Finale recap: "The Fires of Pending Litigation"
Well, here we are, friends. The final recap of the final episode of the Restaurant’s final (hopefully) season. I needn’t tell you I won’t be particularly sorry to see the last of this show. Watching grown men argue got old about three episodes ago. If I start jonesing for that, I can always watch C-Span.
Amore in the Morning
We open this finale with yet another Rocco-in-bed scene. Except this time we’re not in his bedroom, thank heavens. He has decided to spend a night sleeping in the restaurant, and is curled up in one of the booths with his cell phone and his girlfriend Yvonne. I’m hoping they – Rocco and the girlfriend, not Rocco and the cell phone – just slept, if you know what I mean. Because people have to eat at that booth.
I suppose this is meant to be a touching morning scene; Rocco makes coffee for the two of them, Yvonne wants pancakes, and they keep calling each other “amore”. Yeah, I know it means “love.” You’d have to love someone to sleep in a restaurant booth for them, even when there’s no obvious reason to do so and his mother lives right upstairs.
Outside, it’s pouring snow, and people are canceling reservations left and right. Finally wide-awake and bushy-tailed, Rocco swoops into the kitchen and assures Billy, the line cook, that his job is safe. He then speaks to the staff, and jokes – or not – that they’re to disregard everything Jeffrey said the day before, and that tomorrow Jeffrey will tell them to disregard everything Rocco said, because that’s the pattern everyone is now comfy with.
I SAID, I LOVE THIS SALAD
Meanwhile, Jeffrey is getting a plane to Miami to test out another potential replacement for Rocco. For someone who’s worried about money, Jeffrey seems to spend it with ease; if I’m not mistaken, that’s a private jet he’s taking. His last words to his minions are to make sure Rocco doesn’t burn wood in the stove that caught on fire recently.
The Miami chef is Marc. He runs a little Italian restaurant called Randazzo’s, which Jeffrey approvingly praises as “homey.” The food starts coming, and evidently it’s the food of the gods. The absolute best Italian meal I ever had was at a tiny restaurant in the Adirondacks last summer. It was so good I took the leftovers on my 13-hour drive home. “Frankie’s Taste of Italy” in Old Forge, New York. Trust me. Divine.
Jeffrey keeps yelling his love for the food down the table to Luke, his corporate chef. I don’t know why he just didn’t get Luke to sit next to him. As appears to be standard practice in Italian-chef-tryouts, Marc makes meatballs. Jeffrey and his crowd want to marry these meatballs, they love them so much. This is serious amore. “It’s ‘bye-bye Rocco’ serious,” says Jeffrey’s Wife.
Nothing Personal, But You Suck
Back in snowy New York, Rocco is still cooking. But a cook named Gabe is late. This appears to be a regular thing with Gabe. Add that to his bad cooking, Rocco says, and the need to cut payroll, and it’s clear Gabe is about to be introduced to the unemployment line. Maybe he and Tony can hang out there together.
As Gabe arrives, Gavin, another chef, warns him not to change into his cook clothes. He directs Gabe to Rocco, who delivers the bad news. He says Gabe is a great guy but a bad cook, and the labor costs are out of whack, and he’s going to have to ask Gabe to leave. At this point, if I were employed anywhere in that kitchen, I’d be sending out resumes (or meatballs, or however cooks look for a new job). I mean, two cooks being fired doesn’t really spell job security.
Gabe first appeared to take it well, but is teary-eyed as he says his goodbyes. Rocco feels bad about the firing, but Laurent assures him that it’s just business.
He Makes a Great Knuckle Sandwich
Back in Miami, Jeffrey’s crew is watching a video of one of Marc the Chef’s boxing matches. Marc gives us a little insight into his pugilistic view of the world. “There’s no feeling in the world like knocking somebody out,” he says. I’ll have to take his word for it, having never knocked anyone out, except myself one time, and that was an accident.
Marc’s boxing background has given Jeffrey an idea: have him and Rocco duke it out for control of the kitchen. Whoever wins gets to stay. Luke says he’d love to watch that, and I’m sure the entire task force agrees. After all, what they’re really saying is they’d love to watch someone knock the snot out of Rocco. Because there’s no way Mama’s Boy could take Marc.
Wrapping up our visit to Miami, the table applauds Marc when he finally emerges from the kitchen, and Jeffrey makes a lame joke about giving Marc an “SKO – standing kitchen ovation.” Lucky for Jeffrey, this isn’t a battle of wits. Anyway, much love is gushed from all sides, with Jeffrey’s crew saying they’d love to have Marc in New York, and Marc agreeing he’d love to work for them, and then the Jeffrey armada piles into a limo and leaves.
