After last week where Ramsay didn’t fire anyone because Robert had to leave for medical reasons, I’m sure he’s itching to revoke someone’s jacket and ignite their photo. I’ve thought for weeks now that the final two will be Danny and Paula, so my only suspense this week is who goes first: Andrea or Ben? Ok, I could be surprised, but this isn’t exactly The Bachelorette with the tricky editing and clever decoys. Every opportunity they have to air footage for Ramsay yelling at contestants, they show us. The fact that Danny and Paula’s names are very rarely mentioned on the show means that there was probably very little footage of Ramsay yelling at the two of them to air.
We start off the Ramsay making Ben repeat over and over: “I was wrong.” Ben thinks he holds the world record for being on the block and says he’s been verbally destroyed by Ramsay. Yet he remains chipper.
Paula defends Andrea’s continued stay on the show despite her lousy last performance. Looks like tonight we’ll have the ladies versus the guys. Danny and Ben haven’t been particularly close, but Andrea and Paula have had each other’s back for the whole season, as they are the sole survivors coming from the vipers’ nest of the ladies Red Team kitchen.
It’s time for this season’s “recreate the recipe by taste” challenge. To mix it up ever so slightly, the contestants needs to pick from several dishes for a favorite to recreate. Danny wants the lamb, but the other three pick the fish. Danny is the only chef to pick snapper. The rest pick halibut.
Ben tries to hide the alcohol he uses in the dish, and Gordon calls him on his punk move by calling him a “shellfish chef” in the kitchen. Andrea claims she would never stoop to that level in a competition, but then tries to cheat by looking at the other chefs to see what fish they were using. Even her buddy Paula slides her arm over her paper to block these prying eyes. Danny and Paula were the top two. Who here is surprised? No-one who has been reading my recaps, that’s for sure.
Danny comes out on top and receives a reward. His margin of victory over Paula was that he was the only chef who had picked the correct fish, and that Danny had correctly used fish stock instead of water. Yet somehow Paula thinks she deserved to win. Apparently this is Danny’s first individual challenge victory.
While the rest of the chefs need to shampoo the carpets and polish the silver under Jean Phillipe’s expert tutelage, and then prep for service, Danny gets into his dressiest plaid flannel shirt and heads out for a day of fun with Ramsay. They don snazzy World War I goggles and then fly in open cabin bi-planes. Danny’s fabulous mullet is blowing in the breeze and getting in his pilot’s face. I guess flying in bi-plaes must be something that Ramsay had wanted to do, as it certainly has nothing to do with cooking. Danny confirms what we had already suspected: Ramsay out of the kitchen is actually a decent guy, and not a raging jerk like he is in the kitchen.
Back in the kitchen, Andrea is whining to Paula and Ben about how she misses her family and everything sucks. Even her fingernails hurt. She suggests that rather than finishing their punishment, they all rebel and go home. Ben thinks she deserves to go home, and so does the kitchen cookware after she uses a fancy pan as a mallet for no apparent reason other than frustration.
Up in the air, Ramsay’s plane is spewing smoke and they promptly land before he soils himself, proclaiming that he’d rather be a live chicken than a dead hero. I’m not sure how “heroic” it is for someone to die on a completely unnecessary luxury event, but I’m in complete agreement that landing is better than crashing.
As a surprise for the final four, Ramsay has a set of Ramsay’s signature line of Royal Doulton pans. Nice product placement, not too subtle, but at least the contestants seemed to enjoy the pans more than some other lame “gifts” on reality shows. We know that if Andrea doesn’t win, she can always bang around her new pans to vent her frustration.
Right before service, Ramsay declares the final four to be his “dream team” and tells them he wants a perfect service. Anyone think that is possible? Me neither.
Danny thinks that Ben has panicked too many times on services, and that if he survives tonight, that Ramsay must see something that he does not. Ben then promptly relays an order incorrectly, starting a fun round of the kitchen telephone game. Ben forgets to start a spaghetti order, and then Ramsay complains to souse chef Scott about it.
Feeling left out, we start to hear Andrea’s name. He calls her name three or four times, only to give her compliments on her beef wellington. Ha, fooled ya. It was a compliment. See, the producers do know how to misdirect and surprise us.
Ben makes the fatal error of making bland risotto. Ok, it’s curtains for you. Anyone that screws up risotto is out of there. It is Ramsay’s number one pet peeve.
Paula gets yelled at for screwing up on fish.
Ben asks if someone wants tuna on their vegetarian salad. Ramsay dresses him down, thinking it’s a stupid question. Ben defends himself, saying it was better to ask than assume. As a lifelong resident of the Midwest, I’ve met people who claim to be vegetarian who eat fish. Apparently fish don’t have feelings, or at least not like Bessie the cow does. Then a tricky order for a plain green salad comes in Ben is confounded. Gordon complains to Scott about it.
Out in the dining room, a customer has approached Jean Phillipe asking for the kitchen’s help in proposing to his girlfriend. He hands over the ring to be incorporated into a special dessert. Apparently they don’t trust any of the contestants, though, as we don’t see it being made. How surprising. There are other “real” chefs helping out behind the scenes at this “restaurant.” Maybe some food is actually served here.
