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The Amazing Race – you’re hot, then you’re cold

Previously, on The Amazing Race: Cambodia, monkeying around and, ultimately, heartbreak as favourite team Zev and Justin lost a passport and were eliminated. “Eight teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?”

Sam and Dan are leaving the pitstop first. They tear into their clue, which tells them to fly to the Persian Gulf and find the world’s tallest building. Phil explains that the teams will have to “figure out” that this is the Burj Dubai. Not much of a challenge, is it? Our new race leaders declare that they will use their unexpected head start to “finish first”. It’s not looking good, though – they ask their cab driver “Where is the Persian Gulf?”. Really? They’re going to need some smarts if they want to protect their “head start”, which is only two minutes. It’s going to be whittled down in fairly short order, too, as Flight Time and Big Easy know where the Persian Gulf is and head straight for an internet cafe to research the tallest building and organise flights.

Brian and Ericka head off next, a mere minute after the ‘trotters, and let us know that they have $160 for the leg. As they hustle their cab driver off to the airport, they interview that they believe in karma and are taking a “help people out” approach to their race. Ericka even knows that they will be headed for Dubai, although Brian doesn’t seem to believe her. She’s adamant and convinces him. The ‘trotters have had Mr Google confirm that their destination is Dubai, too. They can’t get online tickets at such short notice, so head to the airport.

Gary and Matt are in fourth place and are disappointed to be playing “follow the leader”, however they are still only ten minutes behind Sam and Dan. They have no idea where the world’s tallest building is, though. Meghan and Cheyne are hot on their heels, having checked in only two minutes after them. Meghan nods intensely as Cheyne explains that they have the “front runner type mentality”. Whatever that means.

Sam and Dan are the first at the airport and race up to the ticket window to book “tickets to the Persian Gulf”. The masked woman behind the security screen has no idea what they’re talking about. It dawns on them that the Gulf is, like, a large area and that they’ll need to narrow it down a bit. Duh. Ericka and Brian arrive to rescue the boys. “The Persian Gulf isn’t even a country, we’ve gotta go to Dubai,” says Brian, rather too helpfully.

Lance and Keri are now on the mat. “Nothing could tear us apaht,” says Keri. I have enough faith in the TAR editors to believe that this will have ironic resonance as the episode goes on. “And we have a lot of non-refundable deposits on the wedding at the moment, so I’m not going to lose out on that,” adds Lance, romantically.

Mika and Canaan are next to go. When they read that they are destined to visit the world’s tallest building, Canaan says “Oh, schnikes!”. This non-expletive conveys his concern for Mika, who is afraid of heights. Schnikes, indeed.

Maria and Tiffany are last out, and know that their continued presence in the race is pure luck. Unless, of course, they had something to do with the disappearing passport…?

The teams at the airport, which now include Meghan and Cheyne, are being way too chummy. Ericka seems to be doing the flight research for all of them. Seriously, this is a race. There needs to be some Snidely Whiplash action sometime soon; this is too much like drowning in melted marshmallow. We cut to Lance and Keri who are at the internet cafe trying to book flights. Keri’s suspicious that they have a dodgy computer, but Lance “knows about booking flights” and says that the tickets are “disappearing because people are booking them”. I’d be on board with that interpretation if we weren’t seeing the blue screen of death. Keri takes Lance’s whiny tone as a signal to shut up. Probably wise. Unfortunately this is all manufactured tension – all teams eventually end up on the same flights. Grrr.

Brian and Ericka are in first place out of the airport which, as any seasoned observer of this show knows, means absolutely nothing. Still, they high five each other. Well done! As the teams taxi to the fountain, they provide a banal commentary on Dubai: “It’s hot. And humid”, “Whoo, it’s hot!”, “Lots of concrete”. The poker players make it to the fountain first, so take one of four slots in the first elevator. Mika and Canaan are cracking the shits because they weren’t taken to the water fountain. Well, it seems they were taken to the hotel, but then went somewhere else. At any rate, Canaan is frustrated enough to use the word “damn”. Schnikes, you don’t want to get him riled up! So, in the first group are: Maria and Tiffany, Brian and Ericka, Sam and Dan, and Meghan and Cheyne. In the second group: Mika and Canaan, Lance and Keri, Flight Time and Big Easy, and Gary and Matt.

