Thus spoke the prophet Mike White, "Let the last become first and let the first become last."

We've now had two consecutive topsy-turvy episodes on "The Amazing Race." Last week, the teams got jumbled in unexpected ways thanks to a series of missed flight connections in Moscow, leaving perennial near-cellar-dwellers Jodi & Christie and Kisha & Jen at the top of the pack. We never found out how far ahead last week's winning teams actually were, because a long delay before a train ride into the depths of Siberia offered an equalizer and prompted Mike's comment.

That, in turn, prompted Mel White to gush, "He's quoting the Bible. Thank God. It's a miracle."

But would Mike's prediction come to pass? 

[Full recap, with spoilers, after the break...]

The answer, is yes. Sunday night's episode restored proper order to "The Amazing Race," as Luke & Margie and Tammy & Victor moved back to the front of the pack and Kisha & Jen and Jodi & Christie fell into last. Nobody should have been shocked to learn that we've reached the proper time for the first of the season's Non-Elimination Legs, meaning that Jodi & Christie will face the dreaded Speed Bump. Actually, after both Ken & Tina and Dan & Andrew survived Speed Bumps last season, the dread has to be minimized.

Sunday night's episode was one of those "Amazing Race" legs that looks like it must have been more fun or more stressful to actually participate in than it was to watch. In fact, it suffered from one of my least favorite "Amazing Race" faults, in that it reached a conclusion that wasn't necessarily fully explained.

The train trip across Siberia, complete with sleeper compartments, was very "Dr. Zhivago" and therefore seems like I'd have enjoyed it. But equalizing always irks me. Then, it seemed like the only thing that determined final position in the game was how quickly teams left the train station, meaning that neither the Roadblock nor the Detour had all that much game relevance.

Kisha & Jen turned the wrong way out of the train station, which explains somewhat how they fell behind. What did Jodi and Christie do wrong? And how did both teams manage to fall so far behind the other packs? Was the episode's position just determined by the ability to drive a stick shift and the ability to navigate icy roads in a confusing Russian metropolis? That's disappointing, especially since the Detour and Roadblock were both decent enough.

The Detour choices were Russian Bride or Russian Snowplow. In Russian Bride, you had to find a grungy, sterile Soviet Era apartment building, track down a hot Russian bride and deliver her across town to a church. In Russian Snowplow, both teammates had to steer a bulky snowplow around an obstacle course. There turned out not to be any advantage to picking either challenge, nor was there any way to do either challenge with any increased speed. The first three teams all chose to do Snowplow and they finished in the exact order that they arrived at the plows, while Mike & Mel, the fourth team up, went with Brides and got to the Roadblock in fourth.

I like Mike's attitude that says that you choose Detour tasks based on which one sounds most fun, as well as the rationale, "I'd rather party with virgin brides than snowplows." To me, Russian Brides looked like more fun, but it required more driving in the unfamiliar city, which seems to have been what most confused Jodi & Christie.

The Roadblock required one player to run 1.4 miles in their undies to the Pit Stop. There were disappointingly few underwear embarrassments, though Christie was wearing a thong and Jen says she wasn't wearing underwear (but was allowed to change). Also, while -3 Celsius is cold, it isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. 

Again, the order you reached the Roadblock determined the order you finished, with a little minor shuffling because Tammy ran the 1.4 miles and Cara did a lot of walking. So the only drama was how the Russians would react to the runners in their skivvies, but nobody reacted in any funny ways. There were some whistles for the women. Yawn. 

So as I said... More fun to do yourself, than to watch on TV. Also, I only like non-elimination legs when they save teams I care about. Since I've developed neither warmth nor antipathy for Jodi & Christie, I didn't have anything invested in either their elimination or their cheating death. So the episode did little for me. 

Thoughts on the episode:

*** I can't drive a stick-shift. Lemme tell you know... The day I get accepted to go on "The Amazing Race" is going to be the day I walk into driving school and say "Make sure I can drive a stick shift," because I'm not going to let my chances at a million bucks be determined by something that's so totally in my control.

*** I continue to be interested in how the other teams are treating Luke & Margie. We've moved past the point at which anybody thinks Luke has any disabilities that impact his ability to compete, so you have unguarded reactions like Mike White's joke, "He's going to create a whole new archetype. The sinister deaf kid." I wonder if "American Idol" will ever reach that point with Scott MacIntyre or if the judges are going to keep coddling him all season long as if he's the first blind person to ever attempt a career in popular music. To my mind, until his deafness causes him a single problem, Luke is just another competitor and sometimes he annoys me and sometimes I like the way he's racing.

*** Luke & Margie and Jaime & Cara continue to try to help each other out. I wonder how long that can last. Meanwhile, I've finally figured out which one is Jaime and which one is Cara. It look me a while, but Jaime is the prettier cheerleader and the cheerleader who appears to have the sense of humor. Cara is the other one.

*** Tammy & Victor learned nothing at all about karma in their Leg From Hell a couple weeks ago. Their attempts to get help from Luke & Margie and Jaime & Cara and then promptly ditch them were pointlessly deceitful and unsuccessful. Even Victor looked embarrassed with how little they accomplished. 

*** Phil Keoghan has to make the most of his fleeting appearances, so this week he snagged extra screentime by demonstrating the Roadblock in his skivvies and then rolling his eyes at the perpetually clueless Mark & Michael. But what was up with the scary Siberian Ballet Girl who welcomed teams to the mat? Yikes.

What'd you think of the leg?

 

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