MasterChef season 8 episode 4 review: A prickly pressure test

MasterChef season 8 episode 4 reviewTonight, MasterChef season 8 episode 4 brought to you the first team challenge of the season. The remaining home cooks all took off to Huntington Beach in order to teste their mettle in front of the judges … and lifeguards. Hey, if Baywatch had turned out to be a hit, maybe this would’ve been especially relevant!

Brien, as the winner of the first Mystery Box Challenge, got a chance to serve as the Captain. The remaining cooks divided themselves up into two different groups, and he chose the Red Team as the team he wanted to lead. Specifically, he liked the teammates. It’s too bad that the Blue Team was chaos from the start. Jennifer was elected leader, but despite her being in an appointed decision, she wasn’t really capable of getting her ideas together.

In the early going, it suddenly seemed as though this was a blowout for the Red Team … and then Brien decided to let all of the fish sit after cooking almost as though it was at a cafeteria. Both meals did love good — and creatively, we love that the show didn’t waste a whole lot of time watching people cook it before the lifeguards showed. It’s the same thing roughly every time (the judges find problems with both teams), and it’s hard to mine new material from it.

After the lifeguards showed up, we then at least had a different sort of drama than we’ve seen in past seasons: The Blue team over-seasoned almost all of their fish, and with that, there were plenty of lifeguards out there who felt it was a little too much.

Of course, the Red Team won. Despite Brien’s cafeteria presentation at first and some problems frying the eggplant, neither one of these was anywhere near as catastrophic as pouring a ton of spice on the fish.

The Dreaded Pressure Test

New drinking game: Take a swig every time Gordon, Christina, and Aaron hype this up as the worst thing ever. The good news is that not everyone had to compete. Reba, Jeff, and Daniel were all declared safe — which is great given that Reba is entertainment gold and we wouldn’t stand to lose her at this point.

As for the challenge, the judges had to create a replica of Aaron Sanchez’s pork dish with a prickly pear sauce — looks delicious. Cool challenge as far as pressure tests go given that we’ve never seen anyone prepare a cactus plant and fruit on TV before.

Here’s where the editing gets fun

It’s a classic rule of reality TV that if someone comes across as extremely arrogant through most of a challenge, odds are that it didn’t go well. Enter Paige, who spent most of the final twenty minutes of the episode talking up her ability to make a great dish because she grew up eating a lot of Mexican food. Her porkchop was bland and undercooked; the only good news for her was that Jennifer also had one that was under and nearly broke down halfway through the challenge. Beyond all of that, there was no total disaster performance here given that everyone seemed to nail at least one component of the dish. This just felt like Paige’s number was being called given that she had come across so cocky on the dish and had mistakes both with the chop and the sauce.

Dino, Gabriel, Caitlin, and Jenny all did good enough to make it to the balcony. That left, predictably, Jennifer versus Paige. At first we thought we were about to get a terrible twist (not one we want to see) where the cooks on the balcony were going to vote to send Paige home; however, that was just for dramatic effect. The judges were going to send Paige home along. The youngest home cook in the competition is now gone.

Final Verdict

Good episode, but also not a great one. Despite little fluctuations thanks to a creative pressure test, the Team Challenge / Pressure Test combo is one of the duller ones that the show airs since it’s effectively the same thing every time. Also, the ending was easy to telegraph. Grade: B-.

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