The Amazing Race recap: Don't Cry Over Spilled Ice
Ten teams take on slippery challenges in Indonesia; Gary wins the gold medal for most passive aggressive substitute teacher on earth
Week two and things are heating up. Tonight we got to know our new Racers just a little bit better as they entertained toddlers, got lost and snorted their way through a highly entertaining leg.
From Shanghai, our teams had to fly to Surabaya, Indonesia. Abbie and Ryan were the first to push off from the pit stop and were revved up to learn that the winner of this leg would get the Express Pass. Ryan, who already has a wishlist that includes world domination and for people to bow down to him, also really wants this Express Pass! During the last leg of the race, we were lucky enough to learn about Ryan’s sweaty crotch. This leg, it was the backs of his knees. It will be really nice to follow this throughout the season. I’m anxious to hear each week which new Ryan parts are perspiring.
As usual there was all sorts of hoopla over everyone trying to get to the airport quickly and get on the fastest flight out, but all the teams ended up on the same plane, one that would fly them through Jakarta en route to the final destination. Everyone except the monster truckers Kelley and Rob, that is, who were smugly pleased about booking themselves on a plane that left an hour and a half earlier. The only small glitch? A four-hour layover in Hong Kong that actually made their total travel time longer than everyone else’s. It seems odd that these two didn’t ask enough questions of the ticketing agent to ensure that their flight was indeed the fastest way to go. Or maybe they did and that footage is just on the cutting room floor. But I’d bet a deluxe balloon animal they didn’t. Rob brims over with hubris, and, as we already already know from their (double) fallopian tubing adventure last week, these two don’t get the Attention to Detail award.
“We need to disappear from this counter,” Rob said to Kelley after he purchased their tickets, as if there was an actual risk that the rest of the teams would get a whiff of his brilliant plan and mooch along. It reminded me of the federal agent girls from last season who devised a cover story that they were teachers so that other teams wouldn’t feel threatened by them, yet no team was threatened by them, ever, because they were mediocre racers at best. You could see that in this case Kelley was this close to buying in to the plan, yet remained ever so slightly concerned about the decision to roll Rob-style. “We either made a good move or we made a really bad move ’cause it’s all of them,” she said, referring to the other teams. “We’re running our own race,” Rob said proudly. So true.
By the way, what about the way these two met? Rob was Kelley’s husband’s best friend, and then when the husband was killed in an accident, Rob stepped in to help Kelley and her son and ended up learning what love was. Wow. This I want to hear more about. Let’s get these two on Oprah!
NEXT: “We’re just gliding under the radar”
You could tell that as the hours went by, Kelley was starting to doubt their decision. In the airport in Hong Kong, she seemed concerned that they weren’t seeing any other teams, and Rob reasoned “We don’t know if we’re in the lead or in the back, but we’re gonna run our race and that’s why, if you look around, you don’t see any other backpacks.” Yes. that’s exactly what was eating at me, WHY AREN’T I SEEING ANY BACKPACKS? For a while Rob stood by his hunch that they’d duped the rest of the gang and were in the lead. But when they finally arrived at the stadium and saw they were indeed the last team to pick up the clue, Rob said “We like to be the last team. It matters who’s first on the mat. We’re just gliding under the radar.” Poor Kelley. She probably suffers chronic exhaustion and migraine headaches from constantly convincing herself to enable her husband’s boneheaded ideas.
Side note: Did anyone catch what what they called the twins just after getting their clue? One of them said “Sri Lankans” or something like it, but the other said something I couldn’t decipher.
As for the rest of the group, lone wolf rockers James and Abba arrived in Surabaya first after managing to squeeze onto an earlier connecting flight out of Jakarta by using their mellowly persuasive ways, causing the Chippendales team to wonder if Long Hair Don’t Care team is actually the Long Hair Do Care team. But even though James and Abba got to the clue first, the playing field was pretty much leveled once again as all the teams would have to wait until 8am for the location, a sporting arena, to open.
A quick word about the Chippendales: It appears that Jaymes is the show pony who requires a ton of attention, while James is really there as second fiddle and the guy to get talked over. Seriously, James can never get a word in edgewise and seems only allowed to speak under Jaymes in mumbly affirming backdrop. Perhaps they have a rule that says no talking if you don’t have a y in your James.
We learned that the twins and Lexi-Trey have hit it off from the beginning, which initially struck me as an unlikely foursome if only because my early impression of Trey-Lexi is that they seem so earnest, and the twins so sassy and dry. I thought it was pretty cute when twins commented sympathetically that the Texans are “so far away from home.” Another alliance seems to (kind of) exist between Abbie-Ryan and Amy-Daniel, who also hit it off early on, which Abbie mentioned in this cbs.com video that has, for some reason, since been truncated and no longer includes that bit. The old version of this video had also featured some cryptic, manic babbling from Ryan in which he seemed to be trying to justify/apologize to Amy and Daniel for overtaking them on the first leg. “As you get to know us better, this is more than a travel adventure, this is a lifetime friendship,” he panted to them at the mat. “If this works out the way we think and hope it will, you guys are gonna share this as much as we will. I promise you that. This is not about just us, this is a much bigger picture for us too.” What is he even saying? It was baffling and entertaining and I wish the whole vid was still up in its entirety.
