August 19, 2009 at 12:31 PM EDT

Last night’s Hell’s Kitchen was a full meal if I ever saw one. Let’s indulge:

Appetizer #1: An uncharacteristically affectionate Gordon Ramsay. Right after choosing to dismiss Tek instead of Amanda, Sir Gordon consoled a teary-eyed Amanda, telling her, “I’m counting on you, and I am concerned. Bounce back quickly, please. Good luck.” And it felt genuine! As I mentioned last week, I’m itching for an episode where Ramsay “plays nice” the entire time. It’d be an interesting psychological study to see how the chefs would react to Ramsay’s opposite twin, whom we shall name Chef Yasmar.

Appetizer #2: Men can’t count calories. Ramsay asked each team to craft a three-dish meal that would total less than 700 calories. Robert, bless his heart (figuratively, and as we learn later on, literally), laughed at the challenge and exclaimed, “I take 700-calorie bites!” The women easily won, thanks to the leadership of Sabrina, who works in a health club & spa and was therefore quite comfortable with the challenge. The red team’s prize was a Venice Beach volleyball lesson from Olympian Annett Davis. When the gals returned home, they discovered they’d each received a complimentary Vita-Mix blender. Couldn’t be product placement, could it? Take it away, Sabrina: “They’re the crème de la crème of blenders!” As for the blue team’s punishment…

Appetizer #3: When reality TV is frustrating. For losing the team challenge, the men had to prepare both kitchens for dinner service. Sous Chef Scott informed the men that they had to pick up some produce at a local store. Oh, and they would ride a bizarre seven-person bicycle up a steep hill to get there. Why? Solely because it looks funny. The problem was that Robert — who, we can admit, is not in the best shape — was forced to ride the bike as well. This was a particularly cruel and irresponsible decision by the show’s producers. And what did this silly punishment have to do with anything? Once the exhausting bike ride was over, Robert started feeling dizzy, and the chef was whisked off to the hospital and didn’t return for the remainder of the episode. So one contestant’s life was potentially at risk thanks to a bogus task (that is, assuming everything wasn’t staged).

Entrée #1: The fight heard round the kitchen. The Ramsay/Tennille showdown did not disappoint. This was juicy, albeit lowbrow, television. Ramsay called Tennille “crap” for not making enough mashed potatoes, and without missing a beat, Tennille replied, “You’re crap!” Cue the dramatic drums! Ramsay kicked Tennille out of the kitchen, and then chased her down. They screamed and cursed as a river of tears streamed down Tennille’s face. Ramsay finally ordered her back into the kitchen, and as she returned, she bellowed, “Get OFF my station PLEASE!” While obviously not the best chef on the show, Tennille is quickly becoming the most fun to watch.

Entrée #2: You can’t be introverted on reality TV. I like Jim precisely because he doesn’t conform to the requirements of reality television, which mandate loud and obnoxious personalities. But Jim just calmly does his thing and occasionally provides a witty remark. Case in point: Ramsay told Jim that his risotto tasted like baby food. Jim’s response: “Baby food tastes gooooood.” Although, I must give credit to Ramsay for supplying the night’s sharpest line, which was also about Jim’s risotto: “It’s bland! It’s an insult to a f—ing grain of rice.”

Entrée #3: The mystery of the disappearing chicken. We never did find out where that bird went. Any ideas, PopWatchers? Make me laugh… I’ll mention my favorite comment in next week’s recap.

Dessert: Look, Gordon’s being spontaneous! After further calamities (e.g. Sabrina sent out raw pork and undercooked lamb, and Andy was incapable of properly cooking his halibut), Chef Ramsay shut both of the kitchens down. He declared both teams losers, meaning each team would have to select one person to eliminate. The red team debated between Tennille and Sabrina, opting for the latter, while the blue team toyed with the idea of nominating Robert since he technically missed the dinner service. Not cool, guys. I don’t even really like Robert, but you shouldn’t put someone on the chopping block when he can’t be there to defend himself. Before asking Van for the blue team’s alternative pick, Ramsay revealed that if Robert isn’t back for next week’s service, he’ll be off the show. Van then gave up Andy for elimination. Ramsay considered the choice between Sabrina and Andy, and then opted for someone who is “lacking the passion and doesn’t care enough to continue working in Hell’s Kitchen.” That person: Jim.

Post-dinner indigestion: Not Jim! Ramsay told Jim, “I can teach a chef how to cook, but I can’t give you a heart.” How can he single out Jim for lacking passion when Dave — who makes Keanu Reeves look like Ty Pennington — is still in the room? So Jim messed up his risotto a few times. Big whoop. He didn’t serve dangerously undercooked meat like Sabrina. He didn’t curse out the show’s host like Tennille. And he didn’t appear to be reading from a teleprompter like Dave (this is a detail I would have never caught before the advent of HDTV). So, hold your head high, Jim. The reality TV world is not for you, which simply means you’re a decent guy.

PopWatchers, are you sad to see Jim go? Was Ramsay correct in sending him home? And are you as stuffed as I am from that gargantuan feast of sizzling drama?


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