This week on the Amazing Race, the teams left Dubai and headed to Amsterdam for a pretty wacky episode. I know what you’re thinking – marijuana themed challenges? Wrong.
First, in the airport Sam and Dan decided to come out to the other teams while everyone was gathered waiting for the same flight. I sort of thought if this hadn’t come out by now, it never would. After all, the teams do get to hang out in between legs, right? Plus I thought the brothers wanted to seem straight in order to flirt with (read: give answers to) and gain an advantage over (read: pointlessly push one team to the head of the pack) the poker players.
The teams took the news pretty well, (“Now the matching bathing suits make sense!”) although I was surprised that none of them said “Both of you? What are the odds of that?”. Maybe privately, off-camera.
The teams arrived in Amsterdam, and Brian and Ericka made mistake #1. Brian couldn’t get the car started. The poker players snottily joked “No one else is used to luxury vehicles”. Shut up, poker players. I hate that team.
I wonder how long Brian and Ericka sat in the parking lot for, because she really started to lose it. This episode focused a lot on Ericka’s nagging nature (read: whiny and easily frustrated), but I have to say I still sort of like that team. Yes, she seems to freak out quickly and is a little too hard on him. But we’ve seen way worse on the Amazing Race (Zach and Flo), and even for this season, they are not the most annoying couple. I find them oddly charming. He is so good-natured it should be against the law, and she has a pretty good sense of humour and admits when she is being less than pleasant.
On the other hand, while Mika was cute and occasionally charming, she was also weak and had a death stare scarier than any water slide. I’m also not a fan of Meghan and Cheyne. He bugs me. He’ll only do tasks that make him look good, and he seems abnormally hard on her, considering she seems like one of the strongest girls in the race.
The Roadblock was for all the teams to go to the tallest tower in the town they were in, and then one person had to count the bells. I thought this sounded hard, because counting things can be surprisingly frustrating. Especially with other teams shouting out numbers, bells loudly clanging, and the possibility of smaller bells up high that you might have trouble spotting.
But apparently it was a pretty easy task, because everyone seemed to get it on the first try. It was particularly easy for Tiffany, because Sam and Dan told her the answer before she even had to count one lousy bell.
I’m sorry, but I do not get this strategy. I know Sam and Dan think that by pushing them along, they’ll be helping a weak team that they can beat into the finals. But there is no way to truly determine what team you can beat in the finals. Yes, Maria and Tiffany are incredibly weak. Especially Maria. I can’t stand them as a team, because I think Maria has relied on Tiffany the whole time, and the two of them rely on Sam and Dan way too often. But who’s to say the last challenge won’t be playing a hand of poker? Or that one of them knows a second language that could give them a huge advantage in the final leg? Or that they are mad flight bookers and will get a flight so far ahead of everyone else that Tiffany can stroll to the finish line, piggybacking Maria? How crappy would it feel to know that if you hadn’t helped them out so much, they would be eliminated ages ago?
Also, it makes the show kind of lame.
For Ericka, the task ended up being bizarrely difficult. Hello, mistake #2, nice to see you. She could not get the count on the bells right to save her life. It was a pretty similar gaff to Big Easy’s last week, when he couldn’t get the combination on the briefcase. They are missing something, and for some reason just cannot figure it out. I actually felt kind of bad for Ericka, she just wasn’t getting it and knew she had potentially lost the race for them, but didn’t give up. She even joked about crying with the empathetic organ-bell player guy.
Finally, Ericka got the right number, but by then all the other teams were at the Detour. The choices were “Farmer’s Golf” and “Farmer’s Dance”. Both tasks had weird little mini-tasks connected to them as well, that did not seem to make much sense, but immensely added to my enjoyment of this episode.
First, teams had to don traditional Dutch clothing and ride bicycles to the challenge site. This was awesome, if only because the Globetrotters looked hilarious doing it.
For “Farmer’s Golf”, the teams had to strip down to their long johns, swim across of filthy looking, frigid river, and play the golf game. By the way, it seemed very cold and windy. I bet they were missing that insane Dubai heat.
The golf was less like golf and more like a weird game with a mallet and a wooden shoe that vaguely resembles golf. The team members had to alternate taking turns, and get the ball into the hole within eight shots. To do this, you had to hit the ball quite far a couple of times, which meant that they couldn’t really rely on one team member to do all the work (cough cough, Meghan and Cheyne/Maria and Tiffany).
Sam and Dan blew through the challenge pretty quickly, while Meghan struggled a little. She had told Cheyne that golf’s not her game, but he wanted to do it anyway to avoid dancing and looking silly. Sam and Dan finished first, breaking Meghan and Cheyne’s winning streak.
