We’ve seen challenges go bad for people on The Amazing Race before: the ”needle in a haystack” challenge from a few seasons back comes to mind, when a woman from a sister/sister team was fruitlessly searching through a hayfield for a clue for so long that Phil finally had to come to them to enact the elimination rites. And yet — for all I can remember, anyway — I’ve never seen one go wrong in a way that was as painful to watch as Jen’s aquaphobic breakdown. A terrible swimmer, she was so crushed by this task that I felt like Michael Phelps himself owed her an apology just for inspiring the Detour.
When the episode started, it looked like it was going to be more of the same from last week: endless references to last week’s mat meltdown between Margie/Luke and Kisha/Jen. (And nothing was said about the fact that the pit stop rest period must have been longer than the usual 12 hours, considering that the teams arrived in sunlight, and left in sunlight.) We got many, many shots of Luke (through Margie) saying things like, ”I’m gonna make it to the final three…and kick their ass.” At one point he said, ”If I have to go to the final three with them, game on!” First things first: Hearing the squibillionth Amazing Race contestant say ”Game on!” gives me as bad a taste in my mouth as if I had eaten a pound of Kynt and Vyxsin’s body glitter. But more importantly, my mind reeled at Luke’s comment: Was he implying that the game isn’t on now? So what was his bodychecking Jen to try to keep her from opening a clue, an exhibition match? I’d hate to see what he does when the game is on, but I fear it involves a lead pipe and a kneecap.
At the airport, where everyone dashed to fly to Beijing, Jen and Kisha ended up in line right behind Margie and Luke. Awk-ward! (But just to clarify: THE GAME WAS NOT ON.) There were two attendants behind the counter, but the spare one would not acknowledge Jen and Kisha’s presence. And then came a moment that puts me in a weird spot: Talking about how they were just receiving a ”dumb” look from the attendant, Kisha said, ”They should be able to say, ‘Me no speak English’ or something, but they just give you this look. Like zombies.” I know, I took the mini stunt brothers to task for the same kind of ”Don’t Asians talk funny when they’re trying to speak our language in their country?” mockery when they were pulling the rickshaw around in Thailand. And yet after the sisters’ pool meltdown, I can no longer bring myself to hold a grudge. Had mini Mark burst into tears about his deep fear of rickshaws, instead of just hiding all the pumps, perhaps I would have forgiven him, too.
The teams all ended up on the same flight, and a tense moment went down when all four teams gathered at the gate. The tension between the archenemy teams was palpable, and it looked like Luke was having no part of the communal conversation, sitting with his arms crossed, squinting off into the distance with a sulky expression. He looked bitter…although, to be fair, he could have been looking away and ignoring the conversation because he’s deaf and couldn’t hear the conversation. You be the judge: Bitter, deaf, or both? Considering that when they arrived in Beijing and dashed for cabs, he bodychecked Kisha with his backpack, I think we can safely go with ”both.”
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