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''The Amazing Race'': A real suspenseful ending

In Australia, the ”Amazing Race” teams start to turn on one another, leading to a genuinely exciting finish

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The Amazing Race 9: Robert Voets

The Amazing Race

type:
TV Show
genre:
Reality TV
run date:
03/08/01
performer:
Phil Keoghan
Producer:
Jerry Bruckheimer
broadcaster:
CBS
seasons:
29
Current Status:
In Season

”The Amazing Race”: A real suspenseful ending

Trickery, deceit, exaggerated danger, a lack of underwear, and an ending that was legitimately suspenseful and not just an editing trick: This episode of The Amazing Race had it all.

Where to start? How about with an apology to Mojo, to whom I’ve given a fair amount of crap over the last few weeks for their obsession with their ”bad luck.” It’s skill, you maroons, I’ve said. Or rather, lack of skill. But after this week, I’m beginning to wonder if they actually are cursed. And what a curse it is: to always come close to victory but never reach it. It’s worse than always coming in last: At least once an episode they are allowed to smell triumph, only to have it yanked away at the last minute. Remember in high school, when you had a crush on a boy/girl, and one of his or her friends told you that you had a shot, and then one day, just as you were screwing up the courage to ask your true love out, you rounded a corner and saw him/her making out with someone else against a locker? To Mojo, every week, the mat is that locker.

At first it looked like they might finally be charmed: When the fratters canceled the hippies’ and Ray’s cabs, karma gave Eric and Jeremy a nature wedgie by losing their cab, too, leaving Mojo as the only ones with a ride. But this backfired on them when everyone arrived at the airport in time for the same flight and blamed them and not the fratters for the cab high jinks. Poor, unjustly persecuted Mojo, who always try to do the right thing. They are so much like Jesus it’s eerie! (It’s a little-known fact that Mary Magdalene and Jesus wore matching T-shirts that said ”MaJe.” Check your New Testaments, people!)

They were also battling forces that wanted to tear their true love asunder. First came a lascivious Perthian, who, when Monica asked for a cheap place to stay, offered his own. This encounter did momentarily inspire her to flex her sexual muscles to get ahead. When the airport ticket agent hinted for a bribe, she offered him a kiss, but he shot her a look of utter indifference. So for those of you trying to quantify Monica’s sexuality, it is of roughly equal value to a night spent on a drunk Australian’s dirty futon but worth far less than the cost of an airline ticket. Stay tuned in future episodes when we find out how her desirability compares in value with a donkey ride in Irkutsk and a second helping of beets in Kazakhstan.

But no man or travel agent could break up Mojo, although the hippies tried, dropping hints that Monica and Eric were flirting. (Jeremy, on the other hand, later pitched characteristically subtle woo at Yolanda, telling her, ”If you weren’t with Ray, you’d be in trouble right now.” Actually, I think Ray would be the one in trouble.) The random, clearly-taken-out-of-context shots of Joseph looking hurt and angry about the hippies’ innuendo were meant to indicate that the rumors infuriated him, but they fooled no viewers. Ironically, these snippets of video were likely taken during a separate moment when Joseph was fantasizing about strangling Monica after she burst into tears yet again. But aren’t true love and piercing hatred just two sides of the same coin?

What’s that? They aren’t? Never mind, then.

Speaking of video tricks, how about that perilous walk through a crocodile farm in the roadblock? Was there a single crocodile in the standing water the teams walked through? We saw snapping crocs, and we saw racers, but we never saw them both in the same shot. I take that back: a tiny one crawled next to Ray and Yolanda, but I think that was really a shaved dachshund with some scales taped to its skin.

After this, it was a dash to an airfield for skydiving, and once again Mojo came in a little too late. They just missed having yield power but succeeded in getting yielded by the hippies. I couldn’t tell how the hippies, who trailed their car, beat them, and neither could Monica, which led her to weep and complain for the entire ”predetermined amount of time” that they got yielded for. Their wait for the hourglass was like a time-lapse documentary of a bickering couple; it was a string of ”Would you just be quiet”/”I can talk if I want to talk”/”You need to act a little more grown-up” stitched together. I think if you looked in the background throughout this montage, you could see a flower grow to its full height.

I get the feeling the producers don’t like Mojo, as they are doing their best to cram in every moment that captures them at their worst. I wonder if the two-hour season finale will be 90 minutes of race, and 30 minutes of stills featuring Monica with food caught in her teeth and Joseph picking his nose.

Having been yielded, I thought Mojo were doomed to come in last, but the Gods of False Hope had other plans for them. When the hippies and fratters got bogged down opting to swim rather than learn the didgeridoo, Mojo miraculously pulled even with them. It’s interesting to watch the hippies and fratters both struggle and succeed at the same rate. They are so similar, and yet so different. For example, in the termite mounds, BJ warned, ”Termites will eat all the wood in your body,” and Tyler replied with a joke about having a peg leg. The frat guys would be appalled to hear that someone was fed a ”wood” straight line and did not make an erection reference. Even if there was no Amazing Race, a frat guy would travel all the way across the globe just to be served up a ”wood” straight line that easily. I’ll bet Eric would build his own rocket ship if he heard that someone on the moon had left himself open to a ”That’s what she said!”

Ray and Yolanda finished way ahead of these three neck-and-neck teams, and Ray got more excited about winning a year’s lease on a Mercedes than he had about anything during the entire trip up to now. ”That’s part of his appeal,” said Phil, who has clearly found a kindred automaton in Ray. I wouldn’t be surprised if those two ride off into the sunset, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Yolanda pays for their horses just to get her cold fish of a boyfriend away from her.

And then came the suspenseful finale, as the convoy approached the pit stop, fratters in front, then hippies, then Mojo. It was a footrace to the end, with Monica dragging in last place, about to lose it for her team, but then — bam! — BJ slipped and fell, allowing Mojo to just barely beat him. I wondered how this victory could be perverted for Mojo. But of course! It was a nonelimination round! After only three seconds of savoring the hippies’ elimination, they learned their enemies had been given a reprieve, and Mojo will be spending the next leg of the race with a constant taste of bile bubbling in the back of their throats.

As for the hippies, the first time they had to give up their belongings, it clearly wasn’t a problem, as evidenced by the fact that BJ was wearing a giant top hat at one point during this leg. When the phrase ”just the clothes on your back” includes a top hat, you really haven’t made much of a sacrifice. But next episode may mark the first time this punishment has ever meant something. BJ has no shoes and is down to his underwear, and Tyler — as we learned — doesn’t wear underwear to begin with. (And every bad thought I had about how Tyler’s pants must smell? I can now multiply them by 100.) So now they literally have one outfit between them, and all the TTOW in the world won’t keep them warm. It seems like nothing could be worse…and yet I’m sure Mojo will find something.

What do you think? Do you like it or hate it when the teams pull tricks on one another? Is there too much footage of couples bickering? And are you rooting for anybody at this point or kind of hoping they all lose?