NEXT: A whole lotta bull
The next morning, teams got their turn at the challenge in the order in which they’d arrived the night prior. Everyone had to hop on a motorcycle — driven by a pro — and race champion bulls. If you beat the bulls you’d get the clue, and if you didn’t you’d still get the clue. This gig was easy and quick and since the stakes were non-existent, the whole thing was less a challenge and more an experience, and, of course, a good opportunity for producers to make sure teams weren’t too far apart at the top of the Indonesia portion of the leg.
Brent, who we’d not seen much of yet this episode, quipped “We have been dieting so hopefully it won’t take that much horsepower to beat that bull.” “Or cow power,” Josh added. These two are quickly emerging as The Team with Something Clever to Say at Every Turn, but I like them a ton. So what if they’re used to cameras being around (from their show The Fabulous Beekman Boys) and give good sound byte? They are so likable. This mat interview with Phil made me adore them even more.
Ryan, who shouldn’t be afraid of motorcycles if he’s really keen on achieving world domination, said of his ride: “I was holding on for dear life, you know, like ohmigod, please don’t let me fall of in front of 10,000 Indonesians.” He may have been overestimating the size of the crowd by approximately 10,000.
As teams finished their motorcycle rides, they were off by taxi to pick up their next clue at a nearby a bridge. The roadblock asked Who wants to party? and involved operating a pedal-powered mini-merry go round while simultaneously making eight pieces of balloon art for the kids who were forced to ride around in endless, vertigo-inducing circles. So what if this task wasn’t really Indonesia-related? It provided frustration, extreme silliness, and a phenomenally cute Indonesian girl in Drew Carey glasses.
This incredulous kid was all wtf when Amy didn’t choose him for her merry go round.
This roadblock was also where we saw an unsettling window into Gary and Will’s dynamic. Maybe this season’s most abusive relationship will not turn out to be alpha dog Ryan and the lady he so enjoys grabbing around the neck after all; Perhaps Gary and Will will swoop in and take the title.
It all started when Will proved to be 1) the opposite of dexterous at working with balloons, and 2) so increasingly, spiralingly anxious about the challenge that he soon could not function at all and could only shake and sweat (even his splisher-splasher fingers!) while his glasses fogged up. As he put it: “I felt like the whole word was on my shoulders and it was getting heavier and heavier… I was actually having a meltdown.”
At first Gary seemed reasonably supportive of his unraveling partner. He repeatedly urged Will to stop and breathe, and later, when Will found his groove a little, cheered him on and even got the crowd going. But then we got a revealing bit of info in their pit stop interview when Will said “Gary is very emotional and he usually gets mad at me if I can’t do something, but he was really calm and he gave me encouragement.” Sitting there with a beatific expression on his face was Gary, nodding away in agreement.
NEXT: Fishy biz
Eventually, Will finished the task, but the team had lost a ton of time at this challenge. Will was guilt-ridden over this and spent the rest of the leg begging for forgiveness, so naturally Gary spent the rest of the leg punishing him. It was painful — but compelling! — to watch, and you couldn’t help but read a child/parent dynamic into it, especially in light of the massive height disparity that does, at a quick glance, kind of give them a father and son vibe. Here’s an excerpt from a scene starring Gary as the withholding parent and Will as the child hungry for forgiveness and affection.
INT. TAXI, AKA TAKSI
Will: I hope we’re still in this game, I hope we’re still in this race.
Gary: [Silence for several beats, THEN, to driver] Are we almost there?
Meanwhile, the balloon challenge proved to be pretty straightforward for all the other teams. Jaymes and Lexi seemed to be having the time of their lives. It occurred to me that as a Chippendales performer, Jaymes is not too unlike those entertainers you hire to come to kids’ birthday parties and do balloon animals and magic tricks.
“There are just some things the gays are naturally better at; balloon animals is one of them.” – Brent Ridge
From here, teams were sent to a motor shop to search for the next clue. The detour was Ice by the Pound or Fish by the Barrel. The twins were the only ones to take on the fish assignment in which racers had to go to a massive market and organize thousands of assorted fresh fish in a particular way to set up a stall for business. In the ice challenge, teams had to deliver ten 65-pound blocks of ice into a truck and then ride with their cargo the market where they’d transport it all from truck to gravity-averse cart to stall.
It was during this task that I officially started to love the twins, Natalie and Nadiya. These two claimed not to be divas and that’s the truth. They’re not afraid to get dirty, look like asses, or let their makeup run off their sweaty faces onto the backs of scaly Indonesian fish. They are smart and clever and girly and love to hug people. They compete hard and with so much joy. “I want to take the fish and rub it on my face, I’m so hot,” said Natalie in one of my favorite lines of the night. The twinnies are emerging as one of my favorite teams of this season.