Andrea is having a good night, and Ben almost compliments her, but says she should still be the one to leave tonight. Ben must also be reading my recaps and knowing that it’s Andrea or him. Ben forgets to drop pasta even though Ramsay specifically told him to, and Ramsay thinks he’s screwing up on purpose to mess with Andrea and Paula.
Andrea, who had been having a good night, has some overcooked wellingtons. She shows Ramsay, the ultimate perfectionist, who actually tells her that they’re not burned black, so just slide them together so they don’t look over done and they serve it. What? From the same guy who cries about slight blandness in risotto, is serving overcooked meat – the main dish? Um, ok.
Andrea is living a charmed life. Until she comes up two wellingtons short. If Robert hadn’t left last week, I’d swear they should check his breath to see if he got a bad case of the mid-service munchies. Chef Ramsay screams at Andrea for just screwing up a “perfect service” and Danny steps up to get two new wellington’s into the oven. For some reason Ramsay tells Danny to shut everything off. If I’m the customer, I’d rather wait 10 minutes for my food than NOT EAT. Seriously, serve the food already.
Ramsay sends them back to the dorms to pick one chef to leave. Ben picks Andrea for elimination based on her lack of experience. He then pulls a move copying Kelly from The Real Housewives of New York, while talking to Bethanny, saying “I’m up here and you’re down there” gesturing high and low for emphasis. Ben at least was claiming his comparisons were based on prior restaurant experience, whereas Kelly’s measure of comparison must have been “who has more of a horse face?”
Not surprisingly, Andrea then states that she thinks Ben should go. Of course she does. He just picked her, and she’s also been reading the recaps and knowing that Paula and Danny will be the final two. Really Andrea and Ben, does it matter? You’d might as well both walk out together tonight holding hands and singing Kumbaya, as there is very little point in wasting too much energy over who is going to be fourth versus third. Maybe they’ll surprise me.
The chefs all sit around and smoke. Andrea defends her meat counting skills, claiming she knew that she had enough, but apparently she didn’t. Or there is a meat goblin in the kitchen. Danny and Ben both go after Andrea’s lack of experience, grilling her as to how many people she’s had working in a kitchen under her. She refuses to give a number. We’ve already established that math is not her strong suit tonight. Maybe next week she’ll get a surprise visit from Count Van Count from Sesame Street. Ah one, ah two, ha ha ha, two wellingtons.
Paula stands up for Andrea and says she’s picking Ben to leave. Ben is appalled that Paula would favor Andrea over him. I know that Ben was never on the Red Team with Andrea and Paula, but how could he be clueless as to the major drama that was Hell’s Bitches? In Ben’s idyllic little world, all decisions are made based on merit. That’s why when Ben had the top dish, he picked Robert to accompany him to San Francisco, over Danny, who has been a stronger performer than either Ben or Robert the whole season. Yeah right, it’s a meritocracy regime in Ben’s mind.
Ramsay wants their bottom pick. There is no consensus. Ben and Andrea are called forward, just like they were last week. Ben says he has more experience, and for once he doesn’t blather on like an idiot. Ramsay recognizes this and says Ben’s defense was short and powerful. Andrea says she’s always given 110% - again with the crappy math skills. Let’s just hope no-one ever asks Andrea to double or quadruple a recipe.
Andrea gets to stay, and Ben needs to hand over his jacket and go. Ben takes it like a man, thanks Ramsay for the opportunity, and Ramsay reciprocates his nice gesture by saying that he did a good job. We get some black and white Ben highlights, because apparently memories don’t come in color in Hell’s Kitchen. Ben is sorry to leave, but seems rather upbeat. I didn’t think that Ben was the strongest chef, especially on the line, but he did have one of the best attitudes. He proved that in spades when he was the only person on the show to be able to successfully motivate Lacey into having a strong service. Ben is truly gifted at the teamwork aspect of running a kitchen, probably moreso than Ramsay’s crazy yelling style. Now if he could just avoid getting so flustered when things get busy. Maybe he would be a good head chef at a lousy restaurant that was never busy. Now that’s a job that can last a couple months or so before it goes belly up.
Next week we see if Andrea can somehow find her way into the finals, which I think could only happen if either Paula or Danny makes a disastrous misstep in the kitchen. Next week we get “recognizable VIPS” as guest judges. Is it going to be family members, or prior contestants, or perhaps some “celebrities” who were too low on the list to be tied up filming “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, Season 2” with Sanjaya and Rob Blogovich.
Then they will take turns yelling out orders from the pass, which always seem really pointless to me except when people go overboard on a power trip, in which case they’re just shooting themselves in the foot. We see Andrea screaming at Scott: “you cook it, it doesn’t cook you!” What does that even mean, unless there truly was a kitchen revolt and the live proteins are tossing the chefs into a huge pot of boiling water. Pestering Ramsay’s own souse chefs with your own trifling nonsense is always a bad idea. Danny’s voice cracks like Peter Brady’s during the Brady Bunch’s “Time to Change” music video episode. We won’t want to miss that.