Recap: ‘The Amazing Race’ – ‘ Pretty Fly For a Food Scientist’

Happy 300th Leg to “The Amazing Race.”

No, that doesn't mean this was the 300th episode of “The Amazing Race.” By my count, it was only 296, but… Oh, I'm not going to bother trying to figure it out.

“The Amazing Race” celebrated this semi-arbitrary milestone in predictable fashion with a Leg that featured a fantastic Roadblock, an interestingly misgauged Detour, some beautiful Sicilian scenery, an opening 20 minutes of filler and…

Yup. A Non-Elimination Leg. “Amazing Race” doesn't like to send people home after Legs characterized by altruism and nobody likes to mix a milestone with an elimination. 

And, as always, you could get a strong sense that an NEL was coming due to the half-hearted editing of the climax and a really, really lame opening 20 minutes.

The first segment of tonight's episode was essentially the Bikers making fun of the Dentists, who started with a lead of over 100 minutes. That lead was trimmed to 40 minutes by teams getting on one of two flights from Marrakech to Palermo. And that 40 minute advantage was cut to 10 minutes by an Equalizer at a theater. And then whatever advantage anybody had was essentially negated by the teams departing from a location with no instantly available taxis, which prompted much complaining but only two teams finding somebody and getting a phone call made to order a cab.

That was the opening segment and it was not especially interesting or especially relevant. Whatever advantage the show trimmed from Jim & Misti, they made back again later, ending with their fourth victory in seven Legs, while Kym & Alli finished close behind, with their sixth Top 3 performance in seven Legs. 

The Leg was pretty much salvaged by a fantastically fun Roadblock in which one Racer from each pair had to take a go-kart along a twisty course ascending Mr. Pelegrino, completing the journey in 4:07. Why 4:07? I never know on these things. Did Phil Keoghan do the course and they stuck with his first time? No clue. 

Thanks to an ample assortment of leading, trailing and on-board cameras, the Roadblock was both a high-adrenaline zip around various turns and cutbacks and also a fun way of seeing which contestants would drive for 4+ minutes going, “WHEEEE!!!” the whole time. I enjoyed the initial duel between Kym and Jim, in which she accurately assessed his difficulties accelerating in the straight-aways, but still couldn't win. And after Maya failed to finish in the allotted time in her first journey, I especially enjoyed the four-car showdown between Brooke, Maya, Adam and Te Jay, which managed to be one of the first times all season that Brooke hasn't been annoying. She subsequently killed the good vibes by mocking and mimicking the older gentleman whose slow trip back to Robbie probably cost them 10 meaningless seconds.

The Detour was significantly less entertaining, but it had value because of the deceptiveness of the clue.

The choice? Painters or Posers. In Painters, teams had to go and restore a cherub painted on the ceiling of a church, suspended Michaelangelo-style just below the ceiling. In Posers, teams had to go to a theater, listen to a selection of opera highlights and then match costumes with the character and the opera. 

Painters had a clean and straight-forward description, which was why all six teams preferred that option, even though the clue said only four teams at a time couple participate. That left the Wrestlers and Food Scientists stuck doing Posers, which sounded based on the clue that it either required opera knowledge or, more likely, the ability to retain newly acquired opera knowledge.

It did not. 

Posers was just a detail-oriented memory game. The singers performed, but once you identified the costumes and remembered which costumes came in which order, it was really easy. You didn't have to remember what costumes went with which opera, nor learn which characters were being portrayed. It was so simple that the Wrestlers did it correctly the first time through, but because they forgot to fill in one line, they came to the conclusion they'd screwed up and they ended up pairing with the Food Scientists, making the correct assumption that Amy & Maya would be smarter. The Wrestlers then blundered again by allowing Amy & Maya to get judged first, which helped put the Food Scientists in third and the Wrestlers in fourth for the Leg.

They finished that high because like many judged challenges, Painters had to meet the standards of art restorationists, which caused a couple failures and a lot of giggling about nipples.

The Surfers finished fifth and Tim & Te Jay were sixth, facing a Speed-Bump next episode. While the editors tried a tiny bit of cross-cutting at the end, they hadn't bothered to add any jeopardy to the Detour and with no clue what was happening at Posers, neither the Surfers nor the Sweethearts were even slightly apprehensive as they wrapped up the painting, just giggling away.

So NELs are lame.

But I definitely want to ride a go-kart in Sicily someday.

Not much else to say about the episode, but I guess here are a few highlights…

*** The Bikers were amusing with some parts of their “rivalry” with The Dentists. I liked Kym's mockery of “I don't sweat” Misti and a lot of the competitiveness in the Roadblock. But what was the point of writing Team No Fun in the window of a car that the Dentists had left behind at an airport and would never see again?

*** Maya had the episode-title quote, but the episode should have been named “Two nipples and an armpit” after the details missing from Jim & Misti's fresco initially. 

*** Speaking of pieces of disembodied anatomy, I got a rare chuckle out of Robbie saying he'd lost half-an-ab and his declaration, “I haven't thought about Tweeting today.”

Shrug. Not much to add. You got anything?