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Amazing Race 20 – Ep 7 – Do I Have To Pick A Side?

That’s what this season of the Amazing Race has devolved into – after a promising beginning, and some pretty decent locations and challenges, we have reached the point where I don’t want to root for any of them except for Team Bopper. This week, we spent about half of the episode dealing with inter-team fighting, and then a little intra-team fighting for good measure. I am left with two teams I cannot bring myself to root for – and ironically, they are the two teams fighting. Two teams where they alternate between being cool and pissing me off to no end. A team that I have no idea how they have avoided elimination, and Bopper.

Let’s get this out of the way right away – this was going to be a non-elimination. I even wrote it in my notes during the previouslies. It was just prime non-elim real estate. As a result, we got tons of drama. And ridiculous drama at that.

DRAMA #1 – The brewing feud between Big Brother and Stalker came to a head. Amazingly, it was not Baby Rachel who fired the shot to set off the war, but Brendon. The often-silent Big Brother team member was trying to push past Stalker at the Nairobi airport when he bumped into Ralph, who told him to watch it. It seems that Brendon flipped him the bird and Ralph got angry. My words of advice to Brendon – don’t flip off big dudes. That’s usually a bad idea.

They go back and forth a bit. Vanessa suggests more sparkles for Baby, who responds by asking if Vanessa is 38. Which is a weird insult. Vanessa says even if she is, she still looks younger than Baby. True, but at least at this moment they are both acting quite young. Vanessa adds that perhaps a nose job should have happened before a boob job. First, Survivor and now the Amazing Race have boob job moments. Odd. Someone also got accused of being fat, I think. That may have just been in Baby’s mind. Baby later said she didn’t say anything mean about Vanessa, and I present People’s Exhibit #1 – the video from five minutes before that statement. Baby said that all Vanessa does is say mean things and name call – and she is mostly right. Vanessa said she didn’t make Baby cry, her lack of self-esteem made her cry. And she is also mostly right.

Everyone watching CBS at that moment, or reading this now, just had their IQs drop a couple of points. Mark summed it up nicely (after a few viewings to understand him) – they were like kids on line at lunchtime.

DRAMA #2 – Border Patrol Style – JJArt are puzzling to me. One minute they are giving cash to Team Bopper, and the next they are bragging how awesome they are. One minute they are hilariously making jokes about scraping off oil from a man’s nether regions, and the next they are being just as petty as Baby and Stalker. I don’t get it, guys. I want to root for you – stop making it so hard!

First, nobody watching cares if a team follows you. And there is nothing you can do to stop them. This has been something that has irked Racers for many seasons – and no one cares. If they follow you, you are still going to finish ahead of them. So chill. Chances are at some point, they will get lost and you won’t have to worry about them anymore.

Second, nobody cares that the Feds lied about being school teachers. Why do you care? It is a pointless lie, as I mentioned a few weeks back. Unlike Survivor, they cannot be voted out for being a threat. All it does for them is make them, maybe, seem more approachable, and perhaps allows them to get some special treatment. But, honestly, on the Race, it doesn’t matter. It’s you vs. the Race Course. Let them pretend this is great strategy.

To quote Kurt Russell’s Herb Brooks – “Play your game.” Stop playing theirs.

DRAMA #3 – This marriage worries me – They just don’t seem to like each other. The passive aggressiveness of the fighting is amusing to watch, but after the initial chuckle, it’s somewhat uncomfortable to watch it. Of course, we are talking about Army Wife. Every few episodes they just tear into each other. I kind of like Rachel more, because usually she seems to be right about Dave’s behavior. However, if I had to deal with constant sarcasm, I’d probably blow my top every now and again like Dave. Maybe we shouldn’t “misconstrue his support for yelling.”

That said, they become likable this season if only by default.

I just miss those early seasons when regular people were cast on this show and not models, stunt casting and freaks of nature. And when we focused more on the Race and not on the crap being said by Racers about each other.

The Race. We leave Asia and head to Africa. They leave for Tanzania, with Army Wife’s 90 minute lead doomed for the history bin after the airport equalization. Then we waste time with foolishness for the first half of the episode. Teams take a flight over some gorgeous landscape in three shifts – first JJArt and Baby, then Bopper and Army Wife, and lastly Feds and Stalker. We spend a lot of time with the animals and the Racers’ reactions. I bet you are wondering if there are actually challenges this week!

DetourMarksmanship or Courtship – Marksmanship requires them to toss a traditional weapon, something that sounds like a voomlu or something, that resembles an IKEA version of a boomerang. They must each hit a clay target. Courtship requires them to jump for a minute. Really, that was the challenge. If ever there was an obvious choice…this was one. Amazingly, four teams went with the weapon. Perhaps that’s just a subtle commentary on the American psyche – we’d rather use a weapon than exercise.

The best part is that you had to ride a bike – more like a “bike” to get to the challenge and back. Going downhill was one thing, but uphill on this ninth-rate bike was fun. Vanessa was too short to be able to ride it, but Ralph kept making her try. The resulting faceplants must have made Baby smile when she was watching at home.

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