Jami Lundborg
May 08, 2009 AT 05:37 PM EDT

Cue the horror movie music, shield your eyes, and mute your televisions…Lacey is back. Yes, I realize that she was only in this week’s episode for a brief five minutes or so, but the sight of those clueless doe eyes and the sound of that voice (that apparently only comes out in a whine) were more than enough to make me want to stab my eyeballs out with my mechanical pencil. But, it is not the first time this show has prompted thoughts of self-preservational violence, and it’s not likely to be the last. So I soldier on. Aside from the dreaded return of the booted chef, this week’s show was a fine finale lead-in — nothing explosive, but plenty of decent moments — fishy and otherwise.

Things started off with Paula and Danny celebrating their final-twostatus with a little champagne, provided by the Ramsanator himself. Thetwo sipped their bubbly into the wee hours of the morning, when theyshould have been preparing their restaurant plans. Whoopsie. The nextmorning Danny, looking like a poorly fed Tarzan, stood shirtless andbefuddled in the middle of the room while his voice-over told us it was“absolutely the wrong day to have a bad day,” which roughly translatesto “Crap! I’m totally hungover.” The hangovers proved to provide littlein the way of drama, however, and so the whole thing was a bitpointless.

The first step in creating their own personal restaurants for thefinale dinner service required that the chefs meet with thearchitect/designer to develop the style of their dining room. Danny, asI giddily mentioned last week, told the designer that he wanted mountedfishies in his dining room. The designer told him that he probablydidn’t want his restaurant to resemble a bait shop. Mmmm. But what’smore appetizing than a place where you can buy live earthworms inTupperware? Then Danny suggested that he wanted to call his restaurant“Velvet Hammer” or “Susan Marie” (the latter was his mother’s name.Aww). I’m pulling for “Velvet Hammer,” or perhaps “Cuddly Wrench” or“Plush Electric Screwdriver.” I would dine in any of those fabulouslynamed establishments.

Once the planning was done, Ramsay announced that they would betaking another trip to Atlantic City. To tend to their budding fakerestaurants while they’re gone, however, Ramsay provided “specialadvisors” to hold down the fort. Paula’s were her mom and sister.Danny’s were his dad (who, oddly, looks like a high school mathteacher) and girlfriend, whom he referred to as “my chick.” Um, comeagain? Is this Grease, or Hell’s Kitchen? Did Iunwittingly stumble into a DeLorean? I can feel the feminist word vomitcrawling up my throat, so I will quickly move on lest I bore/annoy you.

With the fake restaurants left in capable-ish hands, the chefsheaded off with Ramsay to Atlantic City where they were introduced to aroom of over 500 employees of the Borgata resort and asked if theywanted to, you know, just say a few words to everyone. No pressure. Ihave to believe that Ramsay gave them an off-screen indication thatthey would be addressing a packed house, because both spoke comfortablyand well in front of the crowd. Or perhaps both are simply cool andcollected in that situation, and, if so, color me impressed — I wouldhave run off the stage crying my little bum off. Once theirmini-speeches were done, Ramsay introduced them to the president of theresort. He then asked the big man to pick three dishes off each of thechefs’ menus and, naturally, the challenge called for them to preparethem. Again, no pressure. The chefs prepared the meals, then rejoinedRamsay on stage with the dishes. Each set of dishes had a differenttaster, and as expected (why shake things up now?) the first two setsresulted in a tie. The fact that the taster (who was himself a chef andshould have a more impressive culinary vocabulary) said only thatDanny’s dish was “yummy,” when he had used an actual sentence tocompliment Paula’s dish, and then went on to declare Danny’s better,was supremely annoying. Couldn’t he at least have added “in my tummy”?After a nail-biting trip to commercial Danny was deemed the winner.

The chefs returned to their fake restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen tocheck out the progress of their dining room decors. Danny got hismounted fish, as requested, which made his dining room look like a foodcourt cafe at Sea World. Or the basement of my childhood home. Iwouldn’t line up to eat in either. Anyhoo, once the decor was discussedand approved, Ramsay presented Paula and Danny with six domes housing“key ingredients” for their final dinner service. Ta-da! Under thedomes were the heads of Ben, Carol, Andrea, L.A., Gio, and…Lacey. Iknow I mentioned it briefly a bit earlier, but LACEY?! I realize thatshe’s back because she’s one of the later contestants to have beeneliminated, but we all know she survived as long as she did solely tosqueeze every last viable drop of drama from that endless well ofwhinery. I mean, we have Ben back…isn’t one insufferable thorn in myside enough? Couldn’t you have thrown me a bone Fox? I’ll prepare mypencils now…It’s gonna be a loooooong finale.

So Popwatchers, how do you feel about the eliminated contestantsbeing back in the kitchen? Which team is stronger? Who will take homethe win? And did you like Danny’s dining room?

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