The Amazing Race recap: 'Smells Like Dirty Tube Socks'
The Wrestlers were on the receiving end of karma in this race-to-the-finish, non-elimination leg.
Well, they did it. The Wrestlers broke me. I thought as a Silver Jubilee gift that I would make it out of Season 25 mostly liking every team—I know, I know, I let too much slide already in the name of an occasional laugh—but you simply do not go to a beautiful country with beautiful people and complain for a day straight about how bad it smells. Look around you: you’re plowing a field with oxen! That’s straight-up magical.
I live in New York City. When it rains in the summer, it smells like you’re getting cozy with the mutant offspring of a litter box and flaming trash. But never have I seen a tourist fake gag while standing inches from the people who call this place home. And while I don’t technically know the stats on Cash Cab, the average NYC tourist isn’t even in the running to win $1 million … they just have a little respect for the place.
So, no, I don’t like the Wrestlers. But do I still see the entertainment value in a pair of cartoon-like villains who can’t find a taxi, or read a map, or plow a field, or find a giant human TAR clue that is walking directly toward them? Of course. Bring on the spandex.
Anyway, now that I’ve stepped off my pedestal made of an overturned sidecar, let’s get down to business: The ninth leg of the race saw the Final 4 teams racing from Singapore to the Philippines.
It’s funny how the Final 4 have kind of presented themselves as two opposing sets:
1. The brains vs. brawn match-up of the Scientists and The Wrestlers. Neither are teams you would have expected to make it this far, and yet here they are, theoretically just as likely to win as …
2. … the ever-positive Surfers and however you’d classify Jim (excluding Misti, who her seeming perfectly delightful).
But in the ninth leg, it doesn’t really matter whose Race enemy is who anymore, because everyone ends up on even, muddy ground in the end.
The Surfers depart first to the capital of the Phillipines, Manila. They book what they hope is the earliest flight possible, arriving in Manila at 11:00 PM. I was really happy for how much appreciation travel agents got this episode, because let’s face it, they’re not getting it at every corner these days. The Wrestlers head straight to a travel agent, the Dentists head straight to the airport, and the Scientists call a travel agent from the taxi. Guess who gets the later flight? It was the team that said, “Legs 10 and 11, we’ll break everybody’s spirit.” There’s only one team that would have ever said that. (It’s Jim. Jim said it.)
But even though they broke their own spirit because they can’t book a good flight these days, the Dentists end up camping outside right along with everyone else when they arrive at the flower vendor near Baclaran Church and learn that, like the other teams, they can’t get their clue until 6:30 AM.
NEXT: Catch a flying fish, and put it in your basket …
At 6:30, the teams are instructed to travel to Rosario Municipal Plaza via “jeepney” to pick up their next clue at the Salinas Specials stand. A jeepney is like a communal taxi that Maya describes as making her and Amy feel like they were “from the Philippines.” Of course, Mr. Wrestler describes it as “a limo minus every good thing,” which gives way to their complaints about the Philippines’ unique aromas. When they arrive at Salinas Specials the Wrestlers do a lot of gagging and saying it smells like dog food. Karma seemingly steps in, then, when they select the detour that results in them handling raw fish for an hour or so.
DETOUR: CATCH OR COACH
In Catch, the teams must wade into Manila Bay to meet the fisherman collecting fish, and then fill three buckets with fish for the broker back on shore. While there’s a certain drama to choosing between detours when one is significantly more difficult than the other, I appreciate a face-off that is purely strength vs. smarts. In this case, all four teams choose well. There’s no way in TAR-hell the Wrestlers would have been patient and observant enough to complete Coach, but they’re strong enough to muscle their way through choppy waves and carry four trips’ worth of heavy fish baskets—even if they did scream at each other and gag the whole way, as lovely Filipino people cheered them on from shore.
