MasterChef recap: A watershed moment for Australian television, a water shed moment for everyone else

Brent puts his hand up say he can no longer compete in MasterChef 2021.
Brent puts his hand up say he can no longer compete in MasterChef 2021. Photo: Supplied

In 1961 the Berlin Wall was erected, placing an impenetrable barrier between the peoples of East and West Berlin, who once had been friends and neighbours. 60 years later, the MasterChef Wall was erected, placing an impenetrable barrier between Scott and Justin, who once had been friends and neighbours. And that's not even the most dramatic thing that will happen today, as a shock announcement rocks the kitchen and brings tears to the eyes of the most hardened Jock.

The elimination is in two rounds: in the first, the amateurs are divided into pairs and cook head-to-head, their opponent on the other side of the wall. Winners of the first round are safe, losers go into the second round. In the second round each loser will have only whatever portion of 90 minutes they didn't use in the first. It's extremely tense and to make it worse Tommy is on the balcony laughing at them all.

Sabina must face Kishwar. Knowing Kishwar is a "flavour queen" (her words, I would never say such a thing), Sabina decides to not try to beat her at her own game and works on making something completely flavourless.

The magnitude of the stakes becomes clear when Minoli has a flashback about her mother that is not only in soft-focus, but slow-motion. Minoli is determined to bring Sri Lankan cuisine to the masses, and today she's doing so with a jackfruit curry: a bold choice, given that a jackfruit is an imaginary food that Minoli has only made up today. On the other side of the wall stands her opponent Brent, who is cooking chicken in a way that he doesn't really understand.

Meanwhile Elise is making pasta, more as an involuntary reflex than anything else. She is opposed to Pete, who is making a vinegar sorbet as part of his quest to see how obvious he can make his joke dishes before someone calls him on it.

Depinder, who is already exhausted from the ridiculously excessive overreaction she performed when she learnt about the challenge, is intimidated by her opponent Maja, because Maja has already been eliminated once and Depinder lives in looking-glass world, where this means someone is good. Maja is steaming panna cottas like the mad rogue that she is.

Then there's Linda and Aaron, who are cooking things also.

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Justin and Scott, who were the best of friends but are now sworn to leave the other in a pool of his own blood, are cooking cauliflowers and pipis respectively, so they're well matched in terms of unimpressiveness.

Sabina and Scott are the first to finish, as you might expect given how impatient white people always are. As more and more amateurs hit the finish button, Brent starts to feel a little bit stressed and relaxes by flashing back to a day at the beach. He reminisces about how much he loves his wife and son and how much more fun being at the beach is than cooking chicken on TV.

With time trickling away, tragedy strikes as Maja discovers that her first panna cotta has not set. As if that's not bad enough, Andy comes over and explains the rules of the challenge to her like she's a moron. Maja can give up now and save the remaining time for round two, wait for her second panna cotta, or try to make a totally new dish in round one. She decides to wait for her second panna cotta since that seems like the least effort.

Meanwhile Elise is very happy with the texture of her pasta, but then she always is.

Pete finally admits what we always knew: vinegar sorbet sounds disgusting. This is progress: now he just needs to admit that it also tastes disgusting and he'll have made a real breakthrough. Pete is using up a lot of his time because it is not a quick process, turning vinegar into an atrocity. Meanwhile Brent is also using up a lot of his time, but far less interestingly.

Maja tests her second panna cotta. It has set, which I find quite suspicious. Andy is delighted, raising his voice several octaves to indicate his pleasure. There is now only Pete to go, as he adds the finishing touches to ensure his vinegar sorbet is truly nightmarish.

Everyone is finished and misery pervades the kitchen. When it comes to judging, Justin's cauliflowers beat Scott's pipis (not a euphemism); Linda's scallops trounce Aaron's mushrooms; Depinder's curry and wild hand gestures beat Maja's panicked cotta; Kishwar's curry sneaks in ahead of Sabina's potato; Pete's horrid sorbet beats Elise's horrid pasta; and Minoli's fictional jackfruit edges out Brent's beard. And so the winners relax on the balcony with their overlord Tommy, while the losers must toil in the food mines once more.

And so Round Two begins…

But then…

But then…

As Andy gives them the standard spiel as to the conditions of round two, the music grows ominous. The camera keeps returning to focus on Brent's face. He looks wan and distressed. Behind his beard is hollow devastation. And as the amateurs prepare to cook…

"I can't cook."

A dread silence falls over the kitchen. Brent has stilled the beat of MasterChef's heart with three little words.

Jock takes him aside. Brent explains that he's spent, he's done, he has nothing left to give. Mentally he is shattered, and another day in the kitchen is too much to face. He needs his wife and his baby boy far more than he needs the title of MasterChef. Jock and Brent embrace. "Rest your mind, man."

The announcement is made: Brent is leaving. There will be no round two. "Every single person in this room is so proud of you," says Jock through his tears. "This competition is going to be poorer without you."

Everyone, amateurs and judges alike, is weeping as Brent says goodbye. "You're such lovely people," says Brent, to the sound of hearts breaking across the nation. "We just want you to be happy," says Melissa, and it is… all a bit too much.

And so, after a flurry of hugs, and to a massive round of applause, the gutsiest tradie the kitchen ever saw takes his leave.

There's something in my eye.