Monday, October 15, 2012

Amazing Race 21-03 recap: "There's no Crying in Baseball"

Last night's episode of the Amazing Race did a great job of embellishing on teams who haven't had much focus, plus threw in a very surprising finale.

We resume the program in Surabaya, Indonesia as twin sisters Natalie & Nadiya depart in 1st place with instructions to find Antika Jaya Padang Restaurant and a warning about an upcoming U-Turn. They start looking around on foot, but can't find good directions so wind up waiting as their allies dating couple Trey/Lexi start the leg. To the camera, Lexi describes the twins' opinion of she and Trey as "hillbillies," but they've benefited from working in an alliance. However, now the two teams can't figure out their next move, so the twins suggest waiting for "the stupid Chippendales." Said Chippendale dancers Jaymes/James describe how they work in Vegas, but Jaymes is from Virginia while James is from Maine so they don't necessarily fit people's expectations. dating couple Abbie/Ryan soon join them. Eventually, they realize they need taxis and everyone moves to the cabs. Consequently, Natalie & Nadiya wind up in one of the last cabs; they note this is an example of how working together "makes you dumb, because you feel safe."

Life partners Josh & Brent depart next; Josh sagely notes the teams have divided into the "alpha" teams and "the rest," which is what he and Brent fall into; they're glad to be doing their best. Rock n' roll industry friends James & Abba leave next.

At the restaurant, Trey/Lexi arrive first and discover it's time for a Roadblock: one team member must load up 20 plates in their arms at once, then deliver all the dishes to a table. If they drop any of the plates, they'll have to begin the task over again. Lexi opts to take the task. While she begins, Abbie/Ryan, Jaymes/James & Josh/Brent arrive at about the same time; Natalie/Nadiya's taxi is lost so they change cabs. Ryan, Jaymes & Brent take the Roadblock for their teams.

As friends Caitlin & Brittany depart, Caitlin comments on the stress of the Race and notes "you're gonna see me mad before you see me cry." Brittany adds," I could get punched in the face and I still won't cry. (snort) I mean, there's no crying in baseball," providing this episode's title.

At the Roadblock, Lexi carries her plates to the table, but drops some and has to start over. Jaymes notes his first job in Las Vegas was working for a pancake house. Brent drops some plates and starts over. Jaymes finishes first and is given his next clue: head to the Guben train station and catch a train to Bangil; the next clue will be made available on the train. Ryan finishes immediately after him. As they run back to their taxis, James & Abba arrive; Abba takes the Roadblock. Lexi, Brent & Abba each soon finish the Roadblock and head to the train station.

Natalie/Nadiya finally reach the restaurant; Natalie runs right past the clue box, but Nadiya sees it; Nadiya takes the Roadblock, just as married couple Rob & Kelley begin the leg. At the train station, Trey/Lexi discover the next train is at 7:36. Caitlin & Brittany arrive at the restaurant and Brittany accepts the task. Best friends Gary & Will begin the leg and comment on how poorly they've been doing, which is hard on them, being such great fans of the program. Natalie yells at Nadiya to remember her yoga; this actually helps her complete the task, so she says. Rob begins the Roadblock as Brittany finishes; as they complete it, Gary & Will arrive and Gary takes the challenge.

At the train station, James & Abba arrive just in time to catch the 7:36; only the top five teams make the train. The show tries to make it look like Natalie/Nadiya only just miss the train by a minute leading to the commercials, but after the break we learn it wasn't a near miss at all. However, aboard the train, the leading teams discover the next train is about 3 hours after theirs; they have a huge advantage over the bottom four teams.

Natalie/Nadiya have no choice but to wait for the next train. They're gradually joined by Caitlin/Brittany, Rob/Kelley & Gary/Will. En route to Bangil, Abba sums up the other teams while dubbing Jaymes/James "the chipmunks," which is cute. Jaymes starts a discussion about U-Turns with the other teams and convinces Josh/Brent, Abbie/Ryan & Trey/Lexi that none of them should use the U-Turn because they're guaranteed to stay in the front (that is, even if a team has to perform both Detour tasks, they're bound to remain ahead of the back four teams because of the 4-hour lead). It is definitely a good idea to let the other four teams battle over the U-Turn. However, Jaymes notes James/Abba were in the back of the train away from the others so they didn't promise anything about the U-Turn. James/Abba notice no one else is paying attention to them: "Good."

