This was a nice little Amazing Race episode. Yeah, it may not have been as intense as the past three legs, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I don’t really want to say much more, lest I ruin it for some poor reader who hasn’t caught up with his or her Tivo watching, but I will say that the ending left me, well, unsettled. I found myself without direction — wandering down dark alleys, looking for answers. Needless to say, I’ve now picked up a nasty heroin habit, and there’s a woman named Francine who claims to be my baby’s momma. We’re getting married next month in Reno, and yes, we’re registered at K-Mart.Okay, apologies. That intro really made no sense at all. Come on, I had to write something. Anyway, last night’s episode kicked off with Rob and Amber ripping open their clue with great optimism. Fly to Lucknow, India said the clue. Once there, teams would have to find a large temple/religious building and locate a clue hidden inside. Great! Let’s go!
Well, the travel plans were a bit tricky this time around. The producers had arranged transport from Botswana to Mumbai (Bombay), but from there, it was up to the teams to figure out how to get to Lucknow. Oh, and everyone also had to sign up for a charter flight from the Pitstop to Francistown, Botswana. Okay, so lots of flying. Just give me the nifty map, and I’ll be fine.
Ramber signed up for the first charter plane and were followed by Ron and Kelly who after their meltdown last week, were trying to keep it together. Uchenna and Joyce were third and immediately we had our first “Awwww…” moment of the night as she said “Walkin’ in the rain with the one I love.” Okay, say it all together: awwwww…. Uchenna commented that it was quite a nice thing for Joyce to say, and well, I have to agree with him. That WAS very nice. Joyce, you get a gold star for today!
Also having fun were the dependably sharp Lynn and Alex who noted that despite the cliché, the adversity of the race had really brought them closer together. Lynn then slipped into his supermodel mode and boasted “We are so amazing.” He then brushed back his long blonde hair and prepared for compliments. Believe it or not, I didn’t make any of this up. This is why you’ve gotta love these guys. They provide the snark for us. Although, it is hard to be funny about jokesters. I feel like I’m just standing here pointing at them, meekly saying “Yeah, what he said.”
Fifth out of the gate were Meredith and Gretchen, the latter of which let out a strange “oooh” noise upon receiving the India assignment. Granted, our gal Gretch is always good for some chirps, buzzers, and toots, but this was really strange. The two explained to us that they had no real allies in the Race and the best thing they could do would be to take them out one by one. But safety first. “We don’t want to break a hip,” noted Meredith. Gretchen then pointed to her forehead and seethed, “You see this? It’s bloooood, you sissy boy. Now hurry up!”
Anyway, all the teams boarded the same charter plane (Why even have the option for other flights?) and flew to Francistown where they awaited their connection to Mumbai. With some downtime on their hands, the teams all scurried to book flights from Mumbai to Lucknow. Alex snatched a local’s cellphone to call a travel agent while Rob talked to an airline employee. There was lots of babbling about connections and cities and dammit, I was confused. Where’s that neat map they always give us? I’m starting to get lost here.
Nevertheless, Rob and Amber booked ticket for themselves and Ron and Kelly while Alex got flights for everyone else. Amidst all the chaos, I couldn’t tell who had the better deal, but either way, Rob told the ticketing agent not to allow the other teams to book flights with her. Of course, any smart team should know by now that they should always keep an eye on Rob in case he pulls these shenanigans. Then again, maybe it was all in vain. Maybe Rob’s flight would actually be behind the others. JUST SHOW US THE DAMN MAP!
Well, we couldn’t check out the map just yet because we had some interpersonal business to attend to. Ron and Kelly, although temporarily allied with Ramber, were starting to feel the social stigma of constantly working with the Survivors. Besides, on a personal level, they simply didn’t like Rob and Amber, calling them two of the most manipulative people they’d ever met. “Gotta cut it off and quit talking to them,” suggested Ron. Amusingly enough, Rob seemed oblivious to this seething disapproval. “Our relationship with Ron and Kelly is definitely one of mutual respect and friendship towards each other,” he explained. I guess it’s this sort of self-delusion that’s lead Ramber to believe America wants to see their televised wedding as well.
Finally it was off to Mumbai, and while Ron, Kelly, Rob, and Amber seemed to board their connection almost instantly, the other teams had some time to kill in the airport. Gretchen decided to take a supermarket sweep and shop for some cheap backpacks. She quickly learned that there were no senior discounts in India, but our intrepid consumer still found a backpack that worked just fine. Personally, I was hoping she’d throw down some cold hard cash for a SpongeBob knapsack, but I guess that would be asking too much. “Boy, don’t you look snazzy!” complimented Meredith upon seeing his wife modeling her new accessory. “If you’re a good boy, Meredith, later tonight I’ll wear this backpack and nothing else,” cooed Gretchen in return. Okay, sorry, that was just gross. I apologize.
