<p>Alexander survives the penultimate round, if you care.</p>

Alexander survives the penultimate round, if you care.

The finale kicks off with the judges standing and laughing creepily inside of a miniature chicken farm — a sight gag so subtle that it my first instinct was that everyone had lost it and were collectively actualizing some sort of mystery box challenge.

Reality, however, was much more mundane. After going through a round of “are we actually going to kill the chickens” confessionals, the judges reveal that tonight will feature both an egg challenge and a chicken challenge — or a chicken and the egg challenge, if you will.

Hardcore MasterChef fanatics will recognize the first challenge as the classic soft boiled egg challenge before wondering which life decisions led them down the path of becoming someone who recognizes signature MasterChef challenges.

Of course, boiling a soft boiled egg isn’t very visually stimulating, so the judges reveal that the timers have been ripped out of MasterChef Junior kitchen and the countdown timer has gone all Dr. Seuss on these kids’ asses.

That means we’re treated to a thrilling and definitely exciting montage of kids counting out six minutes in their heads. This challenge could not end soon enough. Judging from how little of the cooking we saw, the editors clearly agreed.

Jack’s egg, on the other hand, comes out overcooked, even after Graham Elliot’s best (awful) Dirty Harry impression. Fortunately, Jack’s neurotic tailspin afterwards totally makes up for the desecration of Clint Eastwood. Both Dara and Alexander suffer similar fates, albeit without any pop culture references so uniquely horrible.

Troy, surprisingly, is the only contestant with anything close to a soft boiled egg, earning perhaps the most backhanded praise ever given on the show. As the winner, Troy gets to, in an “unprecedented” advantage, decide which chef gets which part of the chicken for the elimination challenge.

The choices are chicken breast, chicken thigh, chicken wing or #CHICKENLIVER. Troy, being the future Cali stoner he is, picks the thigh, while Alexander gets bitch-slapped with the liver, Jack gets the breast and Dara’s hideous purple bow gets the wing.

Troy’s rationale here is that Alexander, the most dangerous competition, will get flummoxed by the yucky liver while Jack, the weakest competitor, might squeak through with the relatively robust chicken breast. A sound strategy, young Troy, but Papa Ramsay didn’t build his vast reality TV empire outta dat.

No, Troy’s winning the mystery box pretty much guaranteed that he will get eliminated while Alexander will pass on to the finals. I’m not very sure anymore whether or not the terrible amounts of irony every mystery box winner suffers is due to rigging or, quite simply, rampant hubris.

Anyways, Alexander pulls himself together to pump out a respectable liver pate on crostini. Dara visits her Asian roots by throwing around such buzzwords as soy, ginger and chicken. Troy’s dish is a weird collision of Southern fried chicken with summer squash salad.

Jack, lastly, is working on an overly ambitious stuffed chicken breast dish with grilled asparagus and oven roasted potatoes that practically screams incoming disaster. Worse still, Jack can’t seem to pin down exactly what he wants in his dish, constantly running back and forth from the pantry while the cameraman practices his handheld cinema verite skills.

The judges do their best to mentally wound the contestants, planting the seeds of doubt here and there, especially with Jack’s monstrosity and Troy’s fried chicken, hint hint.

The children go to present their dishes to the judges, and…yep, it's Alexander and Dara. The editor did get me worried when they put in so much of the judges’ praise for Jack, but my psychic abilities won out in the end.

With only one more episode to go, it’s sad to see that MasterChef Junior is every bit as predictable as the adult MasterChef. Alexander and Dara was a pairing you could guess since the premiere, but the truncated nature of this season meant that the journey to this inevitable conclusion was less than suspenseful.

I can only hope that the actual finale, with the Iron Chef-like layout, will be more interesting.


  • Why does anyone actually think that they’re going to let them kill a live land animal on national television? This old gambit has been pulled, without fail, on every season of every American Gordon Ramsay show, and the reaction is always the same.
  • “This is what they call the moment of truth.” Are you hourly?
  • The Asian boy with the cake on the Fox website isn’t actually in the show. Talk about embarrassing…