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True Blood: FINALE!!!

Is everybody ready for the BIG FINALE of True Blood? OMG I can’t believe it’s here! Last week Bill decided that he’d rather die the True Death than continue living and deny Sookie the happy ending she deserved. Both Sookie and Jessica were understandably upset with this decision. Sam left with Nicole so they could raise their daughter together in a somewhat normal town (Chicago) and Arlene was determined to keep on keepin’ on, despite all the curve balls life has thrown at her. Eric finally gave Ginger her big “happy ending” while Jess and Hoyt rekindled their love affair and Jason got a taste of what actual conversation with a girl is like from Hoyt’s ex girlfriend Bridgette. As the episode closed, the Yakuza were on their way to Sookie’s house after realizing she knew about Sarah Newlin, the cure to Hep V, while Sookie waited for Bill to come over and explain why death was preferential to a life with her.

Sookie shows Bill into her home and he’s immediately feeling nostalgic. She doesn’t think that jives well with his suicidal intentions. Bill’s whole decision boils down to this: Sookie deserves a life with a mortal husband and her own children. His disease has made him feel more human than ever before and he realizes that he should be with his original dead family and she should move on to someone who can give her the “circle of life” she deserves. They love each other too much to quit each other, so Bill needs to die. He casually asks Sookie to help him end it…the Fae call it “the ultimate kindness.” She can use her light to kill him and solve her Faerie problem in one fell swoop. She can be human and have a normal (non Fae) life. She’ll be setting them both free! Upon my first watching I thought this was really, really, really selfish of Bill. I’m wavering a bit upon a second watching…but still, asking someone to give up the one thing that makes them super special in order to achieve “normalcy” (what even IS normalcy?!?!) seems shitty to me, even if it would make her much less of a vampire magnet. That said, there’s a bit of relief in his voice that doing so would likely end her attraction to other vamps and I can’t say that I believe it’s all “for her protection” and because freedom.

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Sayonara, opening credits (tear)

The Yakuza are cruising down a country road in their Fast N’ Furious-mobile heading to Sookie’s house. Back at Fantasia, Gus is very disappointed in Eric and Pam. Proving he’s not a very good manager, Gus has left Eric and Pam (un-silvered and unguarded) in the basement with Sarah Newlin. Eric’s going to kill Mr. Gus and steal the New Blood idea and asks Pam if she’s on board with this plan. Of course she is! Pam feeds Sarah some of her blood (so she can track her) and they send her out the tunnel. They summon Mr. Gus to the basement to tell him of Sarah’s escape. Mr. Gus, showing himself to be FAR less intelligent in this episode than he’s been in any other episode heads down the tunnel himself, ordering his men to kill Pam & Eric. They use their vampire speed to kill the guards very quickly and burn Mr. Gus alive in the tunnel.

Meanwhile, the Yakuza arrive at Sookie’s house and so does Eric. He makes quick work of them and all Sookie hears from her bedroom window is a souped up car speeding away.

MyJam
This.Is.My.Jam!

At an amusement park, Sarah is busy eatin’ garbage (as Pam so wonderfully puts it). She chose that place because that’s where Eric turned Willa. It dawns on her that she’s a horrible person and then parlays that statement into a very unconvincing argument for being turned. If your argument is “I’m literally the worst, so A) I’d fit right in with you and B) let’s spend eternity together” your argument is doomed to fail. Pam refuses. Even after Sarah pathetically throws herself at Pam, her powers of persuasion fail. No vampire for you. The only thing Pam wants from her is her blood…she hasn’t been vaccinated yet.

