It's the Gosselins' 100th episode and the culinary live wire that is Emeril Lagasse is even around to spice things up. So why don't things feel all that happy around here?

By Aly Semigran
Updated June 08, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Jon & Kate Plus Eight

  • TV Show

When tonight?s guest star/TV tie-in Emeril Lagasse said that he didn?t know how TLC’s pop culture gang of eight (and their parents) had made it through 100 episodes, an increasingly-subdued Jon replied with a weary, ?I don?t either.? That right there seemed to be the tone for Jon in this benchmark, though not entirely celebratory, 100th episode of Jon & Kate Plus Eight.

Before the opening credits even began to roll, we saw Kate…on the couch…alone. Again. She matter-of-factly told us to not ask any questions about said predicament, just that ?it?s called rolling through life.? She wasn?t kidding either. The minuscule moment was the only one on the couch for the entire episode; it?s no secret that Jon and Kate are spending as little time together as possible. Happy 100, gang!

But awkward tension isn?t the only common thing on J&K these days. Not unlike last week?s visit to Ace of Cakes (only this time with Jon) the Gosselins got a visit from another likable food/TV personality in the form of Lagasse. Jon explained that the entire family ran into the ?Bam!? man on an elevator. While I don?t doubt the elevator encounter happened, it?s just ever so convenient that he wanted to make a meal for the family right around the time of their notable episode.

Emeril isn?t at fault here though (the guy is downright delightful and knows what he?s doing on television), he just stepped in at an awfully rough time and no amount of green bean casseroles is going to fix it. Still, he carried on and recruited Jon, Kate, and the kids to help him make the casserole, as well as chili mac, granola, and organic brownies. Emeril asked Kate how handy Jon is in the kitchen, and Kate snapped back with her ever-so-friendly demeanor, ?Not so much.?

As if on cue for some much needed comic and cuteness relief, the wee Gosselins arrived in the kitchen to help with food preparation. Emeril (or ?Emrow? as the peanut gallery pronounced it) gave the kids beans to snap before telling us at home that we should cook ?healthy and economical? meals. Sound advice. Now, when are you going to say ?Bam!??

Before the commercial break, the producers opted to throw in some very, very brief moments from the past hundred episodes. It happened a few more times before the show?s end and the closing out with a montage. Yes, some of the moments were in fact very cute; it just felt sort of sad given the family?s current state. Did it make you miss Jon & Kate of years past as much as it made me?

Back in the kitchen, Kate continued to sling barbs at Jon. She mockingly asked, ?Do you know where the oven is?? After Jon stuck up for his reheating skills and copping to knowing where the timer is, Kate responded with an unimpressed ?Wow!? And just as we thought we couldn’t possibly take more pity on Jon, they stuck the guy with copious amounts of garlic to peel.

The kids, still seemingly oblivious (lucky!) to what was going on in the kitchen, had their own lunch and did what they?re supposed to do: Play with it! While Joel boasts about his knowledge of strawberries (?They grow in the grass?) the others wear their lunch meat on their face. It looked like a cute imitation of Hannibal Lecter, which is a seemingly impossible feat, but then again, these kids could make just about anything adorable.

NEXT: Someone (sort of) stands up to Kate

I was just about to come around to the episode when Kate, who kept mentioning that she found Jon?s garlic peeling quite amusing, made sure to get in one more swipe. When she told Emeril and viewers ?This is the most I?ve seen him do in the kitchen in my life,? didn?t you just want to scream at her to just thank him for the work he was doing? It also doesn?t bode so well for her argument when the episode that directly followed tonight?s was a rerun in which Jon cooked an entire traditional meal for his family. Bam!

But Emeril, the consummate professional and nice guy that he is, wasn?t going to let bad vibes or Kate?s bossiness take over the kitchen. He allowed cameramen far into the kitchen (Kate has never let them past the kitchen islands, neither in this house nor the old one) but they were shooed away pretty quickly. Things really came to a boil (oh, food puns, thank you for making my life so much easier) when Kate scolded Jon for improperly scooping out casserole. And for what is quite possibly the first time ever on this series (maybe this 100th was rather seminal after all) someone, namely Emeril, told to Kate to ?leave him alone.? Of course, rather than oblige she swatted Emeril with a spatula. Valiant effort nevertheless, Em.

In a moment of cross-promotion, we also got a little glimmer of hope, oddly enough. The kids noticed all the cooking products in the kitchen with Emeril?s name and face plastered all over them. They seemed perplexed that he could be on a product and be in their home at the same time. And for the time being, that oblivion to fame and products gives me a little bit of comfort for these kids who seem to be omnipresent pop culture figures.

Their precociousness continued in the backyard as Collin rode his bike with no handlebars (declaring that it is ?magic?) while some of the others did their best Emeril imitation and pretended to cook with dirt and the Aaden-concocted ?broccoli rocks.?

Once they all went inside for a meal, it was nice to see the effect Emeril has on the kids (they tell him he?s funny and thank him for the food) and it was also a relief to see the family calmly share a meal together, even if it was a fleeting moment. But all this sweetness still tasted a little bitter to me. Before the episode?s end Kate had everyone celebrate the fact that it was their 100th episode, which would have been fine if she hadn?t once berated Jon for referring to a period of time in their lives as a season. But, ’tis the name of Kate?s game. I guess after 100 episodes I should be way more used to this.

Honestly, thanks to a bit of clever editing we were left to wonder if Jon’s monotone answer of “degrading,” when Kate asked ?How?s it going over there?? in the kitchen, wasn’t a more all-encompassing feeling. Maybe in any other season this episode wouldn?t have felt so frustrating (the cross-promotional tie-ins are getting way tiresome and the fact that next week?s episode features the crew from American Chopper certainly isn?t going to remedy that) but right now it felt far too awkward and joyless, despite a spirited Emeril?s best efforts.

What do you think, TV Watchers? Am I being too harsh about this episode and do you agree with Ken Tucker?s take that it was, in fact, pretty cheery after all? Are you not feeling this season?s new tone or are you ready for 100 more?

Episode Recaps

Jon & Kate Plus Eight

  • TV Show
  • In Season