I thought I'd start a new discussion thread for Episode 5 of the Redemption series.
I have to say it was a very odd episode for a variety of reasons. I thought the auction format was intriguing but deeply flawed as it gave all the chefs wildly different cooking times. Plus the secret advantage that Faulkner won on the previous episode was terrible and poorly thought out. A contestant should never have to judge his/her fellow contestants when there's already three judges for the whole series. I noted that Faulkner's criticism of the dishes were quite different, often the complete opposite, of what the judges later said of the same dishes.
As for the showdown in the second half I was surprised to see Faulkner lose. It was also the most emotional part of the entire series to date. The judges themselves were even in tears. The secret ingredient was anchovies, the theme was taking risks, and it seemed that Faulkner had a stronger emphasis on anchovies and did take greater risks in her preparations than Appleman, who made something much more conventional. She got blasted for overusing saffron in one of her dishes which is odd as I've never thought of saffron as ever having an overpowering flavor.
I noticed that when Faulkner walked off the show both judges and cooks described her as one of the greatest chefs in America, a term that I haven't ever heard applied to the other contestants. I do think compared to the other chefs she demonstrated a wider range of cooking techniques, was more likely to produce dishes to wow the judges and had a more creative approach to the secret ingredients. I thought her cooking approach was much closer to the other Iron chefs and while she wasn't perfect by any means she seemed to have a level of expertise and originality superior to the other contestants. I may sound like a champion for her but while I haven't been rooting for any particular candidate I did always look forward to seeing what she would cook, more than for any of the other chefs and now that she's gone it will be harder to remain as interested in the program.
Any other thoughts?