The power apron is back! What does that mean? I don’t really know! But gee it sounds exciting doesn’t it?
There was a power apron last year, but I don’t remember what it was for. Was it electrical in some way? Kept you warm while you cooked? Gave shocks to your competitors? Could you bake a pie with it? Who knows, but it seems very very important and the kind of thing everyone on Masterchef wants, but then everyone on Masterchef has been confined to a house full of strangers for months and is completely out of their minds.
Matt the Amateur says everyone knows they need to perform because “there’s no room for error”, which is untrue because, obviously, there is heaps of room for error as long as someone else’s error is worse.
“There’s no such thing as an ordinary week,” says Gary, “and this week is no exception”, which makes this week a pretty ordinary week. Matt produces the power apron from inside his blazer, where it got very sweaty, and declares, “the power apron is back”, causing all the amateurs to try to remember what that means.
“Whoever wears the power apron has the power to change the game,” says George, but change it to what? Wheel of Fortune? Orphan Black? Could go either way. Apparently the power apron bestows some kind of advantage to the wearer, but we have no idea what advantage that will be, except that, like all advantages on Masterchef, it will be far less valuable than it seems at first. Masterchef could grant one contestant the right to bury every other contestant in a pit of quicklime and they’d find some way to completely negate their advantage within twenty minutes.
Anyway, Luke Nguyen is here and he’s got a mystery box containing goat cutlets which is a bit weird. Also some shrimp paste, some big leafy things, what looks like a family of sea anemones, and…crickets.
Dunno what the power apron wearer gets to change the game to, but Luke Nguyen seems to have changed it to I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. And he can say all he likes that people eat crickets somewhere or other: I do not believe him. Crickets are not food.
“I know when you deep fry crickets, they have this beautiful almond flavour,” says Elise, which makes me deeply suspicious. How does she know this? Has she been eating insects on the sly? Is she stalking around the Masterchef house at night, scrabbling around under the fridge for a midnight snack?
This is one of those trick tests, isn’t it? The only way to win the power apron is to have the courage to tell Luke Nguyen that you have too much self-respect to cook crickets. Nobody’s figured it out though. Heather gets out her favourite pen and starts “brainstorming”. This means she brings a lot of pens to the kitchen every day, but because this is a really tough challenge, she is using her favourite one. She’s really weird.
“Remember, this is all about the power apron!” Gary bellows, but he might as well have said, “this is all about the Teapot Dome Scandal!” for all the difference it’ll make to anyone.
Matt the Amateur gives an extremely boring lecture on the chemistry of citrus and meat and everyone leaves the room to go to the toilet. Matt the Amateur has never cured goat before, and even if he manages to cure goat today, he will never cure us of our boredom.
Elise is making a “Caramel cricket parfait”, which would be the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard if it weren’t for the Human Centipede series. It’s easy to feel angry at someone for wilfully feeding crickets to other human beings, but that pales into insignificance next to the natural anger every viewer feels that someone is making a GODDAMN PARFAIT AGAIN. What IS this? Was there some kind of collective national seizure that everyone in Australia suffered, where we all blacked out and woke up with an inexplicable yet insatiable urge to make parfaits? When a woman is cooking with crickets, and still can’t help but make a parfait, something is very wrong. It’s like the Day of the Triffids in here.
Heather is lightly flouring her crickets, which should be a euphemism for something much more pleasant than the reality. Chloe is making a fucking parfait of course. I haven’t checked, but from memory Chloe has made a parfait every single day of this series, and on some days she’s made two or three. I have no conclusive evidence that Chloe has ever made anything that isn’t a parfait.
Matt the Amateur hopes his goat is soft, because then they’ll have something in common. Heather tells us her plan to pan-sear her goat and then pop it in the oven for five minutes, and we are once again reminded that Masterchef is never duller than when people are describing their cooking. It’s like listening to someone tell you an incredibly boring dream. Meanwhile Harry has not had time to finish his dish, or to get his hair out of his eyes.
Heather has put her dish on a chopping board because it’s “street food”. This the question: in what bizarre place does Heather live, where street food is served on chopping boards? When the street vendor gives you the chopping board, do you get to keep it, or do you have to return it when you’re finished? What sort of overheads does the vendor have, continually purchasing new chopping boards?
Meanwhile Matt the Amateur isn’t happy with how he’s plated his dish, and I don’t blame him.
