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Amazing Race 17 – Ep 8 – Muscat Love


OK, I amused myself with that Captain and Tennille title.

It was a Hollywood ending in this leg for Chad and Stephanie. The newly-dating couple just came off a leg where they only survived because Kevin refused to properly read his clue. So, after hanging on by the skin of their teeth, the couple decided to celebrate by failing to set their alarm. The show gave us one of two hysterical production touches by cutting directly to their closed door and some piped in fake snoring. Or at least I hope it was fake, because, wow, Chad snores loudly. Or is it Steph?

Not that I should speak, I can wake the dead with my snoring, although freshly awoken dead is a different Sunday night show.

So after missing their start time by almost two hours(!), Chad and Steph lucked out by this being an airport travel leg, so a bunching was coming. They doubly lucked out by being able to find a flight that landed only 10 minutes behind the middle flight containing three of the other teams. They triply lucked out that this was a giant 16-hour leg that required tons of navigation so each team was on their own and often lost.

In the Mat Chat video segments on the CBS website, teams talked about how grueling the leg was. It reminded me of some classic first season legs – like when Paul and Amie got lost in the dessert, or the India/Malaysia legs where teams really got worn down and the giant time separation began to take shape. In this episode, no one really knew where they ranked because they only saw one or two teams at a time for almost an entire day. Plus, each team struggled in their own way which led them to believe they were in trouble.

The sheer joy exhibited by the Tattoo Two and QVC upon learning that they were not only safe, but in the middle of the pack was contagious.
But back to the couple of the night. After they survived the oversleep, the teams wound up having to sleep overnight outside in Oman waiting for the next task to open up. Upon sunrise, Chad made good on his Episode 1 promise to propose to Steph during the Race. Unlike AR6’s Aaron, who proposed to Hayden on the Mat at the point of Elimination, Chad elected to find a different moment. Sunrise on the banks of a river in Oman is as good a place as any. So he took her aside and in front of all the teams, production staff and now the world, he got down on one knee and proposed with his late mother’s ring.

I can only speak for myself when I say that despite my often jaded view of the world, I totally dug this moment. I’m not the biggest Chad and Steph fan – and their bickering on the Race is just as irritating as it is for most couples who Race – but it is hard not to be excited for a couple taking that step. And good for Chad, who despite his Hulk-like tendencies, really brought on the tenderness for his proposal. I’m sorry – I like sappy love stories sometimes (just make me turn off “Love Actually” when it comes on), and this was a rare reality show version that wasn’t creepy or gross.

As it turns out, the proposal energized the duo. Maybe it was the hysterical graphic change from Chad and Stephanie, Newly Dating to Chad and Stephanie, Engaged given to us by show editors. Well played, Mauer. They moved into the lead by finding the Roadblock first and maintained it until Bigfoot and Wife passed them at the Detour. Thanks to yet another taxi mistake (Kevin is watching you, Thomas), Chad/Steph vaulted into first and won themselves a nice honeymoon to Belize.

Perhaps one the greatest legs of the Amazing Race in the 17 years of the show.

Meanwhile, as Chad stepped up his game, Nick’s devolved. He is back to Ghana Nick after berating his girlfriend for telling QVC that they were both on the correct path. Now, I can see Nick’s point – at that time, they had to assume they were the fifth and last place teams. Every advantage would help. But, all QVC would have had to do is turn around and follow them to go the right way if Vicki didn’t just tell them. Plus, is that an excuse for telling her she has no common sense in her whole body? Vicki told him he would not like himself when he watched this, and I really hope she was right.

So, Chad/Steph was the story, which is a shame for one reason – we lost Captain America and Miss America. Gary and Mallory struggled from start to finish this week – getting wildly lost put them behind the eight ball. Ironically, this was the first week where they used a map. As it turns out, they had almost come all the way back to catch KNat, as the doctors seem to have fallen into a similar lost odyssey, but fell just a few minutes short. I wonder if next week’s trip to Bangladesh will give KNat an equalizer, or if they are too far behind.

Anyway, I’ll miss Mallory’s enthusiasm and spunk – amazing how she’s likely the perkiest person in a room for her whole life, but on the Race she finishes far behind Brook for that title. It’s hard rooting against her – it’s like rooting against Bambi.


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