Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Top Chef - Double Spoiler Alert /Cry me a River in Africa/Good vs. Evil

At long last, Restaurant Wars! Dale didn't deserve to win TC. But he deserved to make it into the top four.

I'm totally down with the fact that Bravo and the Magical Elves understand that women have been marginalized on this show for too long. But how could the judges overlook the fact that everywhere Lisa goes, a losing team follows?

Her attitude sucks, hard. And so does Dale's -but so then did Hung's, and Marcel's - and they won season three and came in second in season two, respectively. I thought it was about the food - that's what we always hear when a judgment comes down to the dispositions of the competitors. Lisa's dish was the worst of the worst. Bourdain said it himself - it is so.

I couldn't stop thinking about No Country for Old Men (SPOILER ALERT #2!) as I was watching tonight's episode. Anton Chirurgh, for all of his sociopathy, is endowed to the science of chance - he doesn't presume himself to be any more powerful than the toss of a coin. And that's precisely why he is more powerful than someone who, with the best of intentions, thinks he can change the course of nature after nature has made her decision. (Exactly what or who determines "nature" is a question to be addressed in another blog post, or a haphazardly constructed response paper addressed to the chairman of Liberal Studies at the New School for Social Research).

As soon as Lisa lost the determining coin toss to Dale, giving him the position of executive chef, I knew he was in trouble. That was one coin toss he should have liked to lose. With Antonia, Stephanie, and Richard on the opposing team, Dale/Lisa/Spike could only hope for a miracle to keep them off the chopping block. That miracle didn't happen. No surprises there.

However, the composite of Stephanie's umpteenth win was surprising indeed - unexpected enough to raise an eyebrow in the direction of a possible subversion of the holy Judge's Table Code. In seasons 1-3, the executive chef of the winning or losing Restaurant War team is categorically awarded the victor's spoils or the ultimate defeat, depending on where their team lands (read: Tre's untimely departure in Season 3). Stephanie's dishes were excellent, as they always are, but Antonia marched her team to victory - and the latter was given nary a nod. I was really disappointed when Stephanie didn't immediately offer to share her considerable winnings with Antonia. And I expect the editors felt the same way - how many times were we reminded that her wine tasting trip included herself "and the guest of your choice"? Richard wouldn't have thought twice about it. And until tonight, I would have expected the same from Stephanie.

It bugs me that the last sound bite from the losing team's faceoff with the Judges' Table was Lisa saying, "You're only as good as your leader." I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when Dale took the fall, but I was, in a bad way. It makes me wonder if Llewelyen was surprised, too. But I kind of dig that the Cohen Brothers never gave it up. Unlike someone we no longer know, Llewelyen never let us him see him cry.


Anonymous said...

I was really disappointed when Stephanie didn't immediately offer to share her considerable winnings with Antonia.

Do we know anything about Stephanie's personal life? How do you know she doesn't have a significant other that she would want to take on a trip to Europe? The gift certificate that Richard/Stephanie won was a lot easier to share with a fellow contestant than a trip to Barcelona.

LadyElaineFairchild said...

Hooray - I'm not the only one who takes Top Chef way too seriously. And you're right - a gift certificate is a much easier prize to share. I guess I was just hoping for an indication of gratitude/humility from Stephanie - especially since she is usually way cool. But for all we know it was just edited out.