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Jessica arrives at the Compton residence to talk to Bill with Hoyt in tow. Bill and Hoyt exchange pleasantries while Jessica blurts out that she doesn’t want Bill to die. But if he insists on dying anyway, she wants him to know that she’ll be fine. She doesn’t understand it, but she’ll find a way to accept it. While hugging, she comments that he’s warm (HUMAN ALERT!). Bill realizes Hoyt’s planning to stay in town because of Jessica and asks if someday he might be planning to marry her. “DAAAAD! YOU’RE SO EMBARRASSING!!!” is essentially Jessica’s totally understandable response, but Hoyt quickly says that he is. Jess pulls Bill aside for a private conversation. She might be a vampire but she’s also a girl, and this isn’t how she envisioned the planning of her big day. In the midst of telling Jess that one day is “plenty of time to fall in love with someone” (insanity must be a V side effect) Bill stumbles. It dawns on Jess that he truly is fading and she softens as he explains that he didn’t get to see his human daughter get married and he just wants to leave this earth knowing that she’s “spoken for.” Ugh…and here is where my issues with this finale begin to pile up. She’s a fierce, badass baby vamp yet she needs to be “spoken for?” Hmm…

Anyway, they share a hug and Jess decides she’s going to ask Hoyt if he’s serious about marrying her someday and if he is, then can they just do it today?

Sookie is home on a rainy evening having a childhood flashback of she and Tara running home from school in the rain. Gran chides them for not calling for a ride, but they’ve figured out that getting wet in the rain means Gran will make them hot chocolate. Sookie reads Tara’s mind and hears that she’s got a crush on Jason. She can read boys minds and they’re gross. She wants to get married and have a family someday, but 12 year old Sookie just doesn’t know if she’ll be able to. Gran rushes in to tell her she can have any kind of life she wants. She’s entitled to it and there are no limits on her if she doesn’t put them on herself.

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Doctor Who Recap: ‘Hello, hello, Rubbish Robots from the Dawn of Time’

Hi Trashies!

In case you didn’t know, ‘Rubbish’ is English for garbage. Just in case.

Finally, Doctor Who has returned for an eighth series with a new lead actor – and, surprisingly, the first full series for ‘new’ companion Clara. She took so long to arrive on the show that I’ll probably be thinking of her as the ‘new’ companion when she leaves. The new Doctor is Peter Capaldi – an extremely talented actor so my hopes are high. Sky high.

The first outing of any incarnation of the Doctor is always a slightly odd affair, with the Doctor often confused and working out exactly who he is – a handy device as so are the audience. Its like a first date, there’s confusion, awkwardness, and sex is unlikely. Anyone who claims they always get laid on the first date please leave the room, you’re not geeky enough to be watching Dr Who. Each Doctor tends to be slightly self-contained too, in story line terms, so we don’t know who might appear or not, or what plot arcs might carry over. If any.

This, strictly speaking, is the first full outing for the 12th Doctor. Although after all the shenanigans with the War Doctor and the 10th Doctors semi-regeneration last series, he’s actually the 14th incarnation – The first Doctor of the new cycle of regenerations the Time Lords gave him. Nerd facts, I love them.

As we start, we don’t see the Doctor or Clara around at all – there’s a giant dinosaur wandering round Victorian London, and Madame Vastra of the Paternoster gang is on hand to help the police, being a consulting detective type.

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And a Lizard. But No one mentions that.

I suppose if a human sized lizard didn’t want me to mention it, I wouldn’t either. I’d be screaming in terror as I’m phobic of snakes, and even tortoises give me the shivers as their heads look like snake heads. She does, in fact she references the fact she was around with the dinosaurs, being a Silurian. I know she has previously told the Inspector about her origins, (in a webisode) but he didn’t believe her – and now Vastra seems happy to show her face to anyone. She’s become a total face-slut. You’d think the fact she’s a carnivorous lizard whose main diet was apes would trouble more people. It is a welcome sight though that there is going to be some continuity between new Doctor and old, and Vastra, Jenny and Straxx are awesome characters.

Vastra claims that many dinosaurs were this size – as tall as the clock tower of Big Ben? I think she’s just boasting now. Her wife Jenny is present, meaning that Straxx must be lurking around somewhere, like the burly little potato man he is.