You Son of a Sous Chef
Back in New York, snow is on the awnings outside. In an excruciatingly long scene, we are forced to watch one employee – Steve, I think – try vainly to operate a stick-thingy to get the snow off. God, this is dull stuff. It eventually takes three of them to knock the snow off, they knock it on Rocco, he dances around, and my eyes glaze over. What a waste of film.
Down in the kitchen, Gavin and Billy are arguing. Every other word is bleeped, so it’s hard to tell what the root of the problem is, but it seems to have something to do with Billy not doing his job the way Gavin wants him too. Gavin says he will tell Billy what to @#$#ing cook.
Unfortunately, Uzay, the waiter, chooses this moment to bring what are evidently customers downstairs for a guided tour of “Rocco’s kitchen.” I’d be irked if I were trying to work and someone paraded gawkers by like I was a zoo animal. But that’s not what ticks off the short-fused Gavin. Uzay introduces him as a “sous chef” and evidently Gavin is not a sous chef, he has been promoted, and now is THE chef. And Uzay, he says, is merely a “celebrity waiter.” The customers look a bit frightened. They flee.
There’s No Fire Code in Rocco World
Upstairs, Rocco is putting wood in the stove again. Remember, last time wood was burned in that stove, it resulted in large, outside-the-stove flames, fire alarms and panic. Also remember, Jeffrey’s last warning before jet-setting to Miami was not to burn wood in the stove. Obviously, conflict is about to ensue.
Right on cue, Sarah, one of Jeffrey’s minions, calls to find out if Rocco is indeed burning wood in the stove. Rocco says he’ll call her back, so the luckless Shane is put on the phone. He hedges by telling Sarah he can’t see the stove so he doesn’t know if there’s wood burning in there or not. As lies go, your average 10-year-old could do better.
Back down in the kitchen, food isn’t getting cooked and served as fast as it should be, and Gavin and Billy resume their f-word-laden screaming match. Gavin says Billy isn’t the chef, Gavin’s the chef, and he’ll tell Billy what to cook. This might make more sense if I didn’t have that “bleep” ringing in my ears.
As if all this weren’t enough, Rocco is informed that Yvonne had a moped accident and is in the hospital. Not to downplay her pain, but the idea of being injured by a moped is kind of funny to me. Anyway, Rocco runs off to his amore’s side, leaving the wood-burning stove unattended. She shows off her injury, which looks like little more than a scrape and a bump to me. Aw, amore has a boo-boo. Rocco says she should have called him at the restaurant, and Yvonne pointedly says that she did. Seven times. He didn’t answer. “He’s in Rocco world,” she pouts, making it sound like a disappointing theme park. I envision T-shirts that say, “My boyfriend went to Rocco World and all I got was this lame show.”
While Rocco is comforting Yvonne, the Battle of the Stove has escalated. Unable to get anyone in the restaurant to confirm the presence of wood in the stove, Sarah and Carol arrive to do their own reconnaissance work. Under questioning, Gavin says Rocco put the wood in there for the pizzas. Going straight for the jugular, Carol snaps that next time Rocco says put wood in the stove, Gavin should not do it, no matter who his boss is. Gavin puts up a fight, saying that he’ll do whatever Rocco tells him to. He also asks if they’re firing him, and seems disappointed that they aren’t. Carol seems disappointed too; she tells Shane that any more wood in the stove and Gavin loses his job.
Amazingly, that is not the end of the wood saga. Evidently Sarah and Carol are not quite convinced that Carol has terrorized the staff into conformity. They have hired a security guard, whose sole job is to guard the woodpile. The bemused staff question him a bit, then he lumbers off into the corner, to sit in front of the woodpile between shelves of pots and pans. That’s a well-guarded woodpile, yes sirree.
Respect My Authoriti!!
Moving on to something slightly more interesting, April the bartender is mad because the bar area is messy, and she blames Matt, whom she has disliked from day one.
Meanwhile, Gavin wants a chat with Rocco. He says he doesn’t want Tony’s job as head chef. He wants to help Rocco but the set-up at the restaurant sucks and he hates working for Jeffrey. “It’s such a circus,” Gavin says, quite truthfully. “It’s not even a real restaurant.” No, sweetie, it’s basically a set for a TV show. Didn’t anyone tell you?
Rocco seems taken aback by Gavin’s straight talk, but can’t argue with the truth of his points.
At the bar, the friction between April and Matt is heating up. Matt seems to be trying to tell her they need to find a way to work together, but April is having none of it. She says she will never get along with him, because he’s messy and because he thinks he’s better than everyone else. “You had an ego the size of Miami,” April says, “and everyone behind this bar is waiting for you to leave.” Matt points out that he does not intend to leave, and eventually realizes April and her cohorts are trying to get him to quit. Customers are turning to watch this argument, which has gotten rather heated, although April isn’t letting Matt finish a sentence. Finally he says he’s sorry if he offended her and walks off. He tells a customer that he’s not having fun. You’re not the only one, my boy.
