Unlike “Survivor” or “Big Brother,” “The Amazing Race” isn’t really a social game. Yes, teamwork is essential to strong performance within each team, but alliances and friendships between different teams tend to be largely irrelevant as a determining factor.
We all know that reality TV contestants only rarely go on shows to make friends, so the motto on a show like “The Amazing Race” probably should be the same as that Latin phrase often misattributed to the Hippocratic Oath: Primum non nocere, or “first do no harm.”
That is to say that nobody is requiring you to become Facebook buddies or to exchange e-mail addresses and stay in touch with your rivals for a million bucks, but you probably shouldn’t go out of your way to make enemies. Because having allies rarely helps you on “The Amazing Race,” but having enemies can sometimes bite you in the rump.
That was the lesson learned by Brandy & Carol on Sunday (April 11) night’s episode of “The Amazing Race.”
[Full recap after the break…]
It wasn’t a terrific leg, so I could probably just skip to the important part.
Brandy & Carol were sent packing and if anybody out there is gonna miss their whining, bickering and general sourness, you’re no friend of mind. Good-bye, so long and farewell, Brandy & Carol.
The team affectionately (or maybe not-so-affectionately) known as “The Lesbians” got the boot on Sunday for one reason and one reason only: Caite & Brent used the U-Turn on them and forced them to go back and do the second of two Detour options.
As Brandy & Carol noted, there were two teams behind them — The Cowboys and The Detectives — who had won multiple legs during this Race, while they’d merely been slipping by every week. They mocked Brent & Caite’s intelligence and talked about what a stupid decision they’d made and gave the episode its title when they carped, “Dumb did us in,” referring to Brent & Caite’s intellectual aptitude.
No, Brandy & Carol. I beg to differ. “Dumb” didn’t do you in. “Bitch” did you in and by that I’m mostly referring to y’all and not to Caite, who has a slightly disturbing psychotic streak and a less-than-genius IQ, but isn’t really a bitch.
Brandy & Carol were being petty, but also disingenuous. Yes, the Detectives and Cowboys have both had dominant runs this season, taking consecutive legs at different points. Both teams have also had titanic mental gaffes that nearly led to their elimination (to say nothing of my ongoing fear that Louie is going to have a massive coronary event at some point). The closer you get to the finish line on “The Amazing Race,” the more likely it becomes that legs will be determined by mistakes brought about by exhaustion or stupidity. As much as I detested Brandy & Carol, they were the Einsteins of “The Amazing Race: All-Stupid Edition,” probably the team least likely to shoot themselves in the foot with a misread clue or a preventable error. They may not have won anything, but with every passing leg cheating death, they seemed like a bigger and bigger threat. U-Turning them at that point made as much sense as any other U-Turn decision would have.
So Brandy was wrong in criticizing Caite & Brent for faulty strategy, but she also wasn’t smart enough to realize that the Models didn’t make an error. They didn’t want the strongest team out of the Race. They wanted Brandy & Carol out of the Race. And they succeeded with ruthless efficiency.
And who can blame them? From the very first episode, I was already sick of Brandy’s lame and dated references to Caite’s notorious Miss Teen South Carolina moment. Don’t get me wrong. Absolutely make a joke about it after your first meeting. That stuff was funny. But either you get to know Caite and realize that there are countless other perfectly reasonable reasons to make fun of her, or you just harp on the same one thing over and over and over again. And Brandy never quit. Then again, it seems like Brandy’s prone to getting stuck on certain references. I mean, Brandy, you can talk all you want about your designer fashions and being current and forward, but a “Forrest Gump” reference? In 2010? How lame are you?
There were many other reasons to dislike Brandy, though. She complained about every minor inconvenience or challenge. She blamed Carol whenever anything didn’t go their way. She kept getting frustrated and throwing up her arms in surrender. There was a reason why even teams without incriminating YouTube clips hated Brandy & Carol and, unfortunately, those reasons almost all related to Brandy. Carol just got caught.
Anyway, that’s why “first do no harm” is such a good “Amazing Race” motto. You don’t ever want to put yourself in the position where you’re so unappealing that everybody would rather knock you out than knock out a potentially stronger team. [Though again, I’ll insist that even though they wouldn’t have stood a chance in better seasons, Brandy & Carol were a significant threat this time around.]
