That was brutal. 

I really have almost nothing to say about Sunday (April 27) night's episode of "The Amazing Race."

It was an hour-long commercial for Ford in which the "result" was never in question.

For the duration of the episode, my notes are nothing more than "Ugh" "Blech" "Boo" and "God, I hate these people."

I'm going to be going into the season's last two episodes rooting much more aggressively *against* several teams than I'll be rooting *for* anybody, which I guess is what the producers want at this point. It's all about passion and "hostility" is a kind of passion. 

And if you would have told me in February that with two weeks to go, Brendon & Rachel would be one of the two teams I'd kinda like to see win this "Amazing Race: All-Stars" season, I'd have told you that you were crazy. 

But that's what "The Amazing Race" has done to me.

And I'm not pleased.

A little bit more after the break...

I'm rooting hard for the Cowboys. 

Jet & Cord just go about their business. They're the only old school Racers left. They don't worry about alliances or helping out other teams. They also don't bother with petty animosity or name-calling. They're just out there on their own doing their own thing and when they don't self-destruct, they're hard to beat. If only they didn't self-destruct with such regularity when it comes to directions and whatnot.

I'm rooting hard against the Country Blondes. 

I liked Jennifer & Caroline their first season! I still think they're funny and cute. But they lost me with The Accidental Alliance and, more than anything, when they called Brendon & Rachel NLUs. That stands for "Not Like Us" and it's basically a page out of Bullying 101. The Country Blondes would have gone home a half-dozen times in their season without the help of the Hockey Brothers, but they also helped the Hockey Brothers out of a couple jams, so while it was an unbalanced partnership, it was a partnership. This season? They've just been parasites. This episode featured a hotel room cleaning challenge that Jennifer and Caroline did themselves and it was notable because it made me try to think of the last thing they'd done without assistance this season. They're scapegoating Brendon & Rachel because The Brenchels had the nerve to U-Turn a team with good hair? Come on. 

I'm rooting against Dave & Connor, but slightly less aggressively than I'm rooting against the Country Blondes.

Dave & Connor are wrong to be so pissy about getting U-Turned, but I understand that if you're in a competition sometimes you need to find something to fuel your fire and if you can't do it with positivity, sometimes negativity is all you have. So if Dave wants to be fueled by hate? I guess that's the lesson he wants to teach his son. At least Dave & Connor are out there competing hard. They won this Leg and got a Ford Mustang and even if their performance only reproved the ridiculousness of Dave whining that a team would U-Turn them -- Statistically, they're the strongest team this season and therefore the team that smart strategy says you U-Turn -- they're out there trying hard when they're not complaining.

I'm not rooting for the Afghanimals, because I don't like The Accidental Alliance, but at least I admire the Machiavellian sense that they're sticking with this alliance because they know that if they can go to the Final 3 with the Country Blondes and Dave & Connor, it's really just a Final 2, so if providing a little short-term assistance to Jen & Caroline gives them a long-term advantage, they're willing to do it.

And Brendon & Rachel? They've become the underdogs. I don't know how that happened, how a couple that CBS has forced on us over and over and over again became the picked-on little guys. I guess we have Dave & Connor and Jen & Caroline to thank for that. Yes, I'm rooting for the Brenchels. Blech. I feel dirty even saying it. 

Sunday's episode was a Non-Elimination Leg and it was ALWAYS going to be a Non-Elimination Leg. 

The producers like to mix up the NELs and last year's penultimate episode was the NEL, so I already suspected that this episode, the ante-penultimate Leg, would be the NEL.

Then we started with two different Equalizers (only one would have been necessary if the Cowboys hadn't gotten lost going to the train station as the episode began). 

Then the episode went a solid 40 minutes without either a Roadblock or a Detour. 

