Hmmm...
 
Well, I guess you pulled a fast one this time, "The Amazing Race," but I don't think you'll be able to get away with that again.
 
Sunday (March 17) night's "Amazing Race" installment was able to maintain at least a modicum of tension to the very end due to the producers' [correct] sense that viewers at home wouldn't necessarily know the show's rules. We the exact same situation ever to be repeated in a later episode, there's no way that that episode could be edited this same way, because we're all wiser now.
 
So... Thanks for the "Amazing Race" rules lesson, "The Amazing Race."
 
More after the break...
 
As y'all know, I don't have the encyclopedic knowledge of "The Amazing Race" that I have for "American Idol" and that I kinda have for "Survivor," but Sunday's Leg was the first one to ever see a team withdraw at the beginning of a new Leg, right? I don't remember, actually, if anybody's ever withdrawn at the end of a Leg before. But I think this situation was unprecedented.
 
After hobbling around for two full Legs with Dave on crutches or being pushed in a wheelchair and Connor having to do all of the tasks, Team Cancer decided that they couldn't go any further. So they left the last Pit Stop, flew to Hanoi, Vietnam and went straight to the Pit Stop to disqualify themselves. While I said last week that what they've done hasn't exactly been "miraculous," but it was still impressive. They went out with their heads held high, having won a pair of trips and $10,000 in prizes as the only team so far this season to win two Legs. That means they won one more Leg than the Beekman Boys won last season. That's not bad.
 
I'm curious on the Race logistics regarding what they did. If they'd quit in Bali, would that have meant that they didn't formally start the next Leg of the Race and would that un-eliminate John & Jessica or something? I'm sure "The Amazing Race" has all of the frequent flyer miles in the world, but it seems weirdly inefficient to fly Dave & Connor from Bali to Hanoi just for the sake of eliminating them and then flying them back to the States for Dave to have his surgery. I'll ask them about that tomorrow in my exit interview and we'll see if they can give me an answer. 
 
[Research tells me that Marshall and Lance decided to quit in Season 5 of "The Amazing Race," but they are already in last place in the Leg that they withdrew from. I don't remember ANYTHING about Marshall and Lance.]
 
Anyway, though, Dave and Connor flew to Hanoi with Max & Katie and Pam & Winnie and then parted company with the other teams. Pam & Winnie then told the other teams that Team Cancer wasn't quitting, but that was a ruse that really didn't pay off in any way. Nobody mentioned Team Cancer again for the rest of the Race, either in connection with their general whereabouts or in connection with a Double U-Turn that must have had producers frustratedly gnashing their teeth about its total pointlessness. 
 
Yeah, there was a Double U-Turn and yes, it was theoretically utilized with some strategic consequence, but if the rules of "The Amazing Race" state that if a team DQs itself at the beginning of a Leg, that counts as the elimination for that particular Leg, then that's what the rules state. We've never had the opportunity to put it to the test previously. I mean, on "Survivor," where players are medically eliminated with semi-frequency at this point, if somebody has to be evacuated, it usually doesn't mean that there won't also be a Tribal Council sending somebody else home in that same episode. But "Survivor" has its rules and "The Amazing Race" now appears to have rules of its own. And that's OK. Like I said... Now we know!
 
And, thanks to the rules of "The Amazing Race," Team Alabama gets to limp through another Leg. If Chuck & Wynona looked like they were having any fun at all, I'd say, "Good for them! See the world, kids!" But they really don't. Wynona seems absolutely miserable and frustrated with Chuck at every turn and Chuck seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, which is what comes from being asked to do basically every single task for your team. If you're counting at home, Chuck has done five Roadblocks to Wynona's one, while all of the other teams are evenly divided at three apiece. It's like Wynona has decided that until the producers intervene and force her to do a Roadblock, she's just going to assume that Chuck is better-suited for everything.
 
The tasks on Sunday's episode were reasonably good, even if there was yet another poorly weighted Detour.
 
I liked the Roadblock, in which one player from each team had to sit and listen to an elaborately performed Vietnamese patriotic anthem. The anthem ended with the singers holding up the Vietnamese words for the phrase "Glory to Our Young Generation." Teams then had to run upstairs and find a poster with the same slogan. The song was absolutely hypnotic and I need a version of it that I can play over and over and over again all day long as I'm working. This was yet another task that, for some reason, benefited Pam with her background in theatrical design. Pam & Winnie rushed out of the task first and ended up winning their first Leg. 
 
The Roadblock was followed by a native bamboo dance that nearly everybody did quickly other than Team Alabama, who didn't realize that they needed to hold hands, which tells you almost everything you need to know about a relationship that Wynona admitted has been a little strained.
 
