All is fair in 'The Amazing Race,' and the stranger pairs are finding there's plenty of room for war.
Hasn’t anyone ever told the Blind Daters you catch more bees with honey than vinegar? The honeymoon phase of being strangers racing for a million dollars is finally over, and I am digging the psychological drama. It’s amazing that TAR packed this much drama and what really felt like stakes into a leg that was over pretty much before it started. Since the New Kids came in last on a non-elimination leg last week, not only did they have to complete a Speed Bump, but arrived in Bangkok at least an hour after the other teams because of the large delay in departure as the last place team. Has there seemed to be a particularly large discrepancy between departure times this season?
**Side Note** I stood behind Jonathan Knight in a Dunkin Donuts this week and I was too undercaffeinated and he was too deep in conversation with someone for me to interrupt and be all, “I pour over the details of your every move each week,” but rest assured, if I ever happen upon Phil in his natural habitat, I shan’t make the same mistake again. **End Side Note**
Each week, whether it’s peace or drama, I find myself especially interested in where the Blind Date couples stand each week. They’re like the new kids in school—there’s a strangeness to them (and between them) that makes their next moves totally unpredictable. Compared to say, cutest couple, Harley and Jonathan, who you know are going to support each other and push together until the bitter in, there’s Jenny and Jelani, who might be deftly working out the details of a misleading clue in the backseat or explaining to each other exactly where their partner can shove their Type-A attitude at any given time.
This week, at least for two of the teams, that unpredictable newness peeled back a fresh layer to reveal how the basic strangers operate under the extreme duress of not being able to stand each other. Okay, Blair and Hayley have basically been at a raw behavioral level of complaining to and about each other since the moment they met… I take that back again: Hayley has. Because they’re so incredibly mismatched, it’s always been confusing as to exactly who was causing the problem on Team Medical, and the trauma nurse and navy surgeon prompted a particularly divisive debate—shy or stuck up; nag or strong-willed—in the comments last week. But this week, I chose my side: Blair might not listen well, but Hayley is a torturous team player. It’s clear from the moment they set foot in the taxi for this leg and she starts telling him how he could have negotiated for the tuk tuk better and he asks for directions wrong, that she’s going to blame him for everything that goes wrong.
It might not have started that way, but it’s likely how it will end for them. And I’m dying for them to stay on the show to see to just how many new levels this relationship will evolve over 10 more weeks of mutual distrust.
This week, the nine remaining teams fly from Phuket to bustling Bangkok to race their way through the most hectic of Thai cities. All of the teams except the New Kids arrive on the same flight to race to the first clue at Wat Yannawa, where Jelani and Jenny enter into their first nothing-passive-about-it argument about him wasting time trying to keep a taxi that Jeff had already claimed. They were doing so well together, I don’t know what happened, but I think, basically, Jenny finally unleashed beast-lawyer mode. Bring it on.
The clue points to the Detour: Water vs. Wheel. The teams have to choose between Bangkok modes of transportation—either a tuk tuk or a longtail water taxi—to travel through the city to their next clue, making two stops along the way of each route. The first five teams all basically choose Water because those boats look hella fun, leaving Team Medical, the Lawyers, and all of their communication problems to squeeze themselves into tuk tuks, as well as Jeff and Jackie, and the New Kids when they eventually arrive. The Water teams, though they have the more pleasant riding experience, certainly get the least pleasant task: Thousand-Year-Old Egg. Oh boy…I’ve never had this Thai delicacy, but I couldn’t believe the teams weren’t more disgusted at scarfing down the jet black egg that had been acquiring its color for the last thousand years. But the only team who had and real trouble were the Hairdressers who stormed around the market like two bulls in a, well, egg shop, eating any random boiled egg they could fine. I know Matt is reminiscent of Mr. Wrestler from last season, but we can be sure they’re unrelated from the fact that Matt never once mentioned the benefits of the protein from his extra average-aged egg.
NEXT: Snooker, and cats, and screwdrivers, oh my!
