Ah, the penultimate episode of Amazing Race 9 — and what an episode it was! Interesting challenges, intense rivalries, convoluted transportation, exotic locales, an exciting ending, and… monkeys! Lots and lots of monkeys! And to be fair to the other critters of the episode, crickets and grasshoppers too! But they were dead. Yes, it was an episode with a little bit of something for everyone, and for the first time all season, we had our first food endurance challenge. This was great news for me because a) I love the food endurance challenges, and b) after last week’s non-elimination round, I was ready for some high-stakes racing again. This week’s episode began with an ominous sign: crocodiles attacking each other in the Australian Outback! Might this allude to increased bitterness between Mojo and the Hippies? Or was this some small homage to Survivor, which invariably opens each show with images of critters at war (and/or crabs scampering across a beach). We couldn’t contemplate this issue too long because suddenly the race was starting up again, with Ray and Yolanda emerging from the Pit Stop first. Their clue told them to fly to lovely Bangkok, which was currently the host city to Tyra Banks’ gaggle of beauties on America’s Next Top Model. That meant that at 8 PM last night, if you turned to UPN or CBS, all you’d see was racing and Thailand. I guess this was Les Moonves’ master plan: “This May for sweeps, I want one thing: Thailand. Make it happen!”
Actually, a crossover episode would have been totally awesome. We were so close, if you think about it. With the models running around on their go-sees, I half expected Phil Keoghan to show up at any point and make them go bunjee jumping or something. But now I’m rambling. The whole point of this was that Raylonda was headed to Bangkok, and once they were there, they’d have to take a taxi to a bus terminal and then take a bus ninety-seven miles to a city and THEN find a three-spire pagoda, which, by the way, happened to be the home to a whole grip of sacred monkeys. Yes, this was going to be a good episode.
Well, Ray and Yolanda hit the road, but not before donating some pants to BJ. For those of you who missed it, last week’s episode ended with BJ and Tyler arriving last on a non-elimination leg. That meant they had to hand over all their possessions and could only wear the clothes on their back. Unfortunately for BJ, he had shed his shoes and pants just prior to the Pit Stop (don’t ask), which meant he’d have to attack this leg of the race in a more vagabond state than usual.
Luckily, even though the Hippies had sworn enemies in Team Mojo, the others had compassion. Not only did Raylonda donate pants, but Jeremy and Eric also gave up a pair of sandals. “It’s a nice thing to do just because he’s a person,” they said. Aww. That was sweet. Plus, they knew that now they could always ask for a favor later. And you know what I’m talking about:
Anyway, Jeric were out of the Pit Stop next, and they looked quite sharp, I might add. That tuxedo t-shirt — always a classic. They opened their clue, and I’m sure their heart skipped a beat or two when they read the word “Bangkok.” Sadly, it was merely a geographical location, not a command, and so their brief excitement turned into forlorn sadness.
Two seconds later, Monica and Joseph headed off to the airport, but unlike the other teams, they didn’t offer one iota of help to the Hippies. Monica explained, “They’re trying to play mind games with us… we’re not going to take it.” Literally. They can’t take mind games. They don’t have MINDS.
The Hippies emerged last, and not only did BJ have Yolanda’s sexy spandex pants and Jeric’s flimsy sandals, but he also scored some other items thanks to the random lost and found at the Pit Stop. Tyler then tried to put a positive spin on the situation by saying, “We’ve proven that we can keep bouncing back and keep getting back into the front of the pack.” Well, not really. If you have to keep bouncing back, doesn’t that mean that you’re just always falling to the rear?
Anyway, BJ then decided to talk some smack by saying, “Mojo has a date with not being in the race anymore!” Ah, well stated. Might you be interested in auditioning for Yo Momma? You’d be a natural.