Anyway, at long last I finally got my map as we saw the two flights leave from Mubai to New Delhi to Lucknow. Thank goodness. I was going a bit crazy there without that map. In my disorientation, I even made a semi-kinky Gretchen reference just now. Don’t worry though. I think I have my wits about me. After all that talk about flights and connections, it turned out that Rob’s plane arrived first, but only by eight minutes. The two lead teams quickly jumped into pre-paid taxis and drove to the religious palace, Bara Imambara, where, as Phil reminded us, their next clue was hidden. Driving through the streets, Ron noted “The only thing I can equate this to–” Okay. Here it comes. Say it Ron. Just say it. “– is this is kind of like when everyone was trying to get the heck out of Baghdad because it was being bombed.” OH REALLY? I didn’t think you’d bring that up AGAIN. Tell me, is that the only thing you can equate this to? And just how is this reminiscent of a city being bombed? I don’t see anyone fleeing for their lives. I don’t see, you know, BOMBS. I wonder, is this his knee-jerk reaction everytime he sees traffic? Crowded streets, sweltering heat, cars at a standstill – MY GOD! IT’S IRAQ INCARNATE!
Well, while Ron continued to ride along in his cab (which, being a vehicle and such, reminded him of the cars in Iraq), the other teams landed and headed to the taxi stand. They soon learned that two other teams had just been there, much to Gretchen’s dismay. Chaos soon reared its ugly again as Lynn, Alex, Meredith, and Gretchen attempted to pre-pay for their cabs. There was lots of yelling, quick editing, and general confusion. Silly foreign taxi services. Will they ever learn???
We cut to commercial, and when we returned, the taxi mess sorted itself out quickly as the teams all jumped in their cabs and headed to the next clue, which, as Phil mentioned again, was located in Bara Imambara. YES PHIL, WE KNOW! Rob and Amber were first to arrive, and after their donned head coverings, they marveled at the sight of the building. Rob even promised to build a palace for Amber that was twice as nice. Huh. That was actually a very sweet thing to say. Must have been hanging around Joyce a little bit too long. By the way, if several hundred years from now there is a giant palace that’s dedicated to Amber from Survivor, it’s safe to say the human race is doomed.
Anyway, after finding the clue in Bara Imambara, teams had to take a horse-drawn tonga (man, I love Amazing Race transportation) to a steel emporium where a Yield awaited. Everyone assumed Rob and Amber would be using the Yield on Lynn and Alex, but no, they opted not to. And for the record, Ron and Kelly actually arrived at the Yield first and unwisely chose not to use it on Ramber. Seriously, even Rob admitted he would have used it had he been in their situation. Oh well. It probably wouldn’t have amounted to anything anyway. We all remember last season when the Yield was placed on a nonelimination leg (kind of like the Fast Forward on the nonelimination leg this season. Memo to producer: these devices are supposed to AFFECT the game).
After passing up the Yield, teams then encountered the Roadblock which tantalizingly asked “Who has the most patience?” Well, Ron had an idea: “That has to be you,” he said, nodding to Kelly. “I mean, it’s not you really, but it has to be you for this.” Shut up dickwad. If anyone has patience, it’s her. She’s the one who has to deal with all your constant yammering about how the traffic and the lightning and the wind and the sunlight and the hills and the birds and the flowers all remind you of I-freakin-raq.
And so Kelly and Amber jumped into the Roadblock which had them searching through six hundred steel boxes for one of ten clues. YES. My second favorite type of Roadblock (after the food competitions, natch). The two gals carefully peeped into dozens of boxes, and as the task became increasingly difficult, Kelly came up with a plan. Whoever finds a clue will holler out. Huh? Why? It’s not like there will be two in one box. Maybe Kelly thought that if Amber found a clue, she’d wait around until Kelly found one also. Either way, this strategy’s limitations were quickly made apparent as Amber came across her clue first (of course) and quickly alerted Kelly, resulting in… nothing.
Well, Rob and Amber were told to take a rickshaw to a small service station under a bridge. Ah yes. The rickshaw. It’s like an old friend coming to dinner. Ramber headed off on their odyssey, and not too long after, Ron and Kelly hit the road as well. The rest of the teams eventually made their way to the Roadblock (none used the Yield) and seemed to find their clues relatively easily. Alex even did a little dance. Once again, Meredith and Gretchen fell behind the pack (seriously, every SINGLE time!) and arrived at the steel emporium last. Good ole’ Gretch tackled the challenge, but she was soon overwhelmed by all the giant boxes stacked over her head. Would she ever find the clue? Or would this be a repeat of poor Lena’s hay bale horror from last season?
Sadly, it looked like it might be the latter, especially since Gretchen didn’t seem to have any discernible strategy for searching the boxes. Then again, you can never know anything with all that tricky editing the producers use. After some time, Gretchen finally found her clue. Ah, but when one door opens, another closes. Where to find a rickshaw? “Can you find us a rickshaw?” she asked a local man. Hate to break it to you, Gretch, but they’re EVERYWHERE! Seriously, just jump in the air, and I guarantee you’ll land in one.
Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, Rob and Amber arrived at the service station where they received the Detour: Solid or Liquid. In Solid, teams had to go to a nearby location and chisel away enough charcoal to fill three 170 lbs. bags which they’d have to transport a short distance via a tricycle (don’t worry, it was a cool tricycle with a flatbed and everything). In Liquid, teams would have to travel three miles away to a tea shop, load up a wagon, head to an office building, and deliver five cups of tea (one at a time) to people off a list who in return would hand over their business cards. As Phil was happy to point out, Solid was closer but tougher whereas Tea was farther but potentially time consuming. Man, he LOVES tradeoffs! Actually, the best part of all this was how Phil addressed the camera with a crowd of local men standing resolutely behind him. I wasn’t sure, but I had a feeling they were about to reenact a scene from Westside Story, or at least an old Pat Benetar video.
When you’re a Phil, if the spit hits the fan, you got brothers around, you’re a family man!
We’ll just settle this now. Everyone opted for the tea challenge. Rob and Amber jumped onto a rickshaw while Ron and Kelly waited behind. You see, Ron wanted a rickshaw too, but Kelly was pro-taxi. Eventually though, Ron insisted that they take a rickshaw, causing his girlfriend to state, “I disagree with that, but I’ll go and do it… But I’ll make it known I don’t agree.” THANKS. I was afraid you wouldn’t make it known. Luckily it’s on the record now; so if she ever decides to run for office and an anti-rickshaw smear campaign surfaces, we’ll know exactly where she stands on the issue. Actually, as we all know, her little comment was merely “I told you so” insurance for later. It’s always nice to see people planning their passive aggression ahead of time. I hate sloppy, impromptu PA.
Anyway, there’s really not much to say about the Detour. While it was entertaining, it was basically ten minutes of watching all these people running around, trying to find their tea targets. There were some minor incidents such as when one man claimed to be someone else and Rob almost got fooled. “Don’t try to pull a fast one like that again!” he scolded. Yes, stop not-understanding Rob in his language that is not native to you! How dare you be confused by his foreign tongue! Actually, the moment was rather benign, even though CBS had hyped it all week to make the incident seem like Rob was headed for the slammer. Honestly, I love the Amazing Race, but we should all know by now that almost anything they promote is sure to be a big nothing.
Hey Ambah, it’s like 90 degrees. Take off your coat!
As for Meredith and Gretchen, they rode their rickshaw proudly through the streets of Lucknow. With the cameras on them, the locals all assumed they were celebrities and asked for autographs. Maybe they thought the couple was Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward? Either way, Meredith and Gretchen soon had crowds literally surrounding them and cheering them along. It was kind of like those early ’80s music videos where a singer would walk through the streets, slowly accumulating an improbable posse of followers and dancers.
Was it me, or was this moment mildly reminiscent of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” video?
Eventually, Rob and Amber completed their Boston Tea Party first and headed to Phil who was waiting at the crummiest Pit Stop EVER. But wait! Maybe it wasn’t a Pitstop. After all, the clue only said Phil was at “the mat”. As Ramber headed towards this mysterious fate, the other teams finished up as well, thus ending what was sure to be the most annoying day in ages for these workers. Seriously, how annoyed would you be if reality stars kept running into your office and offering tea? Well, actually, I would love that.
By the way, did I say all the teams had completed the Detour? I lied. Gretchen and Meredith had yet to even start it. This was especially amusing in the wake of Alex and Lynn who in fourth place feared that the old couple had powered their way through the charcoal challenge and leapfrogged to the front of the pack. Yeah, not so much. Instead, our cheery old couple had just arrived at the office building that all the other teams had already left.
Dying of thirst and wishing to drink some of the tea themselves (shades of Gus from AR 6), Meredith and Gretchen headed in and quickly got to work passing out their libations. Once again, a man accidentally tried to take someone else’s tea, causing Gretchen to whip out her matronly guilt. “Shame on you!” she said tongue-in-cheek. Well, at least they were having fun. And better yet, they had gone a whole five minutes without getting lost. Baby steps…
Meanwhile, Rob and Amber finally found the rundown apartment building where Phil was waiting. But guess what? “You’re still racing,” said Phil, who followed up his comment with a strange “Yeah, how’s that feel, ASSHOLES!” expression. Amber took the news harshly as she threw back her head in pure, unadulterated agony. Ha.
“You stupid, stupid humans.”
And then suddenly the screen went black and “To Be Continued…” flashed before out eyes. Wow, that’s the end? But one team’s still doing the Detour. I feel confused and unresolved. Whatever. I love this show, and as I’ve said before, if the producers feel like prolonging the experience, I’m all for it. What do you think will happen? Will Meredith and Gretchen be able to pull themselves out of their giant hole once again? Will Rob and Amber ever fall to the back of the pack?