I’m dubious about the U-Turn maneuver that’s been added to The Amazing Race — it just seems so mean-spirited and, ultimately, counterproductive. But if you’re going to use it, at least use it effectively, and send home the particularly odious people who are actually behind you, ok?

"We just need to realize how embarrass[ing] and disgusting it was before the way that we were spoiling…"

The Challenges
Fly from Florence, Italy to Mumbai, India, then find a specific newspaper stand, who will sell each team a newspaper that will  send our teams to a tailor’s shop that sends them to the first detour. They can choose either to put up a six-panel Bollywood poster or thread a traditional Indian wedding garland. Then it’s a roadblock that involves schlepping large tanks of propane on a bike, another stop where they can exercise a u-turn, and finally the pit stop. The race is on!

The Good
Rachel and TK are in their element: "We’re going to keep up our strategy of keeping mellow," Rachel says. I’m not sure that really constitutes a strategy, but something works — they finish this leg of the race in first place. Rachel’s experience as a florist makes the wedding garland a snap, and TK is a freakin’ machine schlepping the propane. They don’t use the U-Turn because it would harsh someone’s mellow, and I’m really starting to like these crazy kids.

Nicholas and Donald continue their strong run through a combination of smarts, cunning, mutual support and graciousness. They show their brains right off the bat by buying a plane ticket online, then checking into a hotel for some decent rest before the flight. Nicholas loiters near another team while they look for the ad, and uses that to narrow the search. They excel at the poster-hanging challenge — not too high, not too low, everything lined up perfectly — and decline to use the U-Turn when given the chance. Their only bobble: Nicholas is the poor sap who takes on the propane-schlepping roadblock, and he works himself to a state of exhaustion, dehydration and possibly mild heat stroke. He ends up puking by the side of the road. Poor kid.

The Bad
The Daddy Dearest side of Ronald comes out all the more this leg — he’s just an ass to Christina and the world at large. Does he even realize what a schmuck he is? He blows up during the paper-hanging challenge, first at Christina for having the temerity to provide a substandard stool for him to stand on (which he wouldn’t have needed if he hadn’t started out hanging the poster so high), and then at the judge of the challenge when he says something that had previously been ok was now off. Christina reminds him that pissing off a judge is bad strategy, and even loses her cool toward him a couple of times — "Stop yelling at me!" Finally!

Jen and Nate continue to annoy by being Jen and Nate. They rush to the airport to buy a ticket, only to discover that the airport is closed. This, of course, is the airport’s fault, not their own. When they can’t find the ad in the paper, they’re at each other’s throats: You’re horrible at this! The dog is bugging me! I didn’t start it, you started it! Stop it! You’re on my side! Moooooooooom! Seriously, my 5-year-old nephew and 2-year-old niece were less annoying when we were trapped in an endless traffic jam this week. Shut the hell up, both of you, or I’m turning this car around right now! Despite this, and despite Jen leaving receipts behind on the propane challenge, they come in fourth and remain in the game. Dammit.

The Gothy
Kynt and Vyxsin "[resort] to a bunch of performance art," as they put it — they try to fool Rachel and TK into taking a later flight, which turns out to be pointless. The dreaded Speed Bump is actually kind of fun — they’re doing sea-side yoga, which is at least relaxing — and prove the polar opposite of the odious Nate and Jen. Why, then, didn’t they use the U-Turn on Nate and Jen? They knew the Dyspeptic Duo was right behind them, and had no clue where anyone else was. Why waste it on the slim chance that they could shake up Nicholas and Donald? Idiots. That strategic misstep is enough to ensure that team Perky Goth are dead last, and they’re going home. Curses.

Highlights, thoughts, and odds and ends:

  • I had been feeling a wee bit bad for Nate being saddled with Jen, but his "I don’t understand why you can’t do this — you’re a girl!" comment just made me want to kick him. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Jen responded "Well, I don’t understand how you couldn’t row a boat — you’re a boy!"
  • Despite my despair at gender stereotyping, I am surprised that Jen insisted on doing the propane schlepping challenge. Does she seriously think she’s stronger and faster than Nate, who’s got about a foot of height and maybe 80 pounds of muscle on her? Weird.
  • Likewise, what was Ronald, the man with the hernia, thinking when he decided to do the schlepping?
  • More Jen and Nate follies — does Cal State Long Beach not expect much in the basic vocabulary department? How else do you explain how Jen could think "give the garland to the bridegroom" might mean "give the garland to the elephant"? And was anyone else hoping that the elephant would eat the garland, thus forcing the duo to start over again?
  • Even during the yoga Speed Bump, Kynt kept his perspective: "Any chance to see Vyxsin twisting, turning or contorting her body is a highlight for me, and I think it was a highlight for the instructor as well." Good to know.
  • When Phil tells Team Perky Goth they’re going home, he tells them they at least have the honor of being "the most fashionable couple ever on The Amazing Race." I’m not sure "fashionable" was quite the word he was looking for. "Appearance-obsessed," "fringe-fashion-infatuated," or even "gothtastic," but hardly "fashionable." Just saying.
Posted by:Sarah Jersild