Sometimes it can feel like MasterChef gets a bit samey - same as last night, same as last week, same as last year. Not tonight, tonight the promo tells us it's not a BIT samey, not tonight it's ALL the same: same teams, same captains, same contrived competition with one relatively clear sacrificial lamb ... or should that be souffle? But that's getting ahead of myself.
Tonight, we are told, the losing teams from the Zumbo challenge go head to head in a blistering service. Blistering, they say. BLISTERING?! Crumbs! I'm anticipating burns. 3rd degree burns ... but 1st degree entertainment.
And now the hip hop Hall of Fame ditty that ain't burning anything helps us endure the tedium of the opening credits. Oh look one of them catches a train. Hooray.
Post-credits, as we jib over the scooter of red death, the professionals walk past the beer kegs of doom into the changing room of transformation. Kiah explains to us that the Zumbo challenge was hard, a revelation of truly gargantuan-croc-en-bouche proportions. Sarah then explains it was a disaster, and Zumbo can be heard faintly from his Balmain lair cackling with villainous sweet delight.
"Melbourne's the home of cooking is it!? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha" you will hear if you rewatch it with the volume up REALLY loud. No really. I promise.
As Ten uses graphics to invite us to insult MasterChef on an ever increasing number of social media platforms, Matt points at the Brown team and laughs at their unfortunate name, before admitting that despite his hate for them and their palate, they don't cook today.
Matt then says "same teams, same captains" and Sarah points out she didn't expect it, which is good, but of course we did, as we saw Matt say this a mere two minutes ago.
Matt then says the challenge is a surface challenge, which his me hoping for parkour. Finally the back alley makes sense! Then I realise it is a service challenge and, well, really what's the point in watching this?
Cameron is all about the team, so scuttles off to the room of white to assassinate the character of Tracey for not being a leader. Tracey in her own similarly white luminescent room of MasterThought says she will lead by climbing a ladder and yelling at her team, proving that her days in the Fire Brigade weren't wasted.
Marco revs up that delightfully resonant voice to let us know that the challenge is to cook three courses for 120 people but this time it will be hard ... well, hard-er ... as everyone gets to order. Customers getting to order? What sort of restaurant is this?
Matt then explains that his personal, complicated winning standard is "cooking the best, most delicious food". Several of the chefs nod at the profound insight into what they are being asked to do.
Cameron takes us aside to explain that there is nowhere in the world in which a meal to order is cooked for 120 people with an hour and a half preparation, but thankfully the new MasterChef kitchen contains a Stargate so the cooking won't actually be occurring IN this world. Or on it.
Cameron then demonstrates he can't even get his pop-culture references right by saying it's Mission: Impossible. Sheesh. Not only does he have an out of date Justin Bieber haircut but he's citing the wrong TV shows. He's just lucky it's Matt not I deciding how they're ... deciding things tonight.
The teams step up to the portal of doom and examine their offerings:
The Green Team will be serving:
Marinated lamb fillet carved ... to order,
A salad of zucchini and fennel dressed ... to order,
Roasted mulloway with a salad served in a warm bowl. The warmth of the bowl is emphasised, for otherwise it would be cold. There is no hint as to whether it is the fish or salad that is to order here. Or perhaps its the warmth of the bowl. "Waiter, I'd like the mulloway and salad in a bowl served 'ouchy, ouchy, ouchy' hot. Not 'don't touch that, I'm serious' hot mind you."
Finally The green team will deliver a passionfruit souffle, that as Marco tells use we all know, has to be cooked to order. You know that. (I admit I didn't know that). But I feel better about that after Marco admits it can in fact be cooked before and kept in the fridge. So less ... to order. Then again I'm confused by the fact that "to order" here has nothing to do with choice. Just cooked, when it's ordered. So to re-examine my "what kind of a restaurant is this?" query, the answer would appear to be: pretty much all of them.
The red team on the other hand will be serving:
200 day grain fed scotch fillet ... to order
Dark chocolate fondant ... to order ... to perfection.
There was also an entree but it actually wasn't announced. It was something with pasta though. I think. At least that's what it looked like before the horde of locusts that is the two teams descended on the dish.
So, it's that simple (to order). Matt starts the time (to order). The teams grab a dish each (to order) and (to order) taste them all (to order).
I'll stop that now as I suspect you've all ordered me to.
As the teams lick the plates in a fashion that makes me wonder if anyone thought to feed them before locking them in their cages last night, Marco points out that it might be a good idea to actually keep the dishes so the teams know what they look like. He points this out quietly to Matt. I'm actually wishing he'd point it out to the teams, JUST as they take the last mouthful, so we could get some comedy guilt chewing / spit taking. Oh well, I'm used to disappointment.
