March 10, 2011

Reality Rundown: Survivor Giveth, Top Chef Taketh

The Amazing Race: Unfinished BusinessThe Biggest Loser
Survivor: Redemption IslandTop Chef All-Stars

The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business - The teams fly 5,000 to Tokyo, Japan and head to one badass parking garage where the cars spin around like a Ferris Wheel. The dilemma is a choice between a nonstop flight (Qantas) or a flight that gets in 15 minutes earlier with a connection in Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific). There's some apprehension, but most teams take the Cathay Pacific, though Zev/Justin are able to connect through a different city instead of Hong Kong. Sure enough, the Cathay Pacific flight has a delay, making the Qantas flight the first to arrive. ALWAYS go direct when you can.

When the teams get to the sweet garage and fetch their car, they drive to a dojo which allows me to do my Dirk Diggler "Wanna see my dojo?!" impression to my dog. He's impressed. The dojo is a Roadblock to perform a Yabusame ritual of shooting a bow and arrow off a spinning wooden horse, but they also have to "train" before with stretching and stuff. The Qantas teams lead the pack, while the Cathay Pacific group are having a hell of a time navigating the Tokyo streets (except Zev/Justin who are surprisingly good this season). Worst navigators: Jamie and Cara who accidentally sideswipe a car. The offer the guy money but he'd rather have the police come. And suddenly my pick to win falls to the bottom.

The next clue brings the teams to a railway station where there's a station of a kid riding a bear (always a safe message to send). The clue is a Detour: take place in a Shinto cleansing ritual and stand under a waterfall or stripe into their skivvies and get pelted in mud, searching for a frog. The mud looks more fun only due to the Japanese guys belly flopping to splash them. Zev/Justin are the first team to complete the Detour and receive the clue to drive the the Pit Stop at Commodore Perry's Landing. Another anchor monument? Is there a theme this season? Over at the purity ritual, Flight Time/Big Easy accidentally grab Ron/Christina's fanny pack thinking it was theirs; they leave it back in the changing room for them to find it.

Zev/Justin are team #1 (again) and this leg win a trip to Costa Rica. The rest of the teams are still searching in the mud for frogs as the night gets progressively colder. Mike wants to quit the mud, while Mel doesn't want to stop, but after urging Mike and Mel warm up in an ambulance at the task. Jaime/Cara arrive at the task during this time and find a frog pretty quickly, though they had no idea Mike/Mel were in the ambulance. Jaime/Cara are team #9 and I did NOT predict the week 3 elimination! Mike and Mel are eliminated and while I love them, I was getting tired of Mike crying over thinking Mel was going to keel over and die somewhere random in the world. He chose his dad's health over the race and that is a nice story. And my pick to win is still in it. Win/win. I'm selfish.

The Biggest Loser - Each team has to pick a team captain to lead them, plus they will have to make decisions on behalf of their team and some of them all alone. Red team picks Justin (the dude with the scraggly beard) and the black team picks Marci (the last mom standing). They also get new hoodies with captain C's on them, just like Charlie Conway ("Good work, Captain Duck"). First order of business: only one person is allowed in the kitchen and the leader must choose the person. Marci selects Olivia for the black team and everyone is pleased. The other twist is that day only 2 people could work out with the trainers: Hannah and Sarah are picked because Marci felt their life stories could relate together, which Hannah isn't a fan of. The red team is given the same orders and Kaylee and Ken (who is also deemed team chef) are given the training in Justin's team goal of healing. The rest of the teammates all find ways to work out on their own, while the the losers with trainers drop a few pounds courtesy of tears.

The teams meet up in the darkness of the cold night in a muddy field. They have to cross 100 yards through an obstacle course but never touch the ground; winning team gets $6,000. Huh? They have to make these red pad/disk things across while crossing. The team captain also determines where everyone starts in the race- some the entire time, some later. The black team is able to win the challenge, especially since red hits the ground a few times and has to back peddle. Girl power!

