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Well, it’s been about two days since the super-sized two hour Amazing Race aired, and I fear that I may have incensed the TVgasm readership. People eager — nay, starved — for a recap were dismayed to find that I had neglected to cover the entire second hour of this week’s episode. I had every intention to include both hours in one post, but hey, I’m only human. There was just too much great stuff for one simple man like me to tackle. That being said, I have now rested, recharged, and returned to my desk for more blogging fun. So where did we leave off?The second hour began with Ray and Deana heading out to a nature preserve to feed some wild lions. I could just imagine Ray throwing some meat at the beasts and then immediately scolding them: “You have to eat the meet! This is your goal! If you fail to complete it, you will be a failure in life. Stop bitching and DO IT! DO IT DEANA!” Not sure why he’d call a lion, Deana, but I tend to think that would be his gut impulse. Unfortunately for Ray and his facially beleaguered partner Deana – a.k.a. Blinky the One Eyed Wonder – their huge lead evaporated in seconds as they discovered the park would not open until 8 AM. Wah wah wah. “This is an unacceptable setback. Our goals have been completely destroyed. I am presently in a state of annoyance,” Ray said in my imagination. Seriously, you’ve got to love his pseudo-militaristic assessments of situations. Well, it wasn’t a total loss for him and Deana. Turns out there would be two shuttles heading into the preserve to feed the lions. One at 8 AM and another 9 AM. So while Ray and Deana’s lead may have been diminished, they at least snagged a spot on the early shuttle. Oh, who the hell cares? They suck.
Next to leave the Pit Stop was Ron and Kelly, who after the last hour, seemed to suddenly have vague semblances of personality. Better yet, Ron stopped relating every damn thing to Iraq. Hey, maybe this was a turning point. Maybe I could start to like him more. After all, I’ve been won over by the brothers. Well, moments after leaving the Pit Stop, lightning bolts streaked across the sky, causing Ron to comment: “That was just like bombing downtown Baghdad.” RON. IT’S LIGHTNING! Have you never seen a thunderstorm? This is not a unique phenomenon. It’s been around since, well, the beginning of Earth. If anything, the bombing in Baghdad is like lightening, not the other way around. I bet he Ron is a real broken record at fireworks displays: “Oh, that was like a bomb in Baghdad. So was that. That one too. Yup, ‘nother bomb. Hey, that was loud too. Whoa! Now THAT was really similar! By the way, this ground we’re standing on, it kind of reminds me of the ground in Iraq. You know, just in the way that it’s under my feet and isn’t considered the sky.”
Third out the gate were Brian and Greg who kicked off this leg with some jovial humor. “Make your way home, give mom a great big hug, then eat all her chicken enchiladas until you enter a food coma,” ad-libbed Brian as he read the first clue. Very clever, very clever. Kind of makes you wonder though just how farty that household smelled after the race. Anyway, this jokey intro led to the brothers telling us how they’d be there for each other if anything were to happen to one of them. Sad dread filled my chest cavity as I suddenly remembered that it would be the brothers would be crashing their vehicle. Uh oh. Would there be death or paralysis? Would they be eliminated? I was just starting to like these guys! The knot in my stomach (which was related to the sad dread in my chest cavity) tightened as Brian hit the curb with his car. “Am I sucking at driving!” he exclaimed, perhaps foreshadowing scary events later. Brian, you are sucking at driving! Stop! Stop!
Lynn and Alex left next and were soon followed by Rob and Amber who contemplated the sad state of the old folks. “Meredith and what’s his name get no money,” he said. What’s his name? I assume he meant Gretchen. He does realize she’s a woman, right? I mean, I know the head bandages obscure her face somewhat, but that’s just ridiculous. Anyway, Rob complained about Lynn and Alex, and upon reaching the nature preserve, found their names written on the queue already. Rob pretended to erase the “L” off of Lynn’s name, but then simply laughed like the rascal he is. Too bad, I’m sure everyone would have laughed and pointed fingers at the gay guys when they saw their names had been changed to “ynn and Alex.” Wow Rob, it could have been so great.
We shouldn’t focus on the evil side of the race. Not everything was manipulation and squabbles. Uchenna and Joyce, for instance, were having a deservedly special experience in South Africa. Joyce explained how their marriage was rocky at the beginning of the race but now there seems to be hope. Huh? They were rocky? Wow. They are the stablest rocky people I have ever seen. Maybe they have really high standards for being “rocky”. I wonder if they disagree over a movie if they consider themselves separated? If there’s anything that can bring them together though (aside from a South African orphanage), it’s the power of them to unite as the Voltron of terrible directional sense. Seriously, these two get lost every single episode. I mean, they could get lost just going through a McDonald’s drivethrough. Heading to the nature preserve was no exception. In mere seconds, they seemed to be combing their maps, trying to figure out where the hell they were. And to think, this was a team that bragged about their knowledge of roadways on the first episode.
