This was a tough week on "The Amazing Race." The challenges were actually challenging, and the Express Pass didn't solve anything. We also got some foreshadowing that wasn't, some arguing, some crying and, well, the unquittable pyramid of watermelons. Oh, and I ogle! Let's go!
This episode gave us two firsts – the first time the show has gone to Paraguay, and the first time that a team has not completed a challenge on a leg and still stayed in the "Race." That's what Phil said, although I wonder about that awful meat-eating challenge several years back when Boston Rob got everyone to quit and take a 4-hour penalty. Sometimes I nitpick.
Sometimes an Ironic Foreshadow Turns Out to be Prophecy
You guys, I'm not a fan of the Border Patrol Agents Dave and JJ, mostly because they say things like this: "This is great because we're going to another Spanish speaking country where we can really dominate." They said that when they found out they were going to Paraguay, and I really hoped to see footage of them with language difficulties, or some other non-dominating action. I was wrong. They dominated.
In deference to that domination, I will grant that this quote made me laugh: "Stacking watermelons in Paraguay was on my bucket list. Done!"
The Best Part of Stacking Watermelons is Watching Someone Else Stack Watermelons
Okay, one Detour option was to stack watermelons in a perfectly formed pyramid like the locals do. Ah, the locals, a group of muscular young men tossing melons through the air, sometimes with their shirts off. Thanks for that, Amazing Editors.
Every team, except the twins, elected to stack watermelons. Border Patrol made it look easy, but I think even someone with no melon stacking experience would tell you that it is not. Every other team experienced pyramid collapse. Every other team, except two, switched Detours.
Who were the Goonies ("never say die!") with the watermelons? The Non-Jersey Boys and dating couple Ralph and Vanessa. Non-Jersey finished in a reasonable time, and Ralph and Vanessa did not. She insisted that they not quit, even hours later when it was clear they were in last place. They finished late at night, with very little arguing. I give them credit for that.
Harps, Man. Why Did it Have to be Harps?
The other Detour choice was to untangle 36 harp strings and lace them into the national instrument of Paraguay. What kind of life experience could you possibly draw on to make this task easier? Bopper said it was like running a gas throttle. I'll have to take his word for it. Twin Elliot plays guitar, so he thought it might be like stringing a guitar. The Southern Cousins (may I call them SoCuz?) played flute in middle school. I'm thinking no.
The harps seemed to take as long as the watermelons. When Army Dave and his wife switched to the harps and saw all the other teams there, they pulled out their Express Pass. A little paranoid, right?
Wonder Twin Powers … Where Are They?
The twins haven't had much focus in the past, and my overly-analytical brain was hoping that they'd just stay mid-pack for a while. Tonight they chose the harp task first, and I was sure that would give them a good lead over the meloneers. Well, it did, until they couldn't do it.
Elliot and Andrew decided to switch to the watermelon task, and I shouted at them a little bit. Wouldn't you think, if every other team switched to what you're doing, that the alternative was a bit difficult? Luckily they heard me. Or they just couldn't find a cab. Either way, they became the Harp Goonies. Long after everyone else was gone, those boys just kept threading strings.
Let Me Make Up a Story and Pretend It's True Paraguayan History
You know how some dance tasks seem like they'll be hard, but then even the most uncoordinated Racer completes it in 10 minutes? That is so not how they roll in Paraguay.
The Roadblock is a "traditional bottle dance." Lovely dancing girls are twirling and stepping and swan posing with wine bottles balanced on their heads. I would love to know the origin of this dance: I imagine that long ago, after a hot and difficult day of stacking watermelons, some locals imbibed a lot of wine. Then, in a nod to Festivus' Feats of Strength, they began the Feats of Balancing Bottles on Body Parts. How many bottles? How many body parts? Who cares, for the watermelons are stacked!
These days the dance is much more civilized, although the lead dancer can balance five bottles on top of her head. That's just showing off. Well, the whole dance is showing off, but five bottles is, um, dominating.
The Racer has a table full of bottles, and those bottles are filled with water. If they break all of the bottles before completing the dance, they have to go to the Pit Stop and incur a two-hour penalty. Do you know how they complete the dance? By lowering onto their stomach and then flying like Superman. With a bottle on their head!
Army Dave and his wife were the second team at the Roadblock. Border Patrol completed it too easily. Maybe some nights on the border are a little too quiet, you know what I'm saying? Anyway, Team Army already used their Express Pass and were stuck with the bottle dance. Dave broke all of his bottles and they got the penalty.
Bopper and Mark's bald head finished the Roadblock around the same time as the Kindergarten Teachers Who Are Really Federal Agents, and they found the Pit Stop together. They arrived just as Army Dave's penalty ran out, and all three teams were on the mat together. Army Dave, glowering, standing next to Bopper and Bopper's tank top was a priceless moment.
Slow Motion has Never Been This Suspenseful!
Remember our Goonie teams? Ralph and Vanessa finished stacking their watermelons in the dark. Twins Elliot and Andrew finished stringing their harp in the dark. Both teams assumed they were out, and they traveled to the Roadblock in sadness.
Elliot began the Peruvian Bottle Dance. He broke some bottles, but didn't seem too concerned because they were probably in last place. Andrew encouraged him. And then… it's another team! Ralph and Vanessa were walking slowly to the Roadblock until they saw the twins. Suddenly it was a Bottle Dance Battle!
My nerves cannot take this kind of finish. It was a race, but a race to not break a bottle balanced on your head while spinning and lowering to the ground, can you imagine the pressure? Sidenote – Elliot looked good with wet hair from all the bottles spilling water on him. I just needed to point that out.
Well, Ralph won the Bottle Dance Battle. Elliot was close behind, but not close enough, dang it. Farewell, twins. I hope you don't hate harp music forever.
Next week the teams go to Italy! And they play with toy helicopters! Yahoo!