I missed the monkey in Friday (October 24) night's episode of “The Amazing Race.”
Before the episode, Phil Keoghan tweeted a picture with a money, so I was excited for a monkey, but rather than being a heavily featured monkey, there was apparently just a single monkey on a leash and I missed him. I caught the monkey in the odd Prego commercial that aired after the episode, but I sat in disappointment not noticing the Moroccan monkey who apparently appeared.
So Friday night was one big disappointment for me.
That's not entirely the fault of the “Amazing Race” episode, mind you. There was a good Detour and a nicely chaotic Roadblock, but is anybody else feeling like this season is slowly devolving into a mixture of unlikable teams and boring teams?
I like Bethany & Adam and I think I can root for them until they do something to piss me off. I don't necessarily need cutaways to all of the other players being impressed by how well Bethany is able to do things with only one arm, because I'm fully aware of how impressive it is that Bethany is doing things with only one arm, but I guess it's good to see that the other teams are respectful and admiring of what she's doing and how she's doing it without being condescending. And Adam is somewhat funny and infinitely patient and encouraging, plus he's pretty strong when he needs to be. They're a good team and a pleasant couple.
I'm not quite at the point of rooting for Kym & Alli, but I can't quibble with their enthusiasm for the game and their proficiency so far. They won their second straight Leg on Friday's episode and added $5000 apiece to the two Fords they won last week, which means that even if they go out in the next Leg, this has been a lucrative Race for them.
I'm done rooting for the Dentists. My policy with them was always that if they were as good as they thought they were, I could root for their excellence. They're not. All that early talk about being Team Domination and all of that? It's over. After consecutive finishes in eighth and sixth, they have to win all seven remaining Legs to beat Rachel & Dave's record and even if they where to win six of seven and tie Rachel & Dave, that couple finished worse than fourth only once in their season. Jim's patience with Misti's mental errors is much better than if he were abusive, obviously, but he also has a kind of disinterest. On tonight's episode, when Misti couldn't figure things out in the Speed Bump, Jim just ignored her and did them himself. And when she kept screwing up her portion of the Detour over and over and over somehow he didn't notice what she was doing wrong. Either way, it's bad teamwork. Oh and Jim insulted Maya for preaching cultural openness at a smelly tannery. Blech.
Amy & Maya are OK, but entirely forgettable.
Tim & Te Jay just are entirely forgettable.
Brooke & Robbie are awful, or at least they're way too proud of their ignorance for me to warm to them in the slightest.
And we're now into the second straight week of Nici's perma-scowl, which isn't an attitude I enjoy watching.
And Keith and Whitney? Well, they're gone, but before they departed in Friday's Leg, they made sure that nobody would miss them in their absence.
So let's look at the components that brought Team “Survivor” down, though the answer was irksomely simple: Neither of them could twirl a tassel on a fez. Or, put a different way, “karma.”
Friday's Leg begin with yet another travel-based Equalizer, as the teams went from Copenhagen to Marrakech. That was the episode's intentional Equalizer, but there would be more.
Initially, teams had to go to the marketplace and basically set up the Moroccan equivalent of a food truck, a dining-stall-on-wheels. It wasn't a bad task and there was effort required to move the stalls and set them up, while some of the Racers were grossed out by the smells, but the show struggled to visually articulate what it was that was taking the time, so there was no real way of understanding what allowed some teams to do slightly better — Whitney flirted with the vendor, mostly — and what caused some teams to do slightly worse.
There was the impression given that it was taking lots of time for teams to do the task, while Team Dentist had to go off and do a Speed Bump, basically hanging up rugs. The hanging wasn't the easiest thing and Misti was essentially dead weight, but for all of the involved puttering about, as Jim & Misti finished the Speed Bump and then rushed through the kiosk set-up, Phil Keoghan was present to tell us that they were now 12 minutes behind the other teams, which is the very opposite of an insurmountable penalty when it's placed at the top of a Leg with a Route Info task, a Roadblock, a Detour and a U-Turn. Talk about opportunities for swift recovery.
And in case anybody was worried, the Roadblock ended up equalizing the teams again. The task, set at the aforementioned stinky tannery, asked one Racer from each pair to scrape the hair off of three skins and then transport three other pelts via bicycle to a nearby shop.
