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Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'Release The Brake!'
Teams drive Ford Mustangs, make waffles and follow pigeons
Much has been written -- some of it even true -- about the myriad attempts on the life of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin in 1916.
He was stabbed and poisoned and shot and beaten and drowned. Even after he was confirmed dead, observers swore that Rasputin sat up in the middle of his own cremation.
Now you may say that Rasputin had a power that was magical or malevolent or possibly divine. Or you may say that the people entrusted with assassinating the crazed mystic were really awful at their jobs. Or you could suggest that superstitious people spun a web of folk tales around the death of a man they hated and feared and that those legends have only grown with passing years.
Me? I just figure that each time Rasputin was killed and went to the gates of either Heaven or Hell (presumably the latter, but I don't want to rule anything out), he was greeted by St. Peter or Charon or the gatekeeping figure of your choice and he was told, "Grigori Rasputin... You're in luck. This was a Non-Elimination Assassination Attempt." So Rasputin returned to Earth, dealt with some pathetic Speed Bump in life and continued.
Eventually, though, Rasputin was eliminated from the Human Race and other than periodic returns in "Hellboy" and whatnot, he's stayed gone.
In most ways, Bill & Cathi are absolutely nothing like Grigori Rasputin. In fact, they're pretty admirable folks. They completed for 10 legs on "The Amazing Race" and mostly kept pace with contestants half their ages. They didn't fight. They didn't complain. They just kept going. As parents or grandparents or just general role models for how to get the most out of life, they're top-notch.
[Full recap of Sunday (November 27) night's "The Amazing Race" after the break...]
Bill & Cathi finished in last on the season premiere of "The Amazing Race." They were saved by a Non-Elimination Leg in that opening episode.
They were also the final team to reach Phil Keoghan at the Pit Stop in the "Amazing Race" episode that began last week, but concluded tonight.
And finally, they got to Phil Keoghan after all of the remaining teams on this week's episode.
The math on this one isn't difficult. We've had 10 legs of "The Amazing Race" this season and Bill & Cathi finished in last in 30 percent of them. That's a pretty high percentage. That's almost a Rasputin-esque percentage.
The Mad Monks of "The Amazing Race," Bill & Cathi, were finally eliminated on Sunday night. They got to Phil Keoghan at the Pit Stop and he didn't even hesitate in telling them their run was over.
Of course, that gave Bill & Cathi the rare achievement of finishing last in two "Amazing Race" legs within the same episode and it gave them the rare achievement of getting to narrate their departing valedictories to the camera twice within the same hour.
"I think we're both startled with how long we've managed to stay with it," Bill said as the second Pit Stop loomed.
He added, "It's been a hoot and, if anything, it's improved Cathi's and my relationship totally."
All together now... AWWWW.
It's worth dwelling on Russian history and the arcana of Bill & Cathi's departure, because otherwise, you're stuck looking at Sunday's episode like this: Last week, we had an episode that ended with Bill & Cathi at the back of the pack and seemingly headed towards elimination, but we had a Continuation Leg and for the duration of the following leg, Bill & Cathi remained in last place. This wasn't quite as anti-climactic as the lack of drama when Liz & Marie went from Non-Elimination Leg to distant elimination without ever returning to the pack. But it wasn't far off. Even without facing a Speed Bump -- a stupid peculiarity to pointlessly differentiate between Continuation Legs and Non-Elimination Legs -- Bill & Cathi never really had a chance.
So either I look at Sunday's episode as an hour-long farewell tribute to Bill & Cathi, or it was an hour-long commercial for Ford and the Ford Mustang. I think I prefer the former. Realistically, it was the latter.
From the Pit Stop at the start of the leg, teams were sent to the Ford Proving Ground, where were were treated to at least 20 minutes of Ford logos, shiny Mustangs and perfectly shot grillwork and insignias. Along the way, Phil Keoghan took us through the history of the Mustang, with somewhat less enthusiasm than Jeff Probst usually shows when he encourages "Survivor" castaways to take many pictures with their Sprint phone. It became a competition to see which "Race" teammates would say "Mustang" most frequently in their talking-head segments.
