I am not saying this is good, nor am I saying this is bad, but once again non-Racers decided the Race this week. If anything, one of the biggest influences on Race performance in the 19 seasons of the show has been local cab drivers. It is in the fabric of the show – it is completely unavoidable if you want a Race that is exciting, authentic and feasible. As much as I love seeing teams take public transportation – ample options do not exist in many locations around the world. As much fun as it is watching teams navigate, it comes with spoon fed transportation.
Cabs mix elements of both – local flair and navigation. However, it also mixes in another element. The driver. Often times, the driver is amazing, a slice of life from the region of the world. The Dudes’ cabbie in Panama was reaaaaallly enthusiastic, for example. Fun stuff. Cabbies can also be elements of drama – such as Colin’s near Tanzanian incarceration, or Uchenna begging to pay his cab in Miami. They can also decide the end of the game – several Races have come down to whose cabbie navigates the streets better – or become directly responsible for elimination.
Never before do I recall an instance where the cabbies of the other teams became the reason for another team’s elimination. Until now. The Dudes were done in by a giant error on their part, that’s true, but they appeared to be poised to potentially overcome their own mistake. They never got the chance.
Due to a big lead following the Roadblock and the Detour, the Dudes arrived at the last challenge. Several dancers were doing a routine at Cathedral Square in Panama City. Interwoven into the ornate dress of one of them was the location of the Pit Stop. In addition, etched in the medallions worn by the many dancers was an image of the building they had to find. Racers had to locate either clue to find the right location. The Dudes failed to do it. They instead found Balboa’s name – no, not him – and pursued that as their lead. Wild goose chase is an apt description of what followed.
Meanwhile, the other three teams appeared at the challenge at about the same time. When all was said and done, none of them found the clue on the dress. Control Freak and the Peytons made the same error as the Dudes. It was Jeremy who found the secondary clue. He drew the building on a pad and was able to get it figured out. So, only Jeremy 2.0 had the correct clue. That should have meant and easy win for them, and a game positioning of the Dudes returning from their wild goose chase to the challenge, with the other two teams beginning to embark on their own. With all things being equal, it should have been Control Freak vs. Peytons for elimination.
But things were not equal. The cabbies for Control Freak and Jeremy 2.0 had been working together, and at the challenge met up with the Peytons’ cabbie. On their own, Jeremy 2.0’s cabbie informed the other two of the correct location of the Pit Stop, so they all just followed them there. Boom. Boom. Boom. 1-2-3 is decided. The Dudes are out, victims to their own lead.
I think their demise despite winning six legs (although three of them were due to others’ errors) is akin to some other teams’ losses at fourth place. Kevin/Drew in the first Race’s going to the wrong entry point to the park in China. The Wonder Twins’ getting deceived by the snarky brothers in AR3. The Clowns’ airport error in South Korea in AR4. The BQ’s going the wrong way after the Yield drama in AR10. Toni/Dallas’ lost passport in AR13. Kisha/Jen’s pee break in AR14. The Trotters’ problems with a five-letter word puzzle in AR15. There are others, of course. But the Dudes’ loss is unique as it is really the only one caused by outside forces.
The wildness at the end of the episode made up for a fairly predictable first 40 minutes of the show. We had more product placement, we had an airport bunching. We had challenges where positioning is barely altered. But it sure ended interestingly!