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The Amazing Race: “The Sprint Of Our Lives”

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Previously on The Amazing Race, 10 teams of racers and one kindly old tourist couple set out from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan. Although Bill and Cathi were the last to arrive at the Pit Stop, they were not eliminated; instead, two teams will be eliminated tonight. I wasn’t too happy about this twist when it was announced, and after seeing it play out, I’m even less thrilled. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


Our next destination is Yogyakarta, Indonesia (or “Indo,” as Andy and Tommy inevitably refer to it), which teams will reach by traveling on the same flight followed by the same train. Not much drama there, you might think, but squabbling siblings Justin and Jennifer beg to differ. They get into a huge argument at the train station, and honestly, I can’t make any sense of it at all. Part of me is convinced they’re simply putting on a show in order to get camera time, but maybe they’re just crazy, because there is really nothing to argue about right now. Everyone is getting on the same train, and no one knows what awaits. Save the arguing for a real thing!

Miraculously, Ma and Pa (as Bill and Cathi have apparently been dubbed) are the first team to arrive at the Roadblock. It’s not quite a case of worst-to-first, however, as they first have to perform the Speed Bump task. That task is… untangling a rope. Riveting stuff. Fortunately, the Roadblock is a good deal more cinematic, as one member of each team must spelunk down into a cave, retrieve a Japanese mask and a dagger, then climb a bamboo ladder out of the cave. For a few minutes, at least, TAR recaptures that sense of adventure from its early days; in fact, just as I’m writing “Indiana Jones” in my notes, Ethan makes a crack about Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Jakarta.

The Detour is a bit more pedestrian, as teams must earn tips as either street performers or motorbike parking attendants. It’s hard to say which of these tasks is more expeditious, although the ease of the parking gig appears to be largely dependent on location. Teams must then take their tips to a local orphanage, where they will find a table with a sign explaining that they must donate all the money they have in addition to those tips. As soon as I saw this sign, I had a funny feeling most teams would fail to notice it, and indeed, that is case. In fact, I’d go so far as to guess that the Amazing Race production team was well aware that most teams would ignore this sign, providing additional drama down the stretch. I have no problem with that, actually. Why shouldn’t teams be penalized for not paying attention to detail?

Sure enough, even though Ernie and Cindy are once again the first to arrive at the Pit Stop, Phil informs them that they must return to the orphanage and fork over the rest of their cash. They’re not alone. Somewhat surprisingly, the Dudez are the first team to notice the sign and read it, which makes me think Indo wasn’t quite as easy to find on the streets of Yogyakarta as they might have hoped. Even more surprisingly, Boobs ‘n Brains are one of only three teams to read and follow the instructions the first time. And most surprisingly of all, even though Ma and Pa fail to see the sign and have to go back, they still aren’t eliminated. In fact, they finish a respectable seventh. Hey, everyone loves a feel-good comeback.


Of course, that comeback comes at the expense of two other teams. Domestic partners Ron and Bill are the last team to arrive, which isn’t that shocking, but it is a little stunning that Survivor winners Ethan and Jenna are already out of the race. I was looking forward to seeing them stick around a while, but they never really got their mojo going in this game for some reason. But hey, they’ve each won a million dollars from CBS already, so it’s hard to be too heartbroken about it.

Stray observations:

  • “Don’t dude me, dude.” Dude!
  • “I feel like O.J.!” Not good news for Amani.
  • Next week: Maybe more than 10 seconds spent with Jeremy and Sandy. But I doubt it.

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