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Season 18: Last Chance Kitchen

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Really? You don't think Sarah's smile is super forced and fake? You don't think it's odd how she rarely ends a sentence without the far-strethed-out smile and the laugh? 

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Sarah was Manic Pixie Dream Chef. But I am here for that.

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Byron's grueling week was composed of EIGHT duels in which he went 2-6:

Quickfire (Mexican): Lost to Dawn
Elimination 1 (Extra-Firm Tofu): Lost to Jamie 9-1
Elimination 2 (Fried Tofu): Lost to Maria 9-1
Elimination 3 (Silken Tofu Dessert): Lost to Dawn after tying 5-5
LCK Bento: Beat Sara
LCK Box 1 (Radicchio and Bacon): Lost to Gabe
LCK Box 2 (Steak and Mushrooms): Beat Maria
LCK Box 3 (Pork and Rice Noodles): Lost to Jamie

Edit: Actually, we don't know what the vote would have been vs. Dawn. They went straight to the Dojo.

Edited by Fukui San
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1 hour ago, Rai said:

Sara's put herself out there as someone who struggles with her self-confidence and being uncomfortable in the spotlight. I see that pretty clearly with her mannerisms. What seems bizarre to me is criticizing someone for their coping mechanisms and insecurities.

I also like Maria.

1000000%.  If being on television isn't something that comes natural to her, I can totally see the laugh and big smile as a nervous thing.  I have to be on tv a few times a year for a spotlight on my job and I am *not* someone who should be on tv.  I talk too fast and talk with my hands.  All things not appealing to the viewer.  No matter how good I am at anything... if I went on tv to show my skills and try to win a competition with those specific skills, I know I would be mocked endlessly for my speech and hand-wringing.  It isn't a good feeling but people are the way they are, I guess.  

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Every single one of the chef's has a personality trait or habit that someone could dislike or find annoying. I love Shota, but he does this super awkward laugh at the end of his sentences that reminds me of the Ted Mosby Naked Lady noise. 

 

I still love Shota.

Despite their unlikable (and likable) traits, I think every one of these chefs is talented and I would love to eat their food*.

*Except Gabe Erales based on the behavior that got him fired. I will give up tasty food on principle.  

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On 6/4/2021 at 3:34 PM, BlackberryJam said:

*Except Gabe Erales based on the behavior that got him fired. I will give up tasty food on principle.  

I wasn't aware of what you were referrring to, so I did a little bit of Google searching. The main thing I found was an Eater article citing him being fired for "repeated violations" at an Austin restaurant. And then there was a reddit link about him maybe being a repeat sexual harasser in the kitchen. If this has already been discussed in this chain or elsewhere, and I'm just being a clueless idiot, please forgive me. 

But I would expect Top Chef to be really wary of taking on a chef with a record of questionable behavior. The show has become increasingly PC (understandably so), partially in the wake of the recent revelations and changes in the industry in the last several years. And more so, in light of the whole Paul Qui fiasco. I would imagine Top Chef would want to stay way the hell away from anyone who might further taint their brand in that way. 

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1 hour ago, Werehauzen said:

I wasn't aware of what you were referrring to, so I did a little bit of Google searching. The main thing I found was an Eater article citing him being fired for "repeated violations" at an Austin restaurant. And then there was a reddit link about him maybe being a repeat sexual harasser in the kitchen. If this has already been discussed in this chain or elsewhere, and I'm just being a clueless idiot, please forgive me. 

But I would expect Top Chef to be really wary of taking on a chef with a record of questionable behavior. The show has become increasingly PC (understandably so), partially in the wake of the recent revelations and changes in the industry in the last several years. And more so, in light of the whole Paul Qui fiasco. I would imagine Top Chef would want to stay way the hell away from anyone who might further taint their brand in that way. 

The season was filmed in fall 2020, September and October, I believe, and according to Eater, he was fired December 15. I don’t think there was anything TC’s producers could do after filming had wrapped, especially since he’s made it far in the competition. It’s not as if they could just edit him out of a show with TC’s structure, and presumably no red flags were raised during casting, or they wouldn’t have included him. Especially as my understanding is that at this stage, they actively recruit high-caliber chefs as contestants.  

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On 6/4/2021 at 12:45 PM, Werehauzen said:

Really? You don't think Sarah's smile is super forced and fake? You don't think it's odd how she rarely ends a sentence without the far-strethed-out smile and the laugh? 

