Day Two of MasterChef’s Heaven and Hell Week, and after last night, when we found out that God loves scampi and Satan enjoys macarons or something, tonight we see a knock-em*down, drag-em-out battle between the forces of Hell (Kelty) and Heaven (everyone who isn’t Kelty).
We begin with the theme tune, which assumes an added poignancy given we know tonight’s loser will indeed be hot and then cold, being hurled into the lake of fire, before their soul is left to wander the icy wastes of oblivion for all eternity.
In the MasterChef house Daniel is going for a swim – ladies – and standing over Kelty’s bed annoying him.
We also discover that Lucy and Pip are the best of friends, and it would be really hard for Lucy to wake up in the room without Pip, because Lucy is apparently five years old.
In the kitchen, Gary speaks very slowly and says “heaven” and “hell” very loudly, as if speaking to people with learning disabilities. “Don’t worry,” says Matt, but clearly there is a lot to worry about, particularly the guest chef, whose name is Ian Curley and who is a terrifying presence particularly for those people who know who that is.
He introduces himself by saying something which I swear to God is “I’m the size of a pretzel”. I … I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said. Already things are getting a bit disturbing.
1. Ian reveals that the first dish to be cooked will be steak tartare. He notes that it’s easy because you don’t have to cook it, and yes with this lot that will be an advantage.
They taste the dish to see what it is they’ll be “cooking”. Kelty is trying to concentrate on what’s in his mouth. I’ll repeat that: Kelty is trying to concentrate on what’s in his mouth. So you know, you can fill in your own gaps there.
Pip informs us that she doesn’t want to go into the second round, and so has radically revised her strategy and now plans to try to be good. She then tells us that “the first thing Luce and I do is go straight to the ingredients”, and the realisation begins to dawn on the audience that the producers must have had very little useable footage from this day’s shoot.
Meanwhile, Kelty is starting to eat plastic as the pressure builds and he babbles deliriously about jumping on pumpernickel.
Daniel has decided to do his crackers first. Ian seems to think this is a bad idea. Daniel remains convinced it’s a good idea. And to be fair, Ian is probably just trying to make him feel bad. These pretzel-men are all the same.
2. Over at Pip’s station, her mind is starting to race, and she reiterates that she doesn’t want to be in an elimination. Let us be quite clear about this: Pip does not want to be eliminated. It’s time we put paid to all those rumours to the contrary.
“The devil is in the detail,” states Gary Mehigan, noted theologian, and taking this advice to heart, Kelty tells us some things we already know. Lucy is less successful at detail-attending to, as her pumpernickel is fighting for its life. “I’m not sure I needed it enough,” she says, and certainly it seems to be suffering from cripplingly low self-esteem.
“I’m glad everyone’s concentrating on the crackers, and not worrying too much about the beef,” says Ian, with the kind of smile a man only wears when he knows that he’ll be pulling people’s fingernails out within the hour.
No time to dwell on sadism though: it’s time for Kelty to exclaim “I’m now samurai man!” like some kind of drug-addled ape, and start doing chopping motions with his hands and making weird burbling noises. “What have you got in the bowl?” George asks him. Kelty doesn’t really seem very sure what he has in the bowl: he’s been blacking out a lot today.
“Your bench is your brain,” says Ian, which isn’t likely to help Kelty’s state of mind – what the hell does that mean? His bench is inside his skull? His brain is covered with flour and strips of beef? The whole conversation is like a kangaroo fight on acid.
3. Lucy has put lemon juice into her beef. Vern is disgusted. He can’t watch Lucy destroy her future like this. Ian is a bit worried about Lucy – whether this is because of her steak tartare or just because he thinks she’s looking a bit peaky he doesn’t specify.
“It’s like looking at a car accident,” says Jules, who apparently chuckles and smirks when she looks at car accidents. Up on the balcony they’re all shouting useless advice at everyone.
The clock is ticking down! Will they plate up before time is up? The pressure is on! Oh look! They all made it just in the nick of time! Again! Amazing!
Pip thinks she might be in trouble because she has no crackers on her plate, although as Lynton and Neha demonstrated last night, not actually completing the assigned task isn’t always a handicap. At least not when you’re up against Kelty.
It’s tasting time: who will be in the heaven of safety, and who will have to undergo the hell of the second…oh god no let’s stop this now. Lucy’s steak tartare has the beautiful grey appearance of a blob of cat food, thanks to her lemon juice atrocity. “You’ve really missed the complexity and interest,” says Gary, who is coming dangerously close to revealing that he actually has no idea how to cook at all.
4. Pip’s steak, while looking less like cat food (but still a bit like cat food because that’s basically what steak tartare is), suffers from having no crackers on the plate at all. Also her textures are rubbish. “It’s almost a shame that a cow died for that,” says Ian, which is a bit rich – it’s raw beef, nobody should be eating it in the first place.
It’s now time for Kelty to explain all the crap he’s put in his tartare. The judges think his is pretty good, but Ian still doesn’t like him much. The boys are safe and the girls are through to the second round, which is surprising given a few weeks ago it was firmly established that women are good at cooking and men are not.
Lucy and Pip are devastated, because one of them is going to be eliminated, and like all MasterChef contestants, they have been informed by the producers that eliminated contestants are taken away and killed following the elimination challenge. Gary tells Pip that it’s OK, but Pip is in tears, and she refuses to believe that it’s OK.
