Stupidity isn’t always punished on The Amazing Race, but Sunday (Nov. 9) night’s episode proved that you can’t get away with misreading, misinterpreting and misunderstanding every clue, every week and still hope to win a million dollars.

[This recap contains spoilers. And watch out, I may hurl dye at you as well.]

I long ago anointed this season’s contestants The Gang That Couldn’t Read Straight. In all my time watching this show, never have I seen a season where so many legs were decided by which teams were capable of deciphering the not-so-difficult clues and which teams weren’t (rather than actual performance or something). By that standard, it’s miraculous that Divorcees Kelly and Christy were even able to make it this far. By the second episode, they were already joking about their failures to comprehend the most basic of tasks, but they never actually learned.

By the end, Kelly and Christy were just a painful embarrassment, reaching the point at which I’d hear a clue read and say, "There’s no way those two women are going to be able to get this."

In Sunday’s episode, they couldn’t handle either the Detour or the Roadblock, achieving such a high level of cluelessness that Ken & Tina, who entered the stage with a Speed Bump to look forward to, passed them easily.

For the Roadblock, teams had to partake in a piece of the Holi Festival. Don’t know what the Holi Festival is? I don’t blame you. This is one of those places The Amazing Race sometimes falls down, failing to provide even the slightest context for an event that would inevitably seem utterly foreign to American eyes. So we got to watch Terrence pour water up his nose, hear Kelly wail at the injustice of her dye-pelting and listen to Tina call festival revelers "asses" and "morons," but nobody wanted to explain that Holi is a Festival of Spring and that the powered dyes being tossed around were traditionally ground from medicinal herbs [though they’re now more likely to contain toxic chemicals], so the ceremony is considered one of renewal and health. I’d just urge the Amazing Race producers to throw in that one sentence of explanation to spare the viewers and contestants the trouble of just being ignorant.

Of course, Kelly and Christy did a fine job of being dumb all on their own. There were six teams competing and reaching the Roadblock, which required one player to run through the powder-tossing celebrants, climb a ladder and select one of six clue cards from a slew of envelopes. Why is it that five of the teams were able to read the part about "specially marked envelopes," completing the task with relative ease, but Kelly was unable to read either the clue or the words "Try Again!" on the vast majority of envelopes? I mean, I get that under pressure you’re prone to pressure-based errors, but this one didn’t seem so hard.

After their performance on the Roadblock moved them from second to last — with the help of an addition blunder where they sent their cab away, but then were shocked to discover that few cabs are eager to pick up dirty, dirty American girls unless they’re a different sort of dirty, dirty American girls — it was only a matter of time for Kelly and Christy, especially since the Detour looked like a true pain.

The choice was between Teary Eyed and Bleary Eyed. Only Terence and Sarah opted for Teary Eyed, which required carrying two 40-pound bags of peppers and grinding a certain weight, amidst burning eyes and scorched lungs. Terence and Sarah complained, especially about the high standards of shopkeeper at the spice store, but all indications were that they picked the right task.

Bleary Eyed asked the teams to track a power line, recording the tiny numbers attached to the line. Yes, there were tiny numbers attached to the lines, but for both Kelly and Christy and DAndrew, it was easier to keep your eyes low, on the more prominent numbers on advertisements and street signs. After watching Nick and Starr and Toni and Dallas initially struggle with the attention to detail, I knew that Kelly and Christy were doomed. But, to be fair, they might have escaped elimination for another week if Ken and Tina hadn’t taken pity on the Frat Boys and pointed out the proper numbers. Who knows if DAndrew ever would have found the right numbers?

It was Karma, I guess. Before Ken and Tina showed up, DAndrew had asked Kelly and Christy if they wanted to work together to try figuring out what they were missing. Kelly and Christy were snobby because, well, Kelly and Christy appear to be snobby and they turned the boys down. Because the boys were open to help, help came to them.

Or, as Andrew put it, "When you’re just sweet dudes like us, people want to help you out sometimes."

Yeah. That.

Kelly and Christy, the only team to make the inevitable Ugly American comments about India’s aroma, ended their journey with Christy’s complaint, "There are so many people, I don’t know how anyone lives here." That’s the equivalent of that old joke about the club that nobody goes to anymore because it’s too crowded.

Bye, Kelly and Christy.

Other thoughts on this week’s episode:

  • Nick and Starr haven’t really shown any signs of weakness. They’re strong. They’re willing to tell "little white lies." And they aren’t stupid. I’d have a hard time imagining them not making the Top Three. As we know, though, once you reach the Top Three, sometimes just getting in the wrong cab can cost you a million bucks. But they look hard to beat.
  • This may be my last thought on Kelly and Christy, but do we figure they required prompting to play that game of "If you had to, would you kiss Dan or Andrew?" Kelly picked Andrew, leaving Dan for Christy. As Kelly warned her, "He’d get up from the kiss and start pacing."
  • Exchange of the episode: Terence: "Who’s my girl?" Sarah: "You are! Oh, wait. I am."
  • The Speed Bump asked Ken and Tina, rocking some lurid green hair by that point, to distribute holy water to pilgrims at a Sikh Temple. Under what circumstances, then, was Ken’s game of Lemonade Stand, complete with carnival barker patter, actually appropriate? A little respect goes a long way. Maybe Tina helped DAndrew to recover the karma she and her estranged hubby blew at other points in the episode.
  • This was a great week for supporting characters. Who didn’t love the Detour guy with the sewing machine, who toyed with the teams’ emotions before giving them a thumbs-up and thumbs-down at the end of the Bleary Eyed task? He was a trip. I also liked that Phil Keoghan’s Pit Stop mat greeter was a gardener who seemed to prefer watering the grass to welcoming the teams to their destination. Also, I would like a musical, light-up Ganesha. After Hanuman, Ganesha’s always been my favorite Hindu deity.

    What’d you think of the episode? Oh and I haven’t had my chat with Bertram Van Munster yet, so I’d still accept any questions…

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg