By Janell Sutherland, For the Baltimore Sun
4:36 PM EDT, March 11, 2013
This week on "The Amazing Race" we see what happens when heat, stress and jet lag collide. Hint: it's a degree of crazy we've never seen before.
But first, remember last week? All the teams were sliding into a manure pond in New Zealand. Then Phil told them that they were still racing. So no one's eliminated; quit worrying about Chuck.
Team FaSon, Father with the blown Achilles and ankle boot, are doing another leg. They've been in the top three for three legs, so they figure, why not? Connor jokes that they're staying in to make other teams look bad.
Team J&J mention that they want to get value from their Express Pass, so they're holding on to it as long as possible.
Please don't do that again
The teams all fly to Bali, spread out in three airplanes over four hours. The Singers are in the first wave and we see them in a taxi. Their driver gives them a flower, which causes them to break out into a song about being on the Race. It's ... a country song, and they harmonize; so it's probably fine, if that's what you're into, which I'm not, so it hurts my ears. I award them points for enthusiasm, though.
Please don't mention that again
The first stop in Bali is a monkey forest. Teams have to set out a special coconut and hope a monkey comes along and breaks it open for them, revealing a clue inside.
One Singer is very excited about monkeys, and she names all the pet rodents she's had over the years. Then her teammate says, "Her flying squirrel died of loneliness because she kept it in her bra the whole time. That's a true fact."
What? I need so much more information about that! Or I need to go back in time to when I didn't know about squirrels living in bras because it's making my brain hurt.
While I'm writing about the Singers, here's another nugget. They choose a Detour option that has them building an elaborate religious offering out of fruit, then putting it in a procession to be blessed by a priest.
"We love us some dancin' and priests and everything with religion," one says. I'm sure she was joking, but after the song and the squirrel, I'm beginning to think they are messing with me on some level.
Don't distract the monkey!
This monkey forest is full of tourists! How are teams supposed to convince a monkey to break open their coconut if tourists keep walking past and distracting the monkeys?
The Fearless Friends shush people around them, while the Newlyweds urge their monkeys to go faster, but in a whisper. I like this much better than screaming at the animals.
Life Skills Tangentially Related to Race Success (Tie)
This fruit side of the Detour is detail-oriented. They have to build a pyramid of specific fruit, using wooden skewers to attach it to a center stalk.
One Fearless Friend designs sets for a living so she has a strategic way to build their pyramid. It works!
Team YouTube says that they are both crafty, and they like to copy costumes that they see on the Internet. Also, they both love Legos. They are also successful!
Chuck of Team Mullet is in this category again, so I'm starting to believe that his entire life was preparation for the Race. He's a taxidermist, and Wynona instructs him to "Put [the fruit] together, just like you do your deer heads." I'd reckon that also goes in the category of Phrases Never Before Uttered on "The Amazing Race" and Never to be Uttered Again.
Working Together - Not
The final Roadblock takes place at a beach. More specifically, the cliffside mall built above the beach with huts connected via random paths and staircases. It's tight, confusing and hot. The task is to search racks of surfboards for a specific image of something the teams have already encountered. Then they have to carry that surfboard to Phil, who is standing on a little lookout that can only be reached by a small marked stairway.
The correct image is of the priest in Bora Bora who gave them a special blessing before they went snorkeling. (I'm sensing a priest theme this episode!)
The Fearless Friends made it to the Roadblock first, and whoever does it finds the correct surfboard quickly. She carries it out as Son Connor heads in to the surfboard rack. Then she passes him again because she can't find Phil.
Connor suggests that they form an alliance; she tells him the correct surfboard and he'll help her find Phil. But will he let her team come in first place? No. She rejects the alliance.
As she looks around, Connor sneaks a peek at her surfboard and finds the right surfboard. So, he cheated! What do you think? Connor and his father make it to Phil in first place and they each win $5,000, so now what do you think?
The Friends arrive in second place, and the Newlyweds, who have not been very annoying this episode, are third.
You say "seen," I say "encountered"
Singer Caroline first chooses a surfboard with a sticker that says Bali, because they're in Bali. She wanders for a bit before finding Phil, and he turns her down.
Next, Caroline chooses a sticker of a surfer. Her partner muses to the camera that Caroline is thinking of things she's seen, not encountered, and I'll leave it to you to decide if it's a simple problem of linguistics.
Finally Caroline grabs the priest surfboard, saying, "Who the heck is this guy?" She drags him to Phil, and Phil asks if she remembers the priest blessing. Not so much, says Caroline, but he checks her in anyway. The Singers are in fourth place.
Working Together - For Real
YouTube and the Roller Moms are in an alliance. The Moms chose the other Detour option - to collect sand from the bottom of a river and transport it 200 yards uphill in a basket on their heads. They end up at the Roadblock at roughly the same time.
