The teams roam around a Kazakhstan town in search of milk while dressed in cow costumes, after they searched for golden eggs or ate the local cuisine

By Josh Wolk
Updated November 17, 2008 at 05:54 AM EST
Monty Brinton/CBS

The Amazing Race

S13 E8
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Survivor: Gabon‘s dull season suddenly turned around with last week’s merge, and I’d hoped the same for this season’s Amazing Race. Maybe last week’s great paint assault heralded a more exciting race! And then BAM! — Kazakhstan. So much fodder for Borat, so little fun for Amazing Race fans. Turns out last week’s episode wasn’t the miraculous resurrection of a dying man, it was just a gas bubble popping out of a settling corpse.

The entire first segment was devoted to airport finagling that ended up with everyone bottled up at the gate of the chicken factory. Every time that happens on this show, it renders everything that happened before it moot and instantly anticlimactic: It would be as if, on election night, after two years of campaigns, Brian Williams announced, “And now, we’ve just been told, all votes are moot, and the new president will be decided by coin toss.” The only interesting thing to come out of this first part of the show was the long-awaited question to the answer, “Why don’t you ever see any Indian-Kazkh long-distance relationships?” Turns out the only way to get from Delhi to Almaty, Kazakhstan, is to go really out of your way by switching planes in Moscow, Frankfurt, or Dubai. And there beginneth and endeth the fun facts. My mother in law, who is a seasoned, adventurous traveler, can’t bear to watch The Amazing Race: She always says, “It’s just people arguing in airports.” It would be hard to build a rebuttal based on this episode.

When the chicken factory finally opened, it was for a roadblock in which one teammate had to don a Wonkavision suit and look for a golden egg among 30,000 chickens. But wait — a fast forward! One which both Nick-Starr and Sarah-Terence went for. Terence seemed rather beaten down this leg, as evidenced by the fact that he couldn’t motivate himself to sculpt his usual fauxhawk. Plus, his shirt was emblazoned with the word “LOVEMORE.” What? Did he no longer have the get-up-and-go to vocally plead with Sarah for affection, so he just sighed, scribbled it on his shirt as a standing order, and slumped down in the back of a cab? Although, putting your most persistent gripe on a T-shirt could be a very efficient move for many players. Imagine how much energy Tina would save if instead of constantly snapping at Ken, she just wore a shirt with a decal that read, “SHUT UP. YOU’RE WRONG”?

There was something delightful about having Terence shut Sarah down when she questioned trying for the fast forward (“Babe, I don’t think this is a good idea.” “I do.”), and then it ending up his fault that they failed. The task was to eat a nasty bowl of soup made of sheep butt that looked like the winning dish on Top Chef: Bulimia. Unfortunately, Terence was a vegetarian and could only stare at the dish mournfully, as if it had not emotionally supported him. “Be tough, Babe. No one’s tougher than we are,” said Sarah, which is odd, because the list of people tougher than Terence include, but are not limited to, infants, Dungeons and Dragons addicts, and boys in bubbles.

Finally, after much gagging, he and Sarah bailed and returned to the chicken factory, leaving Nick and Starr to win the fast forward and go straight to the mat. (“Come on, we’re the Spanglers!” urged Starr during the task, though that sounded less like a rallying cry and more like the warning you’d hear when agents from the Federal Bureau of Sequins pound on your front door looking to take your old jeans in for BeDazzling.) By the time Terence and Sarah arrived, the other teams had already finished the challenge and had hopped into giant cranes. This is where Dan and Andrew started to fall apart…yet again. It is getting hard to watch these two in action, because they are so joyless in their racing and so bad at it. Their humorless intensity doesn’t even manifest itself as skill. And they can’t even flame out correctly. They just keep failing at a C-minus rate, so they never quite flunk out. If they were juvenile delinquents, they’d be carrying switchblade sporks: technically a threat, but not enough of one to actually get them in trouble.

NEXT: Make an ass out of u and me

They thought their crane was lost, although once again, it looked like they were doing fine and needlessly panicking. Dan began shouting angrily out the crane window to get directions, but locals looked at him (correctly) like he was just a crazed, angry American and (appropriately) ignored him. “These are horrible people!” Dan shouted. When they finally left the cab to find the Mongol warrior who had their next clue, the two fast friends broke into one of the dullest arguments ever, something about who was the better team player: Andrew, for wanting Dan to slow down and wait for him, or Dan, for trying to push Andrew to walk faster. It’s an interesting age-old dilemma. I call it, Which came first: The For God’s Sake Will You Nerds Shut Up, or the Seriously, Shut Up, You Nerds!

All teams picked the same side of the detour, which involved donning a two-person cow suit and walking through the town square to find and drink a glass of milk. Frankly, there’s something creepy about seeing a cow drink milk: it feels like “Two Girls, One Udder.” Tina and Ken, who seemed to be in fine spirits in this leg (oh how they laughed about Ken’s “Don’t count your chickens…” joke at the chicken factory!), began jocularly, with Ken quipping, “Guess which end I am!” as they got suited up. That’s right, Ken, just keep making sure the joke’s on you and everything will be fine. In fact, best to keep a banana peel in your pocket at all times. The next time Tina starts to snarl at you just toss it on the ground, step on it, fall and give yourself a near-concussion and hope that cheers her up. It’ll hurt less in the long run.

Toni and Dallas seemed to have fun in the cow suit. “Be a good ass!” Dallas hollered as he shunted his mom to the rear end. I do like their relationship, and not just because he can call his mom an ass without worry of being sent to his pit stop without any summer. They both seem to really enjoy each other’s company. Dallas practically skipped down the street, calling out “Moo! Moo!,” which was in stark contrast to the frat guys, who did the task with all the whimsy of Pat Buchanan in a clown suit. When they first put it on, Dan tried to get in front, telling Andrew, “Bigger guys usually go in the back. Just for weight distribution, there’s probably physics behind it.” Yes, the man who first invented the cow costume did so only after constructing a very elaborate logarithm. His mathematical brilliance was rivaled only by that great Renaissance inventor, Sir Jonathan Fakevomit.

Though Ken and Tina somewhat botched the task (Tina didn’t see the clue on the bottom of her milk glass, and then they erroneously changed out of their cow suit), the frat guys proved that with the divorcées gone, they are now the reigning kings of mess-ups. Not only does every cab driver hailed by them magically forget every single road in his home city as soon as Dan enters the vehicle, but they misread the clue, taking a cab to the pit stop instead of walking. (There were also a lot of foreboding slow-mo shots highlighting the fact that they left their shoes at the puppet theater: Will they never be allowed footwear for the rest of the race? I don’t know for certain, but Dan seems like the kind of guy who is pretty particular about washing his feet. Just going out on a limb there.)

But yet again, Dan and Andrew proved that no matter how badly they can run a leg, there will always be someone who runs it ever so slightly worse. Sarah and Terence were never able to recover from their fast-forward bailout, and they were eliminated. Even after eight episodes of Terence’s needy whining, they still seemed in love upon their adventure’s end. But maybe that’s just the healing power of sheep-ass soup talking.< What did you think? Was this episode a letdown? Will you miss Sarah and Terence?

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The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.
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