NINE weeks. Thirty-three episodes. And finally our favourite gossipy, melodramatic soap opera has decided it's a cooking competition.
The below-average competitors have gone. Oh, wait - hi Josh.
Most of the below-average competitors have gone.
The ingredients in the 'fridge are getting more expensive.
The scrutiny of dishes is getting more … scrutinous.
Game on, molls.
Of course, it wouldn't be MKR if there wasn't SOME drama, so today's triple-barrelled challenge comes to you as a play in three acts.
ACT ONE: The Cold And The Beautiful
For the opening act, our bearded heroes Tim and Kyle take advantage of their challenge-winning bonus and cop a squat in the wings, while the remaining contestants construct an aesthetically pleasing, sense-making plate from an array of pre-cooked, cold ingredients.
There's a couple of twists - David and Betty don't plate an Asian-style dish, Valerie and Courtney work in complete silence - but there's also some much more familiar storylines.
Karen and Ros go straight for the roast pork, for example, and Josh does sweet F.A. to help Amy so he can blame her for their failure afterwards. He thinks Amy can do better, and when it comes to choosing a partner, I agree.
Deserved winners and all-round good egg teams Court & Duncan, Amy & Tyson and Della & Tully have the nicest set dressing, and their audition to appear in Act Two with Tim & Kyle is successful.
ACT TWO: Gone With The Skinned
For the sophomore act, teams are asked to all cook a dish from the same collection of ingredients: fish, potatoes and accessory vegetables.
Della's a bit intimidated by this part of the challenge. "I feel like it's a real display of who's better than who", she says, successfully grasping the concept of "a competition".
But there's a twist! And make no mistake: It's a stupid and meaningless one. For the first fifteen minutes, only one person per team can cook while the other sits on a stool behind them.
For the second fifteen minutes, only the other team member can cook, preparing for the ultimate in drama: Both team members cooking at once.
It's a lot like an Olympic relay, but without any real point. So exactly like an Olympic relay.
The tension in this scene comes from the frustration of those sat like shags on rocks on the sidelines, from Sonny to Della's Cher, Tully, being nervous to cook by herself, and from Court and Duncan's good puns and bad egg nets.
The proper full-blown drama in this scene comes from that wily minx of the kitchen: Salmon skin.
Getting it crispy causes conversations and frowns, with a range of crisping techniques on display.
Della and Tully go straight for the only sure-fire way to make sure things are crisp: burning the ever loving crap out of them.
The irritating white noise in this scene comes from Josh on the sidelines, offering his two cents. He would have done it better. Like, y'know. If he hadn't already done it worse.
Tim & Kyle and Amy & Tyson are the winners of round two, because I guess fancy judges don't like burnt stuff or confusing egg burritos. Wankers.
FINAL ACT: Gamey Of Thorns
For the third and final act, the two remaining teams are asked to create a magnificent dish from luxury ingredients.
Tim and Kyle choose rabbit, a cute quadruped that delivers Easter eggs and forms crop-ravaging plagues. Amy and Tyson choose sea urchin, a terrifying ball of spikes containing bright orange edible gonads. You know. Luxury.
Not to understate it, but this challenge is an unmitigated joy to watch. This is about cooking. Amy and Tyson keep the urchin simple with sushi rice and pickled veges, while Tim and Kyle fast-forward a slow-cooked rabbit ragu with fettuccine and bone marrow.
It's ... I mean ... just get in my mouth.
Impressed, the sidelined contestants enthusiastically approve, when they're not posing for the cover of their boy band album.
Josh, relatively quiet in the face of actual cooking skill, breaks his silence to tell us that he's backing Amy and Tyson, as he's put off by the arrogance of Tim and Kyle. In response, the pot smears the kettle with shoe polish in a coalmine.
There's so much skill and sincere love of food at this pointy, fresh, meaty end of the challenge that it's a genuine joy to watch. From Amy and Tyson's pared-down, raw and pickled simplicity with elegant plating to Tim and Kyle's rich, complex depth of flavour with lumberjack-sized portions, we gots ourselves a delicious competition at last, pardners.
The judges love both dishes because they have functioning tastebuds, but Tim and Kyle juuuust have the edge. Tyson and Amy are gracious in defeat. Compared to normal humans.
Winners are fast-tracked straight to the finals, which means MKR is denying us episode after episode of watching Tim and Kyle getting sweaty in the kitchen. And my, but it's nice when they get sweaty in the kitchen.
I've always said that.
Jo Thornely is a writer who loves it when you explain her jokes back to her on Twitter. Follow her @JoThornely
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