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The Amazing Race, Oct. 16 – Expecting the Unexpected

What’s making this a great season so far of The Amazing Race is that it’s been very unpredictable, both in challenges and rules, as well as how it’s playing out. There are no gimmes. The challenges are tough and aren’t just something the teams need to walk through. They need to use their athleticism as well as their intelligence, and one little mistake can get them eliminated, while a big mistake can seem to not matter at all. It keeps it exciting, and given the choice of watching the Race or X-Factor first Sunday night, I chose the Race.

Leaving first from Indonesia are Andy and Tommy at 8:17 AM. The clue tells them to fly to Phuket, Thailand, where they’ll race to a marina to get their next clue. Tommy mentions they just want to win a leg of the Race cleanly. Laurence and Zac ran a great leg, but used too many buckets at once on the Detour, and were penalized, which gave first place to the snowboarders.

Next to leave are father and son Laurence and Zac at 8:28 AM. Laurence states they don’t want to make the same mistakes they did in the previous leg. He supports my opening argument, telling him the Race is unexpected. Apparently they’re beginning to pick up the Big Brother tagline of “Expect the Unexpected.” The snowboarders arrive at the airport and find there is no direct flight, but they can get a flight to Jakarta at 9:40 AM, to hopefully find a flight there that will take them to Phuket. They help father and son out, telling them where to get the tickets to be on the same flight as them.

Jeremy and Sandy leave the pit stop at the exact time the first two teams are leaving the country. He thinks the Race is showing what they need to work on still in their relationship, as she points out it shows how they handle stressful situations. Justin and Jennifer leave one minute later, and Ernie and Cindy one minute after that. For them, it’s exciting, as they were just in Thailand. Amani and Marcus leave at 9:46 AM, and he is hoping to show his kids about perseverance while they’re on the Race.

Bill and Kathi leave at 9:56 AM, with her noting they are almost thirty years older than the other teams, yet they wake up each day ready to go. She thinks they’ll be here for awhile. Liz and Marie leave at 10:05 AM, and note their dad recently died suddenly of a heart attack. He would be thrilled with this opportunity of theirs. 

As these other teams arrive at the airport, they are told they can get a flight with a stopover in Jakarta that leaves at 12:45 PM and lands in Phuket at 6:50 PM.  Everyone, except Andy/Tommy and Laurence/Zac, of course, are on this flight. Yet those other two teams don’t have a connecting flight yet, so maybe they’ll end up catching the same connecting flight.

As the first two teams arrive in Jakarta, and find the next flight to Phuket is fully booked, they hear there’s a flight to Bangkok that will connect them and have them arriving in Phuket at 7:40 PM. Had they bothered to get connecting flights before, they could have been on that 6:50 flight. Instead of being the first two, they’ll now be the last two teams. 

The first flight arrives in Phuket, and the teams catch cabs to the marina. If the snowboarders and the father/son team are lucky, the challenge will involve something that isn’t open overnight, and everyone will be waiting until the morning at the marina. In fact, Sandy is hoping when they get there they’ll be going to bed. Liz and Marie never had time to exchange their money, and are carrying around Indonesian cash. One of them is already wearing an “In Love with Thai” button. Maybe that will help them. Bill and Kathy get a thumbs up and “chop chop” from their cabdriver, as he pulls ahead of several teams.

The second flight arrives, and when they ask for taxis at a cab stand, the employee tells them she knows exactly where they are going because of the others. They ask how long ago and are told an hour. They are definitely worried now. Funnily enough, the next commercial announces, “Someone didn’t book with Travelocity!”

Jeremy and Sandy are the first team to arrive at the marina, and Sandy asks why “the guys” aren’t there. Jeremy then sees a sign announcing that the dock doesn’t open until 8:00 AM. It looks like the guys just caught a break. Liz and Marie arrive next, as Liz announces that the Thai people are the nicest in the world. Their driver just drove them there for nothing, since all they have is Indonesian cash. They others arrive and try to figure out what happened to the guys. They finally arrive, and someone announces the game is “so unpredictable.”

At 8 AM, Justin says they know where the clue is,  out there in an orange/yellow garbage can at the end of a “wobbly dock.” They just don’t know how they’ll get out there, but Jennifer is sure she’ll be puking on a speedboat. One of each team runs down the wobbly deck. In the lead is Tommy, followed by Laurence. 

The clue mentions the tsunami that devastated Phuket, and that the Detour will give the teams a chance to help rebuild the tourism industry. They’ll choose from Coral Reconstruction or Beach Preparation. In Coral, teams will construct a coral nursery and load it onto a kayak. Thy’ll take it out to buoy, and place the coral into the nursery. A marine biologist will approve their work. In Beach, teams will collect ten umbrellas and chairs, and match them up via corresponding sticker from their clue, and set them up per the standards of the club. 

Ernie/Cindy, Laurence/Zac, and Liz/Marie do the Beach Construction, while the other five teams do Beach Preparation. Justin rides the front of the speedboat on the way to the Coral Reconstruction, saying, “I’m the king of the world!” Sandy mentions her rough night sleeping on the beach, but is happy to be on the water now, as it’s so pretty. 

