So let’s just get it out of the way, shall we? There has always been something vaguely off-kilter about Team Dad and Lad’s Laurence hasn’t there? Couldn’t you feel it lurking in the subtext? Well tonight was his ego’s night to shine. Even after one blowhard mistake after another, he still managed to make Phil’s ribbing about how wrong he was a chance to say, “But see how right I was?” Ugh. Laurence was the ugliest of a night full of ugliness, with the next instance being Team OCD (Ernie and Cindy) at the cab depot… more on that later. Striking the universal balance were the ever cheerful (read: oblivious) Team Ma & Pa (Bill and Cathi) and the surprisingly sunny Team Twins, who have aged like fine wine over the course of these five legs, save for maybe the confession that “Marie hates fish.” Not to eat, just… in life. Who hates fish?
So we returned to Koh Panyi for the beginning of the fifth leg. The teams were instructed to use “local transportation” to reach their next Road Block. By “local transportation,” I mean elephants! So cool. As the teams made their way to the Road Block, Laurence made it very clear things would be his way or the highway from here on out because Zac is but a young boy who knows nothing of the world. Take note, folks. Take note… At any rate, the teams got to the location, a waterfall where they would have to retrieve a clue from a murky pond while a traditional Thai flautist played “Footloose” or “Fireball” or whatever the kids are jamming to these days. It was easy work for everyone involved. Of course Cathi fell down a few times. She’s the Deena Nicole Cortese of TAR 19, and who doesn’t love a bit of physical comedy now and then? In last place were the Twins, who had to wash all the teams’ elephants before retrieving their clue. To their credit, they had the most fun ever as they frolicked with the elephants. It could scarcely be put in words how excited they were to complete this Speed Bump, but it could be expressed in a series of shrieks accessible only to dogs’ ears. Hey! If you’re going to be held up, that‘s the attitude to have.
The next challenge, led by Team Olympians (Andy and Tommy) was to disassemble a spirit house (Thai shrine) and carry it to a local temple. The supposed surprise was that they’d have to reassemble it at the next location, but at least one member of every team cottoned on to this fact with the notable exception of Dad (despite Lad’s pleading) and Team OCD’s Ernie. The only true catch in this Road Block was that the person who completed the waterfall challenge had to sit out the next task, which effectively scuttled any reliance on teamwork. A weird interlude sprang from the completely new fact that the Olympians are devoted Christians. Perhaps of their own accord (or, more likely, prodded by the producers), they made some comments at the temple about how they knew there is only “one true God.” At the least, their comments seemed unnecessary; at worst, disrespectful. Discuss…