Things were very tricky on tonight’s Amazing Race. For the first time this season, teams were faced with the age-old task of eating enormous quantities of food at a Roadblock, and like previous culinary challenges, the results were unpredictable. However, things were a little different this time around, thanks to the crafty team of, you guessed it, Rob and Amber who managed to use the show’s penalties to their advantage. Say what you will about these guys, but it was fairly ingenious. Who knew a barbecue could get so scheming?The episode began in Santiago, Chile (or “Santi-eggo” as our beloved Phil said in his crazy New Zealand dialect. Seriously, what’s the deal with other countries? Can’t they all speak American? Like Toby Keith?). Anyway, Rob and Amber received the first clue which told them to pick up a car in a garage and drive through the Andes and over the Argentinean border to the next clue. Ah, Argentina. My favorite South American country to be immortalized in an Andrew Lloyd Weber tune (before you fight me on this, let me just ask: have you even heard “I Wanna Guyana” or “Olivia from Bolivia”? I didn’t think so).
Anyway, speaking of Toby Keith (I was speaking about him about four sentences ago), Rob displayed his patriotic colors by proudly announcing that he and Amber were living the American Dream. Um, so the American Dream means finding fame and fortune by being stranded on a desert Island two or three times and then running around the globe with a camera crew jogging behind? Strange, I always thought it meant working hard to find success. I guess there are all sorts of meanings. If there weren’t, I know about ten liberal arts colleges whose entire Humanities departments would be obsolete (yeah, I’m looking at you Vassar). Wow, I am on a tangent spree tonight. I haven’t even gotten past the first ten seconds of this show. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, I should quit my Vassar bashing.
Next to leave the Pit Stop was Ron who feared that he wasn’t sure if he was ready to marry Kelly. After all, she hadn’t been to Baghdad yet. Hey, did I ever tell you I was a POW? Later, after Ray and Deana had departed without incident, Uchenna and Joyce bounded out of the Pit Stop and reminded us that they had struggled against fertility problems. Man, I feel sorry for these two. They have such a great heartstrings story, but they’ve just got nothin’ on the POW. Someone should give them a consolation gift. Maybe a George Foreman Grill?
Up next were spry gay couple, Lynn and Alex, with the latter wearing a dainty scarf worthy of an English professor at Vassar. Blast! What is with me tonight? Seriously, that scarf was very Vassar-chic. Team WeHo was followed by Debbie and Bianca and then our favorite — and only, for that matter — old couple. As the two headed for the car park, Gretchen cooed that her husband understands her so well. “I love him to death, and I make it up to him in a lot of other ways.” I instruct the jury to please strike that statement from MY BRAIN. Meanwhile, Meredith expressed his excitement with a full-blown hair erection. I guess that Cialas shampoo really does wonders — although, if hair stands on end for more than four hours, he should really call a doctor.
Is that a dorsal fin on your head, or are you just happy to see me?
Leaving next were Susan and Patrick, a.k.a. Webbie Vanderquack and son. By the way, Patrick — if you’re reading this, please know that I’m not dissing your mom. A Ducktales reference is probably one of the highest compliments I could give a person. Anyway, Susan expressed a desire to find a nice boyfriend for her son. Okay, that really had nothing to do with anything. We’ll just move on.
Greg and Brian (a.k.a Zach and Braff) left last, but they benefited from a convenient time crunch at the car park. You see, the garage didn’t open until like 5 AM. Tricky tricky. Meanwhile, with time to kill, Bianca and Debbie took their cab to a hotel to get directions to the next clue box. Then the heavily promoted cab controversy occurred. Rob and Amber stole Debbie and Bianca’s taxi. Oh. My. God. This is an OUTRAGE. Well, except it wasn’t. Both teams still had to wait for the garage to open, and besides, it’s not like the gals couldn’t snag a cab at the hotel. Adding insult to injury, I’m not sure Debanca (my new impromptu nickname for them) even realized Ramber had stolen the cab. Two cheers for deceptive advertising!
