Episode Report Card
Mr. Sobell: C | Grade It Now!

Graham saunters up for his turn to taste the two dishes. Sheetal's dish is traditional -- "My take is not traditional," David says. Or that appetizing, the recapper says, eyeing that charbroiled crust with a disdainful glare. Graham finds Sheetal's pie "beautiful in its simplicity" and thinks the crust is amazing. Graham warns David that his not-really-a-pie pie better be the most orgasmic experience ever. It's not. The crust is thick, the apple thin, and while it tastes more delicious than it apparently looks, Graham would prefer another piece of Sheetal's pie. So we're all tied up, as if there any doubt.

That means it all comes down to Sheetal's traditionally-prepared veal Milanese and David's apparent affront to God and nature and Mario Batalli. Joe pokes at his food a bit, and asks the contestants a few questions before tucking in. Sheetal's is cooked "almost perfectly," Joe says. "It's very, very finely seasoned." And David's? Well, it's so thick, which is decidedly not traditional. "This is a truly difficult decision," Joe says, because the producers have apparently decided we have not strung the tension out far enough. And one lengthy commercial break later, Joe finally picks the dish that shows "tradition combined with technique and innovation." That'd be David's veal, in case you found Joe's verbal gymnastics unbearably opaque.

This, by the way, is one of my major beefs with MasterChef. Take a show like Top Chef, where the editing is so precise and well-thought-out that when the judges announce their decision, it's like an affirmation of the conclusion you've already reached on your own. Now contrast that with MasterChef, which is so enamored with drawing out the suspense and keeping you guessing that the judgments seem contrived and out of left field and not all that clear. It really makes the show a slog, if you want my opinion. But at any rate, David is our first finalist. And there was much rejoicing, at least among his friends and loved ones. And after a video tribute to crab-murderer Sheetal, we're on to the second of our two semi-final showdowns.

That'd be Lee and Whitney, in case you nodded off several hours ago. Hey, their relatives are here, too! (In fact, MasterChef even flew in Lee's mother all the way from Israel, which was only slightly more difficult than getting that turnip truck to haul Whitney's relatives in from Mississippi. So what will they be cooking over the next two hours? Sadly, as far as Whitney's concerned, it will not be possum. Joe challenges them to make chicken parmesan. Graham would like eggs Benedict. Gordon says he's looking for something with a "wow factor." If you've misplaced your Gordon-to-English dictionary, "wow factor" means "cheesecake." Lee winces. Whitney beams. Your recapper shrugs -- folks, the only thing I know about dessert is that I prefer to drink mine, and even I can make a credible cheesecake.

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