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Amazing Race: Unfinished Business – Ep 3 – Mud Instead of Tomatoes


I think I speak for all Amazing Race fans – or at least a small percentage of obsessives – when I say that I was floored by the huge news of this episode.

Christina is marrying Azaria?!?! When did THAT happen? Those will be some really overachieving kids. This just proves again that the competition reality shows produce more couples than the dating reality shows. What are there two, maybe three couples from The Bachelor/Bachelorette? Maybe a couple of more from the reunion shows? Meanwhile, on Survivor alone – Rob/Amber, Erik/Jamie from China, Stephen (Tocachins)/Courtney (China), past winners Jenna M/Ethan, even second Micronesia boot Mary and Pearl Islands’ Ryan O. (introduced by Fairplay, who played against Ryan and was sequestered the longest in Micronesia with Mary). Even Fairplay met an Americas’ Top Model! Throw in Christina/Azaria from AR12, and even the Project Runway/Top Chef matchup of the guy that left Runway with the skin disorder and Miami Dale.

Heck, even Probst succeeded, as he is still with Vanuatu’s Julie! Go on the competition shows and don’t expect a movie career, but hey, you may find a love connection.

Anyway, three weeks, three solid episodes on the new Race. I thought of something that I found very interesting, and I am wondering if the whole pleasant nature of this race to this point has to do with two things. First, the essential re-running of AR14 – far too many teams this season come from that Race, which didn’t have a lot of animosity among the Racers. These teams basically really like each other. In addition, of the 11 teams cast, only two are dating couples – Amanda/Kris and the Goths. So much of the drama over the past 17 races has come from the giant meathead boyfriends and their pretty, nagging girlfriends. Amanda/Kris were somewhat harmless – and are gone anyway. The Goths had the nasty breakdown in Italy in AR12 where they turned on each other, but for the most part, they have been quite nice to each other.

The rest of the teams are all parent/child, sibling or buddies. For some reason I find arguments between those pairings a lot less grating than listening to pretty young couples bicker and call each other “babe” (when they really mean eff you). Even Ron’s dickish behavior towards his daughter and other Racers is less offensive than watching young “love” belittle each other on national TV.

It would be interesting to see if the last dating couple left – the Goths – do what they did for the most part in AR12, keep to themselves. That will lead to a new dynamic on the Race – a Race devoid of dating drama. If they stick around, Ron and the Gingers are potential sources of insane behavior, but we’ll see, after these first two episodes not sure if either is going long term on the Race.

As for the Race itself, this week teams went to Japan. Zev/Justin fondly remembered their last visit to Japan – Eat the Wasabi!!! Japan is definitely good for a couple of things on the Race – crazy traffic and wild contraptions. The vending machine parking garage? Amazing. I love how the Japanese have been so inventive to account for having a gazillion people living on their tiny islands. Put the parked cars in a giant vending machine. Brilliant! And the driving seems crazier than here in DC and that’s tough to do. Maybe someday someone will explain to me how I can have a green light at the same time as pedestrians get the walk sign.

As navigation became a serious issue this week, and judging by the move into nighttime arrivals, one can imagine that it took a while for teams to find where they were going. One thing that I found interesting was the strange decision making surrounding the Detour. Given the choices of a Shinto ritual and cleansing in a waterfall, and searching through mud for a little frog, no doubt in my mind I do the ritual. I stand by my belief that unless you need some luck you should avoid the needle in haystack challenges whenever possible. Do I need to mention the hay bales again? Only if you are near the back of the pack and need to roll the dice for a lucky quick find do you do that. Meanwhile, of the 10 teams, only Ron/Christina and the Trotters went for the ritual.

I wonder if the religious part of scared off some of the teams, especially Garlory. I hope not. Regardless, it was a mistake that was not really a factor because everyone made the same mistake. The surprise with the mud was that local Japanese would be pelting them with mudballs. This always brings me back to that amazing tomato challenge in AR10 from Spain and poor Kimberly getting pelted with tomatoes.

In the end, the only one to really suffer awful luck was the M&M Boys. They searched for so long that they had to quit the challenge – we never really see them go back out so there was either a health removal or penalty for not completing the challenge. As Margie said, the longer you stayed in, the colder it got. The M&M Boys were in a long time – there may have actually been hypothermia involved. I think the Gingers had no idea the M&M Boys were in the truck getting treated and honestly thought they were done at the Mat.

Very interesting that 33 minutes in the last leg separated first place Zev/Justin (Zev wants a nickname – Team Rain Man? Not cool?) with last place Ron/Christina (Team Therapy? They need it). So when the teams considered taking a flight that arrived 15 minutes earlier, albeit with a fairly safe-sounding connection, it made sense to think about it. Fifteen minutes could mean the difference between Race and elimination. Perhaps if it was a tight connection like Uchenna/Joyce in All-Stars, where it was only 45 minutes, it is not worth it. But three hours? Totally worth it.

Of course, when the plane breaks, that kills that advantage. But still worth the risk.

Anyway, so three weeks in, two teams out and I fear that our easy-on-the-eyes Gingers are next. I can’t say they are the nicest team, or most fun to root for, but well…so pretty. When they’re crashing into parked cars, you know things don’t bode well. Smart move by Jamie to try and buy the guy off, but again, she started flashing her impatience with people from other countries. I wonder if someone clipped the mirror off of her car in LA, and he spoke Japanese only, if she would be very patient.


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