Only five chefs are left to staff Hell’s Kitchen, and scarcity makes for strange bedfellows. Based on the prior weeks’ backstabbing and drama, one wouldn’t expect to see Sara consoling a distraught Virginia. But there she is, awkwardly perched on the side of the bed where Virginia is bawling face down, moaning, “I suck. I suck. I suck.” Her inferiority fit has come about as she’s been on the chopping block so many times.
Meanwhile, in a more expected pairing, Keith and Garrett smoke on the back porch and are swearing their allegiance to one another because they’re DUDES and it’s DUDES AGAINST CHICKS, MAN and high five and chest pound and blah blah blah.
Back to the kitchen! Chef Ramsay tells the teams they will be merging and provides them all with new chef’s uniforms with black detailing to replace their team specific ones. Virginia, in interview, says that they are all “soldiers” and are going to have to be on “tippy top toes.” As I’m sure you well know, she’s referencing those immortal words of General Patton: “I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight…on my tippy top toes.”
Since they are now a team, the first order of business is, of course, to compete against each other in an individual challenge. Each will have twenty minutes and the same ten ingredients with which to prepare an entrée to be judged by Ramsay.
Garrett is the first chef to have his food evaluated. Ramsay is initially impressed by his perfectly-cooked veal, but then is disappointed by an excess of saffron in the shrimp. Heather’s dish is good, but she didn’t triple wash the spinach and Ramsay tastes the grit. Ramsay doesn’t have a complaint about Virginia’s dish – he’s quite pleased, in fact – but he has to wring a negative out from somewhere. So immediately after praising her, he bemoans the fact that she doesn’t cook like that all the time. Keith’s veal dish is excellent. After a moment of dithering between Keith and Virginia, Ramsay selects Keith as the winner of the challenge: a quick trip to Vegas to see the restaurant.
Ramsay then tells Keith he can take one other chef on the trip. Keith seems agonized, and his teammates Garrett and Heather each say in interview they feel confident he’s going to pick them. But it’s not to be! Keith picks Virginia, saying it’s because she came in second in this challenge. The two of them are sent off to prepare for the trip, and the remaining three chefs are left to prep the restaurant for a fumigation.
There’s some fumin’ going on all right! (That pun just wrote itself, Reader!) Garrett can’t believe his boy would sell him out like that. He’s so mad, he storms back to the dorm and confronts Keith. Keith is already chagrinned about his choice, so he takes a little wind out of Garrett’s sails when he offers up no resistance to Garrett’s rant, agreeing that he, too, would be pissed if the roles were reversed.
But it’s too late! Virginia and Keith are whisked off to Vegas to meet with Ramsay. They view the Red Rocks Resort and the shell of the restaurant-to-be. Throughout their brief stay, they use the words “Vegas,” “money” and “baby” about four hundred times. OK, obviously, I’m exaggerating it, but Keith’s combination “Swingers”/hip hop talk has been working my nerves since Day One and I’m just not able to keep silent any longer. I mean, “K-Grease?” He calls himself “K-Grease?” Who voluntarily gives themselves a nickname that simultaneously conjures up lard and Kevin Federline?
Meanwhile, back at the kitchen, Sara, Heather and Garrett cover the entire kitchen in plastic wrap and then have to do the fumigating themselves. Afterwards, they decompress, and Heather gently tries to bring Garrett back from the edge of Cape Fear by saying, in effect, “Umm…you know when you get all mad and stuff? Well, you kinda come across like… like a complete whackjob who’s going to kill us all in our sleep and then wear a suit of our skin.” Garrett says he’s learned his lesson in prison and can better manage his anger now. (Although, to be honest, it sorta sounded like he was talking about juvy and I’m wondering if he and Fox have been playing up this whole “prison” thing this whole time – was it just juvy?)
It all seems to blow over, however, as the chefs have to prepare for their first service as a single team. Keith is honored to learn that his veal dish will be the special and he thankfully – THANKFULLY – does not give it some ridiculous name like “K-Kow’s Ve-shizzle Chopizzle.” The chefs also learn that they will have their very first twelve-top table, a logistical challenge in that for each course, twelve dishes will need to be prepared by five chefs to send to the table at the exact same time.
Heather and Sara are on starters. They are both off initially with their individual dishes and have a bit of friction that prevents them from working well together. Eventually, they get it together, leaving the floor for others to foul up. Virginia gets flustered and messes up some vegetables. Garrett experiences some delays with his chicken, and, in response to Ramsay’s urgency, tries to send out undercooked chicken. Ramsay is horrified, telling him he could have killed someone. He yanks Garrett from the meat and puts Keith on it. Keith is the golden boy of the evening: In addition to his good performance in the kitchen, his special is very popular with the guests.
There is some additional drama as a “customer” flips over some meals in “anger” and the “bachelorette party” “arrives late” to be seated at the twelve-top. (Maybe this is more real than my copious use of quotes would suggest, but it all still seems very choreographed and staged to me.) However, the little band rallies and gets the dishes out to the twelve-top as ordered!
Success doesn’t mean they will be spared elimination. Keith, as best of the group, is sent back to the house to nominate two for the chopping block. Per usual, he makes the rounds to let everyone plead their case. Garrett thinks that there is no way Keith will nominate him after already betraying him with the Vegas trip.
Not so, Garrett! He and Virginia are offered up for sacrifice: Virginia, because she became flustered and mis-read a ticket; Garrett, because he served potentially deadly chicken. And deadly chicken weighs a lot more than a ticket, so the scales are tipped and Ramsay’s booting out Garrett!
Only four chefs remain…