Well that was pretty stupid.
I'm not sure I have any other reaction to Sunday (March 13) night's "Amazing Race" installment.
That was pretty astoundingly stupid.
I don't know if I'm referring to the "Race" leg itself or to the leg run by one particular team, but oh my goodness...
That was pretty mind-bogglingly stupid.
I'm going to try to think up other things to say about Sunday's episode after the break, but you can probably skip over everything else and just settle on this:
On the scale of "Amazing Race" stupidity, tonight's episode turned the dial to 11. "The Amazing Race
" had an entire season seemingly dedicated to teams that misread clues, misread directions and got lost going in straight lines -- that would be Season 16 -- but nobody in that season put together a leg this impressively stupid.
I'm not sure that Kent & Vyxsin had the worst "Amazing Race" leg in recent memory. I still vividly remember Tammy & Victor's wrong-way journey through Transylvania, falling from first to near-last. But in terms of pure dumb? You've gotta give it up for The Goths. And it could have competed with the all-time worst legs except for one equally dumb thing: Sunday's episode was the season's second "You've reached the Pit Stop, but you've gotta keep on racing" not-officially-a-Non-Elimination-Leg of the season. Then again, as Sunday's episode ended, The Goths still weren't close to finishing the leg, so I don't want to rule out a continuation of ineptitude stretched out over two full episodes. That would definitely qualify for the record books.
The episode began with the teams departing their Japanese Pit Stop and journeying to the airport, where they were told they all had to take a single flight to China. All of the teams departed at nighttime between 8:44 p.m. and 12:41 a.m. leaving them with ample time to get to Narita Airport in time for a 9 a.m. flight. I just did a quick piece of Google Mapping and it told me that the trip from last week's Pit Stop to Narita Airport should take a little over two hours. No matter how easily confused these teams might be, I don't think anybody on the production team ever considered the possibility a team could miss the flight.
They didn't count on Kent and Vyxsin deciding to steer themselves there using a compass and Vyxsin's apparently suspect map skills. Somehow, despite more than nine hours to travel a two-hour distance, The Goths missed the flight. All evidence pointed to the directional flaws all being Vyxsin's, but how is it possible to drive that length of time and not just give up in confusion after four or five hours to seek somebody, anybody, capable of speaking or reading English. Or finding a computer capable of accessing the Internet. Or actually successfully noticing confusingly misdirected signs and turning around. Instead, Vyxsin just had a meltdown in the backseat of their car, crying about how stupid she was. Kent, to his credit, was practically a saint and never yelled, insulted her or anything.
"Even if they had to walk to Narita, it shouldn't have happened," Justin said.
Even Vyxsin acknowledged, "There's no reason on this Earth why any sane person wouldn't have made it to that flight on time."
As a result of missing that flight, Kent & Vyxsin also missed the shuttle that was supposed to take teams to Jade Dragon Mountain, site of all of the leg's action.
Things weren't much better for Vyxsin on the episode's Roadblock, which required on player to wander along a bridge festooned with tens of thousands of tiles, isolating 12 tiles corresponding to the signs of the Chinese Zodiac and then arranging them in order.
For most of the teams, this needle-in-a-haystack task was a breeze. Only Zev of Justin & Zev had any difficulties, repeatedly getting frustrated both attempting to find a rabbit and then attempting to put the tiles in order. Because Zev took as long as he did -- it was really hard to watch, especially in the unavoidable light of Zev's Aspergers -- Kent and Vyxsin were actually able to catch up, only to have Vyxsin get stymied collecting all of the tiles, becoming increasingly frustrated and eventually sitting down and crying about how stupid she was. Because of Vyxsin's problems, Zev was eventually able to realize that he'd collected two goats and no horses, letting Team Aspie pull back ahead.
Then, just when it seemed as if things couldn't get any worse for the Goths, they hopped on the bus that was supposed to take them to the Detour and realized that they -- Kent, in this case -- had lost their fanny pack featuring all of their travel documents, leaving them unable to communicate with the driver to indicate the need to turn back. Disaster.
