April 19, 2005

Take it off, Joyce, take it all off!

The Amazing Race didn't disappoint tonight -- we were treated to an action-packed episode, even though there were a number of bottlenecks to muck things up.

It kicked off where they left us hanging last week, with Rob and Amber arriving at the mat with Phil, only to learn "But wait...there's more!" I'd say that Uchenna and Joyce took the news that they were only getting another clue best, with the others reacting with a mixture of relief or dismay, depending on where they were in arrival order.

Phil's clue took them across the street to the train station where they had to find a particular train, whose destination they didn't know and where they would at some point get their next clue, only to learn that the train didn't leave for many hours. As usual, the whole catch-up thing didn't go over well with Rob because they lost their lead.

Finally aboard, they were given sleeping accomodations and settled in. To me, it appeared that as soon as they got to sleep, they sent this somewhat creepy, silent man around to wake them up and hand over their clues! That's when they found out they were on the train for about 24 hours, as they headed to Jodhpur, India. Lynn and Alex seemed to keep to themselves, where Lynn started jonesing for his skin care products, while Rob and Amber and Ron and Kelly (collectively "RA/RK" from here on out, because I'm getting tired of writing it) sat together and bonded a little more, spending quality time learning that Rob doesn't like to go see horror movies, whereas Ron loves them. Gee, the personal insight one can gather on a choo-choo train.

Once reaching their destination, they easily found the clue (I was hoping they'd at least have to race all over the station looking for it) but learned the next clue was in a clock tower that, you guessed it, didn't open 'til the morning, still many hours away. The teams scattered to a couple of hotels for the night, where Rob conscripted their hotel manager to be a guide for RA/RK for the whole next day. I don't know if the guy recognized him (do they show Survivor there?), or if he was attracted by the chance to be on camera, or if Rob just intimidated him into saying yes, but he was on board and he was somewhat helpful.

At long last, they ascended the tower the next morning to find the clue, which was both a Fast Forward opportunity and a Detour. The Detour offered the choice of Trunk or Dunk -- gotta love the names, really, don't you? -- where they had to either push a huge teak elephant on a wheeled base along the crowded streets, or tie-dye up to 25 sheets to find the one with the clue. Uchenna and Joyce decided to go for the Fast Forward, followed by Lynn and Alex, while everyone else went for the Trunk option. I was a little surprised that no one chose Dunk, having seen how the streets are so packed with people and vehicles that it can be hard to get around, especially, you know, with a giant wooden elephant.

A few minutes into their rickshaw drive toward the Fast Forward, Lynn and Alex decided that they would be screwed if they couldn't catch up to Uchenna and Joyce, so they changed their minds and switched direction to the Trunk task. Trying to describe the melee that followed is beyond me at the moment -- I'm sure TVgasm will capture it all, with pictures, so check it out later today -- but it wasn't pretty or easy.

As the other four teams were fighting their way to the temple where they would get the next clue, Uchenna and Joyce were rushing off to a different temple where they would both have to have their heads shaved in order to complete the Fast Forward. In typical AR foreshadowing, Joyce worried during the ride about that very thing being the task, which would freak her out, while Uchenna doubted that would be it...like he had anything to worry about! They got a little delayed because there were a lot of temples in the area, but eventually found the right place and learned that Joyce's fears were well-founded. But, being a total trooper, she did what I doubt any other woman still in the race would have found the courage to do: She whipped off her bandana, sat down, covered her eyes and cried while a man with a very big turban cut off her braids and then shaved her head. I think Uchenna was just as upset as she was -- he tried to talk her out of it, even as the guy was hacking away at the braids right at the roots -- and he was the picture of love and support as it happened, holding on to her, kissing her and telling her that she looked beautiful as the hair fell away. They collected their clue and headed out to a first-place finish.

The Roadblock was entertaining in theory, with camel carts being "raced" twice around a track, but it wasn't as all that exciting or fast, and seemed to take forever so I'm not doing details. As always seems to be the case lately, RA/RK were neck-and-neck coming out of the Roadblock and had another footrace to the finish, with RK just edging into second place, even though it looked a bit like Rob tried to push them off the mat.

I haven't mentioned Gretchen and Meredith yet, because essentially they were trailing everyone the whole time and it looked they were either going to be eliminated or have their meager money and possessions taken away again. But Lynn and Alex were unlucky and went to the wrong place first, lost the slim lead they had over the oldsters, and were the last team to arrive. Because I do enjoy them, I found myself really hoping that it would be a non-elimination round but, alas, it was not to be. Farewell Team WeHo, you and your catty comments will be missed.

And then there were four...or eight...depending on how you look at it.

At long last, My Moments:

-It was sort of gay night on AR7, as Lynn and Alex were befriended by some guys on the street where a wedding celebration was taking place outside their hotel, and they happily ended up dancing their heads off with them while the other teams watched from above.

- Earlier, Gretchen seemed a little embarassed when Meredith pointed out that the guy who had been helping them last episode appeared to be gay (evidenced by the other guy in the rickshaw ahead of them putting his arm around him in a very familiar manner a few times) and she declared that he was a pretty good-looking guy.

- Rob set Indo-American relations back about a decade as he commented, "It's tough organizin' Indian labor," while snatching children off the street to help push the giant wooden elephant.

- When the shaving was done, Uchenna put their heads together and said, "We're bald together now!" I personally think that she was able to carry it off pretty damned well and, as much as I've been rooting for Romber, if these two were to win, I would be mighty happy about it because she really did take one for the team and the Race.