There were variations in scraping time, mostly based on who complained the loudest or who spent more time making regurgitation noises than working. Brooke? Lots of regurgitation noises. Nici? Lots of complaining. Bethany? No complaining and even with her single arm, she figured out how to get her scrape-on. Kudos.
None of that mattered, because the twisting streets were so confusing that the cyclists kept bumping into each other and they were all in a pack — or “peloton,” since they were on bikes — as they found the destination and they were still in packs returning to get their next clue.
That collection of the clue proved problematic when Shelley & Nici arrived after Keith, but before Whitney joined him, a “both players” distinction that Keith didn't respect and that led to a shouting match and threatening of an ugly sort that made both teams look awful.
“I can't even say the words that come to mind when I think of Shelley and Nici,” Whitney hissed before promptly calling them “bitches,” leaving me to have to draw my own conclusions what words Whitney *didn't* feel comfortable saying if “bitches” came out so easily. Ugh.
The Detour offered the choice between Twirl Time and Tea Team.
In Twirl Time, one Racer had to keep the beat while the other player had to twirl a tassel from a fez for a minute. When you think about it, that sounds really easy, doesn't it? Based on what we saw on TV, it was not, though it absolutely appeared that the twirling part of the Detour was the only part that was hard, since nobody was criticized for their instrumentation. And you could also switch sides, so if you couldn't twirl, your partner could take it on.
In Tea Time, teams had to carry a heavy tea-set to a restaurant and then participate in a tea-pouring ceremony that had two caveats: One Racer had to hold the tray/cups and do it with only one hand, while the other had the hold the tea pot aloft at a certain height and do the pouring.
On Twirl Time, the challenge was, as I said, the Twirling. Maya couldn't do it. Shelley couldn't do it. Whitney couldn't do it. Etc. Alli, however, caught on fast after Kym struggled and that's why the Bikers won.
On Tea Time, the challenge was paying attention. Bethany & Adam got there first, but they weren't the first to attempt the task, because they tried to make sure they figured it out and got it right. The Dentists rushed to do it, but failed nine times between Misti was holding the tray with two hands. The Wrestlers rushed to do it, but failed seven times between Brooke wasn't pouring from high enough. And, as a result, Team Soul Surfer finished second for the Leg.
Neither the Bikers nor the Surfers used the U-Turn.
But the Flight Attendants? Oh, they got to that mat and they were determined to use it and thanks to flashbacks, we knew they were choosing between Team “Survivor” due to Keith and Whitney's rudeness or Team Dentist just because of Jim's loud trash talk. But earlier in the episode, Jim and Misti had let the Flight Attendants know that they were spared by a Non-Elimination Leg last week and still had the Save and wouldn't be going home no matter what. The Flight Attendants wisely decided to just get Team “Survivor” out of the game and used the U-Turn on them. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, Whitney's twirling and Keith's stubborn refusal to quit would have put them in last anyway.
A few other thoughts on this Leg:
*** Initially I didn't get why Misti and Jim were boasting about keeping the Save, but it probably paid off because it convinced other teams not to waste the U-Turn on them. At this point, any mystique Jim & Misti had as winners may have worn off, so they have to rely on that Save. Bethany & Adam, meanwhile, haven't needed to mention their Express Pass in the last two Legs. They're just cruising.
*** There was the big point about Nici's Spanish and how that helped her negotiate a good deal with their cabbie and all of that, but… Guess it didn't matter? Then why'd we see it? Just so we could see that Shelley was capable of being proud of her surly daughter? Shrug.
*** Another week, another assortment of generalized ignorance from Robbie and Brooke. I'll forgive Robbie's lack of music instrument knowledge. I'm never forgiving of teams that mock local languages that they can't pronounce. Blech.
*** I liked Adam's positive and funny response to the Detour at the tannery where everybody else was carping and moaning. “Just like shaving my back, alright?” he told Bethany. I'll chuckle at that.
*** “Karma takes care of lovely people. He played dirty and dirty came back and bit him,” Shelley explained of U-Turning Keith. The Flight Attendants aren't dirty, but Nici needs to start smiling again, because there's no way all that pouting is good for karma.
Thoughts on tonight's episode? Anything?