Finally time to decide who gets the power apron, which I guess is a moment of high drama or whatever. First to be tasted is Matt the Amateur’s dish, which George describes as “homely but interesting”, coincidentally how most people describe George. Luke says he likes the dish’s presentation, which stuns Matt the Amateur, as he thought he’d have to apologise for the presentation, which was stupid of him because the judges chose three dishes to taste just by looking at them, so clearly they liked the presentation, so why doesn’t Matt the Amateur ever THINK? I know I shouldn’t apply logic to Masterchef, but goddammit.
Next is Heather, who caught the judges’ interest with her charred leaves — the fellas always go crazy for a flash of charred leaf. Luke tells Heather he was really excited when he walked round to her bench, which I totally understand. Oh, he was talking about her cooking. Never mind.
Third to be tasted is Elise, who has never been tasted in a Mystery Box challenge before but who finds that revolting bugs bring out the best in her. She serves up her cricket parfait. “That’s amazing,” say the judges, inadvertently correct. They eat the nightmarish concoction from hell, and they like it because of course they like it, the sick perverts.
“To persuade people that insects are the future, you have to put them in an environment where they forget what’s in the dish because they enjoy it so much,” says Matt, overlooking one key fact: we should not be persuading people that insects are the future. It’s gross.
For putting crickets in people’s mouths without killing them, Elise gets the power apron and in a scene reminiscent of the end of Aladdin when Jafar becomes a gigantic evil genie, is granted the ability to choose between “steam” and “fry” as the cooking method for the invention test. She chooses fry in a cunning attempt to give her rivals heart disease.
Having the power apron grants Elise a further advantage, though: she gets 90 minutes to fry, while the others get only 60. As she begins work, the other amateurs clap and cheer. Claps and cheers of naked hatred.
Naturally Elise chooses to cook quail. Who doesn’t automatically think of quail when asked to fry something? Where do you even get quail? I’ve never seen quail at Coles? Is it in the special freezer that you can’t get into unless you’ve slept with Curtis Stone?
The other amateurs huddle together and discuss what Elise is doing and whether they should band together to overpower her and take over the kitchen. Meanwhile Gary pops over to Elise’s bench to point out that if she makes a sauce for her quail, it doesn’t count as frying and that she has, therefore, used her bonus 30 minutes to completely fuck herself over. Under the watchful eyes of her homicidal opponents, Elise absent-mindedly beats some eggs, wondering where her life went wrong.
The others rush to the pantry to grab their own ingredients. Harry says he defines frying as anything cooked in fat or boiled, which is a dumb thing to say because, as Elise has just found out, boiling isn’t frying, it’s boiling.
By the way Anastasia is still around, good to know. She’s making fried fennel pesto, less good to know. Meanwhile Karmen is boiling something, which is not frying. I hope all these fools get their comeuppance. And Chloe is compressing a cucumber, which must be a euphemism.
As soon as Zoe hears “Frying”, she thinks of deep-frying. That’s just the kind of gal she is. She is deep-drying a whole snapper, which is madness. She will kill us all.
Harry thinks he did really well in the Mystery Box, because he was not paying attention during it: actually he did terribly. He takes some time out to show us some holiday snaps from when he was in Korea, “living as a Korean person”. A white, blond Korean person. Luke thinks Harry sounds confident, and he’s right: confidence is probably Harry’s most aggravating character trait.
Brett really wants to shine in this cook, and he’s doing so by making chips. So there you go. Brett, ladies and gentlemen.
Elise is feeling the pressure more so than usual because of the power apron. The power apron, it is becoming clear, is rather like the Ring of Sauron, granting enormous power to its wearer while also weighing heavily on them and eventually destroying them.
Chloe has a duck and some shallots and assures Luke and Matt that she plans at an undefined point in the future to combine them in some way. Matt expresses doubt as to whether her awful plan will turn out well. Chloe assures him that she has cooked dreadfully before and knows what she is doing.
Meanwhile Zoe puts her fish in the fryer and is nervous. “The last thing I want to do is overcook the fish,” she says, but she is wrong: the last thing she wants to do is put her bare hand in the fryer and never cook again.
Meanwhile all Elena’s confidence has disappeared, so at least one person is thinking realistically.
Luke is surprised that Elise is struggling after having won the advantage, because apparently Luke has never watched this show before.
