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"Freakin' Chernobyl": Teams Head to the Ukraine on "The Amazing Race"

So it seems like producers of The Amazing Race should have had that pit stop at the bottom of Olympic Stadium tower in Helsinki last week, after all. Pushing the teams for another whole leg before allowing them to check in could have shaken some things up, but in the end, the teams ended up more or less staying in the same exact order they did as they rappelled down the tower. Crazy, huh?

The teams left Helsinki for the Ukraine, armed only with a clue that told them to go to the capital city of the country home to the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, or as the Blondies called it, "where the atomic bomb went off" (another shining example of what's wrong with the American educational system!); teams seemed to think that it was in Russia and I was REALLY hoping that at least one team would do something rash and foolish, like board a plane to Moscow before realizing their error. No such luck. All the teams managed to learn from the somewhat helpful counter agent that (besides for the fact that there weren't any, um, non-stop flights to Chernobyl) they'd have to fly to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Apparently, the competitors had never heard of such a place (or for that matter the delicious dish of chicken Kiev) as most of them kept mispronouncing the city, even after they had arrived there.

I've definitely had a love-hate relationship with the Cho Bros over the course of the season. They've played the race according to a moral compass that while noble in its altruism, seemed wholly out of place on a reality television series. There's nothing wrong with playing nice, but there's something said for not playing stupid. And this week, the Chos were playing stupid. When you're down to the final five teams, there isn't any room in the game for misplaced and misguided alliances, nor should a team keep waiting around for another team at every single detour, roadblock, or new set of instructions. (Truth be told, you shouldn't be following other teams at this point either.) The Chos seem to be really nice guys, but they've gotten the distinctions between friends and competitors a little muddied. There was absolutely no reason for them to keep waiting around for Alabama and to keep stopping every 500 yards or so to again inquire about directions. (They had a flipping map, for god's sake!)

Likewise, there was no reason whatsoever for Lyn and Karlyn to keep following behind the Chos, especially as the Chos seemed so completely indecisive and, well, lost at every point on this leg. Ladies, sometimes you have to do what you need to do. It's a race and if you think that you have a better idea of where to go, then go. Don't just sit back in the car and complain about following these two, only to then keep on following them. Seriously.

Kiev was an odd mix of activities, including a really, really fun Roadblock in which one team member had to drive an old Soviet-era tank around an obstacle course that made me furiously jealous. It didn't seem all that difficult (well, about as difficult as driving a Soviet-era car would be) and the competitors seemed to have a blast, even James who participated in his second Roadblock in a row (gasp!) but seemed to get beaten in the tank race by Dustin, who really kicked some major ass this week. ("What's James doing? He's driving like a girl!") The Beauty Queens are definitely growing on me and increasingly I find myself rooting for them to win (and take down the Male Models in the process), becoming the first all-female team to win the Race. Still, if James and Tyler manage to keep pushing themselves as they have in recent legs, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

Rob and Kimberly on the other hand will never manage to win me over. While I think I would be satisfied if their James and Tyler or Kandice and Dustin won, I couldn't stomach this sickeningly irritating couple winning the big prize. Fortunately, I just can't see them managing to work together enough as a team to pull a win. But the Race is all about twists and turns, and dark horses have managed to come out on top before. I was positively gleeful last night watching their "vintage" Russian car break down on the side of the road as they were forced (along with the poor taxi driver they were paying) to wait for a replacement car, which then also seemed in danger of breaking down. But, hey, at least this time they didn't try to drive the car into a mine or anything.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure which Detour I would have selected this week, possibly the first time that's occurred in a long, long time (usually, it's much more obvious to me). Teams had the choice between Make the Music, where they would have to travel to a local hip hop club and write and perform a rap song using the names of all of the countries they had visited, or Find the Music, in which they would have to drive to the National Musical Academy of Ukraine and search thousands of pieces of sheet music for Tchaikovsky's Concert Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, then search the practice rooms for one of six pianists, who would then play the piece before handing them their next clue. Find the Music seemed hard (searching for things is always tricky on this show), but Tyler and James, dressed in tails no less, managed to finish extremely quickly. Scarily so. Meanwhile, Dustin and Kandice decided to opt for Make the Music and wrote up and performed a little rap that was eerie reminiscent of something from Saved by the Bell or something. But they too managed to finish pretty quickly.