I’m not sure how I feel about the editing that made it look as if U-Turning Brandy & Carol was somehow a nefarious plot that the Detectives planted in the mind of their little wolf-cubs, because I’d like to think Brent & Caite could have figured this one out on their own. Brandy dug the grave for her team and if she had even an iota of introspection, she’d get that.
Otherwise? The leg was full of amusing local color and one wicked fun zip-line, but only a little drama.
The Detour — Pounding Drums or Pounding the Pavement — was an interesting trick. In Pounding Drums, teams had to learn a drum routine and perform it. In Pounding the Pavement, teams had to accumulate a bunch of equipment, find a marked stand and sell 25 ice cream sandwiches. The working of the clue left little doubt that Pounding Drums was the easier task, simply because it had fewer instructions, so that was the choice that every team made.
Veteran “Amazing Race” viewers know two things: One, if you have limitations of rhythm or musicality, learning any routine that has to be judges by native talent can often take longer than expected. Two, although selling things always seems like it would be hard, people in foreign countries seem to love buying goods and services when sold by Americans being followed by cameras.
In this case, the drumming proved somewhat complicated and time consuming for all who attempted it (though only the Detectives failed and then gave up), while selling ice cream sandwiches caused no trouble at all (especially if your cabbie was willing to buy 10) and left me with a craving for a slab of ice cream on a piece of wonder bread.
As for the Roadblock, host Phil Keoghan implied that the task — counting chain links on a giant shipyard anchor chain amidst general cacophony — might cause problems. It didn’t. Every single team got 521 on their first guess, a huge disappointment. I did, however, like Michael’s trick of using his Little League pitch counter. But then the Detectives lost their cab and that was the only reason the editors were able to make the conclusion of the episode look even slightly close.
In the end, Dan & Jordan finished in first by completing a Fast-Forward requiring them to crawl between two cars at the top of the Singapore Flier. After failing at the drums, the Detectives stupidly attempted to go try out the Fast-Forward, before having to turn around, another thing that made the episode look closer.
Other thoughts on Sunday’s episode…
*** There were two U-Turns this season and both U-Turned teams were eliminated. That’s powerful stuff. Joe & Heidi are *still* huddled in a bunker somewhere in France trying to learn Morse Code.
*** For the 16th consecutive season, “The Amazing Race” will not have an all-female winner. Of the four teams, Caite is now the only remaining woman. In an amusing coincidence, the episode began with the teams locating Allan Wu to get their first clue. Allan Wu is the host of the Asian version of “The Amazing Race,” which had an all-female winner in its very first season. Yes, that’s the kind of thing that amuses only me.
*** Even Phil was Team Brent & Caite on this one, letting the Models tell their side and then interrupting Brandy’s lamentations about the Models’ stupidity to level accusations of meanness. Note that Brandy & Carol didn’t even try denying those changes, they just continued on doing YouTube impersonations and not beginning to understand why they’d been targeted.
*** Somebody in last week’s comments took Brent & Caite to task for repeatedly calling Brandy & Carol “The Lesbians.” I acknowledge that Caite’s monomaniacal obsession with “The Lesbians” became a little scary these past couple weeks, but I don’t think she ever meant it as a pejorative. “The Amazing Race” is a show that invites one or two word categorization and even identifies teams as such. The teams follow suit and call each other by variations on those classifications. So, in the heat of the moment, they’re constantly referring to “The Brothers” or “The Cowboys” or “Big Brother.” So Caite was just doing a variation on that and my interpretation would be that any malice she put into the word “lesbians” was directed at Brandy & Carol in specific and not in any way at their sexual orientation. I know it’s a feeble rational, but what else would *you* call them? The Whiners? The Spoiled Brats? Dunno.. It’s just “Amazing Race” shorthand.
*** The Mega-Zip looked awesome. I would have loved to see Mika from last season staring it down.
*** Academy of Country Music Awards next week, so “Amazing Race” is off. Boo…
Was tonight karmic payback for Brandy & Carol? Or were you Team Brandy & Carol and you can’t wait to see Brent & Caite do something stupid next episode?