First and foremost: Whichever mad genius in the “Amazing Race” production staff made the call to use Barnes and Barnes’ “Fish Heads” over the closing credits of Sunday (October 20) night’s episode deserves a share of all future Emmys the show happens to win. “Amazing Race” is not prone to using joke credits songs, so hearing “Fish Heads” come out of nowhere at the end of the episode was masterful.
You can now spend the next hour watching that on repeat. Young Bill Paxton! Bill Mumy! What more could you possibly want in an evening’s entertainment.
Certainly nothing I have to say about Sunday night’s “Amazing Race” is more important than “Fish Heads” because…
[More after the break.]
It was a Continuation Leg. The Beardos, appropriately finishing first in a Leg with Viking inflection set in Norway, reached Phil Keoghan, celebrated their victory and their $5000 apiece and they were promptly sent on their way.
“We want to just keep racing!” Brandon gushed enthusiastically. Me, I always like seeing people go home, but I’m also OK with not having an exit interview to conduct on Monday. And Continuation Legs have the advantage of not inherently sparing a team following a weak performance (though I know that’s essentially what happens and without the penalty of a Speed Bump in the next Leg).
It made sense as an episode not to send anybody home, no matter what means the producers chose for it. After last week’s episode likely concluded with some wide spacing of the teams in Lisbon, Sunday’s hour began with the teams heading for Norway and realizing immediately that in order to reach the Arctic Circle, they would all end up taking the same flight to Oslo, a realization that came without revealing to us how far Tim & Marie were behind Travis & Nicole as the Leg began. It just didn’t matter. We were all knotted up.
Task-wise, the Leg contained a Roadblock that caused no real problems for anybody, but it in Norway with a rather devilish Detour, exactly the sort of challenging, not-always-intuitive Detour that I wish the show did more of.
The choice: Hang Your Heads or Hammer of the Cods. In Hang Your Heads, teams had to make long strings of fresh cod heads and then transport them to marked drying poles via wheelbarrows. In Hammer of the Cods, teams had to collect long strings of cod from tall drying teepees and then, using mallets, pound out a kilogram of cod jerky.
I’ll begin by expressing my amusement with the Hammer of the Cods pun. Well-played. I’d like to believe that the “Fish Heads” inspiration and the Hammer of the Cods pun came from the same person and that that person is a new addition to the “Amazing Race” staff, because that would give me optimism for the show’s creative future.
It was a good Detour because the description of the tasks only began to pinpoint what was hard about each challenge.
In Hammer of the Cods, the pounding sounded like the basis of the challenge, but ascension of the drying structure required harnessing and climbing and it also turns out that walking with 15 pairs of cod around your neck isn’t that easy. The pounding was almost an afterthought, especially since that part of things was easy enough that both of the teams that chose that Detour went well over the required kilogram (in part because neither team had a clue what a kilogram was).
In Hang Your Heads, the jabbing of the heads onto spears was finally easier than the tying of the fish on ropes and even that was easier than the long journey with the fish heads in the wheelbarrows, especially if you got a wheelbarrow with a flat tire, like the Afghanimals did.
The bottom line was that Hang Your Heads had a complicated description, but was apparently much easier to do, because the Baseball Wives and Team Oklahoma, the only teams to do that Detour, both suffered, time-wise. And the only team to really take a hit doing Hang Your Heads was Tim & Marie and that was because they kept hanging their heads on an unmarked pole. If this had been an elimination episode and this had somehow been what doomed Tim & Marie, they would have been the second team in three weeks to go home in part because they ignored the requirement to look for things that were marked.
You continue to hate Tim & Marie — No, not *you* but everybody else — but I’m really intrigued by the respective psychiatric profiles at work in that on-again-off-again couple. Tim’s passive amusement at Marie’s hectoring is a level of Zen almost on par which what allowed The NFLers not to eviscerate their Chilean travel agent last week. And Marie? She’s just playing the villain much to heartily for me even to find it convincing. Her “We have an Express Pass! Help us!” schtick almost has to be a put-on. Doesn’t it? Even if it’s not, it’s almost impossible not to love ER Doc Nicole for hard-lining it at the end of tonight’s episode, demanding the Express Pass in exchange for Pit Stop directions. And how giddy will you all be if Marie blows her Express Pass leverage to get to a Pit Stop that isn’t even the end of a Leg? See? That’s good TV.
Oh right. Yes. The main reason why we probably couldn’t send anybody home in this episode was because the last 10 minutes of action was dedicated for a Ford Explorer Challenge, in which teams had to figure out how to chain a boulder-on-a-sleigh to the back of a pickup and drag it a couple feet. Then teams were required to say things like “Pretty powerful. Now I see why people like their pickup trucks” (Nicole) and “Pretty powerful rig, that Ford truck” (some Beardo) and “It was a good truck” (Jason). I guess that a pair of pickups would have been too lucrative a prize, but I was still surprised.
Leaving aside the commercial-style blurbs for the Fords, it was one of the most quotable “Amazing Race” episodes in some time.
Highlight quotes included:
*** “They’re great. They’re easy. They’re low-maintenance. And who doesn’t want a mustache?” – Adam on the glory of their beards.
*** “They’re going to be good at this. They eat gross stuff and do gross stuff all the time.” [ Marie on the Beardos at the Detour.
*** “Tim was made for pushing this wheelbarrow.” – Marie.
*** “This one’s too small! It’s like a child” – Ashley lamenting one particularly tiny head.
*** “He can swim like a seal! Like a shark! Like seal-shark!” – Adam on Brandon’s swimming prowess, displayed at Roadblock too dull to even discuss.
*** Kim: “She’s like the Cod Queen right now.” Nicky: “That’s what I always wanted to be.”
*** Tim: “You know how to beat that meat, Danny.” Danny: “Whatever. You’re the beat-meater.”
But let there be zero doubt that the Line of the Episode was…
*** “It’s in my mouth! It’s in my mouth! It’s in my mouth! Oh my God.” – Kim, finding her missing clue in the last place she thought to look. Good times.
Some other highlights from this week’s Leg:
*** It was very nice of Team Oklahoma to help the Ice Queens with their difficulties reversing in the Fords. If the Ice Queens were smart, they’d ditch their current Race Boyfriends and work with Team Oklahoma, even if one or both of them have wives. The Afghanimals have yet to endear themselves to most viewers and it’s obvious that they’ve rubbed the other teams wrong, with Amy calling them “The Ass-ghanimals.” Mean.
*** It was fun that all of the Norway stuff was happening in the late night and the early morning and yet it was full day/night light. As Ally put it, “The sun never sunsets.”
*** It’s not that the Roadblock was awful. One player from each team dropped off an 80-foot bridge and had to detach from the rope and fall into what I have to assume was chilly water. It was just dull for us at home because other than minor tangling of Jason’s rope, nobody was delayed in any way by the task.
*** Tell me you didn’t have a visceral reaction to the close-up of the mosquito getting ready to snack on Nicky during the Detour. That was uncomfortable.
Since nobody went home, that’s all I have to say here.
Fish heads… Fish heads… Roly poly fish heads!