If Sara annoys you, Jamie must make you homicidal

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Regarding Gabe, I also did a deep dive. There's not a lot of info but I saw a lot of the same sources as @Werehauzen. There was some, just speculation, that Gabe won TC last fall, came back to Austin all ego puffed and escalated his already pretty bad behavior. So bad that the restaurant had to fire him. Probably sexual because of the tight lipped way it's being talked about. Could also be drugs, I suppose. Or racism. For a brief instant I thought it might be covid related, but I just don't think it would be so secretive if it was covid.

Think about it. Even if Gabe doesn't win TC he's already gotten a boost and publicity by doing as well as he has. His old restaurant could have spun that into a lot of free publicity and good will. Instead they fired him.

Then I read an article that Gabe is in the process of opening a new restaurant, I assume in Austin. This bothers me. Abusers don't stop abusing out of the goodness of their hearts. If he opens his own restaurant he'll have a massive power differential with his entire staff including, I assume, young women chefs and servers. These women need to have their eyes open if they're planning to work with him.

Do you think the reason TC hasn't addressed it is because he does in fact win and it's a complete  PR clusterf*ck for TC?

Whatever happens Gabe is dead to me now but that's ok because I was never rooting for him. Honestly hoping for a Maria win. Or Shota.

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Sarah reminds me a lot of my mother, and her sisters.    They were fine until someone stuck a camera in their faces, then they looked very fake.   They were all camera shy, and their natural expressions turned into grimaces.    

Yes, the nervous laugh too. 

(I claim being camera shy is why my I.D. pictures and Driver's License pictures look so fake, because I really don't like having my picture taken.  )

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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2 hours ago, CrazyInAlabama said:

Sarah reminds me a lot of my mother, and her sisters.    They were fine until someone stuck a camera in their faces, then they looked very fake.   They were all camera shy, and their natural expressions turned into grimaces.    

This is what I think, too. My mom had a nervous laugh, too, and sometimes I hear it come out of my mouth, as well. I would be the worst on TV, I know. I like Sarah.

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9 hours ago, CrazyInAlabama said:

Sarah reminds me a lot of my mother, and her sisters.    They were fine until someone stuck a camera in their faces, then they looked very fake.   They were all camera shy, and their natural expressions turned into grimaces.    

Yes, the nervous laugh too. 

That’s my read on her laughing, too. It strikes me as a nerves thing. I tend to be a bit prone to that myself.

I was honestly surprised that they eliminated Byron and didn’t have him go back into the competition, thus making LCK essentially pointless. I didn’t think they would want/allow that. Though maybe Jamie’s dish was just so much better, they couldn’t even fudge it.

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7 hours ago, Souris said:

I was honestly surprised that they eliminated Byron and didn’t have him go back into the competition, thus making LCK essentially pointless.

Me as well. I wonder if this portends a "NOBODY GOES HOME!" episode.

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I was honestly surprised that they eliminated Byron and didn’t have him go back into the competition, thus making LCK essentially pointless.

The result was different in the All-Stars season last year, but the setup was the same. They had Kevin go against Bryan, Gregory, and.. Marlakey? Kevin got the required number of wins and re-entered the competition, but it could have gone the other way as well. So, this year wasn't the first time they had this setup.

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On 6/7/2021 at 12:07 AM, Souris said:

I was honestly surprised that they eliminated Byron and didn’t have him go back into the competition, thus making LCK essentially pointless. I didn’t think they would want/allow that.

I actually thought it made a lot of sense because they had already sent one person back into the competition from LCK. 

It felt "right" to me to give the remaining people a chance to stop a second person from rejoining.

 

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On 6/6/2021 at 2:10 PM, CrazyInAlabama said:

Sarah reminds me a lot of my mother, and her sisters.    They were fine until someone stuck a camera in their faces, then they looked very fake.   They were all camera shy, and their natural expressions turned into grimaces.    

Yes, the nervous laugh too. 

Such a refreshing pleasure to hear comments based on humanity and compassion instead of hate and harsh judgment. 

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I'm curious to see how they explain this at the beginning of the next episode, though.

"You know that thing we've been asking you to watch all season and telling you it matters? J/K! It doesn't! No one is coming back! Carry on!"

It's just a weird way to set it up.

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1 hour ago, hendersonrocks said:

You know that thing we've been asking you to watch all season and telling you it matters? J/K! It doesn't! No one is coming back! Carry on!"

I could be misremembering but I think last season they showed a bit of the LCK at the start of the next episode, yes Kevin came back but I don’t think it’s that hard of a concept to explain. 

