The teams meat their match on ''The Amazing Race'': Rob can't stomach four pounds of barbecued beef parts, but it's the others who get burned
The Amazing Race
Credit: Debbie and Bianca: Tony Esparza

”The Amazing Race”: The teams meat their match

Rob has pulled some major upsets in his reality-TV career. But now he has truly astounded me, succeeding in a challenge that everyone would agree he had no chance of overcoming. And I think we all know what I’m talking about:

When he had to say, ”Your cars are marked and parked at the Olmos Car Park” while pronouncing every r.

Do you know how hard that is for a guy with a Boston accent? Wicked pissah hahd. Perhaps the Red Sox’s World Series win has empowered him, but dammit, he’s unstawpable. Supahhuman, even. I’ll bet at this point he could eat a Hoodsie Cup without gettin’ any splintahs in his tongue from those retahded wooden spoons.

And here endeth the Boston-reference portion of the episode review. You’re welcome, Masshole readership, as tiny as you may be. Now shake it off, go take a drink outta the bubbla, and let’s get back to The Amazing Race.

Judging from the postings on the scribble boards, people seem very split on Rob and Amber’s presence on the show this season. I’ve made it clear that I heartily approve. Some have complained that the show dwells too much on Rob and Amber, but I disagree. I think Rob is just such a powerful player that he overshadows everybody: Everyone else is just running the race; he’s playing the game. Every team is getting the same screen time as they would any season; you just don’t remember it. You’re not going to think of Ray and Deana’s bickering when the hour’s up; all you’re going to remember is Rob swiping Bianca and Debbie’s cab.

Rob’s meat-challenge manipulation was a prime example of what a smart player he is. I knew the test would be trouble for him, because of how he gagged during the food challenge on Survivor: Marquesas. I couldn’t believe it when he quit; no one that competitive would let four pounds of beef stop him. (By the way, seeing the servings of cow saliva gland made me wonder what you’d have to serve to an Argentinian barbecuer to make him say, ”Ew, gross!” You know what they call the Fear Factor food stunts in Argentina? Brunch.)

But I underestimated him. Even with a four-hour penalty, he guessed that he could still pull ahead if he got other teams to abort the challenge, too. And so he quickly Tom Sawyered Tom and Deana to drop out, and Gretchen and Meredith soon followed. And to those who think Rob’s too manipulative, I think he showed kind restraint: He probably could have persuaded Deana and Meredith to eat all his meat for him and then run down the mountain to find him some ice cream for dessert.

Plus, Rob’s infuriating presence seems to be raising the game of some of his competitors. Lynn and Alex are running on pure Mariano-hating fumes. Same goes for Susan and Patrick, although this week they kind of vanished into some weird dynamic that plays more like Will & Grace than mother and child. Hearing Susan instruct Patrick to start vomiting at the BBQ was like watching a very misdirected Afterschool Special.

Then there are the other teams, like Ron and Kelly. Ron began the episode with a non sequitur about how he wasn’t sure whether he and Kelly would work out, because she’s too eager to rush to marry and have kids. I’m sure we can all forgive an ex-POW for having entrapment issues.

As for Meredith and Gretchen, must they fulfill every senior-citizen stereotype? Meredith’s slow driving kept Brian and Greg (or ”Breg”) stuck behind them, and then, upon leaving the car, Meredith yelled, panicked, ”My hat!” (Was his search for his bird-watching guide left on the cutting-room floor?) I was just relieved that Meredith didn’t take time out from the challenge to lecture that whippersnapper Rob about how when he was a boy, they considered themselves lucky to eat cow kidneys. But we do know this couple is still young at heart, since Gretchen explained that though she may be loudly emotional, ”I make it up to him in a lot of other ways.” Easy there, Pam Anderson! Let’s just keep that part of your life between you, Meredith, and your Craftmatic Adjustable Bed.

Breg was a non-factor. Last week’s coming attractions tried to make their bicycle flat tire into a major event, but it just led to them walking their bikes on the rest of the course. I found it odd that they couldn’t fix a flat, considering they probably could have converted the tire into a bong in about two minutes. But such is the age of specialization.

Uchenna and Joyce are turning into good players, and yet I find them oddly nerve-racking to watch. This couple is in the midst of a very trying time of their lives, and yet they seem a little too unrelentingly upbeat and smiley through every challenge. There’s a ”dancing as fast as I can” aspect to them. I feel like at any minute the stress could get too high and suddenly we’ll be plunged into The Ice Storm.

As for Debbie and Bianca, I was sad to see them go. They seemed to be the smartest challengers for Rob and Amber, and yet one misread map put them hours behind. That leaves us with only eight teams, so there’s more camera time for each of them. Or should I say, all the more time to see them get competitively pantsed by Rob. Like him or hate him, he may be behind now, but soon he’ll be fah, fah ahead again. Hard for a Boston guy to say, but easy for him to do.

What do you think? Are we giving Rob too much credit? Are they giving him too much screen time? Who are you rooting for?

Episode Recaps

The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.

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