Instead, the teams cleaned a hotel room and went through a very complicated math equation to figure out the years on vintage Ford Mustangs. Through these two tasks, The Accidental Alliance and the unaffiliated Cowboys were a clump in the lead, but that was just because Brendon & Rachel went to the wrong bridge in Lucerne. The Brenchels, who started in first, were forced to slowly inch up from the back of the pack after that bridge SNAFU.

And then it was clearly an NEL because there was very little chance they were going to send home a team based on the Roadblock, which involved adorable dogs, gondolas and 30-pound jugs of milk that Caroline was simply too small to carry. Caroline had trouble carrying that typewriter in Rome two weeks ago, so this Roadblock was entirely impossible for her and Brendon had no trouble moving ahead by what I assume was a wide margin. I suppose that something like this happens every once in a while to all-girl teams. The Poker Girls were sent home a couple years ago after a Detour in which they weren't physically able to perform either task. Still, it's a rare circumstance in which "Amazing Race" lets an elimination be determined solely on brute force (or, more accurately, diminutive weakness). 

So it happens that Caroline & Jennifer have been spared for the second time this season by an NEL.

"Again?" Caroline squealed when Phil told them the good news.

She added, "This is too much luck for us not to win."

I'm not sure if that's an accurate representation of how "luck" works. 

I guess we'll find out next week! 


Some other thoughts on this week's episode:

*** I knew this was going to be an NEL, but I was hoping it might still be next week, because I've got travel next week that'll add complication to my exit interview, while tomorrow would have been really convenient. Sometimes, "The Amazing Race" works well with my travel commitments. Sometimes it hoses me. Oh well. I'll figure something out for next Monday. I always do.

*** Yeah. I'm just disgusted by the "NLUs" comment. I've got no objections to alliances based on shared positivity -- i.e. teams that like each other -- and I can even understand alliances that bond together to target a clearly strong team. But nobody in The Accidental Alliance is targeting Brendon & Rachel because they're strong, at least nobody other than the Afghanimals. And all of the people mocking Rachel for the cameras? Well, their mockery was very apt. That doesn't mean that it wasn't ugly.

*** "Whatevs, Brenchel. You're not in the Accidental Alliance anyway." Yup. That says it all.

*** I get it. The Ford Mustang is a great car. And the Ford Foci that people were driving earlier were fine cars as well. Every year there's at least one tipping point episode when "Amazing Race" just gives up and becomes a 60-minute commercial, whether it's for Travelocity or for Snapple. This was that episode. And Dave & Connor only got ONE Mustang? Between them? Phil Keoghan sure didn't *say* they were each getting one. That's no so impressive anymore.

*** The Rock Star Rehab hotel clean-up challenge was a good one. There were lots of little details that made it quite difficult. I wonder if it was supposed to be half of a Detour, but the other half got cancelled, forcing them to do it as a general challenge?

*** I liked the giant tunnel-drilling artifact that the teams had to ID, even if The Accidental Alliance took a lot of pleasure out of the people who actually knew what it was on their own. Jet could ID it from watching a TV special, which was awesome. And Dave was a mining engineer, so he knew what it was, which was impressive. Then Dave just told the Afghanimals and Country Blondes. Whatever. 

*** The equation they had to solve involving those Mustangs? That was complicated. Without Leo deciding to stop and help them, Jennifer & Caroline would still be there today trying to figure it out, just as they would still be trying to put together that car from the 2nd Leg if the Cowboys hadn't given them the Express Pass. All season long, teams have been floating Jennifer & Caroline to keep a goat around. It would be hilarious if the finale featured a key task built around... I dunno. Something they'd be good at. I guess we haven't had one of those "Hustle the locals for money" tasks, which I'd imagine is the kinda thing they might excel at? Maybe I'm not rooting against the Country Blondes at all. I'm rooting for them for reasons of sabotage. 

*** I was also amused by Cord not being able to process "Ulix" as a name for a dog and just deciding to call his dog "Max." 

*** Yes. I know. I'm being too hard on everybody. That was just a really annoying episode.

Thoughts?