Andy and Tommy are the first to arrive in their speedboat, and start constructing the coral nursery right away. The other teams land behind them and all start heading to their chosen Detour. Laurence and Zac go the wrong way and head towards Beach Prep instead of Coral Reconstruct. They realize their mistake and decide to stick with it. Building the nursery, Amani remembers watching a program about the coral reef being damaged along with their kids. It’s nothing new here, as Justin and Jennifer are arguing once again. 

Liz and Marie can’t find the right chairs and umbrellas. Ernie gets in there and grabs what he and  Cindy need, saying he feels sorry for the twins, as if you don’t have a lot of strength, you won’t be able to get what you need, because everything is stacked on top of each of each other. Cindy tells Ernie they need more chairs, because they need two for each umbrella. 

Andy and Tommy start kayaking their nursery out. Armani and Marcus are right behind them, but their nursery falls apart before they hit the water. Jeremy and Sandy struggle to build it, as he says he doesn’t want to break it. The snowboarders hit the buoy, and try to set up the nursery, but they start drifting away. They know how all this goes due to also being surfers. They drag it back to the right place and use a rock to hold it where it needs to be. 

Justin/Jennifer and Amani/Marcus set out for their buoys as well. Andy and Tommy get the thumbs up and the next clue. Jennifer decides to let Justin do all the work while she sits in the boat. Marcus notes how tough this is, saying he swims, but isn’t a competitive swimmer. Before they head out, Jeremy makes sure Sandy wants to try planting the coral. The snowboarders clue tells them to use the compass that came with the clue and travel north for thirteen minutes to find the island pictured on a medallion. They know they slayed it, but think the others are going to really struggle.

The people with the chairs and umbrellas are still working on lining all this up. Obviously sticking with the water would have been better for the father/son boaters. Jennifer is still riding the boat, trying to tell Justin to “grab the boat,” while he’s trying to also do the planting. She eventually jumps out, and that helps them. They, too, have the nursery anchored by a big rock, and they are the second team to finish the task. 

Jeremy and Sandy struggle, with the nursery falling apart on them, and knocking the tray of seedlings into the water. Amani loses things out of hers and Marcus’ kayak as well. Bill/Cathi and  Jeremy/Sandy give up on the coral and decide to go gather beach chairs and umbrellas. 

Marcus explains that the hardest part of the coral challenge is getting in the kayak, as they’re fighting the wind, against the current and undercurrent, and it is exhausting him. He says once they get back to shore that he’s never been so tired and whooped. Remember, this is a former NFL player. He always prided himself in being able to do anything, but that’s the hardest thing he’s ever tried to do. They head to the beach challenge as well. 

Jeremy demands Sandy join him, and she’s upset that he’s being so negative, and in fact she’s shocked. He didn’t really want to make this change, but she did. The same wind that was making it difficult in the water is making it difficult on the beach. The chairs and umbrellas won’t stay set. One of the twins gets hit in the head by an umbrella that gets uprooted, and cries, asking why it’s so hard for them. Meanwhile, locals sit nearby and laugh their asses off. 

Andy and Tommy have found the island that matches the one of their medallion and find a Roadblock. One member from each team needs to climb a sheer rock wall. If they make it up as far as a birds nest, they’ll find a clue waiting for them in the nest. Andy will be doing the climb. Justin and Jennifer find the island as well, and Jennifer “guesses” she’ll do the task. 

Ernie and Cindy have come up with an idea for getting the umbrellas and chairs to stay put. They get ocean water and pour it around the bases of the beach furniture trying to make the sand more heavy and dense. Laurence and Zac are just muscling in their furniture. Marcus keeps shouting “Let’s go crazy,” and Amani laughs, saying he just likes to pick up little catchphrases, so they’ll be going crazy the rest of the day. 

Liz and Marie explain you would think they would know how to put up the chairs and umbrellas, as they were beach lifeguards, but there was a chair and umbrella person who did that, who they have newfound respect for. They somehow get Sandy to ignore her own challenge for a little bit to help them. Jeremy is upset with her because she just put the furniture up, not paying any attention to spacing. He believes they can move their relationship forward in leaps and bounds, and learn from the experiences.

Andy and Tommy arrive at the sheer cliff, and Andy begins the climb. Tommy thinks he looks like a little monkey. He gets the clue fairly quickly. The clue from the nest tells them to drive in the boat to the next pit stop, a stadium at a floating village that was designed to provide easy access to fishing. They want to take off before seeing any other teams, and do.

Justin and Jennifer are arriving, and Jennifer starts the climb, making Justin nervous. He tells her to use her legs. She does, and makes it easily. He’s proud of her, and it’s a very nice change of pace for these siblings. Ernie and CIndy are the first to get the tables and umbrellas set up correctly, and get the clue to head out with the compass. The next to finish are Laurence and Zac. 

