You know that thing where you lose a reality show but you don’t care because you have a beautiful baby girl waiting for you at home? Of course you don’t because only one person in the world knows that feeling. It’s OTV’s world and we’re just livin’ in it.
The Final Three in this cooking competition remains in Alaska to cook for sled teams and the Governor of Alaska. And you cannot see Russia from his house. It is exciting for Brooke and Papa Smurf as they punch their tickets to the Finals in Los Angeles and await the identity of the LCK victor to round out the official Final Three. But even though these were fun and strange challenges, which is not what this episode will be remember for in the annals of Top Chef. In fact, if we were doing the memorable moments challenge next season, CJ’s burger is not going to be the one for Season 10. It will be OTV getting the news that his baby was coming and he was going to miss it. Barely. I mean, if the chefs get to go home right after the Final Two is determined, and the Finale happens in Los Angeles, that means that OTV got to go home somewhere between 1-3 days or so after the birth of his child. His wife was even a week past the due date – if only his kid had waited the full 10 days that my kid waited to emerge; OTV could have possibly been there.
But then we wouldn’t have enjoyed the wonderful television that we got instead. After the chefs had completed their prep time the day before the Elimination Challenge, we join the three of them at the bed and breakfast. Brooke was getting weepy about missing her son, and OTV was getting nervous about his late-arriving kid. The guilt he felt about leaving for the show was building. He asked Brooke about how long she was in labor. Days. “Thanks for the mood killer,” said OTV. Not helping there, Brooke “OTV’s wife” – as the graphic indicates – calls OTV from the hospital. She is starting to have it get to her. She “just wants you to be here,” she says to her helpless husband. “OTV’s mother-in-law” gets on to inform him of the contractions. Great, always helpful for the mother-in-law to get involved, amirite?
Well, OTV doesn’t sleep at all. And really, who can blame him? But that cannot be at all helpful for him as he gears up for a huge challenge. We eventually get the moment – OTV Skypes with his wife after all is done – still no name, but she permits her face to be seen, interesting – and there is a third party to the conversation. Ladies and gentlemen – meet Georgia Valentine. A young lady who possesses perhaps the greatest name ever for a Tennessee Williams character. And if you do not get a little misty eyed watching surly OTV meet his daughter for the first time, then you really need to make a doctor’s appointment. Mrs. OTV tells him it wasn’t so bad, perhaps they could have another one. Awesome. And mazel tov, OTV.
Now for my moment as amateur head doctor. OTV went from this moment of joy to start the day to his elimination at the end of the day. Did this affect him negatively? Yes, I think it did. Not negatively in a cosmic way – you will take a healthy little baby girl over a reality show any day of the week. But it was negative performance-wise. I think OTV was rather distracted as he conceptualized his dish, as he prepped it, and certainly as he prepared it. The conceptualizing was the main problem with the dish – as Tom later told him, it was physically impossible to make it in the time allotted – and I am certain that OTV’s mind was elsewhere throughout this challenge. If I can go a step further, perhaps subconsciously he knew that he could not pull this off and that he actually wanted to lose. Could the guilt of missing the birth of his daughter have sabotaged his game deep down inside, beyond the facial hair and into the depths of OTV’s soul? I don’t know. He probably doesn’t know either. I’m just throwing it out there. Either way, OTV had a great run on the show and can hold his head up proudly.
I speak about him in the past tense because he failed to survive the final LCK competition. So he is out – in sort of a nebulous order of finish. He was eliminated from the main completion in the Final Three, but someone else will replace him in the F3. He is kind of fourth then, but fifth in the sense that we head to the Finale with four chefs alive to win, and OTV is not one of them. Way to confuse the organized mind, Top Chef!
Anyway, we learn here that the final LCK completion is taking place in the here and now – and it would have to be when you think about it. How else would they know who made it through the Save a Chef? That means that the Finale is essentially filming right now – tough job for the Top Chef editors to bang this out in only a couple of weeks. OTV has lost a lot of weight as he joins Kish in the final battle. CJ and Lizzie come out and Tom informs us, and them, that with 61% of the vote, Lizzie has won Save a Chef. Wow. I found that to be a bit of an upset, and I think CJ did too. And that ends the chances of the three returning chefs. Top Chef fails to match Survivor’s record for returning contestants – where a returnee has always reached the end of the competition whenever they employed that gimmick. OTV, Lizzie and Kish battle it out for the LCK win, and we do not know who made it through. That will be revealed in the next episode – but we do know that it will be Kish or Lizzie.
The big news there is that there is a 66.6(repeating) chance that the second female Top Chef champion will be crowned. I’d have to say that Brooke is the odds on favorite right now – although the roll she was on in Alaska is now over after the delay and the return to LA. Kish would be second if she got back in the game – she is only out because she refused to stand up for herself. Lizzie and Papa Smurf are about even in my mind – both are solid chefs but neither has brought out the “wow” factor the way Kish and Brooke have done this year.
One way or another, it should be an interesting finale.