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Dance Moms Recap: Friends or Frenemies?

Hello Trashellinas! Well here we are at the studio, waiting for the Pyramid. Lots of lunacy to snark on so let’s get to it. Here’s a flashback on last week’s episode: Solos: Kendall came in first place, Chloe second and Nia fourth. The group dance also won first, which was a special tribute to Abby & Company. She named it “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.” Sarah H. was saved miraculously from a life of ALDC misery when her mother ran her mouth to Abby a little too much. Abby is done with her. She is one lucky bitch!

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 Who knew having a sadistic, fake Christian bitch for a mother would come in handy?

Now to the latest in Abbyville. We are in the studio. The mothers line up to listen to Abby bitch and belittle. They also have another suck ass to deal with this week, NT’s Loree. She has two successful dance studios and a stick up her ass. She is also Abby’s friend.

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Meet Loree. Abby’s facebook friend of one.

Abby welcomes Loree’s daughter Jade with the morsel of charm she has left by including the word “sweetheart.” Jade is the extremely talented 15-year-old who is my favorite kind of kid. SILENT. Then she welcomes Loree by bragging to the other mothers about all the things Loree IS, implying that is what they AREN’T. Abby makes a show of congratulating the team for winning first in the group dance last week at Powerhouse Dance Competition. After giving them a rare  60 seconds of happiness in her presence, she moves in for the kill. It’s Pyramid time!

 DMs S4 Ep24 Abby rip pyramid pics

Let the games begin.

Bottom row: Chloe: According to Abby, second is the first to lose. I wonder what other crap Abby will invent as she glues Chloe to the number 1 bottom spot for the rest of the season.

Nia: Nia came in fourth, which means Abby placed her higher on the pyramid than SECOND place winner Chloe. Abby Math 101.

Middle: Mackenzie: She needs to do everything in her power to become her sister’s clone. That and grow about four inches overnight.

Maddie: You decide. And at the very top! Kendall. The second week in a row. Jill looks so thrilled no doubt she took Kendall out of regular school that very same day.

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MiniCap – Top Chef Duels, Mike v. Antonia

Howdy-do, Trashiites!  Welcome back to Top Chef Duels, where past Top Chef contenders return to fight it out for money, fame, and the chance, nay, the honor, to be mocked by yours truly.  But mostly the money.

This week’s contestants are Season 4’s Antonia Lofaso, and Season 6’s Mike Isabella, who also competed against one another in Top Chef All Stars, and discovered that they are distant cousins.  Both specialize in Italian and/or Mediterranean cuisine, and they have a love/hate relationship that’s either fun or annoying, depending on the day.

Antonia’s chef’s challenge is up first – it’s to make rice balls (arancini), a traditional Italian dish that both chefs grew up cooking and eating.  Antonia’s huge balls are stuffed with Italian sausage (that is ACTUALLY what she said), Locatelli (a specific brand of Pecorino-Romano cheese, thanks Google), ricotta, peas and parmesan.  Mike made more of a kibbeh (Middle-Eastern croquette) stuffed with golden raisins, pine nuts and beef, and served over a spiced rice and tomato sauce.  While the judges enjoy both dishes, and Curtis was “surprised by Mike’s balls,” all 3 vote for Antonia, so she gets $10K and some bragging rights.

Mike’s chef’s challenge is to clean a mess o’seafood – oysters, clams, prawns, etc.  Whomever finishes first gets to pick the proteins for both, and the 30 minute clock includes the cleaning time, too.  Antonia’s PISSED, and Mike giggles.  They are such goobers.  I mean that in a nice way.  Anyway, Mike finishes just ahead of Antonia, and keeps the clams, prawns and oysters, while giving her the mackerel.  Mike makes a spicy seafood soup with chive and lemon yogurt that the judges compare to a rich, flavorful sauce.  Antonio grills her mackerel, which she serves with yogurt, mint, chiles, celery and fennel.  Both dishes get rave reviews, but both Gail and guest judge (and Top Chef Masters alum) Michael Chiarello vote for Mike, so he gets $10K too!

