The Amazing Race – Season 12, Episode 5

“We’ve Really Burned Bridges, For Sure”

December 2nd, 2007

Okay, so this week it seems that the teams are falling apart at the seams after the U-Turn pretty much tore their very fabric of reality apart. I don’t really buy this: we’ve seen certain bitterness before, and by and large the changes are isolated within a single team. Shana and Jennifer may have opened the door for bickering and sniping last week, but they appear to be the only ones fully willing to go through it.

The other drama is really nothing abnormal: Nicholas has issues keeping his head in tough situations, unable to talk himself out them, while Ronald’s bickering at Christina was as present as it’s always been. This week, though, these teams and others faced their first bunching in a while, and it seemed that their stir craziness finally broke them down. However, most of the bridges burned seemed to be within, not between, teams.

Bunching? Finally!

After last week’s leg was only 12 hours long, this week took the teams from Burkina Faso to Lithuania. The flight, a substantial day long affair, was the first time we’ve seen bunching in a while, and it resulted in Nicholas and Donald struggling with an Air France ticket agent and Shana attempting to keep other teams away from a largely innocuous attempt to get close to the front of the plane. But really, this caused more tension between dove Jennifer and hawk Shana than it did between them and other teams. The result was all teams heading to Lithuania with about 45 minutes between the 1st and last flights.

Roadblock

The Roadblock, however, did a lot to switch this around. Finally, the teams are given a difficult driving task that separates those capable of navigation and those completely incapable of it. The task itself involves taking a gift basket to one person, and then delivering a book to another location. Most teams perform these tasks with ease, but Hendekea and Nicholas are unfortunately sidled with a difficult to find Hair Salon and it results in Nicholas falling to the back of the pack. It was especially interesting because regardless of the flights, there was a lot of mobility between teams. This is good.

Detour 

This week’s detour was a choice between Step Up (Stilts Walking) and Count Down (Counting Fenceposts), both of which were your normal Amazing Race tasks. However, they were somewhat complicated by one of my favourite distractions: crazy Lithuanian Midsummer Festival performers! I wasn’t aware of how much I enjoyed them, but they were certainly a festive and (most importantly) disruptive influence for some teams. Kynt and Vyksin felt right at home, but Nathan and Jennifer were most certainly not impressed when one of them distracted them from counting. Either way, it seems that the stilts were a challenging option that, regardless, benefitted TK and Rachel who arrived 2nd but managed to complete the task first.

The Teams

TK and Rachel: These two aren’t really any more interesting than they were before, but they did manage to eke out a first place finish over Kynt and Vyksin. What I enjoyed, though, about this episode is that it showed TK in his wheelhouse: interacting with young hipsters in foreign lands. He became an entirely different people when it was “Aww man, check this out, can you help me out? Aww, wicked!” with like minds in Lithuania. It should be interesting to see if this continues to help him in further legs.

Nicholas and Donald: Nicholas certainly needs to calm down at this stage in the game – I know that he has a tough time, but he was getting far too frustrated with both the airline clerk and during the roadblock. He seemed to calm down as the episode went on: he did well to realize his mistake at the detour and fixed his mistake quickly, so he’s getting better. But he definitely needs to take his time, it is likely to benefit him greatly in the team’s future. While Donald is entertaining, he doesn’t seem overly sharp in terms of the tasks of the game: Nicholas needs to hold up that part of it, and that takes patience.

Kynt and Vyksin & Ron and Christina: There’s not much to say about the goths, to be honest – a good 2nd place finish, continued good humour, and some generally smart decisions. They didn’t make any serious errors, so they deserve kudos for that. Ron and Christina, meanwhile, worked generally well and most importantly overcame a 40-minute lead with a smart decision to follow a cab. They were behind all teams, and rather than work on flights they caught up through some smart play.

Nathan and Jennifer & Azaria and Hendekea: Nathan and Jennifer completely and totally devolved into a bickering couple, as he even called her a bitch at one point. This is a dangerous development, and it seems to devolve into full-on hate next week. Azaria and Hendekea meanwhile stayed as well-balanced as ever, although there is a clear sense that Azaria’s micromanaging of his sister’s life will eventually come to haunt them.

The Eliminated Team

Shana and Jennifer totally deserved their last place finish, there’s no question about it. Shana’s bullishness from last week evolved into full-on ignorant stubbornness, as she pretty much destroyed Jennifer with her comments. They fell apart personally, which is always an interesting dynamic: the Race destroyed their partnership, and I wonder whether the U-Turn was actually the cause of it. I would argue that they are the real victims of the U-Turn, as Jason/Lorena would have probably been eliminated regardless.

Next Week: Nathan and Jennifer fall apart, and Azaria and Hendekea kind of sort of fall apart just a little.

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