Monday, October 22, 2012

Amazing Race 21-04 recap: "Funky Monkey"

Last night's episode of the Amazing Race placed teams through some trials and struggles with plenty of local colour and some unpredictable results.

We resume in Surabaya, Indonesia with dating couple Abbie & Ryan in first place. The first clue directs them travel by plane to Dhaka, Bangladesh! It's interesting to note the series has been set entirely in Asia up until now. Young dating couple Trey & Lexi depart next, noting they've been doing well for a couple who haven't traveled before. "We're due for first place this leg, for sure," opines Lexi. Abbie & Ryan head to a travel agency to book tickets, but the earliest flight is quite a way's off. While they're booking, Trey & Lexi arrive at the agency and both teams conclude they'll wind up on a flight with the six other teams. And so they do, as we jump ahead to everyone boarding the same flight. "Anybody's game," notes Chippendale dancer Jaymes, "why not ours?" On the flight, best friends Gary & Will describe the previous leg as "probably the greatest comeback ever." Will believes they "represent the superfans in this Race." Perhaps, but that's no guarantee we viewers at home will like you two the most (if that's what we're meant to infer). They've correctly guessed married couple Rob & Kelley were the ones who used the blind U-Turn on them during the previous leg, but don't intend to let Rob/Kelley know they know. Rob just wants to remain ahead of them.

Teams arrive in Dhaka, Bangladesh and right away there's some outstanding photography showing how densely-populated and well-worn the city is. Teams quickly start looking for taxis to Rubel Model Auto Mobiles. While most teams search outside the airport, Rob & Kelley walk up to the taxi stop and arrange to have a cab brought to them; this intelligent idea (which savvy Racers have been doing for years), Rob/Kelley depart the airport in first place! Ryan says of the locals, "It's all dudes, it's all men and they don't want anything to do with us." As to twin sisters Natalie & Nadiya:

Nadiya: "This is third world Grand Theft Auto, plus bulls and goats and garbage."

Natalie: "...And minus the nice cars."

From their taxi, life partners Josh & Brent see goats; "We're among our peeps; I wonder if their goats would get along with our goats?" Josh wonders. Trey & Lexi lose some time when their taxi driver stops for gas. As Gary & Will travel, Gary is once again little Mr. Sunshine:

Will: "Whatever happens, luck of the draw."

Gary: "No, shut up. All right, I'm not worried about luck of the draw right now, I'm worried about getting out of here."

This irritates Will because the implication is he's not worried about the Race. Meanwhile, Rob/Kelley's driver brings them to a landfill so they lose their first place standing.

Ryan says "this place is funky monkey," thus naming the episode. At Rubel Model Auto Mobiles, Abbie/Ryan arrive first (Natalie/Nadiya see them and one says "These two idiots got here first.") and find the next clue: it's time for a Roadblock! One team member must work on a city bus, first covering up dents by spreading putty over the surface of a marked section of the bus, then sanding another marked section, then removing three sets of seats from the bus and carrying them to the man with the next clue! This is the most intense labour we've seen on the Race thus far, so it's a little surprising to see Abbie & Ryan decide to not use the Fast Forward, having concluded it's best to start on the Roadblock since they're already there. Ryan opts to take the Roadblock. Natalie/Nadiya decide to take the Roadblock too, for some reason (they base the decision on Abbie/Ryan not taking the Fast Forward). Natalie takes the Roadblock; Chippendale dancers Jaymes/James arrive and don't know if anyone else is chasing the Fast Forward, so James take the Roadblock. Nadiya begins encouraging Natalie, saying "We can't lose here, we're the only brownies, we have to win." James struggles with simply opening his tin of putty. Rob/Kelley arrive and Rob takes the challenge; he's well suited to this, having worked on his own monster truck repair.

Rock n' rollers James & Abba arrive at the bus yard, but decide to take the Fast Forward instead of the Roadblock, proving once again how they don't follow the herd. This Fast Forward requires teams to collect dead rats from three locations then deliver them to an official. They set out to collect their ratcatching gear. Josh takes the Roadblock for his time. Nadiya keeps yelling encouragement to Natalie, to the point where Ryan gets irritable. Trey and Gary are the last to begin the Roadblock for their respective teams.

