Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Taking Sides... Or Maybe Not

Is this a reality show or Sophie's Choice?

Okay, so let’s start by admitting the obvious: I was grossly mistaken in thinking that tonight’s episode was the Hell’s Kitchen season finale. I didn’t think that there was anywhere else to go after eliminating down to two finalists, but I was dead wrong. There is one final place for us to go before the finale and that place is – the stalling zone. Yes, my friends, we have been shuffled expediently into that boundless, meaningless, useless, advertiser-friendly space known as the stalling zone. They’re putting us off, guys! And they’re doing it very sneakily and behind our backs… recaps, looks at past season winners, last-minute trips to Vegas… filler! If they think they can dupe me into watching long enough for me to start rooting for one of the finalists, well… let’s see what happens, shall we?

We begin with a very long week-by-week look at what’s happened this season and I am just going to fast-forward right through that because I was there the first time around. We finally land back where we left off with the divider crashing down from the ceiling, startling Rock and Bonnie to death. Chef Ramsay tells them that they each get to take charge of one half of the restaurant. But first! It’s time for a few moments of family togetherness, and to that end, Chef Ramsay presents Rock’s children. Aw, they’re really cute and they come out for some cuddles with Daddy. I wonder what they’ll think in years to come when watching their father act like a tantrum-throwing bully on television.

"No TV for the rest of your lives, kids!"

Wah, wah, wah, Bonnie only has her parents to rendezvous with - no conjugal visit for her! Or for Rock it turns out. As Chef Ramsay begins to shoo the families out of the studio Rock asks if his wife is allowed to come back to the dorms with him. “Unfortunately not,” is Chef Ramsay’s amused answer. Denied! It’s another night with Bonnie for Rock. Chef Ramsay tells the two finalists that as they head back to the dorms they should start imagining how they want their restaurants to be – the look, the atmosphere, the menus, everything they can think of that will help them win the competition. Now it makes total sense why Rock’s wife isn’t allowed – she would be extra help! Help Rock desperately needs, as we will soon see.

Up in the dorms Rock and Bonnie decide to disregard RamJam’s instructions and just celebrate themselves tonight. They are both so wonderful and brilliant, they can hardly believe it.

"Wow, I can't believe I'm here."

"Wow, Rock is amazing."

Rock admits that in the beginning he thought it would be him and Melissa in the finals. Bonnie tells him that by the time people realize she’s a force to be reckoned with, it’s too late – meaning it’s too late for Rock and he’s about to lose to a nanny personal chef.
Stop with the nanny stuff, Bonnie. That ship has sailed. We’ve figured out that you probably feed a cat in the morning and then spend the rest of the day cooking. Oh, and you make beds sometimes.

The next day our finalists take stock of the space that has been given over to their creative genius. Bonnie says it’s like getting a huge doll house with a credit card. Rock just says he feels great and that you can’t stop the Rock. The guy who is Hell’s Kitchen’s architect and designer sits down with each finalist to get a feel for how they would like to design the restaurant. Bonnie says she wants a romantic, European feel. In my experience that means aloof waiters who don’t bring your check for hours and tiny glasses of Coke with no ice, but what Bonnie has in mind are hardwood floors, no booths, mismatched china and accents of color. That actually sounds very charming.

"What's wrong with my booths?"

Rock wants to go American Southern. Shamefully I’ve never been to the South, but I am picturing a rustic look – maybe a farm animal motif or even a romantic antebellum plantation feel. No, scratch that last one. Now I’m picturing weeping willows. Rock says he likes conformity. He wants to keep the booths and have classical silverware with everything done in black and white. Eh, I like Bonnie’s idea better.

Next Jean Philippe is here to discuss the servers’ wardrobes. Bonnie’s only instruction is that she wants to see the servers all in black with fitted trousers for the girls so they’ll feel attractive. Good call on the fitted trousers. I don’t know who chose what these people have worn all season, but every time a girl has been eliminated and leaves Hell’s Kitchen in a shameful silhouette, I’ve marveled over how unflattering their baggy outfits are.

"What's wrong with my trousers?"

