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Amazing Race 21 – Episode 10 – To Dream The Impossible Dream

For those who don’t get the title – Man of La Mancha. Don Quixote. Oh, you’ll see.

I probably should have realized once I saw that the season finale this Sunday was two hours long that this week was going to be a non-elimination. But, I wasn’t paying attention, and so I was actually surprised when this leg led to a reprieve. It’s a bit different than recent seasons, and I am assuming they did it this way because of the passport episode and the desire to leave a cliffhanger mid-leg. Whatever, all it really did is leave me confused. So, next week we will likely have our final elimination at around 9 pm (or likely about 9:37 pm after the football game runs long and pushes the old men, old women and that one 20something woman from 60 Minutes back into the 8 pm hour), and then the Final Leg.

So, non-elimination. Meh. That renders the tasks mainly moot – but we do have some things to talk about.

First – I’ve given the Twins some crap about the “Twinnie” and about the puzzling feud with Team Apprentice, but I have continually given them props for being strong competitors and good Racers. That’s why I was STUNNED when they got in the car and couldn’t drive a friggin’ stick shift. Now, I am not walking into that glass house – I cannot drive a stick either. Never had to. My parents’ cars were all standard, and it was never taught. I tried to learn from an ex-girlfriend – although calling her a girlfriend is really stretching the truth, that was not a very healthy relationship – but she never finished the lessons by the time we were finished.

However, I would learn how to drive if I was going on the Race! And make sure I knew how to drive it well enough to complete a task or a bit of travel. This could have been it for the Twins and they would have only had themselves to blame. They came in last because they couldn’t drive that car. There was no other reason.

And while I’m at it…what’s with Episode 10 being the first one requiring teams to drive themselves? That used to be a staple of the show – climb into the product placement car and navigate your ass around Morocco, or something. I know the show likes the randomness of the taxi, but how about the conflict that comes with teams driving aimlessly? Or how about perhaps getting a Season 1 Paul/Amie driving around the desert for about a week, lost beyond belief, and beginning to scare the other teams? Episode 10? Shame, Show. Season 22 better fix this problem.

Second – We, the viewer, don’t really notice this because we are only viewing a tiny fraction of the Racers’ experience, but man, the Goats were far behind. The other teams really had no idea what was going on with the stragglers. They have been leaving multiple hours ahead of the Goats/Apprentice/Hairs in recent legs. Those back teams have had adventures the others are probably just learning about. The Goats were over seven hours behind the Twins, and three hours out of third place. They were so far back they couldn’t even get bunched at the airport in Holland. They needed a bunching at the ferry to catch up, and the others finally learned who was still with them. And that reaction of glee in seeing the Goats was not because of how nice the boys are, it was pleasure in seeing Apprentice out. It was at that moment I began to root hard for the Goats and hope they manage to pull this whole thing off.

Oh, and about that ferry. What awful ferry has that huge of a gap between services? The Twins left Amsterdam on a 6 am flight for Spain. The ferry to Mallorca opened at 10 and the first ferry they could book left at 11 pm?!? Does that mean that nobody went to Mallorca at all that day? Were the ferries all booked ahead of time? Was there a bar mitzvah on the ferry and it was rented out? Is that how you run a ferry business? Or was it planned this way to enable the Goats to catch up and avoid the poor Guidos in Season 1 racing by themselves for the last few legs? Hmmm.

And one more – task selection. Sometimes you don’t know what the Roadblock is going to be, I get that. The little clue is rather cryptic at times. And I know that sometimes you will assume a task and get something totally different – a la the family bike task during the Family Edition’s trip to the Talladega Speedway. But if you have a team member nursing a sore ankle and you roll into a tennis center, perhaps it is worth playing it safe and assuming a physical tennis challenge. If you are wrong, and it turns out you are searching 5000 balls for one with Race colors, then so be it. But for some reason, the Goats didn’t agree. Josh hurt his ankle in the Switchback last week and was hobbling. I don’t care if Brent has never even watched the U.S. Open on TV, he should have been doing that task. Strange, strange choice from the Goats.

Task 1 – Find the devils. – Part of me wanted a bunch of dudes in face paint yelling about hockey, but instead teams had to find some Mallorcan Devil Dance and endure a bunch of dudes dressed up like an Evil Cats production (Now and Forever) prancing around, playing with fire and getting up in the Racers’ grills. There seemed to be no real way of determining which devil had the clue either – just wait for him to reveal himself. Whatever.

Roadblock – Who Wants To Get Slammed? – No, that’s not an NC-17 game show. That’s the clue at the tennis center – yeah, good call Goats. The Show goes to Rafael Nadal’s hometown and has them play tennis where he learned to become the King of Clay. All you had to do was return 20 balls from a bucket that a machine will be spitting out at you from across the net. I’d rock this challenge – in my youth I was a decent tennis player. The trick here is to just stay calm and focus on every other ball hit to you. Just make contact and send it over – you aren’t trying to win a point, just put it in bounds.

Trey is apparently all-American or something, but he’s the only one who aces it (see what I did there?). James does ok, but Josh and Nad struggle. Nad doesn’t even know how to hold the racquet. She holds it like a cricket bat. There is really no drama here – other than the Goats and Twins finishing almost simultaneously.

Detour – Spin It or Bull itSpin has them repair windmill blades. Wait, didn’t we just leave Amsterdam? All they have to do is attach two big blades – it sounds bad on paper, but they seemed light and easy to mirror how the other blades were attached. In Bull, you enter the matador’s arena and get in some weird training bull suit, with one in the front of the “bull” – blind and playing the role of the horns. The other team member is in the back, with their head sticking out, barking directions. You slalom through the arena, having to go through eight capes and hit a bulls eye in two minutes.

To be honest, both tasks seemed ridiculously simple. And in fact, no one really struggled much. Texas underestimated the difficulty of the course at first, and overestimated Trey’s ability to speak. Once Lexi got in the back, they moved efficiently. The Twins had some assembly problems, but really didn’t struggle that much.

In the end, the Twins fell behind from bad driving and still were only a little bit behind the Goats. They have a Speed Bump in the next leg, but we all know how simple it will be. It’s anyone’s ballgame, even if it would really take a small miracle for the Goats to win anything.

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