The last six French it up
The smiling assassin Jaques Reymond ... MasterChef
As we enter the second week of Masterchef 2012, the competition reaches the most crucial stage of all: rehashing what happened in the first week of Masterchef 2012. "Now that I have another chance, nothing can stop me now," said Emma, displaying a woeful comprehension of the laws of causation.
Insert food pun here ... MasterChef
In the battle for the last six aprons, the amateurs are headed to the South Melbourne markets. Knowing there are only six aprons left makes Yukio want it even more – he's one of those snobbish types who doesn't like anything unless it's rare. We get a glimpse at the background of Kath, who is an art gallery director, which seems far too fulfilling a job for a MasterChef contestant.
"This is former contestant Marion," says Emma, but actually it is just a small box of red curry paste. Emma has clearly gone mad, and believes that tiny pictures of people are the actual people. She goes on to tell the story of the time Matt Preston came round to her house to wipe up some spills.
After the market, it is time for the contestants to go to a castle, where they meet Jacques Reymond, who is of course famous as the man who invented Frenchness and gave Manu Feildel the idea of doing a fake accent. He tells the contestants they have to respect some things, but nobody knows what they are because he is utterly incomprehensible. "I could listen to Jacques's French accent all day," confides Emma, but they edit out the bit where she added, "and still not have the slightest idea what the hell he's talking about".
Easily excitable or gleefully gloating? ... MasterChef
Preston informs them that this castle is where the Holy Grail was rumoured to be hidden, although the theory that the Grail was ever taken to regional Victoria is heavily disputed among scholars.
The contestants have 90 minutes inside the castle to make something French, and they immediately begin panicking themselves into a lather. Emma is cooking her patented twitchy macarons, probably "the most important dish of her life" – her nerves are understandable given she's apparently been made the lead character in the show, and the ratings now depend on her and her charismatic beanie. Kath, meanwhile, is going more savoury and making a bunch of random things in a pot. "This is very wrong," Jacques tells her, and we cut to a commercial before Kath can hit him. We thus have a chance to ponder the eternal question, "Why are porridge people switching to Quaker Oats?" We may never get an answer to this question – or to the question of who the porridge people are and what fate they have in store for we puny humans.
Back at the castle, the contestants have yet to find the last resting place of Christ's cup, but Kath and Jacques continue their battle of wills over whether bouillabaisse should be placed in a food processor, or thrown in a bin and replaced with a quarter pounder.
The star of the episode outshone by a previous star on a box ... MasterChef
Meanwhile, up above, those who already have their aprons and have been inexplicably brought along, cheer and clap for no apparent reason. It's certainly not for Mario, whose belief that he is making duck a l'orange is exposed as a cruel and absurd delusion by Reymond's ruthless Gallic tongue. George and Gary are also going around giving advice, but they aren't French, so why anyone would take them seriously is beyond me.
Filippo is making three dishes, a decision that Preston questions, but all three are necessary for him to conceal the remains of his last victims completely. The judges gather for some quiet bitchy comments. Jacques undergoes an intense erotic episode thinking about Emma's macarons, and then bravely admits to his primal fear of Mario's duck. Emma, meanwhile, can't decide how to pronounce "macaron" – will this indecision cost her in this French challenge, which is after all 50% pronunciation?
It is announced that there are ten minutes to go, and the spectators, who are big fans of temporal measurement, go wild.
Mario sweats on the decision ... MasterChef
Kath allows Yukio to taste her bouillabaisse, and Yukio advises her to add a bit more spice, advice that Kath stupidly follows, not realising just how far Yukio is willing to go to crush his enemies.
Jacques and Matt have returned to speak to Filippo, who is obsessively making more and more dishes, prey to a terrible compulsion. Then we return to the ad break already in progress, due to this year's "ratings through pissing everyone off" policy.
There are only three minutes to go, and the crowd is absolutely berserk – single-figure numbers are especially exciting to them. Audra looks down on her rivals' efforts with a look of cold hatred. Once they have their aprons she will crush them. Meanwhile George offers the handy tip that dropping one's food is inadvisable. This is almost as helpful as his butter ad.
Blink and you miss him, an anonymous reject ... MasterChef
And time is up! The crowd cheers. The contestants embrace, believing they have achieved something for some reason. Emma is in tears, following the time-honoured principle that everybody loves the girl who cries for no good reason.
First up for tasting is Mindy, who has made something called "A Taste of Normandy", consisting of Viking blood and wrongful conquest. Jacques tells her she has achieved "total harmony" in her dish, because he's French and can't just tell us how it tastes.
Next up is Kath, who continues her passive-aggressive sniping at Jacques, and is made to suffer the judges' vicious barbs at her untidiness. Jacques likes it, although George is worried about the amount of hair in the dish. Kath allows him to believe this is mussel-beard, rather than the hair that was left after she plunged her head into the pot to taste it earlier.
