The Amazing Race 12 Episode 4
Let's Name Our Chicken Phil
By Reagen Sulewski
November 28, 2007

She managed to not cry for this photo.

It's time for more third-world adventures on The Amazing Race, as rich Americans flaunt their wealth in front of African tribespeople and compete for more money than they'll earn in 100 lifetimes!

Azaria & Hendekea start out in the lead of this leg at 7:58 a.m., and have to search for a tribal chief, who has their next clue. Azaria wins the sensitivity award for the day by saying that his sister tries hard despite "her physical limitations". I bet she can kick your ass six ways to Sunday, dude. You're not exactly Michael Johnson.

They find the chief, who presents them with a traditional gift of... a chicken. Somehow I don't see this ending well for the bird, but then when do things ever end well for chickens? Hopefully they don't have to take it on a plane, lest they start a new bird flu epidemic.

They're then told to travel by taxi over 100 miles to a town by the name of Bouda Pelegtanga, and are also told that they keep the chicken with them through the entire leg – no chicken, no check-in, the clue says. I wonder if there's a Pedro Cerrano loophole.

TK & Rachel, Nathan & Jennifer and Kynt and Vyxsin leave within two minutes of each other, as the first big pack from the previous leg. None of them have anything too remarkable to say, although Kynt & Vyxsin have that "morning after the rave" look, and could probably do with a Circle K run.

Ronald & Christina are themselves only one minute behind, with Ronald's hernia still hampering him. He's sure to embarrass himself some more quite soon, although Christina points out that talking is bad for a hernia. Hopefully that doesn't heal for the rest of the time he's in the race.

The teams then rob this village of its food for no real reason as the tribespeople look on – it's kind of a powerful metaphor, really. Donald is particularly rough on his bird, shoving it in their carrying back head first. I don't think this episode wins any Humane Society awards.

Shana & Jennifer head out in seventh place, about 40 minutes behind the lead. Shana's Posh Spice sunglasses give off a rather surreal vibe, and the two of them have a priceless reaction to what their "gift" is. I bet they were expecting something with Prada written on it. Shana decides to name her chicken after Phil, for it's spiky hairdo – hey, flattery gets you nowhere on this race.

Although Azaria & Hendekea reach the next clue box first, they shed their lead when Hendekea needs a pit stop – possibly an Amazing Race first. This leads to Nathan & Jennifer taking the lead at the Detour, which has them choosing between panning for gold, or performing a traditional tribal dance in front of some local celebrities, who will judge them on style and creativity.

The first few teams choose the dancing task, and here we find out that Jennifer was formerly a dancer for the Los Angeles Clippers dance squad, which may explain her propensity for picking losers.

Finally, our last team of the day, Lorena & Jason, leaves the starting gate, about two hours behind. They're working on one or less mental breakdowns for this leg.

Nathan & Jennifer give it the old cheerleader try at the dance, after being taught by what looks like a Wookiee with sticks, but are dinged for just copying the moves and not showing anything new. This incurs them a ten-minute penalty, and seeing this, TK & Rachel bail out and decide to go mining. There, they join Nicolas & Donald, who have just arrived.

Azaria & Hendekea regain their lead with a dance that, even to my untrained eye, looks pretty good. They're sent to a nearby market for the clue, and are warned of a new race feature, the U-Turn. This is a pretty diabolical twist, where a team can force another team to go back and complete the other Detour option that they didn't go for, which has the potential to just break a team if it's a physical task. Like the Yield or Fast Forward, teams can only use it once, and there are only two on the race.

The U-Turn is the sole reason for the next clue box, after Azaria & Hendekea decline it, they're directed to take a taxi to a goat market outside Ouagadougou.

Did I say TK & Rachel were joining Nicolas & Donald at the gold mining Detour? What I mean was they decided to walk off into the bush in search of the other Detour, and are rapidly shedding time. Nathan & Jennifer have served out their penalty and are making their way to the next clue box, and Nicolas & Donald make short work of their task, moving into third place.

