This episode had some fun moments, but really, when we have a team give up early on anyone who has watched the Amazing Race all of these years kind of expected that we would be having an impromptu non-elim leg. Because that’s really what it was, even if it wasn’t a true non-elim. You can tell it was not a non-elim leg coupled with an injury elimination because the Mullets do not have a Speed Bump in the next leg. They were just a sixth place finisher – albeit a strange one. Either way, it severely cut into the drama because I was certain the Show was not going to send two teams home this week.
It’s a shame, because Ribbon was shaping up to be a very strong team and one wonders how far they would have gotten if Daddy Ribbon didn’t get injured. One good thing about the Show’s decision to reveal early on that they were not going to continue with the Race was that we didn’t have a farcical attempt at hiding the outcome of the Race. No feeble crosscutting showing them trying to get there – a la the Hairs last season, and other past passport losers and horrible flight getters. It was a clean cut and Amazing Race history for the second week in a row. No one had ever been taken out with an Express Pass before (granted, it has only existed for three seasons), and no one had ever voluntarily quit the Race due to health.
So, Ribbon’s journey over the last couple of legs has gone – injury at the mat, two wins, and falling on their sword. Daddy Ribbon gutting it out for a few days earned them a vacation and ten grand, so hopefully it was worth it and that ankle has healed well.
As for the Race itself, with Ribbon telling us that they were dropping right away, and visiting Phil at the mat in the first half hour, we knew it was going to be a safe leg for the others. The Race left Bali and headed to Hanoi, Vietnam – home of one of my favorite Amazing Race legs ever near the end of Season 3. Although this return to Vietnam presented one of the moments that made me laugh and laugh and laugh.
The teams had to go to the theater for the Roadblock. While there, the task involved watching a stage production of a Vietnamese patriotic dance. At the end, they had to read a bunch of words and then go find a matching political poster with the words to move along. However, what made me laugh was the song. The Amazing Race and CBS managed to slip into primetime American television a song touting communism. The song lyrics – shown to us in subtitles, but not known by the Racers at the time – included references to “communism is glorious” and “socialism is growing beautiful with time.” Could you imagine this on American TV in the 1980s? Much less the 60s or 70s. Put it in perspective – picture Racers traveling to Iran and watching an Iranian dance talking about the glory of radical Islam. Yeah.
Somewhere Glenn Beck just exploded. And it was the image of countless people who hold that us vs. them world outlook, with a Cold War mentality, watching their TV and doing a collective spit take that made me laugh.
As for the teams, Pam and Winnie need a nickname. And I think I have one that does the trick and makes an Amazing Race 21 callback. From this point on…they are going to be Pwinnie. At least we can be assured they won’t be saying it every four seconds. The team deserved a nickname, especially after these last two legs. Basically, after Pam struggled with the stilts they have been racing very well. This week was a strong leg for them. Pam’s set design skills come into play again as she completely rocked that Communism propaganda challenge, as she easily memorized the words and found the poster.
Also, with the elimination not an issue, we got extra airport and bunching footage. The teams that finished the previous leg early on had no idea the Dudes did what they did with the Express Pass. Max’s glee over their ouster was pretty amusing, as was the sheer horror shown by YouTube as they tried to mask their disgust with him.
Interestingly, with the Dudes out, the Fight Club Alliance is on the ropes and the others have banded together to finish them off. With Ribbon out of the picture, the other seven have divided up with five teams aiming to finish off YouTube and the Derby Moms. And the Double U-Turn was just the time to do it. YouTube got the hit, and said something very wise. They didn’t understand why they were targeted when Slap Shot was running behind and was a bigger threat. In theory, I understand that. Two big athletic hockey players – Race history shows that team is a threat. However, the performance from Slap Shot so far hasn’t really equaled that threat level. But I see their point…YouTube hasn’t exactly lit the course on fire either.
And another thing…YouTube could have U-Turned Slap Shot as well. So…there’s that.
YouTube wisely slapped a U-Turn of their own onto a team they knew was behind them. The Mullets got the hit and amusingly thought that YouTube got them because they saw YouTube’s photo above their own – not remembering this was a blind U-Turn. Also amusingly – they were correct, by total accident.
