'The Amazing Race' recap: 'Donkeylicious'

The Baltimore Sun

Episode 8 of the All-Star season sent the six remaining teams from Rome to the Italian countryside. It was a fine, fine episode, with plenty of decicious eye candy, fun tasks and, finally, some inter-team crankiness.

The teams have been so very kind to each other this season, and there was still enough goopiness going around on this episode to fill a "Love, Actually" sequel. But this is a competition, after all - someone's going to win a million dollars - so pardon Rachel and Brendon for playing the game.

We'll get to Dave's bizarrely babyish reaction to being U-Turned by Brendon and Rachel in a moment, but first we have to say good-bye to The Globetrotters. We'll miss their humor and warmth, but they deserved to go. As we've been pointing out, Flight Time and Big Easy did not placer higher than 5th all season. With only six teams left, their days were numbered.

And they ran a dreadful leg. It's hard to think of one thing they did right this week. They navigated themselves badly from Rome to Civita di Bagnoregio, a crazily scenic historic town about 120 miles north of Rome.

They botched both options of this week's donkey-themed Detour, although in fairness, they weren't the only team to struggle with the Donkey Ride and espeically the Donkey Build.

The Donkey Build was frustrating to watch. Teams had to assemble a wooden donkey that they would use to transport sticks of wood. Proudly, the teams would show their completed wooden donkey to the workshop chief only to be informed that their donkey wasn't complete. The problem -- they needed to add on the wooden basket -- wasn't deadly obvious. For all they knew, they had built the donkey wrong. But, pull out your clue and give it another read!

This episode's Roadblock, "Who's Got the Write Stuff," in which one member from each team had to illuminate a manuscript in an atmospherically ancient monastery, was good TV, too. Rachel might be smug, but it was nice to see someone actually enjoy a challenge. And Connor's meltdown was pretty compelling, too. He just hated this challenge and let it get to him.

But best of all, TV-wise, was Dave (of father-and-son Dave and Connor), who could not hide his contempt for Rachel and Brendon's game play and would complain about it to anyone who would listen.

His anger had to do with the Double U-Turn. Rachel and Brendon arrived first at the U-Turn board and used the U-Turn on Dave and Connor, who had to go back and complete a second donkey task. Dave and Connor, arriving at the board just steps ahead of The Cowboys, used the U-turn, illogically, on the Afghanimals.

Dave was outraged that the U-Turn was used on his team -- "on a 60-year-old-man," he kept saying, as though his age earned him immunity from a perfectly legal maneuver.

Dave does not like Rachel. "I said this morning to Connor, she's scary looking," Dave announced in the monastery. Nice.

Dave has vowed revenge, and the preview of next week's episode seem to show the formation of a triple entente among Dave and Connor, the Afghanimals and the Country Singers, whose sole purpose is to stop Brendon and Rachel from winning.

Well, good luck to them.

We loved a lot of moments on this episode:

  • Leo & Jamal forcing themselves to stop and enjoy the view.
  • The Cowboys lending their hats to the monks, who looked perfectly delighted to be wearing them.
  • The merrily mocking crowd watching the donkey races, easily one of the most delighted groups of spectators ever seen on "The Amazing Race."  They had a lot to enjoy, from Rachel's stunt-woman work to the Afghanimals' donkeys taking off instantly in the wrong direction.
  • Everything Leo says and does, including his attempts at accents, which precisely no one has taken offense to.

These are the five remaining teams, in order of their Episode 7 finish:

Brendon and Rachel -- They had their second win a row after another near-flawless leg. But they have ended up as targets. They have nothing to apologize for, but other teams just don't like them.

The Cowboys -- They still have an Express Pass in their pocket. Credit Jet for toughing out another arts-and-crafts project.

Leo and Jamal --They survived yet another U-Turn and have developed a knack of knowing when to switcht Detour tasks.

Dave and Connor -- The father-and-son squabbled about who should perform the Roadblock, and Dave's reaction to being U-Turned was absurd. But they were good guys for letting the Afghanimals know about their own U-Turn, which saved them some unnecessary step.

The Country Singers -- They finished in 5th but well ahead of The Globetrotters. They continue to struggle badly with directions, and especially whenever they have to drive themselves somewhere.

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