out as many “perfectly fried, sunny-side-up eggs as you can” in 15 minutes. Bri confides to the camera that “Time management has always been my biggest issue.” That and her inexperience with preparing and cooking meat, a popular part of any non-vegetarian’s diet. While everyone professes to be worried about Lynn, James thinks he has the guy’s number: For all his gifts, James says, Lynn “is the kind of guy that definitely cracks under pressure.” But how to instill that pressure in him? Maybe James should holler that he’s sleeping with Lynn’s wife.

Sure enough, Lynn plates 27 eggs in all, but only eight pass muster with the judges. Every time an egg is found lacking, Joe picks up the plate it’s on and chucks it in the wastebasket.  After a while, you can barely hear poor Lynn sweat over the noise of one breaking plate after another joining its brothers in the bin. For those of us who can never seem to find a clean plate, the wastefulness of the gesture soon becomes wearying. Finally, it is decided that Bri has served 13 acceptable eggs and that Bime has come up with 9, so Lynn must once again wave bye-bye to the MasterChef kitchen. The one thing all the cooks can agree on is that Bime was never a credible threat and isn’t about to become one. As Krissi puts it, “I think Bri’s getting back her apron, just because Bime sucks at life.” James, who seems to have taken it upon himself to help Krissi look classy by comparison, refers to Bime as “the cockroach that won’t die after you step on it multiple times.” Will you people please give the guy a break? Haven’t you heard how much he loves his daughters?

Gordon explains that Bri and Bime will each be given a king salmon to fillet and cook. The producers could have let Graham or Joe explain that, but it would have robbed us of our semi-regular reminder that Gordon pronounces “fillet” to rhyme with “skillet.” Joe will join the remaining six cooks in judging the results—in a blind test, a concept that Jessie breaks down for us in minute detail, as if she can scarcely believe that she gets it herself. While Gordon and Graham keep an eye on Bri and Bime as they wield their big knives and bigger fish, commenting on the proceedings and maintaining watch so they don’t come back and find both of them dead on the floor, Joe takes his position at the center of the dining table, with three contestants on either side of them. Then, if the editor is to be believed, they all just sit there, staring straight ahead, without so much as a “How ‘bout those Mets?” passing through anyone’s lips while they wait to be fed. At one point, looking to liven up this waxworks tableau, each contestant is seen on camera while we get to hear an interior monologue reflecting their thoughts about what’s coming their way. Joe doesn’t get an interior monologue. It’s not that he doesn’t have any thoughts running through his head, but if we could hear what they are, he’d have to kill us.

Anyway, the suspense is less than heart-stopping. Both dishes are highly praised at the table, and the vote itself comes down to a 4-3 decision, but it’s still Bri versus Bime, and while Bri has her weak points, the fact remains that Bime is, well, one of the doomed. Having declared himself hopeful and forward-looking, he takes his leave once more, presumably to return to the bosom of his family, assuming his daughters haven’t changed the locks. With Bri triumphant over Bime, Eddie gone, and Lynn’s comeback a nonstarter, next week’s episode will begin with the game at a point… much like the point it was at a week or so ago, except even whiter. So, is it just me, or do those commercials for MasterChef Junior just chill the marrow?

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