And now time for a brief introduction personality video, or as I like to call it, 'who cares time.' Kiah is the subject of tonight's mini Australian story nap time. I'd cover what was in it but I had a voluntary micro-stroke instead.
Back in the kitchen Tracey is saying the word pasta twenty times in ten seconds, presumably as a punishment for her previous poor leadership. It certainly seems to have the desired effect as her team nods violently at her in the hope she'll say any other word.
Meanwhile Sarah's doing the dessert, which actually looks like maths, and it turns out dessert preparation IS actually Sarah doing maths, which she says she's bad at, but there's also some egg work involved. Thank god, because I've now realised Mathematicians: The Professionals would be a significantly less interesting show. Sorry to the Quadratic comedians and Fermat's funsters out there.
Cameron is still rambling about how hard life is and so we get to watch his story of ... how he once went to England with his girlfriend. Wow, the lives these crazy kids lead.
Matt wants to know if Marco is happy, it's a simple question but Marco won't answer it. He explains to Matt that he thinks it's calm now, but will ultimately be close. Yes, but ARE YOU HAPPY MARCO? Marco does predict that the cooks will be sweating in fifteen minutes ... seconds later Kiah is wiping sweat from his brow. Marco won't be happy. Kiah is meant to be fitter than this.
Marco walks over to interrupt Nick, just so he can point out how much pressure he is under and then suggest he is wrong to have any negative thoughts and should dispel them. Lucky Nick, that's nerves AND guilt now. To order.
Sarah says she has taken on dessert tonight because she only trusts herself not to stuff it up. Marco, sniffing a faint whiff of self-confidence, then approaches Sarah and asks if she's confident - no - or ready - no - or terrified - yes. Lucky she didn't give dessert to one of the others or they'd REALLY be chocolate fondanting their pants.
With 10 minutes of prep to go, Michael starts worrying about service, proving he's not been paying any attention until now.
The Brown team, hanging from the ceiling like banshees whose every squeal foretells the death of another ingredient, take a moment to reveal the revelation that they are glad not to have to cook today, which is very revelatory.
Marco points out that broad beans are a tedious, big job. Matt nods the nod of a man who is aware that tedious jobs may not make for fantastic television.
Marco says there's one box of broad beans here and another in the fridge ... and Matt nods the nod of a man who knows its funny when teams forget to prepare a crate of broad beans.
With thirty seconds to go the power of montage and intense music attempts to make preparation more interesting. Thankfully it also makes the last thirty seconds only ten seconds long as even montage ain't that powerful.
Finally, Cameron recalls a time when he went to a party without any pants on as a disturbing analogy for how prepared the teams are tonight. And we all look forward to his winning the show and opening his new restaurant Cameron's Commando Cuisine. Zounds!
As professional wait staff stand around in silent mockery of the chaos in the kitchen, the diners enter to what Tracey tells us is an adrenalin buzz, but what iin fact actually looks like a particularly sombre funeral.
Marco demands the teams "make up time" which he selfishly doesn't even provide a recipe for, but suddenly he gives his first triple-play of the night. "Sink in the service, sink in the service, sink in the service" and suddenly it becomes clear. Marco is able to bend time like Hermione did in Harry Potter The-one-where-Dumbledore-gives-her-the-necklace. The triple statements are indicators of the moments when his various selves encounter each other in time. You see Marco is such a success, because there are effectively three of him in any given kitchen.
Marco, who has stationed himself on the pass starts reading out the orders and rapidly answering himself "yes chef" which is at least saving the contestants the time consuming problem of responding.
Marco then barks relentlessly for a few minutes, finally reaching a point where he is so short of material he starts pointing out obvious yet irrelevant facts. He notes that one of the contestants is not Picasso (in fact he really, really, really isn't, as Marco said it three times) in between his "Come On, Come On, Come On" mantra which has me humming The Doors.
Meanwhile Team Brown are rewarded for winning last night by being allowed to dine at table with Matt. Matt sits at the head of the table, above the salt, while Team Brown stretches down the table on either side of him, which finally allows the show to descend into a near perfect copy of My Kitchen Rules as Matt asks each of them to comment on what they're eating before telling them what they really think.
A camera then walks the floor to find anyone willing to stick a knife into the chefs and then we cut to Marco who is subjecting Nick to more heat than he is in turn applying to the fish. Nick in voice over explains that it's alright, he's used to being treated the way Marco is treating him, as he is clinically inept and chronically disappoints every person he comes in contact with.
After the break ... nope Marco's still yelling at Nick who doesn't seem to have used the time the various sponsors provided him at all, whereas I had enough time to whip up this lovely cup of tea - though I'll admit its only lukewarm as I stopped boiling the kettle because Marco yelled at me about time.
