This is going to be a Predictable Dan Recap, because if you’ve read my “Amazing Race” coverage for the past five or six years, you know how I feel about nearly everything in Sunday’s (March 3) episode.
Click through, because I’m gonna dispatch with this recap fairly quickly…
Through 25 minutes, Sunday’s episode included two Equalizers and zero tasks.
You know how I feel about that.
And at the end of an hour, nobody went home, though this was a “To Be Continued…” Leg, rather than a Non-Elimination Leg.
So yeah. You probably know how I feel.
Interestingly, although it was a structurally absurd Leg of the Race, it was the first time all season that we’ve had the time for things to calm down enough to reflect on some of the teams and their personalities.
Mostly, we spent a long time with Dave & Connor. If you’ll recall, Team Cancer had a strong Leg last week, right up until Daddy Dave tore his Achilles running to the final mat. Or at least it looked like he tore his Achilles. It took 20-ish minutes of this episode to establish the reality and there was certainly part of me that felt like the show producers pulled a few strings to make sure that Team Cancer could continue to participate, at least somewhat.
The Leg began with teams flying from Bora Bora to Tahiti and then on to New Zealand. Conveniently, while there were multiple different flights to Tahiti, there were no flights to New Zealand until the following day, which left plenty of time for Team Cancer to visit the hospital, where they were told that Dave did, indeed, teach his tendon and the surrounding muscle. Perhaps because the doctors didn’t actually speak English, nobody told Dave that it was really pretty foolish of him to think he could compete on “The Amazing Race” with a torn Achilles. So although all indications were that the guy is going to need surgery, he was fitted with a boot and because the teams were all just sitting around the airport doing nothing, no time was lost. Then, to reenforce the heroism, we got footage of the other teams discussing the heroism, including the dual beating of cancer.
And don’t get me wrong… Dave is awesome. This clearly wasn’t his first time on crutches and the guy was zipping around like a maniac. He wasn’t quite as fast as an able-bodied person, but he was much faster than I would have been in the same circumstances. I’d have been asking for as many painkillers starting with “perc” as the Polynesian medical establishment could supply. Then I’d be hitting up “The Amazing Race” for first class tickets home and I’d be taking my drugs and drinking my complimentary in-flight champagne and I’d be feeling some regrets about not finishing “The Amazing Race,” but mostly my head would be in the clouds.
But Dave? Dave pushed through and didn’t complain.
So the delay at the airport kept Team Cancer from having to self-eliminate and caused me to ponder how unusual it is that “Survivor” has had many players pulled from the game due to medical issues, but “The Amazing Race” has been unexpectedly lucky, given how intense the tasks sometimes can be. And in not causing Team Cancer to self-eliminate, the delay also caused the second Express Pass to remain in play. As soon as John & Jessica learned that Team Cancer had a hospital trip ahead of them, they eagerly gave up the Express Pass (with only Team Hockey seeing them do it). If you want, you can believe that John & Jess were determined to do the right thing and honor their previous agreement while they still had the chance. Or you can believe that they figured that if they gave Team Cancer the Express Pass and they couldn’t continue, that Pass would be flushed from the game, whereas if John & Jess had held onto it, they’d eventually have had to give it to a more capable team.
The delay also allowed a completely arbitrary alliance to form with John & Jessica, Team YouTube and Team Roller Derby, an alliance devised only to try to get rid of Team Hockey eventually. Not that Team Hockey cared, because the delay allowed them to accelerate their flirtations with the Country Blondes, achieving a level of sufficient intimacy that they slept in the same vicinity on cardboard boxes on the airport floor.
The teams were equalized there and then flew off to Auckland, but then the teams were split up because of the number of individual flights going to Christchurch. Winnie & Pam got on the first flight and, by not having a clue where to go to get ticketed for their connection, Chuck & Wynona ended up on a flight 2.5 hours later. That was gonna make a big difference, right? Nope. Teams got to a gorge and had to camp overnight at a river-bed.
And that’s where we were after a solid 25 minutes.
