Let’s all take a moment to remember the halcyon days of Top Chef. Even with the constant indignities of Bluehost’s ineptitude, it was leagues better than this sad excuse for a show. Let’s also remember that you, the public, were allowed to vote on what would happen after Top Chef. Let’s recall that you could have chosen “no liveblogging.” Let’s further remember that you voted for Hell’s Kitchen. I’m not blaming you. I’m just remembering.

Tonight, either it ends or I do. Top Chef, I will never forsake you again.

Let me just say that I’ve heard that the next season of Hell’s Kitchen is starting again in JULY and I DON’T CARE.  Tonight: Redneck v. Dull Girl.  Insofar as I care about any of the people who have ever appeared on this show, I guess I want Dull Girl to win?  But that would mean I have feelings.

9:01: Holy shit, this is the fifth season of this show already?  Maybe there’s something I’m missing here, like the number of a Swiss bank account containing half a million dollars embedded somewhere in each episode.  I’ve got my eyes peeled this time, motherfuckers.

9:04: Brian: “I think the best part of this show is the Rube Goldbergian intro.” I don’t know that I disagree.

9:06: Wow, I’d forgotten how much I hated Ben.  Also, don’t people usually have fun when they come back to help out on the final episode?  Or they’re at least plotting some kind of revenge.  Not, apparently, if you’re That Guy, AKA Giovanni, who just wants to escape the sequester house and go home; I think he would gladly lie down and take a nap on Redneck’s contentious benches if they would let him.

Lacey montage. SNAP! JP bitching Lacey out in the high-pitched voice = Best. Thing. Ever.

9:07:  Shiv: “I swear, if Lacey starts whining again I will unleash a wrath on her like she’s never seen.”  See, it’s not like these nicknames come from nowhere.

9:10:  Okay, in these scant three minutes I’ve come to understand why no one likes Lacey, and if Shiv wants to unleash a wrath on her then I’m happy to watch that happen.  Is it active sabotage, or does she really just suck that badly?  It’s a reality show, so I’m fully prepared to believe that she does, in fact, suck that badly.

9:13:  Martyr B: “I feel like a lot of Redneck’s success rests on my shoulders tonight.”  Yes, on your ability to not screw anything up too badly.

9:15:  Dish tasting: Dull Girl has some good-looking pasta, fish that’s a little dry and curdled creme brulee, thanks for nothing, Lacey.

9:16:  Redneck’s tasting: OH MY GOD.  Is it not bad enough that trained chefs mispronounce mascarpone, the show has to SPELL IT INCORRECTLY on the screen?  It’s like someone wants to hurt me.

Also, how do you not realize that your giant penis-looking spring onion looks like a penis?  I have no idea how you make a spring onion look like that, unless it’s on purpose, which he claims it’s not.

9:18: Martyr B: “Velvet Hammer…sounds like a porn video.”  That almost makes up for the rest of the season.  Almost.

On the dining room tour, Dull Girl’s understated but elegant space so obviously outshines Redneck’s Fish Shack and Amateur Opry House; it’s a little painful.  Ramsay does everything short of saying “THIS IS FUCKING TACKY” to point out how tacky Redneck’s restaurant is.  Redneck, in this context “rustic” is not a compliment.  I’ll say it again: fish on the wall.

9:21: When JP says “Good Luck” it sounds a little like “I hate you.”

Right off the bat, team Redneck shows their clear superiority at yelling.  Although to be fair, they have been explicitly instructed to do so, probably as a preemptive move to keep anyone from realizing if (when) they start to blow it.

9:23:  Even on the night they’re running their own restaurants, Ramsay is yelling at them.  I thought we might have a Donkey-free night, but maybe not.

9:26:  Commercial: Tonight on Fox News: Stimulus checks for the dead? Tomorrow on Fox News:  Is there a depth we will not plumb?

9:28:  Appetizers are going out, a scant 45 minutes after the restaurants opened.

