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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Amazing Race: “It’s Speedo Time”

Illustration for article titled iThe Amazing Race/i: “It’s Speedo Time”
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The most entertaining episode so far this season had a little bit of of everything—poetry, drama, Legos, nausea, lost train tickets, spray-tan, homoerotic Jesus Dudez, and old people in Speedos. It had everything, that is, except an elimination, but we’ll get to that later. For now, we’re still in Copenhagen, where teams must find the statue of Hans Christian Andersen, where the Roadblock awaits. One member of each team must memorize the poem at the base of the statue, then ride a bike to a theater using the map on its front wheel, and perform the poem dramatically for a theater critic in a top hat.

This was the first of two subjective tasks this week, and while I’m usually not a big fan of leaving teams’ fates to the whim of some third party, it wasn’t much of a problem here, mainly because it was fairly obvious when teams delivered sub-par performance. For instance, Tommy’s flatline affect and stoner energy level pretty much ensured that he’d flunk his first attempt. Really, all the guy in the top hat seemed to be looking for was a lot of arm-waving, which is a pretty limited definition of drama. Tommy should have argued that he was delivering a Method performance as a robot with no human emotions.


Once completing the poetry reading, teams could proceed to Legoland in Hamburg, Germany, where the next task entailed putting together a puzzle while spinning around in the Legoland equivalent of the Disneyland teacup ride. I have to tip my hat to the TAR challenge producers, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a task quite like this one. It incorporated the queasiness usually associated with gross food challenges with the mental component of assembling the puzzle, which is a combination the show should attempt more often. Next week, I’d like to see the teams taking a trivia quiz on a rollercoaster.

Next up was a train ride to Brussels, which proved to be another bottleneck, as all teams arrived in time for the only train of the day. Yet even this equalizer had its share of suspense, as Ernie and Cindy lost their tickets for the second leg of the trip at the train station in Hamburg. Lacking the funds to purchase new tickets, they could only hope that the conductor wouldn’t check for tickets on the second leg..which he didn’t. Feel free to speculate on whether or note a Race producer intervened on the team’s behalf in the comments.

The third task of the leg is the one that gives the episode its title, and also the one that would have had me forfeiting my shot at the million dollars. Brussels is, of course, the hometown of Jean-Claude Van Damme, which is all the excuse TAR needed to force the teams to dress in Speedos and perform bodybuilding moves for an audience and a panel of judges. I watched this entire segment through my fingers, as it was a festival of embarrassment all around, although I’m sure the footage of the Dudez lubing each other up was exciting for at least a portion of the audience.

Once they hit the stage, Marcus and Amani really get into it, and they’re the first team to win a passing grade from the judges. They’re also the first team to arrive at the mat, but their euphoria is short-lived, as Phil tells them their next leg starts right now. We get a “To Be Continued” screen, which leaves the question of whether or not a team will be eliminated at the beginning of next week’s episode up in the air. (Although after studying the preview for next week, I have my suspicions.) This cliffhanger is a bit of an anticlimax, but I was entertained enough by the episode as a whole that I didn’t really mind.

Stray observations:

  • “Are you Copen-hangin’ in there?” Very good, Tommy! That was a nearly credible simulation of a human sense of humor.
  • “Look at the pretty bird! Fly away, pelican!” You don’t really know what you’re saying anymore, do you, Marcus?
  • Except, of course, when you’re speaking in football metaphors. “We just took the opening kickoff and ran it for a touchdown!” Yes, you were in the NFL! You played with Peyton Manning! We get it!
  • I bet all the ladies loved shirtless Phil phlexing. Notice, however, that he didn't go the full Speedo.
  • Next week: Rafting.

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