Then we had a dismal Detour. The choice? Rev It Up or Reel It In.
In Rev It Up, teams had to drive a modified “vintage” car around a series of cones, with both racers competing the course in 83 seconds. Why 83 seconds? Why was this a task in New Zealand? Why was that car they were driving considered “vintage”? I have no idea.
In Reel It In, teams had to catch two fish of at least a foot apiece.
For completely logical reasons, eight of the nine remaining teams chose to do Rev It Up. Only Team Alabama decided to do Reel It In and that made sense because Chuck fishes. Team Cancer chose Rev, realized Dave couldn’t operate the clutch in his boot, spent five minutes at Reel It In and used the Express Pass to move along.
Rev It Up offered a couple good visuals of cars swerving side-by-side, but it was a task that only Team Roller Derby accomplished in a single try, but that only Max & Katie required even six attempts at. In the balance, how long did that mean that the task took? We got to see that a few people hadn’t known how to drive stick previously, but everybody had at least attempted to learn before going on “The Amazing Race,” which is really all I ever ask. Even the people with that minimal modicum of experience did just fine and other than Katie awesomely hectoring Max for being slow, we didn’t get much from the task.
From there, it was off to a Roadblock that was, to say the least, crazy. One player from each team had to participate in a Shemozzle Race, a weird obstacle that included being covered in molasses, covered in feathers, shooting down a hill on an innertube and splash-landing in a murky pond, all the while clutching eggs. It was terrific. On Twitter, my buddy Linda Holmes of NPR theorized that the Shemozzle Race was a prank Phil Keoghan made up. I countered that the implausibility of the task was a task itself and that the first team to call “shenanigans” on the whole exercise would get an Express Pass.
It looks like the Roadblock as a great time, but we only got hints at variations in aptitude. Connor had to do the Roadblock for Team Cancer for logical reasons and he did each run with five eggs in his hand, while nobody else seemed to do it with more than four. Yay Connor, except that whether you do it with five eggs in your hand or four, you were still doing three runs.
Thanks to the Express Pass, Team Cancer finished the Shemozzle Race before any other team arrived and they were the first team to hit the mat, earning a trip to Bangkok and… the next clue.
TO BE CONTINUED…
As we ended the episode, Dave & Connor were making pinched faces and wondering if they could, indeed, continue. We can all stop and ponder whether or not it’s unfair that they’re considering continuing in a Race that they really can’t win. I think the big question will be if this turns out to be a Non-Elimination Leg, followed by an elimination at the end of the following Leg. If this is an NEL, then nobody ends up going home because Team Cancer decided not to quit and used the Express Pass. In that case, Dave & Connor get to appear heroic, get to win a trip to Thailand and if they get crushed in the next Leg, they still come out looking OK. I assume that’s going to be how things shake out, because “To Be Continued…” Legs are rarely followed by Double-Elimination Legs.
So yeah. Nobody’s going home. No exit interview tomorrow.
Here are some other thoughts on this Leg…
*** I love both Katie’s hostility toward Max and how right her hostility seems to be. She did tell him the right turn to take in the car and he did screw it up and look like a fool. And she was better than him at the driving even though she only just learned stick.
*** I remembered that Caroline was related to Daniel Boone, but I’d forgotten that Jennifer is John Wayne’s granddaughter. And who didn’t love the subtle way that she worked that information into the episode? She looked at a dog on the Shemozzle Race, said that her dog was named Duke and explained who said dog was named after.
*** This has already been a big dog season on “The Amazing Race.” We had the stretching/peeing Roadblock dog in the premiere and tonight we got the Shemozzle Race dogs and then Tim the Greeter Dog. Who’s a good dog? TIM!
*** This was definitely a More Fun For The Players Than The Viewers episode. They got to drive ATVs and powerboats and do the Shemozzle Race. We got to watch Chuck & Wynona fish for a few minutes.
*** I might have a few more things to say, but I have to blog about the PaleyFest panel for “Newsroom.”
What’d you think of this unresolved episode?