Buzz-kill fails to cut the tension

Poor Ali and Samuel. They had such simple hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams of being made semi-famous through cooking average meals on a pretty popular television program. But, thanks to four prima donnas, that dream is shattered and all anyone seems to care about is the fighting gatecrashers.

Of course, Samuel's ulterior motive at entering the contest was to get closer to Ali, whose ex-husband is his best friend. Awkward. Their day starts relatively easily - how Tasmanian! - by taking the dog for a run along the beach. No, they're not a couple.

Samuel says that to survive this round, they need to cook their hearts out. It's a different strategy to previous attempts, by them and others, to cook in a faux-confident manner. Tonight, he's taken on the head chef role and Ali is the assistant. "She feels more confident if I take the lead role," says Samuel. Take that, sexual politics!

We are reminded of pastegate - the team's apparently unforgivable sin from the last round of taking curry paste from a jar - and they have begun penitence by deciding to not use anything else from a jar. How jarring for their processes. [I'm here all week; try the veal.]

In a spectacular brain fart moment, they've decided to cook churros for dessert with a chocolate and avocado dipping sauce. Avocado.

Avocado.

Yes, really. This is no joke. Pete has grave reservations, but he's one to talk with his alkalised water fetish.

As they travel back from shopping, Ali plays into the hands of the producers [or was it vice-versa?] and suggests that "things could spark up a bit" with the gatecrashers at their instant restaurant. This is like saying that if it rains, you could need an umbrella.

And what is that? Enter Sophia.

"In a dog fight, there's usually a pack of bitches coming at the strongest dog, and at the moment it's Ashlee and I." Whether she and Ashlee are the bitches or the strongest is not immediately clear from Sophia's mouth. You have got to love ambiguity. Hands up if you don't see this backfiring? That just would not happen on this program.

Victorian 'real housewife' [whatever that is] Angela says that if Ashlee and Sophia rub her up the wrong way, "I'm pretty vocal and they'll know. I'll let them know". Did someone say food fight?

Preparing the beef for the main course, Samuel uses mustard powder from a PACKET! Shock! Things come from jars and packets.

And, as a man who appreciates the fine things in life, Samuel declares that the "stakes are high" while brandishing a steak in the air. No bull. Udderly ridiculous move, Samuel, but let’s hoof through to the next part.

Ali, quick to join in, tells us to "make no mistake about it". Milking it?

Trying to fish for more, Samuel says the abalone is giving him an "ab workout" and refers to tenderising his muscle. Someone get this man a job on (Un)Funniest Home Videos, please.

Fortunately for everyone, not least the viewer, Jessie and Biswa have been eliminated. It is fortunate also for Ali and Samuel, who would have been marked poorly for putting seven chillies into the chilli paste base. (See, Pete? No jar.)

Samuel puts a little too much of himself into the food: he slices his finger while filleting the fish and in the interests of good hygiene, the fish is disposed of.

The dinner guests lurk outside and, with an uncanny knack for knowing what could be coming up, Lisa refers to simmering tension between Ashlee and Sophia and Angela and Melina and reckons it will be like walking onto a battlefield. Unless they're taking to each other with knives and forks, Lisa, it's not a battlefield.

Samuel dons a dorky oversized hat for the guests' arrival and is immediately spat on. Kieran wants the hat - maybe it can keep the time for him and Nastassia the next time they decide to play computer games before a crucial, time-specific task.

Ashlee and Sophia decry the restaurant's repeated Wonderland theme as average. Sophia decides to put on full display her inferior food knowledge and says that ceviche is raw seafood - something Pete and Manu were somewhat firm about earlier.

"I don't do raw seafood. I can't," she says.

Steph is unsure about the cacao, or chocolate, joining a steak at dinner. Dan thinks it could make a sausage. He's got sausage on the brain, that one.

Nastassia doesn’t like intense, hot flavours, which may or may not explain last week’s salt dough, or the lack of urgency in the kitchen to have anything served hot.

Back in the Tasmanian kitchen, the entree is on its way to the table. Sophia assumes it will not be good because there's raw seafood. Obviously she's yet to learn the old cooking adage: never judge seafood by its state.

