Thursday, February 16, 2012
Top Chef Texas episode 15: Vancouver, the frozen tundra
Like John Carpenter's The Thing.
Top Chef Texas, the longest Top Chef season ever, began its two-part finale on Wednesday in -- Vancouver. As in British Colombia, as in Canada. No explanation for the location, no connection to Texas, just a sudden submersion into down-filled parkas, ski lifts, and a dead fur pelt wrapped around Padma's head. Four finalists -- Paul, Lindsay, Sarah, and Beverly -- had to battle for the final three spots, be it by ice-pick, rifle, or cross-country ski. All that was missing was The Thing. None of it had anything to do with cooking. What are the odds that Tom Colicchio is replaced next season by Kurt Russell, or better yet, Howie Mandel? They seem high.
The challenges -- cook in a moving gondola, cook with frozen ingredients you have to dig out with an ice-pick -- were so over-the-top as to become dull. But at least it gave the producers some footage of Beverly with a gun and Beverly with an ice pick, and what more could you want. Lindsay wins the gondola challenge and Paul wins the ice-pick challenge, so they both become finalists. It's down to arch-enemies Beverly and Sarah for the final spot. To get their ingredients, they must ski and shoot target rifles before cooking. Sarah's rabbit is tough, but Bev's Arctic char is bland, and so Sarah is Finalist #3, and Bev goes home.
One of the episode's big themes was to show Sarah as a blazing hypocrite. At the beginning, she announced that her new goal was "to be a really nice person". Hoo-boy, the Magical Elves aren't about to let that one go by, especially after 14 episodes of being not a really nice person. Seconds later, they show her rudely interrupting Beverly mid-sentence by shrieking "Look at this tree!" She then brags about her skiing and shooting -- she is from Texas, after all -- but once on the skis, boomp, down she goes; and underdog Beverly handily beats her shooting.
Weird thing: At the end, as the "you're leaving" music played and Bev blathered on about how it was really about what you have inside, fine-print flashed across the bottom of the screen:
Winning and elimination decisions were made by the judges in consultation with the producers. Some elimination decisions were discussed with Bravo.
Contestants are informed of the rules and must meet eligibility requirements to receive announced prizes.
Sounds fishy -- like maybe there was disagreement about who should go home? Or do they do that every week. They pretty much telegraphed her departure throughout the show.
Another thing: The production quality seemed off. During the first challenge, the background music played so loud that you could hardly hear the judges talking to the contestants.
Anyway, with Beverly gone, so is the Designated Underdog. Maybe next week the Mean Girls will gang up on Paul and use his heart in their last dish. It's not such a stretch.