My Non-Elimination Radar is probably only 75 percent accurate, though it gets much, much better as the season progresses and an NEL becomes a statistical inevitability.
I had a radar misfire last night, but I was extremely relieved that it was a mechanical error and not an accurate reading, because if Sunday’s (October 6) installment of “The Amazing Race” had been a Non-Elimination Leg, you’d have gotten an angry, frustrated recap tonight.
Instead? I’ll say that for an episode that began with an Equalizer and included a Detour in which neither task ended up being especially difficult, this was a pretty fun “Amazing Race” installment, albeit mostly if you happen to be a fan of boneheaded gameplay. Because if you like people doing inexplicably stupid things, ballsy-but-stupid things and just confusingly stupid things this could be your favorite group of “Amazing Race” contestants since whichever season featured the lovable Cowboys constantly going the wrong direction.
More after the break…
I can be personally forgiving towards and entertained by stupidity, but there was no way that I was going to be able to tolerate anything sparing Team Bingo and yet circumstances kept them vaguely competitive much longer than they needed to be. So actually, this was as good as it gets for the “Amazing Race” producers in that they were able to build an episode around the increasingly mind-boggling antics of Rowan & Shane, but thanks to the Baseball Wives, it seemed at least semi-plausible that there was a race to the final mat.
It was a three-tiered wedding cake of ridiculousness for Team Bingo.
For Rowan & Shane, the Leg started with a bad cab ride from the Equalizer at a ship in the Iquique harbor to the salt flats that housed the Detour. That was not their fault, so that’s just bad luck. No harm no foul, though it did put them in last. But they recovered. More on that in a second, because I want to go chronologically here.
The Detour was the choice between Mining and Brining. In Mining, teams had to smash open boulders of salt to find clues. In Brining, teams had to fill bathtubs with salt until they could float and read a couple sentences from a local newspaper. It was a deceptive Detour in that neither task actually rewarded exactly the skillset it seemed to reward, but neither task was actually especially hard. Mining sounded like it required brute force and definitely it was easier for Team NFL, Chester and Ephraim, but it wasn’t like there were an infinite number of boulders and it wasn’t like the boulders didn’t break reasonably easy with hammers and chisels. On the other hand, Brining seemed like it was basically taking a bath, so I don’t know why nearly every team didn’t just gravitate naturally towards that. However, it takes a lot of salt to make a bath saline enough for a big person to float, so there was a lot of carting of bags of salt.
Did either task actually reward anybody for being good at anything? Well, no. Team Beardo was first at the Equalizer, biked well across the salt flats and finished Mining fast, followed by the Afghanimals and Team NFL, but I don’t think they finished faster than the people who chose Brining. And the people who were rewarded with Brining were the “Amazing Race” producers for selecting a cast of players who look terrific in a task designed for people to just be prancing around in bikinis. Or was that what the task really asked for? Yes, Ally of The Ice Queens and Amy of The Couple That Isn’t Interesting Enough To Have A Nickname Yet looked spectacular, as did the Baseball Wives, but Marie of Team Constant Dysfunction and Ashley of The Ice Queens did the task in much-less-revealing sports-appropriate spandex and they looked much, much more comfortable out there. After the aesthetic pleasure had worn off I was, in fact, somewhat perplexed by who would think that those bikinis were the wisest attire selections for the task at hand.
The Brining Task proved most problematic for Kim of the Baseball Wives. After her initial tears facing paragliding last week and her near-tears this week about cold water and heavy bags of salt, Kim has now established herself as this season’s Contestant Most Likely To Feign A Breakdown Regardless of Situation. Kim’s struggles and the need to hug Nicky at various points helped make it possible for Team Bingo to catch up despite the bad cab and Rowan’s biking impairments.
So the Bingo Kids had caught back up! That meant it was time for The Gutsy Spectacular Blunder!
Teams had to travel from Iquique to Santiago via bus. Why via bus when we know for a fact that there are flights between the two cities? Just for fun! And to taunt the 6’8″ former NFL players. Poor Ephraim.
So there was a 1:30 bus to Santiago that the first five teams got on. Then there was a second bus going at 2:00 that the next four teams decided to take. The first bus was a 24-hour trip. The second bus, because of a variety of stops, got in at 6 p.m. Well, Team Bingo, despite questionable Spanish, chatted with a ticket agent and they were convinced they’d found a bus that left at 4, but still got to Santiago at 4 the next day, which seemed plausible. So they did a fake and didn’t tell anybody and they let the other four teams on the 2 p.m. bus ahead of them and then told the bus to go. Brilliant, right? Well, it turns out the bus they were ticketed four only left at 4, but it arrived at 10 p.m. Ooops. Having explained this, they found a way to get on another bus leaving an hour later and getting into Santiago an hour later.
Now this was a dumb move. You can’t paint it any other way, because we know how it ended up and we know now that their Spanish was lacking, plus the ticket agent’s English was lacking. It was dumb, but I’m still willing to give a nod of respect to any team that’s willing to try to get away from the pack and make a big move whenever there’s any flexibility allowed in travel. It was the wrong move, but if it had been the right move, it would have been bold and a tiny bit awesome. Fortune favors the bold, but it doesn’t look as kindly on the bold-and-dumb. But THEY RECOVERED.
