John Young
August 05, 2009 AT 02:49 PM EDT

Hey, PopWatchers. I’m taking over recap duties for Hell’s Kitchen, and I need to make a confession: This is my first season watching the show. Now, before you go all Ramsay on me, let me explain. Most cooking shows, with the exception of Food Network’s Good Eats, leave me cold. Ah, but I’ve noticed that Hell’s Kitchen is different. Here’s a show where the cooking is overshadowed by adrenalized speed, frequent verbal backstabbing, and some of the most clever swearing on television (for even juicier profanity, see the British satire In the Loop, which is currently in theaters). I’m still formulating an opinion, but so far Hell’s Kitchen has done enough to warrant my attention. Now let’s plunge into Episode 4.

Noticing the number of feuds brewing among the chefs, Ramsay, ever so wise, paired everyone off with a person who was outside of his or her comfort zone. You have to marvel at Tennille’s response to being partnered with Suzanne: “I have never disliked somebody that long for less than a millennium this much before in my life.” Read that again. Interpreted literally, the quote means that there’s someone Tennille has disliked for longer than a millennium. That’s one serious grudge. Also: How old is Tennille exactly?

As soon as Ramsay revealed that the team challenge would involve making sausages, it was only a matter of seconds before certain allusions reared their head. Ramsay asked those who hadn’t previously made sausages to raise their hands, and when none of the men did so, Sir Gordon quipped, “Gentlemen, clearly comfortable with your meats!” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Then Ramsay asked Van for the secret to making a delicious sausage. “To hold it steady, and pump it slow and easy,” Van replied. Once all of the sexual giggles had been dealt with, it was on to the task: The first team to make six strings of sausages would win. The red team easily won, beating the blue team 6-4. The guys’ punishment was to clean the dormitories, while the gals were whisked off to Huntington Beach’s Old World Village restaurant for Oktoberfest festivities.

The next day, “Mr. Monotone” Dave learned that the wrist he sprained during Episode 3 was actually fractured and would require a long-arm cast for two weeks, thereby preventing him from using his left thumb. After discussing the situation with Ramsay, Dave decided to stay in the competition. The two people you heard cheering were Dave’s parents. And did the show’s producers really have to send Dave to the hospital to get his cast right before dinner service? Couldn’t it have waited?

During dinner, we were treated to the following blunders: Jim spent an excessive amount of time chatting with the customers while serving the amuse-bouche; Tek’s capellini was much too salty for celebrity guest John O’Hurley; Lovely had trouble remembering the orders; and Ramsay called Andy a “first-class f—up” for repeatedly failing to cook a serve-able lamb dish. The blue team won by finishing first.

When Ramsay told the red team that they were “beaten by the sides,” Suzanne jumped in and asked the chef for a “play by play on that.” Ramsay didn’t enjoy that comment very much, but I don’t really see the issue here. Suzanne was simply asking for Ramsay’s opinion on where the red team went wrong. Sure, she could have thought of a gentler way to ask the same question, but her intention was reasonable. Moving on, Ramsay picked Sabrina as the “best of the worst” on the red team, and she nominated Lovely and Tek for elimination. Ramsay ultimately selected Lovely to leave, calling her “more laid back than an ironing board.” It was the right choice, as Lovely seemed utterly befuddled throughout the entire dinner service. And, besides, Tek is one of my favorites on the show simply for the fact that she comes across as thoughtful and considerate. Unlike practically every other contestant, she isn’t eager to criticize her colleagues’ mistakes.

What about you, PopWatchers? Have you selected your favorite contestants yet? And loyal Hell’s Kitchen viewers: Are you still digging Ramsay’s profane mouth, or has it become passé by now?

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