Cindy probably wins with, "Oh my God. There are Mustangs! This is so cool!"
In the Roadblock, one contestant from each team had to go around with a test driver and then do three challenges: A 100 mph stop, a slalom course and then execute two donuts (which could actually be three or four if your Mustang-based excitement got the best of you."
Ernie & Cindy got to the Roadblock first and left the Roadblock first, but Ernie squandered a large lead over Jeremy & Sandy by failing many times on the slalom course. Each participant in the Roadblock had a great time and nary a negative word was spoken about the handling of the new Ford Mustang.
But did the teams have too much fun?
Andy thought so.
The bearded member of Team Snowboarder was forced to let Tommy do the Roadblock, because last week's memorization task proved that Tommy shouldn't be allowed to do "mind" challenges. Ouch.
Tommy loved the Roadblock.
But Andy figured he also would love the Roadblock.
Andy felt Envy.
Envy is a sin.
"I had to ask for forgiveness through Christ and Christ just took that from me," Andy said.
There's a good reason why Envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It's such a good one that it was saved for the climax of David Fincher's "Se7en."
Thomas Aquinas explained, "Envy according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life... Charity rejoices in our neighbor's good, while envy grieves over it."
Who would dare quibble?
But if thinking that it would be fun to drive around on the Ford Proving Ground track on a game show with a million dollar prize is the type of "Envy" that one needs seek divine absolution for...
I have no conclusion for that statement. I'll leave it for others to decide whether or not that feels like an ideal situation to be invoking the services of a potentially messianic force.
Apparently it worked.
The Detour was the choice between Waffles and Water. In Water, teams had to use an assortment of available materials -- some barrels, some twin and some sticks -- to create a floatation device capable of transporting them up and down a small stretch of river. In Waffles, teams had to put together a waffle stand and make 18 different types of waffles.
Neither task was all that easy or all that hard. The Snowboarders opted for Water and put together their vessel first, but they just happened to do it very swiftly. I always say that I like Roadblocks that potentially reward excellence and this would be one that fell into that category. Marcus & Amani and later Bill & Cathi put together pontoons without disaster, but the Snowboarders did it so fast that they skipped ahead of Ernie & Cindy and Jeremy & Sandy who went with waffles and found out that that task's judge had an OCD streak that prevented approval if a stray strawberry or pinch of powdered sugar happened to be misapplied.
Andy & Tommy finished the leg in first, their sixth win of the season. When Meghan & Cheyne won "The Amazing Race 15," they were first in seven legs (and second in three others). The Snowboarders won't be able to reach that level of Top Two dominance, but with two legs remaining, they could stake a claim as one of the show's most dominant teams. Their prize this week? A pair of customized Ford Mustangs, duh.
Jeremy & Sandy began the episode in second and finished in second, moving ahead of Ernie & Cindy, who slipped somewhat when they got lost trying to find an address following a flock of carrier pigeons. Marcus & Amani were fourth.
Farewell to Bill & Cathi.
Some highlights from this week:
*** Did you know that Marcus played in the NFL? He helpfully explained that next week's episode will be like a conference championship and the following week will be the Super Bowl. Fair enough. I'm getting rather impatient waiting for my exit interview to find out if Marcus would advise his Colts to draft Andrew Luck, or to try to trade the hypothetical pick.
*** Cindy doesn't love pigeons. Ernie doesn't love asking for directions. And Cindy also likes doing backseat waffle-making.
*** Line of the episode: The Waffles judge telling Jeremy & Sandy, "I'm glad to see you finally found it" after the bickering couple realized they had blueberry and strawberry waffles reversed in their display case. Ooops.
*** I'm sure you were all glad that we got a few more minutes of the Snowboarders doing lunges in their Speedos and Bill & Cathi flexing their well-perserved muscles. I know I was.
*** The Atomium is wicked cool.
That's about it. Are you sad to see Bill & Cathi go? Would you have given them another shot?