The Amazing Race recap: 'This Is Gonna Be a Fine Mess (Phuket)'
Wind was the teams' most formidable opponent, and it was Team Twins' lucky day during this non-elimination round
Alas, only a few teams actually how to say that pronunciation-plagued city during a near-expletive-filled race to Thailand. Astoundingly, there were very few expletives as the teams struggled mightily to set up beach chairs. I’ll repeat that: “The teams struggled mightily to set up beach chairs.” Who ever thought setting up beach decor would be so difficult? And what about those Olympians (Tommy and Andy)? They are killing it. That’s not to say they didn’t let their goofball flags fly tonight, but they also nabbed their third first-place Pit Stop arrival in a row (and this one wasn’t compromised by a screw-up from Team Dad and Lad, a.k.a. Laurence and Zac). Given how quickly things can change in the Race, it seems kind of incredible that the Olympians would whoosh through the rest of the challenges and score a well-deserved win. Still, if it is their destiny to suffer elimination, I have to say I’ll be very sad to see them go. They’ve proven formidable, charitable (both with teams and locals), and good-spirited throughout.
As this leg of the Race resumed in Indonesia, a clue pointed the Racers toward Phuket, Thailand. With a good distance between themselves and the rest of the pack, the Olympians and Dad and Lad opted for the risky maneuver of boarding a flight to Jakarta in hopes they’d be able to find a faster flight to Phuket once there. Some hours later, the rest of the teams found connecting flights that would arrive in Thailand around 7 p.m. Once in Indonesia, the frontrunners learned that all the direct flights to Phuket were full, so they’d have to connect through Bangkok. Frontrunners no more, they were tied for dead last, albeit only 40 minutes behind the other teams. The taxi stand lady who delivered this news to them seemed to take particular relish as she laaaaaughed and laughed and laughed that “four cars” had left the airport before them. With that touch of devilish moxy, she became my new personal hero.
When new frontrunners Team Divorcee (Jeremy and Sandy) arrived at the next destination, they learned that their small advantage was utterly meaningless since the park wasn’t open until 8 a.m. the next morning. One by one, all the teams joined them, and the cluster was reinstated. Morning broke and the teams raced by speedboat to their next Detour. They had the choice between Coral Reconstruction (assembling and planting an underwater coral nursery) or Beach Preparation (setting up beach chairs and umbrellas). Any normal person would think the latter option would be laughably easier. Any normal person would be wrong.
NEXT: The phrase “Gone With the Wind” takes on new meaning
Teams NFL (Amani and Marcus), Olympian, Divorcee, Sibling Rivalry (Justin and Jennifer), and Farmhand (Bill and Cathi) set off to take on the more eco-friendly challenge, while the Twins (Liz and Marie), OCD (Ernie and Cindy), and Dad and Lad headed beautify the beach. The early challenges for the coral challenge were mostly logistical as many of the teams’ nurseries (which consisted of PVC pipe banged together Ikea-style) fell apart time and again. The Olympians took an early lead and were not slowed by the next challenge that plagued all the rest of the teams — wind. Using their surfing experience as a boon, they made quick work of anchoring their nursery and planting the coral. Despite their early squabbling, Team Sibling Rivalry was close behind the Olympians. They must be the kind of people who are strengthened by conflict… or perhaps there is a glorious fall to come.
All in all, the wind provided the biggest challenge on both sides of the task. For the coral planters, it built up a strong current that made inexperienced swimmers struggle in the choppy waters. At one point Marcus doubled over on the beach and declared he’d “never been so tired and whipped ever.” This coming from an NFL player. Should we reconsider professional sports players’ salaries, or was this really that hard? Defeated by the wind, Teams NFL, Divorcee, and Farmhand were all “Screw you, sustainable living!” and abandoned the challenge to try their hand at Beach Preparation.