Similarly, the Scientists, Surfers, and Dentists likely would have struggled staying above water if they hadn’t chosen Coach, where each team had to assemble a sidecar and mount it onto a motorcycle. It was a challenge designed for the detail-oriented, and once again, the Dentists repeatedly tell us how detail-oriented they are while ignoring one glaring detail. Adam and Bethany complete the task easily with handyman Adam leading the way, and I was glad to see him get some glory. Bethany shines through as a super-human all the time, but Adam and is pretty swell too. Now, if they could only say “honeybun/’honuh-baun'” about 200% less.
With a lot of trouble, more yelling, and a few cuts from manhandling sharp fins, the Wrestlers successfully make four trips into the ocean to collect fish and grab their next clue. Most importantly, Mr. Wrestler completes the challenge shirtless, meaning we get to see the gnarly marks (bruises?) left by last week’s cupping massage torture.
NEXT: May the Lord be with you. And also with The Amazing Race.
At Coach, the Dentists finally realize what the judges have been telling them: that while they’ve been tightening tiny bolts and shining bumpers, an entire shock on their motorcycle hasn’t been connected. At that point Jim more or less owns up to what we’re all thinking: the dentists focus so much on tiny details that they sometimes miss the biggest ones. Ultimately, it doesn’t seem to be holding them back too much, but there are still a few legs to go. If the Scientists take the win this season I can’t say I’ll be particularly moved by it, but they had a few moments tonight that made me appreciate their contributions to this Final 4. First, there this exchange:
Maya: “I think we may have picked a blessed [motorcycle]. The lord is on our side, that’s the way it works!”
Amy: “I don’t think the lord cares which tuk-tuk we decide to build.” (I wonder if Misti “Sweet Jesus” Dentist was listening in on Amy’s pragmatic words?)
And then later, Maya apologized to the garage workers for the mess they left, saying she hoped they could use the motorcycles they had assembled. It’s the simple things, like not gagging in people’s faces, y’know?
The Wrestlers arrive to the next clue first, where Phil explains the ROAD BLOCK: MY OX IS BROKEN: a Switch-Back to Season 5’s meltdown of an ox challenge (“My ox is broken!” –Colin). The teams must use an ox to plow a rice field in the traditional Filipino manner to uncover their next clue. Mrs. Wrestler is good with animals and decides to take the lead, meaning she picks what she deems to be the strongest ox, which she just so happens to not initially notice also resides is the largest rice field to plow. I’d call on the TAR historians to reflect on Season 5’s visit to the Philippines, but personally, I can only really remember Colin’s screams. Tonight, the plowing for the clue seems like a bit of a free-for-all—the team member not leading the ox could just hunt through the mud for the clue, no ox required. Or as the Wrestlers called the contents of the rice field: “cement clay ox poop.”
Some teams’ clues seem to be attached to a rope, while others are just laminated and hanging out in the water. It’s the Dentists and Scientists who luck upon their clues first, leaving the Surfers and Wrestlers to an incredibly close foot race to the Pit Stop that’s just a few fields over.
1: Dentists, who Phil shares a number of “thumb” jokes with, meaning that this, their fifth win, encompasses all five fingers, in addition to earning them a trip to Vietnam
3: Surfers, just barely beating …
NOT ELIMINATED: The Wrestlers
We all knew it was coming in the Final 4: this was a non-elimination leg. The Wrestlers live to laugh another day.
As semi-terrible as Mr. and Mrs. Wrestler can be, I don’t really mind them sticking around a little longer. This is a Final 4 where I’m down for anyone to win. The Dentists want it so bad, I almost feel like Jim needs it for his sanity; sometimes it’s fun to rage against a villain team like the Wrestlers, not to mention, their inclusion is so unexpected at this point that you have to be impressed; the Scientists have been similarly impressive in their ability to use a unique skillset (“academics,” as Maya phrased it) to stay in the game—also, they literally make candy for a living; and Phil is probably already looking into timeshares with the Surfers, the rightful heirs to the TAR throne.
What do you think? Who most deserves the win? And is that the team who ultimately take it, or does everyone stand a good chance? Only a few more weeks to go!