As the show winds down, we get to spend more time with each baker, which, for Great British Baking Show, means more time for each remaining contestant to look truly stressed out on camera. Going into final judging, I really wasn’t sure who was safe and who was going home, given how much each person seemed positively sure they were messing up every step of the way. Never has sugar been so tense. For the first bake of Chocolate Week, we get to watch Ian, Flora, Tamal, and Nadiya fret over tarts. Tamal describes the mood in the tent as “slightly horribly tense” as they file in. His signature was an homage to New York, and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t get the reference but I’m flattered. New York loves you back, Tamal. After worrying that it was too simple, he gets good marks from Paul and Mary. Flora, on the other hand, again suffers from her tragic flaw: over-ornamentation. Her bone-dry macaron decor brings nothing to the table, and the passion fruit and chocolate tart layers are a bit sloppy. Ian’s chocolate and bay leaf tart gets a pass after Paul debates whether or not he likes the flavor combo, but it’s Nadiya’s peanut butter creation that steals the show. Mary, apparently not a fan of peanuts, loves it, and Paul gives Nadiya a coveted handshake. It’s not just any old handshake, either: it’s a lingering handshake — basically Paul’s declaration of undying love. Get a room, you two!
For the technical, we get something truly odd: staggered start times. We learn it's because they’re making a chocolate soufflé, which needs to be eaten straight out of the oven. Flora kicks things off, with Ian, then Nadiya and Tamal joining her. This has the added benefit of getting to see the terrified face of each baker as the technical challenge is revealed not once, but four times. No one is confident in how it’s done, and, since this is the second-to-last week, instructions are getting even sparser. The mood in the tent is even more horribly tense than usual — Nadiya declares she’d rather have another baby than make another soufflé. Flora’s soufflé, while not exactly perfect, gets her first place, with a string of so-so versions behind her: Tamal in second, Ian in third, and Nadiya in fourth. In tears, Nadiya states she knows it’s her last week, and that her showstopper will be her swan song. But, as the old saying (that I just made up) goes, it’s not over till the showstopper. The bakers are tasked with creating chocolate centerpieces using tempered and white chocolate. Tamal, who has struggled with presentation in the past, makes a chocolate bell tower that looks a bit sloppy on close inspection but still passes the taste test. Ian, meanwhile, creates an architecturally impressive well that nevertheless fails to show off complicated chocolate work. Flora, despite making her own horse cookie cutter, creates a crumbly carousel that neither tastes good nor holds together. Nadiya, whose already announced it's her last week, once again shows she knows what a real showstopper looks like: her peacock sculpture is both tasty and gorgeous — she wins star baker. Flora, who actually came in first in the technical, is the one sent home, instead. With lots of hugs and crying, it’s on to the final. Nadiya, with three recent star baker titles to her name, seems poised to take it all, but, as her ongoing struggle with technicals has shown, it's far from a foregone conclusion. We at Refinery29 take no official position on who should win, but let’s just say we’re also all for girl power around here. Wink, wink.