C

Top Chef: "Reunion"

C

Top Chef

"Reunion"

Season 4, Episode 15

I hate to end this season’s Top Chef blog on an anti-climactic note, but hey, blame Bravo. The network seems to think that these reunion shows are necessary when, in fact, they’re usually pretty lame. (One exception: The boozy, bitchy Top Chef Season One reunion.) I feel like the natural way to cover this episode would be to write the least interesting live blog in history, but barring that, I’ve decided to cover the highlights in quick and easy bullet points. Here we go:

• Andy Cohen: He seems like a nice enough guy, but does he light up anyone else’s smarm-o-meter? Maybe it’s because he’s the friendly corporate face of Bravo, but he strikes me as the sort of boss who could smile and glad-hand you one day, then burn down your house with your family inside the next.

• Why should anyone be shocked over Richard admitting his failings at Judges’ Table in the finale? He’d already registered their disappointment at his performance and he was simply being honest about his shortcomings on that particular night. Seems like the honorable thing to do.

• Too many montages to mention, most of them recaps with the occasional B-roll footage thrown in for good measure. Stuff like the “Bromance” clips irritated (mainly because I hate the term “bromance”), but there were a couple montages I enjoyed: The one about Antonia being called “the black hammer” for being present at a number of eliminations (her little dance was very J-horror-like, I thought) and the one about the wasted hours in the stew room. In my interview with Stephanie last week, she mentioned all the games they used to play with the Glad Family Of Products, and it was fun to see some of that footage make it out. But the many assemblages of moments we already experienced earlier in the season just didn’t interest me that much.

• So there were Internet rumors about Jen and Zoi breaking up? Were these the sort of scoops you were expecting from me? Have I failed you somehow? (For what it’s worth, it certainly looks like the rumors are true. Looks like they’ll each have to find somebody else to appreciate their sour attitudes and mediocre food.)

• Please Andy, stop teasing the Fan Favorite prize before every commercial break. If that’s all we’re watching the reunion special for, we’re an even sadder lot than I thought.

• Okay, one more montage I enjoyed: Highlights of Andrew’s spazzy genius. I could watch him impersonating an Oompa Loompa all day, and still wish the rest of the group had the stones to serve Richard Roeper Wonka-style. Not surprisingly, Andrew also gives us the line of the night: When asked about whether he has ADD, he says, “I haven’t played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons for years.”

• Congratulations to Richard on the opening of his new restaurant and the birth of a little Blais, but did anyone else feel like Stephanie was getting short shrift there? Tom talked about how it was Richard’s competition to lose, but Stephanie quietly matched him step for step all season, even without the use of smokers and eucalyptus plants. I’d have placed equal odds on either one of them winning the finale, and it was distressing to hear the implication that somehow Richard was the runaway favorite.

• Nimma finally speaks! It seemed like they were going to get through the entire hour without her saying a word.

• Fan favorite: Stephanie. This wasn’t much of a surprise. She’s talented, likable, and classy, and it was touching to see all the other chefs pay homage to her.

• Tom believes this is “without a doubt” the most talented group of chefs in the show’s history. I guess I’ll have to take him at his word, but I always find it a little defensive when judges on reality competition shows say things like that. It happened last season on both Project Runway and American Idol, too, and I feel like that kind of self-hype is a way of propping up a show that’s beginning to lose its cultural cachet.

• Well, that’s it for me, folks. What are your thoughts on the season overall and this reunion show in particular? Did you even tune in tonight?

Grade: C