YouTube finds the correct surfboard but the Roller Mom doesn't. They arrive at the mat at the same time, but the Moms are sent back to find the right board. Joey flashes his board at them as they run away so they know what to look for. Awww!
YouTube is in fifth place, the Moms are sixth.
Chuck, meanwhile, has been running up and down stairs, out into the ocean and back again trying to find Phil. When he finally does, he has the wrong board. The Moms are there, too, and they do not tell him what to look for. On the one hand, it's a Race, it's a competition. On the other hand, they're already safe, it doesn't hurt to get a little good karma going. I think I would have paid it forward.
Team Hockey had a bad cab driver. He couldn't find the monkey forest. Then their monkey ran away with their coconut. For the Detour, they wanted to do the river sand but their driver didn't know where it was so they had to build the pyramid of fruit.
Basically, it looked bad for them. But they found the right surfboard quickly and checked in at the mat in seventh place, after the Moms.
The Evolution of Crazy
Are you ready for this? John and Jessica, the dating couple, possessors of the Express Pass, plan to be careful. They choose the flower Detour because John claims that he is detail-oriented.
John and Jessica are delivered to the correct address but they walk into residence No. 3 instead of No. 2. They wander into a friendly local's backyard where he has some dried flowers spread out on a mat. I don't know what he's making, but he's making something. John takes charge, assuming that the man is demonstrating what they need to build. The man doesn't speak English and doesn't stop them.
John and Jessica build a tiny leaf boat filled with flowers, and he tops it off with some sort of breath mint because he's getting into the spirit of the thing. The friendly local then tops it off with a flower and a smile. He doesn't give them a clue, though, so they reread their instructions.
Oh, they are supposed to be wearing sarongs! Somehow they find sarongs, probably borrowing them from the friendly local. They look for a procession but don't see it, so finally they bring their cab driver in to interpret. He tells them that they're in the wrong place. Oops.
Across the street, John and Jessica find other teams building fruit. He talks a lot about being careful and meticulous, but when they ask the judge if they pass, the judge says no. John's head begins to explode.
Feeling stressed, John insists that they begin again because their fruit wasn't forming a pyramid. He seems to be overthinking, and he criticizes Jessica for not being careful enough. She wonders if they should use the Express Pass, but he says no because other teams are struggling, too.
At some point they decide to switch Detours. As they walk away, John tells Jessica to slow down, because "hasty hasn't worked for us so far." He wants smart and steady. It looks like they've been smart and steady, just thrown off and slowly deteriorating.
They drive to the river, assuming that the Roller Moms took that option because they weren't at the flowers. It's true, but the Moms have finished already. John assumes that the Moms are behind them, so they complete the Detour. Slow and steady, maybe with a little crying and panicking by Jessica.
By the time John and Jessica reach the Roadblock, the Moms are gone. It's John versus Chuck, but John assumes the Moms are still behind. Chuck chooses a board while John still searches. Jessica freaks out and feels ill because they haven't used the Express Pass.
Chuck finds the right board! He and Wynona are Team Number Eight!
Jessica is still waiting for John to choose a board when suddenly he meets up with her, not carrying any board at all. He says that he didn't recognize any stickers, and he wants to be smart, and he thinks one team is still behind him. She tells him that they are in fact last.
John pauses, says he's disappointed to hear that, but he goes back looking with a head flashlight. He delivers an incorrect board to Phil, and then tries to look at the correct boards stacked up behind Phil. Phil's all, "No."
John goes back searching for over an hour until he delivers the correct surfboard. Phil congratulates him, and then eliminates the team, pointing out that they're the first team in Race history to be eliminated while still holding an Express Pass.
"That's notable," John says maniacally. "I don't see the value in looking back and experiencing regret over decisions that we have no control over at this point. That concept doesn't make sense to me."
Phil says, "Really?"
John answers. "The simple truth is I don't need a million dollars." They walk off.
Phil shrugs his shoulders at the camera and literally says, "Oy vey!" Then later he Tweets, "#History #Speechless #OyVey"
It was so awesome, you guys, I can't even explain it. John was just losing his mind. I can understand him wanting to keep looking for the board when he knew he was last, just for the satisfaction of completing a task. But I do not understand him not using the Express Pass when they were falling behind. He was cautious to a fault.
And let's talk about Jessica. In their pre-Race intro, she mentioned that she hoped to get a ring on her finger after all this. She may have just been saying it for publicity, but do you think she still wants to get married after all this? Or do you think she already knew this side of John? Why couldn't she talk him into using their Express Pass? What is going on here? Oy vey some more.
Next week there's a Double U-Turn so the drama keeps coming!
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