Well, we sort of knew what to expect on Sunday (Nov. 2) night’s Amazing Race, didn’t we, fans?

We were down to six teams without a single non-elimination leg, so it’s hard to imagine anybody being surprised that even though Ken & Tina were last to the mat in Delhi, they lived to fight another leg. I’m fine with the Speed Bump concept as a way to punish the non-eliminated teams, but I miss the days when teams would panic and throw on every article of clothing if they thought they were going to finish at the bottom.

Also, I still sort of wish that last week had been the first non-elimination leg and this week had sent somebody home. Aja & Ty were boring, but they seemed like good kids who were appreciating their international adventures and appreciated spending time together. Ken & Tina haven’t yet reached the War of the Roses stage on this Amazing Race, but can anybody out there honestly say that they’re rooting for them either as a team or as a couple?

A leg-winning juggernaut earlier in the Race, Ken & Tina probably didn’t deserve to go home after this particular leg. Yes, Tina was a shrill harpy for an entire televised hour and Ken’s distaste for his estranged spouse becomes more and more evident with each week, but the only reason they kept falling behind was that they kept taking cabs with inept drivers. At least one of the misdirected jaunts was probably their fault. I mean, after the Roadblock, why were they so pleased to see that their cabbie had waited for them? He wasn’t a good driver and they’d have been better off starting fresh. Heck, they probably could have walked, because if I knew this was going to be a non-elimination leg and you, dear reader, knew this was going to be a non-elimination leg, you have to assume that the teams were relatively confident as well.

As much as I hate non-elimination legs (particularly if they aren’t sparing teams I like), tonight’s episode was an improvement over last Sunday’s.

Perhaps I’m just a sucker for India, with its overflowing streets, revered heifers and myriad opportunities for cut-away shots of monkeys or elephants. Delhi is the sort of hyper-crowded urban environment that usually brings out the worst in teams, yielding Ugly American reactions like, "God, it stinks!" or "Everybody’s so poor!" or "I don’t know how the Indians can stand to live here!" But tonight, nobody made any culturally insensitive comments and Kelly & Christy, the team I’d have pegged as Most Likely to Show Ugly American Tendencies, remembered that cows are sacred. Then again, the Pink Divorcees also paraded around in short-shorts, which offended Nick’s delicate Hindu-sensitive sensitivities for some reason, even though his sis spent most of the episode exposing her midriff and cleavage.

The tasks weren’t difficult, but they brought out interesting sides in the teams.

The Roadblock had the teams paining rickshaws green to show some level of enhanced environmental consciousness on their part. It wasn’t a hard Roadblock, but it had a number of steps and the best part was how close the non-competing teammates were able to get. The addition proximity allowed for some obnoxious backseat rickshaw painting. Particularly from the reliably tool-y Terence.

"I need you to do this quickly, baby," was Terence’s helpful advise. "Just do it."

Terence was pretty heinous, but Sarah did appear to be the slowest available painter. As Andrew put it, "Who makes their wife do bodywork on a vehicle?"

Andrew only had his team’s second-best line of the task, behind Dan’s bizarre observation, "Andrew’s a Da Vinci, Michelangelo, David just rolled into one right now."

The episode’s stage winner, Nick and Starr, also received a pair of electric cars, as a nod to their part in helping India’s auto-rickshaw service go semi-green (or "green-er").

The two Detour options were culturally specific and interesting. Launder Clothes forced teams to use an old-fashioned iron at an outdoor laundry, while Launder Money asked them to make a ceremonial wedding necklace, stapling on 10 rupee notes adding up to 780 rupees. It was a bit atypical that it was a nighttime Detour with both tasks taking place at least partially outside. I appreciated that.

I’d have shared the instinct of four of the six teams, going to Launder Clothes. The biggest complication was the heat of the iron or, in DAndrew’s case, that frat boys don’t know how to iron. They didn’t get any favors from Mother Nature, as a mini-monsoon came and blew away a pile of folded clothing, insult to injury since they were already trailing.

Launder Money required making change, which is really hard if you’re as stubborn and awful as Tina. It was hard to tell the different elapsed times between the two tasks, since Terence & Sarah and Ken & Tina were last to get the Detour clue and therefore never really had a chance to catch the Launder Clothes teams.

Lots of little things of note this week…

  • Got to love how the episode began with Phil Keoghan’s voiceover wondering if Terence and Sarah’s 30 minute time penalty would cost them, only to have all the teams bunched and equalized within minutes.  Stupid equalizing.
  • Starr would eat Dallas alive. She’s like Veronica from the Archie comics and he’s like Moose. But there was still something so endearing in hearing the amiable lunkhead lament the challenges of pursuing a budding romance with her brother and your mother hanging around all the time. "My mom’s the worst wingman ever," he said. Oh and when Dallas said, "I thought India was way different than that," on their first cab into the city, what do we think he was imagining? My hunch: He thought they were on their way to Indiana.
  • Favorite line of the episode: Terence to Sarah, "Open it, you deserve it." Since he’d just been yelling at her for being slow and they’d fallen into last, was he being condescending or passive-aggressive? Either way, that would have been the perfect moment for Sarah to find a tire iron and take it upside his head.
  • Second best line of the episode: Christy’s, realizing she and Kelly were using their wife-y skills on the Detour, "Please hold while I singe my skull with this iron."
  • It looks like there may be some breakdowns next week. That should be fun.

    What’d you think of the episode? Are Starr and Dallas made for each other?

    Also, I’m talking to executive producer Bertram Van Munster this week. Any questions you want me to ask?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg