This week on The Amazing Race,
teams get tribal in search of scorpios, fire and traps. What is this, Survivor
I Wanna Botswana, How About You?
How charming is everyone tonight on The Amazing Race? Seriously. The dead weight has been lifted from the show. I actually care about most, if not all, the teams now. Everyone's personality is well showcased. And the legs are semi-interesting. I might not even mock the producers that much tonight!
Teams will fly to Botswana and then take a charter plane to the Kalahari Desert. Upon arrival at the travel agency (how many travel agencies will the teams use this season?), teams must identify the correct country before entering. Nearly everyone assumes it is in Kenya. Is it because it's the only African country people know that has a desert?
Everyone manages to get on the same flight, eliminating any leads. That's rather common in this season, no? Sure, it makes an even playing field, thus making the game unpredictable; but it's getting a little frustrating how this keeps happening. I'm going to blame the producers!
During this, apologies are sort of made. The YouTubers semi-apologize to a sour Chuck and Wynona. Pam and Winnie apologize to YouTubers Meghan and Joey, but let's be clear -- they are not sorry.
They must take charter planes, stagnated into three flights.The Hockey Players and the Country Singers are on flight one, the YouTubers and Newlyweds on flight two, and Pam and Winnie, Derby Moms and Chuck and Wynona are on the last flight.
Maun, Botswana. It's a beautiful place if you like deserts and wildlife. Seriously, though, as scary as it would be there without a camera crew and security people, it looks pretty amazing. Look at the safari! This is The Lion King!
Teams, upon arrival, run down the road to drive in a fun car to some cool bushmen to engage in a Roadblock. Essentially, tonight is all about learning from these really cool people. With the bushmen at their side, a team member scouts the ground for a hole to dig for a scorpion and place it in a jar, leading the teams to a nearby stump for the next clue.
"I'm running through the middle of Africa ... Quit scaring me," says Bates to the comically in-tune bushmen. At least Bates isn't with Caroline and her bushmen, who spot a lion chilling nearby. Caroline, unaware and sweet as usual, amuses me so much during this small sequence. Meanwhile, Joey is freaking out about the scorpions. He does not want to touch it.
The best part of this episode is seeing the tribesman put the scorpion in their mouths to somehow paralyze the scorpion from hurting the contestants. The reactions are priceless since they're not expecting that -- neither am I, honestly. The Amazing Race can surprise me in good ways still!
Hunting and Gathering
After some scorpion scouting, teams must take their three bushmen for a ride. The bushmen, each group of them, are quite funny. Definitely contenders for best locals on The Amazing Race this season.
The detours also follow a survivalist theme. Fire: walk with the bushmen to a nearby bush site. Using elephant poo and brush, construct a fire. Or Fowl: construct a clever trapping device comprised of sticks and string to protect an egg.
Now, my dad was a Boy Scout way back when and he always advised me to just use a lighter when starting a fire. Seriously. It's not so easy that even a caveman can do it (though the bushmen are hardly cavemen, just awesome). Because almost everyone struggles with it. So it sort of surprises me when almost everyone goes straight to Fire. But less so when the teams give up and go to the other detour. Luckily, there are no U-Turns this leg, yes?
After completing either of the Detours, Teams must continue to a Kwena Safari Camp ... on foot. Ouch. But it is a race after all.
Bates and Anthony, who have been in the back of the pack for the last few legs, arrive first. Others arrive shortly. There's some tense editing in which Mona and Beth are still in it racing against Max and Katie. But luckily for our contestants, this is a non-elimination leg!
Let me elaborate why I hate non-elimination legs: it feels like a giant waste of time. We watch this episode expecting a resolution. One team will be eliminated, but which one is it? When there is a non-elimination leg, I feel as if these questions no longer matter. Good storytelling has stakes -- that is why we like competition shows. Philosophical question: what are the stakes when it is a non-elimination leg?
I suppose you could argue that the stakes are still there because no one knows when the non-elimination leg will come out of the dark. But the non-elimination legs are becoming so standard that they lose any surprise they might have had in earlier seasons. I knew that this would be a non-elimination leg because we hadn't had one yet.
Now, I could get really angry again at the producers, but I just think I'll blame bigger fish: networks. They order a certain amount of episodes per season and the producers have to accommodate with their budgets so they stretch it. I understand how it works, but I don't have to like it.
In fact, I hate it. I really think one of the teams should have gone home this week, especially because they are all saved by Team Taboo.
Regardless, it is time for us to be...
Checking in with the Teams
Bates and Anthony (Team Pro Hockey Players): They take first this week. Bates has a bit of a crush on blonde beauties Caroline and Jennifer. What sticks out most to me about them this week is that they seem really game for anything and that the luck they had in the beginning of the race blinds me from believing they are a strong team. They are a strong team. They could take it.
Pam and Winnie: I still have no nickname for them, but I do have a lot of respect. Out of any of the teams this season, they are the strongest at visual tasks. Building things, memory games. After a boring bout in the beginning, they have proved to be a strong team with a snarky side.
Chuck and Wynona (Team Hair): Without a doubt, they are the weakest team. However, they have some fairly unconventional skills that have proved useful: hunting and fishing, for example. I really want to see more about their teased marital problems from last week, though.
Joey and Meghan (Team YouTubers): Joey is easily the silliest person in the race. Maybe ever? I should find him annoying, but really, he's just a hoot. His moment with the scorpion is his shining moment for my entertainment. As for Meghan, I think I saw one of her YouTube videos once recently. It's hard to make an impression with Joey's bravado right next to her.
Caroline and Jennifer (Team Country Singers): I tink they might be the MVPs of the episode. I just sort of adore them. Their bushmen say how beautiful they are, and I agree, but they have a little something more. When they aren't talking about their dead famous relatives or saying complete nonsense, they are really fun to watch.
Mona and Beth (Team Roller Derby Moms): In the premiere, I was probably most excited about this team. Roller Derby Moms? Awesome. However, they are definitely one of the weaker teams here on the race and probably the least exciting to watch.
Max and Katie (Team Newlyweds): Anyone else notice Katie's perfectly manicured nails? When did she have time to do that? They struggle with building a fire and a trap. Max remains to be a douche and Katie remains to be a little nasty. They were made for each other. Earlier, I bet these two would divorce, but now I think these two idiots are made for each other. In other words: I don't wish them with anyone else.
So what did you think of tonight's episode? What did you think of the challenges? How awesome were the natives? Other thoughts? Sound off below!
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(Image courtesy of CBS)