The challenges on last night’s episode of The Amazing Race were very much of the slapstick variety when you think about it. Assembling a precarious pyramid of watermelons, stringing harps and balancing a glass bottle on one’s head while dancing all seem like gags taken from an episode of I Love Lucy.
With a million dollars on the line, it’s easy to understand why competitors approach each task with great seriousness, but when you’re sitting at home watching a grown adult twirl around with a water bottle atop his or her head — their eyes burning with the intensity of a neurosurgeon — you have to smirk a little at the incredible hoops Phil & the producers put these people through.
The episode started off with Rachel and Dave — first place winners for the first two episodes — headed to the airport in the middle of the night to catch an early flight to Paraguay. Even though the next plane didn’t leave until 8:45 am, it was nearly full, so all they could do was get on the standby list.
Although all the teams had caught up to Team Army Strong by the time the first plane took off, only three other pairs — Team Border Patrol, Team Kentucky and Team Fed — managed to finagle seats on that plane. The federal agents, incidentally, are still pretending to be school teachers because they think that deception gives them an edge. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were eliminated before they even get the chance to reveal their actual careers.
The other five teams caught a later flight but shockingly one of them actually ended up finishing second. But more on that later. Once in Paraguay, the teams found clue cards in a playground littered with barbecue grills (children and fire — a winning combination!).
As per the Race cards, each team had to choose between Stacked Up and Strung Out. The former involved stacking watermelons in a 10-by-10 pyramid at a fruit market, and the latter required competitors to string a harp in a conservatory, because apparently the harp is the national instrument of Paraguay (I’ll keep that tidbit stored away for bar trivia).
Initially every team except for Team Twins chose Stacked Up, and let’s just say not all people are created equal when it comes to making melon pyramids. The melon-stacking task proved disastrous for several of the romantic couples, including Rachel and Dave, Rachel and Brendon and the dating divorcees, Ralph and Vanessa. All of them ended up bickering as only those in love can. Things got real for a second when Rachel and Dave talked about how they’re not actually used to spending this much time together due to his military deployment. That was an unexpectedly honest moment amid a sea of tumbling watermelons.
Art and J.J. miraculously aced their challenge in no time flat. Apparently border patrol training makes for some seriously skilled melon stackers. Although I’m impressed with the way they work together as a team and support each other, I’m finding myself irritated every time they open their mouths.
They likened their border patrol jobs to Dave’s wartime army service (“we both protect America”) and they talked about “catch[ing] the bad guys and the dopers and the aliens.” Heck, one of the guys even conflated his success as an Amazing Race contestant to Michael Jordan’s dominance. It was all just a bit off-putting.
NEXT: Bopper sings Cash and Art’s fat head