I was out of town last weekend and skipped reviewing episode 9 of Cooking Crush, but basically what you need to know is that Fire and Dynamite are official, Ten and Prem still aren’t, and Samsee found out that everyone has been hiding their relationship from him and is very upset. OK, now that you’re caught up, let’s dive into “The Trio of Friends: Like Three Essential Elements in Trio Paste”.
I’ll start with something that was a huge topic of discussion after last week’s episode, and that’s Samsee’s reaction to learning that Fire and Dynamite were a couple and that Prem knew about it. I saw some people remark that Samsee overreacted, that his blow-up was over the top. Honestly, I have to disagree. I disagreed last week, but even more so after the opening scenes of “The Trio of Friends: Like Three Essential Elements in Trio Paste”.
Samsee knows that he was a little out of line. When he runs off to eat his feelings (samesies), he of course runs into Metha and explains the situation. It isn’t that his friends are in relationships and he isn’t. It isn’t even that his friends didn’t tell him about these relationships. It’s that he’s older than them and he doesn’t have many friends, and he’s worried about being left behind.
As someone who is perpetually single, I’ll tell you that when I was younger, this was my exact fear. So I found it completely realistic that Samsee, hurt and feeling left out, made a rash decision in anger. And then he immediately regretted it.
Mostly I love that Prem and Dynamite gave him the opportunity to be upset. Prem’s initial dismissal, calling him immature, was how he reacted in the moment and not how he actually felt. Both of them understood why Samsee was upset, gave him the space to marinate in his feelings, and let him come back at his own pace. Samsee goes to apologize, and Dynamite insists that they are the ones who should be sorry, for leaving him out. Once again, Cooking Crush delivers with the healthy communication.
And honestly, it was just really great television when Samsee showed up at the competition just in the nick of time. It wasn’t even a last-minute decision, as he says later that he was working hard to gather up the prawns they needed for their dish. The fact that they were ridiculed for creating a “simple” dish, and then went on to explain how all of the different ingredients related to them as individuals and as friends, which was the whole point of the challenge. Apparently, they were the only ones who understood the assignment.
Cooking Crush does a great job with balancing out the romantic relationships with the friendships. “The Trio of Friends: Like Three Essential Elements in Trio Paste” managed to be about both, and fully delivered each plotline. Prem, Dynamite, and Samsee have such a great dynamic, and it’s easy to see why they’re friends. And I loved seeing Ten and Fire – and even Metha! – there to support their boys.
Speaking of Metha, it’s interesting to see the contrast in how he reacts to the news that both of his friends are in relationships and didn’t tell him, which is to immediately run to Ten and be annoying.
OK, now let’s talk about the gross insidiousness that is Chang Ma. He’s been giving me the heebie-jeebies for a while, because he is clearly very interested in Prem romantically and ignoring the giant glaring signs that Prem does not feel the same. In “The Trio of Friends: Like Three Essential Elements in Trio Paste”, he confronts Ten about his feelings, and ignores that Ten flat-out tells him Prem isn’t interested. His belief is that as long as Prem is not “officially” in a relationship, Chang Ma is free to pursue him.
This is actually a pretty pervasive opinion, popularized by the romantic comedy trope where the (generally) male lead doggedly pursues the (generally) female love interest until they, essentially, cave. It happens in BLs, too. I won’t name names, but there have been some series where “your mouth is saying no, but your body is saying yes” is almost a fundamental part of the relationship dynamic. I hate it.
In this situation, Chang Ma is only focused on his own feelings. He likes Prem, Prem isn’t “officially” in a relationship, so therefore, he still has a chance. It completely ignores Prem’s feelings; they don’t even factor into Chang Ma’s plan at all. The only time Prem was anything that could be considered flirty around Chang Ma is when he went to his restaurant, where he was fanboying over meeting his idol…while on a date with Ten.
Yet Chang Ma has completely constructed this entire fantasy around Prem that selectively ignores anything that doesn’t fit into the worldview he’s created. He has made several overtures that have mostly just fallen flat. Prem acknowledges these overtures more than once but doesn’t really appreciate them. When Chang Ma gifts him with a basil plant, Prem worries that accepting it will give Chang Ma the wrong idea.
And then in “The Trio of Friends: Like Three Essential Elements in Trio Paste”, Prem looks uncomfortable as soon as Chang Ma puts his hands on his shoulders. Chang Ma says he wants to hug Prem because it will make him feel better, Prem is like, “Please don’t”, and Chang Ma does it anyway. He’s totally fine stomping all over Prem’s boundaries. It doesn’t matter that Prem is uninterested, only that he’s “unclaimed”.
Even worse than that, Chang Ma is in a position of power in a thing that is very important to Prem. And he knows how important it is to Prem. He’s been worming his way into Prem’s life by offering advice for the competition, and now he’s one of the judges. You can’t tell me that’s not unethical.
And while I don’t believe violence is ever the answer, violence is sometimes the answer, and in this case, Chang Ma deserved that punch to the face. 10/10, Doc. No notes. Remember, consent is very important to Ten, especially about physical touch.
Honestly, the best thing about this whole Chang Ma ordeal is that it is the perfect contrast to Ten and Prem’s relationship. These two have been engaging in healthy communication basically since they started spending time together, well before they were dating. They reassure each other, they build each other up, they ask for consent, they listen to each other’s words and body language, and they check in on each other.
And they were so cute in this episode. From Ten kissing Prem’s face to make it less pale, to him pressing his own cheeks against Prem’s lips so that they matched, to the little notes he put on the bottom of the drinks, to the gleeful way he picked Prem up and spun them around once they became official. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, I am so in love with the fact that Off and Gun can just be adorable smitten kittens in this series.
Even though I know their reasoning as to why they hadn’t become official yet, I still couldn’t help but moan about the fact that it was episode 10 and they’re still were not boyfriends. They’ve confessed their feelings, they’ve kissed a bunch of times, but unfortunately, they both have personal hang-ups that they can’t quite seem to get over. After “The Trio of Friends: Like Three Essential Elements in Trio Paste” and seeing the trailer for next week, it looks like those may still be sources of conflict.
While I appreciate that Ten was following Prem’s wishes by agreeing to hold off until after the competition, I am glad that Ten intended to ask Prem to be official even before all this business with Chang Ma. I’m just sorry that the moment was ruined because of him. I know he originally said that he wanted to be able to have an excuse to protect Prem, but I like that when he actually asked, he just talked about how much he wanted to support him and love him openly. Ten practicing how he was going to ask was just super cute, and these two have had enough obstacles to overcome. Please just let them be happy for fifteen minutes.
Also, I just have to mention that I love the repeated callback of how they’re constantly pretending not to hear what the other said so that they’ll repeat it.
Ten is doing overtime trying to convince Prem that he’s worthy of continuing to study something that he loves even though he isn’t the most technically proficient. I love that the dish he and his friends made was more about the three of them than it was about presenting a flashy dish. (I know appearance matters, but shouldn’t taste also be important?) But after overhearing the workers talking about how they were the “joke” team that gets kept around for ratings, I worry that all the hard work Prem has done developing his self-confidence will just take a nosedive.
With two episodes left, I’m eager to see how everything ends up. It looks like Ten’s defense of Prem will affect their team’s place in the competition. (Hopefully, Chang Ma being a gross jerk who doesn’t take no for an answer factors in somehow.) Ten’s dad is back and being the worst, as usual. But Ten and Prem are finally official and goshdarnit, they’d better stay that way.
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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