The Duel challenge is to cook an Italian family meal, and their actual families will be the diners.  The first course must be a “family heirloom” dish, the second course should be their interpretation of a carbonara (super-healthy pasta dish, traditionally with eggs, bacon, cheese, and another fat like butter or cream), and the third must be a modernized version of a classic Italian dessert.  They each choose one family member who can help in the kitchen for an hour, in addition to the one sous chef they were each allowed to bring.  Antonia chooses her brother, and Mike his wife.

For the first course, Antonia serves her take on a Fra Diavolo, with black cod, cockles, lobster, and Andouille sausage in a tomato and seafood broth.  Mike serves braised octopus with artichokes both pureed and raw, and I think a wine and blackberry reduction.  Everybody loves both courses, but thinks that Mike met the challenge a little better.

For the second course, Antonia’s carbonara is fairly classic, with egg, bacon, cream and brown butter, while Mike’s is more adventurous, including wasabi, sea urchin and seared crab.  Again, positive reviews across the board for both dishes, with the families, as expected, loyal to their own.

For dessert, Antonia serves cannoli and spumoni (molded ice cream in different layers of flavors, usually with candied fruit and or nuts).  And hey!  Wikipedia tells me that August 21 is National Spumoni Day, so go eat some ice cream, dammit!  Anyhoo, Antonia’s desserts don’t seem especially updated, but everyone loves the flavors, and her father hilariously declares her the winner.  Mike makes a dessert that sounds awesome to me and looks great in the bowl – basil panna cotta with pine nuts candied in basil syrup, strawberries marinated in aged balsamic vinegar, and pine nut whipped cream.  Amazing though it sounds, apparently the panna cotta (Top Chef kryptonite) didn’t completely set, and some found the basil flavor too strong.

In the end, while both chefs made delicious food, Antonia wins!  On to the finals for her, while Mike will face Brooke in the Knockout.

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Big Brother: Zing MothaF*****

We’re back for another veto night all.  We left off with #Everybody trying and failing to throw the Battle of the Block so Donny could go home.  But Caleb and Cody stayed on the block because Donny won it all by himself while also somehow finding out that Christine was trying to lose.  I don’t know how.  Everyone knows when Christine is on her hands and knees in the dark, she always has trouble finding a bone. Zing! That’s right. It’s the one truly enjoyable episode of Big Brother of the year. Zingbot night.  And he’s brought a friend.  So let’s get started.

But first…I was surfing through the channels the other day and came across an episode of Sam and Cat, which stars this apparently famous Ariana Grande.  And I have to say, if that’s her real speaking voice, that has to be one of the most annoying people I’ve had to endure.  And that’s coming from someone who has recapped (and in turn seen every Wednesday episode twice) Frankie and Nicole all season.

Anyway, we begin with Donny realizing that Christine “throwed it”, it being the competition.  If he wasn’t like the one decent human in that house, I would probably make a bigger deal of that.  On the other end of the house, Hazel is talking with the boys in the bathroom in disbelief.

HazelBasically this season they went to a cartoon lookalike contest for casting.

Cody realizes that with all their failed plans, instead of the Bomb Squad they should be called The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight.  And that’s why Cody isn’t in charge of naming alliances.

Cody Hand“We should call ourselves the People Who Vote Against Women. That or how about the Lotion Appliers. No, no, wait, Seven and a Half Men.  Nope, nevermind. Fatherboys.”

Derrick tries to smooth things over with Donny, saying that Victoria is the target.  However, Donny is the Sookie Stackhouse to Derrick’s glamouring powers and I’m the person making references to shows that haven’t been relevant in three years.  Regardless, Donny knows what’s up and even though I like Derrick, it’s nice seeing him frustrated/not in complete control for once.