It’s 5.30am and the first group is donning hard hats for their elevator ride. Outside, Mika is crying about the forthcoming ordeal. Flight Time interviews that Mika was “scared about the possibility that we might have to jump off”, which shows that she is a scholar of Race history. That thought hadn’t occurred to me at all. The first teams get out of the elevator and finds the clue box, or – in Tiffany’s alternate history – “we trudged up to the 124th floor of the world’s tallest building”. Trudged? Right. According to the clue, and Phil’s helpful narration, they will now “find this parking structure” (it’s obviously a night for strangely chosen words) and drive themselves “out into the scorching desert” where they will “ride in 4x4s” to the next clue. The camels shown in the accompanying clip may or may not be integral to the action.

Fast Forward! Drive around a race track in an F3 car. Woo hoo?

Brian – a.k.a. Mr Karma – suggests to the other teams that they should act “like it was crazy!” when they get out, to freak the other teams out. Well, as long as he’s prepared for what comes around, I guess… Canaan advises Mika not to pay attention, but she’s a sobbing little blonde jelly at this stage. Meghan and Cheyne are the only ones going for the Fast Forward (they’re front runner types, remember?). Mika is so relieved that nobody has had to jump off that she says she’s the “happiest (she’s) ever been”.

First four have found their cars at the “parking structure”, and the second group is heading there too. Well, three of the second four teams are. Lance and Keri are, for some reason, blazing their own trail. “It’s all right, good pace baby, I won’t kill you” says Lance, reassuringly, as they jog away from the other teams. “Everybody went the other way,” responds Keri, without much conviction. The three teams find their cars and drive out, with mixed emotions. Mika’s excited to see the building again through the sunroof. Does this excitement account for Gary saying “I’m about ready to wet myself”? Lance might also be about to wet himself, with the whiny crybaby tears of a whiny crybaby. He wishes they’d gone with the other teams. Keri remains quiet.

On the road, the ‘trotters take a right and Mika and Canaan take a left. Whose sense of direction is best? Flight Time is navigating for the HGTs and has a compass, and the faith of the Big Easy. Canaan and Mika are equally convinced they are right. Keri and Lance finally find their car, and Lance doesn’t want Keri to ask anybody for help. No, of course not. She should just trust you because you’ve demonstrated an unerring intuition for the race so far. Moron.

Meghan and Cheyne are at the racetrack. “It’s really easy for me to just jump into any sort of situation,” Cheyne tells us. I wonder when the producers will reveal that they are droids.

Back in the desert, our first three teams marvel at the heat and sand and then transfer to their 4×4 shuttles. What a boring leg. Fly. Get in a lift. Drive a car. Be driven in a car. I’m glad the teams are telling us how awesome and fun the experience is, because it does not make good television.

Mika and Canaan are not sure they are on the right track. They stop to ask some people and are given directions, but still lack confidence that they are not in last place. Are they? Well… Lance and Keri are driving along a freeway. “This exit?” asks Lance. “No,” answers Keri. He stays in the right, i.e. exit, lane. “No! No!” says Keri. He takes the exit. “So, you’re telling me I shouldn’t have taken this exit?”. Duh.

Back in the desert, the teams have spotted the marker and instruct their drivers to stop. God knows why – I don’t remember the clue saying that they had to run a couple of hundred meters to the clue box. Why not be driven right up to it?

Roadblock: beat the desert heat. “Teams will have to… literally… drink in the landscape.” I hope Phil is going to provide instructions as to how this can… literally… be done. Or is it… literally… as straightforward as “I’m drinking, and I’m in a landscape”. No, it’s one of those dull search-for-something-in-a-large-area tasks. Yawn. Brian takes the task for the team because, as Ericka explains, “chocolate melts”. Now I’m worried for the HGTs. Or for Ericka’s generalisations. The ‘trotters and Gary and Matt are now in the 4x4s, so our other three teams had better start finding those buried jars of water. Tiffany finds an urn, but it’s empty, so they’ve made no progress by the time the next two teams arrive.

