Scandinavia was fun, but after all this civilized Ikea romping and hay bale unfurling, it was time to get down and dirty â€” Third World style. And so The Amazing Race once again shoveled its contestants out of Europe and into Senegal where teams faced all those time honored poverty traditions. You know, the smelly cabs, the flat tires, the haggling cab drivers, and of course, the Westernized condescension. Luckily for us, our usual gaggle of loveable old people and shallow models kept things interesting with an intoxicating brew of vomit, tears, and ambiguous gayness. Can you really ask for anything more?The show jump started with the teams racing off to the Town Hall tower in Stockholm, which conveniently didn’t open until 7 AM the next morning. Somehow Jon, Kris, Hayden, Aaron, Jon, and Victoria all determined that it opened at 10 AM, which meant the local Sheraton had the lucky distinction of hosting six reality stars/vagrants on their lobby couches for the night.
As usual, the episode provided a few snippets of interviews at the outset to frame the emotional and dramatic arcs we would be seeing over the next hour. Last night Rebecca revealed that when she met Adam, his mother was still cutting his toe nails. I don’t know who to feel sadder for: Adam or his mom. Either way, Rebecca laid down the gauntlet. “If you’re gonna be my boyfriend, you have to cut your own toe nails,” she insisted, adding “And I’d like you to stop being gay too.”
Meanwhile, the dating models tried their hardest to assert some sort of personality. Kendra commented that she likes the finer things in life, and apparently that includes her giant bandana (which, as we learned from a summer of Big Brother 5, is NEVER acceptable). Freddy meanwhile likes to get down and dirty, as evidenced by his raucous personality and life of the party attitude. Man, what would this season be without Freddy???
As for Bolo, all he wanted was peace with Lori. No more infighting. No more anger. No more people saying “I’m better than you are, you’re better than me are.” Don’t worry, me aren’t going to say anything.
Anyway, when the teams eventually plucked their clues off the top of the Town Hall tower, they were sent packing to Senegal. Most everyone got to the airport early on, although Kris and Jon decided to spend the morning sightseeing around Stockholm. Late risers Jon and Victoria approached the Town Hall tower at what they thought was an early time, but reality soon set in as they spied people already atop the structure. “How did they get up there if it doesn’t open ’til 10?” asked Victoria. I don’t know, maybe it’s MAGIC! Amazingly, Jon didn’t let loose a torrent of effeminate anger, but I’m sure that’s because he was pre-occupied with his garrish blue furry hat. In case you missed it, it was like some ill-advised attempt at kitschy pimp chic – which would have been fine if he were Dennis Rodman, but, uh, he’s not.
Eventually though the 10 AM blunder crew got with the program, and while they managed to catch up with the pack, it didn’t prevent Aaron from doing his best Chris Farley impersonation as he berated himself with “I’m so STUPID. STUPID STUPID STUPID!”
All the teams found flights to Senegal easily, and once there, the group poured out of the airport as if a giant fireball were barrelling down behind them. Teams then set out to find the grave of a Senegalese poet, a task which nicely allowed Kendra to come out of the whiny closet by complaining about the stench, the cars, and Africa in general (or “ghetto Africa” as she unwittingly called it). Freddy, watch out! Your fiancÃ© is displaying signs of a personality!
Of course we were introduced to this season’s first Third World taxi hijinx as teams struggled to find a cabbie that a) could speak English; b) would drive them somewhere; and c) didn’t mind being touched. Yes, in the middle of the fray, one cabbie sternly reprimanded someone by saying “Do not touch.” I don’t really know why he said that or what was going on or where he was being touched, but apparently, he didn’t like it. Meanwhile, obnoxious Jon took a grammatical page from Bolo and yelled out to the crowd: “I need somebody to speak me English!” In other news, John continues to be a huge idiot.
Anyway, the inevitable taxi chaos soon led to the inevitable taxi flat tire, with Don and Mary Jean the hapless victims. “If only our WASPy powers could patch holes!” Don lamented. Actually, no, he didn’t say that. Instead, the old coot chalked up the flat to the “fickle finger of fate.” Thanks, GARRISON KEILLOR!
Eventually everyone made it to the graveyard which appeared to be at the intersection of Poverty Lane and Famine Boulevard. Kris and Jon, ever the optimists, expressed their love for the experience while Kendra rolled her eyes and Adam and Rebecca simply said “WE HATE AFRICA!” Don and Mary Jean noted that the level of poverty was astounding, but the colors were so vibrant. Oh great. Yeah there’s despondency and hardship all around, but the color scheme is fantastic! Later, Don commented that despite the circumstances, the kids seemed happy and joyous. We then cut to a child playing with a cow’s tail. Cow tails: the X-Box of Senegal.
After the graveyard, teams headed to a small fishing village for the Detour which was a choice between stacking fish on a table and fishing in the ocean. Gus and Hera charged through the little village, much to a wayward goat’s dismay. I honestly would have loved to have seen Hera trip over the goat. But alas, the animal jumped back at the last second with a studio-assisted bleat. Worst goat EVER.
Jon and Victoria meanwhile crammed into a taxi with a random sidekick they had picked up along the way. It was sort of like the interracial domestic abuse version of a clown car. Speaking of abuse, Bolo and Lori managed to get into a little altercation about money, with the latter throwing up her hands and storming away. I don’t remember what she said because anytime she raises her voice, I just imagine her shouting “Now git!!”
