The Amazing Race Unfinished Business Watch: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Last week, cowboys Jet/Cord were on their own right from the get-go. Having impressed and even intimidated the other five teams with their laid-back attitude and crazy racing skills, everyone decided to share information and help each other with the express purpose of getting the cowboys out. A distance-guessing challenge in Liechtenstein proved enough to put the cowboys behind, and a race to avoid being U-turned came down to a hair’s breadth between them and Globetrotters. The ‘trotters hit the mat just minutes ahead of Jet/Cord, who became the seventh team to be Phil-iminated this season. Five teams remain.

Zev/Justin, having now each won a Ford Focus and three all-expenses-paid vacations to tropical destinations, step off the mat and begin Leg Ten at 6:54 am. They tear open their clue, which tells them to head to the Zermatt Air Rescue Helicopter Port and sign up for one helicopter flight that departs in five-minute intervals. They will receive their next clue at that time. The ARHP must have been very close to Moos Restaurant, because they decide to go on foot, and are the first team to sign up, for a flight leaving at 9:15 am. They are understandably jazzed about riding in their first helicopter (I would be too).

Kisha/Jen leave the mat eight minutes later, noting that they have been given $1 extra for this leg, which is a surefire indicator that they will not be leaving Switzerland this leg. They interview that they are having a lot more fun this time around, which is cool. Would be nice if they could come in first just once, though. I’d have to check, but if they make Final Three without one single leg win, they could conceivably be the first team to win the race despite never having finished first in any leg. That would be interesting. The snow has really started to come down now, and Jen is pumped about what lies ahead. Kisha? Not so much.

One by one, the teams find the heliport and sign up. Kent/Vixsyn vow to “start the leg happy”, but when Gary/Mallory and the Globetrotters procure taxis and pull ahead of them, that happiness evaporates quickly. Flight Time jokes that he plans on keeping their $1 allowance and giving it to Phil as a gift when the win the million. Hee.

Detour. At 9:15, Zev/Justin get their next clue, and it’s a Detour, and their choices are Search and Rescue. In the former, teams use a set of avalanche beacons to search the nearby Matterhorn for a dummy buried in the snow; after digging the dummy out, they would receive their next clue. In the latter, one teammate would lower another using a pulley into a glacier’s crevasse to rescue a fallen mountaineer by using a carabiner to hoist him back to the surface. Once completed the mountaineer would give them their next clue. Zev/Justin opt for Search, while Kisha/Jen choose Rescue.

Now, Search would seem to be one of those tasks that could take hours if you don’t know what you’re doing. Zev/Justin, using a homing beacon, find their dummy very quickly, but the tough part was digging the thing out, as it was buried several feet deep. Gary/Mallory also choose search and they start looking. While Kisha is lowering Jen into the crevasse, the Goths and the Globetrotters are dropped off and start doing the same thing.

Zev/Justin run into trouble when the wind picks up, blowing more snow into the hole they’re digging. Vixsyn lowers Kent down into the crevasse, and they make a joke about what a rescuee would think if they saw Kent coming to save him. If I were that person, I’d probably think, “Damn, how far down did I fall?” Kent puts a game face on, but he whines almost incessantly, and it’s annoying. Flight Time is all business.

So there are three teams rescuing creviced mountaineers, and two teams digging up dummies. Gary is the first to apparently finish, but their mannequin breaks in half and they have go back and dig up its legs. It is Kisha/Jen who complete the Roadblock first, and their clue tells them to take their ‘copter to a nearby ski resort, after which they would catch a train back to Zermatt and find a hotel called La Petit Cervin, where their next clue awaits. The sisters leave in a rare first place, and Kent/Vixsyn are right behind them in an even rarer second. The Globetrotters finish as well. The digging teams run into further difficulty when the altitude makes their labors even more, well, laborious. Finally, Gary heaves out the dummy’s bottom half, and they are finished, leaving Zev/Justin in last place again. And they started off so well…

All teams but Zev/Justin get to the train stop and play the waiting game, as the first train doesn’t leave until 11:08, so it’s a question of whether Zev/Justin will be left behind or not. And that is exactly what happens, and with the second train a full 25 minutes behind the first, Zev/Justin are now in a hole in more ways than one. With the weather not cooperating and their dummy firmly ensconced in the snow, they contemplate switching tasks. But with the last of their flagging strength, they unearth their dummy… in two parts, just like Gary/Mallory did.