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3 hours ago, biakbiak said:

I could be misremembering but I think last season they showed a bit of the LCK at the start of the next episode, yes Kevin came back but I don’t think it’s that hard of a concept to explain. 

Yeah, I don't think it's a hard concept to explain. I just think it's not a particularly compelling approach! Over the years they have been pretty consistent in branding Last Chance Kitchen as having a winner who gets to re-enter the competition. That's not actually the case this year*, and I don't think they've adequately revised the branding or expectations around it. It's just a weird choice to me.

*I realize it might not have been the case last year either but I always assumed the set up was such that Kevin or whoever the LCK winner was would have made it back into the main competition.

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4 hours ago, hendersonrocks said:

I'm curious to see how they explain this at the beginning of the next episode, though.

"You know that thing we've been asking you to watch all season and telling you it matters? J/K! It doesn't! No one is coming back! Carry on!"

It's just a weird way to set it up.

Jamie did come back from LCK. There's just no second person coming back from LCK. And again, they used pretty much the same rule last year with Kevin, who won the best of three series at the end and got back.

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I mean if people aren’t watching LCK, I can’t imagine they would actually be that invested/care that much about someone returning. 

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It's okay if I'm alone in feeling this is a weird conclusion to Last Chance Kitchen. I really don't mind!

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I don't enjoy watching Sarah, and she seems to suck the energy out of a room. When she was leading the chef table, the others seemed so miserable and disengaged with her in charge. She just wasn't able to boost morale or root for the others. I also noticed that when she entered LCK, Sasha mustered a smile and said it was nice to see her, and Sarah didn't return the greeting. 

From the get go, to me, she comes off as cut throat competitive and arrogant. I don't see the weird and quirky thing except if she is talking about the pony tails and inappropriate laughing that she busts out in her interviews. Jamie would be more likely to take the weird and quirky role.

What is weird is how badly Sara wants people to think she is weird and quirky, but I maybe because she *works somewhere close to* Seattle it's a play on the "Keep Seattle Weird" slogan and theme and she thinks it's the identity she is supposed to take. 

Edited by bravofan27
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14 minutes ago, bravofan27 said:

What is weird is how badly Sara wants people to think she is weird and quirky, but I maybe because she is from Seattle it's a play on the "Keep Seattle Weird" slogan and theme and she thinks it's the identity she is supposed to take. 

She’s not from Seattle she was raised in California, spent several years cooking in SF and despite them labeling her from Portland the place she works is over an hour away. 

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19 hours ago, biakbiak said:

She’s not from Seattle she was raised in California, spent several years cooking in SF and despite them labeling her from Portland the place she works is over an hour away. 

She was at a Portland restaurant before she went to Soter Vineyards, and while it may be an hour's drive from Portland, it nonetheless is only about 30 miles to the west.

"Hauman, who was executive chef at Arden in the Pearl District before decamping for Soter Vineyards in Carlton in August 2019."  

https://www.pdxmonthly.com/eat-and-drink/2021/05/sara-hauman-dishes-on-her-time-at-top-chef-portland

So, I don't consider it an unreasonable shorthand (and, fwiw, my parents grew up in Portland). The comparison made earlier about restaurants in Napa not being referred to as San Francisco: well, the French Laundry is twice as far away from San Francisco, and people know where Napa is, so you don't need shorthand. (I grew up in, and now live in, the North Bay, so I'm also familiar with how people use shorthand here). If you tell me "rural Oregon" I'm going to guess Pendleton or somewhere else quite a bit further from the city. When you're from a rural area or smaller town and you're trying to give someone a general idea of where it is, it's pretty normal to refer to the closest major city ("San Francisco area," "Portland area," "a little west of Portland" or something) and only get more specific if people are interested. 

And, for all we know, she still lives in Portland or a western suburb of Portland, or still thinks of herself as being from Portland - in that this is the place she's settled - and thinks of Soter Vineyards as just the current gig nearby. Portland is certainly, based on the article, the place she'll go for dinner, etc.

(And by the way, the article indicates that she's starting a tinned fish company, like she talked about on the show).

 

Edited by akr
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17 minutes ago, akr said:

She was at a Portland restaurant before she went to Soter Vineyards, and while it may be an hour's drive from Portland, it nonetheless is only about 30 miles to the wes

Yet not from or spent time in Seattle which is what the post I quoted suggested her attitude was because she was from Seattle.  As for Soter Vineyards being “in Portland “ it’s like was noted above suggesting Thomas Keller’s Restaurants are in Sf, Spoiler they aren’t, suggesting Yountville is the same as being in SF would be ridiculous as is suggesting Soter is in Portland. 

