Monday, October 29, 2012

Amazing Race 21-05 recap: "Chill Out, Freak"

Last night's episode of the Amazing Race kept moving through Bangladesh, but saw some shuffling amongst teams as virtually everyone made mistakes - some more costly than others.

As we resume in Dhaka, Bangladesh, we first look in on best friends from the rock 'n roll industry, James & Abba, currently in first place. During the Pit Stop interval, James is allowed to speak with his family, who have an urgent message for him: his father has stage 4 cancer with no hope of remission. James is brought to tears by this, but determines now he'll race even harder to win for the sake of his father: "I'm just gonna have a bit more push, y'know, for Dad." The leg begins as the duo are directed to find a nearby taxi stand, then travel to Jatraboari Boro Bazaar and find the local eggplant vendor, who has their next clue.

Abba: "We hope we never see another team again."

James: "No, I wanna see them again, y'know, in a big line as we run up to Phil!"

These two work through the job with no difficulty and quickly receive their next instructions: travel by cab to Ferry Ghat Road and find the next clue beneath a bridge. That's a neatly obscure clue! Approximately two hours behind them, dating couple Abbie/Ryan begin the leg; they note there was only $1 provided in this leg's envelope, which is good to hear - it feels like money troubles haven't been a big issue in the US version of the Race for awhile. Since this leg won't involve traveling into another country, it seems fair to deny teams additional funds. Ryan reveals they want to be "considered the strongest team that's ever raced" and hopes to claim the record of most 1st place finishes, which you'll recall was set by Rachel & Dave last season. Twin sisters Natalie/Nadiya depart next.

At Ferry Ghat Road, James/Abba find the next clue: Roadblock. "It ain't heavy, it's a Roadblock." Because it seems to be a labour intensive task and Abba injured his knee on the previous leg when he fell into a sewer, James accepts the task. It's to manufacture a balance scale using three poles and ropes so that the weight of four rocks on one scale will be matched by a load of wood on the opposite scale. James notes he used to be a Boy Scout, but "I kind of forgot the whole process. I can assure you though, that through the 80s I was no Boy Scout." James falters a little when he doesn't notice where the lashing ropes he's supposed to use are kept.

Abbie/Ryan & Natalie/Nadiya reach the taxi stand at about the same time, to Abbie/Ryan's irritation. The sisters tell their taxi driver "we gotta beat the goras," meaning "white people." Back at the Roadblock, James finally spies the lashing ropes; "You are a troublemaker! You could've told me they were there!" he says with mock anger to one of the judges. Abbie/Ryan & Natalie/Nadiya reach the Bazaar at almost the same time; both teams find the eggplant vendor and continue to the bridge. About an hour behind the nearest team, life partners Josh & Brent begin the leg, but struggle to find the taxi stand. Close behind, married monster truck drivers Rob/Kelley and Chippendale dancers Jaymes/James soon find the taxis.

James successfully finishes the Roadblock and receives the next clue: it's time for the Detours: "Straw Dogs" or "Bamboo Jungle." In the first, teams travel to Latif Bawani Jute Mills and must prepare 20 bundles of straw by separating the fibers; with this accomplished, they must deliver the bundles to a loom machine, where they'll receive their clue.

In "Bamboo Jungle," teams journey to Tarabo Bazaar and collect three sets of differently-sized bamboo, then deliver them on a rickshaw to a building site, where they'll receive the next clue. James & Abba decide on this Detour and begin the trip. As they leave, Abbie/Ryan arrive at the bridge. When they read the Roadblock clue, Ryan assumes the task isn't physical, so he convinces Abbie to take it; Abbie has no idea how to assemble the scales. Natalie/Nadiya arrive after them and Nadiya takes the Roadblock. As Natalie begins to shout encouragement to Nadiya (as they always do), Ryan takes the opportunity to mock Natalie, imitating her cheers ("Twinies!").

Ryan: "You gonna yell the whole time?"

Natalie: (laughing) "Maybe."

Ryan: (smirking) "Gonna get my, uh, earplugs."

In a later confession to the cameras, Natalie says, "I was like, chill out, freak," providing this episode's title; "he's a tool," concludes Natalie. Abbie queries Nadiya:

Abbie: "Nadiya, you done this before?"

Nadiya: "I have not."

Abbie: "Woo-hoo!"

Nadiya: (confessional to camera) "Yeah Abbie, I've made a bloody third world scale in my backyard garden before, what do you think, like, are you insane?"

About 30 minutes behind the nearest team, dating couple Trey/Lexi begin the leg in last place. At the bamboo market, James/Abba begin collecting bamboo poles. Back at the Roadblock, Ryan tries to encourage Abbie:

Ryan: "Good job Ab! Way to dominate this!"

Natalie: "Actually... Naddie's dominating Abbie."

Ryan: "I mean... domin... dominating her area..."

Natalie: "Yeah, yeah."

