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'Hell's Kitchen' recap: Who's the Boss?

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Well, the sabotage that was teased in nearly every promo for Hell’s Kitchen this season finally happened. Of course, it wasn’t quite as sensational and controversial as teased because it was Ramsay’s idea. But still, I’ll consider it a late return on a much-hyped promise. The sabotage wasn’t the only interesting thing tonight — Danny…failed. Don’t panic. He didn’t go home. But the sight of him screwing up (and in front of a massive crowd, poor guy) was sort of uncomfortable, right? We’ve come to expect it of others, but Danny has been a bit of a Teflon-coated contestant thus far. Fortunately he managed to pick himself up, like the flannel-wearing warrior he is, and turn it around in the end. Add that to the interesting guests for the challenge and the even more interesting twist on dinner service, and tonight’s show was one of the most entertaining of the season. (Aside from that silly Paula/J.P. thing, which I will rant about get to later.)

The episode started out with a surprise visit from the chefs’families, which was nothing but a big, fat, cruel tease. Their lovedones showed up, hugged and encouraged the chefs for a second, and thenvanished. Really? It takes longer to make a Hot Pocket.

The next day’s challenge came with a fun/evil twist. The chefs wouldbe creating a dish of their own choosing for 100 of the best chefs fromthe area. Ramsay had all the executive chefs stand up and introducethemselves while he congratulated them on their accomplishments.Michelin star-earners, James BeardAward-winners, and other impressive achievers were announced.The chefs managed to keep their nerves in check as they cooked…forthe most part. Andrea wouldn’t be Andrea if she didn’t flutter aroundlike a hummingbird on speed, stressing about everything. Even so, thedishes went out without incident. Then came the bomb. Ramsay announcedthat 76% of the chefs agreed on the worst dish, and that dish belongedto Danny. Danny had opted to use Halibut for his dish, which in mywacky brain translates to Halitosis – which has no relevance toanything at all, unless the fancy chefs made the connection as well,which is probably unlikely. The look of humiliation on Danny’s face when his name was announced was painful to watch. My heart brokea little. Crap! When did I become emotionally invested in this mess?And so Paula’s dish was deemed the winner, and Ramsay informed her thather prize included a day of pampering and another surprise in themorning. Paula made a comment about her eyebrows which segued into aborderline inappropriate Brazilian wax joke by Ramsay. What womandoesn’t want her boss to awkwardly mention her bikini line in a roomfull of people? Stay classy, Ramsay.

While Andrea and Danny began the cleaning assigned to them, Paulaand J.P. headed off for her pamper package. As they rode along, the twoengaged in some polite and slightly awkward chit chat, which wasquickly made oodles more awkward when the show decided to add somecheesy romantic music and sparkles around the pair. Come on Hell’s Kitchen!You were doing so well! Ya had to go and gamble with my new semi-faithin you. Sigh. But, on a more positive note, Paula looked rather lovelywith her new darker hair. The second part of her prize was joiningRamsay on a live morning show the next day. The two of them charmed andcooked on live TV while Danny and Andrea watched from Hell’s Kitchenand fell all over themselves with excitement and jealously. Um, youguys know that you’re totally on TV too, right? I mean, it’s no morningshow, but….

Dinner service this week was especially twisty, and alsosurprisingly smooth. Ramsay gave each chef the opportunity to play bossand run the kitchen, but for added fun, he also tried to sabotage theirevery decision. First up was Paula, who stumbled nervously over herwords when she called out the order. Then she failed to catch the firstsabotage attempt — a chef gave her squash puree instead of carrot. Butshe did well for the rest of her turn. Danny started out meekly whenshouting out the order too (but who wouldn’t with Ramsay watching), andfailed to catch a sabotage by J.P. (naughty Belgian!), but redeemedhimself toward the end. On a side note: What is with Danny’s PeterBrady-esque voice-cracking when he gets stressed? Doesn’t really scream“authority figure,” ya know? When Andrea’s turn came up, she put on her“assertive panties” (her phrase, not mine. The word “panties” creeps meout), and started barking orders and shouting profanities like, well,like Ramsay. Her bossiness wasn’t exactly winning her any fans, but shegot the job done. The biggest laugh of the evening, for me, came whenthe camera shot to Ramsay during her turn and he scrunched his face upinto a “Hell if I know” look. In the end, the dinner service was thebest they’d had and Ramsay was a happy little bulldog.

Come elimination, Ramsay asked the chefs to each pick someone tosend home. So they went upstairs and Danny and Andrea squabbled aboutwhy the other should go. Andrea was the suggestion of both Paula andDanny — and everyone knew it was her turn to go. And she did. Ramsaycomplimented her and, as he did with Paula earlier in the show, kissedher cheek. Swoon. My eyes are green.

So there you have it, PopWatchers. And then there were two. Who willbe victorious? And who else loved Danny requesting mounted fish for thedining room in the next episode’s previews? Discuss!