‘The Amazing Race’: Back in the saddle again
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Well, dag gummit, as Jet and Cord might say, was that not a great episode of ‘The Amazing Race’?
This week’s installment had everything that makes ‘The Amazing Race’ addictive television: major reversals, local color and surprises aplenty, as several teams made decisions that put them in the lead or had them removed from the race.
The luck of the draw has always been a major component of ‘The Amazing Race.’ One tiny error, one bad decision, can completely determine whether you’re walking away for good or finishing in first place. It can be as simple as deciding between one of two Detour choices, picking the wrong taxi driver, or opting to get out of your cab and run to the next destination.
In this case, it was all three for one specific team, and this duo was punished by being eliminated. Ouch.
This week, the six remaining teams left the tropical paradise of the Seychelles to head to Penang, Malaysia, and the city’s Snake Temple. Despite their lead, Steve and Allie (pictured) were on the same boat and plane with the rest of the teams and weren’t able to obtain their missing backpacks from last week, leaving them with only -- quite literally, in fact -- the clothes on their backs. Fortunately, Michael and Louie offered some clothes, which showed the generous nature of some racers. I couldn’t help but wonder: did any of the female contestants do the same for Allie? (I think specifically of Caite, but that team seemed to be more proud of the fact that they learned what ‘unanimous’ meant.)
The cowboys immediately had a cab issue, which wasn’t good as they would have to complete an extra task -- a Speedbump, for those at home -- in addition to the Detour and Roadblock ahead. Despite their unluckiness at first, they quickly soared to the lead, wisely choosing the Chinese Custom Detour -- in which they had to balance a Chinese chingay, a ceremonial flag -- on their foreheads for 120 feet. (Heck, Cord completed it on his first try.) It was a major victory that propelled the last-place team right to the front of the pack as they headed to the village of Teluk Bahang. (And, yes, I’ll very freely admit that I cheered out loud.)
Elsewhere, those teams attempting to get to the Buddhist Tradition Detour had their hands full before they even got there. While Carol and Brandy and Caite and Brent seemed to arrive there fairly quickly, major traffic snarled around three other teams -- Michael and Louie, Steve and Allie, and Dan and Jordan -- and the latter two duos decided to get out of their cab and walk the supposedly four to five minutes to their destination.
It was a pretty colossal error.
Besides the fact that neither team had any idea where they were going, they were quickly passed by Michael and Louie in their cab and then spent lots of time hiking all over the place before arriving at the wrong destination. If that weren’t bad enough, Steve and Allie then opted to do the other Detour and then, upon seeing what it actually entailed, decided to switch once more. Never a good sign.
While Jet and Cord completed their Detour quite quickly, the others had a much harder time with their choice: it was grueling, and hot, work, as they had to carry 12 incense sticks of various sizes up 150 steps and then ignite them. Every team struggled to complete it as speedily as possible, but this was no easy feat. No surprise then that Jet and Cord arrived in Teluk Bahang, completed their Speedbump -- which consisted of traveling to a Spice Tea Garden, smelling some spices, and then choosing the right tea to deliver to a guru on a swing -- and then also finished the Roadblock before another team even arrived in the village. (Also helping matters: that Brent and Caite’s cab driver took them to the wrong location. Hee-hee.)
That Roadblock had one member of each team smashing coconuts (more coconuts?!?) to find one that had a colored liquid in the center and then constructing a Hindu ceremonial float which they sent out to sea in order to receive their next clue. Despite Jet’s concerns (‘I’m not really crafty,’ he said), he finished it in no time at all.
It allowed the cowboys to jet off to the Pit Stop in record time and take a first-place finish, making them the first team in the history of ‘The Amazing Race’ to ever come from last place, complete a Speedbump, and then come in first place. (Even Phil seemed impressed.) Plus, the two won a trip to Maui as well. I’m absolutely thrilled that these two were not only spared elimination last week but managed to claw their way back to the top of the pack (or ‘back in the saddle’), where they belong. As Cord said it best, ‘Quittin’s just not for me.’
Ultimately, the possibility of elimination fell onto either brothers Dan and Jordan or father-daughter team Steve and Allie, both of whom made some serious mistakes this week. While the producers sought to ramp up the tension in the final moments (OMG, Dan and Jordan’s cab must stop for gas!?!), it was blatantly obvious that it was poor Steve and Allie who would be getting the boot this week. Which is a shame, really, as these two were fierce competitors, loyal teammates, and didn’t get bogged down in the pettiness that has ensnared many of the other teams.
Alas, victory for these two was just not meant to be. I’m actually very sad to see them depart -- I’d rather the insufferable Caite and Brent go home -- but that’s life on the race: you’re only as good as your last decision ... and these two couldn’t quite recover from this week’s blunders.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Sad to see Steve and Allie go? Happy to see the cowboys in first place again? Who are you rooting for now that we’ve only got a handful of teams? And who will go home next? Head to the comments section to discuss.
-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food and more television on Twitter at @televisionary)