Nevertheless, all the teams arrived safe and sound at the Rhino and Lion Nature Preserve, and as everyone waited for the doors to open, Meredith and Gretchen went around and collected donations. Uchenna and Joyce were kind enough to donate some clothes to the plucky duo, and honestly, that shows a lot of character. Still, the two needed moolah, and so Gretchen loaded up a Borscht Belt comedy routine that would make even Jackie Mason proud: “We’re starting a save the rhino fund, and that’s no LION!” she said happily, causing everyone to laugh. I half expected to see Meredith on a drum set doing a rimshot. Seriously though, they should take their act to Vegas.
Almost everyone donated some money to the old people, but two teams conspicuously withheld. Surprise surprise — Ray, Deana, Rob, and Amber kept their money to themselves. Rob explained that the old people were the biggest con around. Huh. Kind of like the way Rob keeps popping up on all these reality shows. Ray meanwhile called the elders the “sacrificial lambs” of the show, noting their need to be vanquished. I decided at that moment that regardless of whatever else happens on the show, the one thing I want is for Meredith and Gretchen to last longer than Ray and Deana.
Anyway, the first shuttle soon departed and teams began throwing giant chunks of meat at the lions. I don’t know if it was just me, but man, I really wanted a steak. Ever the gentleman, Ron joked that if the lion “jumps on me Kelly, I’m throwing him you.” He then added, “That sort of death and carnage would not be unlike the battlefields of Iraq.”
After the first three teams finished their leonine feeding frenzy, they learned that they would be flying to Botswana and locating a giant aardvark, or “Arkvadark” as Rob said it. Now, I know that I erroneously busted Rob’s balls for saying “Yohanessburg”, but I’m pretty sure I’m right when I say that “Arkvadark” is NOT the correct pronunciation of “Aardvark”. I mean, this was a Bolo level of butchering.
Anyway, everyone from the first shuttle arrived at the airport and snagged a flight leaving at noon. The last four teams, however, had some difficulty. Once they were done with the lions, everyone headed out to the airport, but for some odd reason, Meredith, Gretchen, Rob and Amber all followed Lynn and Alex who had no idea where they were going. The only ones who remembered the right way to go were… Uchenna and Joyce! What a comeback! Maybe their marriage IS getting better. I mean, they didn’t even get lost!
Well, the meandering caravan of racers soon discovered they were going the wrong way, and based on a toll lady’s advice, turned around on the highway. Everyone got back on the right track, but unfortunately, Lynn and Alex made a wrong turn again, and while the other two cars headed off to the airport, our gay duo headed deep into downtown Johannesburg. As expected, they found themselves in the dangerous inner city, an experience they equated to driving through Compton (remind me to tell the time I drove through Compton at 2 AM. Man, that was fun). I don’t know why they were so scared. I mean, it’s not like Johannesburg is known as the carjacking capital of the world. Oh wait…
After some hairy experiences, Alex finally paid a guy to lead them to the airport where they just barely caught up with the other two teams who had initially followed them. Not that any of this really mattered. Once everyone arrived in Botswana, they learned they’d all have to take a train to the Arkvadark that wasn’t due to leave until 9 PM. Ah yes. Another time crunch. Still, this didn’t mean we would be without drama. As Lynn and Alex departed to the train station in their taxi, Rob and Amber tried to stop the driver and jump in as well. The boyfriends didn’t allow Rob in though, saying there wasn’t enough room (despite there being two big seats open). There really would be nothing to lose if Ramber hopped in the cab, but the guys kept them out simply on principle, which was pretty cool. As they pulled away, Lynn explained, “I like my air conditioning, and I don’t want to be crowded.” Meanwhile, Rob responded negatively to the rejection. “Okay, we’ll play like that!” he pouted. Um, haven’t you been “playing like that” this entire race? You know, like when you bribed the security guard not to tell other teams about an earlier bus, or like the time you bribed a driver not to open the rear doors of said bus, or like the time you got other teams to chip in for a bribe but didn’t contribute anything yourself? Hey, I think it’s all incredibly crafty and legit, but don’t start acting all innocent now.
Alas, Rob was very wounded, and the thought of Lynn getting away in that taxi really got to him. “He’s stretched out like he’s on a carpet ride,” said Rob, imagining the seating arrangements in the cab. Do people normally stretch out on carpet rides? Is that a thing? Because if they do, screw American Airliens. I’m totally taking a carpet to New York next time.