Rock seems very flustered and asks if his servers can wear jeans. Jeans? Isn’t this fine dining? When he says “jeans” a buzzer seriously goes off. Wrong answer, Rock! Maybe my farm animal motif wasn’t too far off. Jean Philippe is horrified and vetoes that idea pronto. He says that jeans would only work in a saloon. You mean like a saloon in the… American South? Or is that just the Wild West? Now I’m as confused as Rock.

It’s time to do the menus! Bonnie sprints into the kitchen to give Sous Chef Mary Ann a huge hug and Mary Ann’s reaction is priceless.

"Get off of me, psycho nanny!"

Bonnie’s all, “Hug it out!” and Mary Ann is totally stoic. After she endures Bonnie’s embrace she goes, “Congratulations by the way,” as if she were saying, “Today is Tuesday, by the way.” Calm down, there Mary Ann, there’s no point in freaking out now. They start talking about the menu and Bonnie says that everything is going to be one of her favorites. She wants to do mini grilled cheeses and tomato soup and also a lot of homemade pasta. Her very favorite is linguini with Bonnie Sauce. Welcome to Bonnieland! It’s not very innovative, but it does sound cutsie.

Over on the Blue side with Sous Chef Scott, Rock is still pretty frazzled. He wants to do his signature fried chicken and crab cake, but other than that, he’s stumped. I think the way this is put together is a ploy to make us think Bonnie is going to win. And guess what… it’s working on me. Bonnie is chock full of ideas and they all sound fun and appetizing, while Rock just seems clueless. Blasted editors! You’re making me want Bonnie to win.

Later as Rock and Bonnie pace around on the hardwood that’s being installed on top of the carpet, Chef Ramsay appears and wonders what they are doing to his restaurant. Bonnie cheekily informs him, “It’s not your restaurant anymore.” Well said, Bonnie, yes? Chef Ramsay concedes and says that he has an important announcement to make. They’re going to Vegas… like now! Rock and Bonnie run upstairs screaming to change their clothes. Bonnie says that Vegas represents her future home and Rock primps and preens right into the camera, ugh.

"Damn it feels good to be a gangsta..."

He tells Bonnie that when he looks good, she looks good, and Bonnie goes, “Get over yourself, punk.” Right on! You go, gir – aaagghhh, see what I mean? I’m cheering for Bonnie! I feel myself being manipulated and I can’t stop falling for it.

As the finalists and RamJam board the Hell’s Kitchen private jet that Jen and Julia took to Vegas, Chef Ramsay says the exact same line he gave Jen and Julia as they were boarding, “You didn’t think we were flying commercial, did you?” Oh Chef Ramsay, you are just full of clever surprises! Next Chef Ramsay brings up something very interesting and asks Rock why he threw a hissy fit when he lost the photo shoot challenge. Good question! Why did you act like a little screaming baby? Rock’s answer is that he never threw a hissy fit. Ahem. Here we go down that path that it’s better for everyone we never go down – that path of denying what has been FILMED. If there is any question whatsoever as to Rock’s hissy fit, please feel free to click here. The producers also show us a little flashback of said hissy fit and Rock admits that he was pissed, but still has no comment on his obnoxious behavior. Chef Ramsay lets it go and moves on to tell Bonnie that she has surprised him the most, reminding her that on her first dinner service she couldn’t fry a quail egg. I remember the Affair of the Quail Egg. There is more reminiscing filler as we review Rock’s Day One frozen gnocchi, and Bonnie’s ability to scream at underling cooks, then Rock eliminating Brad in a strategic move, blah, blah, blah. We were there. RamJam finally asks who is going to win. Rock, in typical a-hole fashion says that the best MAN will win, then Bonnie counters with the best WOMAN. Oh stop you two, you’re scaring me. Are we there yet?

You knew this was coming.

