It’s hard to know what to make of this new round of stranger teams twist on The Amazing Race. As far as a social experiments goes, it doesn’t appear to be working any better than it did the first time with the “blind date” season. It’s nice there is no added pressure for things to turn romantic this time around and most teams do appear to be getting along well, but it is kind of boring. As this episode of The Amazing Race proved though, boring geniality might be for better than the alternative. When teams really don’t get along with one another it is more sad and uncomfortable than anything else.
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A Mix-Up and a Backstab
In this second leg, the teams head right from Panama to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This allows a lot of our teams to get all jumbled up together, making the placements of last episode virtually meaningless. The most significant turnaround is Ashton and Vanck, the two that were so clearly displeased with one another in the premiere. They shoot right to top of the pack and make a deal with some other front runners of this season, Matt and Redmond.
Once in Brazil, the teams must take a helicopter ride to the Detour. It’s one of the usual The Amazing Race staggered starts with a sign in sheet. Ashton and Vanck agree with Matt and Redmond that they’ll wait for each and flip a coin at the sheet. At least Ashton and Vanck agree. Matt and Redmond have no desire to actually honor this deal. The latter pair arrive to sign-up sheet first and laugh as if they’re super-villains, not just two competitive douchebags and sign their name first. This allows Matt and Redmond to get into first place but it makes them plummet in my personal estimations. The most damaging thing of all is that the betrayal brings Vanck and Ashton closer together. Pretty white girls and awkward nerds both share and can hold a mean grudge, which is news to precisely no one, and Ashton and Vanck bond over their now mutual enemy.
Keep the Beat and Work Your Feet
As mentioned, the Detour immediately follows the helicopter ride and is a choice of “Keep the Beat” or “Work Your Feet.” In “Beat” the teams have to learn a drum routine and in “Feet” the teams must build a street gym underneath a highway that would make Rocky Balboa well up with pride. “Work Your Feet” is much more natural fit for The Amazing Race and is more fun to watch. “Beat” however allows adorable nerds, Becca and Floyd, to shine (he is a drum major after all) so it is all worth it. It’s not exactly fair but Floyd and Becca are so infectiously fun, Phil could hand them a million dollars right now and I wouldn’t raise a fuss.
The most interesting thing about the Detour is what happens on the way to it. Scott and Brooke, who have not gotten over their initial differences like Vanck and Ashton, get fed up with traffic in the taxi, so they decide to run to the Detour. This would be the safe and smart option but Brooke apparently has balance issues. For no apparent reason Brooke tumbles headfirst onto the sidewalk and onto her elbow. Brooke somehow has both a meltdown about this minor injury and brushes it off. Scott meanwhile tries his best to hide his disappointment that Brooke didn’t fall in the middle of the traffic and get run over.
Since Brooke basically only has one arm, she is really milking the bruise for all its worth. Scott has to do everything for the rest of the leg. This becomes a problem when the teams arrive at the Detour. It’s the first heights challenge of the season. The designated teammates must rappel down a huge office building and clean the windows. This isn’t much of a challenge for most of the teams, but for Scott it’s an issue because he is deathly afraid of heights and it shows as he has a meltdown that rivals his partner’s early tumble.
Shamir Gets Testy and the Sisters Get Stupid
Scott’s heights fear is nothing compared to the tantrum one racer pulls and that racer is Shamir. Shamir made a very bad first impression on The Amazing Race season premiere as he chose his partner Sara because she was the “hot chick” and he just seemed to be a generally awful jerk. In the second episode, Shamir proves that sometimes you can fully trust first impressions.
Shamir manages to hold it together for this leg until the Detour. It shouldn’t be much of a shock to anyone with brains that rappelling requires one to wear a harness and that can cause some discomfort if you have certain chromosomes. To Shamir, this is brand new information and he absolutely loses it while hanging on the building screaming about how much his balls hurt. He punches one of the very windows he is supposed to be cleaning in his anger, cracking it and demands to see be seen by the ambulances. It’s all very, very … classy.
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It’s also very concerning when it comes to Shamir (and his poor partner Sara) staying in the race. It also allows the bubbly team, which is the polar opposite of volatile Shamir, Jessie and Francesca to catch up. Sadly, the Swole Sisters (which is Jessie and Francesca’s team nickname) have a lot of muscles but not a lot of spatial awareness. They miss the clue that they need to start the Detour several times and it gives Shamir the time necessary to whine about his nuts and finish the Detour before the two ladies.
Shamir and Sara come in second to last place. Though they are not eliminated, Shamir looks like he is going to murder someone because his genitals still hurt. (It’s becoming more and more apparent he just wants to brag about how big he thinks they are and that no harness made by man can contain them.) Sara meanwhile tries to cry knowing she’s stuck with this ass. It’s rather ridiculous that Shamir doesn’t earn a time penalty for causing property damage but I guess that isn’t in The Amazing Race rule book (but you can bet it will be in their checkbook.). Whatever the case may be, whiny Shamir stays in the competition and lovable, if a bit dim, Jessie and Francesca go home. The Amazing Race is two for two in getting rid of likable racers this season and I’m not thrilled.
But what do you think? Was Shamir’s tantrum completely ridiculous or somewhat justified? Should The Amazing Race allow the teams to be reshuffled or should they be stuck with what they have now? Are you sad to see Jessie and Francesca go?
The Amazing Race season 29 airs Thursdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)