The Amazing Race Watch: That Was Wicked Strange
Author: Patrick Hodges
published: 2012-03-26 01:51:05
Last week, the eight remaining teams traveled from Paraguay to Italy. Border Patrol agents Art and J.J. continued to dominate, snagging the season’s only Fast Forward and finishing in first for the second straight leg. Country boys Bopper and Mark had one lapse in judgment that put them an hour behind the rest of the teams, and they came in last. They were not eliminated, however, and not only that, Art and J.J. offered to split the ten grand they won with Bopper so he could take care of his sick daughter. Warm fuzzies!
Starting Line - The Landhannes dairy farm in Schwangau-Horn,Germany. Teams’ first clue was to fly to Baku, the capital and largest city in the country of Azerbaijan (a former Soviet republic on the shores of the Caspian Sea), and find the Temple Ateshgah (“Temple of Fire”). I have to say, for a temple, the place has an awesome pre-sunrise party going on: musicians, dancers, fire, how could several teams just not kick up and join the celebration while killing time (since the place didn’t officially open until sunrise)?
When the temple opened, a Fast Forward awaited all the teams. Hmm… two Fast Forwards in one season? They haven’t done that in a while! (Course, I remember the first season, when they had FF’s on every leg.) The Fast Forward was pretty straightforward: travel to a nearby market, unload 150 bales of hay off a humongous truck, and stack them in a 10 x 3 x 5 configuration. Since all the teams got the clue at once, I expected quite a few teams to go for it. The problem with that is, you go for it and lose, and you are already significantly behind all the teams that chose not to. (To see who won the FF, pan down to the team that finished first.)
Anyway, all the other teams were directed to find Occupational Training International, the site of this leg’s Roadblock, which required one team member to participate in a helicopter crash training course. I’m assuming it doesn’t involve the fetal position and screaming like a little girl. No, it involves entering a simulation helicopter, which would then invert itself in a pool, from which the racers would have to extricate themselves and retrieve their clue from a nearby lifeboat.
From there, teams were directed to the old section of Baku to find the Toghrul Karabakh Carpet Shop, wherein lied this leg’s Detour. The choices: Apples and Oil. In the former, teams traveled to a nearby fruit market and searched through an old Soviet-era car filled with a ton of applies for one particular apple marked with a race flag (your basic “needle in a haystack” challenge). In the latter, teams traveled to a health spa where they had to clean crude oil off of a client, using a shoehorn and scrubbers. Eww.
The Pit Stop for Leg Six was at the center of the Boulevard Esplanade Estakada, a nice-looking stone-cobbled plaza surrounded by some very official-looking buildings.
Below is the order the contestants finished in, along with some of their more interesting moments.
1. Rachel and Dave - I am happy to say that after some rough patches, the Iraq War veteran and his wife had a smooth ride this leg. They went for the Fast Forward against the Jersey boys and won, and coasted all the way to their third victory (and their first since winning the first two legs). They and Art and J.J. have won every single leg between them, three each. If these two are not in the race to the very end, I will be very surprised. And BTW, their prize for winning this leg was mondo: they each won a brand new 2013 Ford Taurus SHO. Damn, that’s a sweet prize.
2. Art and J.J. - After three straight legs, they opted to not go for the Fast Forward, but, no surprise, they outraced all the other teams through the rest of the tasks once again. Art, Bopper and Jamie actually teamed up to do the helicopter challenge, which was cool. They also opted for the Oil task, and it was hysterical watching them scrub oil off a tall mustachioed VERY hirsute Azerbaijanian man who could have been Borat’s older brother. Made my whole day.
3. Bopper and Mark - I am happy to see the Kentucky boys rebound after two bad legs. Aside from another bout of carsickness from Mark, they were mistake-free, staying with the lead pack all the way from beginning to end. Plus, Mark let slip that Bopper’s nursing a mini-crush on Jamie. To which I say… is Bopper married? I know he’s got a little girl, but he never talked about a wife. Whatever, I hope he still likes her after he finds out what she REALLY does for a living. I just so like these guys, they get along with everybody!
4. Brendon and Rachel - Thank God, an entire leg without any arguments, meltdowns or freakouts. Rachel didn’t even act icked out having to scrape hot oil off a complete stranger. I don’t know if this uncharacteristic good behavior was because they turned over a new leaf or because they never felt like they were in danger of elimination, but I would bet real money that it won’t continue.
5. Nary and Jamie - This whole season, the Feds have maintained that they are schoolteachers so that other teams don’t see them as a threat. I find it hard to believe any team would think that… because they really aren’t a threat. Or they sure haven’t shown it, at any rate. I mean, six legs and not one Top Three finish! They, Vanessa and Ralph and Team Jersey were the only teams who chose the Apple task, which just goes to show that “needle in a haystack” tasks should be avoided like the plague on the race.
6. Vanessa and Ralph - Not a particularly strong leg for the dating divorcees. Vanessa got stuck doing the Roadblock, which was particularly tough given her claustrophobia. For a dramatic second, I thought she was going to need CPR like that redhead in An Officer and a Gentleman, but she came through it okay. They futzed about and lost a bit of time on the Detour, but not enough to get caught. I figure one more leg and they’ll be done.
The following team came in last and was eliminated:
7. Joey “Fitness” and Danny - Only two teams decided to go for the Fast Forward, and when that happens, it puts the team that fails to get it in a huge hole, and sadly, the Jersey boys came up short and dug themselves a whole from which they could not get out. Don’t blame them for going for it at all, they had to be really confident after three straight fantastic legs, and really wanted to win a leg. It’s just bad luck that they went all-in against a really good team, and even worse that this was an elimination leg.
For the first time all race, they showed some (totally understandable) frustration. Must be tough having to go through the motions of a leg knowing full well you’re probably doomed. If they’d picked Oil over Apples, they might have stood a chance, but none of the back three teams had any way of knowing how the other teams were doing. The show was edited in its typical red-herring way such that we saw Joey and Danny breeze through the Detour interspersed with footage of Ralph and Vanessa searching for their missing cab driver, but come on, I got wise to that trick years ago.
Still, they exited gracefully, grateful for all the stuff they got to see and all the places they went (not to mention, I’m sure, all the foreign babes they got to flirt with). And that’s something you always like to see.
In two weeks: it’s off to Tanzania, where wildlife still roams free in huge numbers. And there will be a cat-fight, not between jaguars, but between Big Brother Rachel and Vanessa. Come on, you knew it was coming.
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