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'The Amazing Race' recap: Fun in Bolivia

Bucky's back with a report on last night's Amazing Race:

The nine remaining teams depart from last week's pit stop, Puerto Veras, Chile, beginning with Jet & Cord, the Cowboys.  We learn they must travel by bus to Bariloche, Argentina, then drive and find "The Old Joint"—a saloon where, Phil tells us, Butch and Sundance hung out while they were in Argentina.  This, of course, sends me straight to Wikipedia, because in the movie—one of my primary references for history of the American West—they went to Bolivia.  I won't go into it here but if you care, Google up "Butch Cassidy" (the man, not the movie) and get the straight scoop.  Both TAR and the movie (in its own way) are correct.

When they get to their destination, teams have to beat the Roaming Gnome at a hand of five-card stud to get their next clue.

The Cowboys depart first and get directions from a local who is familiar with Bariloche.  Nice move, pardners.


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Joe & Heidi and Carol & Brandy depart without any reference to their previous alliance, so I guess that’s over.  Brent & Caite are next to depart, but Caite is ill and Brent, fearing food poisoning and starting to feel bad himself, decides to take her to the hospital.  There she gets an IV and so does he.

The rest of the teams depart in order of last week’s finish, with Louie and Michael, the Detectives, leaving last.

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The Cowboys, Joe & Heidi and Carol & Brandy get to the cars in that order.  The Cowboys figure out that being in the lead with exact directions is not to their advantage—the other teams will simply follow them to The Old Joint—so they pull over, pretending they are lost.  The other two teams pass them, yukking it up at their good fortune.  Nice move, pardners.

We also get a flash of Mr. Jordan and Daniel, the Brothers, stuck on a hill because neither of them can drive a stick shift.  (I also wonder, when I see Caite driving a few minutes later, why she always drives and eventually we learn that Brent can’t drive a stick either.  So much is being made of this that I think it must be foreshadowing something for us in a future episode.)

The Cowboys arrive to play poker first, due to their ploy, but the Gnome keeps winning the poker hands, so Joe & Heidi and Carol & Brandy both pass them and get their clues first.

They find that, at the Roadblock, one of the members will have to rope a “practice steer” to get directions to their next clue.

What?

How can the producers select this challenge, knowing that one team is made up of honest-to-gravy cowboys?  Is this not a little unfair?  Maybe during planning, they thought Jet & Cord would be so far behind that this would give them a chance to catch up.

Of course, the Cowboys—who finally beat the gnome at poker and arrive at the Roadblock third—handle the task easily, while the first two teams struggle.

Jet & Cord get the directions that tell them to drive to some cliffs where the next clue box sits.  They head out, back in first place again.  Nice move, pardners (and producers).

The rest of the teams try roping the steer with varying degrees of frustration.  Well, except for Brent, who manages to get it on his second throw.  Monique and Shawne, the Lawyer/Mom/Terps take the longest time.

The Detour requires teams to perform one of two tasks:

“Horse Sense,” which involves finding “bank robbery loot” buried out in the sage brush using an old compass and directions laid out in steps.  Once they find it, they have to take it to the “head bank robber” to get their directions to the Pit Stop, or

“Horse Power,” in which they must hit a polo ball while sitting on a big (like, six feet tall) wooden horse that I would have given anything to own when I was a kid.  Using no more than nine … uh … strokes? ... they have to score a goal, alternating hits between team members.  They also have to drag this big wooden horse from shot to shot.  When they complete the task, they will get their Pit Stop directions.

Of the leading teams, the Cowboys choose the polo challenge while Carol & Brandy, Jeff & Ms. Jordan and Joe & Heidi decide to find the buried loot.

The Cowboys finish quickly and head for the Pit Stop, only about 20 minutes into the show.  Wow.  Nice moves, pardners.

The other three teams struggle finding the buried loot, with Carol & Brandy not being able to find anything except a shovel that was (inadvertently?) left out on the badlands by the producers.  The other two teams manage to find loot that isn’t theirs (each team has its own particular buried bag) and have to start over.  Carol & Brandy eventually decide to switch to polo, and when they get there they are competing against Steve & Allie and the Brothers.

Meanwhile, Shawne is still trying to rope the practice steer and finally succeeds when Monique says a prayer.  No, really, she prays for divine assistance and Shawne lassoes herself a practice steer on the next throw.  Who knew God cares about The Amazing Race?  Hmmm … I wonder if God knows how to drive a stick?

The Detectives begin their search for buried loot and almost immediately find a bag … but it’s Jeff’s and Ms. Jordan’s bag o’ loot and the Detectives give it to them.  “To serve and to protect” I think is the motto.

I’m not going to recap why the Brothers take so long (three tries) to score a polo goal, but suffice to say, polo players don’t ride side-saddle.

The Lawyer/Mom/Terps also try to find the buried loot for a while—because of editing we don’t know for sure how long—but when they decide to switch to polo, you can tell from the shadows that it is late in the day.  And by the time they finish the polo challenge and get to the Pit Stop, it is dark, everyone else has arrived.  Monique & Shawne are eliminated.  Sorry, Maryland.

This week’s order of finish:  the Cowboys (who win a trip to Patagonia and when Phil tells them this, I’m pretty sure they don’t know where it is, so they should ask Caite when they see her) followed by Steve & Allie (who again have gotten little air time,) Carol & Brandy, Joe & Heidi, Jeff & Ms. Jordan (thanks primarily to the Detectives’ assistance,) the Brothers, Brent & Caite, and the Detectives.

What do you think?  Did the Cowboys get an unfair advantage?  Were the Detectives overly nice to Jeff & Ms. Jordan?  Are you glad the Olympics are over?  Don’t be shy. Tell us what you think.

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