Finally, the garage opened and everyone ran to their cars. Well, everyone except the brothers who strolled along happily, even after just telling us that they wanted to move out of last place. After having left the garage, Rob found a police car or meter maid to lead them to the highway. “The best way to get through Santiago is with a police escort,” Rob boasted. Well, either that or having CBS pay a cop to guide them around. Ding ding ding! Conspiracy alert!
With all the cars on the road, we then watched endless footage of teams pulling off onto the Los Antilles Portillo exit. Seriously, why do we have to watch this exit ramp so many times? Oh wait, because Debbie and Bianca completely missed it. Oh well. See ya in a few hours! Luckily, they weren’t the only team to get lost in Chile. Susan and Patrick spent nearly an hour and a half driving through the streets of Santiago, apparently too proud to get directions. Their struggle culminated with a frustrating encounter with a “No Left Turn” sign. What would they do??? COMMERCIAL. (For those of you wondering, when we returned, they went another block and then made the left turn which was now legal. A triumph of man over signage).
Meanwhile, up in the mountains, Gretchen chided her husband. “Easy Meredith, I’m getting sick!” she yelled. Sadly, she did not add “Ooooooh!” to the end of this statement. Nor did she vomit. At the top of the mountains, Rob and Amber reached the Detour first. Their choice: Paddle or Peddle. I was personally hoping for “Piddle or Puddle.” Anyway, as Phil ambled dangerously close to a river, he alerted us that teams could either take an inflatable raft with a team of professionals down a seven mile river, or they could bike a seven mile trail across some old train tracks. Rob and Amber opted for the raft, as did second place team Lynn and Alex who arrived about five minutes later. Even though the Survivor All Stars got a head start, the two proved to be weak paddlers, and the spirited boyfriends, fueled by vengeance and the need to utterly destroy Rob and Amber, passed their foes, arriving at the next clue first. They were instructed to take a seventy mile trek to “Camping Suizo” for the next clue. In the car, the two congratulated themselves. “Gay boys took on a boy from Boston and a girl from the island, and they lost,” Lynn said. Eh. They’ve had better quips. Go back to Snappy Gay Wit school! Boo!
Amber, however, didn’t seem to mind falling out of first place. She was more preoccupied with the fat and calories she had burned off during the Detour. So that’s why Amber went on Survivor twice. She just wanted to lose weight. I guess it’s legit. Starve yourself on an island for 39 days, follow up with some intense rowing in Argentina. I like to call it the Reality Star Diet and Exercise Program.
You know, I forgot to mention that there was a Yield at the Detour. No one actually used it, which meant lots of “We choose not to use the Yield” lines. Thankfully Kelly decided to change things up a bit by saying “We choose to defer our yield.” Oooh, well done! I know one thing she hasn’t deferred: her vocab lessons.
Hey, remember those peppy girls who speak Spanish? You know, the ones that are always kind of kissing each other in a semi-lesbian but not really way? Yeah, them. I think their names are Debbie and Bianca. Well, while everyone was climbing through the Andes Mountains, these young lasses were driving along the Chilean coast, admiring the beach. If I were a Jeff Foxworthy of Chilean geography, I would say this: “If the Andes Mountains look like a big ocean with waves, than you might be at the right part of Chile! If the Argentinean border is across the Pacific, then you might be in the right part of Chile!” Turns out the gals had gone a full two and a half hours out of their way. Ooopsie daisy. Wrong turn is an understatement. Thankfully, the girls didn’t devolve into two bickering messes. They kept their spirits high, with Debbie saying “Pray for flat tires.”
Did somebody say flat tires? It’s funny because our Urban Outfitters representatives of Brian and Greg were biking down the Detour when suddenly one of them got a flat. Debbie wins the foreshadowing award. Either she was psychic, or she had the telekinetic powers of Carrie. As team after team floated by on the river below, the two brothers had to carry their bikes the duration of their seven mile course. Now that’s unfortunate. If only there were a Garden State soundtrack they could listen to while they walked.