Zoe looks at her fish. It looks done. She looks a bit more. It starts to go soft. Her fish is an abomination. If her priest sees it she will be excommunicated. She doesn’t know what to do. The hand in the fryer might be her only way out.
Meanwhile Chloe says she wants her duck to be perfectly cooked, as if her own wishes are in any way relevant. Suddenly for one second Trent appears on screen, presumably through an editing error.
Anastasia has never deep-fried Brussels sprout leaves before, and all marvel at this unprecedented insight into her character.
At this point Zoe tries to escape the kitchen, but can’t find an exit, so runs to the pantry to get another snapper instead. She drops the fish into the oil, which splashes up on her hand in an extremely karmic moment. She doesn’t know if she’ll be able to finish, and frankly it’s probably best for all parties if she doesn’t.
Time is running out, and Elena is doubting whether her small patch of shapeless rubber will please the judges. She decides instead to make an omelette, because after all you’re only young once.
Zoe is getting a sinking feeling, but she must be used to that by now. Elise doesn’t know what she’s done with her time, and neither do we. Brett thinks his fish looks amazing, and he’s right — it looks as good as anything you’d get from Birdseye. Zoe is hoping her fish is cooked all the way through, but honestly by this stage she’ll just settle for not dying while plating up.
Time’s up. “I’m feeling a sense of exhilaration and happiness,” says Anastasia, apparently naming emotions she read about in the handbook she was given when first going undercover among the humans.
Harry serves first. “I need to get my hands on this power apron,” he grimaces, lusting for power a la Fijian revolutionary George Speight. Luke loves the flavours and thought the presentation was great, though you do sense he doesn’t much like Harry personally. Gary thinks Harry has transported them somewhere very special but he is wrong, it’s just food.
Zoe is next. “Is it cooked?” asks George. “Yeah, I think it is,” says Zoe, a terribly reassuring thing to be told by someone serving you food. In fact not only is it cooked, it’s so spicy that George’s head detaches from his body and explodes far above the kitchen. Luke was excited by Zoe’s description, but he was expecting more: perhaps severe burns on both hands? Zoe’s really disappointed in herself, but if it’s any consolation, she should be.
Next, Anastasia, the teacher’s pet. Everyone loves Anastasia’s prawns because everyone ALWAYS loves everything Anastasia does, mwah mwah mwah let’s all kiss Anastasia and give her presents and…look anyway.
Next up, Elena, with her depressing omelette. She’s happy she didn’t give up, but ironically not giving up was her biggest mistake. Luke loves the idea, but Napoleon loved the idea of invading Russia, so, you know, that’s Elena for you.
As this whole grim farce drags on, Trent gets his biggest slice of screen time in the episode at three seconds of corn fritters. Then Nicolette, then Heather, then Matt the Amateur, and the not-too-good-but-not-too-bad brigade are done.
Brett serves up his fish and chips. “You’ve cut those chips absolutely beautifully,” says Gary, and I’m no chef but to me that sounds like a really sarcastic compliment. Matt finds his chips soft, and you can read between the lines THERE. Everyone is pretty disappointed in Brett, but none of them can fly a plane, can they? No they cannot.
Here comes Elise, the legendary waster of the power apron. She has prepared a large white plate with a smear of brown things in one corner. The phrase “pathetic pile of poo” is thrown around a lot these days, but…look, she did her best, and that’s the saddest thing of all. The judges hate it because it’s eminently hateable.
Chloe steps up with her duck breast, but everyone’s too polite to mention it, and they eat her dish instead. “It reminds me why I love food,” says Gary, “it provides energy to fuel the basic functions of the body.”
Judging time, and…hang on, where was Karmen? Did Karmen serve? Did I miss her? Did she get disqualified because she boiled things? What happened to Karmen? And Mimi? Where were they? They’re there in the lineup, but I didn’t see their dishes. What trickery is this?
Anastasia wins the power apron so she’ll get to fuck up an advantage next, and Elise gets to relieve herself of the burden and not turn into Gollum.
But who cares, I want to know what happened with Karmen and Mimi. What the hell? This is very disturbing. Are the producers trying to hide things from us? WHAT ARE WE NOT BEING TOLD? I’m writing to the ombudsman.
Tune in tomorrow night, when Elise and Elena have a fun day cooking against Zoe’s disfigured hand.
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