Donny StackhouseWhereas I’ve stuck with True Blood to see Sookie Stackhouse naked, I will bleach my eyes and find a new writing hobby if Donny Stackhouse starts fangbanging on this show.

Derrick even catches Donny rolling his eyes when he quickly comes back into the room so he knows for sure Donny ain’t buying his shit.  He informs Frankie that Donny doesn’t trust them.  They discuss their options and seem to land on Victoria for the moment.

On Donny’s end, he starts planting some seeds.  He tells Zach to win POV for his own safety.  Donny’s hoping to get an alliance member.  Too bad he waited until the end of the season otherwise this could’ve worked out for him.

Zach, now more paranoid than an SDSU freshman on pot brownies, is approaching Frankie with what if scenarios.  What if Victoria wins POV and saves Cody.  Zach, what if your mother and father never met.

Literally, it would have to be a blow job and makeup contest for Victoria to come in second place to Frankie. So look into more realistic options Zach.  They move next to the fact that Derrick beats everybody. Uh oh, Douchenet has become self aware.

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Watch What Crappens Podcast #141: OC, Melbourne, NJ, Below Deck, Crowns and Matt Whitfield!

Matt Whitfield (Yahoo TV) reunites with Ben Mandelker (bsideblog.com) and Ronnie Karam (trashtalktv.com) for a super-sized episode of “Watch What Crappens.” The crew tackles all the Housewives of the week: Melbourne, New Jersey, and Orange County, and also finds time to dig into cult favorite “Game of Crowns.”

Plus, there’s talk of “Below Deck” and a bonus “Big Brother” discussion at the end of the episode. Enjoy!

Use the promocode 199wwc for a new .com or domain transfer for just $1.99 at godaddy.com! Some limitations apply. See website for details. Yay!

Want more RonnieK? In addition to co-hosting the Watch What Crappens Bravo Podcast, I’m recording Big Brother in 2 Minutes Video Re-Enactments. You can also find me on Twitter, Vine (@RonnieKaram) and Instagram.

Want more TrashTalk? Follow us on Twitter for updates of recaps as they publish, like us on Facebook for a daily update, watch our TV parody vids on YouTube, or for funny TV pics, heart us on Instagram, follow our TV parody boards on Pinterest, and get our daily microblogs on Tumblr!

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Masterchef Recap: I suspect I know why you weren’t ‘Cool’ in High School, Elizabeth

Hi Trashies!

Welcome to the spooky and no doubt catastrophe ridden 13th episode of Masterchef. Except I don’t at all believe in crap like that, so it’ll be business as usual.

Where are we at now – last 8 chefs? Does that mean we’re in for a shorter season or shenanigans later on? I think the end date is 20 sep, meaning 5 more episodes only so that is a shorter set.

This week we are mercifully Elizabeth-free in the pre ep talkie bits. Its left to Christian and Daniel to spout the same old meaningless bilge that every reality tv star everywhere ends up saying- ‘I have to knock the others down like dominoes’,’if you don’t gamble you can’t win’ and so on. Still doesn’t beat my sister’s immortal statement of ‘I’dve got more right in the test if I’d known the answers’. Soon I expect one to say ‘I love breathing in and out. That’s just me. I like to be different.’

So tonight its cooking in pairs, which is always fun. They get to pick their own pairs, which could leave some mini’s suddenly left with the cold stark knowledge they aren’t too popular.

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Elizabeth and Willy openly mock the unpopular Minis

So who is the mini no one likes? The one who eagerly checks Facebook after being told they had a message only to find the only contact is a marketing spam mail?

You’d think it would be Malibu, but Big Willy makes a bee-line for him. Unfortunately Malibu was making a bee-line for Elizabeth, along with two other mini’s. This has an unfortunate effect, suddenly a new prom queen is born, and she wishes she’d been this popular in High School.

