Friday, June 8, 2012

Amazing Race: Australia 2-02 recap

After Grant Bowler narrates a recap of the previous episode and the opening credits roll, we resume the Amazing Race at Misibis Bay, the Philippines. I notice in Grant's introduction he uses the phrase "our race around the world!" (emphasis mine) whereas on the US version, Phil declares "a race around the world!" Is this an intentional deviation from the US format? And how good is Grant Bowler at cricket? Does he hear that joke often? Am I at least the first Canadian to make it?

Father-daughter team Ross & Tarryn depart in first place with directions to fly to New Delhi, India; first, they'll have to back to Manila to use the airport. Departure times for all the teams are given and it's interesting to learn Ross & Tarryn began with a 2.5 hour lead over the team in last place (sisters Lucy & Emilia). Tarryn recalls how they chose to spare Lucy & Emilia with the Salvage Pass on the previous leg but "Had it been another team, it might have been a different story."

As Lucy & Emilia depart - a full hour behind workmates Paul & Steve, so they lost some significant time while rowing their raft to the Pit Stop on the previous leg - we learn a little more about their background and how their father recently died and their mother has been diagnosed with cancer, causing them to draw closer to each other for support.

In Manila, teams begin arriving at the airport and are once again destined to wind up on the same flight to India. As flatmates Sticky & Sam collect their tickets we hear a little about Sticky's philosophy: "I was born without my arm. I think it's probably better for me to never have anything to lose, I've always just adapted to everything I've needed to." They note he isn't above using his lack of a left forearm for sympathy, especially if it might help convince the airline staff to seat them closer to the front of the plane. As on-again off-again couple James & Sarah begin to argue in the airport over how they should book their tickets, Sarah trots out the dreaded "This will either make or break our relationship." catchphrase; statistically, the Amazing Race is the great breaker of relationships - just a tip for all those couples who think a stressful round-the-world competition is what they needed to find each other.

As an alternative, we have middle-aged engaged couple Kym & Donna; says Kym of their relationship: "We have two rare individuals who crashed together in life and together we're a bit awesome." This cracks up Donna. As twin sisters Michelle & Jo are booking their tickets, we hear how Michelle is the take-charge one (being 34 seconds older than Jo) and wants Jo to assert herself. On the other hand, siblings Joseph & Grace have some friction because Grace wants to prove she's more capable. Meanwhile, cousins Adam & Dane are a little annoyed by their perfomance on the previous leg, being forced out of first place when their raft collapsed.

Adam: "Hopefully a few of the teams just think we're the athletic type and no brains."

Dane: "We've still to prove otherwise."

As they wait at the airport, Sarah asks James to buy her a drink (evidently he holds the team purse). James refuses, wanting to control the team's finances and insisting she wait until they're on the flight and a complimentary drink will be served. Sarah makes a big deal out of this so James goes to a buy a drink even though Sarah says she won't drink it; sure enough, she petulantly refuses the drink he purchases. Make or break? "Make" isn't looking good.

As Paul & Steve arrive, Paul notes how Steve is more likable than him so he lets Steve interact with the other teams and make friends while he prefers to be the "mastermind." I hope Paul realizes that this "I'm not likeable" schtick is pretty evident to the viewers at home; stop being a boffhead, Paul (thank you to my friend Rhonwyn for decoding last week's "boffhead" to me). Lucy & Emilia don't meet up with the other teams until they board the plane; Grace is actually glad to see them, which is surprising. Paul aside, this year's teams seem to really like each other's company. Lucy accidentally calls the plane a "bus," which is a marvelous flub, cracking up Emilia.

Teams fly through Bangkok to reach New Delhi and upon arrival (late at night) they grab their taxis and speed to the next location, Agrasen ki Baoli. En route, police officers Shane & Andrew try to pass themselves off as cricket players to their driver, but their driver isn't interested in small talk. It's been about a day since teams were in Manila, but James & Sarah are still arguing about who gets to decide when they have a drink; oh, mercy. When they arrive at Agrasen ki Baoli, they discover an hours of operation sign - the temple won't open for another 5 hours.

When Agrasen ki Baoli opens its doors 5 hours later, all 11 teams pour in. To obtain their next clue, they need to find someone wearing a turban which has the word "correct" printed on it, then exchange the turban for the next clue. To find this word, they'll have to unwind the entire turban and if the person they chose doesn't have "correct" written on the turban, they'll have to rewrap the turban before they can check another person. Sticky & Sam and Ross & Tarryn both quickly find their turbans and receive the next clue. It's Detour time! The options are "Pull" or "Poo." ...Seriously, "Poo?" ...Australians...

In "Pull," teams journey to a dairy farm and have to fill a container with milk; each team member must fill half of the container, maintaining the Australian version's insistence on teams splitting the work on Detours.

"Poo" is located at the same dairy farm; in the US version when both Detour options are at the same place, they usually leave the clue revealing the Detour at the Detour sight. Anyway, "Poo" is very much like a Detour option from season 18 of the US show: teams must create 50 patties out of hay and cow manure, affixing them to a wall.

Sticky & Sam and Ross & Tarryn both decide on "Pull" and start off in rickshaws for the dairy farm. Back at the turban challenge, Lucy & Emilia note their problem in finding the right turban is that their strategy was to check men who were smiling, but:

Lucy: "We only picked good-looking ones."

Emilia: "And that was our problem. They were smiling in a 'hey, you know I'm good-looking' kind of way."

Shane & Andrew find their turban and helpfully show Adam & Dane what the "Correct" looks like; they choose "Pull." Hairdressers Sue & Teresa find their turban and also choose "Pull." Sticky & Sam meet some drag queens while their rickshaw is stalled in traffic and the queens fawn over Sam. "I did like it a little bit, I'm not gonna lie." Sam confesses. Shane & Andrew's rickshaw driver goes in the wrong direction so they try to switch to another vehicle, but this angers their former driver and he holds them up even further; they lose a lot of time. Lucy & Emilia and Kym & Donna finish the turban challenge next; the sisters choose "Poo" while the couple pick "Pull."

Sticky/Sam & Ross/Tarryn arrive at the dairy farm and begin milking their cows, Ross and Sam going first for their respective teams. Sticky & Sam's cow is a little upset and even violent, kicking at Sam when he tries to milk it. Back at the temple, Adam/Dane & James/Sarah both find their turbans and choose "Pull." At the farm, Sam finishes his half of the milking, but Sticky has some trouble and loses some of the milk; one wonders why Sticky didn't go first, since one would assume he'd have the most trouble at milking with just one hand and they should see how well he adapts to the challenge first. Sue & Teresa begin their "Pull" Detour.

Back at the temple again, Joseph & Grace find their turban but even as Joseph is telling Grace he's found it, she's already begun wrapping the turban back on their subject's head! "Me shouting out 'I've got it!' is a big giveaway." Joseph notes sardonically. They choose "Pull." Michelle/Jo & Paul/Steve are the only teams still searching the turbans. Steve notes "There is absolutely no way we wanted to get beaten by two blonde bimbos." evidently forgetting these "bimbos" beat them on the previous leg, so it should feel familiar. Once again, Michelle & Jo pass Paul & Steve and they head to "Pull;" they mention they don't particularly like Paul & Steve, so it felt pretty good to them.

At the dairy farm, Adam/Dane, James/Sarah & Kym/Donna arrive for "Pull" and Sarah has switched her shoes to flats, despite her earlier protests in the first leg; apparently she can't run in flats but can milk in them. Lucy & Emilia begin "Poo," a task they have to perform bare-handed; lovely! "I chose to go to a happy place." says Lucy. Lucy describes the process of mixing hay and manure and compares it to making "pasta dough." Eww. Kym notes "Donna is a little bit of a country girl. She's pulled a teat in her time." Oh, you! In fact, Donna does very well at "Pull."

Paul & Steve finally locate their turban and decide they'll do "Pull." At the farm, Sticky's had too much trouble with the milking, being unable to hold the container and cow udders with just one hand; after losing much of their milk to the upset cow again, they decide to switch Detours. Says Sam, "I've known Sticky for 12 years and that is honestly the first time I've ever seen him quit at something." Sue & Teresa finish "Pull" first and are directed to the Old Fort area.

Sticky & Sam begin the "Poo" Detour and once again, Sticky's prowess is something to behold; seeing him jab his left ...stub? into the manure is a sight to see. Ross & Tarryn finish "Pull." While Michelle milks her cow it takes a wee. Kym & Donna finish "Pull" and Adam is a little flustered to see teams who arrived at the same time finish ahead of he & Dane. En route to the dairy farm, Paul & Steve drive by Shane & Andrew, whose driver is lost. This gives Paul something to brag about when Shane & Andrew fail to follow them to the farm. "I don't know how we managed to lose them when we were pnly 2 meters away but, well, very impressive cops." At the farm, Paul & Steve decide to switch to the "Poo" Detour, which does seem like one a physical team could power through much more easily than the milking challenge. Steve declares, "We're confident we're not going to get beaten by these two teams because they're physically weaker than us." I don't believe in karma, but these two demand such a thing. James/Sarah & Adam/Dane both finish "Pull" and begin to head to the Old Fort.

