This week, teams travel to Vietnam for some Vietnam Communist Party pop music propaganda. Will you see that on TV tonight? Probably not, and The Amazing Race is counting on it.

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The End of a Saga

All of my complaining about the manipulations made by the producers finally comes to an end on tonight’s Amazing Race. Dave and Connor reveal in an early interview that the surgeon made a recommendation of having surgery within seven days of the injury. Unless I am mistaken, this is new information. Information deliberately held back by the show to make us tune in to this very unfortunate saga.

The fact that Dave and Connor stayed in the race so long speaks really poorly for this season. We knew they couldn’t be in it forever — Dave would eventually have to do Roadblocks — but the show wanted us to believe in the impossible. They tried to give us these people who would overcome all obstacles and win when we knew otherwise. 

So the Amazing Race is going to eliminate the team, the show that tried to make us believe in the impossible. Whatever. I’m done with the producers as evil Machiavellian figures. I’ve made my peace because the last moments with Dave and Connor actually are what the show was trying to push on me.

The two leave 15 minutes into the episode. “My dad has never let me down and never could let me down. He’s amazing,” says Connor. And it is sad that they go out on these terms. 

Dave: “I really am sorry, Connor.”

Connor: “I’m not.”

Okay. All that hype only merits that last moment. But it’s a strong moment.

Gallery 42 and the Vietnam Communist Party

Teams must fly to Vietnam inside Gallery 42. And brace yourselves, couch potatoes, there is a double U-Turn ahead.

Dave and Connor, Pam and Winnie and the Newlyweds are on the first flight. Everyone else arrives later to … Handi, Vietnam. Any lead the front teams have is decimated by gallery openings. 

Pam and Winnie decide to be extra sneaky as they lie to everyone else about where Dave and Connor are going. It’s a smart move, one that pays off in many ways. Also, everyone’s reactions to Team JJ’s elimination with the Express Pass are a mixture of shock, overconfidence and conceit that made many of the teams dislike Team JJ, ironically. 

Later at the Roadblock, teams must watch a performance of the Vietnam Communist Party anthem, memorizing the last quote of said anthem. Then run to the back to find the text on one of, like, a billion posters within five minutes before the next performance. The ballad/anthem? It’s like a bad Asian pop song, only worse because it’s Vietnamese propaganda. It’s horribly uncomfortable to sit through without grinning maniacally and giggling like school kids.

From here, teams must do a traditional bamboo dance. It looks like a low-stakes game of jump rope with bamboo as an alternate. The teammates must hold hands; it looks so cute.

Alliance vs. Alliance vs. the Producers vs. the Recapper

Everyone decides to go against YouTubers and Derby moms with the Double U-Turn at the detours. It’s a very aggressive move on the part of those who were not previously in an alliance. 

The Detours are rather uneven in difficulty this week. Make Your Move: using these human pieces, they must refer to a Chinese chess game and then place the chess pieces to the corresponding pieces. The pieces are humans wearing complex outfits with an Asian character on it. Or, Make Your Meal: where teams must pick up two empty baskets and live-chicken baskets, navigate through the market and gather specific ingredients of the correct weight, weigh the food and make Pho. 

Clearly, one is easier than the other. I reckon the producers’ argument went like this:

Producer 1: Well, we ask them to pick up two empty baskets and live-chicken baskets, navigate through the market and gather specific ingredients of the correct weight, weigh the food and make Pho. What challenges do we give to the other Detour?

Producer 2: We bring back Dave and Connor!

Producer 3: Not yet. That’s a good idea, though. I know! We make the chess pieces living people. 

Producer 1: How is that a challenge?

Recapper: It kind of isn’t. Like, one is clearly harder. Did you waste your budget shelling out the 10 grand for Dave and Connor last week?

Producer 2: Yeah! People are really difficult! They need to be dragged over and they can take directions, like stand here and don’t stand here! People are difficult.

Producer 1: Definitely. Let’s give them complicated Asian characters instead!

Producers 2 & 3 nod their heads.

Recapper: Yeah. Whatever. 

Seriously, guys, whatever on those Detours. Pam and Winnie arrive to the B52 Memorial stop with the Double U-Turn. Staying true to the alliance, they give a U-Turn to the YouTubers. 

The YouTubers arrive, obviously disappointed. I especially love their sad photos encouraging teams not to U-Turn them. They, in turn, U-Turn a very lost Wynona and Chuck.

Poor Chuck and Wynona. Those two, really behind when the YouTubers arrive to their second Detour, are failing at one. Eventually, they go back to the other Detour. This is when I realize I’m more invested in both teams who have been U-Turned than I ever was with You-Know-Who. 

But the departure of The-Team-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named allows for basically a non-elimination leg this week. Because the producers killed their darlings, mine get to continue. 

Seriously, imagine if this hadn’t happened this season. Would we know about the Hockey Players? Or Pam and Winnie? Or the quietly still-in-it Derby Moms? I’ll never know, but now it’s time for…

Checking In with the Teams

Dave and Connor (Team Taboo): Buh-bye!

Pam and Winnie:  Pam’s art director skills help her and Winnie take the lead. Those visual skills are proving invaluable, actually. They are reveling in taking the leads. I still haven’t thought of a clever nickname for them. But I commend them for stepping it up at this point in the race. Also, a first place for them!

Max and Katie (Team Newlyweds): Max’s impersonation of the departed John is sort of spot on. I like that the Newlyweds and Pam and Winnie are friends. Also, I doubt either of them make really good Pho. 

Anthony and Bates (Team Pro Hockey Players): They have some luck, huh? They are, in fact, a strong team but, again, I wish I knew something more. They come in third.

Mona and Beth (Team Roller Derby Moms): Honestly, what do I know about these women?  They are tough, are marked by the other teams, but luck out because the YouTubers are stronger. Seriously, I know very little about them.

Caroline and Jennifer (Team Country Singers): These two are entertaining enough. I like that they’re smart enough to wait outside the gallery ridiculously early. 

Joey and Megan (Team YouTubers): “Look at that westerner selling chicken!” The alliance with the Roller Derby moms and Team JJ seems to have backfired. They uphold their alliance and have played a decent game, but it definitely slows everyone else around them down. Plus, Joey is really entertaining. I enjoy these two and am thankful they are still in the race. 

Chuck and Wynona (Team Hair): I knew they weren’t going to be eliminated. I figure even the producers aren’t stupid enough to have a non-elimination leg when they put a double U-Turn in it. Wynona reveals that they have grown apart, despite being together for 24 years. When Wynona admits her physical weakness and Chuck leads blindly , I sympathize to a degree. The two aren’t really connecting, even if she was doing very little to stop it. Luckily, we get to see them — and most important, their hair — for another week.

So what did you think of tonight’s episode? Do you have any better nicknames for the teams? Can we be done with the producers and You-Know-Who? How much does it affect you liking this season? Other thoughts? Sound off below!

Compete in Fantasy TV: Make your picks on who you think will be going home. Hurry, you have until March 24 at 12pm PST to cast your vote!

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Emily E. Steck

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV