Auggie, please pack your knives and go. Oh wait, this isn’t Top Chef? Then why are viewers of a nighttime soap being bored by talk about saffron and thyme beurre blanc!?

This episode of Melrose Place was one of the most dramatic for Auggie (not saying much) — the aspiring chef devised a brilliant dish, only to have his boss take credit for it (in front of Coal’s owner, inexplicably played by Rick Fox). Then Auggie threw punches at his boss Marcello (after Marcello disrespected Riley) and seemingly got fired. Of course resident stalker Violet came over to bring him his knives, ask about his sore hand, and finally jump his bones. I’m all for Melrose getting sexier, but this was like watching cardboard fornicating. (SPOILER ALERT As you can imagine from my past recaps, I am not weeping with the news that Violet and Auggie will soon be gone.)

There was a different Melrose kiss that stirred up a lot more issues. Jonah, still reeling after hearing about Riley and Auggie’s kiss, went out for drinks with hot development executive Kendra. They talked Tarantino and she swooned at his dumb stories about dog birthday parties (“Travis, just drop the chicken, man!” doesn’t seem like a surefire pickup line). After a few drinks, she planted a kiss on him, and it took Jonah a few moments to pull away and reveal that he was engaged.

Jonah carried his guilt heavily, finally confessing later the next day to Riley when she was helping him shoot a wedding video for a client. Let’s hope that doesn’t end up on the happy couple’s wedding tape.

Back poolside at the complex, Detective Rodriguez returned to question David about his alibi (being with Ella) on the night of Sydney’s murder. Cue flashbacks to an incredibly cheesy scene of David crying at his mother’s grave, when then-stranger Sydney magically appeared with sage advice, a cleavage-displaying black dress, and an invitation to breakfast. As we know already, that invitation eventually extended to more than breakfast, and David fell for Sydney. That was until he found out that she was also sleeping with his father. He confronted her about this the night Sydney was killed — he called her a “pathetic whore“ and she called him a “spoiled brat.” Unfortunately, he was so drunk that he later blacked out, waking up holding a bloody knife. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?) Later, the detectives found a bloody knife that was connected to the murder and sent it off for immediate analysis. (Again, SPOILER ALERT, but the news that Violet and Auggie are off the show after the murderer is caught kills the suspense that maybe David could have done it.)

Meanwhile, Ella was dealing with her tween heartthrob client Jesse, who ended up at Lauren’s hospital after a drug overdose. Ella tried to bribe Lauren (with a hefty $50,000) to change the hospital records, but Lauren didn’t want to jeopardize her medical career. Ella threatened Jesse to straighten up: “Otherwise you’re going to have a power lunch with River Phoenix.” Blank look from young Hollywood. “Who’s River Phoenix? Oh, God, kill me now.” The mistress of spin later re-spun her own plan into a plot to simultaneously tell the truth and build Jesse’s career post-rehab.

I was taken aback by the Ella-Lauren revelations this week — maybe I pegged Ella wrong, but she seemed to be the kind of friend who would not want put on a Snuggie and watch Steel Magnolias after she found out her roommate’s darkest secret. Ella found envelopes of cash in Lauren’s closet (along with all that sexy new lingerie). Lauren caught her snooping red handed and lied that the money was from her dad. And that she was dressed like Belle de Jour in the middle of the day for “an intern special honors lunch.” Yeah, right. Why would Ella — so brilliantly ready with the biting Pretty Woman quip — let the matter drop so quickly? That didn’t ring true.

While Ella and Lauren ended up as besties again, Jonah and Riley ended the episode with a tough talk. She had told Auggie they couldn’t be friends any more, but Jonah wasn’t willing to give up his business relationship with Kendra. Riley said, crying: “What is happening to us? I feel like we are in two trains heading in two completely opposite directions. It’s bigger than Auggie or Kendra.” Yes, this pair can be boring, but I was genuinely sad to see Riley in such teary turmoil. I think deep down Jonah’s just too nice a guy to leave his college sweetheart. But we’ll have to see what happens in coming weeks — catch that Ella kiss in the teaser for next week?

Overall, a solid episode that could have been sparkier if Ella didn’t drop the Lauren prostitution business so quickly. I’m glad to see Sydney’s murder investigation moving forward again (so we can get it over with). What did you think of this episode? Any guesses how long Ella will keep Lauren’s secret? Anyone out there glad to see Violet and Auggie finally hook up?

Photo: Patrick Wilmore/The CW

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