Sue/Teresa & Ross/Tarryn arrive at the Old Fort, where they have to perform in a Bollywood production! Both team members must dress up and perform in a synchronized dance routine to the satisfaction of a director. Ross' clothes are... quite a sight.

When the dancing is done, they must perform a dramatic scene which they read from cue cards. The two leading teams are soon joined by Adam & Dane, but the cousins have spent all of their money on taxis getting there and fear how they'll carry on afterward. Back at the farm, Shane & Andrew have only just arrived and begun "Pull!" While Jo milks her cow, the cow takes a dump; Michelle apologizes, since she only had to suffer through a wee. Sticky & Sam finish "Poo" before Paul & Steve, clearly proving the assertion that they're "physically weaker," eh?

Meanwhile, en route to the Old Fort, Sarah gets annoyed at how slow their rickshaw is travelling and demands they switch vehicles, against James' wishes. James argues the time they'll spend getting another vehicle could've been spent continuing on the road to the Old Fort. Sarah disagrees, asserting their driver was "useless as tits on a bull." I don't think "tits" would pass muster on US television.

Teams at the Old Fort struggle; Sue & Teresa are fine at dancing, but garble up the dialogue, while Ross & Tarryn are bad at dancing. Back at the farm, Emilia figures out how to get their patties how to stick and shares this information with Paul & Steve. "Lucy & Emilia actually made a rather dumb error there." notes Paul; yes, the "physically weaker" team who have already outsmarted you on the previous leg have outsmarted you again and shown you how to finish a task. It may not be smart of them to share information with you, but you're not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed, are you boys? With the help of Emilia's intelligence, Paul & Steve finish the Detour before them, but Lucy/Emilia & Michelle/Jo finish their Detours soon after them.

Tarryn thinks she understands how to complete the acting part of the Bollywood challenge:

Tarryn: "As long as we get the pronounciation, that's what we're being judged--"

Ross: "Pronunciation!"

Tarryn: "Don't correct me on that! Correct me on the other crap!"

Says Ross of his dancing skill, "I've got two left feet, both lead." Back at the farm, Joseph/Grace finish "Pull." Lucy & Emilia actually beat Paul & Steve to the Old Fort by taxi, but Paul & Steve outrun them to the task itself. Sarah has trouble with the acting challenge, prompting James to remark, "For someone who you can never get to shut up, she really struggled at speaking." True love, those two! Actually, he does seem to mean it in a nice way. Shane & Andrew are the last team to finish the Detour and head to the Old Fort.

Sticky & Sam are the first to finish the Bollywood challenges and seem to get it on their first attempt. The next clue directs them to the Pit Stop: Autn Minar, an Islamic shrine. However, while Sticky & Sam start asking locals for directions, Sue & Teresa finish the Bollywood challenge and reach the taxis first! It's a neck and neck race to the finish! The other nine teams are still at the Old Fort, but Michelle & Jo seem to finish the Bollywood challenge on their first attempt, being experienced dancers. Adam/Dane, Kym/Donna & Ross/Tarryn each finish the challenges soon after them.

Somehow Michelle & Jo make up a bit of time and are racing close behind Sticky & Sam; I don't know how Sue & Teresa fell out of first, but evidently their taxi wasn't the best. Sticky & Sam reach Qutb Minar first and have to talk their way past a guard (explaining they're students from the University of Tasmania, which I guess is a better reference than contestant on a reality TV show?). Sticky & Sam check in with Grant at the Pit Stop in 1st place and are awarded as prize a trip to Japan's 2012 Honda Moto event. Sticky & Sam note teams might have underestimated them because of Sticky's missing arm; they realize now the other teams will recognize them as a threat. Michelle & Jo reach the Pit Stop in 2nd place.

Ross/Tarryn make an alliance with Adam/Dane to help them reach the Pit Stop, suggesting they take a train together to Qutb Minar. However, the trains they find don't run there and Ross/Tarryn can't afford to share the full fare of a taxi ride with the cousins. Ross/Tarryn depart, leaving Adam/Dane alone. The cousins finally sell some of their possessions to a passerby, earning enough money to pay for cab fare. Dane recalls "I certainly had that thing in the back of my head - I don't know if I'm allowed to do this, but I just thought, no, let's just do this, deal with the consequences if they come."

Lucy & Emilia do a terrific job at their dancing and excel at the acting, being linguistics teachers; they throw themselves into the acting, delivering their best overacting and finish the Bollywood challenge handily. Paul & Steve finish after them. At the Pit Stop, Ross & Tarryn evidently make up some time because they get within eyesight of Sue & Teresa (or Sue & Teresa lost a lot of time). Sue & Teresa are in 3rd place, Ross & Tarryn in 4th.