Anyway, Rob CONTINUED to harp on the taxi controversy, and as everyone met at the train station (Meredith go there by tooting “choo choo!” à la Charla in season 5), he tried to throw the cab shenanigans in Lynn and Alex’s face with typical Rob logic. I must admit, Rob is very good at what he does. If someone crosses him, he simply plays innocent and throws it back in that other person’s face. They’re so busy defending themselves that they never get a chance to poke holes in Rob’s arguments. Unfortunately, while that’s a solid strategy on a voting elimination show like Survivor, it doesn’t really affect things on Amazing Race (HA!). As teams boarded the train, Rob announced that he was no longer gonna be Mr. Nice Guy. So I suppose his withholding a donation to a penniless Gretchen and Meredith was a friendly gesture? Maybe he wanted to see them learn the value of earning an honest buck. Or maybe he’s just a huge hypocrite. (I know, I know – he makes great TV. No argument there).
Well, teams finally made it to the Arkvadark where they received the Roadblock. One member from each pair would have to engage in a traditional bushman hunting practice: throwing a spear at a moving target. Everyone went and picked a bushman guide and began tossing those spears. Well, everyone but Meredith who in classic old man fashion couldn’t find the bushmen RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. In time, he figured it out, and soon we were treated to a lovely montage of spears sloppily careening past sandbags. Brian and Greg took to patronizingly call their guide “Yoda” simply because he was short and old. News flash: bushmen are not pets.
Anyway, Ron connected with his bag first and proceeded on to the next clue which had him driving several miles through the bush to the route marker. “Being in the military, I’ve driven through the desert in hum-v’s, whereas I’m sure there’s no one here who’s done that,” he said. DAMMIT RON. CAN’T YOU JUST SHUT — oh wait. That was actually a relevant comment. It made sense. It was a logical application of past military experiences to a present dilemma. I apologize.
Teams eventually left the Roadblock one by one until the only one left was none other than Boston Rob. As he continued to miss the sandbag, he grew infuriated, asking if the spear had been sharpened. While baby wanted his bottle, Brian drove speedily down the dusty roads, giggling excitedly. As the bumps shook and rattled the car, Brian guessed that Lynn was probably like “Woooooooo!” (just imagine him saying that really effeminately). The producers then cut directly to Lynn as he squealed, “Woooooo!” in the most effeminate, Dame Edna-ish voice ever. It’s really hard to communicate how truly funny this was, but needless to say, it was a brilliant moment of editing.
Bringing up the rear of the SUVs leaving the Roadblock were Joyce and Uchenna who managed to, you guessed, get lost. Well, sort of. They couldn’t find their bags. This allowed Rob and Amber to hop into their car and move up a spot. There was a lot of hubbub, but somewhere in the middle of it, Joyce said “Meredith is a guy, yeah.” Okay, have these people even MET each other? What did Uchenna say when giving the oldsters some clothes? “Hey, here’s a shirt for you… whoever you are.”
Anyway, the bush country roads turned out to be quite bumpy, causing Gretchen to comment that her bladder was going to wind up in her chest cavity. Speaking of which, the sad dread that had taken residence in my chest bladder (my bladder was safe and sound) had grown considerably as the inevitable crash scene seemed to be drawing near. Sure enough, the brothers flipped their car in an accident that way out-delivered Chip and Reichen’s lame swerving off the road in Season 4. It was truly a scary moment, and when we returned from commercial break, we saw that the guys’ cameraman seemed to be injured. Luckily, both brothers were shaken up but unharmed. Lynn and Alex, the first team to encounter the wreck, immediately jumped out of their car to make sure everything was okay. Like Uchenna and Joyce donating clothes to Meredith and Gretchen, this act showed great character from these racers (if I had a plaque, I would bestow it on them). Brian and Greg seemed confused, bewildered, scared, guilt-ridden, and about half a dozen other things so well depicted on those insurance commercials with Dennis Haysbert. Meanwhile, Rob and Amber, who had managed to pass everyone on the road, simply motored by without even stopping or slowing down to make sure everyone was all right. Granted, they had no obligation to stop, but seriously, at least roll down your window and check in. Lynn and Alex eventually left, and for the record, every other team that drove by stopped and offered assistance. The brothers just waved everyone by and waited for the replacement car to show up.
Meanwhile, Ron and Kelly had already arrived at the next clue which was the Detour: Food or Water. Teams could either fill a basket up with corn they had pounded to a fine consistency or they could fill twelve ostrich eggs with water syphoned from a well. Ron and Kelly opted for the food challenge, which in retrospect wound up to be the more difficult of the two options. Ramber arrived next and opted for water, quickly catching up to Ron and Kelly. Lynn and Alex soon joined the POW and beauty queen, and as both teams pounded the corn, the guys were sure to catch up everyone with the gossip: there was a car wreck and Rob and Amber didn’t even bother to help! Sure enough, Ron and Kelly entered superhero mode as they bashed the corn with new resolve to not let Rob win the race. Unfortunately, Rob and Amber seemed to be almost done with their eggs, and it became apparent that these two might be snagging yet another first place. Luckily, Ron and Kelly managed to finish their Detour in just the nick of time, and the two teams jumped into their cars and sped to the Pit Stop. Eventually, it came down to a foot race, but Rob and Amber were soon stymied by some errant clues that had fallen out of their bags. As they stopped to pick up their mess, Ron and Kelly checked in first, but sadly, won no prize. WTF? Rob and Amber stepped up to the mat next, and Phil threw a little PA softball at them, asking “Did you guys stop for the wreck?” That was okay, Phil, but you really need to take a page from Jeff Probst sometimes. You know, really let them have it with a snippy remark like “Wow. You guys didn’t even stop. I didn’t think that people could be so heartless and pigheaded, but you proved me wrong. Let’s hope that you don’t wind up in a situation where you’ll need someone else’s help!” Man, Probst should really host more shows.