Weigh-in time and I'm finally noticing how thin many losers are looking. Team captain Justin starts the red team off nicely with 8lbs lost. His team soon follows suit with solid weight loss this week. Even Kaylee, who lost 1lb last week over 14 days, loses 5lbs. The red team loses 44lbs (2.61%), meaning the black team has to lose more than 35lbs, or 5lbs per person. Marci shows her team how it's done with a 5lb loss- she's down to 162lbs now which is pretty damn impressive. As more players weigh in with 5lbs, it looks like the ladies could triumph again. The bad news is when Olivia only loses 2lbs, throwing off the momentum towards 35lbs, citing that she spent too much time in the kitchen this week. Hannah then loses 2lbs too, meaning Jen has a 12lb deficit to make up (doubtful- she loses 1lb).

Marci, who was willing to sacrifice herself for the girls, is the biggest loser on her team so she is immune. Much like last week, that original trainer bond keeps them together (except Marci who votes for Olivia) and Sarah is voted out of the game. Though for the fun of it, Sarah's vote is for Jen because she believes if there's the return to the game challenge there always is, Jen would make it back.

Survivor: Redemption Island - Pre-Redemption Island stuff. No surprise: Phillip is annoying his camp, sweeping around camp while tribemates try to sleep. They also are tired of seeing his saggy pink underwear. Phillip realizes he's an outsider, but acknowledges he's older, but also knows he's needs to be "in" to stay in the game. Phillip finds the tree mail about the 2 Redemption Island viewers. Russell's lackeys are missing him back at camp and swear he will dominate on Redemption Island. Ralph decides to let his alliance of 6 know that he is in possession of the immunity idol and they jump for joy (one person literally).

Russell meets Matt at Redemption Island, but RESSELL thought Francesca was there so he realizes he's been lied to the whole time. Sarita and Ralph from Zapatera and Phillip and Kristina from Ometepe are this week's witnesesses. The challenge is to arrange blocks like dominoes and set it off at the end to release a ball. Matt takes a lead and makes a move to try: it doesn't work! So he has to reset the first half, giving Russell a chance, but he also falls short. Suspense! It's quick working but Matt resets and tips the blocks and WINS! Matt wins Redemption Island and stays in the game. Russell? CRYING. Keels over and cries. Russell of course wipes up the tears to shit all over his old tribemates and their choice to get rid of him. Ralph isn't taking it and informs Russell that he has the idol and found it 15 seconds in; he's about to show it, but Sarita makes him stop. But Russell knows he's lying, Phillip is such a pro at reading people he knows it's a lie too. So now Ometepe knows about the idol and the alliances at Zapatera which is great except it won't matter until a merge. FINALLY, Survivor is Russell free and it feels AMAZING.

Rob uses the Kristina/Phillip-less time to try and find the immunity idol, so he invents some game to distract his tribemates. He then claims he's gotta take a dump for privacy and peaces out to search. The clue basically says it's anyway on the island, so Rob starts digging, tossing rocks, climbing- it's a fun montage, even if I want him gone too. Rob finds the immunity idol in a tree and feels like he's going to win with it. When Phillip and Kristina return, Phillip wants to use the immunity idol knowledge to bond with Rob, but also kinda blackmail Rob to keep him around to learn alliance member names. Phillip wants to keep him and Kristina safe and informs him Ralph has an idol and the tall woman with the hat is running the show (who?). The immediate reaction: you can't trust Phillip.

The immunity challenge is to make good use of their product placement tool kit (Craftsmen!) It's an obstacle course using the tools basically; it's like a very special episode of Tool Time. The winning tribe will also get a barbeque set from Sears including steak, vegetables, and more food. OMG I got hungry again. Zapatera takes a huge lead early on, in part to Ometepe's poor sawing skills, though Ometepe gets a chance to catch up. Stephanie, Russell's #1 Kool Aid drinker, easily gets the knots apart and Zapatera wins award and immunity. Moods are high at their camp as they feast on various grilled meats. Again, I'm hungry.

Ometepe returns a Phillip gives one of his terrible pep talks again, leaving the camp in crickets. The tribe is so over Phillip, so Kristina feels a little safer but also thinks she'd be better if she had the idol. Upon bringing up the idol, the tribemates worry maybe she has it (she doesn't). Rob knows Kristina is a far more dangerous player than Phillip, so they decide to split the votes and then Kristina would be out. The rest of the tribe, especially Grant, isn't as keen on the idea because they just can't tolerate Phillip.

