Gone for good: Jenna and Joanna go home.
Welcome to the second of three episodes of My Kitchen Rejects, the programming equivalent of a DIY carport leaning precariously against the side of an otherwise glamorous home, which serves only to reduce the overall value.
This is the I Can't Believe It's Not MKR sideshow in which the eliminated contestants whose lawyers couldn't get them out of it come back to a cooking purgatory where one of them may one day get to re-enter the competition.
As though it was in any way the same show, the MKR voice gives us an update on what happened last time on My Kitchen Rules.
To be fair though, this is a segment that now holds genuine value as a quarter of the audience have buggered off to watch The Voice and we learn that in Perth on Wednesday, the cupcake queens gave it all they had ... and were thusly eliminated as tear soup with a side of self-pity lacked a certain something.
The producers, assuming you have sustained a brain injury in the last week, know that you're shocked to discover they haven't really been eliminated, because all of seven days ago we discovered it is near impossible to get kicked off this show without using curry powder.
Jenna and Joanna join Mick and Matt, and Angela and Melina, in the place that cooking forgot, Colin Fassnidge's experiential dining restaurant, where the experience is choosing how much to pay to watch what you believe has to be performance art.
Colin gives them all an hour-and-a-half to cook a test menu that is to be served at a restaurant quality. Note that is "a" restaurant. My First Kitchen from Mattel is a restaurant right?
Colin says if their test menus are restaurant quality he'll let them cook tonight, but then spoils the fun by admitting only one of the teams can be eliminated, and there's no circumstance under which the customers are saved from themselves and told to just go home.
Jenna and Joanna choose duck because they've never cooked it before in the competition and also because whenever Jenna goes to a restaurant the first thing she looks for is duck. This is all very Leunig to me.
Mick and Matt are cooking cray tails with abalone mash, followed by a meringue roulade and frankly they're sounding competent so we'll just move on ...
... to Angela and Melina. Who aren't.
They're making veal saltimbocca which apparently means an "an explosion in your mouth" and they hope to create exactly that: an explosion in Colin's mouth. Though with his accent it will sound like an exploooshun.
The tedium of cooking with a guitar riff soundtrack is soon interrupted by a bit of bickering over who is using and opening the oven. Oven sharing turns out a lot like house-sharing: prone to arguments that are best not presented as interesting for anyone else to watch. In fact if this could just be reduced to post-it notes on the fridge it could only be more entertaining.
Joanna takes a moment to explain how she has learned so much every day in the MKR kitchen, particularly about coping with pressure. Jenna nods in the way of someone who doesn't understand a word she's saying, or possibly even speak the same language ... before she crumbles under the pressure of getting her nod right and bursts into tears.
Angela is stuffing her artichokes and ... oh look you can make your own jokes out of that one.
Mick and Matt have moved on to advanced level baseless drama creation. Matt proceeds to execute every step of preparing his roulade pretty darn well, which is pretty darn obvious from the footage, but the boys try pretty darn hard in retrospective narration to suggest it was all almost a disaster.
Joanna realises she's running out of time while Angela realises she's gone off like an advertisement for nasal sprays and has dressed her salad far earlier than she meant to.
Around about now, blow-by-blow instalments of the cooking become entirely redundant, as watching wildly inept people be wildly inept is wearing a bit thin. Suffice it to say, Mick is confident about his cray tails, Jenna and Joanna are yelling at each other while not crisping their duck skin, Melina says it's ok that their dish looks bad because its traditional ... and time's up. Colin agrees with that last point, as Angela and Melina are to plating what a carsick child is to leather upholstery, then Colin complains that eating artichoke peasant style is hard work and moves on.
Mick and Matt have gone seriously down the rustic route says Colin, and proves that he is to comedy what a carsick child is to the people trapped in the car with him by asking if they want him to eat the roulade or jump over it.
Finally he says that Jenna and Joanna's dish was, on paper, a winner. However he wanted sauce and they instead served the duck up in what looked like a crime scene.
Colin stands the teams in a line and explains that he's not sure they all "deserve to go true tonight" thankfully this isn't an episode of My Kitchen Polygraph, so we move on.
Ok, that's my last accent joke, I promise.
"I'm only going to let through the teams I think will perform and will get great food out tonight" says Colin, and if you didn't predict it already, or if you quite reasonably changed channels on the assumption that meant the show was over, he means they're all cooking tonight.
Melina says this is a mind twist and like being in a bad relationship. Which is ironic, as I'm pretty sure Australia just said "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"
After the break, the teams explain what's going on tonight – they cook, someone goes home – but not why tonight is happening at all. Then they head back to the kitchen to do exactly what we've already seen, only with the sort of economies of scale that really facilitate panic, stress and a race to be the first to screw up.
And the winner is: Jenna!
Her crème patissiere is in fact sweet scrambled eggs and that, she says, is her "worst nightmare". She gets the patissiere right the second time though, because she "shows it love and it shows me love back" and that image has officially updated my worst nightmare. Jenna and Joanna are serving their fiasco with a side order of crumble tonight as they convince themselves there isn't time to do all that they had planned, so Jenna reluctantly agrees to leave her crying until after service. Meanwhile, season two of Four's A Crowd, the wacky oven-based sitcom that takes place on the other side of the kitchen has started up and it's about as funny a use of an oven as Sylvia Plath's. We jump back to the other side of the kitchen to see that Jenna and Joanna's policy of talking themselves out of success is working well as Colin announces 30 minutes to go and Jenna amps up her insecurity to self-destruction levels.
