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Amazing Race 17 – Ep 6 – Poop and Potatoes


Anyway, back to this season. And the return to St. Petersburg! Hooray! One of my favorite vacations ever. St. Petersburg is, as Thomas said, “the Venice of the North.” Gorgeous architecture and tons and tons of canals. In fact, the first stop – The Rostral Columns – was within walking distance of my hotel. The second stop – Palace Square – was the site of quite a bit of history, and when I was there, the home of tons of Russian youth skateboarders. And the pit stop – St. Isaac’s Cathedral – is beyond gorgeous, and that’s coming from a card carrying atheist.

So, I instantly loved this episode, despite the lack of drama regarding the outcome.

I also was a big fan of the challenges. The Detour did what any good Detour does, it was not perfectly clear which one was the best one to take. Do you do the one that requires paying attention or the needle in the haystack? Usually, you only do the needle in the haystack if you need to make up time. In this case, the needle choice was the better one. See, a minor surprise for us, Show! It works!

We had some nice “character moments” in this episode – KNat/QVC having a stinky shoes and socks competition on the train (Brook won!), Stephanie flexing her muscles as a hard core player, that Tattoo Two’s continued bizarre choices, and more of Bigfoot proving he has known and done more than Jill due to Notre Dame. It seems somewhere between South Bend and his mountain upbringing he managed to experience many sleeper train cars.

The Detour required teams to find three classical music compositions, heard first on gramophones, and then among a cacophony of pianos. They were Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” and Tchaikovsky’s “Troika.” This task was lots of trouble for everyone – the “nyets” from the judge was very funny, especially as they drove Chad more and more insane. The problem was teams tried to do all three at once, rather than focus on finding one song at a time. Of course, I’m tone deaf, so I’d be dead from the start.

The film challenge was to find a strip of film from the Sergei Eisenstein classic, “October,” which matches the clip being played over and over again at Lenstudios. The trick here was to find one which had words, as they stand out much more prominently than anything else. Thomas was the first to discover that, so Bigfoot’s higher education reaps benefits.

The Roadblock took them to the neighborhood store in Alexandrovskaya, basically the sticks of St. Pete. Here we get to see Racers dress as babushkas and plant 50 potatoes the rural Russian babushka way – covered in cow manure. Remind me to think twice before having Russian mashed potatoes. The trick here was finding “duck’s end” and their wheelbarrow of poop. And other strange sentences I never thought I’d ever write…

The real star of the task was the babushkas that trained the Racers and then served as the cheerleaders whose calendar I least would want to buy. They were ready to kidnap Kevin and make him their pet – “He’d be a good farm worker.” But the best line was in response to Jill and Brook’s work – “These skinny girls can do anything.”

So, overall this episode was fun for me, but the critics’ talk about the show is somewhat correct. It seems to be in a creative rut at times, and the ratings are reflecting it. Nothing to worry about, but if we aren’t careful, ruts can soon turn into major caverns.

Route Markers
• Not one, but two bunchings to start the leg. When it rains, it pours!
• Nick showing surprising deep thought – “I like how they (the Russians) keep all of their buildings up instead of blowing them up (like in Vegas).” Of course, he doesn’t realize how close that came to being true, as the Soviets came to power; they destroyed much of what made St. Pete beautiful. Later, the Nazis did their best to finish the job. Thankfully, much of the city’s beauty has survived to this day.
• More from the ever-quotable Brook – the babushka outfit really “accentuates her curves.” That is sure “some stinky manure.”
• Kevin sounds exactly like Derek Jeter. He should only hope for his own Minka Kelly someday.
• Nat found some naked ladies in one strip of film – that would have been a very different task.
• I became a bit of a Steph fan this week – first, she overcame Chad’s barrage of passive-aggressive attitude as they struggled through the music task. Then she used a fairly hard-core tactic, and actually somewhat pointless tactic, by tossing the shovel into the manure to make Mallory have to climb in to retrieve it. Keep in mind that they had no idea where the Tattoo Two were, for all they knew, that team was on the way to the Pit Stop. Steph knew Mallory was behind her and that could have been the battle for last. Every moment could count. Good move.
• Steph – “She was probably covered in poop, and she’s so little.”
• Why is it funny to see attractive blonde women joke about stepping in poop? Even funnier – Mallory almost lost her shoe! Not funny – having to be the next person in those cabs after they got out. I feel badly for the cabbie, who probably got some blame for the stench.
• Another good Nick moment – he has taken “a little piece of Ghana” with him. Meaning…he won’t be a dick to his partner anymore. Good for him.
• Mallory trying to find Duck’s End – “…it’s like quack, quack, quack.” That didn’t help, but she did find some new Russian friends who lifted her over a fence and tried to fill her with vodka. Now THAT would have been a test for the CBS censors.
• Nick made lots of Russian friends too – “America…friendship.” I love the locals!

Detour – Music or Cinema. Music – Chad/Steph, Garlory, KNat, Tattoo Two. Garlory and KNat flipped tasks. Tattoo Two flipped, and then flipped back. Film – QVC, YouTube, Bigfoot, and later Garlory and KNat.

Roadblock – Plant Potatoes in poop. Brook, Kevin, Jill, Nat, Steph, Mallory, Nick.

Order of Finish – Bigfoot, QVC, YouTube, KNat, Chad/Steph, Garlory, Tattoo Two (Non-eliminated)

Next week – The circus is in town. And Michael struggles again.

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