At Tribal Council, Rob brings up Kristina was an outsider who pretty much just joined the tribe. Kristina believes the person to vote off should be the "weakest" and "most destructive," which she reveals to be Phillip (duh). Of course Jeff starts digging for more Phillip nonsense, where he announces he's a "doer," "a shepherd stamp," and some stuff about an honorable discharge from the military. God, I don't know- I lost track and he just keeps yapping. Kristina pleads her case and asks for the opportunity to prove that's she worthy of being trusted. Jeff retrieves the ol' jug of votes as it begins to downpour: in a 4-3 vote, Kristina is heading off the Redemption Island. Kristina is fiesty though and I think maybe she can take out Matt in the Redemption challenge.

Top Chef All-Stars - The chefs arrive in the Bahamas after a break, meaning new hair cuts and colors (OK, just Richard and his new goatee). Walking up to see Padma, Tom, and Eric Bernadin they are startled to see previous winners of Top Chef. The Quickfire is to go head-to-head against the person that won their season. The dish has to highlight an ingredient assigned to them by Tom and each winner of the head-to-head receives $10k. Tiffany makes a pork stew against Kevin's BBQ pork; Tiffany wins, which is a good moment because Kevin was the worst winner ever. Dullsville. Hosea makes a braised leg of lamb and Carla makes jollof rice, but her kitchen mistakes with the rice gives Hosea the win. Stephanie makes veal scallopini and Antonia makes roasted veal; Stephanie wins in a better of two crappy dishes. Stephanie then goes up against Richard, since he was on the same season as Antonia, and his braised veal, so duh, Richard wins since Stephanie's stunk. Michael Voltaggio does duck leg with bacon and crappy Mike makes cashew dusted duck breast; Mike wins for "handling the duck better." UGH. Go away Mike Isabella and your new moobs.

Elimination challenge: create a dish for Bahamian royalty. The judges urge them to not embarass them, but I think a RuPaul's "...and don't fuck it up" would be a better way of stressing the urgency. But screw the challenge, though, cause they're staying at Atlantis! Do the water slide through the shark tank!! Wait, no shark tank clips? Booo. They just go to their rooms and prepare for tomorrow's royal meal. Boring! Carla is still sad she did so poorly in the Quickfire and hopes this sense of being the underdog will give her the push she needs to succeed. Then Mike Isabella has the nerve to claim the women played it safe to make it to the finale and that pisses him off. Yeah I guess "playing it safe" means winning 3 challenges apiece (except Tiffany- she kinda is a clunker this season).

The chefs are picked up and escorted to their dinner where they see some awesome performers in their giant feathered costumes and horn music. Tom meets them outside and it turns out these jazzy dancers ARE the Bahamian royalty: they are the king of Junkanoo, a Mardi Gras festival. Ahhh so much for the snobbish royal dishes. Oh and then while frantically preparing, the deep fryer overheats and catches fire. Everyone is more concerned about their dishes than their lives, but production urges them out. The fire department has to be called to put it out since it's some hotass oil. The deep fryer fire, and the desire to change her dish, is causing Antonia to stress out badly. Tom delivers the bad news that all the food has chemicals on it so they have to start over from scratch; the kitchen is being scrubbed down and they'll cook later. Time for a major re-do! Now the cheftestants have a chance to re-strategize their dishes, making Antonia very happy and Richard ready to challenge himself again with a new idea.

Outdoor judges' table. Carla's dish was too sweet and Gail's pork was unevenly cooked AKA raw. Antonia re-conceived her dish to be less "stuffy" and really less her. The shrimp was overcooked and the pork shoulder looked like school lunch mystery meal, according to Gail. Tom calls it odd. Tiffany made a safe dish that wasn't very complex. While the flavors mention curry, there's hardly a curry burst of flavor. Mike's sauce was the star of his roasted chicken/lobster dish. Richard, who hates anything he does and has no confidence, cooked his lamb well but it was missing something overall to tie it together better. The winner of the challenge is Moobs- I mean, Mike. The chefs leave the table and ponder who will go home while the judges do the same deliberation. And the judges decide Carla has to pack her knives and go. If you can hear it, that is the sound of my heart breaking and me gargling on my own tears. One last Hootie Hoo for the road.... TOP SADNESS.

Photo Credits: BravoTV.com, CBS.com, NBC.com

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