On ''Hell's Kitchen,'' Melissa quacks up over the wedding reception entree, and Ramsay responds with a Chef's Surprise
Credit: Kharen Hill

”Hell’s Kitchen”: Duck, you suckers

Good day, my little charcoal briquettes, and welcome to the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen. Before tonight’s episode, I was having the most interesting conversation with myself about whether this show would lack a villain now that Vinnie has schemed himself right out the door. But I needn’t have worried, for Melissa — always so eager to help! — transformed before our very eyes into what Chef Ramsay referred to as ”a jumped-up little cavewoman,” blaring dictatorial orders and ruining dishes in the kitchen, then casting blame and playing the martyr — all of it happening in her horrid Jersey squeak, like the voice of Fran Drescher transplanted into a hormonal 14-year-old boy on whip-its.

She also sprouted a facial lesion that bore a remarkable resemblance to a soul patch, and yet: Melissa remains. For in yet another shocking elimination (seriously, Fox, you are setting the bar awfully high here), no one was sent home — instead, Meldawg was shifted to the men’s team.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First off, warm congratulations to Carlota and Cyrus, who were joined in holy matrimony right before risking their wedding reception — and entire future happiness — by placing matters in the inept hands of our cheflings. Actually, the HK Wedding stunt proved way more interesting than I expected, if only because it gave us 1) a supermarket sweep, where the two teams had 30 minutes and $100 to plan a tasting menu of one appetizer and two entrees, and 2) our first look at what sorts of dishes the contestants might cook once they’re out of the pea risotto ghetto. (Ghetto: as in where Rock says Rock is from, by way of explaining why Rock is such a talented bargain shopper. Of course, Ghetto Shopping Master Rock had no comment as to why Rock and the rest of the boys came in $37 over budget at checkout.)

Back at the restaurant, groceries in hand, the men set about putting their master plan for male domination into practice — and the girls started to crumble. ”You’re supposed to listen to me, not Bonnie,” barked Melissa to Julia, while putting the Waffle Queen’s perfectly cooked duck back in the oven to die (a move that would perhaps become her fatal mistake). Outbursts like this continued, while Bonnie chanted ”I am above all this” to herself and Rock lurked behind the walk-in door, rubbing his hands together and murmuring ”Argue, Hell’s Bitches…yesssss.” It was kind of brilliant, and led up to the moment when Chef Ramsay asked the two teams to present their dishes. ”Did you use the time wisely?” he asked. All four girls answered, ”No, chef.”

Melissa even went so far as to try to physically keep one of their entrees from appearing before the C&C Wedding Factory, but to no avail. And so despite the fact that the boys’ crab salad, the ladies’ sea bass with bacon-soaked collard greens (uh, YUM), and the boys’ rib-eye landed on the reception menu, all anyone’s gonna remember is the girls’ overcooked chunk of duck, presented cat food style, sans garnish. Better yet, in her struggle to keep everyone from seeing that quacking mess, Melissa managed to do nothing but draw Chef Ramsay’s attention squarely upon herself — at one point, I actually thought he might attempt to sever her vocal cords with a fork. Wisely eschewing violence, Gordon apologized to C&C for making them sweat, and the rest of the girls declared a mutiny. Meanwhile, the men trotted off to get massages.

The girls were punished by having to stay up all night and decorate the restaurant under the supervision of Central Casting’s ”Wedding Planner” (Selection #26 on your Stereotype Menus, kids), who gayed about in a headset and draped everything in chiffon. Far more interesting was the dark side of Bonnie, which finally appeared while the girls were packing party favors. ”What happened to you??” she asked Meldawg, who was still condescendingly running her mouth. Not content with Cavegirl’s answer, the nanny grunted maybe the season’s best line so far: ”Who cares! Just put the mints in the mesh!” I like Bonnie with balls.

I also like Jen with balls, and that’s exactly what we got during tonight’s service. After four weeks of playing runner-up in the ongoing Aaron Memorial Whimper-off, our friend the pastry chef finally showed a little leadership, successfully plating dish after dish while Melissa — who’d already pissed off Rock during prep and been hollered at multiple times by Ramsay (”You’ve turned into a right little bitch!”) — just legitimately started to suck at everything. Her no-good very bad day culminated in a trip across the kitchen to the men’s side to steal some sauce (as she’d ruined her own), and Gordon letting fly with one particularly juicy, ”Piss off, will you, you little sabotage?”

Other important service moments: Julia got complimented for tasting everything (and didn’t know it was a compliment); Josh still cannot cook risotto; Jean-Phillippe, god bless him, slyly sent the snippy ”Wedding Planner” up to complain to Ramsay at the pass; and miraculously, on this most special of days, everyone was served, and everyone left happy. I can’t figure out how the inconsistency happens on this show. Last week they literally could not boil spaghetti right, this week they’re whipping out desserts. I look to you, buffalo snackers, for explanation.

Anyway, the boys win, Jen is named best of the worst, and there’s an agonizing moment where her sweetness almost returns — but instead, she goes all hard-ass and nominates BFF Bonnie alongside Meldawg for the chopping block. And that’s when Chef Ramsay pulled the ultimate fake out: ”Melissa, give me your jacket…and put this blue one on! Whee!!” Okay, he didn’t say ”Whee!!” — and trust me, Rock’s face in that moment also did not say ”Whee!!” — but there was a small bit of relish in his voice as he declared Melissa’s new home on Team Boy to be her ”very last chance.” I sure as hell hope so — and I hope Rock takes her down, ghetto-style. I’m not sure what that would entail, but I look forward to finding out.

What do you think, my little croutons? Will the women crash and burn without the ”leadership” of Melissa, or will they finally fuse together into Kitchen Voltron? Is there any way Brad could get less interesting? How many more promotional opportunities for the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa will it take before they’ve cemented my desire to never, ever go there? And do you sort of wish Hell’s Kitchen was 10 minutes longer every week? Fox knows you do — which is why they’re running outtakes online (click ”Beyond Hell”). Check in over there this week to hear Julia utter the immortal phrase, ”Are you gonna follow a crackhead to the crackhouse?” +5 for anyone who correctly guesses who she’s talking about…and no, it’s not Rock, you racialists. Jeez. You probably thought the collard greens were her idea, too, didn’t you. DIDN’T YOU.

Episode Recaps

Hell's Kitchen
Gordon Ramsay verbally abuses wannabe chefs. Bon appetit!
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