For the first time this season, MasterChef Junior delivered an installment on Thursday night that we would say truly shocked us.
Through most of the season, the one constant that we’ve had was that Afnan was probably going to win the whole thing, or at least make it to the final stage of it. He’d been at the top of several challenges, and showed a quiet determination when he cooked. He was creative, and he was equally passionate.
Unfortunately, sometimes you just get handed something that is not necessarily your forte, and you find yourself struggling as a result of it. This is ultimately what we saw happen at the end of tonight’s new episode. By the time we made it to the end, it felt fairly clear that both Afnan and another strong home cook in Peyton were heading home. The reasoning was pretty simple here — this was a challenge where teamwork was key, and the two parties struggled to figure out the right way to work together in a task that was all about sushi and constructing the best plate possible. This was a tag-team, one where they had to alternate back and forth in order to properly make a dish. Their communication just wasn’t there, and this led to confusion which led to frustration.
Individually, the two were great, but they just couldn’t keep it together here. This was in opposition to some other teams who did manage to keep it together and get most of the sushi on the plate successfully.
As for what led to this point, the Mystery Box Challenge was all about being inspired by family, and this is one that Justise shined in. With Afnan gone, we may say that she is the favorite to win given what she did here and the Michelle Obama challenge from earlier this season. At the end of the day, cooking these sort of reasonably open-ended tasks is one of the key components to winning the show. She excels here, and she performs well enough in team challenges to not be a danger there.
We’re still shocked about the end result of this episode, but kudos to the producers for throwing us off with the edit. Even though a part of us thought Afnan was going home, we also still held on to a little bit of the belief that somehow, he was going to be able to sneak by to the next episode. Overall grade: B+.
We’ll be back early next week hopefully with exit interviews with both Afnan and Peyton. Be sure to head over here to check out our full MasterChef Junior archive, since that is where they will be posted. (Photo: Fox.)