Manu and Pete are rapturous in their praise for the entree, but not everybody is so taken. Dan doesn't like abalone but thinks it would all taste better in sausage. Ashlee says it's quite average. For some reason, this enrages Melina and Angela, as though this assessment is a reflection on them.

After a brief discussion in the kitchen about the main course – let’s face it, the cooking is a subplot the “drama” between the intruders – we’re back in the dining room.

Ashlee and Sophia and Melina and Angela are looking daggers at each other. It is [supposedly] tense. The housewives decide to tackle things with all the tact of a bull in a china shop. They slam them as being cold and rude. "Please explain," they say. Ashlee and Sophia bite back – Sophia wants her to know her as a bitch and just leave it at that. Something, something, something – it's all very samey.

Anyway, the two teams of gatecrashers decide to brawl to the death and the remaining gatecrasher team, Nastassia and Kieran, decide to disown the other two teams for brining a bad name upon all gatecrashers.

Angela's criticisms of Sophia and Ashlee, unsurprisingly, don't go down well. The tension is seemingly so thick it could be cut with a fork. Pete and Manu are either having a conveniently-timed toilet break or have quit, protesting the increasingly inane lines they must deliver and the overly dramatic promotions for the show.

Lisa fails to see sense and chooses to confront Sophia and Ashlee: she is scared to go to their instant restaurant – because they will kill boring Stefano.

The charmers Ashlee and Sophia admit to "zoning out" when Lisa spoke because it was "boring".

"She could put fish to sleep ... she's just a buzz kill," says Sophia.

The minutes tick by and suddenly Manu and Pete have either returned or chosen to speak and have been, apparently, oblivious to the tension. Pete wants a beautiful meal, as if that’s the answer to the table’s problems.

If we can just pause here to notice Samuel’s bow-tie, which is the same as the last instant restaurant, and does not, in any way, match his purple and blue checked shirt. But no matter – the main is served; apparently there is food to be tasted.

Pete and Manu praise the main as being close to perfect. They say lots of nice things, but hurry up, we've got more fights to catch up on.

Ashlee decides that by looking at the tender beef on everyone's plate, she and Sophia finally have some competition. I have never seen a team say this before in this competition this year. Wow.

The churros prove slightly problematic, but back at the table, Nastassia confesses she has no idea what churros are, which earn a scornful look from Sophia. Lisa struggles with the idea of combining chocolate and avocado. So do we all, Lisa, so do we all.

Samuel , describing the sauce as “cracking”, proves he is cracked by insisting that it tastes good. If only the churros could be as good. There are problems galore with the oil and the chocolate and avocado sauce is becoming more like a fondant. I did not forsee any disasters with a dessert that combined pure goodness [chocolate, of course] with pure evil.

The churro calamity is fixed through patience, and now for tasting. Pete thinks the dessert is risky and bold, and declares that it works. Whatever, Pete, it’s still avocado. Lisa looks unhappy at their success, as though someone forced her to eat only avocado for a whole year.

Lisa can’t put her finger on the weird flavour coming through the chocolate. Angela uses the chocolate to boast about her overseas travel, while Ashlee and Sophia find it hard to grasp churros. “It’s fried donuts.”

Somewhere along the line in the scoring process, the roles of Ashlee and Sophia, as the pre-determined villains [of the meal, they said "Would I remember this tomorrow? No.", and Lisa and Stefano switched. Lisa and Stefano rated the dinner four out of ten, while Ashlee and Sophia had the same score as two other teams, giving Ali and Samuel seven out of ten.

If, as Sophia suggested at the start of the program, this competition is a dog fight, then she and Ashlee are more annoying Pomeranian than bitches.

In total, Ali and Samuel’s competitors score them 33/50 – which they found slightly stingy – and Pete and Manu 55/60, for a total of 88/110 and putting them in first place with a 36-point lead.

Unsurprisingly, Lisa disagrees with Pete's perfect 10 for dessert but by now, everyone is fawning over the underdogs from Tasmania. Lisa and Stefano are back in the kitchen on Tuesday ... with the promise that she is cracking the whip and him enjoying it. Keep it clean, kids, this is supposed to be a family show.

The story Buzz-kill fails to cut the tension first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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