Eventually, everyone wound up at the airport where Ray giggled at BJ’s spandex-covered legs. “He looks like he like wearing those type of things. That’s funny, man,” he said in his typically monotone, half-smirk way. The Hippies then headed off to beg for money while everyone else went about booking tickets to Bangkok. Monica and Joseph fiercely kept other teams away from their clerk, telling Jeric that the guy wasn’t finding a flight but looking at porn on the internet. Hey Monica, maybe he’s seen some of your work. BOO-YA!! Random Monica Zing!!!
Meanwhile, the Hippies seemed to be doing quite a good job begging for cash in Downtown Darwin (which is like Downtown Disney except with fewer roving pedophiles. Okay, I just made that up. Downtown Disney is a lovely place). Anyway, the Aussies were all drunk and randy, and as such, they had no problems handing over a few dollars here and there to BJ and Tyler. One portly lady even asked BJ to take off his shirt in return, a request she undoubtedly regretted moments later (she changed her chant from “Take it off! Take it off!” to “Put it on! Put it on!” You’d think she was joking, but I have a feeling she was dead serious).
Eventually, BJ and Tyler trekked back to the airport with money lining their pockets. They learned that everyone was booked on a flight that arrived in Bangkok at 11 PM. Unfortunately, it was now full which meant that the Hippies were screwed once again. Hey, that’s okay. Everyone was arriving at 11 PM. Clearly the monkey pagoda wouldn’t be open until 8 AM the next day. If the Hippies wound up on a later flight, I’m sure it wouldn’t make a difference.
Amazingly enough, thanks to a cancellation, BJ and Tyler actually managed to get two seats on a plane arriving fifteen minutes before everyone else. Ah, another fun twist of fate. But again, it didn’t really matter on account of that whole Pagoda probably being closed thing.
We were then treated to an airplane travel diagram, and I had to say, this one was quite lovely! The lines both arched out of Darwin and extended to both coasts of Australia before meeting again in Bangkok. An exercise in geographical symmetry! Sort of. Okay, it was just a simple animation. But I liked it, dammit. Is that so wrong?
Well, the Hippies may have been psyched about their fifteen minute advantage, but the first plane made super good time and arrived a whopping forty-five minutes early. Suck on that, HIPPIES. Looks like somebody wasn’t smart enough to reserve a tailwind from God!
Anyway, on the ground, as Monica stuffed her bag into the taxi trunk, Joseph asked her if the cabbie knew where to go. “Have you showed him? I don’t know,” she replied. Silly woman! You’re supposed to have psychic abilities with cabbies! Haven’t you telepathically asked the driver if he knows where to go?
“You don’t have to be a smartass,” Joseph then said. C’mon, Joey. You know better than to use the word “smart’ around Monica. Anyway, the two finally got into their cab, and as they drove off, Joseph revealed that he was scared. Very scared. Yes, we’ve found his weakness: A debilitating fear of Thai taxis. I knew it!
Well, as you may remember, the teams had to take a taxi to a bus terminal and then take a bus to who knows where (I forgot to write it down). Jeric and Raylonda made it to the terminal pretty quickly and wound up on a bus leaving at midnight. Mojo arrived about ten or fifteen minutes after the other teams, and even though the bus hadn’t left yet, the ticket window had closed. Or so the untrustworthy cabbie said. Therefore, Mojo had to go back to a hotel and wait for the first bus in the morning. Ha. They’d be stuck with the hippies. So wonderful.
The next morning, the Hippies (who had since arrived in Thailand) boarded the first bus out of the station. You’d think this would be an intense ride with Joseph staring down his nemeses the entire time, but one problem: Monica and Joseph received bad information. They thought the first bus out was at 5:20 in the morning, an entire hour after the Hippies. And so BJ and Tyler lucked into a comfy third place spot while Mojo unknowingly dropped back to last. Awesome.
Eventually, the lovebirds (Mojo, not the Hippies) got on their bus, and Joseph immediately felt uneasy. No, he didn’t have a fear of Thai buses also. He just didn’t know why they were the only team. “This is the right bus hopefully,” he said. It’s the right bus. It just happens to be the last one too.