Lucy is also in tears: clearly Gary’s words are of no comfort whatsoever. If anything he seems to be making them cry more. Both women admit that when they entered the competition they wanted to win, but now confronted with the reality that winning might mean not seeing one of their friends for a month or so, it seems unbearably tragic.
Maybe it’s the background piano making them both act like such a couple of sooky twits.
5. Ian reveals the second-round dish. “Under that cloche is my hell,” says Pip, just before her head explodes.
An ad break later, we finally get to see what Pip’s hell is, and it turns out that it is some kind of porcupine frozen in carbonite. Ian calls it “custard bombe Alaska” for some reason. Pip is devastated. And terrified. A bombe Alaska killed her parents. Ian shows them what’s in the porcupine, and orders them not to cry: he is incapable of human feeling, so he doesn’t see anyone else should experience the joy of feeling.
Pip and Lucy run to the circular bench, and everyone on the balcony calls out, “Come on girls!” as if they both could win. But they can’t, guys – someone is going to lose. Pick a side.
“The first thing I do is make the fig ice-cream,” says Pip, which is apparently now considered acceptable behaviour in public. Kelty isn’t sure who’s going to win, and nobody else is sure why we’d want to know his opinion.
Within the circle, Ian is walking around watching them like some kind of pervert. “Turn your gas up,” he whispers hoarsely in Pip’s ear – a euphemism the meaning of which we frankly would rather not know. Meanwhile Lucy has put her custard on ice and started whisking it so it doesn’t get over-hot and my goodness this really hammers home what a weird and stupid activity cooking is, doesn’t it.
6. “I can’t really go home,” says Pip, and she means it – when she found out she was in MasterChef she burnt her house down.
There’s a lot of cooking going on. It’s strange. I don’t know why they bother with this bit. Why don’t they just buy some takeaway, let the judges taste it, have a bit of a cry, and move on to the next episode? “Don’t be afraid to tidy up,” says Ian, the passive-aggressive creep.
He gives pretzel-sized people a bad name. Lucy is trying not to over-whisk her egg whites – a problem for many women as they grow older. Kelty thinks it’s not over yet. Why we’re listening to him talk remains unexplained.
This entire dish seems to be stirring stuff and whipping stuff and pouring stuff into things. Pip thinks her meringue seems pretty cool, so she stops whipping – but this isn’t a popularity contest, Pip. It’s not about whose meringue is “cooler”; it’s about RESULTS. “It’s you that’s going home if you get it wrong,” says Ian, and Pip kicks him savagely in the crotch. No, not really, but god it’d be good if she had.
Anyway everyone’s yelling at Pip that if her meringue isn’t cool her life is over, and Pip feels the bowl and it’s warm, but she still thinks her meringue looks cool – it’s wearing these great retro slacks and a funky knitted hat. Who is right: Pip, who doesn’t seem to have the first idea what she’s doing; or the balcony people, who aren’t there and have no way of knowing what’s going on? It’s a difficult question to answer, which of these two incredibly ignorant sides is less ignorant?
7. Pip decides to ignore the evidence of her own senses and obey the idiots up above, and she starts whipping her meringue again. This earns her a smug pig of a look from Ian, who enjoys the pain of others. Pip may have over-whipped. It’s hard to tell. It’s also hard to care. But anyway she probably has, because she’s piping the meringue out and it’s a total shambles.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this meringue has been so poorly prepared that she will probably be arrested. She’ll have to be kept in isolation: convicts don’t take too kindly to people who go around with overly aerated meringues on their bombe Alaska.
Anyway it’s tasting time and Pip’s really proud of herself, though she doesn’t say for what. Her good marks at school probably. Gary asks her what her gut feeling is as to whether she’s staying or going. “I hope to god I’m staying,” says Pip, stubbornly refusing to answer the question.
The judges eat Pip’s bombe, and it turns out it’s delicious. Apart from the meringue, of course, which as discussed is a gross indecency and offence to God himself. “Stand tall and stand proud,” says George, but he’s one to talk.
Lucy presents her dessert, with the meringue that was not affected by peer pressure. There is much nodding. “Beautiful plump fig,” says George, possibly referring to the food. “The meringue doesn’t look appealing because it doesn’t have those beautiful little nipples,” he adds.
8. I simply don’t know what on earth is going on in this man’s head. Meringues don’t have nipples. They’re not mammals at all, in fact. I can only assume that George is literally sexually attracted to bombe Alaska.
It’s judging time – who will be forced to go home, thus separating these two bosom buddies forever because it seems they’re incapable of just exchanging email addresses and saying they’ll catch up after the show?
“We both feel sick, to be honest,” says Lucy, and who can blame them? They are probably still thinking about that steak tartare. It would seem the decision came down to one detail: the meringue. Oh dear, that means Pip is gone. The two women embrace and dissolve into sobs like it’s Sophie’s Choice.
And so, the idiots on the balcony have, once and for all, destroyed an innocent person’s dreams. I hope you’re happy with yourselves, you squawking harpies. “You need to keep whisking”, indeed. You disgust me and if there’s any justice something heavy will fall on all your heads next time you cook.
“I’m just going to keep cooking and hopefully make something of myself,” says Pip as she leaves, in what comes across as the saddest sentence every spoken out loud by anyone.
9. We find out that she’s started a catering business, but hard to see how it will succeed now that all its customers know it’s the catering business run by the woman who over-aerates her meringue.
Anyway let’s put this unpleasantness behind us and move on to tomorrow’s episode, wherein there’ll be some more dumb heaven and hell stuff.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.