Natalie begins getting local children on the sidelines to help cheer on Nadiya. Ryan concedes he "probably should have done this one." Jaymes/James reach the Bazaar and find their clue; Rob/Kelley are right behind. Josh/Brent have finally located the taxi stand, just as Trey/Lexi arrive, meaning they lost at least 30 minutes. Trey/Lexi are pleased to have caught up. James/Abba continue to gather bamboo; "I've seen no one yet, I'm lovin' this!" James notes. Rob/Kelley arrive at the Roadblock and Kelley opts to take the challenge. Nadiya finishes the Roadblock, getting them ahead of Abbie/Ryan; they decide to tackle the "Bamboo Jungle" Detour and depart. As they exit, Jaymes/James arrive and Jaymes takes the Roadblock. As Abbie nears completion, Ryan again muses he should have taken the Roadblock; Rob has similar thoughts as he watches Kelley struggle. Abbie has to rebuild her entire scale when she's told it's too low.

Elsewhere, Josh/Brent & Trey/Lexi find their clues at the Bazaar. Abbie rebuilds her scale and finishes the Roadblock; she and Ryan decide to take the "Straw Dogs" Detour, just as Josh/Brent & Trey/Lexi arrive. Brent and Trey take the Roadblock. Kelley is beginning to falter in the intense heat and puts a wrap over her head to shade herself. Jaymes tries to find support amongst the locals: "How's everybody doin' today? Y'all havin' fun? Watchin' the stupid white boy do this stuff? Y'all can cheer if you want. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, this guy's got my back. They ain't havin' it." For once, Jaymes' charm avails nothing. Josh advises Brent to read his clue carefully, which prompts a sharp "shut up please" from Brent; Josh laughs it off. Jaymes finishes the Roadblock and elects "Bamboo Jungle" as he & James' Detour.

While Natalie/Nadiya begin "Bamboo Jungle," James & Abba successfully deliver all of their bamboo and receive the next clue as an illustration on a piece of bamboo, which they have to learn is the Lok Shilpa Jadughar museum in Sonargaon. I like this, it's always nice when clues don't spoon feed all the information to the teams. James/Abba set out in a taxi for the Pit Stop.

Natalie/Nadiya are struggling with the Detour as their bamboo poles are so long that they have trouble navigating corners and accidentally trap themselves. At the factory, Abbie/Ryan begin working with their straw bundles. They count the number of times the workers pound the straw against it's bed of nails, which they seem to take as a rule, rather than simply rule of thumb (it's a matter of separating the straw, not performing x number of blows). Back at the Roadblock, Brent is at a loss to create his scale, while the others surge ahead. Trey finishes the Roadblock and heads with Lexi to "Bamboo Jungle." Kelley isn't too far behind and they choose the same Detour. Kelley apologizes to Rob for her performance, but Rob thinks there's nothing to apologize for. Brent continues to toil.

James & Abba arrive at the Lok Shilpa Jadughar, where Phil awards them 1st place and a trip to the Malaysian rain forests. When Phil asks James about his father, James says with much emotion: "My Dad, uh, was a labourer and he's retired now. And all I can think... I keep thinking today out on that course was he never gave up, y'know, and uh, here we are man. I hope he's proud." Phil wonders if James was tempted to leave the Race to be with his family, but James reports his family told him "keep going."

Back at the "Straw Dogs" Detour, Abbie/Ryan discover their batch of straw was done incorrectly and they have to start over. Jaymes/James begin "Bamboo Jungle," hoping they can make up some time; Trey/Lexi aren't too far behind. Back at the Roadblock, Brent is still struggling. As Natalie/Nadiya work with their bamboo poles, one of them reports she popped a blister on her hand. Jaymes/James are beginning to wilt under the humidity and stop for a water break. Rob/Kelley begin the Detour and Rob loads himself up with poles, noting he has to move 750 pound monster truck tires at his job. Lexi accidentally whacks Rob in the head with one of her poles and quickly apologizes.

At "Straw Dogs," Abbie/Ryan have realized their mistake and begin fixing the bundles correctly. They finish the Detour and receive a straw picture of the Pit Stop location. Surprisingly, it turns out "Straw Dogs" is the quicker Detour option as teams who were basically even with Abbie/Ryan earlier are now behind them. Brent is still unable to correctly finish his scale at the Roadblock. Brent notes as a doctor he's treated dehydration, but had never suffered from it himself; in fact, Brent is under the weather from dehydration and has to rehydrate. Abbie/Ryan arrive in 2nd place at the Pit Stop, but they aren't happy. Ryan admits he wanted to beat Rachel/Dave's record for "a long time." Those episodes must have aired, what, a month or two before Ryan went on the Race? Ryan apologizes to Abbie for the pressure he's placed on her; Abbie tearfully asks him to smile. Quite an emotional reaction from a team who've been consistently performing at the top.