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I suspect I know why you weren’t ‘Cool’ in High School, Elizabeth

‘Course its a good thing not to be a cool kid, and you can see why in the next few seconds. Our favorite Aerial Dancer is a bit jealous of Elizabeth. Perhaps she’s still too young and thinks that High School social hierarchy actually means something outside of High school.

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Dance Moms Season Minicap: Abby-phobic

 

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Hello Trashellinas! Hope everyone has been doing well since we last sat in the audience. Here’s a flashback on some dramatic events from last week:

 The group dance was about gypsies and won first. It was cute but not mesmerizing.

Kendall made the top of the pyramid, got a solo and a “special part.” The mothers said these two words so many times I was ready to steal a prescription. Anything to end the torture.

Kendall got first in a solo referred to as “Maddie’s” courtesy of Abby.

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My Maddie gets special parts because I have special talents. Deal with it bitches!

 

 Abby belittled Chloe even more so than usual and still placed second in solo.

Maddie appeared on “Ellen” but made it back in time to appear in the group dance. Shocking!

Nia finally did another solo and came in fourth. Thanks to dog makeup and a spiked collar.

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True Blood Recap: La Petite Mort

Last week a couple big story lines wrapped up very neatly. Stick a fork in them, because they are done! Tara’s ghost led Lafayette, Lettie Mae and the Reverend Daniels to a vision of her angry, abusive father ruining her birthday party as a kid and storming out never to be seen again. She and Lettie Mae apologized to each other, forgave each other, and hugged it out before Tara’s ghost disappeared forever, presumably at peace. Hoyt rushed into Violet’s sex dungeon just in time to save Jessica, Wade and Adilyn by killing Violet with a gunshot to the hear. It seems that Hoyt and Jessica still have the feels for each other, regardless of his cute scientist girlfriend. Eric was saved by Sarah Newlin’s blood but when Bill was offered the cure, he said he didn’t want it and that’s the cliffhanger upon which last week ended.

This week jumps right in where last week left off. Jess is understandably pissed but Bill has accepted his fate. Sookie tells him he doesn’t get to hide behind the word “fate.” If he doesn’t drink Sarah’s blood he’s making a choice, but one he doesn’t need to live with while the rest of them will. It’s OK says Bill…I still choose the true death. Ha, what a jerk. Sookie starts slapping the shit out of him. Eric sends Bill away and Jessica asks to be released. Eric gives her a very fatherly speech about how proud he is of her and how well she’s going to do out there in the wide, wide world on her own. He releases her and shambles away. Jess collapses on Pam’s shoulder and Pam reminds her she’ll be paying for her jacket if she cries on it. LOL. Sookie collapses into Eric’s arms (of course).

Back in Bon Temps, Jessica and Sookie head to Sam’s and finds it empty, with two envelopes left on the coffee table. One is addressed to Sookie. As she reads the letter, we see that Sam decided to pack up and move to be with Nicole after all. Way to go, Sam…get your ass out of this crazy town! He tells Sookie it isn’t goodbye and that he’d like her to come and visit them in Chicago after the baby is born. It’s a nice goodbye.

Back at Bellefleur’s, Arlene is happy to see Sookie and Jessica walk in. I love when Lafayette calls Jess “Redbone” by the way. Since business is slow, Arlene’s decided to open up and have a party for the employees (and friends of employees) and hope that that will bring the customers back. Andy is there, and the other letter Sam left turns out to have been for him. It is a simple letter of resignation.

Andy
Nice knowing you too, Sam

James is there too, and he takes this opportunity to apologize to Jessica. She admits that she doesn’t actually know much about him, as Lafayette had told her. She’s sorry she never asked and asks if he and Lafayette are going to be happy together. When he says yes, he thinks they will be she seems genuinely happy for them. She leaves and asks him to make sure Sookie gets home alright. I think we all know where she’s heading.

