Top Chef Texas - Don't hate the player...

Heather has heard that you might have opinions of
your own; she's got a better, more rustic idea.
Remember how Heather was kind of butthole last week? Yeah. Good times.

This week was Heather's ego going critical mass. And I'm frankly kind of pissed, because this episode should have hit my sweet spot. A Quickfire featuring food/booze pairings (tequila, specifically), and an Elimination of game meat cookery? Sign me up.

But noooo, instead I've got to witness Heather bossing Beverly around -- because you know they just happened to get paired up for the Elimination Challenge. And of course this was a double elimination episode, and one where there was no real sure-thing team and all of our favorites were paired with someone who could bring them down.

It was a good episode for one fella, though: the umlauted one, Ty-Lör. His confidence with tequila (he's been to Jalisco!) resulted in a Thai-style clam dish with Don Julio 1942 that took home the $5,000 Quickfire win. Beverly's cold-smoked oysters outdid Heather's popcorn shrimp, as they should. Grayson stepped up with her Wisconsin roots, repping beer instead of tequila; her sesame-crusted cod still sounded decent.

The Elimination pairings were announced as essentially random (the person next to you is your partner), and each team had to prepare a game meat for a renowned chef at guest judge Tim Love's restaurant. Our chefs would be the judges, though. They were tasked with selecting the bottom three teams to face elimination, with both members of the losing team leaving.

By the time we got to that selection process, we'd seen a number of chefs comment on Heather's shitty 'tude, and the camera lingered for a not-brief moment on Edward as Heather railed on Beverly to make sure the dish didn't end up "too Asian". I feel like that's a dangerous direction to go, tiptoeing around accusing Heather of even a little bit of racism. But clearly she's getting on everyone's nerves, and I could see it going in any number of directions.

We also saw Chris Jones come up with another ridiculous MOTO-style concept before the recipe's finalized -- this one some sort of sweet potato chain that I still don't entirely understand -- that ended up failing miserably and tanking the elk dish he and Grayson put together. He's on thin ice in this competition.

But worst is Dakota, who fussed over her venison rack and ended up putting Nyesha's butt on the line for a seriously underdone chop. They were almost spared by Heather's bizarre ego meltdown at Judges' Table, wherein she brought up last week's challenge and her opinion of Beverly's shrimp processing skills, overall work ethic, and sense of self-esteem. It was skin-crawlingly awful, and I don't see how Heather's behavior could possibly be explained away by Bravo editing.

If it wasn't for the nearly-raw venison, Dakota and Nyesha could have won this week's challenge, I'm sure of it. Instead, because this was ultimately a game challenge, they're the odd team out this week. Of course, there's always that Last Chance Kitchen...

With ten chefs remaining in the active competition, and one more in the basement Top Chef fight club, I'm still going with Paul as my overall favorite. Chris Crary is coming on, and Ty-Lör (who took the Elimination win with Edward for their quail with pickled cherries and eggplant) seems to have his confidence back. Sarah is faltering, and Chris Jones has no consistency.

So here they are: my first odds picks for the winner of Top Chef 9.

Paul (4-1)
Heather (5-1)
Edward (8-1)
Lindsay (15-1)
Ty-Lör (17-1)
Chris C. (19-1)
Grayson (20-1)
[Last Chance Kitchen winner] (30-1)
Sarah (35-1)
Beverly (50-1)
Chris J. (60-1)

Next week, the show heads to Austin. Patti LaBelle does some singing, and Emeril's back. Let's see if the lack of sizzle in the preview means that it's a boring episode. I'm betting yes.