The Amazing Race recap: Spin Control
The Globetrotters' ball-handling skills come in handy in drum-spinning and shirt-sewing challenges in Sri Lanka
Aw, Margie and Luke. Third time’s not the charm. You should have made a Trendy Connection!
Following last week’s explosive nightclub challenge, in which hearing-impaired Luke smashed a series of glasses and stormed into the bathroom, the mother-son team fell drastically behind during Leg 5 and have been eliminated from the Race. No more Luke antics this week; if anything, once they realized they were the only team flying out of Kuala Lumpur the morning after the beginning of the leg, Mr. Moody deliberately decided to play nice, complimenting the Sri Lanka scenery and copping a “what can you do?” attitude to match his mom’s as they went through the motions. Their inevitable elimination provided for a not-so-exciting leg, but let’s get to it anyway!
The eight teams fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka — six on a direct flight that got in at midnight, Brendon and Rachel on a risky connecting flight through Singapore, and Margie and Luke opting to try (and fail) for standby on that first flight.
Do I need to call them Brenchel? I don’t want to! Brendon and Rachel whizzed through the Singapore Airport to make their connection just as the gate was closing. I think we all know they weren’t in last-second danger of missing it (everyone knows a “gate closing” warning on an airport screen means “there’s probably still time to hit McDonald’s”), but there’s a well-edited moment in there that makes it seem like because Brendon wants to retreat a few steps backward to retrieve a fallen pouch of his belongings, THIS COULD BE THE DEATH OF THEM. Zero drama ensued and Rachel’s green sequined shorts sashay onto the plane to Colombo without a care in the world.
Rachel is quite the zen mistress lately! Not to be outdone, Brendon has studied Buddhism (I’m guessing he watched the PBS 2010 documentary, The Buddha, but he also could’ve read a book and in that case he’d be way ahead of me) and announces that in order to be enlightened, you need to let yourself go from material things. Oh, like your mini backpack at the airport? HMMMM. (Okay, yeah, it’s definitely impossible to drum up drama where none exists on The Amazing Race.) The couple plans to forget the past and look to the future with clear pantyhose and full hearts.
The Enlightened Ones actually beat everyone else to the Gangaramaya Temple, which doesn’t open ’til 5:45 a.m. — so Dave and Connor have plenty of time to reflect on how the last time they were blessed by a priest, Dave tore his Achilles Tendon. Not this time! They all get blessed. So blessed. “Hey, this is cool,” says Jessica. Okay, let’s keep this moving.
NEXT PAGE: Caroline stalks the Cowboys (but not enough to follow them to a fishing challenge) Teams proceed to King Coconut Stand — I hope they nourished themselves with some sort of delicious smoothie and that King Coconut was not skimping on His peace offerings, but no actual mention of refreshments is made. For Caroline, a hearty dose of the Cowboys is refreshing enough. “A main goal of ours was to become best friends with the Cowboys,” gushes “the super stalker fan of y’all” to Jet and Cord. “Of yours,” Jennifer corrects her. Well done, Jen. Face = saved. A train honks — I don’t speak Sri Lankan but I think it’s saying “Quit yer stalkin’, sparkle-head.” And they’re off!
Everyone sticks their heads out between train cars for a fresh whiff of salty jungle air (and whatever local food was being passed around within the car) on the zippy and lush ride to Galle Railway Station. Sadly there’s no mid-transportation challenge in which teams must spot giant Phil Keoghan heads out of either side of the train and tally up Ocean Phils vs. Jungle Phils. Once they arrive, they ride in tuk tuks, or what I always think of as tricycle taxis, to the Detour. Flight Time and Big Easy’s driver is particularly insane, whipping through lanes that don’t even exist — but isn’t that what pretend basketball is all about? You gotta create lanes where no lanes exist and just drive through them, preferably while spinning multiple balls, but we’ll get to that in a minute. “He gonna kill us all!” Big Easy could not have predicted that a simple sewing machine would present a much bigger threat later that day.