At Hoyt’s, Bridget is fuming. She’s actually pissed that he doesn’t want to have kids with her. It’s not that he’ll never get there, he’s just not sure that’s where he’s at right now. Then she asks about “the redhead.” Apparently Bridget noticed that she got googly eyed when Hoyt saved her. Bridget’s been packing up Hoyt’s Mom’s house so he doesn’t have to and Hoyt explains that spent the day with Jason and went to visit Jessica’s maker. Just as they’ve made up, Jessica shows up at the door. Oops.

Jessica came to tell him about their history. They lived together, they were happy…but Jess fucked it up. Bridget has no idea what’s happening. How could she know him but him not know her? She tells him if he walks out right now to talk to Jess, that she and Hoyt are through…and out he walks. Oof, that is a kick in the vagina. Sorry Bridget, nice knowing you.

Outside, Jess explains that Bill released her. There’s a cure for Hep V but he wouldn’t drink it. She didn’t understand him accepting a fate that he doesn’t have to accept. She wants to be with Hoyt on a night like tonight, even if it’s super selfish. Hoyt starts putting two and two together…she doesn’t have to accept a fate without Hoyt, so here she is. Once she’s caught her breath, he wants her to tell him the story of them.

HoytJessFeels

So.Many.Feels

At Jason’s house, he gets a call (on his FLIP PHONE). He’s got the most ridiculous ringtone I’ve ever heard. It’s Bridget asking for Jason to come and get her. He’s the only one she knows in town, Jessica came over and she’s upset, blah blah. Jason grabs his keys and rushes out.

At Bellefleur’s they’re having a nice family-style Cajun dinner. Sookie is sulking at the bar so Arlene heads over to see what’s wrong. Arlene is pretty psyched about her new relationship with Vampire Keith, even though they can’t have sex or it would kill him. Sookie explains that she gave Bill Hep V and he’s already dying. She asks Arlene how she keeps starting over and she explains that having her ex come back to you in a death vision and tell you to helps, but otherwise you need to make up your mind that you’re going to. Sookie admits that she was never really over Bill and that that wasn’t fair to Alcide. Realizing that is the first step to not doing it again.

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Top Chef Duels Recap – Brooke v. Shirley (or…Pink, as in Pepto?)

Hello, my fellow Trashiiti – hope you’re having a good summer so far!  We’re back with two female chefs this week – Brooke Williamson, 2nd place in Season 9 (Seattle) and Shirley Chung, 3rd place in Season 10 (New Orleans).  As I said in last week’s recap, I watched Top Chef from the first season through All-Stars (the mean spirit of TC Texas drove me away) so I’m not familiar with either chef, but did a bit of research online.  Brooke has 3 restaurants in LA, and was heavily favored to win her season, but may have been hurt by the unusual finale format.  I also happened upon an interview where she expressed disappointment in California’s ban on the use of foie gras (I think this may be important later), so my animal-loving heart came in a little prejudiced against her for that.  Shirley has worked for some heavy-hitter chefs, including Thomas Keller and Jose Andres, and is about to open her own restaurant as well.

We meet the chefs and say hi to our judges.  Traditional knife-drawing ensues, and Brooke gets the red knife.  She chooses to do Shirley’s challenge first, which is a “weird shellfish” challenge – Brooke gets to pick one of three items, which both chefs will cook – geoduck, razor clams or abalone.  Brooke chooses geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck, big phallic clam), and it’s clear Shirley’s surprised – she interviews that Brooke impressed her with that ballsy move.  Hey, ladies, can we call it something more neutral when someone’s fearless, rather than equating bravery with an appendage Brooke doesn’t possess?  Just a thought.  They have 30 minutes and get cooking, though it seems cleaning the geoduck is the hardest part (a…hem).  The chefs bicker back and forth a little bit but it’s pretty good-natured…so far.

Hello, I'm geoduck.  The girls think I'm ballsy but cleaning me is...hard.

Hello, I’m geoduck. The girls think I’m ballsy but cleaning me is…hard.