BTW — who else couldn’t wait to see Mojo’s face when they found out the Hippies were ahead of them?
Anyway, Jeric and Raylonda arrived at the Pagoda, and just as expected, it didn’t open until 8 AM. This allowed everyone some time to chill out and watch all the monkeys hopping around everywhere.
“It’s a pretty good lifestyle for the monkeys. I mean, the don’t have to go to work,” Eric said. Why, it’s almost as if those monkeys are beach bums in Miami who spend all day playing volleyball and chasing chicks! By the way, note to Eric: it’s not such a big deal that monkeys don’t go to work. Very few animals are actually employed (Although, my friend did say that his consulting firm just hired a platypus. Who knew?).
“If we win a million dollars, we’ll be monkeys,” Jeremy promised. Insert some sort of simian/Jeric joke here.
Ray, on the other hand, was less impressed with the monkey lifestyle. “They look like rats on steroids,” he said. Well, whatever they looked like, they sure loved Jeremy and Eric. One even jumped right on Jeremy’s crotch, thus bringing another kinky fantasy to life. You know, this all confirmed my suspicions that Jeremy and Eric were not unlike two big monkeys. They’re sort of hyper, they’re fun to laugh at, and they love jumping on crotches. It all makes sense!
That monkey sure loves penis!
Anyway, the Hippies soon joined up, and not too long after, the Pagoda opened, and everyone got to open their clues, which included the second and final fast forward. Yay! If teams wanted to go for it, they’d have to travel two miles and participate in an “after school activity.” Aww. Sounds nice. Would it be kickball? French club? A production of Brigadoon? How about feasting on a bowl of crickets and grasshoppers. Yum!
Yes, in order to win the Fast Forward, teams would have to eat large quantities of stir-fried crickets and grasshoppers, and I know that sounds utterly vile, as someone who’s eaten crickets (but never grasshoppers), it’s really not that bad. Seriously, I’ve eaten them. There’s a restaurant here in Los Angeles that serves them. In fact, to prove that I’m not making this up, J-Unit and I are going to go there this weekend and take pictures of us eating bugs. Just you wait!
Phil — maybe just consider a looser inseam?
Anyway, BJ and Tyler and Ray and Yolanda both hopped in cabs and zoomed off to the Fast Forward. Jeric, on the other hand, already did the Fast Forward a few weeks ago, and so they had to do whatever was planned for them at the Pagoda. And guess what? It was a Roadblock! One member from each team had to prepare a ceremonial monkey feast. No, that didn’t mean a feast of monkeys. It was a feast FOR the monkeys. They’re sacred, remember?
Well, Eric volunteered for the task, which was good because as Jeremy explained, “I’ve seen him prepare meals for monkeys very often, and he really knows what he’s doing.” For some reason, I don’t think he was joking.
Meanwhile, as they headed to the Fast Forward, Yolanda pondered what this so-called after school task would be. “A game of football? Cricket?” We then cut to a closeup of a dead, fried cricket. You know that when Yolanda said “Cricket,” the producers totally high-fived. Well, the two finally arrived at the Fast Forward and were shocked to find what waited for them. However, as off-putting as the Bowl O’ Bugs was, Yolanda did make an interesting point: “We’re from the South. We’ll eat anything fried.” That would explain her penchant for eating deep fried cotton balls.
Anyway, I was hoping for a good old fashioned eating contest between the Hippies and Raylonda, but it turned out that not everything fried tasted good. Yolanda nearly yakked after her first grasshopper, and that’s when she and Ray realized that they should just hedge their bets and go back to the Roadblock. And so off they went to the Pagoda. In the meantime, Mojo finally arrived at the Roadblock and were shocked to find other teams there. They actually thought they were first. “Man, did you think wrong,” Jeremy told Monica. Of course, the assumption there as that she was capable of thinking at all. I’m still not convinced of that.