More penalties abound in dancing, as Ronald & Christina are dinged for an awkward looking attempt. Ultimately I think this is probably a much faster task, considering you're looking at a maximum 15 minutes to complete it, even if you do it badly, but the psychic penalty for bad dancing is always one to consider. Kynt & Vyxsin wow the judges with a fairly kinetic performance that makes me wonder if Kynt was into baton twirling at some point, and they jump into fourth.

This turns into third as Nicolas & Donald get a little lost, and are passed by Ronald & Christina after their penalty is over. Finally TK & Rachel get the hang of the gold mining Detour and complete it, just as Shana & Jennifer are finishing up their dance routine, which appears to borrow heavily from Madonna's Vogue phase.

The U-Turn finally gets utilized as Shana & Jennifer panic about their position, and mistake TK & Rachel for Lorena & Jason, the latter of which get targeted. Jennifer is actually quite reluctant to use it, worrying about the karma of the play, but really, it's part of the game, and I'm really quite sick of racers complaining about rules that they agreed to. Shana, at least, appears to understand the purpose of these kinds of things.

Meanwhile, the teams are arriving at the goat market, which features the expected Roadblock. The slightly misleading clue makes reference to a juggling act, but actually asks the chosen team member to ride a bike laden with supplies, including a live goat, to a nearby merchant, who will have their clue. Azaria and Jennifer draw the assignment for their teams and start to load up their bikes.

Lorena & Jason are performing their dance for the judges, making the connection that surprisingly hadn't occurred to me - that it's somewhat akin to American Idol. I'm assuming they're meaning the early, freak show episodes. They're let go, but have a rude awakening ahead of them at the U-Turn. For their part, I'm generally impressed, as they're annoyed (of course), but simply vow to pass Shana & Jennifer later in the leg.

The Roadblock proves pretty chaotic, as the teams draw a lot of attention while winding their way among the market streets. Azaria does well to find his merchant first, unloading his goods and getting the final clue of the leg, sending them to the Hotel de Ville in Ouagadougou.

Third through seventh is a huge log jam at the Roadblock, with Lorena & Jason are finally on their way to meet the rest of the pack. Realistically, though, it will take a complete meltdown by another team for them to catch up.

The race to the Pit stop between Azaria & Hendekea and Nathan & Jennifer is about as close as is physically possible – Azaria nearly blows it by taking a circuitous route, but he beats Nathan to the mat by a split second. They earn motorscooters as their prize for this leg, which apparently Jennifer really wanted, as she complains that this is their third first place finish, and that they should share the wealth. Holy sense of entitlement, Batman! Hendekea shows some class by pointing out that letting them win the leg would hardly be sporting, and would be a little condescending. It's just a frigging scooter.

Nicolas, Christina and Vyxsin get through the Roadblock in decent time for their teams, and they head out to the Pit Stop. Vyxsin seems to have gained the most perspective about their current location and the people there, seeing beyond the "Africa-land" that the majority of racers tend to perceive, and noticing the lives of the people around her.

Shana and Rachel are both struggling a little with their Roadblocks (that's a pretty big bike for these small girls to balance), although I'm still not buying that Lorena & Jason have a chance to get back in this.

Ronald & Christina motor in for a surprising third place finish (see how fast you run with your mouth shut, Ron?), with Nicolas & Donald just behind in fourth. Kynt & Vyxsin had a bit of a rough leg, but still manage fifth spot.

Although Rachel completes her Roadblock a little ahead of Shana, she immediately gets lost in the market, letting Shana & Jennifer get out ahead of them. They're able to capture sixth spot at the Pit Stop, with Rachel eventually finding her way back to TK, and sealing Lorena & Jason's fate. TK & Rachel really need to work on their navigation skills, which is a pretty basic race skill.

Lorena & Jason take their elimination well in stride, and it's probably easier since nothing they did in this leg was so terrible, as much as their poor performance in the last leg left them too far behind to catch up. Really they were Dead Team Walking all day, but that's what happens with one bad leg.