Say this for “The Amazing Race”: I went into Friday's episode tweeting that I didn't remember a thing that was happening this season after a week away for CBS to air a failed awards show and by the end of the episode, 55 minutes later, I was yelling at my screen and getting really anxious about the pending result.
No, I didn't get what I wanted when it came to the episode's elimination.
And no, it wasn't even all that great an episode, though it had great moments.
But when they want to, the “Amazing Race” editors can orchestrate a thrilling climax pitting ostensible heroes against clear villains and they can still make me care.
Let's talk about Friday's (November 21) night's “Amazing Race” episode and its exciting ending after the break…
Oh, I wanted The Wrestlers gone so bad. So. So. So bad. And that's what the editors wanted. Brooke, who has never been particularly likable, got as ugly an edit as I've ever seen a non-abusive, non-racist “Amazing Race” contestant get in an episode. The episode began with Brooke mocking and mimicking Amy's awkward shuffle, which apparently was the result of a pre-Race workout injury. [I'd noticed the limp previously and hadn't known whether it was a temporary injury, some kind of disability or just extreme awkwardness and thus I didn't mention it, because I'm not Brooke.] As the episode progressed, Brooke sniped about The Bikers, mostly for being better than them and for not needing to hang out with the pack at all times. She consistently whined and moaned about literally every single thing she had to do in the episode and even some of the things that Robbie had to do that she had to watch. There was no enjoyment from Brooke, only repeated protestations about every awful thing she had to be a part of in a race for a million dollars in a beautiful and exotic location that she'd probably never even heard of before she arrived. It's not like Robbie is the most lovable contestant, but at least he was able to tell Brooke off during the Leg's Detour, grumbling, “Stop being so negative about everything,” as the show's entire remaining viewership cheered. So Brooke is awful, but we're going to get to root against her for more episodes, because she and Robbie survived.
Yup. Farewell to Tim & TeJay, who also were prone to shrill complaints at times, but still managed to look like they were enjoying most of this “Amazing Race” experience.
We'll get to the possibly competitive ending in a bit…
Starting in Palermo, Italy, Friday's Leg continued this season's trend of offering multiple Equalizers in the same episode, a practice that really ticks me off, especially when at least one of the Equalizers negates an otherwise difficult task.
First teams were brought together on a ferry to Malta, but then they had to complete an arduous chore, delivering a bottle of booze and two glasses apiece up a towering flight of stairs to a group of Knights of Malta. The carrying of the drinks had to be done in a precise one-handed fashion, the staircase was high and it was possible to be methodical for much of the time and then have a muscle spasm or a lapse in control, watch a single glass shatter on the stones and have to go back down the steps, get a broom, clean the mess, return and get another drink and do it again. It wasn't easy. When Bethany dropped a glass within feet of the Knights, I let out a moan of misery.
The task gave The Bikers and The Wrestlers a lead and put The Food Scientists in a deep hole as they required six delivery attempts. But then teams arrived at the next clue market and whatever advantage had been garnered, they were divided into two boats leaving only 15 minutes apart. That's not a full Equalizer, but it still sucks when you put teams through a wringer for no real purpose at all.
And then things got worse, because the Roadblock asked one Racer from each team to rappel 20 stories into a grotto. And? Then they had to swim and grab a clue. What else? Anything? Yeah, no. I can think of few Roadblocks that have been less involved.
The only good part of the Roadblock was the ease with which Bethany completed it and the respect that even Brooke had to show her. It continues to be impossible not to be impressed with Bethany and I got a little bit choked up when the otherwise repellant Brooke cheered for Bethany and said, “Bethany is like the Terminator.” It was a moment that didn't make Brooke look better, but underlined how irresistible Bethany is. And, once again, Bethany's achievement wasn't that she did something fast for a person with one arm. Of the three people doing the Roadblock at that time, she did both the rappelling and swimming easily fastest.
Team Soul Surfer Bethany & Adam ended up winning the Leg because they opted to use their Express Pass to skip the Detour. This was a good call both because the Detours were both really tough, but also because the prize for the Leg was $10,000 apiece, which is a nice chunk of coin.
The Detour was a Blind Detour, offering the unexplained choice between Flag and Shine.