The Detour was the choice between Make Your Move or Make Your Meal.
 
In Make Your Move, teams had to go to a giant human chess board and successfully place four pieces, with Chinese characters, in proper places on the board.
 
In Make Your Meal, teams had to go and collect two empty baskets and two baskets of chickens. Then they had to go to a market and collect a full list of ingredients. Then they had to watch a demonstration and correct cook two bowls of pho.
 
I have a hard time explaining what the task was in Make Your Move, but once people got there and caught on, it took almost no time. Heck, it was a task so simple that Dave probably could have participated on his crutches without any real stress. [Connor could have done yet another Roadblock and Team Cancer really could have stuck it out for one more Leg without serious problems, which is something else to ask about in my exit interview.]
 
Make Your Meal? Well, that was tough. Even if you didn't make stupid mistakes like Team Alabama did -- they forgot their chickens, they went to the wrong market, etc. You had to carry stuff from one place to another. You had to find a way to communicate both ingredients and quantities with locals and you had to prepare the food, which appeared easy, but had to take at least some time. It was just too easy to make mistakes. Max & Katie got help from an English-speaking local, who made all of their purchases for them, but they still ended up with the wrong amounts of certain ingredients. Team YouTube arrived at the task and hilariously the locals started mocking the second group of Westerners coming through to get the same ingredients and while it looked like the locals were being helpful and providing everything they needed, they actually got everything wrong. 
 
And then there was the Double U-Turn.
 
You'll recall that John & Jessica had made an alliance with the Derby Moms and Team YouTube, basically to share information in the hopes of eliminating the Hockey Brothers. That also made them targets, so all of the other teams agreed they'd only use the U-Turn on Derby Moms and YouTube.
 
Pam & Winner got to the U-Turn first and, true to their word, U-Turned YouTube.
 
The plan blew up, though, when YouTube got to the U-Turn second. 
 
Now I can only say this so many times, but I'll continue to each and every time, just in case "Amazing Race" producers happen to be checking in: If you reach a U-Turn and discover that you've been U-Turned, YOU'VE BEEN U-TURNED. Your only next step should be to go back and finish the other half of the Detour. After you've done then, you can come back and if it's still a possibility, you can go right ahead and U-Turn another team to your heart's content. You shouldn't get to the U-Turn and then, before going and completing your own penalty, be able to penalize another team. It's always asinine and it's still asinine. 
 
Anyway, for logical reasons, Team YouTube U-Turned Team Alabama, which didn't matter on multiple levels. Not only did Joey & Meghan finish the second Detour before Team Alabama was able to complete their first but, as we've established, Team Alabama reached the mat and, after Phil let them whine for a bit, he told them they were safe because the episode's elimination happened earlier. 
 
So it goes. Farewell to Team Cancer. Y'all definitely didn't embarrass yourself and I think it's a reasonably safe bet that depending on how Dave's Achilles mends, they'll be invited back for an All-Stars/Unfinished Business season in the future. 
 
 
Other thoughts on this episode:
 
*** I thought there were some decent lines in the episode, so I don't get why the episode was titled "Your Tan Is Totally Cool" after Pam & Winnie's reconsideration about disliking Max & Katie mostly on the basis of Max's John impression. Sorry, Max's *reasonably good* John impression.
 
*** I'd have gone with "It's like One Direction" for the episode's title. Or possibly "Muchas Gracias," which Chuck seems to have decided is like an Esperanto version of "Thank You" understood around the world.
 
*** Why the heck were the teams sleeping on the floor in what appeared to be the bombed out corner of some abandoned hotel in Vietnam? Was that the only place production could find for them to crash overnight? 
 
*** I'm not sure I understand why teams are mythologizing the awesomeness of Anthony & Bates. Yes, they're athletes, but they haven't exactly been dominating. It's YouTube and the Derby Moms' fault for making such a public alliance and getting targeted. It's silly for Meghan to pretend otherwise.
 
*** Oh and speaking of the Derby Moms... Can anybody tell Mona and Beth apart in any way so far? Yeah. Me neither.
 
*** I did like Joey & Meghan's "sad" U-Turn photo. Everybody else has always done generic pictures, but this suggests the teams must have been told what that snapshot was far, but only Team YouTube thought to do something amusing with it.
 
*** Max loses points for boasting about how they eat pho all the time, but now they can tell people they cooked it in the streets of Hanoi. Dude. If you keep pronouncing it "faux," you don't get to be snobby about how often you eat it or where you've cooked it. 
 
What'd you think of Sunday's episode?