Edited by biakbiak
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On 6/9/2021 at 4:30 PM, hendersonrocks said:

It's okay if I'm alone in feeling this is a weird conclusion to Last Chance Kitchen. I really don't mind!

Well that's just too bad because I feel this is a weird conclusion also so you are indeed not alone in feeling that way. 

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10 hours ago, akr said:

 

"Hauman, who was executive chef at Arden in the Pearl District before decamping for Soter Vineyards in Carlton in August 2019."  

And, for all we know, she still lives in Portland or a western suburb of Portland, or still thinks of herself as being from Portland - in that this is the place she's settled - and thinks of Soter Vineyards as just the current gig nearby. Portland is certainly, based on the article, the place she'll go for dinner, etc.

 

Exactly, she decamped, ie, left her job in Portland for one in the Willamette Valley.

And while Sara currently lives in Portland, the caption is describing the location of the vineyard, not her place of residence.

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On 6/9/2021 at 1:30 PM, hendersonrocks said:

It's okay if I'm alone in feeling this is a weird conclusion to Last Chance Kitchen. I really don't mind!

What am I missing?  I thought Tom just didn't announce the winner, which is what they've done in the past, so that it's a surprise at the beginning of the next full episode when the winner walks in.  No?

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4 hours ago, Leeds said:

What am I missing?  I thought Tom just didn't announce the winner, which is what they've done in the past, so that it's a surprise at the beginning of the next full episode when the winner walks in.  No?

There was no LCK winner to re-enter in the second round. Byron was the final LCK competitor, and to win a place back in TC, he had to beat two out of three of the remaining TC contestants cooking head to head, which he failed to do.

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5 minutes ago, caitmcg said:

There was no LCK winner to re-enter in the second round. Byron was the final LCK competitor, and to win a place back in TC, he had to beat two out of three of the remaining TC contestants cooking head to head, which he failed to do.

Thanks for this.  I did rewind a bit, but obviously not far enough!

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1 hour ago, Leeds said:

Thanks for this.  I did rewind a bit, but obviously not far enough!

They recapped Byron and the gauntlet at the very beginning of the main episode.

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On 6/10/2021 at 12:27 PM, akr said:

She was at a Portland restaurant before she went to Soter Vineyards, and while it may be an hour's drive from Portland, it nonetheless is only about 30 miles to the west.

"Hauman, who was executive chef at Arden in the Pearl District before decamping for Soter Vineyards in Carlton in August 2019."  

https://www.pdxmonthly.com/eat-and-drink/2021/05/sara-hauman-dishes-on-her-time-at-top-chef-portland

So, I don't consider it an unreasonable shorthand (and, fwiw, my parents grew up in Portland). The comparison made earlier about restaurants in Napa not being referred to as San Francisco: well, the French Laundry is twice as far away from San Francisco, and people know where Napa is, so you don't need shorthand. (I grew up in, and now live in, the North Bay, so I'm also familiar with how people use shorthand here). If you tell me "rural Oregon" I'm going to guess Pendleton or somewhere else quite a bit further from the city. When you're from a rural area or smaller town and you're trying to give someone a general idea of where it is, it's pretty normal to refer to the closest major city ("San Francisco area," "Portland area," "a little west of Portland" or something) and only get more specific if people are interested. 

And, for all we know, she still lives in Portland or a western suburb of Portland, or still thinks of herself as being from Portland - in that this is the place she's settled - and thinks of Soter Vineyards as just the current gig nearby. Portland is certainly, based on the article, the place she'll go for dinner, etc.

(And by the way, the article indicates that she's starting a tinned fish company, like she talked about on the show).

 

So I have it from the horse's mouth that the people at Soter Vineyards find it odd to see their location given as Portland.

 

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On 6/11/2021 at 6:16 AM, Leeds said:

What am I missing?  I thought Tom just didn't announce the winner, which is what they've done in the past, so that it's a surprise at the beginning of the next full episode when the winner walks in.  No?

Depending on how you watched it, you might not have seen the second part of it. I watched on Wednesday and Comcast still had only put up part one of the two part LCK, so I had to watch the second episode from the Bravo app.

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2 hours ago, biakbiak said:

Depending on how you watched it, you might not have seen the second part of it. I watched on Wednesday and Comcast still had only put up part one of the two part LCK, so I had to watch the second episode from the Bravo app.

On Thursday after the main show, the Bravo YouTube channel only had Part 1, but the website also had Part 2. 

