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Mud Traps and Other Miner Inconveniences on "The Amazing Race"

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: it pays to be an actual viewer of The Amazing Race if you're going to actually be on the show. And it drives me absolutely batty when the players on this reality series don't pay attention to the clues. After all, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who IMMEDIATELY knew there wasn't going to be a pit stop as soon as Tyler and James read the clue leading them to the Olympic Stadium.

According to what the cameras showed anyway, not a single member of any of the teams twigged to the fact that they would have to keep racing after reaching the stadium. After all, the clue said nothing about the stadium being a pit stop or that one of the teams may be eliminated, all usual language on every single leg of the race. I was thrilled by this twist, one of the older ones in the Race's bag o' tricks, because it forces already exhausted teams to keep going, even when the only thing that may have motivated them in the last few hours was the thought of reaching that pit stop. (Hell, it would be even better to have them race the next leg without a break, only to make it an non-elimination round; that would teach them about not giving up EVER on this race.)

This week, teams left Madagascar (and David and Mary) behind for Helsinki, Finland, home of people "who wear wooden shoes," according to space cadets/beauty queens Dustin and Kandice. Um, that would be Holland, and the Dutch don't exactly walk around in wooden clogs on a regular basis. Due to the limited availability of flights out of Madagascar, teams were instructed to board a flight to Paris at roughly 9:30 that night and connect to Helsinki, but they could make their own arrangements, if they wished to. Naturally, there was a better connection to Finland than the one that the Amazing Race producers secured for them, but it hardly mattered as all teams (including last place Alabama, who manage to sweet-talk their way onto the plane) were miraculously able to get on the same flight(s). LOVED seeing everyone's surprised/angered faces when Lyn and Karlyn got on the flight. Sweet.

Several connecting flights later, teams arrived in Helsinki and had to find a coffee house called Kappeli, where in a repeat bit of product placement, they had to log onto a specially set up AOL email account and received some video email from loved ones back home, with their next clue. Single mothers Lyn and Karlyn spontaneously erupted into tears upon seeing their much-missed kids; it was a touching reminder of what they left behind to run this race but also, one helps, motivation to keep reaching for that life-altering prize at the end.

Speaking of Lyn and Karlyn, it's funny to me that they were able to get on so well with David and Mary and the Cho Bros, but are perceived as being so prickly by all of the other teams. Alabama and Rob and Kimberly have a relationship that can best be described as chilly (that's putting it mildly) while they and the Beauty Queens are more than adversarial. Lyn and Karlyn are convinced that the Beauties (or Barbies, if you prefer) get ahead in the game by using their looks and that's the real strategy behind their game. While no fan of the Queens as people, I do have to disagree that using their image is the ONLY thing they're using as the run the race; in the last few episodes, there's been a noticeable shift in their attitudes. These girls are playing for keeps and they are ruthless, cunning, and wily, even if a little naive and xenophobic. (They're downright UN ambassadors, however, compared to Rob and Kimberly.)

Cho Bros, I love that you guys are so gosh-darn polite, but you're in a race for a million dollars. Sometimes you have to bend the rules a little bit to get ahead. Whether that means jumping the queue at a taxi stand (or, hell, skipping the taxi stand altogether) or just being way more aggressive, you've got to do what you need to do. Then again, karma's a funny thing (just look at Earl Hickey); while "being polite sucks sometimes," maybe it's what's kept them in the race this long.

Teams travel by train to local school Soppeenharjun Koulu (how fun is that to say?), where they encounter this leg's Detour: either a grueling, mud-pit laden obstacle course or a grueling, muddy cross-country skiing expedition. The Beauty Queens and Lyn and Karlyn are the only two teams who opt for the muddy cross-country skiing detour, which while difficult (cross-country is already tricky, even on SNOW) and bizarre (why did they have to climb over those barriers?), seemed to take a lot less time than the obstacle course, which involved running, climbing, jumping, crawling, and carrying their partners over, through, and inside large quantities of mud. Tyler and James finish first but squander their precious lead by changing their clothes outside their taxi rather than waiting to do so aboard the train. Even Dustin and Kandice are stunned by just how pretty these two pretty boys need to be. Um, dudes, you're in a RACE. I get all the conditioning and moisturizing and all that, but when you're pressed for time like that and you know that the girls are right behind you, couldn't you bear to sit in your muddy clothes for an extra five minutes?

