That was amazing. For the Amazing Race, that’s saying something. Because, you know, it’s amazing. It’s in the name. Oftentimes, it is amazing in a very good way. In this case, it was amazing in a horribly bad train wreck kind of way. And it happened to the Dudes – specifically Dude John – so it made it all the better.
Throw in the fact that it involved the Express Pass and we finally understand why there was just so much drama over its usage this season. Watching the Dudes navigate this leg, it was difficult to watch, expect when it was hysterical. The one thing that I took away from it – boy, I wish there was Elimination Station again, because that’s going to be awfully uncomfortable between those two.
Sometimes on this show, we the viewer can see what’s going on around the teams, but they are awfully clueless as to what’s going on around them. When they are hopelessly behind, they may not know it. There are other times, when the reality of their situation is crystal clear. We had both of these dynamics in play for the Saga of the Dudes. Let’s trace their journey.
The episode begins with the teams learning that they are smack dab in the middle of a Super Leg. They must head to Bali, Indonesia, some 4000 miles away and head to the Monkey Forest. I had to pause the show because the concept of the Monkey Forest was overwhelming to me. There exists a place called the Monkey Forest. The Monkey Friggin Forest! It’s like a subdivision of Oz. How have I not heard of this before, and why am I not there right now? The Monkey Forest. Awesome.
The Dudes leave in second place, but after the airport shuffle they wind up on the last flight to Bali along with YouTube. They wisely team up and restructure the flight plan at the transfer and manage to wind up in Bali before the flight containing Slap Shot, Mullets and Derby Moms. They get to the Forest, get their clue and then it all goes to hell in a handbasket.
The Detour choices were basically between a grueling, physically task and one of the meticulous attention-to-detail tasks. For me, I would avoid the attention to detail tasks whenever possible. Especially after you have gone through a few tasks already – when you are tired, you make mistakes. It happens to everyone. It was brilliant for the Show to put this kind of task near the end of a Super Leg. Amazingly, most teams went for the attention to detail – building a fruit display for a blessing ceremony.
The Dudes have some trouble getting there – and in the car I really notice just how strikingly beautiful Dude Jess is, and how little she has really spoken in the first three episodes. Once they arrive, they have even more troubles as they wander into some Balian (Baliite? Balisian? No friggin clue) resident’s art project. Loved. This. Scene. The two of them get down and start making some sort of weird corsage, or something, thinking this was the task. They didn’t question the fact that this was a half-naked man with no Race-related things anywhere in sight. I loved how they noticed on the clue that they needed to wear sarongs – but never questioned the validity of the location. Amazingly, they actually got sarongs from the poor locals! It took the cab driver to point out they were in the wrong spot!
Dude John thought that arranging the fruit would appeal to his anal retentive nature. Interestingly, it didn’t. That side effect of anal retentiveness – paralyzing stubbornness – actually did influence the results of the leg. Jess kept telling him that theirs looked nothing like the other fruit hats, but he wouldn’t listen. His inability to hear the words being spoken to him by his partner would grow more prevalent as she suggests for the first time that perhaps the Express Pass will be a good idea.
Jess is correct. They needed to seriously consider it here. They knew they were not the first plane to land. They could also see other teams around them finishing the task. The choice here is roll the dice on being able to build the fruit, or do the other part of the Detour quickly and beat the few remaining teams, or burn the Pass. They choose to roll the dice and flip tasks. Not what I would have done, but still, not an egregious error. I just think it is too great of a risk.
Remember, there may not be any other tasks ahead where you have these kind of issues. Let me make a baseball example of something that drives me crazy in the game. If the road team is tied in the ninth or in extra innings, they hold their closer – their best relief pitcher – with hopes that they will score runs and bring him in with a lead. My point – you may never get that chance, and have chosen to leave your best arm in the bullpen with hopes that lesser pitchers will get you there.
The Express Pass is your closer – this is it. Use it.
But they don’t. Instead they arrive at the other Detour and have to haul river sand up a whole bunch of steps a few times. This is rough – especially on Jess. And it is not something you can complete in quick fashion. By the time they arrive, the Derby Moms are done and gone. As the Dudes arrive at the Roadblock while the sun sets, there is no one left except for Mullet.
NOW! Play the Pass NOW! It is dark – that is never good on the Race for tasks that began in the daytime. You knew this team was behind you to start with. You can put two and two together – this is crunch time. Just use the Pass. Dude John refuses to give up trying to figure out the correct surfboard to bring to Phil. Was this arrogance? No way he can lose to Chuck and his mullet? Was it stubbornness? Was it pride – using it on a surf task? I have no idea. All I could see was one partner mentioning multiple times that they need to get off the course, and the other repeatedly ignoring her.
To add insult to injury, he refused to stop – even asking Phil to see the correct boards. He did the task for over an hour. I can see him thinking maybe it was non-elim – but after a Super Leg? Doubtful. At the end, he tells Phil he has no regrets. What? That he doesn’t need a million bucks. Double What?!?! Welcome to Rationalization Station – if you depart the train to Denial, you can board the bus going to Oblivious Town.