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8 hours ago, caitmcg said:

On Thursday after the main show, the Bravo YouTube channel only had Part 1, but the website also had Part 2. 

Yes, it does seem that Bravo's website has an exclusivity window of an unspecified amount of time over its YouTube channel and also over Comcast's On Demand, which makes little sense as Bravo is a Comcast subsidiary. 😕

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6 hours ago, ProudMary said:

Yes, it does seem that Bravo's website has an exclusivity window of an unspecified amount of time over its YouTube channel and also over Comcast's On Demand, which makes little sense as Bravo is a Comcast subsidiary. 😕

I think it’s just incompetence. The Comcast situation has varied  from a day to nearly a week. 

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39 minutes ago, biakbiak said:

I think it’s just incompetence. The Comcast situation has varied  from a day to nearly a week. 

Also likely. 😄

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51 minutes ago, ProudMary said:

Also likely. 😄

I've set sling to record new episodes, which it never does. It's just as well, because they don't show up there for ages, either (weeks, I think? That was the case but I've stopped looking.)  I've always watched them on the Bravo website immediately after the episodes, and that's never failed me. (I'm on Pacific time, so perhaps there's a delay of a few hours if you're on the east coast.) Maybe Bravo is slow to release them to broadcasters in general.

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5 hours ago, akr said:

Maybe Bravo is slow to release them to broadcasters in general.

Padma literally says every time that episodes of LCK are available “On Demand or wherever you stream Top Chef.” If it was more than incompetence they would at least mention the website and app, they don’t. It’s not a rights issue. Different cable companies put them up before Comcast which literally owns BrAvo. 

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12 hours ago, biakbiak said:

Different cable companies put them up before Comcast which literally owns BrAvo. 

Maybe it's different regions.  I have Comcast and LCK is always up on the website within minutes of the end of the episode.  I'm in Central Time if that matters.

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5 hours ago, mlp said:

Maybe it's different regions.  I have Comcast and LCK is always up on the website within minutes of the end of the episode.  I'm in Central Time if that matters.

They're talking about On Demand, not the website. I am on the west coast, and I can watch LCK after TC ends on the east coast. I've never tried to watch it On Demand.

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On 6/12/2021 at 11:48 PM, biakbiak said:

Depending on how you watched it, you might not have seen the second part of it. I watched on Wednesday and Comcast still had only put up part one of the two part LCK, so I had to watch the second episode from the Bravo app.

FWIW, Comcast still only has part one of the two part LCK up so I have been completely in the dark about what's going on with LCK until reading this thread.  I didn't think to look online because I was relying on On Demand.  What would people think who don't follow this board or some other online source to straighten them out?  I can't believe I'm only just finding out about this.

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8 minutes ago, Yeah No said:

What would people think who don't follow this board or some other online source to straighten them out?  I can't believe I'm only just finding out about this.

It’s absolutely perplexing that they have never gotten their shit together after years of this being a crazy loved component of the show. I mean Comcast and Bravo are the same corporate entity and it’s not like other OnDemand content isn’t posted in timely fashion. 

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It it makes anyone feel better, Directv is just as bad.  Part 2 is still not available on demand. The intro to last week's episode basically spoiled the ending for me.  Between the confusing episode numbering and the late availability, I might've watched 2-3 LCK episodes in the right sequence.  It shouldn't be this hard.

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On 6/19/2021 at 3:30 PM, snarts said:

It it makes anyone feel better, Directv is just as bad.  Part 2 is still not available on demand. The intro to last week's episode basically spoiled the ending for me.  Between the confusing episode numbering and the late availability, I might've watched 2-3 LCK episodes in the right sequence.  It shouldn't be this hard.

Maybe someone on all these services hate Padma hard core because after every episode she says they are immediately available OnDemand wherever we watch TC! This is a joke about how everyone assumes Padma is hated. 

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This was the first season that I watched LCK, after reading some funny posts here about the dialogue. I watched a couple, then got behind when Sara won her round. I didn't try to catch up watching just read here to see who was going on each time. Then when I found out that there was not going to be anyone returning I decided to just go back to my old habit of not watching, not being interested in LCK viewing. Next season I will just watch TC and learn who shows up when they show up. It is too much of a distraction for me, too convoluted with no payoff. 

I was glad that Jamie got the chance to come back though. And I do keep wondering if Nelson, when deciding to opt out, did indeed change the way it should have gone on from there. I get that they worked it out in theory, I just don't think it worked out in reality. 

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