Shiv is screwing the pooch on the fish station, causing no end of glee to Lacey.  And although I’m supposed to be getting mad at Shiv for screwing up Dull Girl’s chances, Lacey’s obvious glee is causing physical pain in the anger nodule of my brain.

9:29:  Ramsay, at team Redneck: “Why are we waiting for a potato?”  If I had a nickle for every time I asked that question.  Or maybe it’s rhetorical, like a Zen koan, because can YOU answer that question?  Why ARE we waiting for a potato?

Is gravelly-voiced sous chef Scott hanging out in the back of the kitchen getting hammered?  Awesome.  It’s like he cares less than I do!

9:32:  Commercial.  Note the time: Six minutes after the last commercial.  Hell’s Kitchen, you are not the hot shit you think you are.  For each minute less than twelve between each commercial, my dander is raised an additional 15%.

9:35:  That Guy is dragging team Redneck down. Yet, you have to admire his integrity…to himself: “I don’t care who wins.  I don’t want to be here.  I just want to go home.”

Honestly, I hadn’t seen the episodes with Lacey before I started this, but has she ever been in a kitchen before?  Apparently she’s the female That Guy, except at least That Guy seems to know the rudiments of how a stove is operated.

9:38:  Shiv is giving team Redneck a run for their money with the yelling.  If she could just stop overcooking the fish (seriously, is it THAT HARD to sear a freaking scallop? you’ve been to culinary school) we might be getting somewhere.

9:40:  Service is over.  That Guy is still in the kitchen; I’m surprised he didn’t try to bolt as soon as the last dish went out the pass.  Because if you didn’t know, he just wanted to go home.

“I’m not even supposed to be here today.”

9:42:  Commercial.  Ten minutes is more than six, but less than twelve.  Therefore, dander is increased 30%.  Hopefully the next segment lasts long enough, because at 75% I’ve reached critical dander mass.  To be honest, I’m not sure what happens then but I’m fairly sure that it isn’t something good.

9:46: Are we ready for Ramsay’s decision?  Hold me back.

Ramsay: “Danny, Paula, say goodbye to your talented brigades.”  Which brigades were those?  Because I’ve just spent forty-six minutes watching some half-assed pseudo-chefs.

9:48: Redneck: “All my life, I’ve had to prove myself as a young chef.” YOU ARE ONLY 23.

Oh wait, he’s a “culinary prodigy.”  Is that Florida code for pothead?

9:49:  If I say that Dull Girl is growing on me a little bit, now that there are eleven minutes left in the season, does that make me weak?

This is the most difficult decision Ramsay has had to make in Hell’s Kitchen, except for the decision not to run Lacey through with a fork.

9:51:  The ceremony of the locked doors.  It’s so gravid with meaning, I’m tearing up.  From the weight of the boredom bearing down on my tear ducts.

Aw, look at JP:  He almost looks interested, or maybe he just really needs to go to the bathroom.

9:52:  Commercial.  Ten minutes again.  Another 30% increase in dander.  Total dander increase, 60%.  Cutting it close, show.

Also:  Who authorized the Dr. Pepper commercial with Gene Simmons?  I assume the Ogilvy and Mather associate who’s recently been laid off.

Also also: Fox News, we are done with the Swine Flu. Did you not get the memo?

9:55:  And now, the dramatic conclusion of the ceremony of locked doors, complete with overly bombastic music. I didn’t know John Williams worked for this show.

WINNER: Redneck.  There’s a lot of jumping.  If he had accidentally fallen off the balcony doing that, would Dull Girl have taken it as runner up, or would Ramsay just have hired a real chef?

9:57:  Danny has the “talent and maturity” to head up the Borgata.  But not to decorate it.

Also yes, gravelly-voiced sous chef Scott was in the back of the kitchen getting hammered.

9:58:  Redneck is sad his mom isn’t here to see his grand victory.  I’m glad mine isn’t here to see the level to which I’ve sunk.

IT’S OVER!  Never again.