Did they put this psychologist on the payroll? It sounds that way. Deborah, the psychologist, is there, and Jeffrey drags her off into the coatroom to talk about Rocco and his wood-burning. Jeffrey says it’s a gas oven, so you can’t put wood in there. I don’t know much about ovens – this is honestly more thought than I’ve given to them in years – but I’d think that gas-versus-wood thing would be pretty cut and dried and evident to Rocco.
Jeffrey wants to know if Rocco’s trying to assert some authority by burning the wood. Deborah suggests that perhaps Rocco is trying to sabotage the restaurant. If he can’t succeed, she says, maybe he wants to fail spectacularly. Looks to me like that’s happening anyway, wood-burning or no wood-burning. Anyway, Jeffrey can’t understand why Rocco would behave that way.
Who Needs Viagra When You’re Making a Profit?
Rocco and Laurent are having after-closing drinks with Cesare, the owner of a place called Beppe’s. Cesare says Rocco should relax, maybe take a few months off in Tuscany. He’d come back stronger and wouldn’t need the Viagra, Cesare jokes. Man, some things just aren’t funny, and the image of Rocco on Viagra is one of them.
Cesare also prods Rocco about his appearance, which has gone decidedly downhill. Cesare says he looks homeless – perhaps a consequence of sleeping in a restaurant booth. Rocco acknowledges that things aren’t going well. “I’m lost,” he says.
But all the stress has Rocco thinking seriously about getting out of his deal with Jeffrey. He suggests to Mama that perhaps they should start over, in a smaller, mom-and-pop sort of restaurant. He says the battlefield that is the current restaurant is not what he wanted. Rocco and Mama agree that neither one of them is comfortable in the restaurant as it is, and they go off to look at other restaurant spaces, walking down the snowy streets and peering into restaurant windows.
While Rocco considers jumping ship, Jeffrey has good news. He has tracked the restaurant’s numbers, and for the first two weeks of December, it finally turned a profit. Jeffrey congratulates his task force, plans to talk to the staff, and expects Rocco to be jubilant.
But expectations usually lead to disappointment, and this is no exception. While the staff applauds the news, Rocco simply thanks Jeffrey and quickly moves on to taste-testing the night’s special. Jeffrey tells one of his minions that he expected more of a reaction from Rocco. Whether this is the straw that broke the camel’s back, or whether we’re seeing footage from much later, Jeffrey gets in his limo and has a flunky set up a meeting with Rocco, saying that the restaurant isn’t the problem, it’s the relationship.
What’s This About a Brazilian Steakhouse?
After all the boringness of the wood-burning stove, I’m almost happy to get back to scenes of Rocco schmoozing customers. Almost. After lots of picture-taking, we find Rocco talking seriously to Carrie, the gossipy waitress. Honestly, if Rocco really wanted to know what was going on, he should have had a heart-to-heart with Carrie way earlier. She seems to know everything gossip-worthy that happens. Carrie says for the staff, watching Rocco and Jeffrey fight was like watching parents get divorced. She also says she likes her job, but that the staff perception is that Jeffrey is the one who came in and took action. This whole exchange is a lot more diplomatic than other things we’ve heard Carrie say about Rocco in the past.
Next morning – or whenever, who knows with editing – Jeffrey and Rocco arrive for their meeting. Jeffrey says he began their partnership very excited about what the restaurant could become. He says he runs restaurants because he enjoys it, but has always said he’d get out if he didn’t enjoy it anymore.
While this is happening, by the way, the staff is all off ice-skating. I’m sure this is not an activity they typically do, at least together, so I suppose we can thank NBC for this one. Several people fall down, and April apologizes to Matt.
Back to the important bit, Jeffrey is throwing in the towel. He wants Rocco to buy him out for what he has invested in the restaurant, or he can buy out Rocco for a couple hundred thousand dollars. Rocco says he’d hate to see the restaurant be destroyed, asks for a few days to think about it, and promises Jeffrey a solid response soon.
And that’s it. That’s all! We wasted hours, it seemed, on that blasted stove, and now when it gets down to actual drama and decision-making, it takes all of 30 seconds and leaves us hanging! We’re informed via a caption that since filming ended, Rocco and Jeffrey have sued each other, which most of us knew already. We see a quote from Jeffrey, threatening to turn the restaurant into a “Brazilian steakhouse” if Rocco doesn’t buy him out. And we see a quote from Rocco saying Mama’s making people happy with her meatballs and that’s how it’s going to stay. Are meatballs typically on a Brazilian steakhouse menu? We’ll never know.
So, there you have it. The Restaurant finale. Even though I never want to see Rocco on my TV again, I’ve enjoyed recapping this season. My thanks to all of you who’ve taken the time to read and comment on these recaps.
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