Ryan finishes applying his putty, but accidentally wrecks his clue and can't read it; he asks James to let him read his clue and in return he'll help James figure out how to apply the putty. Jaymes agrees to this tactic and Abbie notes this is "why alliances are a good thing." Rob is one of the best at applying the putty, while now James, Trey and Gary are all struggling. Elsewhere, James/Abba are having trouble finding their rats and note, "Let's hope for disaster for somebody ...besides us," says James. At the buses, Rob & Natalie finish their putty (Nadiya tries to influence the judge, saying "Do you have a girlfriend? My sister's single!"); Nadiya notes Natalie has overtaken most of the male contestants. James' work is so bad he has to scrape it off the bus and start over. "Oh my God what is he doing?" Natalie wonders, "Crazy American!" James is becoming frustrated at his chore, but Abbie helps calm him down. Josh asks for judging, saying "Ooh la lah!" as he points at his work; "No ooh la lah," replies the stern judge. Soon, Josh, Gary & Trey are all scraping off their putty and starting over. Elsewhere, James & Abba find their first bucket of rats and load them into a bag.

James: "Like we've never dealt with rats before in this business?"

Abba: "No, our business is littered with rats and we might've even recognized a few of them in the bucket today."

James: "There's that drummer! I remember him!"

At the buses, Nadiya notes how she and Natalie are the only all-woman team left in this Race and Natalie is the only woman performing the Roadblock. By way of encouragement she yells, "Long, strong and hard!" repeatedly. Jaymes joins the chorus, while Ryan mugs to the camera: "Sounds like a Friday night for me!" Jaymes soon jokes, "This is a Muslim country, watch your mouth, girl!" In an aside to the cameras, Ryan describes Nadiya as being "like fingernails on a blackboard." As he keeps sanding his bus, Ryan declares "There's got to be a no talking time out!" Ryan fininshes sanding and starts pulling seats out of his bus. Nadiya tries encouraging Natalie by saying "everyone's struggling," but Rob hears this and states he's not; indeed, Rob is doing very well and finishes sanding next; Rob even carries two sets of seats at once.

Ryan finishes removing his seats and receives the next clue: travel to Shootkir Market and search through a sack of dried fish to find a single fish with the red/yellow Amazing Race colours. He and Abbie head back to find a taxi. Rob finishes next, giving he and Kelley a pretty good standing. Natalie is close behind, finishing her sanding and moving on to the seats. Josh and James each begin sanding, leaving just Trey & Gary on the putty. Gary declares "I don't want to hear you" to Will when he tries to encourage him. As James & Abba keep looking for rats, Abba takes a bad step into raw sewage; he washes off his foot, but worries about what he might've been exposed to. At the buses, Josh & James finish sanding; Trey finally completes the putty, with Gary close behind. Josh & James soon finish with the seats and continue to the market.

At Shootkir Market, Abbie & Ryan find their fish and the next clue prompts the leg's Detour: "Pound the Metal" or "Pound the Cotton." In the former, teams journey to a nearby blacksmith shop and pound a spike with hammers until the blacksmith deems the spike complete.

In "Pound the Cotton," teams must pound out a supply of cotton, put it inside a mattress cover and sew up the mattress. This sounds like the slower Detour option, but Abbie votes for it because she has education in fashion design. Abbie takes charge of the task, guiding Ryan's work. Natalie/Nadiya & Rob/Kelley arrive at the market at almost the same time; both teams choose "Pound the Metal." The twins are a little clumsy with their hammers, while Rob/Kelley seem in their element yet again.

