The twists just keep on coming on this edition of CBS' reality series The Amazing Race.
However, this is one twist (unlike the initial double elimination) that I can actually get behind as last-place David and Mary discover that this leg has been a non-elimination round. Unlike previous years, however, David and Mary aren't required to give up their belongings and money for the next leg of the race. Instead, they'll either have to check in at the pit stop in FIRST place or face a 30-minute penalty and possible elimination. I like the switcheroo for a number of reasons: seeing contestants shove on all of their clothing was getting really old, and the sight of Americans competing on a reality show and begging for money from strangers -- poor strangers a lot of the time -- just did not sit right with me at all.
Poverty also weighed heavily on the mind of Kimberly, who this week uttered what had to be one of the most disgustingly ethnocentric comments ever to be heard on the Race: "I want to go to Europe ... I wanna be with the rich folk." Said sentences were uttered from this week's destination in India when Kimberly was forced to ride a bus with locals. Unlike in previous years, she was not harassed by Indian men (I'm thinking about Tian and Jaree here, mainly) on a train or made to feel objectified and demeaned. No, she was complaining because the bus smelled like fish and the people around her were poor. Honestly, girl, wake up and smell the chai because the whole point of this series is to put people like you in uncomfortable or foreign situations and expose to you the diversity of the planet. If you're going to act that way, I don't know why you came on the show in the first place; I would have originally expected that kind of reaction from coal miner and wife David and Mary, but they've proven especially sensitive and open-minded about everyone they've encountered so far.
Not so open-minded is Peter, whom I am growing to dislike with a fiery passion. It's sad because I love Sarah and am rooting for her every single week (what she's been able to do despite a blown hydraulic knee is, well, amazing), but there's no way that I want Peter to win. As the Race progresses, his true colors really do keep coming to the fore. Despite being in first place during the majority of the Indian leg (and checking in at the pit stop first), he would not let up in his berating of teammate and girlfriend Sarah. (I've said it before but his "positive" encouragement -- calling her "sister" -- is beyond creepy.) This man is completely out of control, and while I am glad that it took the Race to get Sarah to stop putting him on a pedestal, I can only hope that she dumps his sorry ass as soon as they get home. At least they don't have to share the gym equipment they won this week ....
The Beauty Queens are also becoming more and more ridiculous. I began to outright despise them last week, but the fact that they are willing to sink to new lows in the Race (covering their taxi driver's mouth with their hands so Peter and Sarah's driver couldn't get directions), they seem horrified and shocked when another team attempts to be as ambitious and sneaky as they are. Just look at how offended they were when Peter came over to see if they were on the same flight. No, Dustin and Kandice definitely won't be winning a "pageant of kindness" any time soon.
As for the Cho Brothers, I was really starting to like them and even root for them (I loved, loved, loved the Lost t-shirts with Phil's picture and a reward of a bushel of kiwis), but they really make some bone-headed moves most of the time. Using the fake cell phone was an inspired trick worthy of Loki himself, but it completely backfired when Peter was able to obtain an actual cell phone AND get on an earlier flight. I'd worry more about myself and what I'm doing than faking out the other teams, guys. I'd also maybe stop sticking with the other groups in some misguided notion of "alliance" and focus on choosing the right detours. Why on earth would you even consider doing the rice detour, even if it's closer? Those things always take forever to complete, and you're two young, strong guys. Better still, it was only once they got to the detour and tried to start at it, that they decided to then do the crocodiles. (Way to waste even more time!) These two need to step it up and be a lot more aggressive if they've got any shot of winning this.
Same thing goes for Tyler and James, our Amazing Race poster children for recovery. Why they would choose to do the rice detour was beyond me. Especially since they were way in the back of the pack and it was obvious that it would take a long time. (Note to future Racers: don't ever do the challenge that involves making something or copying something. The detours that promise little physical exertion always take three times the time.) These two don't bother me anywhere near as much as Eric and Jeremy did, but I wish that they had a little bit of their (over)confidence. It might propel them forward, but right now they seem a little humbled to have been the second to last time to check in.
Was it just me or were this week's detour and roadblock just terrifying? Both the idea of having to bind a crocodile and then UNBIND it sent shivers down my spine. Those crocs were scary and snappy. And their teeth looked super sharp. Even with the help of some knowledgeable croc wranglers, it must have been a little spooky and frightening to have to wrestle with the wee beasties. But even more scary was the contestants' roadblock task of taking a driving test through the streets of Chennai, India. How the show's insurance company ever agreed to underwrite this challenge, I will never know. While the crowded streets and chaotic driving must have paled in comparison to Mumbai, it still seemed a daunting challenge for all of those involved. Especially when most of the contestants couldn't seem to remember which side of the street they were meant to be driving on.
Happy that David and Mary are still in the Race, even if they've got a snowball's chance in hell of actually winning it. I had a feeling it was going to be a non-elimination round, and I'll be curious to see if they can really push themselves next week to get to the front of the pack. Speaking of which, I wonder if there's still a fast forward hidden along the way or if producers have eliminated the concept altogether. Curious ....
Next week on The Amazing Race: the Beauty Queens have an angry confrontation with Lyn and Karlyn over a foreign-speaking guide, there is robot-jockey camel-racing, and will David and Mary be able to climb from last place to first and avoid that nasty time penalty? Find out next week!
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Jace's blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionary.blogspot.com.