Cameron meanwhile has an admission. He doesn't think two garnishes went out the same. That's ok though, surely no none will pick up on that ...
... cut to Matt.
"That looks like something that's thrown together" he Prestons, delivering what is apparently an accusation of fault not a statement of fact. We soon learn that this is important, as it is the scripted time for the callback to the inability of the starved teams to keep the meals on hand to compare them.
Matt who got the beef says this feels like a banquet meal and those who got the fish are much happier, so it's like any wedding really. Everyone fights over who gets the beef, then ends up envying those who got the fish.
That is until Team Brown's chief tattle-tail Luke gets a bone (not a euphemism) for which Nick fears Marco will bone him (is a euphemism).
Briefly montage-ing around the room we learn that yes, people are in fact consuming the beef. Most are using knives and forks in a combined action to reduce the beef to smaller morsels, than skewering said morsels with their fork-like apparatus to insert them into the gaping maws they call mouths. This is ACTION ... sorry this is EATING.
Souffle time spells trouble as Kiah turns out not to be ready. This is an entirely unanticipated state of affairs, vastly in contrast to his earlier indications about how lacking in readiness he felt.
As Marco casts the complicated souffle spell, "Souffle! Souffle! Souffle!", Kiah tells us in voice over that he has nothing ready, despite the footage we are watching that shows him filling ramekin after ramekin. Hmmm.
Finally, sensing an emergency and/or an opportunity to get his mug in front of the camera, Michael inserts himself into the souffle machine which he admits its a nightmare. Kiah however politely admits that help is helpful and feels that now that he is not alone making all of Marco's triple souffles he might have a chance.
Matt gleefully accepts delivery of two desserts, fulfilling his role as the uncle at the wedding who helps himself to two courses of everything, and leaving me looking forward to him drunkenly dancing later to CopaCobana on a table top. That happens at the weddings you got to as well, right?
Luke from Team Brown has embraced his role as chief character assassin, leaping on the chance to condemn the souffles, and simultaneously auditioning to be the posh princess in MKR next year. He even has the hair!
In the kitchen ... nothing is happening, so the editors take advantage of the time-lapse footage of a souffle rising in the oven that they were determined to use regardless of how clearly it relates to the narrative.
Kiah proudly reveals that his team have finished, yet he admits the service was quite hard. Marco then gives a rousing "be proud of yourselves" and claps the teams, which leaves the poor clientele sitting behind him to mimic him like seals as they don't know how to leave a restaurant where there's no bill to ask for.
The teams retire to the change room for no discernible reason other than to lie to each others faces about how well they went, before they then miraculously appear moments later in the now cleared MasterChef Hall for Matt to give a eulogy to lost ingredients.
As far as Matt is concerned, for the red team the entree was a success, but the beef a disaster which turned a restaurant quality dish into a bad banquet meal. The fondant was a "triumph" niggled by a sticky praline, but it's ok, once the fondant and the praline have been married for a few years it won't try that anymore.
For Green the entree of lamb was missing aoli and seasoning, the main course Mulloway was the dish of the day. In fact it would have been perfect if Luke hadn't found a bone says Matt. "He wasn't the only one" assures Matt who knows that he's just sold out his informant and cutting off the cries of "Et tu Luke!".
The bone revelation has Nick throwing himself on his fishbone sized sword, until Matt declares that the biggest disaster of the evening was the souffle which was a disaster of disastrous proportions. And also in many ways not good.
Matt takes his time to declare a winner, as in a first for MasterChef it seems that this competition was a close-run-thing. Imagine that, a MasterChef cook off where the teams traded failure for failure. It had to happen one day I guess. Finally Matt declares the red team, a.k.a. not-sunk-by-souffle, the winners.
Kiah takes a moment to reflect on the fact that being on the losing team has in fact increased his chances of being eliminated. "It's no longer 1 in 10 ... it's like 1 in 5" he declares. Actually as the chef responsible for the souffle his odds of being eliminated are closer to 1 in 1 if not better.
Sure enough, Marco takes less time than it takes to under cook a souffle to sack Kiah. This is unacceptable for the producers and editors though who then take an interminable amount of time covering Kiah's goodbye and Marco's words of wisdom and Marco's other words of wisdom and Kiah's standing around feeling awkwardness.
Rhys then reveals a bromance "in the house" has been broken up, as he loves Kiah, which is a surprise as I had no idea about the bromance and THERE IS NO FREAKING HOUSE!
Nonetheless Kiah leaves, Rhys moves on ... or in, or both. And we look forward to Sunday night when it seems the chefs will be challenged to some form of cooking based challenge.