This week’s leg of The Amazing Race wasn’t the most grueling ever run, but it may have been the most uncomfortable. Interestingly, the main components of the two challenges, oil and water, are opposites of each other - but they provided equally skittish situations.
You can’t be afraid to confront your fears on The Amazing Race!
After an uneventful beginning - which had the teams catch up to each other at the airport - and after arriving at the first clue marker in Azerbaijan. the leg immediately became interesting. Along with their next destination the teams were given the Fast Forward option.
Normally I do not like the catch up points. Certainly I understand that at times these are unavoidable. They happened in the first few seasons. With so many in recent seasons, however, they seem more contrived and against the spirit of the game.
However, if there are going to be catch up points, having a Fast Forward immediately after a catch up is definitely the best way to do it. All teams had the reasonable option to go for the Fast Forward (except for Art and JJ, who had done one already). This created an awesome scenario where Joey “Fitness” and Danny and Rachel and Dave both thought it was a good risk to try for the Fast Forward.
The only downside to the way the Fast Forward played out in this episode is that not getting it was a death sentence. The Fast Forward is best when it’s a huge reward and a moderate risk. Hopefully the teams who do not get the Fast Forward still have a chance to get back in the race.
When only two teams tried for the Fast Forward it became an all-or-nothing proposition. Despite the best efforts of the editors to make it seem like Joey “Fitness” and Danny might have caught up to Vanessa and Ralph, obviously they were not close. The penalty for failing to get the Fast Forward should not be guaranteed elimination.
What I was surprised to see was that a third team did not try for the Fast Forward. That’s the best way to go for it, really. Even if you do not get the Fast Forward, you have a 50/50 shot to avoid finishing last and even better if you can catch up.
With Rachel and Dave cruising to the Pit Stop courtesy of the Fast Forward, the rest of the teams were forced to face their fears of drowning in a helicopter water crash simulation program. While none of the teammates selected for the Roadblock failed on their first attempt to escape the simulation, clearly it was harrowing. Both JJ and Vanessa expressed that they panicked a bit during the simulation, but came out unharmed.
Once the Roadblock was over, the remaining six teams headed to one of the most disgusting Detour options in the history of the race. And they had to do it. I don’t know what Nary and Jaime were thinking when they decided to sort through the apples. Those challenges are never simple on The Amazing Race.
What the teams should and did choose (well, except Joey and Danny, we’ll get to them) was the oil option. To complete the challenge the teams had to help clean off a person who bathed in crude oil, an Azerbaijan custom. Apparently there are oil bath houses set up in Azerbaijan. They don’t call these foreign cultures for nothing.
If scraping crude oil off of a hairy man doesn’t make you uncomfortable, nothing will. I spent the entire time cringing as I watched all aspects of the challenge. The man willingly bathing in crude oil. The teams scraping oil off of his body as if they were cleaning a table of crumbs at a restaurant. And finally literally scrubbing him down with sponges in a shower to get him fully clean.
However, it is the faster option. It was obviously the faster option. The more gross/scary/fear overcoming challenge is always the faster one. The race is designed to strongly encourage teams to these challenges because they’re more interesting television. Frankly, they should.
The only team that was forced to choose the apples was Joey and Danny. They had to go for something where they could get lucky and catch up. They even smartly ignored the trunk (or at least we were not shown them looking in the trunk) potentially hoping they guessed right and got a jump on the other teams. It was their only option.
At the beginning of the season I figured I would not like Joey and Danny because of how they were presented. Now I find myself sad to see them go. They were nice guys, good competitors and funny; everything you’d want from a race team.
More from this episode:
- To all federal agents: I’m sorry, we’re not intimidated by your job. I’m thankful you do it and I’m sure it is challenging and difficult, but I’m not overly impressed. Why Nary and Jaime are worrying so much about it is beyond me.
- Did anyone else catch Vanessa saying that her “melons” were not showing but that she was “going commando?" Hilarious, but I have no idea why anyone would not wear underwear while traveling.
- For those curious about the details of a possible Bopper-Jamie romance, he’s 41 and she’s 33. Weirder things have happened, but it does seem unlikely. I’m sure someone like Bopper isn’t up to Jaime’s federal agent standards anyway.