NEXT: “Big, macho arms”
Everyone else opted for the ice challenge, but three teams — James-Abba, Amy-Daniel and Rob-Kelley — were majorly delayed in starting it because their taxis couldn’t find the location. The rockers took the delay in stride what with their combined resting heart rate of seven. Amy suggested to an amused local that maybe they could try calling information. But, unsurprisingly, it was Rob and Kelley who were the most incensed by getting lost. Rob whine-yelled at the driver and threatened to get a new taxi but never did, which of course he didn’t, because then he wouldn’t have anyone to complain at, and he and Kelley both did really seem to enjoy having someone to scapegoat. Plus, in the event that the truckers were eliminated during this leg, having had an incompetent driver would be a key story point in Rob’s not-yet-written monologue titled “We Got Screwed,” whose first line would obviously be We totally would have won the whole thing except for the day that asshole driver couldn’t find Wijaya Motors. And then Kelley would jump in and add, In his own town! “You cost us a lot of money, bro,” Rob guilt-tripped the driver. Ugh.
In the meantime, everything was going swimmingly for Lexi and Trey over at the ice challenge. What a great leg for the Longhorns. These two are all sunshine and rainbows. They really seem to enjoy doing the race together. “Teamwork makes the dream work!” Lexi trilled while coasting on a unicorn through the challenge. Meanwhile, did Lexi learn somewhere that boys like to be complimented a lot on their muscles? She mentioned Trey’s muscles no less than three times during this challenge, referring on different occasions to his “guns,” “muscles” and “big, macho arms.” I’m not putting her down; the system seems to work for them. I’m just quickly doing a mental rolodex of all my relationships past and present that maybe could have benefited from my making more mentions like this.
But back to Gary and Will, Team Implosion. The post-roadblock cab ride was so tense that I was very anxious (in both the excited and dreading senses of the word) to see what would go down at the detour challenge. Would Gary send Will to his room? Or disown him??
It turned out the first thing that happened when they arrived at the detour was that instead of consulting with Will about which challenge they should do, Gary asked the truckers which one they were doing, and when Rob responded “Ice,” Gary chose that one too. Will, do you feel punished yet? It was lame of Gary to so aggressively ignore his partner in that moment. But more than that, it seems like odd judgement to follow the lead of the truckers who have proven themselves to be legitimately horrible competitors thus far. Maybe Gary didn’t yet get the memo that Rob and Kelley are in their own race.
NEXT: Nice guys finish last
At one point Gary appeared to clock Will in the head with some ice and asked “You alright?” in the least convincing, least caring way possible, to which Will responded “No,” and then scampered after Gary who was harumphing around doing the task all by himself. “Is it heavy?” Will asked, just trying, begging to redeem himself in some way. “It’s not light,” Gary responded curtly. The end.
But wait, WILL IS NOT DONE TRYING. There is some fight in him yet! Can he exhaust Gary’s stamina for meting out punishment? Will gives it another go:
WILL: “I took too long at the balloons. I feel really bad.”
WILL: ‘I’m an idiot.”
Then, as the two pushed the cart, the ice crashed onto the ground. The terrified look on Will’s face was actually devastating. What is going on between these two?? Gary freaked over the spilled ice and hollered at Will, so the upside was we could celebrate the end of the silent treatment, yay. When they finished the challenge, Gary was in a dark, dark place and couldn’t even be bothered to hustle to the pit stop. As he moped through the bustling market with Will trailing him, he muttered “Take this smell in, Will, we’ll never be here again.”
Several of the finishes at the pit stop mat tonight were compelling for one reason or another, and in some cases, even moving — and the man with the footlong fingernails had a lucky front row spot for all of it. For one thing, Gary and Will did not come in last, much to their surprise, so shall live to race another leg together. Now Will can take one (small) step away from the ledge. For now. And how I loved Brent for giving a small, royal-esque wave to the crowd after his finish. Then there was that delightful moment when Kelley couldn’t see Phil from three feet away and cried “Where?!” like a drunk blind person, only to then take about two steps and reach the mat. And, of course, there was Nadiya and Natalie’s adorably ecstatic, fish-fueled celebration upon finishing first and winning the Express Pass, and then sharing said lovefest with Phil and second place finishers Trey and Lexi.
Amy and Daniel’s last place finish was actually really heartbreaking. The sob that escaped Amy when Phil said they were eliminated from the race was so naked and raw it actually brought tears to this tired recapper’s eyes. And my investment in this couple had nothing to do with her prosthetic legs; it had everything to do with Amy’s palpable drive and determination to succeed on this race, and Daniel’s drive and determination to do anything in his power to make his LadyLove happy for the rest of time. What a decent couple. Damn taksi.
Onward to the next leg where there’ll be a double U-Turn and, it appears, some Terrible American behavior from Brittany. Cannot wait.
What did you think of the teams this week and the episode as a whole?