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'Hell's Kitchen' recap: The claws are out!!

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Hellskitchen_l

Hellskitchen_lLet’s get ready to ruuuuuumble! Ya’ll ready for this? In one corner we have Andrea — the pint-size line cook from Philadelphia, and in the other we have Carol — the equally petite sous chef from Tennessee. Who will win the Hell’s Kitchen Catfight? Well, that remains to be seen but tonight we certainly got an unhealthy dose of hostility from pretty much everyone on the red team (although the word “team” doesn’t really fit; they’re more like a group of feral cats thrown together in a small space and expected to…make hamburgers). Aside from the hissing and scratching, there were plenty of other reality show staples this evening: staged conflicts, misplaced confidence, and backstabbing.

The show started off with Andrea admitting that she screwed up during the previous dinner service and that she probably should have been on the chopping block. Now I am sure there will be plenty who will disagree with me – and be sure to voice your dismay in the comments – but I’m totally in Andrea’s corner if only for the fact that I like a gal who can ‘fess up to failure. She’s got spunk. I appreciate spunk. Anyway, J. continued the trend by telling himself (and a picture of his son) that he would do better during this dinner service after his disastrous attempts on last week’s show. The fact that this week we found out that J. has a son and last week heard about Robert’s daddy issues makes me think that the producers are slipping little personal tidbits of info about the contestants into the show to give each chef a little more identity and back story. Tonight we also learned that Carol has two kids and Ben is Jewish.

The next morning Ramsay met the team and confused, well, pretty mucheveryone, by telling Lacey she was “shining” and to keep it up. Now, myfeelings on Lacey were made rather apparent in last week’s recap andthey haven’t changed. However, I was hoping Ramsay’s pat on the backwould give Lacey the boost she needs to start cooking and shutthe hell up. Alas, previews for next week’s episode appear to squashthat hope. Ramsay informed his chefs that this week they would becooking not for restaurant patrons, but at the bar mitzvah for a kidnamed Max. And so began Ben’s nonstop barrage of comments like “theseare my people” and “’I’m Jewish” and so on. I was half expecting him tobust out a guitar, set up a stool in the center of the kitchen, andsing a rousing version of Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song.” Max’s momand grandmother showed up to tell the chefs his favorite foods –-brisket, chicken noodle soup, and hamburgers –- and serve as judges forthe challenge. Naturally, the challenge called for each team to makethese foods, but to add a little zest to them. As the omnipresentnarrator explained, he wanted to see if the contestants are innovativeenough to take everyday foods and make them gourmet. Coi, who hadseveral bizarre quotes tonight, rambled on to the camera about how sheknows what kids like, but she doesn’t know all kids, and she doesn’twant to, but she knows what she liked when she was a kid. Um, what? Whoswapped Coi out for Paula Abdul? Formulate thoughts, then speak.

The aforementioned catfight began when Carol, who was in charge ofthe hamburger, decided that she was going to make a bleu-cheese burgerand Andrea (and the rest of the kitchen, it seemed) opined that perhapsbleu cheese would be a bit too strong for a kid. Carol, however,ignored them because her kids like it and that must mean that all kidslike it, right?  Well, we soon found out when Max was called out tojoin Ramsay and the ladies on the judging panel. First up was thechicken noodle soup, brought to the table by Andrea and Giovanni,respectively. Max picked the men’s dish. Then he picked the red team’sbrisket. Then came the burger. I was immediately turned off by Carol’scocky my-burger-is-totally-gonna-kick-Robert’s-burger’s-booty attitude.And, as always happens (do these people watch reality shows? Imean really), her bravado was premature and Max told Ramsay he didn’tlike the cheese and picked the men’s burger. So the men won and weretreated to a day at the spa and the women were sentenced to preparingthe dining room for the festivities.

Preparing the dining room introduced a subplot that was so obviouslyphony it was almost insulting. Max’s mom introduced J.P. to “partyplanner” Fransisco, who was clearly set up as a foil for Ramsay’s primand proper right hand man. Upon the introduction of the flamboyantFransisco, L.A. quipped “I’m gay. That dude is parade gay.” The mancould barely keep a straight face (J.P. appeared to always be on thebrink of laughter as well) and seemed more like a caricature than anactual human being. If this “conflict” was supposed to be dramatic andfunny it failed on both.