Elsewhere, James/Abba collect their final batch of rats and head back to return them; they've picked up a huge throng of people following them through the streets and both men are touched by this. Turning in the rats, the duo are instructed to travel directly to the Pit Stop, Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat. They do worry whether they've lost 1st place because of how long it took to finish the Fast Forward. En route, Abba wipes hand sanitizer over the foot which stepped in the sewer. Back at the Roadblock, Trey finishes sanding and quickly deals with his seats, but Gary is still very close. They leave just minutes after Trey/Lexi, but en route, Trey/Lexi's taxi breaks down. Gary/Will's taxi passes them and the duo realize they've got a chance. Trey/Lexi's taxi finally resumes functioning.

James & Abba arrive at Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat, where Phil informs them they're team number one! As a prize, they've won a trip to Antigua. "We came here to win this, and this is one more step closer to it," saith Abba. Back at "Pound the Cotton," Abbie/Ryan finish their mattress, only to learn they let too much cotton fall by the wayside while they were working; they have to reopen the mattress and place the excess cotton inside.

Meanwhile, Natalie/Nadiya & Rob/Kelley finish "Pound the Metal" and receive the next clue: travel by taxi to Keranigonj Kholamora, then by boat to Swarighat, then search on foot to find the Pit Stop at Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat. These are some pretty involved instructions! Elsewhere, Jaymes/James & Josh/Brent find their fish at the market; both teams decide to try "Pound the Cotton." Abbie/Ryan finish their Detour and Ryan hugs the man who gives him his clue just long enough for it to seem uncomfortable. Natalie/Nadiya get a taxi to the river, but Rob/Kelley struggle at finding a cab. Elsewhere, Trey/Lexi's cab overtakes Gary/Will; Trey/Lexi find the market, collect their fish and choose "Pound the Metal;" Gary/Will choose "Pound the Cotton."

Abbie/Ryan are the first team to Keranigonj Kholamora and hope to be the only ones on the boat to Swarighat, but Natalie/Nadiya catch up to them; Abbie/Ryan are annoyed to share the boat with the sisters. At "Pound the Cotton," Jaymes/James wonder why they choose a sewing task when neither knows how to sew. Excellent question! "If you get a mattress that says 'made in Bangladesh,' make sure it doesn't say 'by Jaymes & James." They soon overhear something from Josh & Brent's nearby station:

Brent: "Josh used to sew a lot of his costumes when he was a drag queen, so..."

Jaymes: "Wait a minute! We got a drag queen over here?"

Josh: "I know, but my costumes always fell apart."

Jaymes: "I didn't know he was a drag queen. What's your drag name?"

Josh: "Aquadisiac. So, someone is sleeping on an Aquadisiac mattress tonight."

Josh/Brent finish the Detour and head to the river, while Jaymes/James are slowed down by letting too much cotton fall out. As Trey & Lexi work on their Detour, Lexi notes Gary/Will aren't there: "I guess they were scared of Trey's muscles!" When Jaymes/James see Gary/Will begin "Pound the Cotton," they're pleased to learn this means at least one team is still behind them, although Jaymes notes "Once you fight for last and win, you ain't scared of it," referring to the first leg of this Race.

On the boat to the Pit Stop, Natalie remarks, "Now it's going to be a footrace between us and the craziest couple here, a couple who are almost psychotic. And they're like, in crazy good shape so we know they can sprint like Hell." At Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat, Abbie/Ryan & Natalie/Nadiya race each other to the Pit Stop and arrive within seconds of each other; Abbie/Ryan are team 2, Natalie/Nadiya team 3.

Rob/Kelley finally board a boat; Josh/Brent aren't far behind and see Rob/Kelley pulling away; Josh asks, "Hey, Georgia! Do we have to take that boat?" Rob responds, "I don't know! We're lost!" Rob does enjoy messing with his competitors when he can. Despite this, Josh/Brent soon find a boat and set out. At the Detour, Trey/Lexi & Jaymes/James finish their tasks.

Rob & Kelley see Phil at the Pit Stop from their boat and have the ferryman pull to the shore. They race to the Pit Stop, where Phil informs them they're team number four... but they were supposed to stop at Swarighat, so he can't check them in. Frustrated and blaming their ferryman (rather than themselves), they head back to their boat. It's hard to tell from the footage whether the blame belongs on the ferryman or the Racers, but Rob/Kelley certainly blame him.