Blinked and she missed out, another anonymous reject ... MasterChef
In comes Mario, who is deeply disappointed in what he persists in calling duck a l'orange. Gary's parsnip is really hard, although this seems to hardly be the time to bring this up, Gary.
It IS the perfect time, however, to consider the low prices at K-mart, where all female lunatics go to suffer price-related seizures.
Back in the Castle du Fireball, Reymond reminds Mario of the reservations he had about his dish, but then delivers a shocking truthbomb, revealing "I love it". He finds the duck delightful, and doesn't even care about Gary’s hard parsnip.
Aftermath of a terrible chopping challenge accident ... MasterChef
Next we have Karen, who I don't recognise at all and therefore think will probably be going home. She's made something called Shoe a la Rose, which sounds unappetising, and we move quickly on, not wanting to dwell on the unpleasantness. We then brush equally briefly over an equally unrecognisable contestant, who has tragically overcooked his hero, a plucky lobster.
Dom has stuffed her chicken wings, but in how many senses? She can't pronounce French words, and therefore has her score halved automatically. Also her sauce tastes like foie gras, which George finds funny as hell. Matt questions her maturity – MasterChef is no place for greenhorns.
Next is Filippo, who has made a pissaladiere and cherry clafoutie, as a warning to those who would cross him. He has left his bread behind, because let's face it, it's just bread. He cuts up the dish and serves it to a dramatic string score that really hammers home just how many terrible crimes he committed to prepare it. Reymond finds the clafoutie disgraceful, and thinks the pissaladiere has good points and bad points – the bad points being that "pissaladiere" isn't actually a thing, it's just an obscene word that Filippo made up.
Just the beginning, Yukio ... MasterChef
And here is Emma, star of The Emma Show. She has presented three macarons for the four judges – will her inability to count cost her dearly? Jacques finds the macaron "not bad at all", which is OK, since he has established himself as a man who will tell you straight out if he thinks you're a piece of crap. Emma reveals that she is not sure because the judges said things that made her not sure. If they hadn't said those thing she'd be more sure but since they did she’s not.
Next, some guy we'll never see again, and then another one, whose fifteen minutes of fame will be Jacques Reymond telling him "you've destroyed this completely". Glad we got that out of the way. And then up steps Yukio, and the tension is so high we have to quickly consider how Nina is going to deal with the revelations of Patrick's dark side.
Back to the castle, where we will discover whether Yukio will have a hysterical crying fit of joy, or a hysterical crying fit of despair. Like all people who saw that guy cook something in paper that one time on MasterChef, Yukio has cooked something in paper, accompanied by what appears to be a small bundle of grass. Jacques thinks the fish is working nice, but the scallop is a disaster. George says "well done on the julienne vegetables", the MasterChef equivalent of "apart from that how did you like the play, Mrs Lincoln?"
MasterChef 2012 Top 24
The MasterChef judges - Gary, Matt and George
Now we have Deb, who has made an elderly-looking tart with a garnish of background hi-hat. Jacques adores the tart. Gary adores the tart even more, spouting random adjectives in his excitement.
Finally, the moment of truth is here. Who will be tossed onto the culinary scrapheap like an undercooked squab, and who will ride on to the glory of being eliminated in the early stages of the final 24?
The first shock announcement is that Deb's dish that everyone had orgasms over has got her through. Next is Filippo, whose technical flaws have been overcome by his will to win and whispered threats. Gary notes that Filippo "loves making bread", which I suppose means something. And then Mindy, who gets the mixed blessing of an apron and a hug from Filippo.
George proceeds to eat up a bit more airtime by explaining how much six minus three is. The castle then explodes, and we are transported to the world of cosmetics. Designer Brands will tick all YOUR boxes!
Back to the castle, where the contestants have miraculously survived the fire, and George is still talking slowly. The next apron goes to Kath, whose ability to decipher Reymond's accent has stood her in good stead.
Preston explains there are two aprons left, because nobody was paying much attention for the last ten minutes. The next apron goes to Mario, whose inept cooking has been compensated by his innate ability to irritate viewers.
And then the final apron – will it be Yukio, or Emma, or one of the people we've never heard speak? Who knows? Against all expectations, it is Emma, the girl who has taken up about half of the on-screen time of this episode! Nobody saw this coming! "I need to get my tear ducts removed," Emma giggles, but seriously she really does. The remaining six are then forced to walk home.
We get a brief glimpse of Yukio saying "this is just the beginning". I don’t think he understands this show. It's actually the end, Yukio. THE END.
Of course we then get a sneak peek at tomorrow's episode, where the contestants must "put themselves on a plate" – a challenge for Filippo, who is more used to cooking other people.
This week they will also get to walk on a street, and arm-wrestle Matt Moran, but perhaps their biggest challenge will be cooking off against Kiefer Sutherland. Wait I think maybe the show's over now.
Ben is the author of Superchef – A Parody, published by Allen and Unwin.