Somewhere it must make sense that, for an episode that lasted an inexplicable 75 minutes, the Top Chef challenges were reruns. Colicchio pops up early for the Quickfire -- relay race, two teams of four, repurposed from seasons past. Sides are drawn, and Spike, Dale, Lisa and Nikki compete against Richard, Stephanie, Andrew and Antonia in a whirlwind battle of knives: Supreming oranges, turning and cleaning artichokes, cleaning and filleting monkfish and making a quart of the dreaded mayonnaise. Although Lisa supremes a mean orange, Stephanie clinches a win for her team with her measured pour, her strong arm, and her well-whisked mayo. This makes Dale very, very, very angry.
While immunity is now a thing of the past, the winners do get an advantage in the next challenge. Forget restaurant wars -- this is wedding wars, with fourteen straight hours and five grand to cook for 125 guests each, with the Quickfire-winning team choosing for whom they cater -- bride or groom. Richard's balls select the bride, a meat and potatoes kind of gal. Nikki hits it off with the groom and his Italian tastes, but decides not to translate her lifetime of expertise into leadership.
During the difficult all-nighter, Dale over-extends himself, presumably hoping that the hardest worker on the losing team won't get sent home. Richard's micromanagement annoys Andrew. These poor people -- not only did they have the Quickfire, shopping, and the all-night cooking, they have to serve as well. It's all terribly exhausting, and I'm only watching. The judges proclaim the bride's side better and Richard's bossiness the winner (even though Stephanie took the proverbial cake -- it looked better but tasted worse than Lisa's homely groom's cake). Richard does a good turn by sharing the glory (and his Crate and Barrel gift certificate) with Stephanie. Spike and Dale goad each other into a pout-off at the judges' table, but it's Nikki who goes home for hanging around much longer than she should have.
Thank goodness for Bravo -- if they didn't rerun everything about 900 times, I'd be in big trouble, since my TiVo ate the recording of Wednesday night's 75-minute show. (It is not, I must admit, beyond the realm of possibility that in a haze of wishful thinking I sleep-deleted the episode, which is preferable to sleep-driving to Arby's for a sleep-binge, but still disturbing -- ah, Ambien.) The rerun, I see, is a standard 60 minutes, which I hope means they've edited the crap out of the episode, but in all likelihood simply means shorter commercial breaks -- let's find out!
Antonia's psyched that there are still four women left -- four men, four women, which is unusual for Top Chef -- usually there are more men left than women by this time. Nikki maintains that, as a woman, you have to be a fighter and a competitor -- which, of course, you don't if you're a man. Too bad Nikki seems incapable of taking her own advice. While I'd love to see a woman take top honors as well, I'm not sure who, out of these four, that would be -- it would have been Stephanie, but she's been a disappointment for the past few weeks (really, that tomato and peanut butter concoction seemed like a disaster). It's certainly not Lisa or Nikki, and I'm still not sold on Antonia. Come to think of it, I'm not sold on any of the guys either -- Richard's clearly the talent to beat, but he's such a tool. Oh, and goodbye Mark -- he was such a non-entity by the time he decamped for greener pastures that I won't miss him, although it seems that Andrew and Spike feel differently. They liked the mop-topped kiwi, but Spike, still in bed, asks Andrew if he's ready to move in, and it looks like those two will be just fine. That exchange was not in the version I'm watching, but I swear it was there in the extended remix -- unless the Ambien kicked in before I even took it -- which means they did cut the episode! Suddenly a TiVo accident seems like a brilliant strategy, although I hereby apologize for not capturing every fabulous moment of the lengthy original in my scintillating prose.
Surprise! Colicchio stands next to Padma, who is sporting the pinnacle of Civil War-era military fashion with a tricked-out slate gray jacket. No guest judge today. Padma explains that it's time to "up the ante," sounding like she's just eaten a handful of marbles. Upping the ante means no more immunity for Quickfire winners, as well as a reworking of two favorite challenges from season's past. Said reworkings require two teams of four, so knives are drawn (it's Team Fork and Team Spoon for those of you who care about such things, although the names have no significance whatsoever). It's Andrew, Richard, Stephanie and Antonia versus Dale, Nikki, Spike and Lisa (who, thankfully, has decided to wrap a bandana around her dirty, stringy mess of hair -- too bad she can't do the same with her face). Wow -- that is a huge mismatch. I wonder who will win!