The Amazing Race recap: Reading is Fundamental
Ken and Tina overcome their speed bump, while Kelly and Christy continue to misread the clues and seal their fate
Finally! I’ve been waiting all season for a challenge that has all the criteria to make a good Amazing Race episode: It has to be exotic and indigenous to the episode’s country; it must be frustrating; and it must make the most ridiculous teams look really, really silly. Thank you, Delhi, and thank you, Holi festival!
In this festival, people celebrate by running around pelting each other with paint dye and water. It seems odd that they would hit people with the ingredients for paint rather than just splattering them with paint. Seems pretty inefficient: In vaudeville, what if instead of being hit in the face with a pie, the straight man was splattered with flour, water, sugar, eggs, and cream, and then tossed into an oven preheated at 350? But I’m not complaining: This roadblock would not have been half as fun without the giant multicolored mushroom clouds enveloping our players.
This was the rare episode that was actually better than the previous week’s teaser. And I have the divorcées to thank for that. To see Kelly, in second place, darting into the melee, only to be instantly set upon by hordes of paint tossers, was to have Christmas come early. It was as if the celebrants had been alerted to their arrival and told, “Color with extreme prejudice.” Kelly dashed in circles, only to be pooped back out onto the sidelines without going up the ladder she needed to in order to grab an envelope.
The attack on Kelly might have seemed a bit beyond the pale, which is why, before their arrival, the producers stuck in some careful reminders about why she deserved it. First we saw her and Christy snickering about how awful it would be to kiss either Andrew or Dan: Mean Girls 101. And then, as their lost cab driver took them through slums, they turned up their noses at the smell. I’m not saying it didn’t smell, but what better way to legitimize the people attacking her than by first showing her calling their home stinky? If I heard them walking down my block, bitching about how bad my street was and how they couldn’t believe anyone would live there, I would be within my rights to run out and scribble on their faces with a Sharpie. I think it’s in the Constitution.
It would have been enough to see Kelly repeatedly pelted in the face with paint, but the icing on the canvas was that she had completely misread the clue. Each player was supposed to thumb through a ring of hanging envelopes, all but six of which had the words “TRY AGAIN” written in big letters on them; to move on, you had to find the envelope marked “THE AMAZING RACE.” The divorcées thought you had to yank down one envelope at a time, bring it back to your teammate, and then open it up. Even if you’re prone to misinterpreting clues, as the divorcées are, wouldn’t the fact that the envelope had the words “TRY AGAIN” in huge letters be a huge clue that perhaps it was a dead end? I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of anything that the producers could have written on the envelopes that could be more obvious, and I can’t come up with anything. “YOU’RE AN IDIOT”? Nope, still not as clear as “TRY AGAIN.” Anything short of electrifying the wrong envelopes wouldn’t work, and even that might not dissuade them. Lab rats in mazes could have figured this out faster than they did.
NEXT: The divorcées try to catch a cab
Terence finished it much quicker, although with just as much drama. When he grabbed his envelope, he shoved people out of the way like George Costanza pushing his way out of a kids’ birthday party when a smoke alarm goes off. But to be fair, he did have paint in his nose, a fact he would not let a disgusted Sarah forget: “I’m spitting out color. Look!” I’d hate to be Sarah when Terence gets a hemorrhoid.
I enjoyed Dan’s reaction to the roadblock scene, though: “It was like a wild rave party, except there weren’t any hot blond girls, and all we had was a sausagefest of guys with paint.” It’s like Dan learned everything he knew about raves from a 1998 issue of Maxim that someone left in his frat bathroom.
Meanwhile, Ken and Tina brought up the rear. Ken took on the colorful task, and when Tina began screeching obvious orders to him, a group of revelers attacked her with green paint as she called them “Stupid morons!” I’m sure at this moment, Ken briefly wondered if he had magical powers and had willed this to happen. Imagine how much more pleasant life would be for him if every time Tina snapped at him, a complete stranger would magically come up and hit her in the face with paint. It’s like the old Milton Berle “Makeup!” bit, except potentially toxic.
Everyone got the clue, and even the divorcées caught on, although afterward they were convinced cabbies were ignoring them because they were multicolored. As they woefully yelled things like, “I can’t believe no one will stop!…They acted as if we didn’t exist!”, yes, I too was aware that it looked like Bertram van Munster was using them to stage an incredibly ham-handed Soul Man-like morality tale on privileged whites learning what it’s like to be an African-American trying to get a cab in New York City. Of course, that all stopped when they finally did get a cab and began making faces out the window to scare people. You stay classy, divorcées!
Before the next detour, Ken and Tina had to do their penalty speed bump, handing out holy water. Ken somehow missed that it was holy water, and kept making lighthearted jokes. Did he think that he was handing out refreshments to the world’s slowest marathon runners? Was Ken ever an altar boy? Because I’d hate to hear his communion-wafer shtick.
NEXT: A teary-eyed mess
The detour was a choice between following confusing power lines, finding the numbers on the small tags hanging from them, and writing them down or hauling and then manually grinding giant bags of dried chilis. Terence and Sarah were the only ones who opted for the chilis, in what turned out to be such a painfully spicy experience. When they finally finished, Sarah said, “If somebody said to me right now, ‘Put cow manure on your body and it will make you feel better,’ I would lather myself up with it, that’s how much pain I’m feeling.” I think it says a lot about Terence that she would make this claim, and yet still balk at spraying water up his nose.
Nick and Starr and Toni and Dallas teamed up for the power lines, and got it right on the first try. The divorcées, however, failed numerous times, keeping their streak of misunderstanding clues alive. The frat guys made the same mistake of following the wrong numbers, allowing Ken and Tina to pass them both. I know it seems like my loyalties are constantly shifting, but I did enjoy watching Christy try to block Tina’s view when the judge was checking her number, only for her and Kelly to be proven wrong yet again. Hey, on my food chain of disdain, Ken and Tina rank slightly higher than the divorcées, so when forced to choose a side when they face off, I’ll root for the green machine.
(But forget the teams. In this detour, I found myself rooting for the animated judge. If he was handed a wrong number, he tossed it back with utter contempt: Do not come to my country and miscount my power lines! Do I come to your country and mock your nuclear plants? But when a team was right, he’d make a big show of disapproving of their solution, only to suddenly grin and give a thumbs-up. With his scowls and that psych-out, he was like the Indian Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest all rolled into one. If American Idol‘s ratings continue to drop next season, I recommend they sub him in as a money-saving scheme. Who knows: If he catches on, wearing newspapers on your head could be this year’s Rachel ‘do.)
In the end, Nick and Starr landed in first place yet again. It looked like their time was so fast that Phil’s matmate wasn’t prepared; he stood over to the side, watering the lawn (and doing a bad job of it, judging by the giant brown spots), and Phil had to call him over. I later realized this had nothing to do with Nick and Starr’s speed, as he had to be called over for everybody. Erratically showing up late, seeming distracted at all times…hey, he could join power line judge and be the new Paula Abdul!
Ultimately, the frat guys once again finished second to last, surviving by being slightly less incompetent than the losing team. But it was the divorcées’ turn to go home. They bade farewell tearily, calling themselves best friends 4-eva, and giving one last dig to their ex-husbands for good measure. Said Christy, “I would have never had this experience had I still been stuck at home ironing sheets for [my ex].” So with this loss, I wish these bestest of friends the bestest of times, ironing sheets for each other.
What about you? Where did the divorcées rank on your food chain of disdain? Did the Holi festival make your day?