‘MasterChef’ review: Who is back in the game?

“Welcome to the culinary thunderdome.”

Graham Elliot at one point said this line during Monday night’s new episode of “MasterChef,” and we are not sure if more hilariously awesome words have ever been said on any reality cooking show. It’s almost like here is an acute sort of self-awareness by the judges now as to how over-the-top everything on this show is, in between the “stunning” ingredients and angelic music that plays whenever a contestant gets something right.

Monday night’s new episode was actually worth the fanfare, though, since for the first time ever we had an episode at this stage all about adding a contestant rather than subtracting them. Eight of the past eliminated chefs — yes, including the controversial Ryan –returned to try and square off in a mystery box challenge, and then the top two squared off in a duel to get back into the competition.

There really were a number of surprising moments that happened along the way to the end result, with the most notable one being Stacey not being in the top two despite trying to do so many great things within the span of an hour — our guess is that the execution may not have as strong as the top two.

The battle to return ended up being between Ryan and Josh, and after an intense competition involving cooking the perfect fruit tart, the winner was … Josh! The contestants still in the competition had to blindly vote on the winner to make it fair — but even with this, they still gave Josh the edge unanimously for a bold tart using some tropical fruit. We’ll give Ryan some serious credit here, though — he did really well despite no one in the kitchen really rooting for him, and he did manage to shout-out his Flavor Elevator blog a few times. (Hooray, publicity!)

Are you as excited as we are to see Josh back, and do you think he could actually go all the way and win this competition? Be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with the recently-eliminated Stacey here, and share your thoughts below!

Photo: Fox

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!