Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
Considering that the outcome to this week’s Amazing Race episode was fairly predictable, I still found myself on the edge of my seat. For once, the finish line wasn’t nearly as exciting as the race itself as we watched a battle of alliances duke it out for dominance. After weeks of shrewd Romber action, the super couple finally slipped up, and the real issue became whether or not our favorite villains could recover lost ground due to Gretchen and Meredith’s chronic mishaps. Oh, and for shits and giggles, the producers threw in a very Price Is Right touch with some silly gnome prizes, courtesy of Travelocity. Yay corporate sponsorship!The episode began in India as Uchenna and a newly shaved (and better looking) Joyce emerged from the palatial Pit Stop from the last leg. First order of business: fly to Istanbul (resisting annoying 1992 urge to sing They Might Be Giants) and find a lighthouse called Kizkulesi. As they ran off into the night, Joyce chirped some spiritual mumbo jumbo about letting go and letting god — I don’t know. She’s sweet, and I like her, but she needs to be funnier. The hair is a good start.
Next out of the gate was the dynamic alliance of Rob, Amber, Kelly, Ron, and introducing Sanju, the artist formerly known as Sanjay. Seriously, I thought Sanju was Sanjay. Nevertheless, the two teams quickly read their clues, although not before Ron and Kelly engaged in a little snipping over who gets to hold the paper. There’s really nothing worse than bland people who bicker. Okay, maybe Hitler, but even that’s a stretch.
Anyway, the unholy alliance between these two teams seemed to be working out well, but Rob reminded us that “when push comes to shove, we’ll do what it takes to win.” Oh really? I didn’t realize you felt that way. You only say it EVERY SINGLE EPISODE! If it’s any consolation though, Rob has lived up to his word. It’s not like Patrick and Susan whose supposed devious ways got them cut after three episodes.
Once everyone had received their first clue, the next order of business was snagging some sweet ass plane tickets. Uchenna and Joyce showed some intelligence by locating a hotel to call ahead to a travel agency. It wasn’t really necessary because there was a twenty-four hour office open down the street, but at least they were being resourceful for once. I felt instantly sorry for the poor travel agent as he not only looked exhausted, but now had to deal with reality stars cooing like pigeons (Gretchen), blaring loudly (Rob), and comparing the office to military barracks (Ron). Okay, Ron didn’t do that, but you know that he was just dying to note how the “walls” in the room were like the “walls” in Baghdad. Uncanny!
As for Uchenna, he became the latest in a long list of racers to adopt some odd, one-size-fits-all accent that was intended to ease communication but really only sounded dumb. I don’t know why so many people think that they’ll be more understandable if they speak in short, clipped words minus essential articles like “a” and “the”. The locals speak Hindi, not Caveman.
After some shuffling around and various taxi-rides, everyone managed to secure tickets to Istanbul via a layover in Delhi. Since the flights didn’t leave until the next morning, everyone headed to a local hotel to get some shut-eye. “Home sweet home for the next eight hours,” said Gretchen. Suddenly the action slowed to a near halt as the soundtrack frightened us with a massive “DUNH!!!” Uh oh! Would she and Meredith be oversleeping? Would they miss their plane? What pray tell would happen?
Actually, nothing happened. Had I not paused the Tivo to theorize about the oldsters’ fates, I would have very quickly learned (literally – two seconds later) that they had woken up on time and were ready to face the day. Why the slo-mo of imminent disaster? Now the producers are just screwing with us. That’s not very nice.
Meanwhile, as he and Ambah rode to the airport, Rob dismissively said, “I’m so over India.” We then cut to Sanju standing behind a window, a single tear rolling down his cheek. “His words are like daggers in my fragile heart. I shall never know love again!” Sanju then placed his palm on the glass and wept for hours.
At the airport, the two alliances quickly huddled amongst themselves. Ever the trickster, Rob casually asked gullible Gretchen if she was on the earlier flight. The only thing was that there was no earlier flight. Rob completely made it up to mindf-ck his AARP rivals. Man, I really hate him, and yet I really love when he pulls this sort of shit. As can be expected, Gretchen immediately reported to Meredith and Joychenna that there was an earlier flight, and while Rob preened like a schoolyard bully, Uchenna found some local and made a few calls. Turns out there actually was another flight from Delhi to Istanbul, and even though there was a connection in Dubai, the teams would still arrive two hours earlier. What’s this? A Rob lie coming back to bite him in the ass? We could only hope for such a turn of events. After all, whether you love him or hate him, there’s really nothing more amusing than watching someone happily sit on his laurels and think he’s in first place.