Alas, as the Twins (who assumed their lifeguard experience would benefit them) found out early and often, Beach Preparation was actually harder than the coral planting in many ways. It required strength and tenacity. And by “tenacity,” I mean willingness to be clocked with umbrellas and laughed at for hours by bored Thai locals. Man, those guys were all up in the Twins’ faces with their mocking and derision. In fact, Marcus’s catchphrase of the night (“Go crazy! Go crazy!”) would have been better suited for the Twins as they were repeatedly beaten down both physically (by the umbrellas) and mentally (by the locals).
NEXT: Cindy’s exacting personality finally serves its purpose
In case you couldn’t have predicted it, Team OCD was first to finish Beach Preparation. Really, Cindy couldn’t have found a more perfect task than lining up chairs in perfectly symmetrical rows. Dad and Lad finished soon after, followed by Teams NFL, the constantly bickering Divorcees, and Farmhand. As for Team Divorcees, I’ve noticed in the comments that there’s a lot of head-scratching and “Who’s that?” Well, tonight was their moment to finally make an impression. Unfortunately, it was for their infighting and nitpicking. As they switched from one Detour to the next, they (especially Jeremy) clucked and clawed at one another. It almost made me wish they’d remained forgettable. Agree or disagree?
The other teams’ advancement left the Twins struggling to escape last place. Two things had the potential to work in their favor. First, Marcus paid back the karma from the Olympians last week by giving them tips on how to make their umbrellas stay in the ground. Second, OCD’s speedboat taxi driver got lost — in the middle of the sea! I would argue that’s much worse than getting lost in the streets of any city because there is no one around to give you directions. But would it be enough to make up for the Twins’ increasing gap behind the other teams?
The next clue took the teams to Soap Island for a Road Block called “King of the Hill,” in which they had to rock climb to a bird’s nest to collect the next clue. As we learned in the spelunking challenge, no one on this season of TAR is cripplingly afraid of heights, so it wasn’t a major challenge for anyone. That said, we did get a chance to check out Olympian Andy’s jacked arms and be pleasantly surprised by how adept at climbing Jennifer (who has struggled physically in other areas) was. Jeremy was also an excellent climber as he nearly caught up with Amani. Team OCD finally arrived and made up time thanks to Ernie’s nimble scaling of the mountainside. As Cindy pointed out, they practiced rock climbing during their rigorous Race preparations. Naturally. Farmhand Bill rounded out the middle cluster as Cathi explained, “We’re not sure how long we’re going to be in the Race, so any time it makes sense for Bill to do a Road Block, I give it to him.” Since there are rules in place to make sure each team’s members do an equal amount of Road Blocks, did this make anyone else worry that the Farmhands’ strategy will eventually hurt them later?
NEXT: In good Koh Panyi…
By the time the teams reached the Pit Stop — a soccer field on the edge of the floating village of Koh Panyi — things shaped up not unlike last week. The Olympians remained in their comfortable first-place position, winning $5,000 apiece. In place of Team Dad and Lad, the Siblings were close behind. Phil created a delightful moment when he asked Jennifer to recreate her “look” (basically a “bitch please” face for when she gets frustrated with Justin), then gave his own eyebrow-centric “look.” It was Browsie’s moment to shine! The second batch of teams arrived on Koh Panyi, with the Divorcees in a dead heat with Teams Dad and Lad and NFL. No thanks to Marcus and Amani’s bad luck, not only did the Divorcees (#3) and Dad and Lad (#4) find the Pit Stop next, but so did OCD (#5). Team NFL (#6) finally found the Pit Stop, beating Team Farmhand (#7) to the Pit Stop.
By the time the Twins arrived at the Road Block, they were well aware they had landed in last place. They made the best of it by taking in the glorious sights of Thailand while they had the chance and generally seeming consigned to their fates. But our Phil is always unpredictable. Upon their arrival at the Pit Stop, he informed the Twins this was a non-elimination round. They would live to see another week!
So what did you think, Race cases? Does the Olympians’ threepeat make you nervous, or do you think they’ve got this thing in the bag? Would less have been more with the Divorcees, or are you glad they’re finally getting some screen time? Do you think Team Farmhand’s strategy is going to prove problematic? Can the Twins overcome their disadvantage? Who are your current favorites? Who do you predict will go home next?
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