The Amazing Race recap: 'Part Like the Red Sea'
The five remaining teams meet up in the Abu Dhabi airport to catch the same overnight flights to Indonesia (through Singapore), and frankly I’m surprised Travis and Nicole can even see the rest of their competitors from way up on that high horse.
“We wanna be a beacon for God’s light to show through us, so people can see that you don’t have to resort to lying or cheating or stealing, or do any of those things that we just consider not a good part of anybody’s lives,” says Robodoc Travis, who seems to forget they are on a COMPETITIVE REALITY SHOW. It’s fine for a robot to say he wants to run the race as a good person. But a beacon for God’s light?! I’m gonna go out on a huge limb here and suggest that perhaps The Amazing Race is not necessarily God’s jam.
Jamal and Leo accidentally sleep in, which to be honest I’m shocked doesn’t happen more often but then again, I’m an irresponsible, lazy ass when it comes to getting out of bed. We’re supposed to think the Afghanimals don’t care enough about the competition. Maybe they don’t. But they’re easily the most entertaining team left at this point, and the only person I really, really like out of the top four teams is Tim. So I can’t be mad at the latecomers. It’s no fun to dislike everyone.
The Afghanimals encounter God’s Gifts at the airport for a dramatic showdown: Why did the RoboDocs U-Turn them in the last leg? “You guys told us you did not U-Turn Adam and Brandon.” Uh. Really? Jamal’s dumbfounded; the reason is even dumber than he’d imagined. This brief interaction allows for another Travis soapbox-balancing-atop-high-horse moment: “You just can’t believe ’em… it’s tough for us because we just live our lives differently.” Boo hoo. It’s so hard to be a good person in an evil word. I’m so sorry.
Travis assures us he and Nicole won’t “stoop to that level” for any number of millions. You know what, dude? I’d lie a million times for each million dollars offered to me. IT IS A GAME. (Sorry. Maybe that’s not true — but the RoboDocs’ morality-lesson confessionals are becoming painful.)
NEXT: ‘Are they, like, Chinese people or are they, like, Indians?’ Marie’s childish verbal spew is also painful, but we’re used to that. She and Tim don’t have any conflict at the moment, so she conjures some up from thin air: “You have made more mistakes than me,” she announces in the taxi to the airport. Wait, Marie, why does it have to be a competition? wonders poor Tim. “Well, why does it always have to be even? If somebody messes up more.” Tim’s face mirrors my own sentiment, which is I CAN’T WITH THIS BITCH. It’s infuriating to even go on relaying this conversation. Maybe in the next leg Marie, Nicole, and Travis will be compelled by their true superior natures to wander towards a “People Who Are Better Than Everyone Else, Stand Here” sign, and then whoops! It’s a trapdoor. Boom. Season finale.
So, Indonesia, huh? “Are they, like, Chinese people or are they, like, Indians?” wonders Jason. I’m so happy he and Amy were confined to a car right then. Imagine if they were on the streets of Indonesia already and he spouted out that comment. All those local Chinese Indians would be totally horrified.
Touch down in Indonesia! “We have to go to the village,” says Ashley. LOL. “The village.” Take her to that specific one. Quick! It’s a race!
Uh oh. Jason and Amy’s cabbie doesn’t understand English. “Race? You understand race?” Jason listlessly asks. Do you understand it, Jay? Y’all might be on the same page.
“Do you know CLUE BOX?” It’s time for a little bonus challenge: Pick up two head-butting rams, wait until they butt heads, and load them back onto a truck. Easy enough, right? Correct! It’s so easy that Ally and Ashley — once a cheerleader, in every country a cheerleader — are in second place by the time they finish. But wait, we haven’t heard from Travis in awhile. I’m interested as to how moral this challenge is. Am I allowed to feel like a good person while watching it? “Neither of the rams were injured at all,” he assures us. This is just one of the rams’ normal sports. Whew. Close call.
The Ice Princesses and the RoboDocs settle in uncomfortably on the train back to Bandung. They’ve never raced together, you see. “And you know what? We’ll tell you the truth,” Travis tells Ally and Ashley over the seat. Ugggggggggggh.