Detour: Fishing Pole or Spin Control? Dave and Connor and Jet and Cord make fairly quick work of a fishing challenge that requires teams to wade into the surf and climb onto a pair of fishing stilts — Jet is wholly unimpressed with the size of his fish, but that’s life.
In Spin Control, which is heavily weighted in the Globetrotters’ favor, teams learn and perform a traditional Sri Lankan folk dance while continuously spinning drum-like instruments on sticks. The Globetrotters, the country singers, and the Afghanimals all get the hang of it, but poor Brendon must not have a great sense of balance because he keeps screwing up his plate-rotating duties, even on the 12th attempt. No worries, though — Rachel has streamlined her chi enough for the both of them and cheers Brendon through the stress. “Our roles have reversed,” Brendon admits in a confessional. I cannot see his shorts but good God I hope he is wearing his own.
Drama! Sort of: John and Jessica switch detours from Fishing Pole to Spin Control after much debate — last time they switched, they got eliminated in Indonesia. It’s the right move this time. John can barely dance, but these dancing challenges are rarely about style of dancing. If you shout out which feet you’re stomping down as you stomp them, that seems pretty fool-proof. He should probably work on his Argentine Tango, though, just for fun, just because. It’s a big bad world out there and you just never know.
NEXT PAGE: “Make it work, Afghanimals!” –imaginary Tim Gunn Roadblock: A Stitch In Time Saves Nine. This is sew not cool, according to all the suckers roped into competing in this “create a shirt that’s much more complicated than it looks because garment construction is actually a highly developed skill and we will never again take it for granted just because we live in America” challenge (roughly). There’s no Tim Gunn to hover around the “designers” as they crouch in fear/dread over their sewing machines, but there is a Flight Time, who somehow has procured his trusty Harlem Globetrotters basketball and is dazzling the factory workers with his ball-handling and social skills. This gives Big Easy a boost in spirits, though let’s not get it twisted/stitched incorrectly: If anyone in Big Easy’s life needs him to sew anything ever again, he will either pass the task off to his fiancée or mother or, more likely, just buy ’em a new damn shirt.
In the meantime, Brendon and Rachel must complete a cleverly-named Speed Bump: Pass With Flying Colors, which prompts them to silkscreen the Sri Lankan flag onto 15 tees — they don’t seem to lose much time, though Brendon once again runs into trouble as the chosen Roadblock participant once they enter the other room at the fabulous Trendy Connections hub. He ends up working “with” Jessica but ultimately finishing last.
Jen and Connor help each other — “They’re just great people; they’ve become like allies to us,” says Connor, who’s just lost without his mom (sewing-wise). They finish one and two; Jet keeps his head down and makes it work for third; Leo keeps his head everywhere but down and focuses on pleasing the crowd — but also, somehow, his shirt, still managing to finish fourth as his teammate Jamal relentlessly offered a thousand rupees to anyone who would finish the challenge for his cousin. So many of those workers looked like they wanted to take him up on that. It’d be like finding the golden ticket for Veruca Salt at her dad’s peanut-shelling factory. Maybe. Okay, not at all. Just thinkin’ about other factories.
Leo adds a final flourish to his handiwork by sexily (?!) trying it on for the staff, then picking up the inspector (No. 45?) and whirling him around in triumph in the Afghanimals’ signature Trendy fashion after his shirt was deemed acceptable. A rejuvenated Big Easy also attempted to muscle into his tiny shirt with much less success as his partner nearly died laughing.
“You gotta laugh to keep from crying, y’all.” –Big Easy. Truth!
1st place: Dave and Connor — each win $5,000!
2nd: Caroline and Jennifer
3rd: Jet and Cord
4th: Leo and Jamal
5th: Jessica and John
6th: Flight Time and Big Easy, who paid off their bus driver to bypass local stops. SMART. Why not? It’s just play money.
7th: Brendon and Rachel
Eliminated: Margie and Luke
What’d you think of the episode? Could you sew a shirt? Really? Discuss!