If there's one thing less interesting than watching Jenna wobble her lower lip then I'd be interested in flicking over to it, but before you can say "no seriously, who took the freaking remote?" Jenna and Joanna take a "finished" plate over to Colin and suggest they may improve their plating technique by adding micro-herbs. He instead suggests they improve their plating, by plating it in the manner of someone with eyesight. He re-assembles ... well assembles the food on a second plate and Joanna stares at him as though he is some sort of alien creature. He is. He's a chef.
Customers arrive and Mick is upset none of them have ordered the crayfish.
Then, hold on to your hats, people order the crayfish. I'm just glad I was here to witness this.
The passive aggressive championships that were the oven time-share have now progressed to amateur clock-watching as Melina and Mick debate the minutiae of minutes.
Then Pete and Manu arrive, yes they actually walk in the door, and it is so monumentally interesting by comparison to what has gone before that the editors use some heavy bass-filled rap anthem as their soundtrack.
When you're making Pete and Manu look like gangstas, you need to get back to the treehouse and work on your club's intimidation tactics. Joanna holds up the service for the VIPs, but before any drama accidentally breaks out, the gangstas get their grub. Word.
Pete and Manu think Angela and Melina's veal is dry but impressive, Mick and Matt's cray dish is the best abalone they've had in the competition for which they'd pay top dollar, while Jenna and Joanna's duck is cooked beautifully and is of restaurant quality. They mark it 10 out of 10, though not actually, because this spin-off competition doesn't have scores. Or competition. Or really much to speak of. The duck is a fantastic foundation for Jenna to build her dessert on. Which she would do, if it wasn't a liquid. Unsurprisingly, Colin's not happy. He wants a bowl. Sadly, he doesn't give this to Jenna and tell her to go beg for whatever she can get with her tears, instead he shows Jenna how to plate, well bowl up her tart-shake. She says it looks like Strawberry soup in a bowl. The customers, those poor bastards who are served this mess sum it up even better: it looks like breakfast cereal. This makes sense really, it is clear that the title Dessert Queen is like King Willy Weetie, it's an honorific that bears no relation to Jenna's ability to, say, actually make dessert.
Colin sends Matt and his meringue back as it's on a hot plate, not a cold plate, and this is the edge of your seat stuff that you can only dream of seeing this time next week.
Jenna starts shouting out random time allotments – two seconds, 30 seconds – before getting the next tart out of the fridge. Colin wants to know if it's set. Joanna wants to know if it's set. Even we, the audience, are vaguely curious if it is set. Jenna keeps saying she hopes it's set ... but just won't cut the blessed thing to find out. Finally she does. It is set. And this has two genuinely mind-jolting effects. She sings. And Colin kisses her.
Kiss free, Pete and Manu are disappointed in the strawberry tart, love the meringue (like a cloud, says Manu), while Angelina and Melina's Middle Eastern coconut cake with rose water is a perfect way to finish a meal. Though sadly not a TV show.
Colin joins Pete and Manu to reflect that tonight's Comeback Kitchen has been a lot better than the first Comeback Kitchen, which is the sort of standard we all wish we were held to.
What it hasn't been is shorter. Somehow this is two hours of programming. But at least it's been chock full of developments, twists and turns right? Yeah, right, there's no padding out of the show here.
None at all. So, once the exact same feedback we've already heard Manu and Pete give to each other at length is relayed at length to the teams, the only dish that gets a backhand is Jenna's tart. And.
Wait for it.
I know this will shock you.
Jenna cries. Even Joanna looks like she couldn't care less. As Colin announces that Mick and Matt have, again, taken out the customer's vote, Jenna looks tired and depressed and we all know exactly how she feels. In fact Jenna is the perfect example of the difference between empathy and sympathy: I feel exactly what she feels, but I just don't care. Jenna says in voice over that she hopes it's not her and Joanna who have been eliminated. She really, really hopes that.
Colin says Jenna and Joanna are going home because they can't have their hands held any more. He then says it's a pity because Joanna's duck was amazing. Then the entire room turns and points at Jenna, screaming "IT'S YOUR FAULT!"
Jenna can't hear them over the voices in her head though, so she takes a moment to tell us about how the show hasn't killed her love for cooking so it's all ok.
Joanna is ominously silent. It's possible that some love has been killed after all.
And as we all breathe the sigh of contentment that comes from being let out of a cramped closet we accidentally locked ourselves into for two hours where we entertained one another by gargling mystery cleaning products in the dark just to see what happened, the voice of My Kitchen Rules promises that there will be another episode of the proper show – you know, the one with the competition that isn't entirely redundant – tomorrow night, featuring food trucks ...
... and more My Kitchen Rejects next Sunday, which will feature something that rhymes with "food truck ups".
Till then, we can all just truck off.