Later, as the limo approaches the Green Valley Ranch, Rock and Bonnie spy a marquee reading “Congratulations Hell’s Kitchen Finalists.” Oh, how very Vegas to appear on a marquee. Just like Wayne Newton. They come into their room which is strikingly similar to the room Jen and Julia stayed in – I wonder what they’ll think of the bidet – and Bonnie screams her head off. There is a plasma screen TV on the wall playing a loop of Rock and Bonnie on their journeys to the finals. More screaming. Hang on, I need some Excedrin.

Ah, nothing like that caffeine rush to get me going. Okay, where were we? Ah yes, screaming. RamJam is taking Rock and Bonnie for a quiet little drinky in a little out-of-the-way bar when suddenly… they walk out onto a stage in front of a huge audience and Bonnie commences screaming. Again.

Mary Ann is also fed up with Bonnie's screaming.

Ooohh, I like how they made the stage. It’s a glass floor that’s been set up over the swimming pool. It looks really cool in the night. Well done, Fox production assistants! Chef Ramsay introduces Bonnie and Rock to the cheering crowd and announces that this is a challenge! Somewhere in the crowd are Las Vegas’ finest chefs and they are waiting with bated breath to taste Rock’s and Bonnie’s signature dishes. They’ve got 30 minutes to make magic… go! As they scurry to work the audience gets to watch them on giant screens. Rock sets off making his fried chicken and crab cakes, while Bonnie does a shrimp and lobster pasta (Bonnie sauce?). Their signature dishes have changed since the first day when Rock did frozen gnocchi and Bonnie did a cheese course. I’m just innocently saying…

The floor opens up under the loser. If only!

There will be seven VIP judges evaluating the dishes and whichever chef gets the most votes wins. VIP’s? Will it be Mariah Carey? The Rock? Nope. First out is Sean Griffin, the executive chef at Caesar’s Palace (home of Pure, the self-proclaimed most fabulous nightclub in America and breeding ground of the faux-hawk). Chef Griffin chooses Bonnie Sauce and it’s one to nothing. Next up is Gerald Chin, the executive chef at the MGM Grand. Bonnie starts chattering about her dish and Chef Ramsay tells her to stop trying to “charm” Chef Chin. Well, it worked on you, Chef Ramsay; there’s no other explanation for Bonnie’s presence here. But Chef Chin rises above it and chooses Rock. It’s one all! Now we meet Anthony Carron, executive chef of the Michael Mina Group, which a quick Google search tells me is responsible for a restaurant in the Bellagio. Right about now the audience starts sporadically yelling out Rock’s name – this must have been before the hissy fit episode aired – and Bonnie is astounded to discover that there are people who don’t like her. But not Chef Carron! He chooses Bonnie and it’s two to one. Next out is Robin Leach – not a chef, but someone who has tasted a lot of food on his travels for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. He likes Bonnie, making the score three to one with Bonnie needing only one more vote to take the challenge. We all know that it’s going to be a tie until the end. It’s never not happened that way, so let’s meet the next two chefs who will certainly choose Rock. Michael Wray, Hell’s Kitchen Season One winner and Heather West, Hell’s Kitchen Season Two winner come out and both choose Rock. What did I tell you? It’s a tie! Will wonders never cease? For the tie breaker we meet Bob Finch and Chris Fearnow, the general manager and executive chef of the… Green Valley Ranch Resort! They each take tastes, then hem and haw and whisper in each other’s ears as we go to commercial. After more deliberation they finally choose… Bonnie! Hooray! Wait, what am I saying? I don’t know how it happened, but I was secretly rooting for Bonnie all through this challenge. I think Rock has just rubbed me the wrong way too many times. Plus he whined to the camera about Bonnie trying to “charm” the judges, but then tried to get a vote by telling Michael Wray that he was down and needed his vote. It’s always okay when Rock strategizes, but never okay when anyone else does. Nuts to that! Bonnie says that winning the challenge gave her a boost and Rock of course blows it off, saying he’d rather win a service than a challenge. Oh brother.