Teams get back on the train, bound for Turku, where they will drive themselves to the town of Lohja (not La Jolla, as some believed), the site of the Tytri Limestone Mine (too bad Dave missed out on this). Tyler and James and the Beauty Queens manage to catch the about-to-depart train for Turku and pray that no other teams manage to make it onboard. Sure enough, Rob and Kimberly run frantically for the train, only to arrive on the platform as the train pulls out of the station. (Ha, ha!) Rob, predictably, needs a minute to himself to calm down.

At the mine, teams board a tram (or are forced to wait for the single tram to return) into the mine and discover this leg's Roadblock: one team member has to ride a bicycle down a huge incline deep inside the extremely dark mine and locate a route marker containing pieces of limestone, which they will then have to lug back up to the starting point and use a chisel and hammer to pry out their clue which is hidden inside. James and Kandice agree to perform for their respective teams, leading me to question why James has been such a non-entity this whole race; this is the very first time James has done a Roadblock on the entire season? It boggles the mind. The other teams arrive a while later as Rob and Kimberly get lost trying to find the building containing the mine's entrance (the Beauty Queens had a similar issue but not as bad as these two); Kimberly keeps giving Rob instructions on where to turn (where she was getting these from, I'm not sure) and they drive over little bridges and nearly down directly into the mine. Yes, INTO the mine. I couldn't help but laugh maniacally; I just can't stand these two. But all three of the other teams manage to finish the Roadblock at the same time and everyone sets out for Helsinski and the Pit Stop they believe to be waiting at the Olympic Stadium.

But it's not. Tyler and James again waste their lead by searching the stadium, having missed the route marker on a nearby door (they walked right past it) and discover that they must take an elevator to the top of the tower and then rappel down the tower FACE FIRST and retrieve their next clue. Tyler rappels with ease but once again James proves that it's Tyler who is carrying this team when he struggles with rappelling. Arriving (finally) at the bottom, they are shocked to discover that this leg of the race is not over yet and they've got to keep going. Tee hee. I can't wait for next week.

Next week on The Amazing Race: Teams head for the Ukraine, where they engage in tank battle (seriously) and the Chos and Alabama's alliance FINALLY fractures when Lyn and Karlyn leave Erwin and Godwin in their dust. Seriously, guys, it's about time.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/The Class (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris/All of Us (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Prison Break (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Heroes (NBC); Girlfriends/The Game (WB); The Bachelor: Rome (ABC); House (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC); What About Brian (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8:00 pm: Everybody Hates Chris.

Now on its new night (Mondays) and at a new time (8 pm), it's the second season of former UPN comedy Everybody Hates Chris. On tonight's episode ("Everybody Hates Promises"), it's shades of Tricky Dick Nixon as Chris is forced to defend himself at impeachment proceedings after the school paper runs some unflattering stories about his presidency.

9:30 pm: Old Christine.

I can't tell you why I like watching this traditional sitcom, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is like a warm blanket of coziness after a long Monday. On tonight's episode ("Women 'N Tuition"), an increase in Ritchie's private school tuition cause Richard and Christine to make some sacrificies, while Matthew ponders making some changes in his life.


Anonymous said…
Pretty much as soon as they read the Olympic stadium clue, I said, "Oh, this is going to be one of those 'this leg's not done - you're still racing' deals" As a viewer, I knew that they'd already done so much and time wise, it didn't seem like it could be anything else (plus the obvious omission of the words "pit stop" in the clue). But I wonder, when you are in the race, how much you realize about time and when it's "time" for a pit stop? however, it was pretty dumb of them to assume it was a pit stop. Have they ever NOT said, "drive yourselves to the next pit stop" or the like? Dumbasses.

Rob and Kim driving into the mine killed me. I laughed so hard.

It was ridiculous that the people who chose to "ski" still had to do some obstacle course stuff.
Rob and Kimberly driving into the mine was definitely a highlight. As was Rob ordering Kimberly to "let him have a moment" when they missed the train. Those two kids are just so darn funny.

Speaking of funny...Tyler and James wasting time to change clothes? Hilarious. I can't believe that James hadn't done a road block yet. I actually liked it when they had the rule that each team member had to complete the same amount of tasks.

But the funniest thing of all was watching the teams roll around in the mud during the detour. There were some real Kodak moments in that bog.

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