While teams argued and shouted, Don and Mary Jean got down to business with the Detour. Deciding between the fishing or the fish stacking, Mary Jean announced “I’m feeling like the fish.” Um, they’re both fish, Mary Jean. Not to worry though. Don knew what she was talking about as the two jumped into a boat and braved the choppy waters. And by “braved”, I mean “vomitted in.” Yes, poor Don fell victim to seasickness, which resulted in us watching the sad sight of an old man yakking on national television. He wasn’t alone though. Gus and Hera made the same decision to go fishing, and before long, Hera was hurling her guts into the mighty Atlantic Ocean as well.
Luckily, Don’s boot was not all for naught. As Mary Jean was fond of noting, every time Don threw up, more fish would come to the boat (she caught two in one attempt after Don’s first magnificent spew). I couldn’t tell if she was finding levity in the situation or simply passive aggressive-ing her husband.
On dry land, the dating models became the obligatory team to fight with a cabbie. Long story short: driver said trip would cost $30 but then upped his price to $40. Kendra and Freddy refused to pay the updated price, offering up only thirty bucks. The cabbie should be happy, reasoned Kendra, because he made more that day than he would all year long. Well, that was pleasantly insulting, wasn’t it? I didn’t realize Kendra was an expert on the dollar to franc exchange rates in Senegal.
While the dating/models-cum-overlords mandated economic policies, the episode cut back to the continuing adventures of Don and his projectile vomit. Once again, Mary Jean chimed in about how wonderfully his barfing attracted fish. Yes, we get it. Can we just move on? Well, actually no. Turns out that the fishing took longer than the stacking, and so while the elders puked for piscine bounty, all the other teams advanced to the next destination – a rose colored lake and home of the next Road Block. Here a teammate had to scoop salt from the base of the lake and fill up a basket on the shore.
Blossoming idiot Kendra approached the red lake with trepidation. “Is this sanitary?” she asked. Apparently, she wasn’t concerned about worms and parasites, but blood. Seriously. She thought there was blood in the lake. You see, when you harvest salt, it bleeds. It’s quite sad.
Anyway, all the teams sent their female members into the lake, and yes, that included Adam and blue-haired Jon – aka the latter day coming of Ace and Gary. Adam scowled and yelled at Rebecca to “Shut up! Just shut up!!” but they did have a tender Rocky moment as Rebecca wiped the salty water out of her baby’s eyes. I was surprised she didn’t squirt water in his mouth and give him a pat on the butt.
Meanwhile, back on the high seas, Mary Jean had something new to say: “You know, when Don throws up, we get more fish.” Okay, ENOUGH. Good God. Mary Jean LOVES the vomit/fish corollary.
Back at the Salt Olympics 2004, Adam finally finished hauling all the salt and yes, he was beaten by all the girls… and yes, I’m sure he did just lose most of his personal training clients. As he and his “girlfriend” (and by “girlfriend”, I mean he says to Rebecca “Hey girlfriend!”) boarded the ferry to the pit stop, the two broke out in a fight. Adam: You don’t support me. Rebecca: You’re gay. Technically, her words were “I don’t have time to babysit my girlfriend anymore” which was just as good. Curiously, as soon as she said that, a strong breeze blew across the country as America let out a sigh of relief: “She DOES realize.”
Pinned against the wall with an irrefutable argument, Adam had nothing else to do except try the strategy that he had presumably used so often with his parents: suicide threats. “Do you want me to jump out of the boat?” he asked. This was a welcome variation on his “Do you want me to jump in front of the train?” guilt trip from a few episodes ago. I suppose we’ll have plenty of other versions to look forward to like “Do you want me to drive this car off a cliff?” or “Do you want me to jump into this live volcano?” or “Do you want me to have sex with this man? Because I’ll do it. I swear I’ll do it.”
However, despite all of Adam’s attempts to make Rebecca feel guilty, she simply responded to the promise of ferry ejection with “That’d be awesome.” She’s telling the truth. If Adam hurled himself off the vessel, I’d be cackling for weeks.
Unsurprisingly, Kris and Jon made it to the Pit Stop first, and here’s the shock. They were happy! I thought we’d never see them break a smile. Pulling up the rear – as usual – were Gus and Hera and Don and Mary Jean — aka the future shipmates for the Andrea Dora II (based on those Senegal tides, I think it was safe to say that they headed right into the jaws of the monster).
Gus managed to take care of the salt relatively quickly while Mary Jean understandably labored at it. The father and daughter team soon departed, but not before Gus finally peeled off his shirt and showed us that sexy bod he’d been hiding all season. Honestly, he poured into that cab like a gelatanous Buddha.
In the end, it was quite clear that Don and Mary Jean would be coming in last, and as Don watched Mary Jean haul the salt, he devolved into bundle of tears. “I’m so proud of her,” he bawled. I’m surprised that Mary Jean didn’t pipe up with “When Don cries, I can carry more salt. Sort of like when Don vomitted, I could catch more fish. Did I ever tell you about that?”
Alas, the sweet natured team reached the Pit Stop last where a solemn Phil let them think they were eliminated. He paused dramatically in a moment of pure Koegan sadism, and then suddenly broke the WASPy stare-down with his good natured “I’m just barely tolerating you” smile. Yes, it was a non-elimination leg and our plucky old couple was given a new lease on life. We can only hope that their patrician-class appearance won’t hinder them too much as they beg for money amongst the Senegalese…