As the teams ride on the train, a man comes through the aisles brandishing clues; they quickly dig in and discover when the train arrives at Bangil, it will be time for the Detours.

The first Detour is "Egg Head," which requires teams to purchase two eggs each then have local magicians cook the eggs using a fiery coconut placed atop their heads. When the eggs are cooked, they'll have to eat them to receive the next clue.

The other Detour, "Lion's Head," requires both Racers to dress in a lion's mask costume and walk in a procession, performing minor dance instructions when demanded. All the teams decide they'll do this Detour except for Josh & Brent, who want to try "Egg Head." At the train station, as Gary & Will arrive, Will finds money on the ground: "This could be our lucky day," he hopes.

Gary: "Luck is smiling upon us today!"

Will: "We've got a chance."

Gary certainly has his ups and downs, but Will seems pretty level-headed. The top five teams arrive in Bangil and take becaks, a pedal-operated two-seater. Jaymes notes he and James are too big for the vehicle and have to sit partially on each others' laps. While Trey/Lexi, Abbie/Ryan, Jaymes/James & James/Abba head to the "Lion's Head," Josh/Brent go shopping for eggs. Jaymes is very excited as he suits up for the task: "We get to be part of this culture today, we get to experience this!" Jaymes notes the head piece of the lion costume had to be held in place using their mouths: "I don't know how many dudes have had their mouth on this thing before me. I think I must have made out with 947 Indonesians today just by putting that thing on my mouth. You could just taste it! I'm tasting years of culture right there in my mouth! It was not pleasant!" Man, "I'm tasting years of culture" would have been a better episode title! Meanwhile, Josh/Brent have only just bought their eggs and now have to find the magicians. It's clear this is the slower Detour option.

Abbie & Ryan finish the procession first and receive the next clue: travel to the Perliman Pos. They all know this must be where the U-Turn is located. Jaymes/James finish next, followed by Trey/Lexi & James/Abba. All four teams return to becaks to find the U-Turn. Josh/Brent arrive at the magicians and begin having eggs fried on their heads. "Can we put this in our next cookbook?" Josh asks. Elsewhere, the back four teams have left the station for Bangil.

Arriving at Perliman Pos, Abbie & Ryan discover the U-Turn is a double blind U-Turn - they can U-Turn someone behind them without having to reveal their identities. True to their word, they don't U-Turn anyone. The next clue directs them to SMA Negeri 1 High School, where Phil waits at the Pit Stop! Abbie/Ryan return to their becak and begin the trip. Jaymes/James & Trey/Lexi arrive at the U-Turn at the same time and don't use it; James/Abba follow suit, although James/Abba's becak driver brings them to the wrong school.

Abbie & Ryan arrive at the school and claim 1st place from Phil, who also awards them a trip for two to Fiji. Trey/Lexi arrive moments later in 2nd place. In a confidential to the cameras, Lexi admits Abbie/Ryan are their strongest competition and if they have the chance to U-Turn them, they will take it. Josh/Brent finish up their Detour by eating their eggs; Josh notes the eggs were fresh, which they could tell as farmers. Jaymes/James arrive at the school in 3rd; James/Abba are 4th and they note they "don't need the validation of the group," which is why they race alone. On the train, the back of the pack are discussing how to use the U-Turn and Will declares they should U-Turn someone behind them; this prompts a weary "obviously" from Gary. Josh/Brent arrive at the school in 5th place.

On the train, Natalie/Nadiya almost mistake the vendor with their clues for a typical food vendor and start to ask for prices! All four teams want to try "Lion's Head." They finally arrive at Bangil, but Gary & Will were seated at the other end of the train from the other teams and the other three teams have departed in becaks by the time they arrive. They have no idea what a becak is! Finally resolving this minor quandary, they continue to "Lion's Head."

As the first three teams arrive at the Detour, Caitlin/Brittany have trouble paying their becak driver because of the language barrier and a lack of change; they estimate they lost 15 minutes over this! Natalie/Nadiya get out in front on the Detour, which they describe as "cross fit with a lion mask instead of dumbbells." Natalie/Nadiya finish the Detour and head to the U-Turn locale, with Rob/Kelley behind them. Natalie/Nadiya arrive at the U-Turn and see no one has used it; Natalie takes a moment to admire their picture on the board: "Our picture's cute." They head to the Pit Stop. Rob/Kelley arrive and decide they have to U-Turn someone and pick Gary/Will as the team they're certain is in the back. Rob justifies this because they were afraid of getting lost while heading to the Pit Stop.

