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Amazing Race 15, Ep. 11 Commentary – What’s a 5-Letter Word for WTF?!?


It took me about 24 hours to really process what happened in this episode. Not that it was complicated in any way, I just simply needed to come to terms with what may have been the dumbest sequence and decision in the history of the Amazing Race.

Heck, this transcended reality show stupidity, this was on this level.

So, in a truly bizarre Roadblock, the Amazing Race producers took a page out of my high school English curriculum and referenced Franz Kafka. My high school days were rife with many Gregor Samsa turning into cockroach jokes. I know, even the Big Bang Theory geeks thought that was a bit much. Look at me, keeping it in the CBS family.

In an abandoned warehouse or something, tons of old-time phones were ringing endlessly and Racers had to find the five phones that gave them one letter in Mr. Kafka’s first name. Then, in an ode to the mindless bureaucracy at the heart of Kafka’s stories, they must fill out a form and place the letters in the proper order – F-R-A-N-Z. As Meghan described, the forms included several questions such as name, occupation, shoe size, etc., designed to not only throw off your thinking, but to also waste time.

It is with that point that we can start to address why Big Easy did what he did … to a point. Big Easy got there just as Dan was getting his fifth letter. He and Dan then managed to either over-think or under-think the challenge (you pick) and could not come up with the proper order.

For Franz.

Seriously.

I mean, even if you didn’t realize it could be unscrambled, once you tried the initial order that you found the letters (and failed, like Meghan did), wouldn’t you have to realize that it was a jumble task? And then, how many possible words have an F and a friggin’ Z in it? And Dan, why oh why, would they have you come up with a Czech word? With no one to help? Here’s a thought – try your native language first! The “supervisors” were not the biggest douches in the room, as you said. For that, perhaps a mirror could have been provided.

And poor Big Easy. How many times could you possibly guess in two and a half hours? Granted, he had to re-fill out the form every single time. I am sure he got tired and frustrated doing that. But, again, there are only so many possible words. There’s only one vowel! Even if you never heard of Kafka, what about Hanz and Franz? I hope all of his friends give him jumble books as gag gifts this year.

Before getting into the really, really dumb move – yes, even dumber than failing to figure out Franz – one thing about Dan. If you are dumb enough to agree to work together on a task during the Final Four, then do it right. That was, well, douchy. To agree to work together, and then to back out was just bad sportsmanship. Because I absolutely guarantee that if Big Easy got it and pulled that same move, we would never have stopped hearing you guys bitch about it. And if you win the million, I wish a Richard Hatch future on you. Big time hate going on this team now.

Despite that, the Trotters made a colossal jaw-dropping error. This is on the level of the Guido’s taking a break after winning their Fast Forward in India. This is Debbie and Bianca driving to the beach instead of the mountains. This is Colin checking his bags. That’s how bad it was.

They took the penalty. The Rob Mariano Memorial Four-Hour Penalty. Now when Rob did it in Argentina, it was brilliant. The task itself was going to take forever (it takes a while to eat four pounds of meat), and he realized it early on. Also, he knew he wasn’t last. Also, he convinced other teams to do the same. He gambled and it worked.

Big Easy took a penalty on a jumble. After already investing 180 minutes. He knew that Dan and Brian passed him and Meghan and Cheyne left the Pit Stop first. There was no one else coming into that room. Just suck it up and keep trying. If you get it in FOUR HOURS time, you have succeeded in doing better than the penalty. Bottom line – he gave up on the task and on the Race itself.

I will submit that this is the only time a team truly gave up on the Race. Lena/Kristy, Marshall/Lance, Maria/Tiffany and other such teams were eliminated on the course because they could not complete the task physically and were clearly last in an elimination leg. The Gutsy Grannies, Uchenna/Joyce in All-Stars, and other teams got eliminated before doing tasks because their travel plans went awry. Hayden/Aaron gave up once they realized that they were in last and had no chance of completing that lock task in time. Mary/Peach gave up after the tea task, but knew they were in dead last.

The Trotters had a chance if he kept trying. Maybe he just gets blind luck on his next try. It’s not like Brian/Ericka were tearing it up on the beer task. In fact, it took them until sunrise.

Simply stunning decision to choose to take that penalty.


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