But then again — might Rob find out about his unintentional folly? As Uchenna made arrangements over the phone, Ron and Kelly stood perilously close, overhearing a few key details. They immediately reported to the Robfather that the other teams seemed to be up to something, but the cocksure reality veterans insisted that there was no earlier flight. Me likey the hubris. Surely Rob would land on his feet (never mind the fact that this was most likely a non-elimination leg), but I just wanted to see his ego take a massive hit.
In Delhi, Kelly and Ron hopped in a cab for Turkish Airlines to investigate earlier flights. Then finally, after a week of anticipation, we finally witnessed the much-hyped Kelly/Ron showdown.
“Your patterns in life show that you don’t make commitments,” said Kelly.
“You’re right,” said Ron. “I was only committed to the military.” Yes, I know. Another military reference, but Kelly was ready for it.
“And you got out of that one,” she replied.
“How did I get out of that one?” asked a perplexed Ron. Wait for it… wait for it…
“By being a POW.”
That’s gotta hurt! A quick jab right in the ole family jewels. Now, I’ve been bashing Ron’s incessant nattering about the military all season (and yes, I’m sure the editors and producers can be thanked for that), but even so, Kelly was fairly out of line with that statement (not that I didn’t love it). Surely Ron would go ballistic on her, right? Well, not so much. Instead he simply let out a torrent of annoyed sarcasm, thus ending the confrontation with a meager sigh. You know, every week, I always fall for the Amazing Race promos, and without fail, I’m disappointed. Probably the only time a conflict on the show ever led to anything was when the metal gate fell on Freddy’s head last season. That was pretty awesome.
Anyway, after this emotionally charged taxi-ride came to an end, Ron and Kelly desperately tried to find an earlier flight, but all the travel agents were steadfast that there simply were no other options. Cut to me on the edge of my couch crossing my fingers and hoping that Rob and Amber don’t somehow figure this out.
Later, in the airport, Rob, Amber, Kelly, and Ron waited for their plane and happily derided the other teams. “Uchenna and Joyce don’t know who to turn to. It’s the blind leading the blind,” said Rob… blindly. Never one to pass up an opportunity to be dumb, Kelly replied by saying “Uchenna is a leech for information.” Yeah, seriously. If Uchenna shoved his nose any deeper into Rob’s ass, he’d be… Kelly and Ron.
Anyway, all the teams eventually boarded their flights, causing me to let out a sigh of relief as Rob played the fool for once. Even more delightful was the ever enjoyable flight route map to Istanbul. Man, I could watch animated planes spanning the globe for hours on end. Okay, maybe just two minutes really (although, I have been known to become unusually transfixed by the route map TV channel on JetBlue). Anyway, the first flight landed on time, allowing Joychenna and Team AARP to get a leg up on their competition. Romber and their lackeys arrived two hours later, and considering they still had a train ride, a taxi, a ferry, and a boat ahead of them, it was safe to say that the first wave of racers would be maintaining their leads.
Almost immediately the Romber-Kelly/Ron alliance crumbled. Rob and Amber quickly hopped onto a train, leaving their two buddies in the dust. “Dang it!” yelled Ron, as the train pulled out of the station. Relax! Another one will be around in two minutes. Oh, but I shouldn’t be too critical. Ron was probably having a flashback to the time he missed a school bus when he was little, and that probably reminded him of Iraq somehow.
Meanwhile, Joyce, Uchenna, Meredith and Gretchen finally arrived at that damned lighthouse, only to discover that they’d have to search the island for little garden gnomes – or “gomes” as Joyce called them. But WAIT! These weren’t just your plain-Jane porcelain variety of gnomes. They were special and corporate branded! I’ll let Phil explain: “What teams don’t know is these are Travelocity Roaming Gnomes.” OF COURSE! I was gonna say — those gnomes totally looked like they were in the middle of some hardcore roaming (courtesy of Travelocity)! In a very game show-y twist, teams all had to bring their gnomes to the finish line, and the lucky duo whose gnome had an airplane sticker on it would win a “special” prize. A bubble bath with Phil, perhaps? Maybe an extensive tour of his world famous turtleneck collection?
Uchenna and Joyce found their gnome first and headed back to the mainland where they located their next clue at the base of a tower. The almighty Detour surfaced here, and the duo had to choose between Kilos or Columns. In Columns, teams had to travel ten miles away to a subterranean well and use a map to find a column (there were about two hundred total). Once at the correct location, teams then had to pull up a little box from the depths of the well. It wasn’t over yet though. Next they had to use numbers on the columns to figure out a combination that would open the padlock on the box from the well in the room in Istanbul in the country of Turkey on the planet Earth. Less complicated was the other option, Kilos. Teams had to grab a scale and weigh 5,500 pounds worth of humans. Man, had this been Las Vegas, teams could have accomplished that feat in three, maybe four minutes flat. By the way, minor Vegas diversion: if you want to hear a creepy website, visit WynnLasVegas.com and be sure to click on “The Shows”. The more Steve Wynn says “Le Rêve”, the funnier it gets. LE RÊVE! LE RÊVE!
