Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Amazing Race 21-02 recap: "Long Hair, Don't Care"

This week's episode sees a lot of reversals, some pleasant surprises, lots of taxi luck and one very deflating development. Let's rock:

We resume the Race in Shanghai, China as dating divorcees Abbie & Ryan depart in first place with instructions to fly to the Alun-Alun Stadium in Surabaya, Indonesia. The clue also reveals the winners of this leg will receive the Express Pass, which is normally found on the first leg; it will allow the team who holds it to skip one task (Detour, Roadblock) up to a certain leg of the Race. Teams usually spend it when they're either afraid of being eliminated or desperate to win first place. This is great because it means teams will being racing hard on the 2nd leg, just as they were on the 1st.

Dating couple Amy & Daniel leave in 2nd place, still annoyed at giving up vital information to Abbie & Ryan which allowed them to win last leg. As twin sisters Natalie & Nadiya depart, we learn their parents were on opposite sides of the Sri Lanka civil war. They note they're not afraid of some of the cultural differences in other countries because of the years they spent in Sri Lanka.

At the airport, nine of the teams start booking themselves aboard the quickest flight, which switches planes in Jakarta; married couple Rob & Kelley select a different flight which leaves first, but has a 4-hour layover in Hong Kong. The other teams assume everyone is on the same flight, while Rob & Kelley believe they've picked up an advantage.

In Jakarta, all the teams try to switch to an earlier connecting flight which departs an hour sooner than what they've booked, but the flight is full and they have to go on the standby list. Friends James & Abba check in on the list first and win the only available seats; everyone else is an hour behind. Chippendale dancer Jaymes dubs the team "Long Hair, Don't Care," providing the episode title; his teammate James suggests, "Long Hair, DO care." James & Abba arrive in Surabaya and head to the stadium, where they pick up a numbered whip, giving them 1st place. However, the event at the stadium won't open until 8 AM, so all the teams will catch up.

An hour later, the other teams begin arriving; here we learn Natalie/Nadiya have an alliance with young dating couple Trey & Lexi, hoping by working together they can pull ahead to the front of the pack. Amy/Daniel take the 2nd whip, pleased to be ahead of Abbie/Ryan; Abbie/Ryan are 3rd; Jaymes/James are 4th; Trey/Lexi are 5th; Natalie/Nadiya are 6th; life partners Josh/Brent are 7th; friends Caitlin/Brittany are 8th; friends Gary/Will are 9th. The 9 teams now realize Rob/Kelley are somewhere behind them; Jaymes/James initiate high-fives amongst the other teams, no doubt hoping it means none of them have to worry about elimination. En route to Surabaya, Rob actually believes he doesn't have to fear the other teams, despite being older than most of them and still hoping they're in 1st place.

Rob & Kelley arrive in Surabaya last and take the 10th whip, then reunite with the other teams who seem to be waiting in some trailers provided by production; man, the teams don't have to rough it on their own? Rob claims "We like to be the last team; it matters who's the first on the mat." He's not entirely wrong. In the morning, teams enter the stadium and learn they'll be participating in a bull race; while a man races across the field between two bulls, each team member will ride alongside on mopeds. When the race is over, they'll receive their next clue. That's it - no skill required, all it does it slightly stagger the progress of the teams. Actually racing the bulls themselves would be an awesome task, but maybe the producers were afraid Racers could be killed trying? I recall season 4 had an incredibly difficult Roadblock where Racers were dragged across a muddy field by bulls.

Anyway, teams begin racing the bulls and departing in the same order indicated on their whips. James & Abba finish first and are directed to travel by taxi to Genteng Kali Bridge. At the bridge, James & Abba's next clue is a Roadblock: "Who likes to party?" One team member must pedal an odong-odong (merry-go-round) ride for four children and create hats and balloon animals for them while pedalling the ride. James takes the task ("I looked around and I saw a bunch of little kids in a line and I saw balloons; I assess the situation immediately, as only a rock star can do"), but he has trouble making the balloons. Other teams arrive as Amy, Abbie, Jaymes & Lexi take the Roadblock for their respective teams. Jaymes realizes afterward he spooked some of the children by being too rambunctious. Lexi notes, "I've always been a multitasker, I think being a woman is a huge part of that." While some teams are surging ahead, James is still struggling with balloons; he's also banging his knee as he pedals; probably the machine was intended for someone shorter than him.