Rob and Kimberly kidnapped some locals and coerced them into taking them to the club (they refused to come inside, however) and then the pit stop, managing to finish in third place. Lyn and Karlyn's rap was pretty fantastic, I have to say, and definitely the best of the bunch (especially after following on the heels of Rob and Kimberly's embarrassing effort); but what was with all of the gyrating dancers at the club? It was just... odd, to say the least.

The Chos couldn't find anyone who knew where the club was and so instead decided to head for the Academy, before arriving at the Pit Stop last. (Well, not quite arriving at the Pit Stop as they decided to drive down a closed street and were intercepted by the local police who demanded they step outside of the vehicle and display their documents immediately. Thank god they didn't still have those idiotic water pistols from the first leg.) No chance of a non-elimination this week, and Phil sent the brother packing after some tearful final words. Sad to say, it was definitely time for these two to go home.

Next week on The Amazing Race: James contends with a runaway chariot, Alabama plots revenge against the Blondies, and the Beauty Queens find themselves in last place with a Yield looming ahead.

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); A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving/He's a Bully, Charlie Brown (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 Thanksgiving"), Julius' more successful brother Louis (guest star Wayne Brady) drops in on Chris' family for Thanksgiving dinner.

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 ("Mission: Impossible"), Ritchie's poor results on a crucial homework assignment cause Christine to stress out. A lot. And that's never a pretty thing.


Jon88 said…
It was the helpful counter agent who told some of the racers that they needed to fly to "Keev." They got it from her.
Anonymous said…
I have to agree about the Chos - for me it was always more love-love, but I was increasingly frustrated w/them. You are so right - you can be nice and also be smart. They never seemed to grasp the competition aspect. You can be competitive and still be nice.

At this point there is no question which team to root for - BQ all the way. I would not be happy w/any other team winning, though my 2nd choice would be druggie models. I haven't liked L&C for a long time, but last night was really infuriating with their hypocritical "The chos need to run their own race" comment. Um, excuse me? Who was it that has been following the chos this whole ep?!? It was their choice to tag along w/the chos for so long - not exactly a shining example of running their own race. Ugh. They make me insane.

I so agree, re: detour. It was definitely a tough decision. I usually know to stay away from one where you have to look for a needle in a haystack, but I think I would have gone for the sheet music one.

I can't so much fault teams for mispronouncing Kiev. That's how the travel agents said it, and they were mostly just repeating back. Once they saw it in writing, most teams pronounced it right, and the others may have thought that the travel agent's pronunciation was the right one. But the atomic bomb comment was priceless.
Anonymous said…
It was definitely time for the Cho Brothers to go. I'm not sure that the "six pack" alliance ever helped anyone out strategically. It's nice to make friends and all...but this is a race!

As much as I've loathed them at times, I'd love for the blondies to win. You can't deny that they've played a good race. And I was hoping that they would come in first at the last pit stop. Especially as they'd beaten the boys at the tank chanllenge. And was it just me or did it seem surprisingly easy to find that piece of sheet music?
Anonymous said…
Are you all watching a different show than I am or do I just possess a natural antipathy toward perky blondes? The only reason I am still watching this season is in the hopes of experiencing some schadenfreude when (if) the BQs lose in the final leg of the race. Surely, I'm not the only one. Right?
Blobby said…
I love the NAoOC. Though Louis-Dreyfus is pretty good - it's her brother, Wanda Sykes and the meanie moms who make the show.

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