Lance and Keri? Still driving around Dubai. “I’m going to go 44 East,” decides Lance. “Use your judgement,” says Keri. “My judgement sucks.” So, he has a small amount of insight, then. Just doesn’t apply it.

Ugh. Meghan and Cheyne at the racetrack. He’s making his first attempt at a 45 second lap. She’s crying because it’s “so hard not having the control”. He’s screaming “I am the man!”. Ugh, again.

Back in the desert, Brian has found an urn full of water. He’s being secretive as he fills his water bag and it seems that finally, the race is on! But, no – as soon as his bag is full he tips off Tiffany and Sam. Or Dan. Whichever. That ol’ karma thing again. Now they get to go to Ski Dubai for their next clue. The poker players and Sam and Dan are soon on their way, too, despite a small mishap with Samdan’s ladle. No problem – they’re all in an alliance! Because that’s how Survivor works! What? This is… oh.

Matt doesn’t need any sneaky alliances to complete the task – he’s done almost as quickly as the first three. Flight Time has faith that Big Easy can also do it – “he got through Katrina”.

Canaan and Mika! I’d forgotten about them. They don’t think they’re going the right way, but then they spot Brian and Ericka on their way back. Brian tells them where the Conservation reserve is because… karma. Yeah, we get it.

Maria must have done something nasty to somebody, because she has run over a stake and broken the radiator on her car. Or, as Tiffany puts it, “it gave the tummy of our car a little tickle and now it’s bleeding radiator blood”. Samdan are waiting for them, because they’re in an alliance. And because they’re stupid.

The ‘trotters are done, and a new car arrives for the poker players just as Canaan heads off into the desert. Lance and Keri? Who knows/cares. Wow, it’s all about the self-deprecating racial putdowns today – Maria has an excuse for her bad driving. “It’s because I’m an Asian female driver.”

Meghan and Cheyne are officially team number one and have a trip to Jamaica for their “efforts”. Meghan’s proud of what she’s “achieved”. I’d love for them to realise that their passports were missing, around about now. Oh, and for them to explain how watching your partner drive a car is an “achievement”.

The bad news? Lance and Keri have caught up. The good news? Lance is doing the roadblock. He and Canaan are running – running! – around the desert looking for urns. Fortunately, God is attending to things other than providing a magic water jug in response to Lance’s prayers.

Proving that karma doesn’t trump reading a map, Gary and Matt take the lead from Brian and Ericka and head into Ski Dubai. Phil explains the detour, whilst skiing. Build a snowman or Find a snowman. Please, another “find something small in a vast area” challenge? Boo! “Build” seems the obvious choice, until the details emerge: the snowman must be built outside. Hmm. Matt thinks “finding” will be easier.

Back in the desert, Canaan has found water. Lance? Not so lucky. He finds an urn, but it’s empty, so he picks it up and flings it into the sand. He’s so charming.

Back in the snow, Gary and Matt are searching for their snowman. “Do you know what a Dubai snowman looks like?” asks Matt. “I hope it’s not white!”. What colour does he think it will be? The other teams all arrive, and all choose “find”.

Mika and Canaan are back on the road. “Isn’t it funny that you can drive 110 miles an hour here and it only feels like 60?” muses Mika. “It’s 110 kilometers an hour, so it is only 60,” explains Canaan. “Ohhhhh.”

Lance has found a water-filled urn and so is, unfortunately, done with the roadblock. As he takes the clue from the bedouin, he throws down the challenge items, saying “have a bag, have a ladle, have a nice life”. He’s foul.

Brian and Ericka are the first to find the snowman. They keep their karma in mind and show the other teams what it is they’re looking for. Tiffany and Maria decide to ditch “find”, anyway, and go with “build”. Gary and Matt also bail on “find”, but Samdan don’t want to quit. At least, Dansam does, but Samdan doesn’t. Big Easy takes a spill but it’s not played for laughs, for some reason.