At the Old Fort, Grace throws herself into the acting, earning some snickers from the locals running the microphones; Joseph & Grace finish the Bollywood task next. Lucy & Emilia haven't been able to find transportation to Qutb Minar. James & Sarah finish the Bollywood challenge after three attempts and also begin searching for transportation; the Old Fort seems to be in a tricky place for catching rides, at least where some teams are concerned. Shane & Andrew are the last team at the Bollywood challenge and they get it done after their second attempt.

Paul & Steve take 5th place at the Pit Stop, which is definitely a bit of the ol' "taxi luck;" namely, that just about every other team seems to have none. Kym & Donna are 6th. Adam & Dane arrive 7th, but Grant informs them he can't check them in because they sold their possessions, which is against the rules; he assigns a 30 minute penalty, which they serve next to the Pit Stop mat. In the US version of the Amazing Race, teams used to be allowed to sell possessions, but it was eventually taken out. You may wonder, then, what the correct solution to Adam & Dane's problem was? The Race-approved solutions would be to either beg for cab fare or beg a driver to carry them for free (like Sticky & Sam's free bus ride on the first leg).

Shane & Andrew, therefore, claim 7th. 7th? More taxi luck, for three teams which were ahead of them to have become lost. James/Sarah & Joseph/Grace wind up in a race to the Pit Stop, but Sarah can't run as fast (as established, she wears high heels); for all they know, they're racing against elimination, but instead, Joseph/Grace are 8th & James/Sarah are 9th. With just about three minutes left on Adam & Dane's penalty, Lucy & Emilia arrive to claim 10th place.

Lucy: "For us, that's a huge achievement."

Emilia: "Massive. That's like coming first for most teams."

Grant now summons Adam & Dane and informs them they're the last team and have been eliminated. He tells them to be proud of their performance on the previous leg. They try to be proud of the good times they had and describe themselves as "proud indigeneous" and also "proud to be Australian." It's a pity to lose Adam & Dane, they were friendly, funny and competitive and could have carried on to the final three, had events transpired differently.

This leaves us with just 10 teams:

  1. Sticky & Sam: It's great to see these two excelling, not only because Sticky has something to prove but because they are genuinely a competitive team with a strong bond to each other and a fine attitude toward the trials of racing. More teams like these two, please.
  2. Michelle & Jo: Their showing this episode is a better reflection than the previous leg, I think. I feel they're one of the craftiest teams on the Race, but have to struggle with some of the more arcane ordeals of the Race.
  3. Sue & Teresa: Their hippie attitudes weren't laid on as thick this week and seemed the better for it; they're surprising me with their ability to make up time.
  4. Ross & Tarryn: Strangely, a self-proclaimed competitive team who want to win and yet they keep demonstrating selfless kindness to their opponents. They would have surely achieved a higher place than 4th if they hadn't tried to help Adam & Dane. It's great to see such selfless behaviour as a mark of their character, but I worry they're not cutthroat enough to remain in the Race.
  5. Paul & Steve: Paul talks the talk but when it comes to walking the walk... not so much. They made up some time on the race to the Pit Stop, but otherwise the only people they impressed were themselves; I keep thinking Paul will feel humbled when Racers he judges inferior outplay him, but this guy... he's a stranger to his own soul.
  6. Kym & Donna: I'm quietly enjoying these two - they share a strong sense of humour.
  7. Shane & Andrew: Once again, these two bled time everywhere and again, primarily because of taxi drivers; however, their taxi driver did get them out of last place at the Pit Stop, so "taxi luck" isn't necessarily their worst foe. I expected these two to be at the top of the rankings and hope they'll step it up next leg - they're nice enough guys.
  8. Joseph & Grace: They really faded into the background this leg, even moreso than last week; Grace's belief in how she has to assert herself to her brother could lead somewhere, but only if Grace really does have something to contribute. Let's see what develops.
  9. James & Sarah: These two set off too many alarm bells; spending most of the day arguing about buying a drink is such a waste of energy better conserved for the trials of the Race. I fear the longer they last in the Race, the worse their relationship will seem.
  10. Lucy & Emilia: I'm really enjoying this two and didn't think I would; the overacting at the Bollywood task was pretty funny. They've made some bad judgments and had some bad luck, but they chose the right Detour option and knocked the Bollywood tasks out of the park; I hope they last a long time, although I can't imagine them in the final three.

Next Week: The Race remains in India as Paul interferes with Kym & Donna; intentionally (like when he interfered with Dane in leg 1?) or unintentionally? Either way, Paul gloats, as is his idiom (he knows there are penalties for intentionally hindering other teams, right?).

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