Oh, come on.
I'm doing a slew of set visits in Vancouver and I started watching “The Amazing Race” after midnight and within 20 minutes, it was clear that nobody was going home on Friday's (October 17) episode.
Nope. You can't make your entire episode into an semi-altruistic showcase, essentially a joint commercial for Ford hybrids and Danish eco-consciousness and then send somebody home. Nope, this was an episode about good feelings for both a country trying to do well by Mother Earth and a company paying “The Amazing Race” to talk about its automotive advancements.
But then, to make matters worse, it became clear based on the editing — and based on a week of very spoilery editing — that this was the week that Jim's hubris would finally catch up with previously formidable Team Dentist. Actually, it had always been Jim's hubris that ran the risk of cursing the Dentists, but Misti got in on the action when she got to the Detour and talked about how their job was about attention to detail. I guess it's true that dentists are, by their professional nature, very invested in detail. The Dentists then proceeded to blunder every imaginable detail across three different tasks.
But the Dentists have the all-powerful Save, so they were never going to go home no matter how badly they self-immolated — between this and “Survivor,” this was very much a week for CBS reality self-immolation — so it was this was an episode that felt like a Non-Elimination episode and was going to be a Non-Elimination Leg regardless if Jim & Misti finished last.
So which was it?
Well, Jim & Misti finished last. And Jim whipped out the Save in humbled chagrin. And Phil Keoghan, taking a break from being humped by the giant dog serving as co-greeter, announced it was a Non-Elimination Leg.
When Jim gets over what I assume will only be the briefest of bouts with humility, I'm betting he'll come to realize that this is a practically divine sign. The Race Gods not only didn't want the Dentists going home, but they wanted the Dentists to still have the Save available for next time.
And maybe they got all of their flawed attention to detail out of the way in one repercussion-free episode?
The mistakes for the Dentists began immediately. They started with an hour head-start and even though the Leg begin with an equalizing ferry ride from the Shetlands to Aberdeen, they had time to go to a travel agent before the ferry to see about getting an early flight to Copenhagen. They got a flight arriving at 4 p.m., but they somehow missed that there was a 2 p.m. flight. The Biker Girls, Kym & Alli, got on that earlier flight. They were the only team to do so and they won the Leg. On its own, bad flight decisions happen, but this established the patter for the Dentists.
Once in Copenhagen, teams had an environmental task, needing to drive a Ford of some sort — I refuse to plug the brand name — across a bridge to Sweden using under a 10th of a gallon of gas, showcasing efficient driving. If you failed, you had to answer a question that ought to have been absurdly easy, specifically the identification of the Scandinavian capitals. This isn't hard. The Biker Girls, who passed the efficiency test, did a very good job of talking about the special features of the car. Good for them.
Teams then returned to Copenhagen for a Detour that offered the choice between two tasks: Parking Space or Wedding Cake. In Parking Space, teams had 30 minutes to make a “parklet,” a tiny urban park in one of two themes. In Wedding Cake, teams had to build a wedding cake and deliver it on a complicated bike.
In a rare twist, both Detour tasks were actually hard. The cakes were teetering constructions and the bikes were a pain for those unaccustomed to them, even those accustomed to a wide variety of bikes. And the parklet challenge required that most damning of phrases, “attention to detail,” though it seemed that there was exactly one detail that stymied people: A flower pot had one side with eight petals and one side with seven and you had to have the correct side facing forward.
The Dentists attempted the task multiple times, but couldn't notice the petal thing. So they quit and went to the wedding cake task, where they failed because one of the making flags both decorating the cake and holding it together fell off along the way.
And the Roadblock? Well, it was a fun one. Teams had to go to the famous Ida Davidesen sandwich shop and one Racer had to get four orders, memorize all of the ingredients and recite them. The sandwiches were delicious-sounding and ambitious and if you're in the midst of a race around the world and you're barely sleeping and barely eating, it could be hard. It could also be hard if you ignored a key piece of the clue, which said to recite both the ingredients and the number of the sandwich. Misti wasted an hour singing the ingredients of the sandwich, but forgetting to give the numbers.
So that's an impressive litany of inattention to detail — the also failed the Ford efficiency task and had to find somebody with a phone to tell them the Scandinavian capitals — the kind of thing that would usually get you elimination, but should otherwise at least cost you your Save. Nope!
Let's look at some other highlights and lowlights from the episode before I pass out:
*** The other major narrative of the episode was Shelley inexplicably deciding to stop racing and teach daughter Nici a lesson about having a bad attitude, leading to Nici storming away at the mat and Phil telling her, “This is where you have to be a grownup now.” While Nici was being childish, I can't begin to understand the point Shelley thought she was making and why she wanted to make it in this way at this time. I don't want to discuss it anymore, because… Ugh.
*** What an odd episode for Wrestlers Brooke & Robbie. They had plenty of stupid moments — Brooke's not-funny confusion of “handicapped” and “handy-man” parking spots, plus neither of them knowing Denmark and Sweden are different countries — plus the horrible noises and faces Brooke was making during the Wedding Cakes Detour. But they also finished the Detour smoothly and Robbie's near-Shakespearean performance of the Roadblock was funny. This was the first episode I half-liked them.
*** Good for Kym & Alli. Their biggest achievement in the episode was getting on that earlier flight, but that's still an achievement. They were also fine on the Detour, acceptable on the Roadblock and they won two cars for their troubles. That's a big win.
*** Tim & Te Jay had their best episode so far. They knew their Scandinavian capitals without outside help and they zipped through the Roadblock. Good for them.
*** I liked Food Scientist Amy's raised eyebrow to Phil.
*** I chuckled at the closing CG twinkle added to Misti's pearly whites after she announced they got their teeth kicked in by this Leg. Side note: Jim has SCARY eyes, but when Misti was struggling with the Roadblock, he didn't shout at her and when he talked to her, he was encouraging and positive. But he has scary eyes.
*** And I need to sleep. Badly.
Your thoughts on the Leg?