When most “Amazing Race” fans go through the show’s history, their favorite teams and their favorite tasks, “The Amazing Race 8” usually goes conspicuously unmentioned. That was the “Family Edition,” which stunk because of the teams of four, stunk because very few of the legs left the United States and stunk because there’s something awkward and unsightly about watching small children face challenges in high pressure situations.
I highly doubt that Bert Van Munster and company are going to go down the “Family Edition” path ever again and if they ever have their doubts regarding why emotionally unformed kids shouldn’t be allowed on the Race, they should just check out Sunday (Oct. 25) night’s “The Amazing Race.”
Nobody in America was a fan of FOX’s short-lived “Nashville,” but those of us who were forced to watch an episode or two for work already knew that Mika was an innocent, a sheltered, coddled naif. I guess you can take that as an insult, but I don’t mean it that way. I just don’t know that I’ve ever seen a reality TV contestant less prepared to face even a scintilla of adversity than poor Mika. And I watched every episode of “Kid Nation.”
So what Mika did on Sunday night may have seemed like a pathetic and humiliating choke job, I don’t view it that way. Sometimes spoiled children just misbehave and when that happens, sometimes it costs the people they love a whole heap of money.
[Recap of Sunday night’s “The Amazing Race” after the break…]
Even if you didn’t watch “Nashville,” you still saw the climax of Sunday night’s “The Amazing Race” coming and not just because CBS teased Mika’s meltdown in the network’s trademark spoilerific style. We’re early in the season, but Mika had already experienced paralyzing fear of both water and heights, laying the groundwork for her to meet her Waterloo (pun and “Bill & Ted” reference intended) on Sunday night at, of all places, a water slide.
Sunday night’s episode was entirely contained in Dubai and one-location episodes are almost never good for “Amazing Race” drama. The drama was further mooted by the fact that Team Tetherball, Meghan and Cheyene, did a Fast-Forward last week and began this episode with an advantage of more than 100 minutes over their nearest rival. Team Tetherball finished first for the second consecutive week and never glimpsed another team on their way to the Pit Stop. That’s a rout and I think we can expect to see things get equalized very quickly next week. “The Amazing Race” doesn’t enjoy dominance an Team Tetherball isn’t going to be allowed to run away with the season. Though, would anybody be unhappy if they were to win? They’re likable and appreciative of this opportunity and they handle adversity acceptably, even if Meghan is a bit of a worrier. This is a rare young “Amazing Race” couple that seems well-matched to the long-haul.
Ooops. I got distracted there. Team Tetherball won the leg, but they did so with so little drama that nobody will even remember.
People will, however, remember Mika’s performance. It is, in retrospect, among the stupidest things to ever cause a team to be eliminated on “The Amazing Race” and certainly the biggest elimination embarrassment since Jen and Kisha got the boot last season because of Jen’s tiny bladder.
Mika and Canaan, generally running a lackluster Race to-date were running in last place from the beginning. Distant last. They started off more than three-and-a-half hours behind Team Tetherball and if not for a disastrous early leg from Team Globetrotter, Flight Time and Big Easy, they’d have been done anyway. But Team Globetrotter had one of those cursed legs in which everything goes wrong and then you also screw everything up. So after the Roadblock and the Detour, Mika & Canaan had moved up to next-to-last and, from what we could tell, they had a solid lead over Team Globetrotter. All they had to do was travel to the luxurious Atlantis, The Palm Resort and take “a leap of faith.” What that meant, was that they had to go down a six-story waterslide, underneath a pool of sharks, and shoot out the other end. They had to zip down possibly the world’s most awesome slide. And Mika couldn’t do it.
She stood at the top of the slide, wearing a stylish one-piece bathing suit and much-less-stylish inflatable pink floaties, and she stamped her feet like a baby. She cried and squealed and flailed her arms at Canaan when he tried to help her.
I’ve thought Canaan was a bit of an ass since the first episode when he talked about how much he wanted to kill Mika when she struggled to herd ducks, but with his girlfriend having the mother of all hissy fits, Canaan really was exceptional. He encouraged her. He supported her. He didn’t yell or mock her or swear. He attempted to guide her. He attempted to sit behind her on the slide, help her get situated and let her go. He steered her, but never physically pushed her and when she freaked out at his assistance, he pulled back, as she yelled things like “Help me! Help me! You can’t make me! You can’t make me!” She was being a three-year-old, but Canaan didn’t lose his patience with her, though she squandered a large advantage and let Team Globetrotter come up behind them.
