MasterChef recap: A double elimination brings twice the emotion, drama, ad breaks and... horseradish

The MasterChef Australia judges get primed for a double elimination.
The MasterChef Australia judges get primed for a double elimination. Photo: Supplied

The episode opens with a close-up of a spider capturing and devouring its prey: an apt metaphor for the way in which tonight, two contestants' hopes and dreams will be ensnared in the web of cookery, and devoured by the monstrous spider that is the judges. For yes, it is that most dreadful of MasterChef phenomena: the DOUBLE ELIMINATION. Twice the misery to be inflicted, twice the schadenfreude to be enjoyed.

In the first round, the amateurs must choose between a black mystery box and a black cloche. If they pick the box, they must cook with at least one of the ingredients therein, but those are the only ingredients they get. If they pick the cloche, they get just one ingredient which they must use, but they get access to the pantry and the garden (not that the garden really matters of course).

The best dish in round one will be safe from round two: the worst will go home. They must vote for whether they will cook with the box or the cloche in round one. They vote for the box, by seven to two. God, explaining the details of a challenge is hella boring, isn't it?

With immunity winner Sabina up on the balcony cheering them on and/or gloating, the amateurs begin to scuttle. "I really love taking one vegetable and presenting it in two different ways," says Pete, as if we're interested in his perverted kinks. As he places his pumpkin wedges in the oven, the soundtrack booms with ominous music, as if we're going to find out he's actually putting a baby in the oven or something. Meanwhile Minoli declares her desire to cook a dish that she wants to eat, as she diligently spreads Vegemite on white bread.

As Pete frets over the unacceptably slow speed at which his pumpkin is roasting, Sabina shouts useful advice like, "salt, acid, you know the drill" and "make sure it's cooked perfectly". The amateurs collectively send up a prayer of thanks for the handy hints she's sending down, without which they would surely be lost. "Come on Juzzy!" she yells, in a not at all irritating or distracting manner. Following her advice, Juzzy does indeed come on. She goes on to tell Kishwar to use the best parts of the fish and tell Tommy that it looks amazing. What they would do without her nobody knows.

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Depinder is cooking pumpkin cake and walnut ice-cream. And salted caramel just to mess with us. Sabina thinks it looks epic, anyway, and Depinder's arms are flailing like a muppet's, which generally means she's on form. Minoli is less certain of herself, as she is making a broth that she worries won't stand out from all the other broths. Sabina calls out that she wants a big cup of Linda's broth, causing Linda to clench her teeth even tighter and squeeze out a "thanks".

With less than one minute left, Sabina yells, "Make sure the composition of the dish is good!" The amateurs all slap their foreheads, this never having occurred to them. The judges count down to zero and Sabina slumps to the ground, exhausted from her massive efforts throughout.

The judging is a brief affair. Elise's agnolotti sends the judges into raptures. Tommy's broth and noodles are perfectly serviceable. Kishwar's snapper is great. Linda's soup is good enough. Scott's little lumps of something or other are fine. Minoli's fish broth is…disappointing. Oh god no, not Minoli. Have we not suffered enough?

Pete's pumpkin and basically nothing else is the most boring dish you could ever imagine. Melissa actually looks kind of angry at it. But in not-a-surprise at all, the judges love it as they always do when someone makes something that we are led to believe is a massive risk. Then there's Justin's rib-eye which is pretty wonderful, and finally Depinder's ice-cream and gross cake, which is…bland. Not enough flavour. Wuh-oh!

Which is worse, Depinder's disappointing dessert or Minoli's underwhelming broth? The sad answer is…a massive ball of fire and an ad break. And then…

It's Minoli. Her rollercoaster ride is at an end. She must tearfully leave the kitchen, though on the upside at least she's had some practice at it. Her vast army of fans weep bitterly, while Depinder's equally vast army punches the air in triumph.

