The Amazing Race recap: Wacky Passage to India
Ken and Tina head for a big blowup (not!), while the frat boys (sort of) hit their stride in Delhi.
In this relatively dull season, I will fall for any glimmer of hope that next week’s episode will be a better one. So last week, when The Amazing Race touted that Ken would finally reach his breaking point with Tina, I thought, “Now there’s something I’d like to see!” As a result, I watched every one of their interactions this week with gleeful interest, wondering which of Tina’s pecking comments would be the one that would finally make Ken snap. The episode began with Ken repeating his weekly mantra that this race will show them whether they can continue as a couple and for God’s sake, stop saying that and start fighting! And from that moment on, the producers provided a time-lapsed montage of what it is like to spend a day with Tina: Stop that. Shove over. You don’t know what you’re doing. Move that bag. Being married to Tina is like being married to a cattle prod.
When they entered the travel agency in Delhi at the beginning of the episode, for example, Tina really let him have it, belittling him until she finally commandeered his computer and snipped, “Sit over here and eat or something,” to get him out of her way. It reminded me of Dennis Farina’s line to Philip Baker Hall in Midnight Run, “Eat a sandwich, drink a glass of milk, do some f—ing thing.” And yes, being married to Tina is probably a lot like being married to a Dennis Farina character. She continued to browbeat Ken for the entire episode, and just as I was wondering if I was remembering last week’s coming attraction correctly, Tina pushed Ken too far about moving a bag in a cab and he yelled, “Tina, get in!”
That was it? That was the “breaking point”? That says a lot either about how subservient Ken is or about how hyperbolic the producers are, and I suspect it’s the latter. Look at the other evidence from this week: The logline of the episode in the paper today was something along the lines of “One team’s work on a task is destroyed by a windstorm,” which referred to a few of Dan’s clothes getting blown over in the laundry detour. That was the best drama they could find to sell this episode? Why not go with “Two opposing teammates begin a torrid fling”? Sure, all that happened was Starr and Dallas referred to a mutual attraction, one which manifested itself in one teeny remark at the travel agency. But hell, if Dan’s blown laundry is being sold as an action-packed moment, then Starr and Dallas’ flirtation probably qualifies as a porn movie.
All right, I’m getting ahead of myself yet again. I should have set the scene: Delhi, India. I would have bet that unique locale would be the site of some very exciting challenges, but you wouldn’t have known it from the opening roadblock: spray-painting natural-gas-powered cabs green. Yes, it looked grueling, but it’s hardly worldview-widening or intrinsically Indian. You could have staged this roadblock at a Pep Boys.
This roadblock did reinforce one of the most long-standing Amazing Race rules: The angriest, most mutually destructive couples are the most likely to use the word “babe.” “Babe” is actually a euphemism for “a–hole.” When Sarah was trying to paint the car, Terence hung over her, giving snippy, useless advice that boiled down to “You should do this faster, or we will lose this leg and it will all be your fault.” And it all ended with “babe.” As did her responses, which were a more polite variation on “Shut the f— up.” Babe.
Meanwhile, the frat guys, who started this leg last, managed to hit the roadblock second, but finish first. Finally, they were revealing themselves as the power players that they are! They’ve got brains…well, actually, after Andrew finished painting the car quickly, Dan said he was “da Vinci, Michelangelo, David, all rolled into one.” Okay, David was a Michelangelo sculpture and not an artist, so maybe “brains” is a little strong. But hey, they’ve got wit! Oops, wait: When they just as quickly slipped out of first, unable to find a cab, Dan sulked about the divorcées overtaking them. He said they only got ahead because they were “semi-attractive,” and Andrew chuckled like Beavis. Okay, so no wit. But they do have…uh, what do they have? Well, uh, that Andrew sure knows how to rock a bandanna like a 1973 roadie who has just fallen off the stage, right, ladies?
NEXT: Ironing out the kinks
While the roadblock was lame, I have to give credit to the detour for creativity and local flavor. Most teams went for Launder Clothes, in which they had to press 20 articles of clothing with a charcoal-heated iron. Dallas aced the task; his mother said he was a “pro ironer,” which is a sign of a mother who can find nothing wrong with her son. (And oh, you should see the way he peels an orange. If it were an Olympic event, he’d be the Michael Phelps of fruit!) The frat guys, on the other hand, were hopeless. Neither could iron; Dan harrumphed that he’d never done it in his life: “There’s never any ironing going on in the frat house.” I have a feeling that not much at all goes on in that frat house, which should leave plenty of time for ironing.
The divorcées were determined to overtake Nick and Starr, but weren’t successful. (They were even successful in creating an international incident with their short shorts, as Nick had predicted/warned.) It seems like nobody can stop Nick and Starr, who finished first this leg. Their great skill at the race seemed to even flabbergast Phil, who, after bequeathing them their prize of electric cars, got confused and rambled, “You’re in India, the wind is blowing, it’s hot, you’re team number one.” I know they don’t give Phil much to do, but is he now getting so bored that he’s just pointing out random observations? He’s going to turn into the Larry King of mats: “Why does this woman have a flaming pot on her head?…My shoes are too tight…I could go for a burrito right now, but no sour cream for this guy…You’re team number three!”
The other half of the detour, Launder Money, was pure chaos. But perhaps that’s because of the two teams who went for it: Ken-Tina and Terence-Sarah. First, they had to come up with ten bills that added up to 780 rupees, which necessitated getting correct change in the middle of the night. Both were finally able to do it, although Sarah’s savior requested a surcharge: “Kiss?” Even though she quickly turned him down, I’m sure that Terence could very easily not only find a way to blame Sarah for it, but to sulk about it all the way to the pit stop: “You’re here to kiss me, not to have other people want to kiss you.”
After getting the money, they had to pin it to a necklace, then fight their way through a packed wedding celebration to hang it around the neck of a groom. That reception seemed less like a wedding and more like a mosh pit. All I could think when I watched it was “These people do a terrible Electric Slide.”
Ultimately, the frat guys ended up in fifth place, where I assume Dan said, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” because that’s what he always does. (As opposed to his pre-task go-to battle cry: “Let’s do this!” Is he a brother in Alpha Beta Cliché-da?) Ken and Tina came in last, but were saved by a non-elimination leg. And we ended as we began, with Ken talking about how this was bigger than a race for him, it was a quest to save his marriage…and then he started to cry. It was a touching moment, and almost made me forgive him for not delivering on the freakout I’d been promised.
Then came the coming attractions for next week, with scenes of Kelly and Tina both having fits over apparently having paint balls shot in their face. Hey, that’s gotta be good, right? Oh, God, I’m falling for it again…