I have to admit, Fox is good, man. Every damn week they show these ridiculous highly edited previews for next week's episode of Hell's Kitchen where something completely outrageous happens. Someone smarts off to Gordon! No, someone attacks Gordon! Someone is rushed to the hospital! Someone cuts off his finger and serves it with the pancetta!
It invariably turns out to be bullshit, or at least less dramatic in context than it was in the preview. The finale was no different. Once we found out that the final two would be Christina the Culinary Student/Know-it-All and Gentleman Petrozza the Caterer/Slob, the very next preview showed Chef Ramsay sitting the two hopefuls down in his office and very seriously telling them he's not sure he has the right finalists. And I totally fell for it.
Because I wasn't sure either. I mean, Petrozza is a sweetheart, for sure. The most gracious contestant Hell's Kitchen has ever seen, possible the nicest person ever on a reality show--but that doesn't mean he can run a Ramsay restaurant. In fact, it might just be points against him. Not that a head chef has to be a bastard, but a certain level of assholeishness is anticipated and respected. And Christina! What is she, 20? And we heard a lot about her intimidating intelligence, but I, for one, was not impressed when she responded to Gordon's surprise extra prize of a trip to his new restaurant in Dubai with the question, "Um, where's Dubai?" Seriously. Sure, she showed some smarts and won a lot of challenges, but all that really tells me is that she's good at playing the game.
But Gordon was just messing with their heads, like he likes to do, and the rest of the finale went on as usual except that this time, for the first time, I didn't really have a favorite. Stinger was totally cheering for Petrozza, but I was worried enough by his sort of slapdash approach to his menu and restaurant design to swing back towards Christina. I mean, come on. You've been in the business for 20 years, you come on this show hoping to win it, and you've never thought about what your menu would be? What your place would look like? It made me question how serious he was about it all. Christina is a hard worker, I'll give her that, and she's determined. Service went well for both of them, despite each being saddled with one of the worst, most problematic contestants ever--Christina with Crazy Matt and Petrozza with Sullen Jen. Having to see Jen again almost took the fun out of the finale for me, and I've never seen Gordon want so badly to jump in on the final two and bust some ass in their kitchens. Usually he's content to lie back and watch how his finalists handle it, but there were times last night when I thought he was going to vault over the pass and knock Jen and Matt's heads together.
It felt neck and neck right up until the moment Christina and Petrozza put their hands on those doorknobs, but as soon as Christina popped through I realized I should've seen it coming. Gordon has a history of choosing potential over experience, going all the way back to the first season. He saw something in Christina, and now she gets her shot. I, for one, was relieved to hear that Josh Emett, Chef de Cuisine at the London in New York, will be "supervising" her. Gordon's no dummy.
Now it's all over for another season and my only question is: When is Hell's Kitchen Season Two coming out on DVD???