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Amazing Race 20 – Ep 10 – “OK, I’m Gonna Ride You Now”

Well, we sure saw this coming. After the troubles with health that Bopper and Mark experience last week, we knew it would be tough for them to pull off a comeback this week. Compounding the skepticism over their chances for a comeback was the revelation early on that they faced a three hour deficit and had no airport equalization to help balance things out. Our heroes were doomed this week – we knew it, and I can only speak for myself, but I came to terms with it early on.

Damn you Baby Rachel for actually giving me some false hope along the way. Because a team that is three hours behind, with no chance of an equalizer, and facing an extra task, has only two hopes for survival. First, someone really, REALLY screws up and/or they get a Fast Forward. And both are at play here as the show provides an unexpected third Fast Forward and Baby fails to do it.

Team Baby arrived at the Fast Forward in first place, something they have not often enjoyed for the vast majority of the Race, and for some reason was surprised at what Fast Forward awaited them in India. You would think that these two reality show veterans were familiar with Race history. India Fast Forwards in Seasons 5 and 7 – shave your head. And as the show reminds us, in the second example, the shaved heads went on to win the Race. And Joyce looked pretty amazing even without hair.

However, Baby doesn’t feel the same way. In a surreal exchange with Brendon, she laid out her reason for not shaving her head and earning the Fast Forward. Baby – “But I paid $500 for extensions…I’d be so sad.” And, “I’ve spent years and years to make my hair look good.” And, again later, “(Joyce) was really cute, skinny and pretty. I need hair to be pretty.” And there is the Tragedy of Rachel in a nutshell. A rather smart woman, who chooses to act like a moron and a baby, is incredibly insecure. She is a text book case study of how insecurity and female body imagery can mess with your mind. I guarantee that Brendon would have been supportive of her with no hair on her head. Hair grows back. And the $10,000 they would have won for winning the leg could have bought her tons of extensions.

The effect on the game from their decision to bail on the Fast Forward could have been huge. Army Wife and JJArt already had Fast Forwards. Stalker was already knee deep in the Detour when Baby arrived, and I can guarantee that Vanessa’s insecurity issues would have resulted in the same decision. What it meant was that Team Bopper was given a lifeline, the question would be whether or not the three-hour deficit and Speed Bump would be too much.

Of course, the boys were gung ho about doing the Fast Forward – and really, it was only Bopper because like Uchenna and Joyce, one team member was already bald. Granted, it is much more socially acceptable for a man to be bald than a woman – but it is still a big deal. And close observers knew that Bopper did it before it was revealed – for me, I predicted it when I noticed the Bopper interview was audio only during the Speed Bump. The show didn’t want to reveal a bald Bopper and spoil the fun. Bopper would have been all for cutting his legs off – although that would be a very strange challenge. Mark joked that Bald Bopper didn’t look as good as him, but he still looked good. Bopper put his face next to his African-American best friend and said, “Look here…twins!” They are awesome.

Bopper upon elimination summed up – “I have no words to describe it, I had no idea what I missing out there (in the world). Now I have no one to root for.

Because while this was going on – this team of best buddies from backwater Kentucky, learning about each other, themselves and the greater world around them – we had Baby and Vanessa sniping at each other. It was truly stupid. Vanessa seems to think that Baby cheated while hauling elephant crap. Phil coaxed it out of her at the mat as the two teams arrived at the same time. And then we got Episode 9 of Baby vs. Vanessa. I’m so tired of the mindless sniping between them and their never ending battle of trying to prove which one has less self esteem than the other. Let me settle it – you are both pretty, you are both probably marrying up and you both really need to stop talking.

JJArt began some intrateam fighting but they really didn’t do much other than struggle this week. They continued to be rude both behind other teams’ backs and in front of them – as this week they somewhat accurately pretended to have a Team Army Wife argument. When it all boils down to it – we have four teams left for the two-part finale and of the eight people remaining, I only have patience for one. Army Wife has great enthusiasm for the Race, she has talent, and she puts up hilariously with her chauvinist husband. That’s what I am reduced to – hoping that Major Dave wins because his wife is somewhat palatable. I have not been less excited about a Race finale since the Hippies competed against those d-bags in AR9. Sigh.

First Task – Glad to see a task featuring an Eastern religion where the Westerners are not either disrespectful or uncomfortable. In this one, they get a temple greeting while barefoot. Meanwhile a couple of guys with tigers drawn on their bellies dance. Vintage AR. Those wacky dancers led to the…

Speed Bump – Team Bopper had to paint on one of those tigers. It is hard to tell if this delay was the difference between JJArt’s completion of the Detour and Bopper’s head shaving. It is distinctly possible that the Speed Bump mattered not once, but twice this season.

Roadblock – In the Land of Coconut Trees, they use coconuts for tons of things. Just like on Survivor and Gilligan’s Island. In this case, teams must make 40 feet of rope out of husks. Many of them struggle. In the end, they have to spin the rope using a tiny machine and twisting a 10-inch nail. Many hands were bloodied. Roadblockers are Ralph, Dave, Art and Brendon.

DetourPachyderm or Pack A Box – Either decorate an elephant and then haul 15 wheelbarrows full of dung, or pack a ton of boxes with ginger roots for shipping. Why anyone would rather do the manual labor of ginger packing (which sounds like a British insult) rather than play with an elephant, I will never know. However, JJArt do just that and fall far behind the other three teams and become the edited drama alternative to Team Bopper for elimination.

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