For those who look at the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars and can’t imagine that these countries will ever turn a corner and become lands of peace, tonight should have given you a hint of optimism. Back in 1975, when the Vietnam war ignominiously ended, I would venture that most Americans never wanted to think of the country again and wished it would vanish from a map along with all of its tortured memories. Fast forward to 2009: it’s the site of an American game show in which contestants compete to push giant animals around. Who would have seen that coming in the ’70s? In 2043, will Amazing Race 83 feature a Roadblock in which one teammate has to dance with a camel in Sadr City? We can all dare to dream.
The second night of this season had the teams sweatily dashing all over Vietnam, but dramatically it was less Hamburger Hill than Veggie Burger Valley: a lot of spitting and crackling, but not all that much flavor. Ultimately, the only team we really got a good revealing glimpse at was Lance and Keri, or as I call them, ”The bastard son of Jon Favreau and Richard Kind, and his wife, the voice of Fran Drescher.” It wasn’t a favorable glimpse, but at least it was interesting.
Gary and Matt (who are trying but failing to fulfill their obligation to be the ”father and son who never connected but just might on the Race”) started off with a little bickering, but after Matt admitted that his dad was right in one situation, that strand pretty much faded out. Frankly, I remain less interested in that than in getting a glimpse of the rest of the tattoo on Matt’s chest: through his V-neck tee we got a glimpse of the number ”400” written in the kind of colorful colors you usually see on a discount birthday card. After the first episode, I never thought I’d ever say, ”I hope there’s a swimming challenge so I can see Matt with his shirt off,” but now I’m dying for one so I can see what other ninth-grade-girl’s-notebook-doodle body ink he’s got under there.
We never found out what the tattoo meant, but we did hear personal stories from two other players. Marcy’s dad, an air force general, was shot down over Vietnam but escaped, which made her emotional. Meanwhile, Big Easy’s dad passed away just two days before the Race began, which is very sad, though I wish the producers didn’t seem so gleefully eager to play it up, making him repeat and restate his loss over and over again. (Although maybe they overdid it this week to make up for not mentioning it last week: ”Oops, did your dad die? I didn’t hear you say that, I was too busy trying to get Zev to act all Aspergers-y. We’ll cover it next time, I promise!”) Later in the show, when the Globetrotters were closing in on the pit stop, and getting psyched for their foot race, there was a really poorly stitched together quote, with Big Time randomly saying, ”My dad just passed away…” and then (in a different volume) saying that this was the reason he would run hard. Are they now going to stuff in the phrase ”My dad just passed away…” before everything he says, to make it sound like it’s his motivation for everything? That will be really awkward the next time he has to go to the bathroom.
NEXT: Lance and his lovely fiancée, Damn It Keri!