Now there will be some disagreement regarding Big Easy’s behavior. Team Globetrotter, knowing they were impossibly behind, got to the top of the slide and they were shocked to discover that not only were they still alive, but they might catch the mother of all breaks. So with a newly imposed two minute limit for Mika’s completion of the task, Big Easy began talking smack, he began telling Mika that it really was quite high and that she didn’t need to do the slide if she didn’t want to. Canaan was disgusted by Big Easy’s behavior. After time ran out on Mika and the Globetrotters practically dove over them down the slide and on to the Pit Stop, Canaan yelled, “I thought you were decent, Big Easy. You’re a piece of crap, man.”
Some people will agree with him.
I myself, say “Good on you, Easy.”
For one thing, Big Easy’s an athlete and he knows as well as anybody that sometimes if you’re trash-talking, you can knock your opponent off their game, but just as likely you can inspire them to find that last shot of adrenaline. I was certain that Mika wasn’t going to stand for Big Easy’s lip and that that would be enough to get her to suck it up. If that had happened, Team Globetrotter would have lost and that would have been that.
Yes, I understand that actually, Team Globetrotter certainly could have beaten Mika & Canaan in a foot race, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. But what else could Team Globetrotter do? In a race for a million bucks, they knew this was it. I’m pretty sure if they’d been two middle-of-the-pack teams confident of surviving, Big Easy wouldn’t have taken Mika down. But it was the end of the line. This was it.
Finally, how many teams over the course of the episode expressed their excitement about getting the amiable, athletic, not-stupid Globetrotters out of the race. Any one of them would have taken any legal step to eliminate the Globetrotter threat. Just because they only expressed those desires to the camera doesn’t mean that karma doesn’t come into play.
Like I said, Team Globetrotter had a tough leg, both self-inflicted and out of their control.
It wasn’t their fault that their cabbie took them to the wrong Yacht Club before the start of the Roadblock, which asked teams to take an inflated dinghy out to a yacht, collect a watch and then come back and unlock a briefcase. It wasn’t their fault that all of the dinghy’s were the same size, but that Big Easy is significantly larger and heavier than any other contestant, making navigation all the more difficult. It was, however, completely their fault that Big Easy misinterpreted that the three numbers on the combination lock corresponded to the time on the watch, 8:35. He decided that since the hands were on the eight and the seven, those were two parts and the third related to the date. Actually, that’s totally logical, even if no other team hesitated for an instant.
As for the Detour, this was yet another week in which one task was manifestly easier and faster than the other, even though most of the teams instinctively went to the wrong task.
The choice? Gold or Glass.
In Gold, teams had to weight out exactly $500,000 in gold pieces, keeping an eye on the constantly changing rate-of-exchange for Gold.
In Glass, teams had to open up a crate and assemble 12 different hookahs based on existing examples.
Gold required simple math and could be done instantly if you had a calculator with you or if you were sensible enough to just ask somebody if they had a calculator you could borrow. Yes, the shifting rate-of-exchange was an annoyance, but not a huge one.
In Glass, there were tiny pieces, intricate designs and countless ways to screw up. The Poker Girls and the Gay Brothers were able to skip ahead of several teams by doing Gold. Even the fastest and most efficient way of handling Glass would have been slower than just dividing 500,000 by the price of gold and loading up the scale.
But enough of this… Other thoughts on the episode:
*** Gotta go back to Mika. They were eliminated because she wouldn’t do a fun child’s activity. That’s bad. But really, she entered “The Amazing Race” knowing she had these crippling fears and also with no desire to expand her horizons at all. She wasn’t even willing to try sledding last episode. If you don’t go on “Amazing Race” hoping to try new things, you’re taking a spot that thousands of other applicants would have done anything for. But Mika got that spot because she’s pretty and blonde and was on another reality show. Boo!
*** Is it funnier that Miss AmEricka does her hair and makeup before every leg or that Matt brought hair coloring along with him to re-pink his hair? I’m not really sure.
*** Look, I couldn’t do the proper gold math in my head either. I’m not an ace at division. But I was doubly astounded both that Sam & Dan brought a calculator with them and that Team Globetrotter just asked and received a calculator. Makes the people who couldn’t figure it out and didn’t ask about a calculator — Team Miss AmEricka, mostly — look really dumb. Then again, do we think Sam & Dan ever would have figured out how to use their calculator if the Poker Girls hadn’t been there? I don’t.
*** Also, the Poker Girls haven’t figured out that the Gay Brothers are gay brothers yet? Huh. And is there a trick to telling Sam and Dan apart? I still have no idea which brother is which.
So, was Mika’s gaffe worse than the Jen & Kisha port-a-pottie fiasco? And where do you stand on Big Easy’s trash-talking?