Cooking Crush returns from the New Year break with “That Jub Chai Stew Makes Me Spend More Time With You”, which is an interesting episode primarily because more than half of it is set before the final scene of the previous episode. Finally, we get to see what happened between Ten and Prem on their date that wasn’t really a date. And we also see what led to the not-date in the first place.
The mood between Ten and Prem is subdued at the beginning of the episode. Ten saw Chang Ma getting all chummy with Prem during class, and his jealousy makes him grouchy. He’s further annoyed when Prem opts to teach him some of the fancy plating techniques he just learned in class… from Chang Ma. Here I think Prem is excited that he learned something new and wants to share it with Ten, but of course, Ten doesn’t see it that way. He wants to learn Prem’s way of cooking, and he thinks it’s unlike Prem to worry about stuff like presentation.
I love the contrasting conversations that happen after that lesson. Metha helps Ten work through his obvious jealousy, which he took out on Prem. Pang talks Prem through the whole situation. He’s still conflicted about accepting what he knows to be a ridiculous amount of money and debates returning it. But Pang suggests he finish out the lessons and use whatever happens in that final lesson as a sign as to whether or not they should continue seeing each other.
These two are the most communicative while also being super uncommunicative. Ten is able to rush right over to Prem’s house and apologize for his behavior at the lesson, but somehow neither of them is willing to admit out loud that they want to keep seeing each other after the lessons end. I put this on Prem more than Ten, though. Ten is not being subtle at all about his interest. He fakes an injury so that Prem will cup his cheek, and it’s actually Ten who goes in for the first kiss – only to be conveniently interrupted by fireworks.
Prem, I think, is struggling with the class differences. There’s an obvious gap between them that keeps being pointed out. Pang complains about Ten’s father during their chat, opining that rich people always look down on poor people. Oh, Prem lives in a smaller house, so therefore he must be scamming Ten. Prem himself brings it up while they’re out to dinner, talking about how hard it is for restaurant owners and how much money it costs. He even lectures Ten about a discriminatory saying that he uses, about how a meal without dessert is a meal “for commoners”.
But I also think that Prem’s self-confidence is not that great. He seems pretty confident in his cooking, but with everything he goes through at school, it’s hard not to suffer a bit of a crisis of self-worth. Even with how obvious Ten is being, I think many of Prem’s hang-ups are because he doesn’t think he’s good enough.
So Ten is all in. He’s the one doing the heavy flirting. He took pictures of Prem when Prem said there wasn’t anything in the neighborhood worth photographing. They were literally feeding each other. When they’re gazing at the river, he puts his hand over Prem’s and then goes in for the kiss.
But then on the walk back to Ten’s place, when their hands brush as they’re walking, Prem awkwardly pulls his away. And when Ten asks if this is really the last time they’ll see each other, Prem just says that he should say hi if they run into each other on campus. The mood, which until the moment at the river had been pretty upbeat, turns despondent.
It’s so, so important that in the end it’s Prem who goes for the kiss. Yes, Ten stops him from leaving, but until then Prem hadn’t really given Ten any signals that he was interested. Prem making that first (OK, second) move is a pretty big indicator that he feels the same way Ten does. This is huge. It almost makes up for the not-that-great kiss.
And their similar reactions after are just too cute for words. Both of them are so giddy, hugging their pillows and smiling. Prem’s kicking feet? Adorable. Ten literally kissing his pillow? Precious. These two are so cute I die.
That’s why it bothers me when I see people say that this series is a step down for Off and Gun after Not Me. Are they fantastic in Not Me? Undoubtedly. But Cooking Crush isn’t even in the same hemisphere genre-wise, so it’s not going to be the same. We’ve never gotten to see Off and Gun be this flirty and smitten, and I for one am living for it.
Unfortunately, even after the kiss, they’re still not communicating. Ten shows up at Prem’s because he couldn’t stand not seeing him, and he’s vocal about that. He wants to talk about their kiss, but Prem puts him off. He tries doing some of the same things they were doing in last week’s episode to push Ten’s stepmother away. Yet Prem keeps pushing him away. He stares at Prem’s lips, and Prem just covers his mouth.
And then Prem’s friends show up, forcing Ten to sneak out. Prem promises they’ll talk later, but it turns out that Chang Ma has found out where Prem lives and has stopped by. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, with Dynamite asking if they’re dating.
I don’t think Prem likes Chang Ma the way that it looks like Chang Ma likes him. But to Ten, this is very bad. This dude has already co-opted one of their not-dates, and now he’s just randomly shown up at Prem’s house just minutes after Ten had to sneak out the window. I do sympathize with the conundrum Prem now finds himself in. If he admits that they are dating (which they haven’t actually discussed), then his friends will declare Ten a distraction and make him leave. But if that happens, then it looks like Prem is choosing Chang Ma over Ten, when I don’t think he is.
I can’t even say, “Just kiss already!” because they did and it didn’t help.
Aside from the relationship drama, they’re not so subtly hinting that the restaurant is in trouble. Prem’s nemeses at school have already mocked him for it, but now we have grandma taking mysterious phone calls and being very serious when she tells Prem that they need to talk later. And there’s no way that all of Prem’s lectures about how hard it was for small eateries to stay open was coincidental. Something is brewing. (No pun intended.)
Fire and Dynamite’s developing relationship seems to have stalled. After their confrontation in the car in the previous episode, where Dynamite tries to get Fire to admit that he likes him and Fire very forcefully says that he doesn’t like him, Dynamite has backed off. It’s nice to see that the boy can respect boundaries; for a while I was beginning to think he had no idea what those were. And of course, his abrupt change in behavior has Fire reeling.
I still need to see some more, for lack of a better word, normal scenes between these two before I buy any legitimate feelings on Fire’s part. But I think what the sex worker scene was meant to imply was that Dynamite is Fire’s type, at least when it comes to appearances. I’m still not sure why Fire begged Metha to stop the car only to not want him to actually acknowledge Dynamite and Samsee. At this point, I don’t even think Fire knows what’s going on in his own head.
For some reason, it looks like Jane and Fire are back together. Jane broke up with Fire because she wasn’t that into him, yet in this episode she says to him that she knows he isn’t into her, so I don’t know what’s going on there.
Judging by the trailer for the next episode, Ten and Prem finally do have that all-important dating conversation. I’m not too worried about Chang Ma poking his nose where it doesn’t belong, but I’m suddenly very worried about both Prem’s restaurant and his grandmother. (I don’t think Samsee asking if she was sick was foreshadowing – I think it’s to do with financial issues – but what if it is?!?!?!)
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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