Caitlin/Brittany finish the Detour and head to the U-Turn. Gary/Will finish after them, while Natalie/Nadiya hit the Pit Stop in 6th place, actually believing they're in 7th place, to their delight. They declare they're "going for number 1" tomorrow. Rob/Kelley claim 8th place. There's not much left to say about this episode, right? Right? Wrong. From here, the episode takes an odd twist.

Caitlin/Brittany's becak driver is lost, so Gary/Will arrive at the U-Turn first and see they've been U-Turned. We go to the commercial as they choose whether to U-Turn Rob/Kelley or Caitlin/Brittany, unsure if either team is behind them. They wind up choosing Rob/Kelley, who are ironically the same team who U-Turned them! Gary/Will's U-Turn has been wasted as they head off to the "Egg Head" Detour. Caitlin/Brittany are still lost. Gary/Will buy their eggs and head to the magicians. Caitlin/Brittany's driver brings them back to the Detour, where they notice Gary/Will, but Gary/Will don't see them. The ladies run around, desperate to find the U-Turn, but don't see it. They waste a lot of time before getting back to a becak and resuming the hunt, just as Gary/Will finish their second Detour!

Caitlin/Brittany finally reach the U-Turn and head to the Pit Stop, but their driver takes them in a circle, back to the U-Turn! Brittany is now getting very upset, while Gary/Will return to the U-Turn and take their clue guiding them to the Pit Stop.

Caitlin/Brittany suddenly see Gary/Will are ahead of them in another becak! They get their driver to pass them! It's incredibly exciting and then... Caitlin/Brittany's driver takes a left while Gary/Will's goes to the right. At first, I didn't know what to think... but true to form, Caitlin/Brittany's driver is lost and has to turn around. Gary & Will arrive at the Pit Stop in 8th place.

Gary: "We. Got. Lucky."

Will: "All we had was luck."

Whereas Caitlin/Brittany had no luck. They arrive last at the school and Phil informs them they've been eliminated. They tell the camera they feel they could have lasted longer and feel they were "a stronger team" than Gary & Will, making it difficult to see those two outdo them.

We didn't receive much focus on Caitlin/Brittany, unfortunately. They seemed like decent folks, but they were shown as hostile to each other or the competition and until this leg, hadn't been hostile to locals. There might have been more to learn about them... but now we'll never know. The time they lost arguing over their becak at the Detour was probably the most crucial bit of business, since it meant they couldn't follow Natalie/Nadiya & Rob/Kelley's lead.

My thoughts on the eight remaining teams:

  1. Abbie & Ryan: They're clearly going to be a major force this season; there isn't much I like about them, but there's nothing to dislike either.
  2. Trey & Lexi: Having placed 2nd twice in a roll, these two might be in the Race to the finish; they seem well-adjusted and pleasant; Lexi's hope of U-Turning Abbie & Ryan in the future shows the right amount of competitiveness.
  3. Jaymes & James: I really didn't expect these two were going to be my favourites of the season; Jaymes consistently makes me laugh and I'm also impressed at how polite he is to locals. I hope to see these two last to the finish.
  4. James & Abba: They've been doing pretty well and didn't hit any snags this time; their intent to race on their own is pretty sharp and could be the right decision, provided they don't get lost.
  5. Josh & Brent: I'm surprised at how well these two are doing as they manage to avoid mistakes and keep moving forward. They didn't choose the right Detour, it seems, but it wasn't a crucial decision. They don't seem as fit as other teams, but could last a while yet by simply making smart decisions.
  6. Natalie & Nadiya: As a pair who want to be leaders, it was surprising to see them falling to the back, looking to others for answers; they recovered halfway through and hopefully have a lot of game left to give - I enjoy watching these two.
  7. Rob & Kelley: This seems to be their best leg so far, in that they didn't make any mistakes. U-Turning Gary & Will might come back to haunt them, but they're doing okay.
  8. Gary & Will: Gary seemed to lighten up this leg; they constantly fall to the back (even after being evened out) and yet, they endure; as a fellow fan, I wish them well, but I keep expecting every leg to be their last.

Next week: The Race moves to Bangladesh as James (of Jaymes/James) gets upset and Rob/Kelley apparently take a boat by mistake.

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