I can usually understand the decisions that The Great British Baking Show judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith make on a weekly basis — over the years, their labyrinthine logic has begun to make a strange sort of sense to me — but not this week! I truly, emphatically, passionately believe that Paul and Prue sent the wrong baker home at the end of “Party Week.” Not only that, but the person who should have been on the chopping block has been repeatedly saved over another, potentially more deserving, baker. The Great British Baking Show is the Netflix series I tune in to for calming vibes, but “Party Week” has me absolutely fuming!
**Spoilers for The Great British Baking Show “Party Week,” now streaming on Netflix**
After all three challenges on The Great British Baking Show “Party Week,” it was clear that” Sausage Roll Savant” Matty Edgell and “Showstopper Svengali” Josh Smalley were both in contention for Star Baker, leaving Tasha Stones, Cristy Sharp, and Dan Hunter in danger of elimination. Tasha might have been overambitious with her Showstopper, but a great Signature and first place in the Technical meant she was safe. That meant Paul and Prue had to cut either Cristy Sharp or Dan Hunter. Ultimately, they went with Cristy, even though her flavors were consistently good while Dan whiffed his Signature, came last in Technical, and had a bounty of beige treats in his “Anything But Beige” Showstopper Display.
Paul Hollywood might have grimly told Dan he was “lucky” to make it into the Semi-Finals, but I think it was more than luck. It’s just the latest installment in a pattern wherein Prue Leith has gone to bat for Dan despite his mistakes. From what I saw in the final edit of The Great British Baking Show “Party Week,” Dan didn’t do enough to save his skin. Cristy should still be in the competition and Dan should have been sent home!!
The Great British Baking Show “Party Week” doubled as the show’s Quarter-Finals. That meant the pressure was on like never before. Only five bakers remained in the tent and all of them had previously won Star Baker. A small error was bound to spark more scrutiny and big risks could reap big rewards (or, as Prue warned, bigger opportunities for failure).
For the Signature Challenge, the bakers were asked to make Paul’s favorite bake of all time: a sausage roll. Dan’s plan to use dim-sum dumpling flavors wound up costing him big time. Paul and Prue not care for the inclusion of prawn in the sausage. Someone whose sausage rolls tasted great, but had bake issues? Cristy.
Then, while both Dan and Cristy struggled to cut the appropriate sides of their Caterpillar Cake sponge in the Technical Challenge, Cristy did the work and remade the sponge. She would ultimately come in second place behind Tasha, while Dan’s insane creation came dead last.
Which brings us to the Showstopper. Cristy’s Willy Wonka-inspired display were colorful, per the “Anything But Beige” prompt, but looked “rough and ready.” Nevertheless, Paul and Prue agreed that most of the bakes were delicious. Her “Candy Canes” were uneven, but overall, she did a fine, but sloppy job. Dan’s dinosaur-themed Showstopper came with some exquisite “eggs” and nice lemon biscuits, but he did too much and not well enough. His dino feet had good flavor, but were dry, while his ankylosauruses were over-baked. Not to mention, there was, like, a lot of beige peeking through.
All told, Dan and Cristy were neck and neck on the Signature, but Cristy was streets ahead in the Technical. As for the Showstopper? I’d honestly say Cristy edged out Dan! So when host Alison Hammond revealed Cristy would be going home, I was gobsmacked. I felt like rioting. I believed that The Great British Baking Show had lost all credibility!
While I could sort of see why Prue saved Dan all the way back in “Bread Week,” I still think it’s odd that she and Paul assume Dan should skate by on bad bakes because he’s proven to be a good baker in the past. It sort of goes against the foundational rules of The Great British Baking Show. The whole idea is you’re only as good as your last bake. We’ve seen top tier talents leave before the Finals before and it’s always been predicated on that foundational rule.
Dan Hunter should have gone home on The Great British Baking Show “Party Week.” Because he didn’t, I now worry I’m going to be rooting against him in next week’s tense “Patisserie” Semi-Finals. That sucks because I always want to be on the bakers’ sides. I want all of them to do well. By making a bad judging choice, Paul and Prue have inadvertently turned Dan into a villain, and The Great British Baking Show is a show that should be just about heroes.