Tuesday, June 24, 2014

S5E5: The Extra Helping of Frankie

Relationships can be hard, and in a sense, the remaining 17 Home Cooks are in a relationship with one another. Together they walk across a rocky shore, helping each other cross the uneven ground yet needing to be careful to watch their own steps lest they stumble and be swept out to sea with all of us normals. It’s an analogy. It’s reality. It’s MasterChef.

Jordan learned to cook to save his life, telling us that he lost almost 100 pounds when he was only 14. Sadly, we’ll be losing somewhere around 200 pounds at the end of this episode when he’s most likely eliminated. Every relationship has to end, but if you only focus on the eventual separation, you’ll never enjoy the journey that you are currently on. For now, the Home Cooks are surrounded by a beautiful beach next to a stunning ocean with incredible waves rolling in under a phenomenal blue sky. This is the life. Actually, this is Leslie’s life, the bastard.

“Are we cooking for maybe surfers?” asks Ahran. No, they did that on the beach last season. This time it’s a wedding, which they didn’t do last year—on a beach. They did, however, have a wedding. Let’s just hope the lucky couple aren’t foodies that hate every type of food this time around.

Joplin and Mike, the bride and groom to be, want upscale ocean fare, the kind of high-end seafood dining you can only get from a reality television show. The Home Cooks will have to make a scallop appetizer and a sea bass entrée. There won’t be any voting this time as the producers will be deciding who goes to the Dreaded Pressure Test. I mean, the judges. Did I say the producers? I’ll have to go back and edit that later.

Francis L. and Leslie won the donut challenge, so they’ll be team captains. Leslie picks first, and Christian’s eyes quickly scan the sand beneath his feet. He’s spotted anyway and is Leslie’s first selection. Francis goes with Big Willie, because he’s Big Willie. Has Leslie met Willie yet? I guess not.

Leslie’s red team: Christian, Frankie (Francis B.), Tyler, Daniel, Christine, Ahran, Jordan, and Jaimee.

Francis’s blue team: Willie, Courtney, Cutter, Victoria, Elizabeth (who smells victory), Dan, and Elise.

Ahran is not happy to be chosen by Leslie, who pronounces her name as “I-Ron.” “It’s Uh-Ron,” she corrects. “I-Ran,” he attempts. “Uh-Ron! Uh-Ron!” she demands. Leslie apologizes, but Ahran isn’t having it. She takes the pronunciation of her unique and inscrutable name very seriously. Side note—I wasted no less than 20 minutes trying to make an Iran/Ahran :: Bombs Over Baghdad/Bombs Over Stay-At-Home-Dad joke. (Yes, I know Baghdad is in Iraq. I said I couldn't make it work.) Let this be a lesson to all of us. The Middle East is simply best avoided altogether.

Francis L. is confident in his team selection. “In my kitchen, they’re all going to be dancing around to classical music, and Leslie’s team will be like hardcore rock-n-roll.” Really? That’s strange. You’d think a guy who dresses like this would know how to party.

They have two hours to prep and cook, and that time apparently includes the six minutes spent getting dressed in the MasterChef Wardrobe Trailer.

Francis has a distinct vision for his blue team, but Leslie has a much different strategy. “I don’t want to take control of the situation,” he says, deciding instead to give his team no direction at all. “Let’s get to work,” he tells them, and they immediately begin wandering around in confusion. A couple members of the red team wade out into the ocean to try to catch some sea bass and scallops.

Meanwhile, Gordon claims his right of jus primae noctis with the bride. “You and Mike are huge foodies,” he says. Of course, they are.

Francis’s blue team is looking organized with a smart menu—except that it includes a purple cauliflower puree, which will never cease to sound disgusting to me.

Meanwhile, Leslie explains his menu to Gordon. “Scallops…uh uh uh…pea…uh uh…puree…” He obviously doesn’t quite have a grasp on the appetizer, but mercifully, Gordon moves on and asks him to describe the entrée instead. “Uhhhhhhh….” It’s suddenly become apparent to Leslie that he needs to display some leadership, which he hilariously does by telling everyone to talk to him over and over again. Daniel treats us to a very good Leslie impression.