Gretchen and Meredith chose the arduous rafting Detour, and afterwards, they labored to their car out of breath. “Do you need some mouth to mouth resuscitation?” Gretchen asked her husband. Shivers. That’s the second time she’s grossed me out this episode. Word to the wise. If you ever come across an unmarked VHS tape in their house, DO NOT WATCH IT. I guarantee it will be worse than The Ring.
Meanwhile, Alex and Lynn arrived at the next clue which was the [*hand bugle*] Roadblock! “Who’s not a vegetarian?” the clue asked ominously. Ah yes, our first eating challenge of the season. I’ve always enjoyed these because a) I like food; b) these sort of challenges always cause chaos with the teams; and c) it’s a chance for me to act all cool and say “I could totally do that. These people are lame.” I’ve seen some daunting food challenges: live octopi, giant ostrich egg, spicy hungarian soup, and of course my favorite, the pound of caviar (oh how I wanted to do that one). Still, this Roadblock was pretty intimidating. Teams had to put down four pounds — FOUR POUNDS — of meat. That meant cow ribs, pork sausage, blood sausage, cow intestine, cow utter, a full kidney, and part of a saliva gland. The good news was that the meats looked quite savory — anyone who’s been to Argentinean BBQ knows what I’m talking about. (Am I right? Am I right? High five). The bad news: four pounds is a lot of food. Alex got to work on his tasty vittles and was soon joined by Rob, who Survivor fans may remember is quite terrible at food competitions. We’ll check in on them later.
Debbie and Bianca, back from their cross country tour of Chile, finally arrived at the Detour which revealed a dark secret. A few months ago, Debbie almost died in a white river accident. Dunh dunh DUNH! You know who else almost died a few months ago? Ron. IN AN IRAQI PRISON. Anyway, Debbie proved herself to be a trooper by consenting to the rafting Detour. Bianca tried to cheer her up by saying it’ll be fun. Yeah Debbie. I’m sure you won’t almost die again! And so the stage was set for Final Destination 3. Debbie died ten minutes later.
Okay, okay. She survived the Detour, but I still feared that she and Bianca were too far behind. I hate when plucky teams makes five hour mistakes.
Back at the Roadblock, Uchenna joined the other diners at the meat buffet. Okay, this dude is going to pound this meat. Just look at him. He’s a mini-tank, and cow is his fuel. Sure enough, Uchenna attached his plate with savory gusto, and not even Alex booting at his feet could deter him. Lynn meanwhile watched the vomit with disgust. I half expected him to snort, “He never spits with me!” Rimshot!
Up until this moment, this episode was fun, but with Debbie, Bianca, Susan and Patrick lagging so far behind, there wasn’t any sense of peril for most of these teams. And then the oddest thing happened. Rob decided that he couldn’t eat anymore of his food. He and Amber quit the challenge and incurred a four hour penalty that goes into effect once the next team arrives at the Roadblock. Gutsy move. Would this be the end of Ramber?
Normally, I’d say yes. But then I must remember that while The Amazing Race is certainly the classiest of the reality shows, it still contains anti-logic reality stars. Enter Ray and Deana. In an unwise move, the two elected Deana to take on the Roadblock. We knew they’d be doomed once she looked at her plate and scoffed “What is all this stuff?” Um, it’s meat. You did read the clue, didn’t you? Almost immediately she began complaining that she would never be able to finish it. Smelling fresh prey, Rob convinced the team to quit and suffer the penalty. Say what you will about the guy, but he does have a powerful influence over the weak-minded. Ray and Deana quit, which meant their four hour penalty would kick in as soon as the next team arrived. Oh, and by the way, that next team would be Susan and Patrick, who were seemingly hours away. Rob and Amber, meanwhile, were now assured that someone would definitely be behind them, even with the four hour penalty going against them. Sadly, Meredith quit too, making it two teams behind Rob and Amber. This sort of scheming made me simultaneously sick and impressed. I’ve gotta say, even though it was technically smart scheming, I kind of don’t want any of these guys to win the big prize at the end, just because they took the easy way out. Well, I might make a mild exception for Meredith and Gretchen. I have to admit though, I loved the little ticking Penalty Clock that appeared on the screen for these guys. I guess it’s the closest we’ll be getting to hockey this year.