Elise joins Sabina on the balcony, taking some of the pressure of annoying everyone off her, as the ingredient under the black cloche is revealed. The ingredient is…horseradish. Everyone is devastated. Horseradish is well known as a deeply unpleasant ingredient that nobody in their right mind would ever want to eat, and therefore quite difficult to hero. Nonetheless, hero the horseradish they must, as whoever heroes the horseradish hopelessly will head home humiliated.

Scott has never cooked with horseradish before, because he is a nice respectable boy. He selects a big shiny mirror dory, something else he has never cooked before. He is hoping that the combination of one thing he's never cooked with and another thing he's never cooked with will in come way result in something he's really good at. Like how if you never learnt to swim, and never learnt to ride a bike, you may well be great at triathlon.

Kishwar is shattered about her friend Minoli going home and has embarked on some retail therapy, filling her basket with ingredients that she has no idea what to do with. Unlike Pete, who knows exactly what he wants to do: make people vomit. He's making horseradish ice-cream – with, of course, as the law demands, a granita – and not for the first time this year, the words "oh for god's sake" seem apt.

On the balcony, Sabina still seems to be doing all the work. "You're doing amazing", "Come on", "get that panna cotta in", she bellows, with no support whatsoever from Elise. It's disappointing: immunity comes with certain responsibilities, and Elise is shirking them.

Jock picks up some of the slack. "Come on, Depinder," he barks. "Thank you," Depinder replies. "Don't THANK me, just COME ON," Jock shoots back, and you have to admire that. Nobody in this kitchen thanks Jock and gets away with it.

Suddenly, raw emotion strikes, and makes it very difficult for a recapper to make insensitive jokes about a person. Kishwar, still struggling with the fallout from round one, is in tears, halfway through the cook and still unsure of what she's doing. Andy gives her a pep talk, which seems to help. "Kish, you can do this!" Sabina shouts, which doesn't.

Meanwhile Scott is rhapsodising over how beautiful his fish is. He seems reluctant to actually start cooking it, and given the choice would rather ask it out. Eventually though, he starts mutilating and defiling the gorgeous fish's poor body, in a typical example of humanity's brutal disregard for nature. And then he goes and overcooks it anyway. Sheesh.

Depinder gleefully gets a chocolate dome out of a mould and starts brushing it like a prize terrier. In contrast, Linda has trouble getting her panna cotta out of its mould, but with a little help from Sabina's mindless shouting, she manages.

All of a sudden, Justin runs out of the kitchen, and it seems he's finally making that break for freedom. But no, he's just getting some oil because his dish isn't oily enough. 10 seconds later it's all over. Everyone is exhausted except for Elise who has been really bludging up there.

For someone, it's the last judging. For someone, the ultimate punishment – reunion with their family – is about to be handed down.

The face-stuffing begins.

Tommy is first and his fish salad is of course fine because we've hardly seen him tonight so it's obvious he's safe.

Linda's horseradish panna cotta is a good panna cotta but doesn't have enough horseradish in it, which really goes to show what a bizarro world MasterChef is, where "your panna cotta isn't very horseradishy" can be a criticism.

Justin's poached kingfish is basically a good thing.

Depinder's horseradish ice-cream in a chocolate dome is of course brilliant and delicious and oh we love you Depinder blah blah blah.

Scott's much-admired mirror dory is overcooked and, like a disappointing panna cotta, lacks sufficient horseradish.

Pete's horseradish ice-cream, which must go head to head against Depinder's, is fantastic, and the judges particularly admire his obedience to the granita rule.

And finally Kishwar's mackerel…is wonderful! Oh that's a relief because honestly seeing Kishwar cry once was more than enough. Any more might've finished me off.

And so it is that we learn that a horseradish-deficient panna cotta is slightly preferable to a horseradish-deficient mirror dory that is also overcooked, for it's Scott who goes home. He's had a good run, growing from the guy who wasn't technically in the competition to become one of the show's most present cooks. He leaves with a smile on his face and a pretty nice haircut on his head.

Tune in tomorrow, when everyone heads north for adventure…and romance?