And because this much injury still needs more insult, I'm fairly sure that failing total pity from the producers, there's no way The Goths hit the Pit Stop (if they ever hit the Pit Stop) without incurring at least some measure of penalty. At the Roadblock, The Goths admitted that they were unsure on their penalty situation, but it seems awfully clear that if teams were instructed to take one fight to China and were then instructed to take one shuttle to Jade Dragon Mountain and The Goths didn't take the flight they were instructed to take and they didn't take the shuttle they were instructed to take, a least a minor penalty out to be required. The only thing preventing a penalty would be a sympathetic read that because each failure left them in worse position rather than better, they penalized themselves. Forget that.
Meanwhile, the episode also ended with Justin and Zev struggling with the uninspired Detour, which asked teams to choose between Hammer and Horn. In Hammer, they had to pound some candy. In Horn, they had to carry a horn some distance and... something. Hammer seemed like the easier task, since there were no real standards to their candy-making craft other than pounding. The Cheerleaders opted to do Horn and quit immediately because of the heaviness of the instrument. The Globetrotters seemed to get lost, but the task was so uninteresting that we didn't even see how they righted themselves. In the end, neither Detour task was hard. Neither Detour task required any nuance. And the editors tired of both Detours, because it was much more entertaining to follow the two trailing teams. We didn't get any indication of how Luke & Margie moved ahead of Jet & Cord and Gary & Mallory to win the Leg and it's hard to care, since they were sent off to their next task.
So nobody went home. The Detour was dull. The Roadblock should have been harder. The Goths (Vyxsin, mostly) were epically dumb. And I'm betting this was an episode that looked great in high definition.
A few other thoughts on Sunday's unresolved "Amazing Race":
*** As expected, Phil Keoghan appeared in a CBS Cares PSA urging viewers to make donation to relief efforts in the wake of the Japan earthquake/tsunami. The PSA aired at the end of the first in-show commercial break and touched the right notes, though under the circumstances perhaps it could have been a bit more prominent? Either immediately before the episode or immediately after? Anyway, have a Red Cross URL
if you feel like donating.
*** Ron keeps getting worse, doesn't he? This week, he was hungry. So he kept trying to hold Christina up to get food and then, during the Detour, he kept eating the candy. And earlier than that, when the teams were supposed to catch a bus to the Detour and he and Christina got on a random shuttle, his freak-out at their driver was mighty annoying. And for all of the talk of Ron and Christina's advantage on the leg because they spoke Chinese, why were they verbally abusing their driver in English? [Side note: Christina's roll out from the moving shuttle was pretty bad-ass.]
*** That shuttle situation ended up OK for Ron & Christina for one reason and one reason only: The Globetrotters saw that the other team was having trouble and they made their bus driver stop and wait for the father and daughter. Several of y'all have said mean things about the Globetrotters in the past. I'll now pause to let you take those words back.
*** Not only were The Globetrotters altruistic, but they had the leg's funniest moment when, at a Route Marker, Flight Time was unable to remember his Japanese Zodiac sign. The teams had to write down wishes and deposit them in slots associated with their signs and Flight Time cracked, "First of all, I just wished that I knew what my Zodiac sign was." I was, as the kids say, LOLing.
*** Zev had a tough leg, but he also had my favorite line of the episode, analyzing Kent & Kyxsin's absence at Narita with, "Either they're in a Kabuki show, or super, super lost."
*** The Yak challenge was also disappointing. I wanted a repeat of the classic "My ox is broken" or else I wanted everybody else to struggle and the Cowboys to reign supreme. Instead, the yaks were docile. Meh.
*** Last week I questioned if Mallory was being slightly racist with her intonation of certain Asian-inflected words or if she has just become a frantic, uncontrollable spaz. After this week? Yeah. Slightly racist. Sorry if I doubted.
*** So the teams are up in the mountains and for nearly as minute as they scurried toward the Roadblock, nearly every player mentioned the altitude and the impact it was having on them. That felt like foreshadowing, a bit like Justin's comment that Zev had had only "rocking chair" legs thus far. But no. No payoff to the altitude references. Boo. Somebody needs to pass out next week.
That's it for me... Any thoughts on this week's leg? Any favorite "Amazing Race" legs that you want to single out as worse than the one Kent & Vyxsin are finishing? And do you figure they still have a penalty ahead of them?