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Amazing Race 15, Ep. 7 Commentary – For Whom The Bell Tolls


First off, my apologies. I was out of town for a couple of days on important election business, and then the World Series got in the way. So I only just got to watch the episode last night.

Because this is so late, I’ll get to the point and cover the big thing on my mind after watching, and then do a few extra Route Marker notes afterwards. To me, this was a good episode. Certainly entertaining. But it may have been the most unfair episode of the Amazing Race since Tian was forced to become the first woman ever to do the ox race in India.

The Poker Chicks got the big screw this week. Whenever there is a big physical challenge for a Detour, they usually offset it by having a more time consuming, but less physical alternative. Remember when Flo made Zach walk down the mountain rather than rappel? Or when Brian and Greg wisely chose to suck water out of an ostrich egg instead of grind the grain? If you are going to cast a program with teams of varying strength, you must have this option. The Poker Chicks just physically could not do these tasks.

I am not saying that ALL female teams are weak. Clearly not. Lori from Season 6 could pick me up and throw me across the room. I think the Beauty Queens could find peace in the Middle East if they tried. But the Poker Chicks couldn’t and the show had to realize that when designing the challenge that a lot of women or seniors would have trouble ringing that bell or playing that wacky golf game.

It is ironic that next week brings back the infamous hay bale challenge, as we watched two women spend multiple hours trying to finish a challenge only to have Phil eliminate them on the course. Maria and Tiffany made it clear in post-race interviews that they never actually quit the race. They quit the challenge. And as we witnessed with Nancy and Emily way back in Season One, you quit a Detour and you get a 24-hour penalty. They were hoping for non-elimination and a fortunate airport or hours of operation equalizer. That didn’t happen.

I still have no idea why that test of strength bell ringing was even part of the challenge. Along with the stream swimming attached to the golf challenge, it just seemed to be incongruous. My theory is the dancing task was much, much shorter than the golf task. So they added this bell. Tiffany said the mallet weighed 40 pounds and most of the guys took a few tries too (it was edited out). The stream was probably just in the way, so they incorporated it into the challenge. Either way, it made for a poor and unfair challenge. The Race is better than that, I hope they never do that again.

Route Markers

• It cost $12 billion to make Dubai!! That’s some serious cash. And when you wonder just how rich some of those Middle East countries are as you pump your gas, think of that. Then come back to me with your opposition to alternative energy. I’m just saying.

• I am still waiting for the marijuana challenge in Amsterdam. That would be awesome.

• Sam and Dan come out to the group – sorry boys, Reichen and Chip did it with much more drama. It would have been better if you did it in front of Mika and Canaan, to give it the Millie and Chuck treatment.

• Speaking of Mika, how did the other teams not know about the drama atop the water slide?

• Gary after the reveal by Sam and Dan – “Should I tell Matt now that he’s adopted?”

• The other drama of the night was the almost collapse of Brian and Ericka. We have seen so many couple implosions that this one seemed a bit tame in comparison. However, I did like how the piano dude who judged the first bell task seemed to take pity on poor Ericka. Now, if he only saw her lash out at Brian during the show, he may have had a different reaction.

• Tiffany, regarding Brian’s inability to start the car – “Oh those kids aren’t used to luxury cars.”

• Flight Time on the Brian/Ericka fighting – “If we’ve learned no one’s name, we’ve heard a lot of BRIAN!!” And bless those editors, a cut to Ericka screaming, BRIAN!

• Brian with his arms inside his shirt and his sleeves flapping in the breeze. Reminds me of being a kid.

• Sam/Dan to Phil at the Mat after Phil’s joke about their clothes – “We’re not THAT kind of gay guys.” HA!

• Did everyone else just have their jaws drop when the graphics popped up about how many times the Poker Chicks tried to ring the bell or finish a hole?

• The Trotters on the polka dance – “Once we got it, it was Soul Train.” The first and last time the words “polka” and “Soul Train” will be used together outside of a potential Weird Al song.

Next week, we get the long anticipated Switchback – the Lena-destroying hay bales. Should be fun.

Roadblock – Count the Bells in tall building – Meghan, Sam, Flight Time, Matt, Tiffany, Ericka

Detour – Wear traditional Dutch costumes and bike to do the task – Farmer’s Game (swim in underwear to “golf” course and use a giant shoe-club to hit an oversize ball in a Par 8 course. Seriously) or Farmer’s Dance (ring a bell on a high striker and then learn a Dutch polka, followed by eating a plate of < ahref="http://www.homevideos.com/revcom/15b.htm">salted herring and onions). That my friends, is a sentence never before written in the English language.
Game – Sam/Dan, Meghan/Cheyne
– Gary/Matt (flipped tasks due to Matt’s fish aversion), Flight Time/Big Easy, Brian/Ericka
Maria and Tiffany flipped from Dance, to Golf, to Dance, and back to Golf.

Order of Finish
1 – Sam/Dan
2 – Meghan/Cheyne
3 – Flight Time/Big Easy
4 – Gary/Matt
5 – Brian/Ericka
6 – Maria/Tiffany – ELIMINATED

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