Well, Joseph got to work with his monkey feast, and soon Yolanda joined him. Eric, meanwhile, was way ahead of them, and despite the monkeys continually plucking fruits off his arrangement, he finally finished and received the next clue: take a ferry to Koh Kret Island and visit a Buddha Garden to find the next route marker. Sounded delightful.
Over at the Fast Forward, the Hippies were finding that all the free love in the world couldn’t make digesting those bugs any easier. Tyler tried dancing to help digest, but amazingly, this completely counter-intuitive strategy did not work. Eventually, he just booted everything up into a bucket, but sadly, we weren’t lucky enough to see what cricket puke looked like. I imagine it was pretty awful though. Soon, BJ was contributing his part to the insect purge-fest too, and before we knew it, the Hippies began to doubt whether they’d be able to finish or not. It was taking way too long, they feared. Well, how about you stop eating one bug at a time? Just stick a whole bunch in your mouth!
Elsewhere, Jeremy and Eric arrived at the Buddha garden and found their next clue: the Detour! This week’s choices were between “Move it” or “Altar it.” For a brief second, I thought “move it” might pertain to dancing, and that of course had me hoping for more PhilBoogey, but alas, I was way off. In “Move it,” teams had to go to a pottery factory and carry seventy-two clay pots through a market to a boat. One catch: they had to transport the pots on long wooden planks that they’d balance on their shoulders. In a word: painful. If it had been me, those pots would be falling faster than you can say “uncoordinated.”
In “Altar it,” teams would have to assemble a shrine and “gold leaf” a Buddha statue. That meant covering the statue with little golden leaves until it was all covered and shiny and such. Wasn’t physically demanding, but it required focus and patience. Of course.
I thought for sure Jeric would opt for “Move It,” but then I remembered that as much as they talk about it, they just don’t like jugs very much. They decided to build the shrine. Meanwhile, Raylonda and Mojo had both finished the Roadblock and were en route to the island. Monica and Joseph had a lead, but they squandered it when they accidentally walked to the “Altar It” challenge instead of the Buddha garden. This allowed Ray and Yolanda to sneak ahead, and of course, I laughed with glee. Have I mentioned that I hate Mojo?
Well, Raylonda opted to do “Altar It,” and Mojo was going to do the same, but when they saw that the other two teams were toiling away with the gold leaves, they decided to gamble and try the pottery challenge. This would be great. If Monica could barely haul a swordfish around, I didn’t know how she’d deal with a bunch of clay pots on her shoulder. I could already sense disaster (followed by whining, tears, more whining, and then sobbing).
Meanwhile, the Hippies FINALLY finished their bowls of bugs, and after a ceremonial declaration of “T’tai” or whatever it is that they say, they then headed off to the Pit Stop, which was some sort of Marble Temple. It wouldn’t surprise me if Phil summered at a Marble Temple. Probably someplace really exotic too. Like the Canary Islands. Or Trenton. Yeah, that’s it! Phil totally has a Marble Temple in Trenton, NJ.
Back at the Detour, Mojo was already having problems. Sweat was dripping down their faces, and consequently, Joseph was becoming his usual surly self. He even poked his head in some random doorway and commanded a lady to tell him where the dock is. “VERY FAR!!!” barked back some disembodied voice. Ha. They hate Joseph too!
Over at the front of the race, BJ and Tyler showed up at the Pit Stop first, and oh yeah, I forgot to mention this. At the Pagoda, teams received an envelope that they weren’t allowed to open until they reached Phil. Why? Well, because whoever had the envelope with the Golden Gnome would win an extravagant prize, thanks to Travelocity. So did BJ and Tyler have the Golden Gnome?? No. LOSERS. Their gnome was ordinary and bland — the kind you forget about and then ten years later at the reunion, you’re like “We went to school together? Oh yeah, I remember you.” But really, you don’t remember who he is at all. Wait, I’m veering off topic.