Sandy thinks they are done as well, but Jeremy asks if the chair rungs matter. She claims they don’t. She would be wrong. Amani and Marcus get theirs approved, as Cathi notices hers and Bill’s are further back than theirs. They try to copy that style. Marcus gives Liz and Marie some tips as they head out. Jeremy and Sandy are finally approved. 

Andy and Tommy arrive in the floating village and run through looking for Phil and his mat. They find him fairly quickly and are named team number one for the third time. They receive $5000 each. Andy says “the wives are comin’ on the trips” with them. Phil notes that they absolutely “smoked this course.” Tommy replies they are just so stoked on this thing about “claiming first.” They’re going to just continue to play it smart. Andy is just too busy being enamored by the local greeter’s beard.

Justin and Jennifer arrive at the pit stop and Phil names them team number two. She explains it’s been a rough day, Phil tells her his measure of a rough day is when she does her look. He asks her to shown him the look, and she does. He’s working on learning it, and for him it will only work if he raises that eyebrow.

Laurence and Zac reach the Roadblock with Zac deciding to do it. Liz and Marie are still losing their umbrellas as Bill and Cathi get approved. Cathi tells the girls to keep at it and try to find a shovel or something to help them dig. Ernie and Cindy are lost on their way to the Roadblock, as Armani and Marcus make it before them. She expresses she wants to do the Roadblock, but is mostly asking more than telling.

As Zac makes the climb, Laurence explains he doesn’t like heights too much, as he has a bit of vertigo. Ernie and Cindy realize they are a little off course. Jeremy and Sandy grab the clue at the Roadblock and see there are only three left after them. Liz and Cindy are still trying to bury their furniture. 

Ernie and Cindy see a boat with flags and think at first that it’s a clue, but instead it’s just a boat with flags. They have no idea where they are, as she says, “This is not good.” They finally see the correct destination, realizing he was reading the compass wrong. Liz and Marie continue working, and now arguing, on the beach, complaining that they’ve been there for about three hours.

Zac gets his clue from the nest, and as he and his dad look at a map of the pit stop, Laurence explains they’ve navigated around the world, and this is just basic navigation. Something about that statement spells trouble. Ernie and Cindy finally reach the Roadblock with him deciding he’ll do it. Liz and Marie are finally approved, and one of them starts crying, but denies it.

Amani starts her rock climb as Jeremy and Sandy arrive, with him deciding he’ll do it. Sandy has confidence in Jeremy, and Marcus encourages Amani, as she reaches it before Jeremy. They take off for the pit stop as Jeremy gets the clue from the nest. They see Ernie and Cindy pull up. Sandy asks Cindy what happened, then helps her out, telling her there are still two teams behind them. Cindy knows this won’t be any problem for Ernie, as they practiced rock-climbing before starting the Race. Bill and Cathi arrive at the Roadblock, and he tells her he will do the Roadblock.

Apparently the navigating thing wasn’t as easy as Laurence felt it would be, as they are lost. He figures either the map or compass is off. Ernie gets the clue, and they leave for the pit stop. Liz and Marie reach the Roadblock and hurry to the cliff to begin the climb. Bill starts the climb, as Cathi explains they had already decided they don’t know how long they will remain in the Race, so when it makes sense for him to do a Roadblock, he will. She also shouts out to him that she likes her view; this is said while she watches him climb from the back. The twins aren’t there yet still, so she thinks they’re in good shape.

Laurence and Zac see another boat or racers and follow them. Laurence calls himself and his son “useless sailors.” Approaching the floating village, Marcus says he’s seen a lot of stadiums, but never played in one. He hopes he can get a lot of applause and finish fourth. They arrive around the same time as Jeremy and Sandy, and Laurence and Zac finally get there right after. They’re all wandering the village looking for the stadium. 

The first team to reach Phil’s mat are Jeremy and Sandy who are shocked to find they are team number three. She knows they still have a lot to work on, and need to just continually be positive. He talks about other people having communcation problems, and believes they just need to cut each other some slack sometimes. Arriving right behind them are Laurence and Zac to be named team number four.

Amani and Marcus are still searching for the stadium as Ernie and Cindy arrive. The latter are named team number five, and Amani and Marcus team number six. Liz and Marie are disappointed on the way to the pit stop, saying it’s like riding to their death. You never know; maybe this will be a non-elimination. It kind of has that feel to it.

Bill and Cathi arrive on Phil’s mat and are named team number seven. Liz and Marie get there next and say they figured they were the last to arrive, as they haven’t seen anyone else for a couple hours. Phil asks if they are glad they came on the Race. Here it comes. He hasn’t eliminated them yet, so probably won’t. He tells them it’s their lucky day, and one of them screams so loudly I got chills. They are setting out to prove they deserve to be there, saying it’s not as easy as it looks.

Well, it’s been going unpredictably, and this week only became prodictable at the very end. There was just a feel to it. I had a hunch Liz and Marie weren’t going home, and once Phil just said they were last, but didn’t say they were eliminated, it was obvious. After watching Andy and Tommy go from first to last to first again in one leg, anything can happen next week.

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