Joshua David Stein is back briefly to talk about Bravo's Top Chef whose eleventh episode aired last night. For a number of reasons this week, it occurs to me that maybe Earth is a crummy planet, or at least crummy to the extent it is inhabited by man. Our reign at the top of the food chain is near its end (Three fine examples of why may be found here and here and here) Last night's episode of Top Chef did little to reinvigorate my faith in man, mankind and man's kindness.

Lisa stays. Any creature with a heart and soul must agree that for Lisa, a human being riven with maggoty and fetid misery, to remain on the show for yet another episode does not bode well for our fate as a species. And yet, though it pains me to write it, Lisa stays. If Lisa is right side up, the world is upside down. Admittedly, in fairness, her food didn't seem that bad. (I lay the blame for this whole situation on last week's guest judge Tony Bourdain who axed Dale instead of Lisa in a fit of pique. Had the even-keeled Tom been there, this situation never would have arisen. Goddammit, TC! What charity was so important he had to miss his scheduled appearance on reality TV anyway?!!?!) Spike went home instead. He was always a bit of an idiot but really?. Lisa stays!?!? Ai!

Critics you might say that I only hear what I want to, that I don't listen hard. You might even say I don't understand if you really care, I'm only hearing negative. But no. No. No. There is hope yet. And it comes from the past, what was, and the future, what yet shall be. On this episode, former winners Harold, Ilan and Hung were guest judges. My optimism comes not in the form of Ilan who is still an unctuous twat nor Harold who is nice but boring but in the form of the once-vilified Hung. Shown outside the competition setting, Hung is elegant and smart and kind and charming. All the things that, in competition, he wasn't made out to be. This means two things: Maybe Lisa isn't actually as miserable a wench as she seems. Ah fuck it. She is. But it also means, that good can still win in this world. Indeed, it seems inevitable which is a good thing.

Think about it: Lisa is out next week. She has to be. She took Spike's job at the Manhattan restaurant, Mai House so you know girlfriend didn't win. That leaves Richard, Antonia and Stephanie as possible winners. All three are fundamentally solid people, good people. Sure Stephanie might be boringish; Antonia might be too much like an emo Helena Bonham Carter and Richard is called Blais (and not like Cendrars) and has a faux-hawk. But all three of them seem genuinely kind, enthusiastic, smart and talented chefs. They are mensches (menchiz?). Clinging to the assumption that Lisa is gone next week—an assumption that makes living possible—we can afford to be charitable and magnanimous in victory.Lisa's greatest or rather only contribution to the season is to cast the menschlekeit of her competitors into warmer contrast. That's why we need villains, to make heroes. But now that she's served her purpose, it's time for Lisa to pack her knives, her scowl and her hideous haircut and leave.