Anyway, as the non-quitters chowed down on their meat, Ron noted that this was the worst eating experience of his life. “And mind you I lost twenty five pounds in about eighteen days in an Iraqi prison,” he added. No seriously, he added that, not me. Yeah, I know. I’m surprised too. He never talks about his POW experiences. Meanwhile, when Amber heard of Ron’s rapid weight loss, she immediately tugged on Rob’s sleeve and whined “I wanna go to an Iraqi prison too. Can we? Can we?”
Unsurprisingly, Uchenna finished his feast of meat first. That makes three seasons in a row when black guys dominated the food challenge: Chip, Gus, and Uchenna. Of course, we can’t forget Bowling Mom Linda, last season’s Rebecca, and eventually Debbie as the distaff representatives. So you heard it here first: if you’re a black man or a hyper woman, those food challenges will be cake. Well, maybe not actual cake, but you know what I’m trying to say.
Even though Uchenna and Joyce finished the Roadblock first, they soon became lost en route to the Pitstop, thus paving the way for Alex and Lynn to nab first place. The two explained that their expert rowing skills had powered them to the top of the heap. This was followed by a brief physical demonstration which Phil observed with a bobbing yet confused head. I feared he might say something like “It never really occurred to me before, but you guys are gay, aren’t you?”
Elsewhere in South America, Patrick and Susan motored towards the Roadblock. They immediately stole the foreshadowing award from Debbie and Bianca as they chewed on snacks in the car. “We’ll find some cheap meal in Mendoza,” Patrick said, referring to the location of the Roadblock. Oooh, excellent naiveté. Susan then went for the double header as she noted that her snack tastes like steak. Oh, you have no idea BITCH. Sue and Pat eventually arrived, officially setting Gretchen, Meredith, Ray, and Deana’s penalty clock at four hours. Rob and Amber’s clock, meanwhile, was at a cushy two hours and thirty nine minutes. Normally, I’d say they would have been screwed had no one quit as well, but you can never underestimate the power of a good food challenge. Even if Rob had been the only one to have quit, he still would have been out of there faster than Patrick who simply stared at the food, occasionally picking at it for hours.. He wanted to quit, but his mom refused to let him. “VOMIT!” she scolded in a rare instance of maternal bulimia endorsement. Oddly enough, Patrick — and everyone else for that matter — resisted booting like the plague. People, if you don’t have room, you’ve got to make it. Still, Patrick veered incredibly close to quitting, rationalizing that Debbie and Bianca would never be able to finish the meal.
We then cut to Debbie who at the promise of meat erupted into carnivorous bliss. Uh Patrick, you might want to take that back. Just as we expected, Debbie scarfed down the food, but while Bianca’s coaching was impressive, it was also encouraging Patrick who suddenly discovered that he COULD eat the meat. Rob and Amber meanwhile got off the clock and arrived at the Pit Stop where Phil couldn’t stop laughing at their scheming ways. Why that tickled him almost as much as the time someone put itching powder in his turtleneck. Now that was a hoot!
In the end, the penalties turned out to be a successful gamble for all teams as Ray, Deana, Meredith, and Gretchen all managed to check in before the last two teams were done eating (yes, that means Patrick took longer than four hours). The race once again became very close, but sadly, the dynamic alliance of Bianca, Debbie, Susan and Patrick was inevitably torn asunder as the gal pals from Virginia arrived last. Phil served up a fresh dish of PA as he noted that after they had won the first leg, he thought for sure they’d be in the top three. OH WELL. Thanks Phil. I’m sure that made them feel A-OK.
What did you think about the penalties? Was this a clever use of the rules or just a cheap way to get forward?