NEXT: ‘My wife’s pregnant!’ Leo and Jamal catch up to their “race wives” and the RoboDocs, and Leo pulls his signature “My wife’s pregnant!” cry for help in order to get ahead in this world. It’s a LIE, but it works. (Well, it seems to — it’s unclear whether the train pulled away right then because of Leo’s phantom pregnant wife or because it was simply time to go.) And without that extra hour ahead of Marie/Tim and Jason/Amy, it’s unlikely Travis and Nicole would’ve survived this leg. They have a LIE to thank for that.
Somewhere, far, far beyond even Phil Keoghan and a guy pretending to be an astronomer 3400 feet above sea level, God shrugged and was like “Whatevs.”
Detour: For the Elephants or For the Birds? Most teams choose to “serve an elaborate meal to Indonesia’s treasured elephants” because duh, when else are they gonna get to see elephants? Yikes. This would be a tough call, for sure. My instinct was elephants, too, but the bird option was clearly so much quicker and easier — and humanizing, even, as the RoboDocs got to connect with birding culture at the Grand Prix and receive both cheers and chirps from other living beings. “I hadn’t had a chance to jump for joy this entire time,” realizes Travis in another confessional. It’s tough for them, because they live their lives differently. Did anyone else just fall asleep?
Ice Princesses and Afghanimals get started on For the Elephants, and Jamal completely charms me not only with his amazing impression of a hungry elephant’s squeal but with his heartwarming shoutout to his mom, who’d taught him how to tie scarves in a triangular shape. They’d saved their scarves from Abu Dhabi — smart! — which allowed them to tie up multiple watermelons and roll them on a tiny trolley through winding, uneven paths of the Bandung Zoo.
“Oh my God. We’re in a zoo!” marvels Ashley. But wait… oh. They’re not supposed to be at a zoo yet. Ally and Ashley failed to read the clue properly and lose an obscene amount of time jogging aimlessly through the zoo and, later, the marketplace.
At one point, Ashley perks up and then trails off: “We need help… and we are lost in Indones-i-a…” she drones, speaking to no one. Baby from Dirty Dancing furiously whispered her next appropriate line — a blank-stared “I carried a watermelon!” — but Ashley didn’t pick up on the frequency. Tragedy ensues.
NEXT: And God said ‘It is now my wish that my beacon shall cheat in a challenge!’ Jason/Amy and Tim/Marie have caught up by this point, and Ally and Ashley could have stayed in the game had they been more aggressive and insisted to their taxi driver that they’d just hold onto those giant sugar cane stalks really tightly in the backseat. Just shove ’em in there and sit down, seriously! Don’t take no for an answer! But the girls have no bite. Ashley’s just this terrifically placid blob, and Ally’s frustrated. She’d said BIRDS. They endure a “blowup” in the taxi that’s honestly not that bad — their first real fight of the season. Eventually Leo and Jamal pass their wives their scarves on their way out of the zoo — nice! — but the extra trip back to the market does the girls in.
Teams proceed to Saung Angklung Udjo, a one-stop cultural workshop featuring music, cheers, Nicole’s tears, and two crazy Afghanimal-Americans running laps around the “stadium” like gladiators. It’s a Road Block: one team member must assemble a bamboo instrument, the angklung, and play a complete octave on it until a group of children approves. Hilariously, the tiniest child of the bunch is the final arbiter…. and now Nicole’s arch-enemy for life!
Travis reluctantly lets Nicole do this one, even though he “knows music” and could’ve figured out within seconds that different diameters on the wooden tubes produce the different sounds. But they’re so far ahead of the other teams (hardly!) that he caves. BIG mistake. Huge. Nicole has no concept of the mechanics of the instrument or what an “octave” is. Speaking of octaves: What piercing sound is this?! Why, Leo and Jamal have arrived for their great attention-feast of the day. Overwhelmed by the beautiful music, they just have to dance. “The beat inside us can’t stop,” explains Jamal. “Breaking it down! Just break break break break break,” he continues, to the rhythm, aptly describing Nicole’s crumbling mental state at the same time.
Leo is “supposed to be the puzzle guy,” so he’s up for the challenge. “Is there an example we follow?” he wonders. Sure: Watch what Nicole’s doing and don’t do that. Good luck. After a few hiccups, Leo figures out the angklung to the delight of the high-five-hungry Indonesian children. “LEO! DESTROY YOUR INSTRUMENT!” Jamal bellows from the arena. “Don’t let no one see!”
