Debbie from Tomball, Texas think last season's Curse of Casey has passed on to Antonia "The Black Hammer." Yes, that's her nickname, and no it's not because she's tight like MC, it's because she demonstrated a knack for eviscerating the competition. In other words, you go up against her, you go home. Yep, there's Nimma, and there's Valerie of Buh-lini, and there's Zoi and her rosemary-swamped mushrooms (as Antonia, sitting atop a cooler, does this wonderful Vishnu meets Robert Blake from Lost Highway arm/face thing). And there's a time card with Antonia's name on the top and the name of anyone she works with who then gets canned. "How did you do that?" wonders Andy, like an idiot. Valerie felt thrown under the bus by The Black Hammer, and some people think Antonia could win fan favorite.
Tiffany D., citizen of the universe, asks about the stew room, or, as Andrew puts it, "the fifth circle of hell," or "the dirtiest, nastiest bar ever with people you may or may not like," which, as the ensuing montage reveals, is sometimes awesome, and sometimes not. It's hot, there's Colicchio with a wig, and Ted with a boom, and anxiety begets giddiness and booze begets drunkenness and that all begets shenanigans (and a didgeridoo!), while the energy is slightly lower at the judges' table, where Padma wants full release, and Gail takes a nap. Judging, you see, and the commensurate stay in the stew room, lasts for hours -- five, six, eight, whatever -- and Gail is a woman who knows how to use her time wisely. Plus, it doesn't look like they've stashed a keg under the table.
Hey, says Andy. Hey! Weren't those judges, like, rilly mean this year? The predictable sequence that follows includes all the standard-issue Top Chef critiques, although there are a couple of gems, as Bourdain reprises "baby vomit with wood chips" and Rocco again likens Ryan to his dense gnocchi. Well, Brett from Boston (the one in Massachusetts, thank you very much), Spike thinks Bourdain is the most difficult judge to impress, a "culinary assassin" with a lethal tongue who can make you question your continued commitment to cooking. I wonder if there might possibly have been a more obvious answer. Andy, content with the trope, moves on to ask if there's anything the cheftestants would like to say to or ask the judges about their comments. Lisa, of course, takes the bait, wondering if the judges really thought her Soviet wedding cake was that ugly. I've heard it referred to as "muffin," but never cake," sister, but whatever blows your skirt up. And yes, it was hideous. Spike wonders how they could have forgiven Richard's salmon scales and sent home Zoi for her mushrooms. "Not everyone had scales on the salmon, but everyone had the mushrooms," replies Colicchio. And he'll stand by every decision he's been involved with, so lay off, man!