We get our first look at Mike, the cuckolded groom, who is wearing his fanciest pork pie hat for the occasion. Pork pie? Elise comes down with a case of the pie sweats.

How high do those seas look to you? Because we have a #RedTeamMutiny on our hands. Frankie commandeers the red team, because he was a professional golfer for a week or two, so he understands how to win.

Cook, cook, cook.

Yell, yell, yell.

Serve, serve, serve.

The blue team’s scallops look pretty good, and the red team’s scallops don’t look too bad either. Just don’t go thinking the red team has any shot at winning this. “We might actually be able to pull this off,” says Ahran, who is about to be very disappointed.

On the red team, Jordan is still confused. He emerges from the ocean covered in seaweed and tells his team that scallops are much faster than he anticipated. Meanwhile, Christian screams at Tyler to stop eating all of their fish. It upsets him so much that he declares, “I don’t want to see nobody else eat!” He runs to the bride and groom’s table and slaps the fish out of their mouths.

Finally, the service ends, and Joplin announces the winner by throwing the blue bouquet over her shoulder. Francis catches it, and it looks like his years of always being the bridesmaid are coming to a end.

The red team takes the loss like mature adults. Or not.

“I’m not perfect,” half-apologizes Leslie to his team. “You have no communication, like, skills at all,” says Ahran, not one to accept even a full apology. That’s as friendly as this conversation gets as Leslie demeans Ahran for being a teenager, telling her to “Grow some balls.” She does just that, going off on him once again for mispronouncing her name. Leslie’s apologies get worse. “I’m sorry. S-O-R-R-Y,” says Leslie. “YOU’RE NOT SORRY AT ALL!” screams Ahran…this is getting ugly.

If you follow the Home Cooks on Twitter, you knew this was coming. Ahran pre-apologized for this fight a few days ago, and since her character first started speaking on the show, she has become mostly silent on social media, save for the apology and a Bible verse. She has proven to have the capacity to feel shame, which is quite strange for a reality contestant. Add that to her putting an “-ly” on her adverbs, and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Leslie’s also one of my favorites, and not just because he possibly holds the key to me getting a job writing for television in Hollywood. He’s good TV, and that’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? After the kerfuffle, Leslie walks to the edge of the shore and looks out into the ocean, wondering how many fish are in it and if any of them will be his friend. Unfortunately for Leslie, there are no more fish in the sea. Tyler ate them all.

It’s time to head back into the MasterChef Kitchen for the Dreaded Pressure Test.

“It’s my second Pressure Test,” says Jordan. “I haven’t won a Team Challenge, and these are the consequences.”  That seals it. Jordan is boned.

Only three members of the losing red team will have to cook. That news is shocking

Gordon asks Leslie a carefully worded question, “Which three members of your team do you THINK should compete in tonight’s Pressure Test?” Leslie takes the bait. He chooses Christian, Daniel, and I-Ron. “Coward,” declares Elizabeth from the MasterChef Balcony. Everyone bemoans his lack of honor, which is pointless for two reasons: honor gets you sent home in MasterChef and Leslie doesn’t really get to pick who is cooking. That honor goes to the prod-judges.

“First they nail me to a cross on the beach. Now they’re going to burn me at the stake,” says Leslie, the first Home Cook picked. Jordan, who looks lost, is chosen next for looking lost. Last is Frankie for letting Daniel talk him into a mutiny that was destined to fail.

For the Dreaded Pressure Test, they’ll have to cook steak frites. “We want a steak that’s perfectly seasoned, perfectly seared, and perfectly medium-rare,” explains Graham, perfectly. “And don’t forget about those fries.” What the fuck are fries?

I can’t imagine Leslie will have much trouble with this challenge. The guy eats more steak than the Underhills.

“Francis, did you think about doing a compound butter?” asks Courtney from the MasterChef Balcony. She and Christine are helping Frankie from above. Once again, when it comes to Frankie, all of the ladies are thinking with their ovaries instead of their heads. Francis L. slithers between them and whispers, “Do not give your competition help.” But they can’t help it. When Frankie’s working his meat, all the girls turn into compound butter.