Meanwhile, the Mullets ran a horrible leg and have stumbled their way through this Race. Their elimination is long overdue but will have to wait at least another week. This week, they wandered aimlessly through the streets of Hanoi seemingly on a different show than the other teams.
Ribbon is out and Mullet is essentially out. That means the winner of the Amazing Race is going to be YouTube, Underwood, Newlyweds, Slap Shot, Pwinnie, or Derby Moms. Not exactly Murderers Row so far, are they? Let’s hope we get impressed in the second half of the Race. I have hopes for Pwinnie – their plan to keep Ribbon’s status a secret to keep the other teams comfortable was very wise. There may be hope yet.
Roadblock – Watch the song. Find the poster. The twist – they only had five minutes to run to the posters and pick the correct one. They cannot take notes at all to remember the saying. Pam nails it right away. Derby Moms and YouTube team up to find the poster – which was smart in a way, as each memorized half the quote. However, YouTube found theirs and elected to wait around for Derby Moms to get it too. Insanity. This isn’t the same thing as Team Apprentice last season with the Beekmans. There was nothing to lose for them. These teams were stuck in a scrum on this leg – just run the race.
Random Task – Do a local bamboo jumping dance with some costumed dancers in the park. The trick…the dancers have to be holding hands. The Mullets have to do the dance many times before realizing they have to hold hands. If that’s not a metaphor for a struggling relationship, then I don’t know what is.
Detour – Make Your Move or Make Pho – Move involves playing a human chess game. Sort of. Not exactly Ron Weasley level of chess playing. They have to find four players who are wearing a specific Vietnamese letter on their chest. Then line them up in the correct order on the board while holding their team flags in place. In Pho, they have to go to the market with assigned baskets and a chicken cage. There they find a specific list of groceries and help a street vendor make a bowl of delicious pho soup. Really. It’s delicious.
Instantly, Mullet messes up by leaving the chicken cage behind. They get lost. They bicker. Wynona blames him for not listening. It is a slow meltdown taking place. Pwinnie discover the problem with chess is that the colors need to match. Newlyweds find a local – a Fern, for those who remember the first local to help out Racers – and get their groceries.
• Mullets departed four hours behind Ribbon. That’s how far behind they were.
• Pwinnie expecting not to see another team for the rest of the leg…well, sigh. There is always a bunching.
• Max’s Dude John impression was pretty awesome.
• YouTube Joey expected to see a jungle in Vietnam, not a city. Because he’s That Guy. A jungle. I mean, hasn’t he even seen Good Morning, Vietnam?
• Interesting insight into Dude John’s adamant stubbornness on keeping the Express Pass – he was holding it for use on the U-Turn leg. Clearly he was expecting to be a target.
• I will miss Ribbon Dad – he may have cried more than any past Racer.
• Ribbon Son did leave with a hell of a quote – “I’d rather run four legs with you than win $1 million with someone else.” Wow. Every dad wishes for that line’s emotion. Every. One.
• In addition to a Communist hymn, we also got to see a friggin’ memorial based around a downed U.S. B-52 plane. That’s right, an American television show just highlighted a memorial to a crashed American military craft. Wowza.
• Wynona carrying the baskets – “Wait, I got a wide load.” Oh, Wynona. She also again called herself the weakest Racer but said she can think smart. Unless it involves adverbs.
• Winnie said you can’t get super confident and let your guard down. Just ask John. I’m gaining respect for these two.
• Underwood totally struggled with the chess task and for some bizarre reason chose not to observe Derby Moms as they completed the task. If you can’t get it, just copy the others.
• Loved the mocking comments from the locals – Translated into, “Look at the Westerner selling chickens.” Heh.
• Meghan’s comment about how it is anyone’s game was interesting. It means when they got to the second Detour they didn’t realize that the Mullets hadn’t already completed the other one.
Detour – Chess – Pwinnie, Slap Shot, Derby Moms, Underwood, YouTube. Pho – Newlyweds, Mullets.
Roadblock – Communism. Anthony, Chuck, Katie, Jennifer, Pam, Meghan, one of the Moms. I missed which one.
Order of Finish – Pwinnie (Trip to Whistler, Canada), Newlyweds, Derby Moms, Slap Shot, Underwood, YouTube, Mullets, Ribbon (QUIT)
Next Week – Botswana. Bushmen. Joey crying over scorpions.