Recap: ‘The Amazing Race’ – ‘Not a Well-Rounded Athlete’

12.02.12 5 years ago 26 Comments
We all did the math on this one, didn’t we?
There was one Non-Elimination Leg that saved The Beekmans.
There was a second Non-Elimination Leg that [briefly] saved the Rockers.
And the “Amazing Race” season had only two episodes remaining. 
Yes, I suppose it’s *possible* that next Sunday’s two-hour finale could have included a Non-Elimination Leg, but we’ve already had one in-episode NEL this season, plus you need to have some achievement/milestone to keep people watching a two-hour finale — Heck, “Survivor” seems to save a half-dozen eliminations for the finale each season.
So… Yeah. That was inevitable and mostly not worth discussing.
A truly uninspired recap of a truly uninspired “Amazing Race” episode after the break.
It’s probably not worth complaining. 
A) Most fans knew with confidence that tonight was going to be a Non-Elimination Leg. And it was. So where’s the disappointment in that? Plus…
B) We’ve had three very good Legs in a row. Better to get a dud out of the way now and blow the roof off on the finale, right? 
Here’s hoping.
But did this week’s episode need to be *such* a dud?
We began with one of the lamest segments in “Amazing Race” history, as the three teams at the front of the pack left Amsterdam and flew to Barcelona, wasted a day in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Then they all met up with the straggling Beekmans — I suspect some SERIOUS time-fudging, with Josh & Brent suddenly under four hours behind the main pack — and celebrated ditching Abbie & Ryan before boarding an overnight ferry to Mallora, which none of them could pronounce. When the first 15 minutes of an “Amazing Race” Leg is dedicated solely to self-congratulations and a contrived equalizer — Amsterdam to Palma de Mallorca is an easy one-connection flight — you know that nobody’s attempting to create urgency.
No, this was a Leg that was all about pretty things. No, none of the early-arriving teams said, “Hey, let’s go sightsee in Barcelona!” but the show got in a few second-unit Gaudi cut-aways. And the opening non-task in Mallorca with the fire-breathing demons on the steps was amusing a photogenic. 
Then the hope was obviously that the Roadblock — “Who Wants To Get Smashed?” — would produce some comedy. One player had to go out onto a clay tennis court and return 20 shots against a pair of machines. You could sense the producers praying to get a couple uncoordinated players on the court and start playing “Yakety Sax” or its Spanish equivalent. The problem? Nobody was really awful. Although Trey wasn’t quite as tennis-proficient as the other players were making it sound, he had good enough form to make fast work of the 20 shots. James flailed initially, but locked in. Josh, with a sprained ankle, looked horrible for one round, seemed to be on the verge of quitting and then pulled a Michael Chang and gutted out a win. And even Nadiya, despite dreadful two-handed cricket form and the inevitable spectacle of Nathalie on the sidelines bellowing “You can do it, TWINIE!!!” and “Twinie, move, you jackass!” had no actual problems. Nobody was bad enough to be worth the effort. And nobody was good enough to be impressive. As a result? Task fail.
And then the Detour wasn’t much better. The choice? Spin It or Bull It. In Spin It, teams had to repair two blades on a windmill. In Bull It, they had to don a bull costume and run around a circle of eight matadors in two minutes. 
Any Detour that only takes two minutes in its perfect form isn’t a good Detour, no matter how many pretty colors you can pack into a bull-fighting arena and even the revelation that the person playing the back of the bull had to steer the blind front didn’t especially help. If you can do a task, fail the task, re-do the task and you only lost five minutes, that’s just not very good. Plus, we had to listen to the painful shrieking of poor Lexi when she hurt her finger in some way. Yes, there was blood, so I’m not going to make fun of her or her reaction. She definitely got a boo-boo. 
And the Spin It Detour? Not much better. Yes, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were standing by to watch the participants tilt at the windmills, but the task itself? Lots of screwing and not the good kind. There was no way to gauge timing or progress, so other than the number of Chippendales references James & Jaymes were able to fit into a short window, there wasn’t an iota of excitement or amusement.
It was also hard to figure the logistics that controlled the end of the Leg. The Chippendales and Team Longhorn were running in tandem and they both decided to do Bull It, but The Chippendales tried to take the freeway to the task and stumbled upon Bull It and decided they might as well just do it. They finished ahead of Team Longhorn and both teams were staring at the Pit Stop in the distance and then Team Longhorn won the Leg. The editors didn’t care enough to add suspense or causality, so I guess we shouldn’t care either.
The editors also didn’t attempt to add suspense to the end of the Leg, which saw the Beekmans complete Spin It before the Twins and then show up at the Pit Stop seconds later. In an Elimination Leg, they would have at least tried to make it seem like both teams were in their cars trying desperately to get to the Pit Stop and that the Beekmans arrived seconds ahead. Or something. 
Bad Leg. We’ll see if “The Amazing Race” can get its mojo back for the finale next Sunday.
Other thoughts on this Leg:
*** Brutal Leg for Natalie & Nadiya, who I protested I was still liking last week, despite their problematic edit. Fine. All the haters win. I’ll now be rooting against the Twins next week as well. Yes, they’re funny. Yes, they try hard. Yes, there are cultural explanations for what other people have described as semi-racism previously. But this week, things just got really annoying, whether it was Nadiya dropping them from first to last by not being able to drive a stick or the increasingly shrill bickering or the multiple totally irrelevant references to Josh & Brent’s sexuality, this was an episode designed to trim away whatever support remained for Team Sri Lanka. Pity. Throw in the money-stealing and whatnot and, especially compared to the other three remaining teams, you have a duo that has been set up as the villains for the finale. 
*** You have the Beekmans as the Underdogs, Jaymes & James as the team absolutely everybody is rooting for, and Lexi & Trey as… Oh, whatever. So the show needed a team for viewers to root against in the finale and the editors used this episode to guarantee that it would be the twins. The teams can’t be separated by more than an hour now, so I’m guessing they’ll be allowed to play out the next Leg before another equalizer at the Top 3.
*** While maybe not as cute as last week’s Dutch Girl, this week’s headless greeter was pretty funky.
*** Favorite quotes of the episode: Jaymes: “Searching for Lucifer at 7:30 in the morning. Don’t know how I feel about that.” And Brent’s “Sounds like Monica Seles out on the course.” And Nadiya’s “Am I left-handed or right-handed?”
*** An idea that came to me while watching Jaymes & James and Lexi & Trey waste their Barcelona day at the beach: Instead of Travelocity sending the teams that win each Leg on the same five or six interchangeable all-inclusive resort vacations, why doesn’t Travelocity send the teams back to the city in which they won the Leg? That way, the teams could actually get to spend some real time in some of these cities and come to appreciate them under less stressful conditions? The flaw in my plan is that winning a trip back to several of these locations wouldn’t necessarily be a grand prize. OK. Fine. I take it back. Forget I suggested anything.
Do y’all have any thoughts at all on this filler hour of “The Amazing Race”?

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