It was good news, bad news, good news for Chad. The good news: He wasn't eliminated outright for those orange-red pants. The bad news: He was eliminated for not building on his strong start in the competition. But then came the latest burst of good news for Chad: He might be back.
As the final six became the final five, the field seems to be separating along gender, with the women rising to the top while the men seem to be floundering at the bottom. Which is a shame, because the men actually seem to be a little more interesting, and clearly they're more complex. Complex as in, they can't seem to get out of their own way.
The final three women -- Nikki, Stacey and, perhaps surprisingly, Damaris -- are absorbing everything their mentors have imparted over the course of the competition. And they seem like they've finally, finally shaken off the nerves. They realize they're in a fight to the finish and are refusing to relent.
On the guy side, though, the men are in shambles. Russell, who had such a strong showing last week, earned himself a verbal spanking from judge Alton Brown, who said Russell's dual messages -- Join the revolution! Come sin with me! -- were making him sound wacky and confusing.
Rodney should have been eliminated just for that juvenile skit he unleashed before a room full of culinary explorers dubbed the Gastronauts. But he continues to survive by pie, and pie alone.
Several of the competitors seem to fail to grasp the nuances of the increasingly sophisticated challenges. This week, for example, they were asked to describe one of Bobby Flay's dishes without using crutch words such as "delicious."
Only Stacey really nailed it, because she spun the task into a story. The rest largely fumbled their way through a list of descriptors. C'mon! It wasn't a challenge to determine whether you memorized the thesaurus. It was an opportunity to talk, with authority, about food.
And during the Gastronauts auction, the challenge was to "sell" a dish. Damaris' green bean casserole might indeed be the greatest green bean casserole in history. But it's still a green bean casserole. Which means it's a hard sell against the likes of dishes such as maple bacon cheesecake.
Speaking of maple bacon cheesecake, Stacey's dish brought in $190 at auction, earning her protection from elimination. (Not that she needed it -- her performance continues to be strong, if overly polished.)
It's worth noting that the two competitors who ended up on the chopping block -- Chad and Russell -- were tied for second place at the auction. If Stacey wasn't able to spin out such a stellar dessert, those two might have cooked their way to immunity.
Chad's elimination sent him into the salvation challenge, in which he went up against Lovely. (You can watch it here online.) I won't ruin it for you, but after you see Chad's dish, you kind of have to wonder: What was he thinking? Really? What about that dish said BBQ, other than the idea that BBQ involves applying heat to food?
What's your best guess about who will return? Will it be Chad? Or Lovely? And will it make a difference as to who will be the last two cooks standing?