It's time to cook off for the last immunity pin of the season, and not since the sword in the stone have you seen a bunch of people more desperate to get their hands on a pointy piece of metal.
The challenge for the four cooks who have won the right to compete tonight – Julie, Dan, Billie and Mindy – is MasterChef's beloved Time Auction, in which contestants must trade ingredients for time, thus shortening their own lives, perhaps by years.
Wait, no. Got confused. That's not how it works. How it works is, they bid for ingredients in increments of five minutes, and when they win an ingredient, they have the amount of time that they bid deducted from the 120 minutes they start with. Understand? No? Tough.
If they were made to bid for the Hibachi... would be hilarious. #MasterchefAU— Anush🇦🇺 (@AtTheMo) June 16, 2022
Julie is fired up. She's never won an immunity pin before and is desperate to gain one before it's too late. She's quite willing to kill for it, but fortunately for her competitors, that would not actually win her the pin.
"We're about to find out what lengths I'm willing to go to get that off of you," she says to Jock. Not the first time she's said those words to him, but the first time she was referring to a pin.
The other contestants want the pin too, but are unwilling to use innuendo to get it.
At this rate I'm not sure if Jock is gonna willingly give up that pin - whoever wins may have to tackle him and rip it off his chest 😂#MasterChefAU— Kirralee (@krichsh) June 16, 2022
The auction begins. First up, proteins. Dan and Mindy go head to head over the Moreton Bay bugs, as seen in the film A Bug's Life. Both are so keen to cook giant insects that they are willing to lose more than an hour for the privilege.
Judges: what have you cooked us— Luke (@Rakuli) June 16, 2022
Daniel: Morton Bay bugs, a la natural
Judges: these are unwashed and uncooked
Daniel: yeah, I had no time left after spending 120 minutes on them. #MasterChefAU
In the end Dan spends 70 minutes on it, which means he has only 50 minutes to cook the bugs, even if he spends nothing on anything else. "I think I've just made a terrible decision," he says – again, not for the first time.
Mindy and Julie then face off for lamb, and Julie gets it for a bargain 30 minutes, as Mindy, for the second time, pikes out.
Now it's down to Billie and Mindy for the eggs – whoever doesn't get them will be forced to cook with tripe, which in a slap in the face for traditional Florentine street food, nobody wants.
The price skyrockets as the two women duel in possibly the most furious fight to avoid a cow's stomach lining ever to be broadcast on Australian television.
In the end Billie spends 80 minutes, leaving Mindy with the tripe and herself with just about enough time to boil an egg.
Mindy - tripe is not “like” the lining of a cow’s stomach. It literally is the lining of a cow’s stomach #MasterChefAU— Elizabeth (@OzRetroRecipes) June 16, 2022
There follows the auction of different kinds of vegetables, which is far less interesting than the protein round. Mindy spends 10 minutes on a basket of roots, which nobody could possibly think of a joke about.
Dan spends 10 minutes on onions and onion-like objects. Julie spends 10 minutes on things called "nightshades". Billie gets tropical fruit for free.
Expensive eggs, Expensive bugs. Wait until they get to the lettuce #MasterChefAU— Mandy Cheevers 💉💉💉 (@MandyCheevers) June 16, 2022
In the final round, Julie continues to play her rivals like a harmonica and suck time ruthlessly out of them. In the end Mindy has 85 minutes to cook her tripe, Julie has 75 minutes to cook lamb, Billie has 40 minutes to cook eggs and Dan has just 30 minutes to cook bugs.
This means Mindy starts first, frantically trying to figure out the best way to combine tripe and parsnips. She is overjoyed to find that she has celeriac, which is simply not a normal way to respond to celeriac.
She begins making a broth, because that's all anyone does on MasterChef nowadays: make broths that the judges can say are glossy. She also washes her tripe, because nobody likes a dirty stomach lining.
Ten minutes in, Julie gets to kick off her cook. She declares her intention to make lamb rack with eggplant puree and a cooked salad – though there are those among us who would say that the idea of salad is in itself completely cooked.
Jock and Andy think she's doing well, so they go round to her bench to distract her. "It looks like you've got it under control," says Jock. Julie thinks he said, "You look like a little troll", so she threatens to cut his pretty face. It's all a hilarious misunderstanding though, and everyone emerges a better person.
Holy cow! Jock just called Julie JULIE.— Nez 🇺🇦 (@fraggle73) June 16, 2022
There was no Goodwin attached! #masterchefau
Mindy tastes her tripe. Well, not her tripe. The tripe she's cooking. She tastes it and finds that it's just like calamari, learning just why the squid is known as "the cow gut of the ocean".
Meanwhile, Julie puts her capsicums on the hibachi to try to burn the capsicum flavour out of them.
Billie finally gets to start and immediately infuses saffron into passionfruit juice like some kind of mad scientist. Jock asks her how she's going. "Bit rushed," Billie says because she's too polite to say "f--- off".
Billie telling the judges to piss off, without saying "piss off". Queen 👑 #MasterChefAU— ... (@DaydreamerAus) June 16, 2022
Undeterred, Jock continues to demand answers from Billie. "You can go now," she says. "We still don't know what you're cooking!" Andy cries. "That's our job!"
But that's not their job. Their job is to eat the food and say what they think about it. It's a bit sad Andy still doesn't know this. An intervention might be called for.
Dan begins, with just 30 minutes to cook his hideous sea monsters. Meanwhile, Billie feels a sense of enormous relief having put her parfait in the blast chiller, which just goes to show that it takes all sorts.
Time is running out and Julie has a problem: her eggplant puree doesn't taste good. That's the problem with eggplant, no matter what you do with it, it sometimes just refuses to stop being eggplant.
Meanwhile, Dan has still not decided what herbs to use in his sauce, which is understandable: he only had an hour to think about it beforehand, so he can't be expected to have much of an idea.
While pondering the question, Dan discovers that he has accidentally started a grease fire. He crosses his fingers that Moreton Bay bugs go well with the taste of burning grease, and carries on.
With one minute to go, Billie's parfait is set, Julie's tactic of putting every ingredient she has into the eggplant puree has paid off, Dan remains at a complete loss, and Mindy is still cooking tripe. And then, as if by magic, time is up and everyone looks slightly depressed.
At tasting time, Billie's parfait turns out to be, as the French would say, "parfait", proving that the best way to excel on MasterChef is to tell the judges to leave you alone.
Mindy steps up with her celeriac and broth and tripe, which is described as a "pretty solid effort": the most savage insult any cook could receive.
Dan serves his quickfire bugs which turn out to be as unimpressive as everyone assumed they would be.
Finally, Julie's lamb, which is everything a lamb should be, as long as that lamb is dead.
"Today's challenge proved that time is precious," says Jock, to nods of agreement from the audience who just realised how long they've spent watching it.
Andy announces that Billie and Julie were today the good cooks and Mindy and Dan were the bad ones, illustrating the old axiom "lamb and eggs are better than tripe and bugs".
Let's just skip the rest of the series and go to a Billie/Julie final #MasterChefAU— Ryan Baker-Smith (@rjbsmith) June 16, 2022
It is then revealed that Julie is the winner. Her lifelong dream of winning an immunity pin is finally realised, and she runs out into the night waving it above her head and screaming triumphantly. Where she is now, who can tell?
Tune in next week, when the search for her continues.