Anyway, Joychenna opted for Kilos, and while they got to work weighing random Turks, Meredith and Gretchen found their Roaming Gnome and headed back to the mainland. “What are we gonna call this guy?” asked Meredith. Gretchen, normally one for cooing and cawing, seemed to have no patience for such tomfoolery, answering, “I don’t know. Gnome.” This would explain their daughter’s name, Baby. Nevertheless, Meredith bestowed the name “Jerome the Gnome” on his figurine, saddening Noam Chomsky pun fans worldwide.
With Jerome The Gnome (or J-Gnome, as I call him) tucked away safely, the old people then did what they do best: make stupid mistakes. They arrived at the next clue, but in true Amazing Race senior citizen fashion, completely walked by it, opting to ascend a tall tower instead. The producers couldn’t hold back their mockery as they joyfully piped in German oompa music to highlight the silliness on screen. After a few trips up and down the tower, the old people finally saw the clue box, causing Gretchen to complain, “Why don’t we see things?” I honestly have no answer for her. Maybe one too many massive head wounds?
Down at the Detour, Uchenna and Joyce reached their weight goal fairly quickly. Now it was off to the next clue at Rinoli Hisari – or something like that. I was heartily amused when Uchenna tried to hail a cab. His whistle had the faint puttering sound of a toddler blowing out candles. Still, he managed to snag a taxi, and while he and the wifey headed off on their next adventure, Rob and Amber finally boarded the boat to the lighthouse. The world seemed to cave in for Rob as he learned that two other teams had already been passed through. I was fairly shocked at how well Rob took the news. For sure I thought he’d erupt into a litany of empty comments like “If that’s how they’re gonna play, fine” or “Okay, if they wanna do that, fine” or “So that’s how it’s gonna be. Fine” But instead, he stayed calm and tackled the next challenge, which apparently included a vocab lesson. “What’s a gnome?” asked Rob after reading the clue. Amber then took out a picture of Lynn, drew a beard and a hat on him, and handed it to Rob. It was a surprisingly effective visual aid.
The two quickly found their gnome and headed back to shore as Ron and Kelly docked at the light house. After bragging about their comfortable second place position, the unlucky team got bitch-slapped by reality as they plucked out the last clue. Suddenly well-aware of their last place standing, Ron and Kelly got to work hunting down their gnome, and thankfully, Ron didn’t offer any dumb commentary about how searching for garden figurines was like hunting down Iraqis. “Finding that gnome in the rocks really reminded me of this time in Baghdad when I saw a rock. Yeah, that was a great memory. Hey, have you ever noticed how saying ‘a rock’ sounds like ‘Iraq’? Kind of reminds me of this time in Iraq…”
Meanwhile, over at the front of the pack, Joyce and Uchenna arrived at their next clue which was the Roadblock. Phil Koegan once again appeared on camera and told us that teams would have to “Storm the caste!” I was really hoping it wasn’t his perverted way of saying “Lather me up in chocolate syrup,” and thankfully, we were spared of such a sight. Instead, the person doing the Roadblock would have to climb a rope ladder over a wall, run up some stairs, grab a key, repel down another wall, unlock a book, and then let his or her teammate into the castle via the front door. Uchenna obviously volunteered for the challenge, which he finished in no time. Phil then advised us that teams would then have to search through the castle to find the Pit Stop. Ah, a nice twist. I’m a big fan of the hidden Pit Stop.
Well, my excitement was short-lived as Joyce and Uchenna had no problems locating Phil. I can just imagine Uchenna getting directions from a guard:
Uchenna: “You see man with mat?”
Uchenna: “Spiky hair? New Zealand accent?”
Uchenna: “Big turtleneck?”
Guard: “OH! Phil Koegan! Right over there!”
Man, I love writing little scenes. Anyway, Joyce and Uchenna arrived first, but since their gnome had no airplane on it, they were deprived of yet another prize. Man, if Rob and Amber win this special reward, I might have a conniption fit.
