The Amazing Race – Season 12, Episode 4

“Let’s Name the Chicken Phil!”

November 25th, 2007

Most importantly, this week’s episode of The Amazing Race brought a new twist to this particular race, a new setup which appears to be replacing the oft-maligned Yield. I remember hearing that the Yield was ending, but I wasn’t aware it was being replaced by…well, more or less exactly the same thing. That being said, the U-Turn does have its advantages.

It’s still annoying in many ways, but it is now far more entertaining to watch – as opposed to watching someone sit at a mat for 15 minutes, they are forced to repeat the second Detour task. Nicely, Shana and Jennifer were kind enough to actually use the U-Turn, so we got to see how it works. Unfortunately, it was also largely irrelevant to the leg: the team who was U-Turned was, largely, never in contention anyways.

The leg took teams from Bingo, in the middle of nowhere, to a more metropolitan area of Burkina Faso. It’s one of those rare legs where the teams don’t travel any more than 100 Miles, which means a lack of bunching. The teams also had to carry a Chicken for the entire leg, being unable to check in without their chicken.

The Detour was a choice between two options: Shake Your Booty, a traditional tribal dance challenge with American Idol-style judges, or Shake Your Pan, a rather misleadingly simple gold mining challenge. Both detour options are really quite simple, although the dancing has a 10-minute penalty if you suck the first time through. The thing about the U-Turn is that it means the Detour has to be really simple: in other words, speed is of the essence. It makes for a less exciting time, really: Kynt and Vyxsin were particularly good at the task, while Ron and Christina went with the booty-bumps a bit too much.  In the end, there was almost no switchover at this point in the race, so it was largely irrelevant.

The Roadblock seemed like an odd task that has two parts: it was promoted as juggling, which certainly threw some people for a loop on the clue. Instead, it involved tying a bunch of stuff to a bike (including a goat in a laundry basket) and then driving it into a crowded marketplace. It seemed like the navigation part was fairly quick, and only a few times had trouble with the tying part.

The Teams

Shana and Jennifer: Well we know who wears the pants on this time – Shana basically put Jennifer in her place when she insisted they use the U-Turn at this early stage of the game. Other teams balked at the idea immediately (The other Jennifer noting she and Nathan would play like “men”), but Shana insisted that they U-Turn Jason and Lorena who weren’t even in sight at the point. It was an odd strategic move.

Kynt and Vyxsin: Well, it looks like the goths are officially the feel-good team of the year – they’re not eccentric enough to be lovable, maybe, but they are certainly extremely engaging and, more importantly, capable of being relatable to viewers beyond their makeup. I’ve certainly found them an engaging couple, and their strange gender roles entertain me – when Vyxsin was crying, Kynt clearly was used to being the emotional one. It’s stuff like that which has made them an engaging entry in this race, because they’re likable first and foremost.

The Eliminated Team

Jason and Lorena: Simply put, they were never going to get out of last place – with no bunching, the leg was fully incapable of handling their handicap. The U-Turn didn’t help, but I think it was largely a non-issue in the end. It’s great to get them out of the race, though – it’s yet another male/female team that could have in the past been a final three team that’s cut out while other teams perform much better.

The Other Teams

Ron and Christina broke the Top 3 with a solid performance and good Taxi position, Nicholas and Donald worked well at the Detour to keep pace with other teams, Azaria and Hendekea need to cut out the inappropriate sibling touching immediately whether they’re in 1st or not, Nathan and Jennifer were clearly pissed that the siblings wouldn’t cede first place to them, and TK and Rachel really need to pick up the pace or they’re in trouble.

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