Shirley’s dish is first – she made warm geoduck salad with crispy/salty clam belly croutons, fennel and herbs.  Now, how the hell do you know which part of a clam is the belly?  The clams are probably cracking up in geoduck heaven, all – good call, Einstein, you just ate my ASS.  The judges like Shirley’s dish, and feel that she featured the geoduck well, though Wolfie would have liked more acidity.

Brooke made crispy geoduck with passionfruit vinaigrette, radishes and seaweed.  Her dish is definitely prettier, which the judges do notice.  They like the brightness and flavors, though Curtis didn’t like her use of passionfruit seeds as they could be mistaken for shell or sand.  Having eaten some poorly cleaned clams in my youth, I get it.

The judges vote – Gail for Shirley, and both Curtis and Wolfie for Brooke, who wins $10K!  Brooke’s thrilled, but Shirley interviews that she was fighting back tears.  Aw.

Time for Brooke’s challenge – she did some research and found out that Shirley’s not comfortable with dessert, so that’s what they’re making.  Oh, but wait!  It also has to be vegan – no animal products, meaning no eggs, butter, milk, honey, gelatin, etc.  I wonder if Brooke got some flak from her foie gras interview?  Anyway, this is a bad-ass move, as, in addition to being dessert-shy, Shirley is French-trained and thus, used to lots of dairy in desserts.  I’ve made vegan cookies but with a recipe and fake butter, and rest assured they were not restaurant caliber.  Anyway, I loved that there was no real whining about the vegan aspect of the challenge; it always seems Top Chef contestants act like toddlers when forced to make vegetarian or vegan food (but I wanna make baaaaaaaaaaacon), so I was happy to see these chefs just get to work.

Cookin’ time!  30 minutes to create a vegan dessert.  Brooke interviews that she spent her first working year in a pastry kitchen, so she hopes that experience works to her advantage.  Shirley’s clearly a bit out of her depth here, and while she does some mild bitching and has some issues, she gamely rolls with it, which I appreciated.

The judges try Brooke’s dessert first – it’s a banana hazelnut chocolate pudding with hazelnut praline powder (think ice cream toppings), fresh orange segment and pistachio brittle.  When Wolfie mentions he tastes spices, Brooke says she used a little cayenne and fleur de sel.  The plate was a bit busy for me, but the judges love it, and Gail mentions she doesn’t usually like citrus with chocolate, but this worked.  I might try to make a version of this, because it has tofu (for protein) and booze (for…life), so 2 of the 4 food groups!  Shirley’s got a warm coconut tapioca, with a green tea and passionfruit jam.  It’s very simple and pretty and the judges really enjoy it – Wolfie says he would serve it in his Asian restaurants.  Gail says that, vegan or not, these are two of the best desserts she’s had in all her years on Top Chef – both chefs are rightfully thrilled with that, especially dessert-challenged Shirley.  Wolfie makes a sexist comment about Gail’s desserts going to her chest that would have gotten him fired anywhere but Bravo or Paula Deen’s brother’s restaurant.  Gail handles it really well, but Wolfie needs to knock it off; thus, as punishment, I now declare him to be Wolfbubba.  Anyway, Shirley’s happiness is short-lived as, once again, Gail votes for Shirley, but both dudes go for Brooke, so another $10K for her, and Shirley interviews that it’s very disappointing not to have won any money, so she must be victorious in The Duel.

Take $20k from me again, and you'll be finding out exactly what I can do with this rolling pin, young lady!

Take $20k from me again, and you’ll be finding out exactly what I can do with this rolling pin, young lady!

This week’s Duel challenge is to create a 3-course meal “inspired by life under the big top”.  So, get 47 proteins in a tiny bowl and then pull them out one by one?  Just kidding.  To drive home the point, they have a juggler and a fire-eating lady in a skimpy ensemble come in to pester the chefs.  Brooke looks like she wants to deck the fire chick for coming too close to her hair (I feel you, girl) but when she swallows her fire, Wolfbubba says, “Some like it hot!”  Cram it, Wolfbubba.

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