Elsewhere in Turkey, Meredith and Gretchen had found the town square but couldn’t seem to locate the man with the scales for the Kilos detour. I’m not sure, but I think they actually walked by him at one point and said his scales weren’t large enough. What were they expecting? Some enormous contraption like Celebrity Fit Club? As the old fogeys searched random shops and alleys (GO BACK TO THE SQUARE, DAMMIT!), Rob and Amber made their way over to the Detour. Oh man. Are the old people going to blow their lead? Say it ain’t so.
Well, they eventually found their scales, and as big band music played on the soundtrack, Gretchen corralled in all sorts of fat people, pausing only to give brief commentary on their weight. “58? That’s a lightweight!” she scoffed after one skinny jerk got off the scale. Eventually, they reached their goal and headed off to the Roadblock where Meredith volunteered his wife to climb up the castle wall. WTF? Are you crazy?? She’ll crack open her head faster than you can say “Spelunker!”
Meanwhile, even though Rob and Amber had a significant lead on Ron and Kelly, the latter team made up some time by taking a cab from the ferry instead of hoofing it, like the Survivors. At the Detour, Romber opted to weigh people, but in a surprise decision, Ron and Kelly went for the columns. This of course was after the army flunky and his beauty queen diva honed their inner Meredith and Gretchen and ascended the nearby tower for no good reason (Kelly was pleasantly passive aggressive in the elevator, so it was worth it).
Anyway, Ron and Kelly arrived at their Detour, and I became immediately confused as a flurry of coordinates and column numbers came at me all at once. Whatever, I’ll just accept that they knew what they were doing, even if I was more overwhelmed than Meredith at a gnome-naming conference (that would be an odd conference, yes?).
Eventually, both teams finished their Detours and headed towards the Roadblock where Gretchen was languishing on the rope ladder. Panic instantly gripped me as I feared the oldsters might lose their lead, much the same way the Bowling Moms succumbed to Colin and Christie in a similar rope ladder challenge two seasons ago. Even though logic dictated that this would be a non-elimination round and therefore lower stakes, the last thing I wanted was another smug victory from Rob and Amber.
Unfortunately, Gretchen didn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. Then again, that might have been the tricky editing: Hey look! Gretchen’s at the bottom of the ladder! Now she’s at the top! Now she’s at the bottom again! Where is she truly? Only the editor knows for sure! MWAHAHAHAA!
After a well-placed commercial break, we returned to the rope ladder where Gretchen had a sudden motivational surge. With inspirational music playing, the old lady hauled herself up, one rung at a time, ultimately saying “Come on, girl!” Finally, she let out an “UNGH!!!” of triumph and hurled herself over the wall like a sack of potatoes. With the hardest part over, Gretchen returned to her normal beeps and whistles, shouting “Ohhhhhh no!”, “Yippee!!” and “Let my husband in!” all along the way. Sure enough, Team AARP checked in second place and even patted themselves on the back, noting this was the first time they’d succeeded without other people’s mistakes (although, I might argue that Rob’s fib at the airport might qualify as a mistake). But while Meredith and Gretchen were super excited, Phil was all business. “There’s a little gnome that you guys are going to bring to me,” said Phil very seriously. For some reason, hearing Phil say “little gnome” is both endearing and creepy. Nevertheless, if he could say that without busting out a smile, he deserved a some credit for the world’s best poker face.
Anyway, Romber arrived at the Roadblock next, and after Rob had scaled the ladder, Kelly and Ron arrived. As the two guys raced through the challenge, their ladies stood at the castle door in an awkward silence worthy of a funeral parlor. Ultimately, Rob and Amber finished first and arrived at Phil’s mat in third place. Phil welcomed them with the usual stoic charm, saying “The good news is that you’re team number three.” He then added “The better news is that we’ve decided to give you Joyce and Uchenna’s first place prize. You win $10,000! Just… don’t tell them.” Actually, that didn’t happen, and since Rob and Amber’s gnome sucked, they didn’t win the special Travelocity prize either.
Eventually, Ron and Kelly checked in at last place, and to no one’s surprise, they were saved by a non-elimination round. As per the rules, they had to surrender all their belongings, but on the plus side, their gnome had the mystical airplane, resulting in them winning a $20,000 shopping spree on Travelocity. On top of that, they would be housed in the local Four Seasons for the night — a sweet hookup that even included a laptop so they could browse Travelocity immediately. I can just imagine Ron and Kelly finally getting to their suite and just wanting to take a nap. Then Phil would step out of the linen closet with a pistol and snap, “TRAVELOCITY! NOW!!!“
Anyway, the ending of this episode wasn’t anything special — no one got eliminated — but watching Rob’s ego take a big hit was worth it. What did you think? Did you enjoy this installment? How do Rob and Amber rank as Amazing Race villains (or antiheroes, depending how you look at them)?