MasterChef season 9 episode 4 review: The competition gets back to normal

MasterChef season 8 episode 17
Following the end of the audition rounds MasterChef season 9 episode 4 featured the top 24 in competition for the first time directly against each other. While the mentor twist is still there, this is the time in which the show started to settle in more to its old groove.

Are the judges still giving some advice to their teams? Sure, but it doesn’t feel like Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Aaron Sanchez are doing a whole lot of hand-holding. Instead, they offered up a few pointers during the tasks but left the contestants mostly to sink or swim on their own merits. They also took off the mentoring cap altogether in deciding who would leave the top 24 in the early going. This is a show that isn’t trying to change itself too much, after all.

Still, we did really appreciate the layout of the episode tonight, which reverted the show back to its standard format of having a mystery box challenge and then an elimination. The one twist that was quite nice is that each judge had to choose a member of their team to face off at the end of the episode — basically, their weakest link. It’s similar to when the three weakest contestants overall square off in the past, so there isn’t a huge difference. This time, it was Sid (Team Gordon), Sal (Team Joe), and Alecia (Team Aaron) who squared off for a chance to stick around. In the end, the advancing home cook was … Alecia! She has a chance to cook another day and prove to Aaron that he made the right choice in keeping her. Given that we knew her the best of the three, we’re happy to see her stick around for now.

The one bummer that comes with losing Sid at this point is that he is the show’s oldest contestant, and we do like seeing these people stick around just because the infuse the competition with a different energy that it doesn’t have otherwise.

CarterMatt Verdict

Overall, this was a fairly standard MasterChef episode to kick off the top 24 — nonetheless, also one that we appreciated. Even if there was a theme to the final showdown in steak-plus-mashed-potatoes, at least the specific ideas were different. Nothing felt like we were watching everyone do the same thing for the entire hour.

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