Trey/Lexi take a taxi to Shambazaar Chan Mia Ghat and soon encounter Josh/Brent just as they disembark from their boat. Josh/Brent explain the couple took the wrong route to the Pit Stop and should take a boat back to Keranigonj Kholamora, then return to Swarighat. Josh/Brent move on to the Pit Stop, where Phil names them team number four, their best showing thus far! Jaymes/James start out in their boat while Gary/Will finish the Detour and Trey/Lexi return to Keranigonj Kholamora and turn right around.

Rob/Kelley return to the Pit Stop, having kept in the game as team number five; they're still elated.

Rob: "You know what, brother?"

Phil: "What's that?"

Rob: "What do we got?"

Phil: "You've got heart."

Rob: "That's what I'm talkin' about."

Phil: "How big is your heart?"

Rob: "It must be about 300 pounds."

Jaymes/James arrive at the Pit Stop in 6th place and seem genuinely surprised and elated at how well they've done; they must have assumed Gary/Will were the only team possibly behind them. As Trey/Lexi arrive at Swarighat, they see Gary/Will arriving via taxi; oops. They helpfully explain to Gary/Will exactly what they themselves had learned and direct the duo to the boats. Gary/Will realize how bad this is for them. Trey/Lexi carry on to the Pit Stop, claiming 7th place.

Gary/Will complete the trip via boat properly, but when they arrive at the Pit Stop, Phil informs them they've been eliminated; boy, the non-elimination legs remain elusive so far. They're disappointed at being eliminated; "We were representing the fans of the show and we let them down," Gary claims. Please Gary, don't drag us into this. "The Amazing Race was the greatest experience of my life," Gary concludes.

Gary/Will were never the swiftest, strongest nor sharpest, but weren't prone to a lot of errors either; they lagged behind other teams even when the playing field was level, so it was only ever a question of how long it would take for them to be eliminated. They were pleasant enough, but I feel they took the Race a little too seriously because of being fans. They really should have lightened up and enjoyed the trip because - and as viewers they should know - it's once in a lifetime and it makes you a permanent part of the program's history.

Thoughts on the seven remaining teams:

  1. James & Abba: They continue to play their own game and more power to them; I like their gentle sense of humour and carefully-considered strategies. I'd like to see these two run to the end, I think.
  2. Abbie & Ryan: They were a little too easily rattled by Nadiya during the Roadblock (and made too much of it for the cameras), but their Detour selection turned out to be right for them. Again, I'm not fond of them but I'm not against them.
  3. Natalie & Nadiya: Nadiya was more than a little grating during the Roadblock, but since it pumped up Natalie and irritated the competition, I can't fault it. Their comments about Abbie/Ryan were unnecessarily ugly and seemed to arise from nowhere. Still, they're overall a funny and strong team.
  4. Josh & Brent: I'm impressed to see these two perform so well when basically all they've done is make very few errors. Sometimes that's all it takes to remain in the game.
  5. Rob & Kelley: They demonstrated some great strategy and effort during this leg, but once again injured themselves by not paying strict attention to the clues. They're fortunate to have avoided elimination so far, but if they it under control, they could still be in this game for a while.
  6. Jaymes & James: These two struggled, mainly over the Roadblock and their Detour choice was probably the wrong one. Fortunately, they remain a very upbeat team, hands-down the most likeable contestants of the season. I don't want to lose these two, there would be so much less to laugh at without them.
  7. Trey & Lexi: From hopes of claiming first, these two fell quickly; Trey's problems at the Roadblock were the biggest problem they had control over, transportation was the biggest one they had no control over. They remain to fight another day... hopefully for more than one day. I don't often root for the younger couples, but these two have heart.

Next week: The Race continues in Bangaldesh as teams begin to wilt under the excessive heat and struggle with bamboo poles. Will this be the first non-elmination leg?

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