But more on that in a second, because I’m going chronologically here!
That brought us to the episode’s lone Roadblock in Santiago. One player from each pair had to find a marked shoeshine guy, give one acceptable shine and then pack up the complicated apparatus, transport it six blocks and deliver all the pieces. The shining wasn’t hard. The puzzle of packing it up appeared somewhat hard, but only if you didn’t realize you had to do it at all and brought a teetering tower of shoe-shining materials back to the depot.
Leo and Chester finished first and it was Afghanimals vs. NFLers racing to the Pit Stop. The Afghanimals had the lead and reached the Pit Stop first. HOWEVER they mispaid the cabbie. What were the exact logistics? I don’t quite understand, but if I trust Jamal, it was all Leo’s fault. Something about how it was his job to keep up with the currency and how USC didn’t teach him economics (but it did teach him manners, Leo insisted). Since one of my degrees comes from USC, I’m not especially tolerant of Jamal’s mockery of The Trojan Way. However, based on my experiences at USC, I’m not sure anybody was actually taught manners there. The NFLers won the Leg and the Afghanimals finished second, followed by the various other people from the first bus. I guess we’re going to have an Equalizer at the start of the next Leg as well.
The other four teams arrived with at least some lead over Team Bingo, but their bus must have made up some more time, because they caught up! Rowan hit the Roadblock as the participants from the other teams were all still doing the initial shoeshine. Had Rowan just gone and shined the right guy’s shoes, Team Bingo almost certainly would have come in eighth or ninth and they would have survived a Leg that was somewhat snakebitten, but not fatally.
Then Rowan did the amazing thing.
The Roadblock clue said to find a *marked* shoeshine stand. Rowan missed the word “marked” and missed that certain stands did, indeed, have “Amazing Race”-colored markings. He missed that when he approached a local shoeshine guy, that the guy had zero clue what he was doing there. Rowan kept trying to beg and explain as the guy looked lost and perturbed and kept saying, “This is my work. I’m working.” The remarkable thing is that the guy still let Rowan give a customer a shoeshine after giving him instructions. Then, even more remarkable, the guy let Rowan pack up his kit and walk it the six blocks over to the depot, where the workers affiliated with the Race had no idea what was happening and the regular shoeshine guy kept saying, “I’m wasting my time here.” I really hope that “The Amazing Race” did something to compensate that guy for his time, even if it was just giving in 10 bucks or something. It’s still an interesting cultural thing wherein your station in life is such that if a loud, aggressive gringo with a camera crew is pushy enough, you’ll go along with things that make no sense.
But amazingly… THIS STILL WASN’T ENOUGH FOR TEAM BINGO TO BE OUT.
Because Nicky, essentially doing her first task of the season, left her rug behind and was confused by why she wasn’t being approved at the depot, Rowan was able to make his elaborate mistake, correct his elaborate mistake and we were left with that was, finally, very close to just being a cab race to the Pit Stop. The Baseball Wives won and remained in the Race.
Team Bingo was eliminated. But at least they have many, many things to blame.
As this is already getting long, let’s get to…
Some other highlights from the Leg:
*** Tim played baseball at Rutgers with Kim’s husband David DeJesus. While David has been a VERY slightly-above-average outfielder for a number of years in the majors — his good on-base skills and solid defense somewhat make up for his lack of speed or power — Tim was a 20th round draft pick by the Expos, played a few unsuccessful years at A-ball, vanished for a while and put in a couple more years of independent minor league ball. But Tim and David were buddies and friends, so Tim & Marie made a tentative alliance with Kim & Nicky. A VERY tentative alliance. How tentative? Tim & Marie told the Baseball Wives that they were the favorites to receive that second Express Pass, but when Nicky begged Marie for said Express Pass during the Roadblock, she was politely ignored.
*** Marie got the episode title when she described her frustration at Rowan telling his shoeshine guy that she was the Devil. Nobody much likes Marie.
*** My own Line of the Night favorite: I liked the almost Shakespearean cadences of Nicky’s, “Oh rug. Oh rug. I hate you so much.”
*** Alternative Line of the Night: Phil Keoghan looking at the hirsute Mat Greeter and then at The Beardos and telling them, “We got this guy just for you.”
*** I really don’t know what to think about the “alliance” between the Ice Queens and the Afghanimals. It mostly seems to involve Leo and Jamal leering at Ally and Ashley, but I don’t know what the Ice Queens are getting out of it. It’s a strange truth of the all-male teams on this season that Ally & Ashley don’t have any better options when it comes to flirting for help in the game. I get the feeling that Ally & Ashley probably could have aligned with Bates & Anthony last year and been unstoppable, since they’re just a slightly more athletic version of the Country Blondes. The Ice Queens had to think they’d be able to do better.
*** Nicole had a rough 40th birthday, falling on her bike and failing to get Marie to give her the Express Pass as a present. The ER Docs are still fourth after an efficient Leg.
That’s it for me. Did you enjoy the Leg? Who are you liking more? Who are you liking less? And were you also fearing an NEL?