The Amazing Race Review: A Hope Renewed
I’m beginning to feel like I’m in a relationship with a douche. Week after week I make plans to meet with The Amazing Race. I schedule my day so that I’ll be there on time; I come interested, open and just a little bit intrigued, not to mention looking pretty darn good because I just can’t help myself. And yet week after week, I am left waiting… sitting at the dinner table staring at stale rolls or at least the TV equivalent, 60 minutes. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with 60 minutes, but frankly put I’m tired of checking back and forth between CBS and whatever else is on (cough, cough Once Upon A Time) just to see if my date finally showed. If this show were a guy, I’d ditch him long ago. I wouldn’t put up with this from even David Beckham – scratch that – for anything less than David Beckham. I’ve pretty much had enough and if I didn’t have to recap this program for you fine people, I’d drop this altogether. So, what I’m saying is, you guys give me hope… wherever you are.
So let’s get started. On this week’s episode of “The Delayed Race,” the teams continue in Africa where Amani/Marcus pull a final Hail Mary with hope to remain in the game, and the teams run across their first Double U-turn. Justin and Jennifer manage to make it through a leg without arguing, but it seems that Laurence has caught their bicker bug. Careful, something’s going around.
After last week’s episode, team Amani/Marcus, the last to arrive at the pit stop, were pleased to learn that they would continue on in the race and even seemed unfazed by hearing that they will have a Speed Bump. Come morning though, the relief has faded off and Amani/Marcus worry about how they’re going to complete the Speed Bump and still get ahead of the other teams. The teams are given a shocking windfall of $1 for this leg and learn that they will be traveling by bus to the local city of Salima.
Okay, so maybe local is a bit of a stretch because in order to get to Salima, the teams have to travel on a 2-hour long bus ride which is overly packed with people. All teams are on the same bus, Amani/Marcus bringing up the rear and talking themselves into getting a seat, at the back, again. Does anyone feel déjà vu? Last week, Amani/Marcus found themselves on the back of the plane, allowing every other team to get off before them and leading them down the slippery slope to almost elimination. Let’s hope this doesn’t come back to bite them in the butt.
When the teams arrive in Salima, they race off to their next task which involves them acting as bicycle taxi drivers and transporting their passengers to a local destination. All of the teams across the board have difficulty finding their destinations, and while some teams get over this complication with little difficulty (Andy), others roam around the place on their bikes hoping to get lucky (Sandy, Laurence). During this time not all the teams are on the course as Amani/Marcus are stuck at the bus stop trying to complete their Speed Bump. The Speed Bump involves them completing a slide puzzle of the Malawian flag. The team has a bit of trouble with completing this challenge because as soon as they get almost done, they find that one piece is out of place and they must start again. They get frustrated, but after a good while the team moves on and makes their way to the challenge, but by that time most of the teams are on their way back after completing it.
And by “most teams” I mean every team except Justin/Jennifer. I’m really proud of Justin/Jennifer for their efforts this week, in spite of Jennifer’s not very well thought out plan of lingering during the challenge. Justin doesn’t scream at her and the two don’t have a confrontation. They’ve come quite a ways. I guess the first clue that Justin/Jennifer would be eliminated this week is the seemingly random inclusion in the Race footage about Justin coming out to Jennifer. It’s a sweet moment when Justin tells us that he knows that he can count on Jennifer, but even at the beginning of the episode this seems irrelevant and calls into question their future on the show. Why say it now when it makes no sense, when you can save that bit for later when it possibly fits into the conversation?
Anyway, during the challenge Jennifer realizes that she left the clue with Justin. So after she drops her passenger off she doesn’t know what to do. She’d rather not have to go all the way back to the starting point just to find out she was supposed to stay put, so Jennifer decides to just stay put allowing all of the other teams, including Marcus/Amani, to pass by them. Eventually Jennifer decides to just go back to the starting point and get the clue. This is a good, although much delayed, decision as what Jennifer was supposed to do next was to go back to the start and turn in her money for the next clue. Justin seems unworried about his partner’s inefficient use of time telling us that he was just worried that Jennifer got hurt. I can’t help but think that this would not be Jennifer’s reaction in the same situation; she is after all the hothead of the two.
For the next challenge the teams have to choose between two challenges: Dugout or Lugout. In Lugout the teams have to transport the passengers and goods of a boat in the middle of the water in to shore. This challenge requires both strength and endurance as the teams wade through the water carrying their heavy parcels. In Dugout, the teams have to compete in a boat race on Lake Malawi. The canoes are super tricky to negotiate, and except for Andy/Tommy who seem born to the task, all of the teams have difficulties. Ernie/Cindy give up soon into the task and decide to use their Express Pass to skip this challenge and hopefully get a first place finish. But after the task, the team has trouble finding the U-turn then pit stop which gives just enough time for Andy/Tommy to slip into first place yet again. In one of the closest pit stops, Andy/Tommy and Cindy/Ernie come down to a footrace for first place. Andy, Tommy, and Ernie are all neck and neck while Cindy flails in the rear. Cindy begs Andy/Tommy to let them win, but to no avail the guys are in for the win and they get their fifth one. I imagine that Cindy/Ernie were especially peeved when they hear the prize for this leg is $15,000 for Andy/Tommy to share.
The teams finish up their respective challenges, Amani/Marcus make up time with Lugout while Laurence/Zac and Jeremy/Sandy lose time in Dugout. In the race to the U-turn, Amani/Marcus make it to there first and decide not to use the U-turn. They run into Laurence and Zac on their way out providing one of the most telling moments for this leg when Laurence decides to use their U-Turn on Amani/Marcus the team that just left from the U-Turn. Yeah. If you’re thinking this team is a few clam shells away from the full seafood bar, I’d have to say I completely agree.
At the end, Justin and Jennifer are pretty much not even in competition as by the time they get to the following task, all the other teams have already gone on to the pit stop. Justin/Jennifer are the last team to arrive and are eliminated.
On a side note, Bill and Cathi this week continue to show themselves as strong contenders. They came in at third place surpassing by far many of the younger competitors. At the beginning of this season I expressed doubt that these two would be in the competition for long. But these past weeks have shown Bill and Cathi live their life and are in it for the long haul. That’s how these two have managed to share 50 years together and still come on the Race and work well together. When asked by host Phil Keoghan what their secret is, Bill and Cathi let him know that it’s all about communication. And coming from these two I’m banking on this information as gold. If Bill/Cathi do manage to win this or even make it to the top three, I will be sorely disappointed, not because they made it so far but because I wasn’t rooting for them the whole way. I started off this season embittered and jaded, but several episodes in this team has managed to fill me with hope. And I kind of like that.
Here are the rankings:
1. Andy/Tommy- winning a cool $15,000
And here’s where I stand:
Rooting for: Amani/Marcus and Bill/Cathi
Rooting Against: Ernie/Cindy
Who Will Win: Andy/Tommy
On next week’s episode the teams travel to Denmark where Ernie/Cindy make a desperate play for the top spot. Will it work out? I don’t know, but I hope not.
For more on this episode, check out No Baby For You by Gabe Callahan.
Season 19, Episode 7: “Move Goat” (originally aired Sunday, November 6, 2011)
The Amazing Race airs Sundays at 8/7c on CBS.
Images courtesy of CBS.