“Please Hold While I Singe My Skull”
November 2nd, 2008
Returning from the grave we hoped he had stayed in, tonight’s sixth leg of The Amazing Race saw the return of obnoxious, demanding, and in many ways downright unreasonable Terence. In a season where villains are luckily in short supply, it is very clear that he is the one exception, his bullying of Sarah reaching some new lows tonight.
And I don’t think he’s an awful human being by any stretch of the imagination: I just think that these two are in a new relationship, have very different personalities, and are discovering that this race is not meant for his demeanor in particular. As he fights to get Sarah to do exactly what he wants at a well-planned roadblock, at no point do we get the desired moment of self-realization: instead, he only shuts up when Sarah asks him to, and only for a few moments.
It’s a relationship that is being tested to the limits by this race, and even if it makes me cross my fingers for them to be absent from the finale it does demonstrate that the human qualities of this race are still in full effect.
From Cambodia to India
For the second week in a row, we get no airport related drama: teams have to buy their tickets direct from a travel agency, so everyone is both on the same flight and bunched together buying tickets. This brings us to the showmance between Dallas and Starr, one that they both acknowledge is kind of awkward considering the presence of an older brother (who, for his part, finds it kind of cute since it’s his little sister) and a mother (who, for her part, doesn’t desire to completely step on his son’s game). As far as awkwardness goes, it’s fairly low on the scale, but there are limits: during the roadblock, Nick has to wrangle his sister into focusing on her own task instead of helping Toni and Dallas.
The other bit of interesting development comes from seeing what impact Terence and Sarah’s penalty had…apparently zero, since they’re in the same position they were in before unless I’m terribly mistaken. As the teams learn they’re traveling to India, they began to wonder what they’ll find: mostly, they expect crowds, heat and confusion. Shockingly, they’re going to get their wish.
When they arrive in Dehli, dusk is beginning to descend on the city and it makes for an ominous series of events. Their trip to Moonlight Motors, where they are tasked with repainting auto Rikshaws green to show that they’re running on natural gas, seems fairly innocuous at first, but a few teams have some serious traffic troubles and all teams discover that this is the worst type of roadblock: the backseat kind.
With the team members able to hover around the cars, as opposed to being off in some sequestered area, the impact is immediate: there are lines drawn between those who are supportive (Dallas, to his mother Toni), directive (Nick, keeping Starr focused), and just downright vindictive (Terence, who can’t help but criticize Sarah’s technique, and Tina who is convinced Ken is wasting too much time with ripping individual pieces of tape). Andrew and Dan, meanwhile, just do the task: Andrew is quick, and shows some promise emerging out of the task in first despite arriving second.
Ken and Sarah have very different trajectories, though, despite being the last two to arrive: Sarah gets bogged down by Terence’s comments, while Ken powers through Tina’s forceful direction to pass two teams and burst into fourth place. Either way, the roadblock was a demonstration of the race’s ability to bring out these things in people: that teams like Nick/Starr and Toni/Dallas made it through without incident shows one thing, and that Terence/Sarah couldn’t tells us quite another (I’ll get to Ken and Tina a bit later).
Detour: Launder Money or Launder Clothes
Now, as far as detours go, this was a weird one: one task seemed really strange and obscure, but in reality offered a pretty simple if exotic experience, while the other was a mundane task that took a particularly interesting twist within Delhi. It’s clear that they are not ready to enter fully into this cow-filled culture, because the lead teams all immediately balk at the money challenge, which really just boils down to exchanging money with people. They choose instead to do some laundry, a task which is a bit challenging with their charcoal-powers irons.
There’s some fun stuff here: Toni teasing Dallas that the laundry challenge was calling his name, everyone trying to figure out where Nick and Starr got gloves (Answer: they brought them themselves, a very intelligent move), Andrew and Dan arguing with their judge launderer and then having their clothes blow off the table, plus whoever said this week’s episode title (Which I, admittedly, missed completely). It wasn’t an interesting challenge to watch on either end, but at least the ironing brought out the best snark in most contestants (Nick and Starr, for example, noting that their mother would be shocked to see them excelling).
The other side was more visually interesting, and much more about cultural stimulation: explicitly, teams ended up in a throng of wedding revelers who were jumping, swaying, crushing and more or less suffocating our racers as they searched for a groom on whom to bestow their necklace. Making the necklace was much less interesting, what with the haggling with street people being their primary motive, but the end result was visually interesting and allowed Terence and Sarah and Ken and Tina to launch back into the race despite being behind due to some rough gameplay. It ended up making for a tense race to the finish, and one that (even considering the lack of apparent consequences).
The Pit Stop
Yes, Ken and Tina finish in last place, sadly almost entirely based on a poor taxi driver. Why they stuck out with this guy so long is kind of unknown, but they probably thought that there was a chance (with the hotel as their next location) that he would improve. The guy just didn’t know where he was going, and that it was taxi problems that killed them after the Detour was just the icing on the cake. Regardless of how one feels about the team, I’m glad they’re sticking around: their tear-filled interview was part of this, not wanting to lose this chance to redefine their marriage, but even then they’re good racers and better competition than Terence and Sarah would be.
As for the other teams, it’s more of the same: Toni and Dallas are creeping up to being one of the most successful parent/child teams since the first season, Nick and Starr win their second leg in a row and continue to show their promise, Kelly and Christy are gritting their way into the race, and Andrew and Dan very nearly went from first to worst despite their aggressive hope not to. How the Speed Bump will affect the next leg will be interesting, but I’m still kind of excited about this group of racers.
- Kelly and Christy are going to make one heck of an outtake reel: them trying to escape from the airport through the glass wall of sorts was one more in a long list of moments where karma has cut them an unfortunate fate.
- I miss having time at the Pit Stops to see eating, sleeping and mingling – especially with Dallas and Starr’s little flirtations, or SportsBraGate, seeing a bit more of that would actually be quite cool. I don’t know if it’s an editing issue, or a factor of having lost a few minutes of airtime with more commercials, but the show misses something without them.
- Dallas is a really nice guy, but he was such a doofus at the mat: “You have fire on your head. That’s insane!” It was a total jock moment, but the two of them are really charming so I’m not complaining.
- Creepiest moment of the episode: Sarah, fighting her way through the throngs of people, smiling like McCain as if it was going to keep people from attacking her. Constant happiness is not a defence mechanism, Sarah.