At least for a while tonight, The Amazing Race recaptured the excitement that’s been sorely lacking for too much of this season, as someone in the production office apparently remembered that the race is supposed to be an adventure. The Detour tasks may not have been the most thrilling ever attempted on this show, but they took place against such a spectacular backdrop that it didn’t really matter. The switch to HD this season paid off in a big way, as we were treated to gorgeous helicopter shots of the Matterhorn and the surrounding Swiss Alps. “It feels very Inception-like,” Zev noted, and it was hard to disagree with that assessment.
Of course, Zev might have felt like he was trapped in a nightmare once the actual Detour task was underway. Sight unseen, I would have pegged “Search” as the easier option, as it merely involved using a GPS to find and dig up a buried rescue dummy. The finding wasn’t so hard, but the digging proved to be a bit more challenging for the two teams that chose this task. You might think the thin mountain air would be the trigger to propel Mallory from her usual state of giddiness into full-blown cackling insanity, but it was actually Gary who had trouble breathing. At least, I assume that’s why he was grunting like a Yeti in heat. The shot of Gary heaving the dummy’s disembodied legs out of the pit with a mighty Hulk roar might have been the funniest thing I’ve seen on this show in years... but it was topped a few seconds later by the shot of Justin slumped in his pit like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining.
The teams that chose the “Rescue” option, which entailed rappelling into a crevasse to rescue a trapped climber, all finished ahead of the “Search” teams but not before we were treated to the further adventures of Kent Kaliber: Man of Steel. Kent’s whimpering was as annoying as ever, but what really disturbed me was the fisheye close-up of his face courtesy of the helmet-cam, which made him look like some crazy CGI Tim Burton creation. In any case, all teams except Zev and Justin made it to the first train down the mountain, at which point the outcome began to look like a foregone conclusion. But not so fast...
The Roadblock task is quite a comedown from the Detour, as it involves making a giant chocolate Travelocity gnome. Look, I know I’ve done more than my share of complaining about the rampant product integration this season, but honestly, I don’t mind the gnome. He’s been a part of this thing for so long now, I basically think of him as the show’s mascot, and the fact that he represents a travel website at least ties into the theme of the show. More so than iced tea, anyway.
Anyway, the chocolate task is pretty dull, at least until controversy erupts over whether or not Vyxsin swiped Flight Time’s painted gnome pan. Honestly, I had no clue what was going on here and can offer no opinion about what actually transpired. Big Easy got fairly heated about it, but Flight Time kept his cool, and it ended up making no difference anyway, as the Globetrotters went from worst to first.
At this point, it’s looking grim for Zev and Justin, unless one the other teams makes a boneheaded mistake. Right on cue, Kent and Vyxsin fail to notice the part of their final clue that clearly states they must make their way to the pit stop on foot. After taking a cab, they incur a 30-minute penalty, which gives Kent plenty of time to berate Vyxsin for not noticing the crucial words in the clue, even though they both read it several times. A charmer to the end, that Kent—and it is the end, because, much to my relief, Zev and Justin make it to the mat before the Goths’ time penalty has expired. I do feel bad for Vyxsin, but my sympathy for her is outweighed by my relief that Kent has whined his last.
- I had an inkling Kent and Vyxsin would be eliminated, given how extravagantly made-up Vyxsin was during their post-leg interview segments. It appeared she had plenty of time to work on her face and hair.
- Zev: “The Matterhorn was named after the Disneyland ride.”
- “It’s just painting. With food.”
- “Shake the gnome, not your body!”
- Next week: It’s the two-hour season finale. Place your bets!