In Flag, teams had to compete in an alleged sport where people ran out onto poles dangling high above the water, with one of them grabbing a relatively close yellow flag and the other grabbing a more distant red flag. Oh and did I mention that the flag was greased?
Yeah, that was an awfully hard looking Detour and none of the teams that attempted it actually succeeded. For The Bikers, Alli successfully got the yellow flag, but that left the slightly acrophobic Kym trying and failing to get the red flag on several occasions and eventually quitting. The Food Scientists quit almost immediately when it became clear that Amy wouldn't be able to run fast enough and hard enough to have any chance. The Wrestlers quit, after much Brooke complaining, when Robbie ran out, took a spectacular fall and returned disgruntled.
And Tim & TeJay made the mistake of staying too long because they'd previously believed that Flag was doable. They rushed through a dismal Speed-Bump that asked them only to paint red crosses on a pair of shields and TeJay went out and easily got the yellow flag. But Tim struggled and struggled and struggled, taking over 24 attempts at the red flag, even winning a coveted slow clap from the assembled locals who had previously been laughing. The editing was supposed to make us thing that on the slow-clap run Tim was going to do something heroic. He did not. They had to give up, but only after ascertaining that they were absolutely in last.
Shine required teams to dress in two suits of grungy armor and for each to respectively polish the other. It was an easy Detour, but it was a Detour that took time. It was easy enough that even Robbie & Brooke were able to do it, while Tim & TeJay lagged behind. The impression we were given was that it would take at least an additional 15 minutes for Tim & TeJay to finish after The Wrestlers left the Detour. Brooke & Robbie tried to grab Tim & TeJay's cab, but since The Sweethearts had left their bags, it became off-limits, forcing The Wrestlers to wandering in search of a cab for the second time in the episode, giving Brooke the opportunity to kvetch once again.
Could Tim & TeJay finish before Brooke & Robbie got transportation? Could they? Could they?
But it was just a tease. Brooke & Robbie seemed to get their cab second after Tim & TeJay finished, but before Tim & TeJay were able to leave and get into their own cab.
Brooke & Robbie finished fifth and survived and we can all wonder if Tim & TeJay were really that close at all.
Oh well. Of the six remaining pairs at the start of the Leg, The Wrestlers were my least favorite and Tim & TeJay were probably my second least favorite, though I have no animosity toward them.
So it goes.
Some highlights from Friday's “Amazing Race” Leg:
*** Nobody had a clue where Malta was or how to get to Malta. I'd make fun, but under the circumstances I'm not sure I could have given an educated answer.
*** I liked the stairs and the drink-delivering, but this is the second time this season that one-handed tray maneuvering was the key to a task, following the tea challenge in Morocco. If this were “America's Next Top Waiter” I'd have no issue with the repetition, but in this case it felt too familiar.
*** The unified pact against The Bikers for having the nerve to have fun on their own — this after other teams refused to join them for fun at other locations — is unpleasant. The other teams vowed to U-Turn Kym & Alli if the opportunity came up and a few of them took nicknames for themselves. I'll chuckle at The Dentists going with Molar & Cuspid and at The Food Scientists taking Cookies & Cream, but Viper & Sniper is lame, Wrestlers.
*** The Bikers got revenge, or at least Kym got the episode title quote, which is kinda like revenge.
*** This was the second Leg win for Adam & Bethany, who also have a trio of second place finishes. Misti & Jim came in second for the second time to go with their four wins. And Kym & Alli are in third for the fourth time, to go with two Leg wins. Those three teams have a major achievement gap between them and Amy & Maya (one third place finish) and Brooke & Robbie (one second place finish). I'm not sure how big a time gap they have, but you can be sure that we'll have at least one Equalizer next week.
*** Robbie doing six pec flexes to show Phil he thought they were in fifth was funny, as was Phil's pec-flexing response. Maya's enthusiastic survival lap was also charming.
*** The Greeter had a bonafide Maltese Falcon! But nobody mentioned that it was the stuff that dreams are made of. People disappoint me.
*** Wait! I forgot to mention Brooke's lamest moment, as she looked at the Flag Detour and sneered, “Where do they come up with these sports?” I'll remind you what Brooke does for a living.
Yep. That's about it. Did you enjoy the episode? Are you enjoying rooting against The Wrestlers? Will you miss Tim & TeJay?