Playing for laughs, though, are Lance and Keri who are still en route to Ski Dubai. Or are they? They’re really not sure where they’re going, although Lance is pretty sure that it’s Keri’s fault if they’re lost. He calls her “baby” a few times, just to make it clear that, even though she’s screwed up, he still loves her. And hopes she’ll forget that her one mistake doesn’t add up to all of his.

Teams building snowmen in the 130 degree heat are looking on the bright side: “At least we’ll be warm!”. Mika and Canaan are still on the road. Lance and Keri are heading in the right direction, now, they think. They’re laughing about directionally challenged, right as we see them continue along a road despite a sign indicating that Dubai is to the right.

Brian and Ericka? You’re team number two! Ericka explains that Brian believes in karma. Who knew?

Samdan finally ditch “find”, rationalising – somehow – that if they go to build, the ‘trotters won’t find a snowman. Which they do, almost immediately, if you believe the edit. Yay! As they head out to their car, they see Mika and Canaan and advise them to get their coats. Oh, c’mon! Why is everybody so nice? (Lance, you’re not included in that assessment, but you’re not interesting-nasty, you’re just hideously charmless.)

Matt and Gary use their Montana skills to complete a pretty good looking snowman fairly quickly. Mika and Canaan choose “build”, because Mika’s never done sledding. Are you kidding me? It’s sliding. God help her if she actually has to complete a real challenge.

Maria and Tiffany are done building. So are Samdan. “Schnikes!” Canaan’s getting worried. Maybe they don’t need to be – Maria and Tiffany are having difficulty communicating – Maria doesn’t seem to understand simple directions, and by “simple directions”, I mean “west”. Mika and Canaan finish, which leaves Keri and Lance still to complete. Well, still to find the challenge, really.

Tiffany and Maria resolve their directional incompetence and arrive at the pitstop in 6th place, after Samdan. Lance and Keri? Building a snowman. Pleasebeaneliminationround. Pleasebeaneliminationround. Pleasebeaneliminationround.

“Mika and Canaan? You’re team number seven.”

Lance and Keri have finished their snowman and instead of racing off to catch up to the others, Lance wants to kick the snowman. He’s a douche.

Aaaand “I’m sorry to tell you, you have been eliminated.” Yay! Lance explains that he and Keri are “different personalities… I wouldn’t want to marry myself”.

Let’s hope that in the next episode, the teams wake up and realise that they are in a competition.

5 comments

1 Kyvyny { 11.07.09 at 5:31 pm }

Definitely one of those detours where you wouldn’t mind going for both paths. Even if you were going to do the build later on, it would be fun to slide down the slope for find.

They must have stronger constitutions, going from heat to cold to heat like that would leave a messy trail of snot down the front of the shirt.

2 Round up « …blah blog blah… { 11.07.09 at 7:00 pm }

[…] Ravings this week.  Hell’s Kitchen is winding up, Beauty and the Geek is hotting up, and The Amazing Race is… really a tad boring this […]

3 Wurstsemmel { 11.08.09 at 6:26 am }

Thanks for the recap, Injera. Not sure what’s happened to TAR this season but the challenges are lame. Finding the free toy in a box of cereal would be more exciting. The casting largely stinks – finding it hard to care about anyone. If this show doesn’t reinvent itself a little, I’m sensing the end. TAR was never about mediocre tv.

One positive? Bye bye Lance.

4 sourkraut { 11.08.09 at 2:02 pm }

Injera
I thought I was the SOUR one! Never mind great recap. Pity the episode was SOOOOOOOOOOO boring! Good to see Lance Gone though
BTW “A sobbing little BLONDE jelly” Oh Dear. I’d better say no more!

5 Edina { 11.09.09 at 1:19 pm }

After watching TAR I was struck by how none of these RUDE contestants said ‘thankyou’ to anyone. I appreciate that there has to be some level of editing to keep the show rolling, but EVERY SINGLE social exchange?? The contestants just came off as rude, snatchy jerks. By comparison the Australian version of Beauty And The Geek, has somehow managed to find time in their editing process to leave the politeness in.