When Natalie/Nadiya read the Roadblock clue, Natalie at first thinks she's the one who likes "to party," but realizing since it's the Amazing Race and probably won't involve "downing 30 bottles of tequila," Nadiya takes the task instead. Josh, Caitlin, Will & Rob are the others performing the Roadblock. Lexi finishes the Roadblock first, which is pretty cool for the 5th team to begin the task! The next clue directs them to travel by taxi to Wijaya Motor. Amy finishes next, followed by Nadiya which is also impressive as the team formerly in 6th place has moved up to 3rd! James, Jaymes & Abbie finish next. As Josh toils, Brent comments, "There are some things the gays are just naturally better at, and balloon animals are one of them." Josh finishes next, leaving just Caitlin, Will & Rob at the Roadblock. Will, however, is struggling immensely, unable to make anything with his balloons, fumbling about, shaking and sweating.

Trey/Lexi arrive at Wijaya Motor, followed by Natalie/Nadiya (Amy/Daniel's driver doesn't know where he's going). The next clue reveals it's time for the Detours: "Ice-by-the-pound" or "Fish-by-the-barrel." In the first task, teams journey to an ice-making facility and load ten giant blocks of ice into a truck, ride the truck to Pabean market, load the ice into a rickshaw and drive the rickshaw to a marked stall.

In "Fish-by-the-barrel," teams carry two barrels of fish to a market stall and load them into the shop's stalls so that they match a sample display of fish. Either way, both tasks lead to Pabean market. Even though the frontrunning teams are allies, Trey/Lexi choose the ice Detour, while Natalie/Nadiya choose the fish. Lexi notes they chose the ice because they have "the guns to do it," indicating Trey's biceps. Trey & Lexi get a good system going as Lexi uses the ice hook to move the blocks to Trey, who carries them to the truck. At the other Detour, the twins note they don't balk at working with fish because "Diva is the opposite of what we are, we're just badass, the most badass Sri Lankans you'll ever meet!" The sisters begin preparing their fish stall.

Back at the Roadblock, Gary has become concerned at Will's behaviour; Will hasn't made any balloons and is still shaking and sweating. Caitlin & Rob finish the task, leaving just Will behind. Will feels like "the whole world was on my shoulders, it was getting heavier and heavier. I was so nervous my glasses were fogging up," and "I was actually having a meltdown." Through it all, Gary tries to be calm and gets Will to soothe his anxiety. Elsewhere, Amy/Daniel & Rob/Kelley's drivers don't know where Wijaya Motor is.

At the fish Detour, Natalie notes "all my sweaty makeup is going to be all over this fish!" as the sisters toil away. James & Abba's driver brings them to Wijaya Tire; they've lost some valuable time. Jaymes/James & Abbie/Ryan find Wijaya Motor; Jaymes refers to Abbie/Ryan as "buddies," leading me to wonder how well Ryan is concealing his stated desire to do "anything within the confines of the Race" to crush the competition. Both teams choose the ice Detour. Will finally finishes the Roadblock, now in last place. Rob is getting increasingly upset with his driver for not knowing where Wijaya Motor is. Josh & Brent have better luck, find Wijaya Motor and choose the ice Detour.

Back at the fish Detour, Natalie is practically dunking herself into the barrels to retrieve fish, causing her long hair to get soaked in fishy water. Trey & Lexi arrive at the market and start unloading their ice, but the sisters are already nearing the end of the fish task. It's very close, but Natalie/Nadiya finish first and the next clue directs them to the Pit Stop! It's nearby so they run out of the market on foot, to find Phil waiting with a gentleman greeter who has extremely long nails on his left hand.

Arriving at the Pit Stop, the sisters happily hug Phil, who can only notice how much they smell like fish.

Phil: "Oh my God! You guys stink!"

Nadiya: "Give us some good news, Phil!"