Meanwhile, at clay pot central, Joseph was absolutely freaking out over all the pottery, but hey, at the end of the first trip, they’d hauled in a grand total of forty-six pots. Not bad. “Oh, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Monica complained, adding, “It was almost like that time when I had to do simple arithmetic. I’m sorry if I don’t know what four times five is. I’m not a brainiac!”
At the Buddha shrine, the stress level was considerably lower. Jeremy joked, “I gold leaf a lot in my spare time.”
“We used to have gold leafing parties,” Eric then said.
“We used to get a lot of girls gold leafing,” Jeremy added. By the way, just so you know, “gold leaf” is their codeword for “rimjob.” So don’t get the wrong idea.
Believe it or not, Jeric was actually really good at gold leafing (the real kind, not the rimjob kind). By the time they were done, their Buddha looked spic and span and ready to go. This meant the two guys could go off to the Pit Stop, which Phil explained was a Marble Temple. Yes, Phil. We know. You already showed it to us like five minutes ago. Just relax. (He’s always a bit stranger in these warmer climates. I think it’s because he can’t wear his turtlenecks).
Well, with Jeric already off to visit Phil, this meant that the show was gonna come down to Raylonda vs. Mojo. Or, to put it more simply, Good vs. Evil. I really didn’t know which way it would go. My gut told me Raylonda, but then again, Mojo only needed one more trip of pots to finish their task. About this time, fate intervened, and Monica became a one woman pot-breakin’ machine as she dropped one after another after another. Eventually, she was down to two pitiful clay pots. One might say that Monica was incapable of handling her jugs (snicker snicker).
I think the jug is trying to escape Monica’s vortex of vapidity.
Monica’s clumsiness meant that she and Joseph wound up about five pots under the requirement, and that meant another trip. A critical setback. Jeric, meanwhile, were looking for a cab, but there were none to be found. Uh oh. Might we get a three way foot race again?
Suddenly, Ray and Yolanda finished gold leafing and bolted to the Pit Stop. Right on their heels were Mojo, who also just finished up their task. Yes, the race was ON, and by the way, Jeric still hadn’t found a cab. Eventually, they snagged one, and about two seconds later, so did the other teams. Taxi showdown! As the teams traveled to the Marble Temple, Monica sniffled, “I feel embarrassed of myself.” As you should, WENCH. Okay, that was unnecessarily harsh. She deserves to feel embarrassed, but she’s hardly a wench. Just a very, very whiny woman. If it made her feel any better, Joseph wiped her tears away… with the armpit of his t-shirt. I’m sure she really appreciated that.
Well, whenever there’s a taxi showdown, there’s always one thing we can depend on: traffic. Sure enough, Jeremy and Eric got stuck in some vicious congestion, but they did manage to reach the Pit Stop in second place. Did they have the Golden Gnome? No. Sorry.
Ray and Yolanda showed up at the Marble Temple next, but in a classic Raylonda move, THEY GOT LOST. Dammit! I thought we put those days behind us! Wrong entrance! Wrong entrance!
Don’t worry though. Ray and Yolanda managed to get their bearings, and they showed up in third place. YES! But whither the Golden Gnome? WHITHER THE GOLDEN GNOME?? Phil opened up their Travelocity envelope and every so slowly, turned it around. Oh, enough with the PhilTease™. Just show us! Sure enough, Raylonda had the Golden Gnome. They won a trip to Australia and a hotel room that night and all sorts of other fun Travelocity sort of things. Ray was so excited he raised his eyebrows… a little.
Ray should really calm down.
And so Mojo arrived last and were officially eliminated, causing an evil laugh of glee to emerge from the TVgasm offices. Any threat of a Freddy/Kendra finale was officially negated. The two lovebirds shed some tears (of joy, Monica assured us), and then it was time for that age-old tradition: smack talk before the final episode. The three remaining teams talked about why they were going to win, and ultimately, the Hippies declared “There is nothing that is stopping BJ and I from winning the race.” Well, as long as there’s no challenge involving deodorant, that is.
What did you think about this episode? Happy or sad about the results?