The First stop on the Wheel route is the Snooker Club, where teams must sink a billiard ball in the popular game of Snooker. There’s not much to this except to keep trying until you get it. The look on both Blair and Hayley’s face when she says with a smile, “When I get angry, I actually perfume better,” is pretty priceless, but according to the last two weeks, that’s also pretty true. Next up for Wheel is the Caturday Café, where teams feed cats with the milk they received as their last clue. I know this seems simple, but you would have found me acting in a similar manner to Jenny: keeping my fearfully respectful distance.
The last stop for the Water tour is a Traditional Thai Prayer, where teams take part in—you guessed it—a traditional Thai prayer. After their run in with the blackened egg, it’s nice that these teams get to experience what looked to be a beautiful and peaceful piece of Thai culture. The prayer ended in shaking a stick out of a cup to receive a “random” fortune that all seemed to align suspiciously well will with each team’s journey in the race so far. Kurt and Bergen’s: “Not likely to find a good mate at this stage,” and “Discovering a mate that could become a satisfactory match—no lucks? Should be careful.” I’m not totally clear on the phrasing of that last one, but I do know that the editors take some particularly pleasure in pointing out that Bergen and Kurt never stood a romantic chance with each other.
As all of the other teams head toward the Road Block with the Lawyers and their arguing trailing the pack, the New Kids have just made it to their Speed Bump where they must assemble a traditional Thai Grasshopper made out of river reeds. In Who’s Feeling Clutch, one member of each team must disassemble an old, greasy car engine’s transmission to remove a screwdriver “accidently left behind by a rookie mechanic. Team Truck Stop keeps it pretty low-key, but there is something so endearing about them: I was grinning from ear to ear as Rochelle stormed into the Road Block with Jeff and Jelani both struggling to use the power tool necessary to remove the transmission’s bolts, said, “I don’t even know what a transmission is,” and proceed to absolutely smoking them in muscling out the part in about 10 seconds.
Inside the screwdriver is a clue that reads, “Magic Castle,” indicating for the teams to head to the Road Block at Loha Prasat but figuring that out with taxi drivers and Thai locals is what ultimately decides the winner’s order:
1: The Blond Boys—they were smack in the middle for the entire leg, so I was just as pleasantly surprised to see them and their platonic bond come in first as they were. Not to mention, their narration of the dancing Thai Pit Stop man: “Yes, get it. Into it, yeeees.” and “Well, that’s a mystery waiting to happen.”
2: Team Medical, continuing to do better the further they devolve into mutual disgust.
3: The Olympians, becoming strong contenders to pull out an under-the-radar win (as under the radar as two Olympians can be).
4: Team Attractive—the number of times Laura called Tyler attractive this leg? Only one, and it seems to have affected their lead.
5: Jeff and Jackie—I’m glad these two are getting along so well, and they’re probably the only chance CBS has at actually making a couple out of this pretend love experiment…but is anyone else getting a little bit of a ticking time bomb vibe from their editing?
6: Team Truck Stop, who even Phil heard “crushed it” at the Road Block.
7: The Lawyers spent pretty much an entire leg being furious with each other, and Jenny earned them more enemies than just each other when she told Jelani they had to ditch seeking out the Metal Castle on foot with the Hairdressers in favor of a cab.
8: The Hairdressers—the Lawyers ditched them for a cab, yes, but these two really have no one to blame but themselves for losing their substantial lead wandering around looking for the Metal Castle… they’re going to have to work on their deductive reasoning skills if they ever want to make it to the front of the pack.
ELIMINATED: After making it through an allergy attack at the Caturday Café and facing two legs almost entirely by themselves, the New Kids finished with smiles on their faces and a really touching display of emotion and love for each other.
How amazing did that season preview look? I’m not thrilled about waiting three weeks for the next TAR installment, but if it means I’m waiting for Mike chasing a zebra, Hayley screaming after Blair on a bicycle, and the Hairdressers helplessly watching a potatoes plummet to the ground in front of them, it’s worth it. How is this uniquely odd Blind Date season shaping up for you so far?