Phil: "Thank you for sharing your smell with me!"

And then:

Phil: "Natalie & Nadiya: you stink like fish..."

Natalie & Nadiya: "Yes! We know!"

Phil: "...But you are team number one!"

Phil rewards the twins with the Express Pass; the twins high-five and hug Trey/Lexi as the couple arrive in 2nd place. Trey says, "if someone else was going to get it, we're super glad it was them." Nadiya explains to Phil, "Yesterday we said, 'team one, team two, either way we don't care.'" James & Abba's driver finally locates Wijaya Motor and they choose the ice Detour; Caitlin/Brittany also find it and choose ice. This leaves Amy/Daniel, Rob/Kelley & Gary/Will still searching for the Detour clue.

Jaymes/James and Abbie/Ryan complete the ice Detour almost neck-and-neck, although Abbie & Ryan accidentally tip their rickshaw, requiring them to clean up the ice they spilled. Jaymes/James get well enough ahead and claim 3rd place. When Abbie & Ryan arrive, Ryan gueses they're in 6th place (their place when they left the Roadblock) and is elated when Phil awards them 4th. Josh & Brent finish in 5th.

Amy & Daniel leave their taxi and ask locals for help; they ask one woman if she could call Indonesian information, but she laughs, "there's no information in Indonesia!" Rob/Kelley arrive at Wijaya Motor just as Gary/Will come; when Gary/Will hear Rob/Kelley are taking the ice Detour, they decide on the same. James/Abba finish in 6th, the same as last leg. Amy & Daniel finally locate Wijaya Motor; Amy fears elimination, noting, "I'm not ready for this to be over yet." They choose the ice Detour.

Caitlin/Brandy finish in 7th. Rob/Kelley remain ahead of Gary/Will (helped by the latter dropping their entire rickshaw full of ice) and the married couple take 8th; Gary becomes very defeatist, refusing to run to the Pit Stop when the Detour is done, convinced they're eliminated, this despite being a fan of the show who should know you never assume. Thus, Gary & Will are 9th. Sadly, this means Amy & Daniel are last; Amy cries as Phil informs them they've been eliminated.

I liked Amy & Daniel; it's an immense pity to lose them over some bad taxi luck. They could have run to the finish; at least they were proactive enough to try and find solutions, but with all the teams racing close together, there was so little hope of anyone catching up once the tasks began.

It would have been nice if the flights had arrive while the stadium was open so that the teams who pulled ahead or fell behind weren't caught up. What can you do?

My thoughts on the remaining teams:

  1. Natalie & Nadiya: Obviously, they made a huge leap forward this week; selecting the Detour option which every other team refused reminds me of Oswald & Danny (season 2) finding advantages in taking the unlikely Detours. They also rocked at the Roadblock. Their alliance with Trey & Lexi didn't seem to grant either team an advantage, but neither did it harm them.
  2. Trey & Lexi: These two didn't receive much focus last week, but they're showing some personality now; they seem very nice and their alliance with Natalie & Nadiya is pleasant.
  3. Jaymes & James: I'm really happy to see these two near the front again; they seem like a couple of goofballs, but I always appreciate having at least one team enjoy the experience.
  4. Abbie & Ryan: They fell a little this week, but it remains to be seen whether they can keep in the Race to the finish and claim the $2 million.
  5. Josh & Brent: They didn't receive much focus, but performed very nicely this leg; they could stick around for a while, I think.
  6. James & Abba: I'm disappointed to see how they fell from first place, mainly because of the Roadblock. It's too bad the flight advantage didn't count for much this leg.
  7. Caitlin & Brittany: These two were easily the least-seen team; I still don't have a good feel for them. Hopefully we'll see more of them in the future.
  8. Rob & Kelley: They made an easy mistake in the airport which left them at the back, but as seen last leg, they're not bad at hitting out the tasks. They could last maybe midway through the Race?
  9. Gary & Will: I'm not pleased with some of Gary's attitude (like his defeatism), but at least he's supportive of Will.

Next week: The double U-Turn arrives as teams continue to race through Indonesia!

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