MasterChef recap: Great Scot! Can they please stop sending fan favourites home?

Judges Andy, Melissa and Jock give their best blue steel.
Judges Andy, Melissa and Jock give their best blue steel.  Photo: Supplied

It's Elimination Sunday, the day on which MasterChef contestants violate the wishes of Our Lord to cook on the Sabbath – and of course on which one unfortunate cook will suffer the ultimate punishment: seeing their family again.

After an establishing shot of a spiderweb – a devastating visual metaphor for the web of despair that all MasterChef contestants are entangled in – the cooks arrive in the kitchen to find the judges standing in front of a black curtain. What is behind the curtain? The fulfilment of all our fantasies? Or the manifestation of our worst nightmares? The Lynchian possibilities are fascinating.

Sarah didn't get the 'no colours please' memo.
Sarah didn't get the 'no colours please' memo. Photo: Supplied

Melissa quizzes the cooks on how they feel about the curtain, because otherwise the episode would run short. Finally the curtain drops, to reveal horrors unspeakable: a wall full of green stuff. The cooks will have to identify the greens, the first five to get one wrong to be put through to round two of the elimination.

Ali is the first to guess, and she guesses rosemary just by looking at it, which is definitely the safest way to identify rosemary, and also demonstrates that the term "taste test" is a filthy lie. Michael guesses kaffir lime, which doesn't even sound like a real thing, but he's right. Dan struggles, as he has never seen any green food before, but he picks kale, which he correctly identifies due to the panic attack it induces.

One by one, the cooks step up and correctly identify the greens, revealing themselves to be big fat veggie nerds. From above, Julie – who won immunity last week – stands on the balcony, laughing maniacally at the other cooks' travails and generally gloating.

Finally, after what seems like hours of the tedious sight of people succeeding, we get to the exciting bit: people failing. Dan identifies saltbush. Melissa asks for more information. Dan says "old man's saltbush". Melissa tells him it's actually coastal saltbush, as any IDIOT could tell you. Honestly, not knowing the difference between varieties of saltbush: was Dan raised in a CAVE?

And so Dan is the first to go into round two: the Quintet of Shame as they are known. The tension now ratchets up, as the soundtrack becomes increasingly Hitchcockian. Billie picks a leaf and calls it lovage. Andy informs her that it is in fact sea celery. We are forced to take their word for it that either of those actually exist, and Billie takes her place in the QoS.


Contestants continue to pick bits of green off the wall and say words. Sarah sees mustard greens, but decides to keep it for the next round, a tactic known to MasterChef experts as "the Dumbo Gambit". Absent-mindedly, she picks a bit of no. 15 and puts it in her mouth, before frantically spitting it out. "You ate it," says Jock. "I didn't," lies Sarah. "But you did," Jock kindly points out. Sarah's habit of putting things in her mouth without knowing what they are has, not for the first time, brought her to strife. She goes through to round two. "Why'd I put it in my mouth?" she says, bringing out her well-worn catchphrase. A short while later, Steph identifies mustard greens, meaning Sarah's initial tactic would not have worked anyway. Well played indeed.

As the challenge goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that this is a very long episode. Ali tastes something weird. "Sheep's sorrel?" she says, hoping that just randomly stringing words together will pay off. It's not sheep's sorrel, it's French sorrel – rookie mistake! Ali joins the quintet. "This is gonna be hell," says Ali, coming up with a catchphrase of her own.

The whole sorry saga is brought to an end when Matt says gem lettuce and Melissa says red oak lettuce and everyone laughs at Matt's frankly pathetic level of lettuce knowledge.

The taste (and smell and feel and looking-at) test was tough. Round two is even worse: the five have to cook a dish that celebrates the things on the wall. Given that the wall is covered with leafy greens and herbs, ie the worst possible kind of food, this is no easy task.

Dan immediately fills his basket with kale, clearly having given up on life. "This is an opportunity for me to turn kale into something I would order at a restaurant," he says, although how you turn kale into a steak is a mystery. Dan has a history with kale: he failed in an earlier challenge because the judges couldn't taste the kale, even though preventing anyone from tasting kale is objectively the best thing you can do with kale. He is determined to achieve kale redemption. It's not much of a life goal, but it's his.

The judges discuss what they would do if faced with this challenge. Andy would make a pasta dish. Melissa would write a blog about a dish someone else had cooked. Jock would grill lettuce like a sociopath.

Ali feels like her mojo levels are running a little bit low, which is sad for her but great for us because hearing her say it in her accent is adorable. She's a little bit confused, and proves it by deciding to serve gnocchi, fennel and haggis. Ominously, we are subjected to shots of Ali walking on the beach with her kids, which either means she's about to rise triumphant or crumble heartbreakingly.

Billie is making a curry leaf parfait, which sounds disgusting but I'm pretty sure that's the point of this challenge. Meanwhile Sarah, who has a pin but based on how she's gone so far today has probably forgotten about it, is making a dish that means a lot to her, much like every other dish she's ever made. It's a dish that her son's grandmother taught her, and it's so emotionally resonant for her that she can't help but have a slow-motion flashback of herself with a mortar and pestle.

The judges visit Matt, who is making charred broccoli. The judges explain to him that broccoli wasn't on the wall. Matt takes a good hard look at himself and decides that there is only one option left: panic. He replaces the broccoli with gai lan, which is…it's a…I dunno, it's a green thing.

Jock and Andy visit Ali so Jock can banter with her about haggis and Andy can try to avoid throwing up. They move on to Billie, who has a flashback, hoping that'll put her over the top. Meanwhile Sarah is moping. She's not sure about her dish, but she doesn't want to use her pin. From above, Michael calls out some advice: "If you love it, back yourself". This is terrible advice, and Sarah takes it on board. Finally, she plays her pin, the smart part of her brain winning the battle. Up to the balcony she goes.

There are only a few minutes to go, but still time for Melissa to visit Ali's bench and undermine her confidence. In desperation, Matt has a last-minute flashback to his job as a teacher, reminding him that if he doesn't succeed on MasterChef, it's back to the living hell of working with children. Meanwhile Dan is thrown off his rhythm by Julie shouting a confusing pun at him, and becomes uncertain about the colour of his broth.

Just a few short weeks after this episode began, it is time for tasting. Dan is first. His dish is a bunch of green stuff that looks awful. The judges love it. Matt is second. His dish is a bunch of green stuff that looks awful. The judges love it. Ali is third. Her dish is a bunch of green stuff with some yellow and purple stuff on top that looks awful. The judges hate it: she should've stuck to green. Everyone is shocked that combining fennel, gnocchi, orange and haggis somehow turned out less than delicious. Billie is fourth. Her dish is mostly white and brown, so what the hell she thinks she's playing at I do not know. The judges are in raptures over it.

With three good dishes and one terrible one, the suspense over who is getting eliminated is unbearable. Oh wow, it's Ali. Sadly she must depart, depleting the cute accent supply on the show. More walks on the beach ahead.

Tune in tomorrow, when cooking is cancelled so everyone can just have a good old cry.