We waited a few days before posting our latest review of “Top Chef: Charleston,” and we do think that in this case, there is something great that comes from having this added bit of context.
After all, what happened on this past episode was so crazy and so unusual for this show that it can be subject to easy hyperbole: Jamie opted to give up his immunity when his team was at the bottom of the Elimination Challenge, and this offer meant that he was forced to “pack his knives and go” over to “Last Chance Kitchen.” Had he not done this, Emily would’ve gone home in his stead.
How guilty should Jamie have really felt over making a poorly-reviewed dish that landed his team in the bottom? Maybe a little, but at the same time there were many easy ways for him to absolve himself of anything. For one, the decisions that he made to take all of the questionable ingredients from the pirate’s “booty” for this challenge enabled someone like John to make a stronger dish; in that sense, he lifted his team up. However, Emily also had access to better ingredients and struggled. Even if his dish as slightly better, there was still a chance that he would’ve ended up in the bottom anyway.
It was interesting for Emily to say that she would’ve preferred to leave once she realized that this would’ve been the case if Jamie hadn’t made the offer — unfortunately, it was too little and too late. If she had said that once she realized that Jamie was thinking about the offer, maybe we’d have a different outcome.
Think about things this way for Jamie now — this elimination is far from the worst thing in the world for him. Sure, he effectively did give his spot up in the competition, but this is a season where he can fight his way back in! He’s confident in his cooking, and there is still a chance that he can make his way back and compete for the finale.
Also, consider this: There is only going to be one winner for this season, and for all of the other remaining chefs this season, being remembered will be a struggle when you throw them in the cauldron with all of the other chefs to ever be on the show. Jamie, regardless of what happens, now has something that makes him unique and he will always be remembered for it. If the show brings more chefs back down the road, it feels like a lock that we’ll see him again. He’s got a gimmick that’s so easy to market: Guy Who Gave Up Immunity.
Jamie doesn’t have anything to feel bad about — we’re sure there are so people out there shouting “you play to win,” but this is a show about more than winning. It’s about your cooking skill and your reputation, and he’ll be beloved by so many after doing what he did. Also, at least he went home on a cool challenge involving pirates and running around in a tropical storm. If anything, mess with him and Emily for not knowing how to get around a city they’re so familiar with.
Farewell, Jim – Poor Jim gets shortchanged somewhat in this episode, given that if this was a different hour, he’d be the talk of the town for leaving in a Sudden Death Quickfire. We’re talking here about one of the most beloved contestants of the season, someone who was the ultimate underdog given that he was so soft-spoken and didn’t have the resume of some other people.
His shock elimination is in some way a testament to the editing on this show, which remains top-notch. They had us all in on the idea that Jim would be a winner threat, and he was performing like one most of the season. Unfortunately, he just hit a difficult stretch at the wrong time; every chef has a rut during their season, but you have to figure out how to survive it.
Overall – A tremendous episode of “Top Chef.” With this much drama and such an element of surprise, we have no problem with it running past the hour-long run time. Grade: A.
What did you think about the way Jamie opted to offer himself up? Do you admire him more or less because of it? Share in the comments, and head over here in the event you do want to get some further news now when it comes to “Last Chance Kitchen” for this past episode. (Photo: Bravo.)