As Natalie/Nadiya begin to transport their bamboo to the building site, they have a lot of trouble keeping their rickshaw straight and eventually the chain comes off, forcing them to push it to the end of the road. Jaymes reveals he & James haven't been spending money on food during the Race, meaning they've survived on what production provides during the Pit Stops. Consequently, they're running low on energy as they toil in the sun. Lexi is doing her best to keep up with Trey and carry her own share of the poles; Trey admits to being impressed by her toughness. Thanks to Rob's strength, he and Kelley pull ahead of the others at the Detour. Meanwhile, Brent finally finishes the Roadblock; he and Josh decide "Bamboo Jungle" sounds like the easier Roadblock and depart.

Natalie/Nadiya finish delivering their bamboo and head to the Pit Stop. As Jaymes/James have trouble with their rickshaw and have to reload the vehicle, they toss some of their poles into a pile with Trey/Lexi's. Fortunately, the poles are of different lengths, so there shouldn't be a problem and the two teams quickly assure each other of this. As Josh/Brent begin the same Detour, Brent notes "We may be in last place, but we're not quitters." Rob/Kelley deliver their bamboo and head to the Pit Stop. Jaymes/James finish reloading just as Josh/Brent arrive. Noticing a goat, Brent declares, "That's gotta be good luck, right?" Trey/Lexi finish loading up their poles and notice three extra poles next to their rickshawk; Lexi wonders if they forgot some, but Trey correctly identifies these as three of Jaymes/James'. Uh-oh. Natalie/Nadiya arrive in 3rd place at the Pit Stop, but are again disappointed at missing 1st place.

Jaymes/James deliver their bamboo, only to be informed they're shy by three pieces - pieces they left behind at the site during the confusion with Trey/Lexi. The duo are devastated by this, feeling exhausted from the heat and lack of nourishment. They both collapse, nearly unable to continue. Finally, pumping each other up, they return to the Detour site, fearful that they've made a fatal error. Trey/Lexi deliver their bamboo, then head to the Pit Stop. Speaking of which, Rob/Kelley arrive in 4th place, utterly elated by this, their best finish thus far.

Jaymes/James collect their missing pieces then return to the site; "if I have to crawl back, we'll make it," vows James. Trey/Lexi arrive in 5th place at the Pit Stop. Jaymes/James return their load to the building site and head to Pit Stop; Josh/Brent finish the task well after them. As Jaymes/James run to the Pit Stop, Jaymes is so flustered that he trips on the way to the mat; they're pleased to have survived in 6th place.

Josh & Brent finally arrive at the Pit Stop, where Phil confirms they're in last place, but reveals this is a non-elimination leg; they're still in the game, but will have to perform a Speed Bump task on the next leg. The duo declare their love for each other, Josh noting, "I would fall down and die next to you if I had to." Summing up, Josh says, "We said we'd give it our all and I thought we gave our all today, but it turns out there's a little bit left, and uh, we're totally gonna make a fabulous come back in the next leg, and then we're gonna keep goin' up from there." Brent adds, "Fabulous finish."

Thoughts on the seven remaining teams, who are, by the way, a pretty good bunch of Racers:

  1. James & Abba: These two did well by holding on to their lead, making just a few mistakes during the Roadblock. I like seeing how their strategy since the start - to race on their own - has been quietly allowing them to advance into the lead and I'd be fine with them keeping it to the end; they're smart, strong, funny and have real heart, as shown in James' determination to race for his father. They're aren't caught up in inter-team rivalry or a need to set records, they're just being themselves.
  2. Abbie & Ryan: Speaking of setting records, we have Abbie & Ryan being shut out of the chance to overtake Rachel & Dave. Rachel & Dave weren't my favourite team, but I can't say these two are inspiring either; Ryan lacks Dave's ridiculous competitive streak, but Abbie lacks Rachel's hysterical whimsy; after five legs all I can really tell you about these two is they race hard, they really want to win and they like making sarcastic comments.
  3. Natalie & Nadiya: I love these two in spite of themselves; their comments about Abbie/Ryan seem to be warrantless and petty, but their attitude is overall so charmingly sororal and confident that I'm willing to give them a pass.
  4. Rob & Kelley: As noted before, these two excel at tasks and only lag behind on navigation; their navigation was pretty strong this leg, so they rocketed up to the top of the ranks; they could still be in this game to the end, barring major mistakes.
  5. Trey & Lexi: This was the other team who did well by simply avoiding errors. They surpassed two teams by simply getting tasks done quickly and correctly. There wasn't much room for their personalities during this leg, but they're still pleasant people.
  6. Jaymes & James: Every leg these two seem to under perform; they're capable of being one of the top teams, but errors and misjudgments have constantly plagued them. I'm pleased to see them continue, but I fear they'll only last so long as they're the team making fewer mistakes than at least one other.
  7. Josh & Brent: After previously running a pretty sharp leg, Josh & Brent lost a lot of ground by not finding the taxi stands and struggling with assembling their Roadblock task. Despite this, they were mostly offering each other endless support and encouragement, even when they knew they were in last place. They demonstrated the sort of spirit Racers should have and while next leg may be their last, they've done well by refusing to give up.

Next week: Teams head to Turkey for a bracing Turkish bath amidst other tomfoolery.

No comments: