At which point we arrived at one of the more epic, nay -- Shakespearean -- moments in the history of Top Chef: The moment where Spike was defeated by himself, where the dark prince and conniver fell victim to his own web of deceit, the puppetmaster overwhelmed by his presumed puppets.
I underestimated Spike after his first appearances on the show. I applauded his guile, his stealth, his craftiness. He seemed -- then -- to make up for what he lacked in cooking skills with shrewdness, cleverness, and tactics. But I have since come to learn that he is also a very, very talented cook (and businessman). So far this season, he's been straight up cooking -- and doing mostly very well. He outwitted himself this week in the confusion of battle. Too busy looking at the big picture, he allowed the hyperactive Angelo to roll right over him. Suddenly, Angelo was lovingly inserting some unwanted "yuzu gelee" into Spike's dish -- and Spike, preoccupied managing the Eastern Front, perhaps -- or blinded by the Fog of War -- let it happen! In the end, he outsmarted himself. How did this happen?
I'm sure Spike will be asking the same question of himself for some time. God knows the warning signs were there. When Angelo starts talking about putting something "in" your food, it pays to be wary. He's always going on about putting "love" in his food -- and I've never been entirely convinced there's not actual penetration involved. The fault, dear Spike, lies not in the stars -- but in ourselves. Forget about strategy. You should have just cooked. You're good. Not that that's gonna make you feel any better. You will have to console yourself, I guess, with a wildly successful and rapidly expanding business empire.
What made ME feel good this week was the seeing chronically underestimated Carla walk away with the Big Win. Against all odds. Against the advice of those who doubted her choice of dish, who doubted her, she stuck with her plan. Never wavered. While sporting a painful finger wound that would have sent lesser mortals running off to the hospital, she showed us all what a professional is. Nicely done!