Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'A Kiss Saves the Day'
The teams head to Ghana and get a hard lesson on the hard sell
Sorry. It's just allergies.
I'm definitely not getting a little weepy about the ending of Sunday (Oct. 3) night's "The Amazing Race."
My recap of the episode after the break and after I get some Kleenex or some Benadryl or something.
That didn't help.
It's not that I'm going to miss Andie & Jenna as a team on "The Amazing Race." In two episodes, they didn't display any real skills and they could have just as easily been eliminated last week. Really, their elimination was foreshadowed by their opening confessional where Andie told the camera that she wanted them to take it all the way to the end because she knew she might not ever have the chance to spend this much time with the daughter she put up for adoption. And by the time they were stuck in the back of an over-heated taxi in Ghana realizing all of their genetic similarities -- double-jointed fingers, frizzy hair -- it was like they were etching their names on a lobster-shaped coffin. But when they got to the mat and Phil greeted them and they were both crying and they were rubbing their noses in the exact same way, proving nature over nurture when it comes to mucous disposal, how much did you want Phil and the woman with the fish hat to shrug and declare this a non-elimination leg? And then they had their final interview with Andie crying about how the best gift she could give Jenna was choosing a good family for her and Jenna agreeing that she'd succeeded?
I hate non-elimination legs amongst the 10 "Amazing Race" Things I Hate Most, but I'd have preferred for Andie and Jenna to get one last leg so that they could go out knowing they'd done something wrong, because either due to faulty "Race" leg architecture or faulty editing, Team Gilmore Girls got the boot without a properly demonstrated turning point that led to their departure. Ultimately, there were several slow cabs driving through the streets of Accra and their cab was the slowest. It's hard to make that exciting. Andie & Jenna were a little slow at each step of the leg, but Nat & Kat and Malloy & Gary both has missteps or bits of ill-fortune that seemed like they were more fitting causes for elimination, at least on a cosmic level.
Plus, what happened to the karma Andie & Jenna were supposed to have received for being the only team to donate money to the rather scary panhandlers reaching their arms into the taxis when the teams first arrived in Ghana? Doesn't that mean anything?
After a one-episode tease in England, where the teams were spoiled by the use of the English language (and yet still confused by round-abouts and driving on the wrong side of the road), we departed for Ghana this week, because nothing brings out the best in "Amazing Race" contestants like Africa. We had Chad of Team Tinkerbell focusing on the quantity of trash, plus other teams marveling at all of the people with things on their heads and the smell. And, perhaps most innocently bizarre (or bizarrely innocent), we got Mallory's "Ghana, Ghana, Here We Come" song and then the giggled squeal "Awww, I hope I get to hold little African babies!"
I don't know that we learned much about Ghana this week other than that Accra has at least two major markets, that people like to be buried in funky themed coffins and that Ghanians love television. Consider me (and the competing teams) eliminated. Oh and we also learned that Ghanian cab drivers are madmen, but only if you get a properly insane cabbie. Otherwise? You get eliminated. Better luck getting a lunatic cabbie next time, Team Gilmore Girls.
But the rest of the leg?
Well, remember last season when there were a couple legs in a row that not-so-subtly favored The Cowboys, Jet & Cord? Like one week they had to lasso something? And the next week they had to ride horses? And the week after that they had a chili cook-off? And they finally ended by branding Jordan? It seemed unfair, but nobody cared, because Jet & Cord were so hugely likable?
This week, we started with a Roadblock that asked teams to sell sunglasses in the middle of a market and suddenly Team Watermelon, Brook and Claire, practically exploded with glee, because before they were Team Watermelon, they were Team Home Shopping Network. Who was surprised, then, when Brook scurried around the marketplace complimenting her way to a series of quick sales, giving her team an advantage that they never gave up, even when they didn't have a clue how to properly install cable. I know that "Amazing Race" has a history of challenges asking contestants to sell things in the street. It's always one of the things I hate most, because they inevitably have the contestants vending in Third World countries where even if they're asking for very little money and even if they're selling relatively study goods, they're still assaulting poor people in a public space, trailed by a camera, guilting them into giving up money (which they probably need) in exchange for silly knock-off sunglasses (which they probably don't need).
Most contestants don't notice that they're doing something icky. Jill, for example, used "They go to a really good cause" as her sales pitch, but only later did she realize "Money's tight. You don't want to sell them a pair of bad sunglasses," which yielded eye-rolling from boyfriend Thomas. Jill's liberal guilt very nearly caused problems for her team. She was reticent to sell scuffed up glasses and as more and more teams finished, you could sense the Express Pass burning a hole in Thomas' pocket.
Brook was the best of the sellers. No question. She flattered people, made each of them feel special, left several of them with kisses and she sold each individual pair for the minimal cost (five pairs at three cedi apiece equaling the required 15 cedi), using Home Shopping Network logic that this was a volume business. But there were other ways to do it. Connor of Team Glee sold one pair at 10 cedi and two together for six and he was done. Mallory appeared to sell one pair of glasses to a threatening-looking dude for 15 cedi. And Chad, who I still don't like, basically stared his last customer down for an extended period, quibbling over one cedi.
There were enough different strategies at work in the Roadblock that the Detour became a disappointing afterthought, so irrelevant that we hardly saw any footage from how the last four or five teams finished. It was like they ran out of time and decided not to go back and balance the episode.
The choice was Tune In or Check Out. In Tune In, the teams had to install cable at a nearby house. In Check Out, the teams had to get one of the aforementioned fancy coffins and cart it a couple blocks and deliver it. Neither task offered very much opportunity for error. Team Watermelon arrived first and finished first after picking Tune In. It looked like Check Out was the faster task, or maybe Team Volleyball, Kate & Rachel, were just athletic enough to make it go fast. But nobody made a mistake at any task and so the Detour failed to be a factor in the race.
Anyway, I hope Andie & Jenna get to spend more time together, if that's what they desire. And if they feel like they now know each other as well as they want to, that's obviously fine by me also.
Other highlights from Sunday's "Amazing Race"
*** Other than Team Watermelon getting to sell things, the most decisive part of the leg was Kat & Nat getting a cabbie willing to create a third lane for through-traffic. Jonathan & Connor's driver followed and both teams made up a couple places. As Jonathan put it, "These taxi drivers are nuts. We're not complaining as long as we're not dying." And as Connor put it, "I'm just so proud that I haven't soiled myself."
*** I like Kat & Nat, but boy was Kat awful at selling things. I guess anesthesiologists don't usually need to sell their services. I liked, though, the way several teams were able to figure out or guess that Accra was in Africa, but only Nat & Kat just said, "We're going to Ghana!" Hopefully, they're done needing to sell things.
*** Last week, Team Watermelon had a Watermelon in the Face, so I didn't have to get tired of Brook's exhausting chirpiness. This week? Yeah, it was beginning to grate, between "I just kissed an Englishman in a tractor!" and "Who says girls can't hammer!" Everything Brook says is followed by an exclamation point. But you've gotta give them credit: They got to the Roadblock, they saw it involved says, Brook said "Bring it on!" and, indeed, she brought it.
*** Jonathan keeps repeating the amount of cash they're given for each leg of the race. Is he OCD or do they think we're being teased with some foreshadowing?
*** Little more time for Team Feces My Asian Dad Says this week, though they probably didn't do anything to deserve the time. I just hope we weren't padding their exposure this week in advance of what looks like a tough leg for Kevin & Michael next week.
*** Lots of people seemed to pretty much vanish this week. It was hard to notice Nick & Vicki or Kate & Rachel, while Tinkerbell let herself be upstaged by noxious Chad once again.
What'd you think of this week's episode?