The Amazing Race 13, Episode 9
That Is Studly
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
November 23, 2008

Please don't hurt us, Mr. Cab Driver!

Previously, on The Amazing Race, the worst team was not eliminated - again. Team Superbad has started to remind us of the 1983 North Carolina State basketball team, with only one key difference. That Wolfpack team was good.

The difference between the haves and the have-nots this season is remarkable. The haves are pretty much Nick & Starr. They've won four straight legs in a run of dominance we're not sure the show has ever seen before. In fact, the only other team that has won a leg of the race this season is the unhappily married tandem of Ken & Tina. As much as we pick at these dysfunctional, oftentimes hateful people, they have won three of the eight legs of the race, while Nick & Starr have won the remaining five. To emphasize how impressive this is, consider the fact that there were 11 teams at the start. It's mathematically improbable for a competition with this degree of luck as a factor to have had only two leaders to date. In fact, this run is so unlikely that we're going to predict that either Toni & Dallas or Andrew & Dan bungle into a win tonight. Alternately, at some point next year, Nick & Starr are going to have to take a vacation from all of the vacations they've won on the show.

Tonight's land begins in Borat-Land, aka Kazakhstan, where Nick & Starr are set to depart at 9:21 p.m. They must fly to Moscow, Russia and go to a Monastery, where they will light a candle to receive their next clue. A cleverly edited camera confessional shows that this is Nick's birthday, and also that the brother/sister tandem is worried about spending so much time in such close proximity to each other. They state that were they not winning, they would probably be fighting a lot. This is what is known as foreshadowing.

Toni & Dallas are an hour and a half behind Nick & Starr, who won the Fast Forward in the previous leg. Score one for meat-eaters. The mother/son team have been flying completely under the radar, and have finished no lower than fourth since the third leg of the race. They've also finished second in three of the last four legs. If Nick & Starr do slip up, Toni & Dallas seem like the most likely team to capitalize, rather than Ken & Tina. Theirs is an oddly drama-free relationship, which must be driving the producers of the show crazy. Mothers and sons are supposed to fight, you know.

Ken & Tina, the most combative couple since Randy "The Macho Man" Savage and Miss Elizabeth, depart at 11:17 p.m. Describing their relationship as turbulent would be underselling it. There have been times this season where we've liked each of them, and there have been other times when we've wished the show would just strand them in whatever country they're in - preferably in a cow costume. Right on cue, Tina starts barking at Ken about his inability to hail a taxi. We strongly suspect she made him get a tattoo that says, "emasculated".

It's acoustic guitar time on The Amazing Race, as the soulful ballad underscores the notion that Dallas and Starr finally have some alone-time at the airport. Tonight, on a very special episode of The Amazing Race... After this is over, we hope they find a way to move to One Tree Hill.

Andrew & Dan start the leg more than three hours after the first place team (you know, the good team). What depresses us is the knowledge that this is not even the furthest they've been behind at the start of a leg. Yet, once again, bunching at the airport will allow them to be all caught up when they depart for Moscow. These two brilliant characters left their shoes behind during the last challenge, and now are forced to wear hotel slippers. We're sure those will be perfectly comfortable and handy for the remainder of the race. We think Arizona State is going to retroactively de-matriculate them.

Fortunately for them, there's apparently a 24-hour shoe store at the airport in Kazakhstan. Nike runs the world. Sadly, the duo Dallas describes as Team Dandrew does not get the acoustic guitar accompaniment. Instead, they get whimsical woodwind music that lets the audience know what goofballs they are. They purchase the cheapest shoes possible, which still takes out a full quarter of the money they have remaining for this leg of the race. So now they've been bunched into a tie for the lead and they have shiny new shoes! What a great day they are having! And it's only like 3 a.m.

Half of the teams are lucky and half are not. Dan & Andrew's driver gets lost almost immediately. Simultaneously (at least according to the editing of the episode), Ken & Tina have a similar experience, which is magnified by their driver's inability to speak a language they understand.

Meanwhile, Nick & Starr and Dallas & Toni have arrived at the monastery, where their clue instructs them to go to Kolosok Camp, which is a decommissioned military base. They'll have to search the grounds there for their next clue.

We thought the shoe problem for Andrew & Dan was funny at first, but when Dallas & Toni start to worry about having enough money for cabs, we start to think that Team Superbad might have a problem. Apparently, the taxis in the Moscow area are all about the price gouging.

Toni & Dallas are first to the next clue, which leads them to the Detour. Boots has them march (in time) with a military team, and we're forcibly reminded of how ridiculous Cate Blanchett was in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Phil comments that this "Boots" is probably the quicker challenge for people with stamina and coordination. The other challenge is "Borscht", which requires teams to serve Borscht to 75 military men. It sounds easy, but teams who are sloppy may have to repeat portions of the task. Phil also points out that it could be arduous.

The mother/son team decide that they will do the "Boots" challenge, while frustration sets in for Nick & Starr as their taxi driver is lost and they can't understand him. Also, he's blowing cigarette smoke in their faces. This allows Dan & Andrew and Ken & Tina to get to the clue box ahead of them. Ken amusingly notes that Andrew & Dan are fantastic at the travel portion of the competition. It's the tasks that prove to be their shortcoming.

Toni & Dallas breeze through the "Boots" competition, saying that the movements feel quite natural to them. They're told to make their way to the town of Zhukovsky, where they will visit a bakery for their next clue. Andrew & Dan have some difficulty donning their military uniforms, which means that Ken & Tina are able to move ahead of them. Team Superbad's footwear problems continue, as Andrew has difficulty putting his boots on correctly. In fact, he worries so much about his appearance that we wonder if he realizes he's not getting ready for his wedding day. At any rate, they decide it would be best to move to the other task, since they know they're ahead of Nick & Starr for the moment and would like to keep it that way.

Whoops! The boys soon realize that it doesn't matter which task they do. They still have to wear the uniform either way. And so they trudge back to the tent to get dressed once again. And as they've committed this stupid mistake, Nick & Starr have gotten dressed and are out starting their march. Once again, clue reading has proven to be their nemesis.

Posted without comment: "We finally figured out our socks."

Now that they're dressed, Team Superbad decides that they might as well go ahead and march. See, Andrew was in marching band, so this should be no trouble. Problem is, Dan was *not* in marching band, and if he had been, he would have promptly been ejected by the other nerds. This is funnier than anything seen in Spies Like Us - and we like Spies Like Us. The Russian officer overseeing this whole thing clearly can't help but wonder how his nation lost the cold war to people like us. Once again, they switch to the "Borscht" task. Their performance has been so embarrassing that we half expect Phil to come out and say, "You know what? You're so awful that we're ending this leg now. You're eliminated."

Toni & Dallas arrive at the bakery, which leads them to the Road Block. The person who chooses to do this task must unload 50 individual 55-pound bags of flour and deliver them to a bakery. Hopefully, it will be an erotic bakery. Once there, the bags must be placed horizontally on the floor. Needless to say, since this task requires some brute force, Dallas is the logical choice here. Ken & Tina arrive later, and Dallas recognizes that former football player Ken will be a formidable opponent. Even though Toni chirps at him that he should try one bag at a time, Dallas is determined that he'll beat Ken and continues with his two bags at once strategy even though the heat is tough and he's getting worn out. Despite the fact that Ken is able to wear down a 14 bag deficit, Dallas finishes the task first, and will probably wind up with about a ten minute lead to the Pit Stop at Neskuchny Sad Park. We're going to be very bitter if there is not an elimination at "Sad" Park.

When Ken finishes the task, he "flour" kisses the woman with the clue and joins Tina so that they can make their way to the finish line. This is going to be their best finish since the fourth leg. Nick & Starr arrive just as Ken is finishing, and Nick does the one bag at a time strategy to get through the task.

Now is the time when the producers edit the race in such a way that it looks as though things are close between Nick & Starr and Andrew & Dan. The reality, however, is that Team Superbad has to be at least an hour behind. If this is a non-elimination leg, the game is rigged for the bumblers.

Back from the break, the editing is focusing on the fact that Andrew & Dan are just now realizing that a six-hour cab ride is probably an expensive fare. They probably could have afforded it if they hadn't bought shoes. Since they did, they're hoping for a compassionate driver. As for us, we're rooting for chaos.

Meanwhile, Nick & Starr continue to have an epic run of bad taxi luck. First, it takes an extended period of time to hail a cab. When they finally do, the person drives for a few minutes before realizing he has no idea where they're going. He promptly ejects them. Perhaps he could have done this at the beginning of their ride, but that would have been professional and we're sure he wouldn't want to be accused of that. They get a new car, but they don't necessarily seem to be gaining any ground.

Toni & Dallas finally arrive at the Pit Stop in first place, and are so thrilled to win a trip for two to the Dominican Republic. And so it is that we finally have a new team finishing in the lead spot, shutting out Nick & Starr and Ken & Tina. The good news for Ken & Tina is they come in right behind Toni & Dallas thanks to Ken's dominant flour carrying skills.

Remember when we talked about the "understanding taxi driver"? When the Russian driver discovers that his tourists (Andrew & Dan) are not as wealthy as one might expect for people being followed everywhere by a camera crew, he gets surly. The boys empty out their pockets, sit on the curb and debate some sort of barter with the man, as the driver keeps looking at the camera in anticipation of one of them breaking out their wallet. Sorry, dude. It's not that type of show. The highlight of this sequence is when Dan removes his new shoes and offers them to the cab driver, even adding in the sales pitch that they're 100% Italian. Shockingly, the driver kicks them back and rejects the transaction.

Of course, there's a bunch more editing that makes you wonder who will finish last, but in the end, Nick & Starr finish in third. This leaves Andrew & Dan to finish last, but Phil sorrowfully informs us that this is a non-elimination leg and the blunderers will survive another day. "Sad" Park indeed. Memo to the producers of The Amazing Race: When Ol' Yeller was in this shape, they took him back to the woodshed. Is it the shoes? No.

BOP is doing a link exchange with our good friends at Buddy TV this season. For more The Amazing Race info, visit their site.