Even Jaimee joins the Frankie advisory committee, instructing him to put a glove on and dig in. Leslie sees this as potentially not working out well for—Moooooon Riverrrrrr… 

Courtney doesn’t like Leslie, Daniel thinks he’s a dick, and Elizabeth just can’t stand the guy. But Willie isn’t afraid to buck the trend. “Team Leslie all day, America,” he says. Willie is a man of the people. None of the other Home Cooks can match his lovability, nor can they keep up with his ability to retweet.

Jordan still has a lot of fat left on his steak, but give the guy a break; he lost 100 pounds of fat when he was only 14. Meanwhile, Frankie has completely befuddled Gordon as he torches his steak on the plate.

Time ends as Frankie finishes welding his meat, and now it’s time for tasting.

Leslie goes first. His secret ingredient is love, which he borrowed from Willie. Gordon cuts into his steak as Leslie confidently refuses to look away. “Nailed,” declares Gordon. The cook on the steak is perfect. His frites, however, are soft and limp. “Dreadful,” he calls them. Leslie is confused. This is the Dreadful Pressure Test, is it not?

Graham approaches Jordan and compliments his plating. The non-rendering of the fat, however, is a problem. Graham won’t be as forgiving on this as he has recently trimmed away well over 100 pounds himself. The steak is overcooked, and he says the frites have some “flaccid potato action going on.” Everything tastes good, though, so it isn’t over yet. (It’s over.)

Joe cuts into Frankie’s steak, and it’s—commercial break—medium. The sear is nice and so is the flavor, but this contest is coming down to frites. For the most part, Frankie’s frites are good, possibly granting him freedom from elimination. Whoa. Freedom frites.

Judgment time.

Leslie’s steak is easily the best, and he joins his fans in the MasterChef Balcony.

“Francis, Jordan, neither of you nailed that steak,” says Gordon. “You both overcooked the steak. However, there was actually one that tasted better. Better seasoning. Better fries. Almost in a way that it was cooking with confidence.” The Home Cooks in the MasterChef Balcony get bored, so they cuddle. “The person staying in MasterChef—is—Francis B.”

That spells the end for Jordan who does his best to put on a brave face. “I’m so happy to be here,” Jordan tells the judges. “Going back home, I can hold my head up high.” He sets his apron at his station and leaves the MasterChef Kitchen to the sounds of encouragement from his former competitors and judges.

The emotion gets to him in the exit interview as the tears flow freely. He tells us, “This competition has been the greatest experience of my life…It has laid the foundation for me to just grow even more.” Which is a frightening prospect considering his already enormous height.

Jordan seems like a genuinely sweet guy, and it hurts to watch his lip quiver as he wipes the tears from his eyes. He has a bright future ahead of himself, and he’s taking home with him priceless experience and instruction that, should he choose a culinary career, will give him a head start over his future actual-reality competition.

Goodbye, Jordan. Thank you for the sweaters, and good luck in the future. You certainly can go home with your head held high. Just remember to duck when going through the doorway.


  1. Great recap, thanks!

    As I said a couple of episodes ago, Leslie is the villain of this season. Also, I don't take kindly to Jaimee being picked last. She's great and I think underrated.

    It also occurred to me during that sequence that, if for some weird reason I was given the choice to marry one of the girls from this season, it'd be Jaimee. I don't even know why I like her quirkiness so much, but there you go.

    Francis is also great. He's leading his team, he's getting stuff done. Pretty nice. I'm glad they won this challenge.

    Man, girls really dig that Frankie don't they? Good for him. Jordan is misrepresenting young people and I'm not surprised to see him go. This episode was the best of the season so far by a mile. See you next week!

  2. I agree. Best episode so far this season.

    I'm still not feeling Leslie as a "villain" but more as a guy who doesn't have any peers in the group and is struggling to fit in. I wouldn't be surprised if that changes in the next few episodes.