I hope all of the eliminations this year are ironic twists put on the returning teams’ first elimination during their season, as this week’s clearly was for Amanda and Kris. The team that suffered the wrath of the first Blind U-Turn in Race history becomes the first team to suffer the first Race-imposed U-Turn ever. Let’s see what some other good twists would be:
• The Trotters get knocked out because Big Easy is asked to spell Dr. Seuss.
• Kisha and Jen get eliminated because Jen has to eat 50 White Castle burgers.
• Zev and Justin lose their passports and birth certificates, resulting in Tea Partiers demanding Hawaii produce their documents before they can return.
• Jamie and Cara are super nice to every taxi driver all season long and wind up with Beauregard from The Great Muppet Caper.
• And the list goes on…
When last week’s episode ended with the Cowboys struggling to solve the puzzle and all the other teams on their way to the next challenge, I was positive that there was an imminent bunching on the way that would make the Cowboy Drama (not this cowboy drama) kind of pointless. And that’s exactly what happened. I don’t fault the show for the bunching – it is a very fine line to walk between negating the impact of challenges and having teams fall days behind the others a la AR1. We need the bunches, but we don’t have to like it.
At least in this case it was a partial bunch in concept. The Cowboys joined four other teams on a charter flight that was 30 minutes behind. In reality, that half-hour was gone in a flash and all teams were at the Detour at the same time – albeit in staggered arrival times. I would have liked to have seen an hour between flights to allow for there to be more weight on Roadblock. Instead, they might as well just start the Race there in the Outback with a staggered start times.
Anyway, the interesting thing regarding Race positioning happened after that. The order arriving in the Chemistry Neighborhood was – Zev/Justin, Margie/Luke, Goths, M&M, Ginger, Cowboys, Trotters, Sisters, Garlory, Ron/Christina, and Amanda/Kris. And due to some bad navigation and lost ankle fur, everything got jumbled and somehow the Trotters and Cowboys wound up near the top and the Goths and Ginger dropped.
Much has been written and said about the bunchings, but to me, it is just part of the Race and nothing we can do about it. We can just hope for it to be at as much of a minimum as possible. One thing I would like to change is the spoonfed transportation. Marked cars with clues is just too easy. Public transportation and cabs whenever possible, but when driving is the task, make them have to find the car. That’s what ruined Nancy/Emily in Season 1, finding the car based on the license plate number. Have you ever forgotten where you parked in a parking garage (I’ve done it too many times to count)? That’s a real challenge!
But despite this Race stuff, there was a clear moment on this Race that was by far the best part. And it came from Phil. It was THIS amazing sentence. “Teams will now face a challenge that will challenge their memory of high school chemistry…but they’re gonna have to do it dressed as kangaroos.” The one and only time in the history of the English language that this has been uttered. I used to have a quoteboard on my door in college – Strange Sentences Taken out of Context – which were usually sexual or bodily function related, but often were just odd. Things like – “We didn’t have an ‘S’ so we could only have Uperman.” Or “I’m trying to have a real conversation with you and you’re just playing basketball with Korber’s head.” Well, the kangaroo line would make the list.
I loved this challenge – it was a real puzzle to figure out, and it was coupled with making the Racers look ridiculous. Unfortunately, these challenges are less difficult since the dawn of the smart phone, but it still makes them have to work for it. Figuring out what the periodic symbol for mercury and bismuth is not easy, unless you have Google. The fact that Kent knew it instantly was pretty darn impressive. “I got an A in chemistry, glad it finally came in handy.” I want more challenges like this – the puzzle part, maybe not the kangaroo part.
Teams had to fund the Central Football Club – home of the Magpies – to get the clue, don their costumes and find the intersection. It seems this town in the Australian Outback has named all of their streets after elements, but this is the only intersection. How is that even possible? Although I like the nerdy nature of the city design – these days in America it would probably all be named after Jersey Shore characters.