Gary and Matt originally headed for “Farmer’s Dance”, but bailed when Matt found out you had to eat herring at the end. Seriously, Matt? He is such a pansy sometimes. I don’t like fish either, but I would scarf down a little measly piece of herring if it meant not wasting my time switching challenges. They turned out to be pretty decent at the golf though, and came in third.
Big Easy and Flight Time, who had finished pretty far behind the other teams last leg, made up a lot of time this leg. They went for “Farmer’s Dance”, because they learn routines for Globetrotters games all the time. To enter the challenge one of them had to hit the bell on the little “test your strength” carnival game outside the building, and that was a breeze for them. The caught on to the dance quickly, and had everyone laughing by giving the traditional Dutch dance some soul-train flavour.
Big Easy didn’t struggle with the herring, but Flight Time clearly wasn’t digging it. This is what I love about this team though – they never get discouraged, or really even complain much. When they asked Flight Time how the herring was, he seemed upset and made a face and said “We’re not going to talk about that…but did you see me gettin’ down?”. And he was happy again. End of being disgusted with the task. I love these guys. They came fourth, but a close fourth. I have faith in them moving back up to the front of the pack and (hopefully!) winning it all.
This left Maria and Tiffany and Brian and Ericka. First, Maria and Tiffany went for dance. After about 25 tries, they still couldn’t hit the bell at the top of the test your strength game. These damn bells, they keep getting in teams’ ways!
Maria was particularly bad at it. No, scratch that – she did not appear to even be trying. A child could have beaten her score. She made it go like, four inches. It was pathetic. She wasn’t even holding the mallet right, or bothering to raise it over her head to swing it hard. I can’t stand her!
So, they switched to golf. Meanwhile, Brian and Ericka arrived and immediately made mistake #3. They started to walk instead of riding bicycles, like the clue said. I hate when people don’t read the clue right. It’s like failing an exam because you misread the question. I know they were tired and frustrated, but take a minute, compose yourselves, and read the clue correctly.
It also made for a long, painful walk. With a lot of whining from Ericka.
Maria and Tiffany turned out to be just as awful at the golf as they were at the strength test. Frankly, I didn’t think it seemed like they were trying hard enough, considering they knew they couldn’t do the other thing. Especially Maria (surprise, surprise). She is such a coattail rider. Besides eating the wasabi in the first episode, which she sucked at and needed two turns to complete, she has done nothing this whole race.
Once they were at the dancing, she seemed to relax a lot. They finished the routine very easily, and ate the fish. Ericka didn’t even complain about the fish, in fact I thought I caught a pretty good beauty pageant facial expression on her, like she hated what was in her mouth but was trying to smile to be polite.
Ericka and Brian borrowed some bikes (I really hope they returned those) and headed off to the pit stop, and Maria and Tiffany went back to the strength tester.
By now, I was torn between pity and glee. On the one hand, Tiffany was getting so close to hitting the bell that it was a little heartbreaking. Also, they’re the only all-female team and both tasks seemed to require quite a bit of upper-body strength. On the other hand, I was pleased with the possibility of their elimination, because I can’t stand them. Especially Maria. Did you see her try to hit the thing? Why even bother?
If I were Tiffany, this is what I would have said:
“Listen, Maria. You’re a great poker player and all, but frankly, you kind of suck at this race stuff. You’re dead weight. So why don’t you go sit inside while I try and hit this bell, and if we win, I’ll take 75% of the prize because you have been completely useless. OK?”.
Instead, the hugged it out. They stood half-dressed and soaking wet in the freezing cold, clinging to each other, crying and wishing that Sam and Dan were around to do it for them.
Brian and Ericka hit the pit stop, miraculously not eliminated for their dismal performance that leg. Not yet. They did get a thirty minute penalty for mistake #3, not riding bikes. Normally, this would mean elimination – thirty minutes is a lifetime when the teams all finished so close. But as Maria and Tiffany returned to the golf for a second time, after not being able to hit the bell after 100 tries, it became painfully clear they were done. They gave the golf their best shots (or at least Tiffany did), but couldn’t get anywhere. Finally, Phil had to stroll out to the pasture to eliminate them. It reminded me of many seasons ago when he had to do the same thing to Kristy and Lena, when after eight hours Lena still couldn’t find a clue in giant bales of hay.
So, you can imagine my immense glee when I saw the scenes from next week and found out that they’re doing that challenge again! I heard they were repeating a task for the first time in Race history, but I had guessed it would be something daring like bungee jumping or repelling. But this is so much better! I hope someone beats the eight-hour mark for searching, and gets eliminated in the field.
And so it was so long, Maria and Tiffany. Their time was up ages ago – they were saved after the first leg by a non-elimination, and saved once again by Justin and Zev losing their passports. I guess third time was the charm. Ericka better be thanking her lucky stars for their lack of strength and inability to complete a task without help from others. Now I’d like to see Sam and Dan and Meghan and Cheyne eliminated, clearing the path for my favourite ball players.