Chef Ramsay says that Bonnie will discover her prize later but now they are off to the rooftop bar at the Palms (how Maloof!) to have a serious chat. They have a toast and Chef Ramsay says, “Bloody well done.” Yes? And now there is one final surprise (for the evening). Chef Ramsay invites both finalists to New York to eat at his Chef’s Table at The London in the Big Apple. Now I learned about Chef’s Tables on “Top Design.” This is where very special guests sit privately (in a specially designed room) in the restaurant and get an entire tasting menu of the chef’s dishes. That would actually be really fun at one of RamJam’s restaurants I must say, and I wish he were handing me a little gold envelope. What is in the envelopes? Vouchers that say, “This coupon good for one Chef’s Table seating at The London – Love RamJam?” That would be cute.

Might one of those be labeled "Honey Gangsta?"

Later back at Hell’s Kitchen, Rock and Bonnie sit down to their last dinner together. They ponder over what a journey this has been, how much they’ve changed, and how much they both want to win. Rock pulls out his jerk hat again and starts telling Bonnie that she may be good, but she doesn’t know how to finish. See what I mean about making me like Bonnie? He is such a creep. And such a hypocrite. And I quote Rock, “I’m not trying to put anybody down to bring myself up.” That was from the service fight with Bonnie and Jen a couple of episodes back. Ew, he’s so full of it. And now he’s deliberately trying to get Bonnie to doubt herself so he can win. Kids or no kids, I really don’t want him to win.

Bright and early the next morning, the door to the dorm swings open and in walk the last six eliminated chefs with gift baskets full of cooking stuff. These chefs would be, in reverse chronological order: Jen, Julia, Josh, Brad, Melissa and Vinnie. There are fond greetings all around (even for Melissa) and Jen buries herself into Bonnie’s shoulder, mumbling, “I want you to win.” Um, okay. Julia is having a really hard time with this and she starts to cry. Oh, poor Julia. It would really suck to watch these two jerks have a go at something you wanted so badly and knew you could do. I’d cry too, Julia. Ew, especially seeing Bonnie there. EW, especially seeing Rock there! There is no good answer to this. Those tears are well-provoked.

Me too, Jules, me too.

Chef Ramsay calls on the telephone and summons everyone down to the kitchen. He lines them all up and starts asking how they’re feeling, which makes Julia start crying again. Chef Ramsay says, “Talk to me, darling.” He asks what her high points and low points were and she tells him that the whole thing was a high point and that right now is her low point. This is all your fault, Ramsay! But as there is nothing we can do now, let’s go on. We review each of the returning six’s major moments – Josh being chased out of the kitchen, Vinnie getting an egg smashed on him, Melissa losing her mind, all that stuff.

Pick a winner!

Now Rock and Bonnie get to choose their teams for the final service. Bonnie goes first since she won in Vegas – oh is that her prize? Weak. She chooses Jen, surprise, surprise. I bet that would have turned out so differently if Rock had won in Vegas. Rock chooses Brad. Then Bonnie ridiculously chooses Melissa, saying that Julia’s emotions made her nervous. Oh please, Bonnie, like there’s been one single episode where you haven’t bawled your eyes out – give me a break! Rock chooses Vinnie, then Bonnie finally chooses Julia and Rock gets Josh. Ugh, so they’re back to their previous Red and Blue Teams. I guess the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Or however that goes. Bonnie’s on shaky ground with Melissa on her team, but Rock has to deal with both Vinnie and Josh. He says he’s a good director, so of course these guys are so lucky to be back on his team. Shut up. Julia confessionals that on a personal level she would rather see Rock win (ha!) and Rock confessionals that he’d rather have Josh than Julia because Josh isn’t going to cry (jerk). Bonnie makes a good point, saying that the girls beat the guys all the time and they work better together than the guys do. All these signs are pointing to a Bonnie win, which naturally means that Rock will win. Either way, this blows.

So! Next week, we have yet another hour of watching two people I don’t like battle it out for the win. If they trick me again and next week isn’t the finale, I may retire. I don’t know how much more of these two I can take. Midway through this episode, I thought I was on Team Bonnie, but now I’m back to not liking either of them. I think if pressed, though, I’d choose Bonnie. That’s how much I don’t like Rock, yes?

What do you think? Can you stand it????

Thanks for reading!
-Honey Gangsta

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