As the sun kissed the horizon in the Bombay Sapphire sky*, a lone seagull wheeled over the bridge of the gleaming white ship, tipped a wing in salute, and carved a farewell arc in the air. (*Unpaid literary allusion) And then, he pumped his wings and soared out of frame to points unknown, but almost certainly, longingly -- finally -- to home. You could almost hear him keening -- in what? Defiance? Relief? The pain of acid reflux?
Perhaps you missed the shot, barely half a second long; it came midway through this episode's Elimination Challenge on the Pure nightclub yacht, and, tellingly, it came immediately after guest judge Michael Schwartz called Howie's asparagus phyllo "cigars" "greasy" and "really f*cking ugly." (They may be fellow Miamians, but I don't see Howie and Michael hooking up for Mah-jongg.)
Anyway: The sun setting, a solitary gull on the wing -- metaphors, people! Foreshadowing! Them Top Chef editors are getting poetic up in here. And while it may seem a bit of a stretch to see Howie as a graceful waterfowl, even the best TC cameraman isn't going to catch bulldogs flying over Biscayne Bay. (What, you couldn't scare up a pelican?)
More importantly, Howie's TC story does share some eerie parallels with the seventies pop-lit hit "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull," which stuck like droppings to the New York Times bestseller list for 38 weeks back in the aforementioned day. Notes the Wikipedia: Jonathan is "a seagull who is bored with the daily squabbles over food and seized by a passion for flight. He pushes himself, learning everything he can about flying, until finally his unwillingness to conform results in his expulsion from his flock." Spooky! More on that later.
It's been two weeks and I'm still bummed about voting off Tre -- all of the judges thought he was a strong contender to win the whole gonza magilla. (Although I just got some exciting news about Tre today that I can't publish; just know that good things continue for Chef Wilcox -- I'll share the news when I can.) So it was a welcome thing for viewers and (most of) the chefs to have the show open with such a goofy, funny Quickfire Challenge -- 10 bucks and 20 minutes to cook something using only ingredients from a single aisle in the grocery store. Yikes!