Cooking Crush 1×12 Review: “Fish & Rice Romance: A Dish Made of Love”

We’re here, everyone. We’ve arrived. It’s the final episode of Cooking Crush, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with my Sundays anymore. Did I even exist before I had a weekly dose of OffGun being ridiculously adorable? While “Fish & Rice Romance: A Dish Made of Love” didn’t give me everything I wanted out of a finale, it did fill me with warmth and gooey feelings, and honestly, that’s all I could really ask for.

“Fish & Rice Romance: A Dish Made of Love” starts with Ten officially introducing Prem to his father. The entire situation with Ten’s father was somewhat disappointing. There is a lot that I feel went unsaid, and then at the last minute he spent five minutes not being a jackass and suddenly everything is fine. This happens a lot in BLs (and other dramas), wherein a toxic parent is redeemed in the last episode or two despite having shown no growth over the course of the series. However, this is not really what happened with Ten’s father.

For starters, it’s what happens at Ten’s family table. Despite Prem’s instinct to shy away, Ten had him sit at the table. The seating arrangement is important. There’s an empty seat between Ten and Prem and Ten’s father and stepmother, and Ten has positioned himself at the other end of the table in direct challenge to his father. He announces that they are boyfriends, deal with it.

Ten’s father, of course, is not pleased, having found the label Pang made for Prem’s box of money. Prem insists that he will pay back every cent of it, and Ten’s dad is basically like, “Good. You do that.” When Ten asks if they’re hurting for money, his father makes some remark about how important it is for people to keep their word.

Obviously, there was going to be pushback from Ten’s father. He’s been a gigantic pain in Ten’s ass throughout the entire series, and anything less would have been completely out of character. Despite having told Prem not to worry about paying back the money in episode 5, it is something he’s repeatedly brought up so he clearly cares about that, at least. And it makes sense that Prem wanted to pay back the money, because that is something he’s felt guilty about from the beginning, and he is eager to prove to Ten’s father that he’s worthy of being with Ten.

I guess, if you squint, you can look at that situation as Ten’s father thinking he’s looking out for Ten. Perhaps he wants Prem to prove that he’s not with Ten for his money. And Prem passes the test by giving all of the money back. But Ten’s father hasn’t seemed to have cared at all about Ten’s happiness prior to this moment, so I don’t want to give him the benefit of the doubt here.

And, of course, there is no apology. There is what I saw one Tumblr user call the “classic Asian parent version of an apology”, where Ten’s father shows up at Prem’s restaurant. This is a way of acknowledging Prem and approving of their relationship; he even gives Prem back the money and offers Ten a half-hearted explanation of what happened with his mother. But their relationship is still adversarial; there is no big happy family moment, and he ends up eating alone while Ten and Prem go off together.

All in all, I don’t find this resolution to be all that satisfying, but at least it wasn’t a complete redemption, which is what I was worried about. I take great pleasure in the fact that later, when they are panning across the wall of photos at Prem’s restaurant, that Ten’s father is not featured. He is still the worst. 0/10, I HAVE NOTES.

On the other end of the parental spectrum, we have Fire’s mom. Her initial reaction when she finds out about Fire and Dynamite is awful and homophobic. She says something gross to Dynamite about how his “preferences” are fine but he should stay away from her son. Fire finally stands up for himself, telling his mother that he wants to make her happy, but he’s never felt like he could be who he really is around her. She storms off in anger and Dynamite comforts Fire, because he of course went through the same thing with his own parents and knows what it’s like.

However, we find out later that she eventually does apologize both to Fire and Dynamite for her reaction. She admits that she just wanted the best for Fire and had no idea she was smothering him. Later she even invites Dynamite into their family picture after Fire’s graduation.

I loved this because it was really important for Fire to stand up to his mother – and I approve heavily that it was Dynamite that was the final straw – but also I know how much he loves her, so I like that he didn’t lose that relationship. But I also think it was important for Dynamite to see that there are parents out there who will admit when they were wrong, take ownership of their actions, and love their children no matter what.

My other disappointment is that the three Bs received absolutely no comeuppance. “Fish & Rice Romance: A Dish Made of Love” acknowledges this, with Prem and his friends basically going, “it happens like that sometimes”. And yes, it is realistic that sometimes terrible people don’t get karmic retribution. But this is a drama and I fully wanted something. Surely lying about and actively sabotaging your fellow contestants should get you disqualified from a contest.

But perhaps the greatest karmic retribution is that Prem, Samsee, and Dynamite are successful even though they lose Super Monster Chef. The three of them work at Prem’s grandmother’s restaurant, which starts doing serious business due to the fame they receive from the show. And Prem is able to achieve his greatest dream, which is a chef’s table restaurant – the same as Chang Ma had.

I didn’t think that the Samsee/Pang reveal came entirely out of left field, the way some fans did. I had seen people speculate that Pang must have had a crush on either Samsee or Metha due to her behavior, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. I was going to say it wasn’t really necessary, but then I thought about it and I realized how important it was for Samsee, because he was always worried about being left behind. I’m glad that he found a group that he can belong to.

So while I was disappointed that “Fish & Rice Romance: A Dish Made of Love” left some things on the table, one thing I will never be disappointed by is Ten and Prem’s relationship. These two have been a sea of green flags from start to finish, with their open communication and their casual intimacy. They’ve fast become one of my favorite BL couples.

It was so important for them to be able to achieve their dreams, and one of their only real hurdles was that they worried that their relationship would prevent them from doing so. So it makes me really happy that they both got what they wanted while being completely, totally committed to each other. (The scream I scrumpt when we saw the wall of photos and they were wearing matching suits and rings. No idea whether it’s meant to be engaged or married but they are in it for the long haul and that’s what’s important.)

We get to see more of Ten supporting Prem – at least obviously – in that he helps out, first at Prem’s grandmother’s and then at Prem’s own restaurants. But we’ve seen previously the support that Prem gives Ten is more emotional, which is something he lacks from his other relationships. And of course, Prem views cooking as an act of love. That’s why I appreciate that while he made a meal for all of their friends, the dessert was just for the two of them.

Ten and Prem are everything. I love the way they’re so open with each other, both emotionally and physically – the casual touches, the devotion. And the final scene, when Ten is basically all over Prem, fills me with all kinds of feelings, because at this point they have been together for years…and they’re still like this. They’re still happy and in love, and I’m happy for them, that they got to this point in their lives.

I’m a newer fan to OffGun and GMMTV, but from what I’ve seen from other fans, this series has been almost an ode to their relationship. There were aspects of their personal lives in addition to callbacks to their other shows. I have genuinely enjoyed watching Cooking Crush every week. It has been a weekly dose of sorely needed serotonin, and it has been a delight watching Ten and Prem come together. I’m legitimately sad that the series is over.

Now what do I do on Sundays?

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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