Back at the car wreck, the brothers paced around and waited for the backup car. One of them said he hoped they don’t get eliminated because of this. Yeah. Hope your camera man doesn’t die either. I mean, that would be a major downer, dude. Later, when the guys got their new ride, they were kind enough to say a prayer for their fallen videographer. Okay, these guys are really nice.
At the Detour, Ray and Deana had arrived and were working on that corn. Unfortunately for them, their teamwork was at an all time low as they kept accidentally bumping into each other and generally failing to produce any sort of worthwhile cornmeal. When she wasn’t incurring more injuries to her face and neck, Deana took the opportunity to whine, causing Ray to nearly lose it. “This is your goal. DO IT!” he barked. Meanwhile, the old folks and Uchenna and Joyce soon arrived and got to work with the corn. Uchenna was a monster and soon eclipsed everyone, ultimately checking in with Phil in third place. Alex and Lynn came in fourth and were proud to once again bash Rob, tattling that he just kept on driving without stopping. These guys love to gossip.
As Ray continued to get mad at the corn, the brothers finally arrived with their replacement car. Using some brainpower, they noticed that teams all seemed to be doing the corn thing. Hmmm… That means that it must be hard. The guys took a risk and went for the ostrich eggs, but surely they wouldn’t be able to come back, right? Right?
Well, much to the chagrin of Ray and Deana, Meredith and Gretchen finished the Detour first and drove off to Phil. When they arrived, Gretchen jumped out of the car and began a celebration dance worthy of ESPN’s highlight reel. The two eventually snagged fifth place — and couldn’t be happier. It was their best placement yet. Seriously, they’ve got to start raising their standards if they want to win this thing. Also of note was Gretchen who scolded Meredith to put his hair down before checking in. Hey, he didn’t say anything when you were wrapped up like a crazy mummy. Zip it, lady! Oh, what am I saying? I could never be mad at Gretch.
Things were suddenly becoming very exciting at the Detour. Ray snapped at Deana, saying “It’s depressing doing this with you.” He then added, “Seriously. That gimpy eye of yours makes me feel like I’m working Igor.” Nevertheless, the two finally finished, and as they headed to their car, we cut over to the brothers who… were finishing too! Okay, heart is starting to race a little here. Brian and Greg ran to their vehicle and with memories of previous car accidents seemingly gone from their brains, they sped along the road, trying to catch up with their dysfunctional competition. An aerial shot from a helicopter revealed that the two teams were in fact fairly close, but Ray and Deana clearly had the edge over the brothers. Well, this was all exciting and everything, but we’ve learned the ways of tricky editing. As much as I really dislike Ray and Deana, it seems we’ll be with them another week.
BUT WAIT! A few moments later, the brothers seemed to be right on the other team’s tail! Literally, my hands were shaking. The tension escalated even more as Brian and Greg undid their seatbelts in anticipation of stopping (uh, is that such a great idea? Remember that one time when you flipped your? Oh yeah, that was FORTY FIVE MINUTES AGO). Ray and Deana parked their car, and as they opened their doors, we could see the brothers pulling in right next to them. Then the producers, god bless them, gave us one long, uninterrupted shot as we watched the two teams literally race neck and neck to the mat. Happily, Brian and Greg pulled into the lead and arrived at the mat with just seconds to spare. We’ve had some intense, neck and neck foot races before, but rarely any ever as dramatic as this. Plus, the good team won. Yay! Brian and Greg emotionally arrived on the mat and broke down into tears as the day’s stress all caught up with them. Honestly, we can just give this show the Emmy right now.
As for Ray and Deana? “We deserved to lose. We were terrible,” said Ray, clearly not taking in the big picture just yet. Ah, yes. Divine retribution. The oldies survive to live another day while the brash youngster go home with nothing (well, two Rav 4s). Kudos to the producers for setting up that rivalry so casually and yet so skillfully. Now, let’s see what we can do about Ramber.
What did you think? Were you happy to see Ray and Deana get their comeuppance? And should Rob have stopped for the brothers, or is all fair in love and racing?