Roadblock. The four leading teams locate the hotel, and their next clue is this leg’s Roadblock. In it, one team member must create a Travelocity Gnome out of Swiss chocolate. They do this by properly decorating the mold with colored chocolate, and then bring it outside to let it be hardened by the snow. After that, they would cover any imperfections that appeared to the approval of the head chocolatier, who would then give them a real Gnome figurine and their next clue. At least this gets them indoors, which should make some of them happy. Vixsyn, Flight Time, Mallory and Jen don their chef’s coats and set to work. Meanwhile, the teammates get to help themselves to platters full of samples. Damn, I envy them… Swiss chocolate is the best in the world for a reason.

Turns out the head chocolatier has very exacting standards, and every team has to have a keen eye for detail to meet her criteria for approval. Teams soon figure out that doing the statue in layers is providential. Kent jabbers non-stop at Vixsyn from the sidelines, which drives all the other racers bananas, and now I really want him off my screen. I mean, Vixsyn’s cool, but I dislike him more than I like her, so there we are. Zev/Justin, meanwhile, have arrived, and Zev takes on sculpting duties because they realize that Justin has done the lion’s share of Roadblocks, and there is an unwritten (or written) TAR rule about there being a level of equanimity in Roadblocks, such that one teammate can’t just sit back and let the other do all of them.

Watching people use brushes to paint the inside of a chocolate mold is pretty much the equivalent of watching paint dry, so I’ll spare you the details. It is painstaking work that can’t be done quickly, much to the chagrin of the spectators, especially Kent, who really needs to shut up. Drama ensues when teams get confused about whose layered molds that were put in the freezer belongs to whom, and accusations start flying. Basically, Flight Time’s mold disappears, and Vixsyn becomes the center of Big Easy’s blame. She denies it, citing that she’s running behind everyone else, and Flight Time tries to calm everyone down. Gotta love him. Vixsyn, meanwhile, confesses that the accusations hurt her deeply, and she tears up in interview. So much for their “happy leg”, I guess.

Flight Time is the first one to complete his statue, and he deposits it outside in the snow to harden. Vixsyn is right behind him. While they wait, Kent makes childish faces behind Big Easy’s back, calling him a bully and yada yada yada. Mallory, Jen and Zev also finish up, and thus begins the waiting again, as it apparently takes thirty minutes for the chocolate to solidify. After a half hour, the teams dig their statues out of the snow and go back inside to begin the final steps.

(It is at the exact moment that the episode was interrupted by a news flash about the death of Osama Bin Laden. The report basically wiped out my recording of the rest of Leg Ten, so what follows is what I was able to glean from Wikipedia.)

The Pit Stop that was given to the teams after completing their statues was a Swiss cabin called the Mürini & Mittagstadel. The clue instructed teams to get there on foot.

Front-Runners. Flight Time/Big Easy finished in first, making this the second time this race that they have gone from near-elimination to first place in only one leg. I am very impressed by them, but Kent is right about one thing, and that is that Big Easy can be a loudmouth. However, I like Flight Time more than I dislike Big Easy, so I’m still on their bandwagon. They each win a trip for two to the Cook Islands, which is one place that I have wanted to go for years. It is the very definition of “tropical paradise”, one of the few that hasn’t been decimated by tourism. Kisha/Jen finish in second for the second straight leg, and they appear to be hitting their stride.

Back of the Pack. Kent/Vixsyn hit the mat in third place, but they neglected to read the entire clue, and ended up taking a taxi to the cabin. As a result, they were saddled with a thirty-minute penalty, which was more than enough time for the other two teams to catch up. Gary/Mallory and Zev/Justin end up finishing the leg in third and fourth, respectively, and Kent/Vixsyn are Phil-iminated. I find myself almost glad that I was spared the moment of their demise, because it meant that I won’t have to look at their pouty faces again.

Next week: with only two legs left, the four remaining teams cross both the Atlantic and the equator and head for Rio de Janiero, Brazil (no sign yet of any blue macaws or Vin Diesel), with one express purpose, to be one of the three teams to vie for the million dollars.