TV Recap

Stovetop Stuffing

On ''Hell's Kitchen,'' finalists Rock and Bonnie basically do nothing in a padded-out episode setting up next week's season finale

SEAFOOD FIGHT Bonnie's lobster and shrimp pasta beats Rock's chicken-and-crab cakes
Image credit: Kharen Hill
SEAFOOD FIGHT Bonnie's lobster and shrimp pasta beats Rock's chicken-and-crab cakes

''Hell's Kitchen'': On the back burner

Ah, my little pickled eggs, I have no idea what made me think tonight was the Hell's Kitchen season finale, but dammit, I did. And dammit, it wasn't. And once again, I am painfully reminded that when dealing with reality television, one should never question the producers' ability to squeeze filler out of even the most stubborn stone. Tonight's ep, in other words, was largely pointless.

Oh, sure, you got to see Rock's kids there at the beginning, and his conjugal question from last week was answered in the negative, thus foiling the dreams of anyone hoping for some Hell's Kitchen After Dark over on Showtime. We got more of your usual chefling banter, as Bonnie tried to convince Rock that she'd been using her adorable-bunny routine to fly under the radar all season, and Rock responded with a decent set of sound bites: ''Homegirl is smart....The whole thing is settin' up so I lose to a f---in' nanny.'' As the two prepared to run their own half restaurants, I couldn't help noticing that, indeed, the editing was giving a slight but firm edge to Bonnie. No doubt this is to throw us off the obvious fact that Rock is going to win...

...but does anyone else remember the first finale's restaurant-planning bits being far more exciting? I have these hazy memories of fabric swatches and costumed waitstaff and experimental dishes. Instead, now we get a short, clichéd brainstorming session — Bonnie likes things European and enjoys making pasta, Rock is all-American but can apparently only think up one dish and that's his ''signature dish,'' fried chicken and crab cakes, which, oddly, was not his ''signature dish'' earlier in the season when he served Chef Ramsay frozen gnocchi, but let's try not to focus too much on that, etc. — and then it was time for another Green Giant Garden and Farm commercial, as the two were whisked to Vegas.

After a short flight during which Chef Ramsay showed the cheflings a bunch of highlight clips using only his mind — and called Rock on his ''hissy fit,'' which I especially enjoyed — it was time to experience the class and splendor of the Green River Grunge Resort and Springs. After flipping out from seeing a video of themselves playing on a plasma screen in the hotel room (I worry what may happen once they realize they're on network TV), Rock and Bonnie wandered downstairs to meet Gordon for a quiet drink...but quiet drink nuthin'! It was time for a big hoo-ha in which the contestants were presented to a large, cheering group of what appeared to be strangers probably plied with liquor to leave the pai gow poker tables for a half hour. (''I felt like I was given a surprise party!'' shared Bonnie, which was a particularly savvy thing to say because she was!) Turns out it wasn't all fun and drunks — the finalists would have to work, one penultimate time. They were given a half hour to whip up their ''signature dish'' and present it to a ''world class'' panel of professional palates, including Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host Robin Leach (he's still alive?) and season 1 winner Michael Wray (he's still alive??). It was Bonnie's lobster and shrimp pasta vs. Rock's fried chicken 'n' crab cakes, and with the final vote coming down to the execs of Hidden Valley Ranch, the victory went to the nanny.

What'd she win? We'd have to wait to find out! First, the two finalists and Ramsay had one last cocktail on the roof of the Palms Hotel and Casino — now presumably as herpes free as they're gonna get it after filming two seasons of The Real World there — and Ramsay gave the kids each a trip to N.Y.C. to dine in his restaurant. And then it was back to HK, where they must be ready to start doing something resembling anything...but no! It's time to sit and eat-drink and jaw some more about how crazy it is that we're here in this competition.

''You got that killer in you, but you don't know how to finish,'' Rock said to Bonnie.

''It's the Last Supper,'' Bonnie responded. ''Who's Jesus and who's Judas?'' And on that incredibly conflicted metaphor, the prelude ended and we got down to business.

The next morning, Jen, Julia, Melissa, Brad, Josh, and Vinnie marched back into town. This particular reality-show convention jumped the shark about 900 Apprentices ago, so you know exactly what went down: There were awkward hugs and thinly veiled resentments all around, and then Julia just started flat-out crying. I'll be honest and say that burned off a little bit of the considerable goodwill she'd acquired up to this point. When Ramsay asked her what her high point was, she answered, ''The whole thing was a high point for me. Low point is...right now.'' It's her trademark honesty — and I'm sure she feels like the girl Cinderella borrowed those glass slippers from right now — but I'm hoping by next week she'll also regain her trademark dignity, 'cause her puffy-faced-toddler episode was just weird.

Anyway, turns out Bonnie's prize was the first pick of teammates (wow, totally did not see that coming at all), and she went with Jen. Rock picked Brad. Bonnie chose Cavegirl, whose soul patch has, thankfully, gone into remission. Rock picked Vinnie. Bonnie picked Julia, and then Rock was left with Josh. And that's that! The Battle of the Sexes returns! It's the most exciting finale ever! The Hell's Bitches are back! The boys burn things again! A number of people yell! Bonnie refers to herself in the third person at least once! The episode ended as abruptly as this TV Watch has! And by the end of next Monday, we will know who is getting the chance to maybe kinda run a restaurant in that one casino place with the unwieldy name, located ''only minutes away'' from the Strip in Las Vegas! Please post all of your most heartfelt emotions in the comment section below! I am sure you are full to bursting of pent-up passion after such a deeply empty hour of television! Let it out!

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Originally posted Aug 07, 2007
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