To make up for the complete lack of drama generated by the subplot,however, we were treated to round 2 with Andrea and Carol. The ladieshad the task of putting together the pieces of a basketball court onthe dining room floor. It proved to be rather confusing and the stresselevated the tension to an 11, causing the ladies to get a wee bitsnippy. Andrea and Carol couldn’t agree on what they were doing wrongand Paula summed up the duo perfectly, complaining that they were“bickering like a bunch of bitches.” Couldn’t have said it bettermyself. Describing female disagreements as “catty” may be totallycliché, but it fits. Even as I sit here typing this I hum “we areSiamese if you please. We are Siamese if you don’t please…”

Dinner service was a major success in comparison to previous nightsand the drama of the night came not so much from the cooking thanfrom…guess. Ding, Ding, Ding! If you guessed Andrea and Carol you arecorrect. The appetizers went out with little incident (Andrea didn’tput enough mushrooms in the risotto – barely a blip). Coi was theall-star of the evening, forgetting about the burgers until it cametime to prepare them. Then, trying to somehow justify her mistake, shejabbered into the camera about how “people forget” – shrugging it offas if she forgot to put the lid back on a jar of peanut butter. Then,after attempting to serve the burgers cold, she put on a perplexed actand claimed that she “blinked and they’re cold.” Uh huh. Shoddyjustifications, party of one. Carol and Andrea: Chef Smackdown!!continued throughout dinner service with the women at each other’sthroats the entire time. Meanwhile, J.P. (unconvincingly) accidentallyknocked the cake out of Fransisco’s hands, something that was clearlystaged since, um, the kid’s cake fell on the floor at his barmitzvah and no one, not even Ramsay, freaked out. Really? Being thegood sport that he is, J.P. semi-yelled at him and stormed off andRobert snarked that Jean Phillipe had given Fransisco an “ass whipping.Tinkerbell, he probably enjoyed that.” Hmmm. Do I detect a hint ofhomophobia?

The Harlem Globetrotters made an appearance and showed Max somefancy b-ball moves (cutest moment: Max had to leap into the air to landa high five with one of the players), making the Ramsanator one groovybar mitzvah host. After taking in the sight of all those toweringtrotters, the chefs cleaned up the kitchen and Carol and Andrea decidedto talk -– and by talk I mean argue- about their issues. Carol, whoclearly needs lessons on conflict resolution, told Andrea “I wanted topunch you in the neck.” By this point I was not only in Andrea’scorner, but massaging her shoulders, resetting her broken nose, anduh…whatever else those people do to boxers. Things got even uglier,however, when Ramsay crowned the men the winners and told Andrea thatshe recovered nicely from her mistakes and designated her to pick thetwo ladies for elimination. While Andrea pondered her decision, theother women sat in a circle and complained about how Andrea was theworst of the evening and why did Ramsay pick her and whine, whine,whine. Andrea attempted to address Carol again and Carol responded thatshe had been treating Andrea “like a co-worker.” Hmm. I think tomorrowI’ll try that theory out and tell all my co-workers that I want topunch them in various parts of their bodies.

The chefs met Ramsay in The Room of Doom and Andrea named herchoices: Coi and…L.A. (wha-what?!!) Coi, keeping with her theme ofnot taking the blame for a single damn thing, told Ramsay that shethought Andrea was the worst. L.A. agreed. Then Carol (shocker) agreed.Then Paula (who is quickly becoming my new favorite) told Ramsay thatshe thinks Coi performed poorly. Ramsay agreed and Coi was sent home.You know what they say Coi: Denial’s not just a river in Egypt and allyour excuses were we-heak. So Andrea is sticking around thelions’ den for the time being and hopefully sleeping with one eye open,lest she awaken with a knife in her back. Next week’s show looks tocontinue the Carol-Andrea squabbling and Lacey returns to her whinyways.

So, what are your thoughts? Where do you stand on Carol vs. Andrea? How do you feel about Coi’s elimination?