God. Casey should start drinking now. Lots. Start with my cocktail. It has three different kinds of alcohol for a complete and healthy hangover.
The judges deliberate and rehash. It's clearly between Dale and Hung, and all that's left is to decide between the two. Casey didn't have a single dish that outshone the other two. At one point in the questioning, it seemed that she might have come close with her Howie beef, but now they don't even discuss it and they edge Dale's lamb over it. The judges debate the merits and problems with Dale's two and Hung's two.
In the back, Casey has gallows humor, "Maybe I should have just served peach with cardamom crème fraîche." Dale thinks that their final dishes were the best final dishes of all the Top Chef seasons.
More judicial debating.
Finally, the cheftestants are brought back out but it's SO STUPID! I expected Padma to be all, "And our decision is...to see you all in Chicago!" But no. Padma just says, "Well, congratulations on three fantastic meals. This is a really tough call, but we've made our decision. One of you...is Top Chef." The music gets all Crocodile Dundee when Linda Kozlowski is hiding in the bushes, taking pictures of the men-only Aboriginal version of So You Think You Can Dance and we zip over to Chicago. Live. Everyone is wearing exactly what they wore in Aspen, because Bravo wants us to believe that it has the only transporter outside of Star Trek. And, as of the finale, Eureka. Seriously -- what are they trying to do when they pretend it's exactly the same night with exactly the same clothes? They even talk about the food as though they just had it A FEW HOURS AGO! Like Padma is still flossing tough slivers of extra-dry pork belly out of her gums? Why Bravo, WHY? We're all grown-ups here and I think -- I THINK! -- we can handle the fact that the LIVE broadcast was filmed several months/weeks/days/whatever AFTER the Aspen finale. I don't know why I'm so exercised over this, but it's like, I DON'T BELIEVE IN THE TOOTH FAIRY ANYMORE SO WHY WOULD I FALL FOR THIS?! Padma calls the cheftestants out of their holding pen and makes them stand there while we go to commercial. Again.
Back from commercial, the judges go down the line and hand out their personal compliments. At least, Ted and Gail hand out compliments -- and Gail flubs hers on live TV, which shouldn't make me giggle but it does and I'm going to hell -- but Colicchio just says, "Well, you've all seen the show -- what do you think?" Dale says that he cooked his heart out and he's happy with his performance: "No matter what happens, every single one of these people won." The crowd applauds. Aw -- Dale's a Big Gay Sweetie! Moving on to Casey, who says, "Uh, I saw the show, yes I did. Um...you know, I guess what makes a top chef is that they can cook every meal precisely and beautifully and this just wasn't my challenge and I accept that and I did remind them over the break that I was kicking their ass for awhile! So!" The crowd applauds. Hung says, "I saw the show; I've never been so nervous before! We were screaming, we were holding onto each other, but we're all great chefs here, we're all in better positions than we were six months ago, and I'm proud of being here." "And we're proud of you," Casey tells Hung. He bows in thanks. It's almost as if SHE KNOWS!