Nicole would never have thought to go look at Leo’s successful angklung — she’s a good person, doncha know? — it was only after an evil person’s screamed suggestion corrupted her that she got the idea to run over and try to peek at Leo’s instrument. God’s Gift chases Leo in circles around a very small, crowded area full of children as her voiceover reminds viewers, “We are running this race in an honest way. It is important that our children see that we set a good example for them.”
HILARIOUS. Great editing here. It’s been a fairly chuckle-less season; I’ll get my giggles wherever I can.
NEXT: ‘You took forever to help her.’ Meanwhile, Tim — punching bag of Pinky, Guitar Hero of my eye, high school choir boy of my heart — makes quick work of the angklung. He races past Nicole, who can barely snap out of her internal rage blackout to flatly drone, “Tim. What is it.” It is not for you to know, Nicole!
Tim basks in the warming glow of a sea of smiling children and returns to his main-squeeze child, his adult partner Marie. “So I made you do it and I was right,” she announced. Yep. That’s right. Tack another win up there for Marie! Tim just shakes his head in disbelief, as usual. “Yeah, I’m glad, I’m glad.” They could be in first place!
But nope: Leo and Jamal win the leg along with $7500 each, which should be more than enough to buy a few celebratory watermelon-banana-sweet-potato-sugar cane cocktails at the hotel bar. (I’d take 2500 myself right about now. I keep fantasizing about all that juicy watermelon those elephants so carelessly left behind!) Marie and Tim come up right behind them and everyone beams as the Afghanimals enjoy their win. Gotta say, these are my picks for an ideal top two right here. Like ’em or not, at least they’re not boring.
Back at the cultural/misery center, Amy finishes her instrument and we’re treated to an agonizingly drawn-out presentation of her correct octave which includes three separate cuts to Nicole, who’s about to absolutely lose her mind. Amy gets it! Jason encourages her to go help Nicole — “I mean, we don’t wanna leave these guys behind,” he explains. But Amy apparently takes too long. “You took forever to help her,” Jason says, flipping the switch. And suddenly he’s in beast mode: “We’re not holding anybody’s hand. I’m done with this.”
Good thing Amy saved Nicole, because Ally and Ashley show up right then and pose… well, not a threat, exactly. They just pose. They’re great posers in general, and very cute with kids. I’ve got nothin’ but love for the Ice Princesses. They just weren’t beastly enough to stay in the game.
So Nicole and Travis (fourth place) trot up behind Jason and Amy (third) at Bosscha Observatory. “I love you forever, forever,” Nicole gushes towards Amy. It’s weird for a robot to express emotions, emotions. Phil calls out Travis for sporting a different facial expression than usual. “Yeah… I’m speechless,” Travis says. “This leg sort of speaks for itself.”
Oh, but he doesn’t let it: We get another drawn-out Travis confessional to wrap up the show. “It was a weird, miserable day,” he volunteers. “Sometimes there are hard lessons to learn when the Road Blocks come up, and I can’t play the game for you,” he scolds Nicole. “Look in the mirror, girl, and you gotta fix it.” They need to “just keep moving, and praying, and seeing if we can stay together.” Jeez. I am not a fan of Nicole, but I’ll give her this: Being Nicole seems like it would not be any fun. Ever.
God shrugged again. Would it kill people to wheel Him a watermelon every once and a while?
“Travis and Nicole are going down,” the Afghanimals promise. “Karma is a bitch.”
Eliminated team members Ally and Ashley go out in style — Bret Michaels style, to be exact, if we’re talking about Ally’s elaborately printed head scarf and hairstyle. And I’ve been dying to talk about this the whole time, because she looked adorable. Would ‘Bret Michaels’ be a good look for me, too? I kept wondering throughout the episode. Ally and I have pretty much the same hair. But I’m not a princess, neither on ice nor land. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.
“Look in the mirror, girl, and you gotta fix it.” SHUT UP, TRAVIS. You’re not the boss of me.
Next week: Pinky eats a snake, Travis looks like Dennis Rodman in drag, and Leo and Jamal “reach the end of their rope.”
Are you happy with this final four? Any idea as to who exactly God’s Gifts think they’re kidding?
Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.