The Amazing Race Recap
Having a Baby’s Gotta Be Easier Than This
By David Mumpower
April 28, 2009

Women always look exactly like this when I rub them.

Amazing Race fans, watch for our quiz, How Well Do You Know: The Amazing Race 14, to be published the morning after the series finale!

Previously on The Amazing Race, we learned that deaf people don't like being called bitches. We learned women don't like being elbowed in the face. And we learned that four adults have all behaved like tempestuous three-year-olds when someone has the audacity to challenge them regarding their actions. The good news is that The Amazing Race is not the sort of show that constantly drudges up faux drama from previous episodes, so I sincerely doubt that the Luke/Margie feud with Kisha & Jen gets mentioned any further. I almost typed that without going into a giggle loop. Almost. The over/under on the number of times this gets mentioned during tonight's episode is half a dozen. I'll take the over.

Lost in the shuffle of last week's bitch-off was that three teams finished at almost the same moment. This means that only two minutes separates the first place team, Kisha & Jen, from the third place team, Margie & Luke, with Victor & Tammy in the middle of all the bitches. While it may not be a huge deal, devil cheerleader Jaime and angel cheerleader Cara are facing a 22-24 minute deficit against all other teams. Given that everyone is leaving between 1:48 and 2:12, there almost certainly will not be any bunching this leg...unless they fly somewhere.

Phil announces that teams will fly a thousand miles to Beijing, China, where they will receive a night time massage at an oriental massage parlor. This scenario is exactly what got Jerry Rice in trouble back in the day (google Jerry Rice massage parlor if you're curious). The catch here is that a bunch of sadists run this massage parlor and they want to punish the feet of some spoiled, lazy Americans. I'm not really a foot guy, so I struggle to envision how someone could administer a beating through that area of the body, but anything that makes Jaime suffer is aces by me.

53 seconds into the episode, it begins. Jen says, "I think there is no reason to harp on things that have happened in the past. The incident that happened with Margie & Luke was in the past." Kisha adds, "You know, we're going to move on. We're over it." The house won't be taking bets on whether this is true since it's such a transparent lie. This is one of those things that contestants say during downtime that they immediately forget had been discussed once they are back in the heat of battle. So, we're a minute and 15 seconds into the episode and we've already had one mention of the feud as well as one bald-faced lie. You really have to hand it to Alexander Pope. He pre-supposed the entirety of reality television when he wrote Rape of the Locke.

The team that was supposed to be the villains this season, Victory & Tammy, begins another joyous day in a country where they recently vacationed. As both of them display their dimples, the smiles show a pair of contestants who are serene about the competition and their performance to date. It's rare when a team genuinely enjoys the show the way they have, and it must be infuriating to the other players. This is the point in the show where they announce they were recently in Beijing for The Olympics, meaning that while it's a big city and they couldn't have possibly navigated more than a small portion of it, they still have a large competitive advantage over the others. Okay, even more so than normal.

Margie & Luke start this leg of the race talking about the culture of this wonderful country they are currently visiting. They note its magnificent architecture, the societal differences and similarities, and the beauty of the land. No, of course they don't do that. They complain about Luke being called a bitch by someone upon whom he practiced the "Macho Man" Randy Savage flying elbow. They've turned this into a massive injustice wherein the oppressed deaf man has been marginalized by those evil harpies who can hear.

Luke, brother, let me say this as plainly as I can. If I throw an elbow at someone's nose, they're going to cuss at me. It's not because I'm deaf nor is it because I can hear. It's because people do not like being elbowed in the face. I said in the first episode that the producers of the show had given me a cast member that was hard to hate, but you're starting to find a way here. You're culpable for your actions. Cowboy up about that.

Victor & Tammy stop off at a travel agency to book their tickets. Meanwhile, Margie & Luke are first to arrive at the airport followed quickly by their sworn enemies. Margie fails to hide her glee about the fact that the sisters have to stand behind her in line. Jen notices another ticketing agent and asks her for assistance. Five times. When the person indicates they cannot because they do not speak English, Kisha & Jen discuss the flawed corporate strategy of not having all agents trained to speak basic English phrases. They manage to have this discussion in the most xenophobic way possible, something this duo had largely avoided thus far in the race.

Kisha & Jen catch a break when Margie is informed that her teller is not authorized to accept international credit cards. They must go somewhere else, and this means that Kisha & Jen wind up getting their tickets ahead of Margie & Luke. Margie is reduced to whinging about the fact that Kisha & Jen should have let them go first since they had been first in line previously. There is a reasonable expectation. "Hey you, the one I berated over your behavior for five minutes yesterday, why aren't you doing something polite and courteous for me right now?" Sidenote: we're six minutes into the episode and we've already had four different mentions of the big feud. I'm glad I took the over.

As two teams feud over the silliest of quibbles, line order, Victor & Tammy hilariously walk right up to the VIP counter beside their four counterparts. In Mandarin, Victor asks for a seat toward the front of the plane in order to extend their competitive advantage. The ticketing agent is unable to comply with this request, but the whole scenario is great. You have a pair of teams feuding as if they were going to be the main event at Wrestlemania while another team walks in, whistles happily and starts flaunting their ability to speak the local language. Victor & Tammy's face turn has been fun to watch.

While all of the jostling for seat positioning on the plane is ongoing, the cheerleaders arrive at the airport. Jaime immediately walks up to Luke and gives him a big hug. Say what you will about the demon spawn, she and her teammate have been very nice to Luke and his mother. Of course, this could all be an act to convince the world that she is not Keyser Soze after the face lift and sex change from the Verbal Kint look.

The teams all get on the same flight and leave the airport at roughly the same time. The four contestants in the bitch-off share another moment of alarmingly intense hatred (that's five!) as one team passes the other. In the end, the last place contestants at the start of the episode, the cheerleaders, are the first to arrive for their happy ending, err, curative massage. Five minutes after she arrives, Cara (Jaime wusses out and doesn't do this one) is in tears. As her sympathetic teammate shouts, "If you say uncle, I'll hurt you!" (does no one around her having any holy water to douse her with?), Cara grabs a towel to drown down her screams of agony. Kisha & Jen arrive a few moments later and experience some discomfort as well, but Cara has clearly lost the lottery here. Her masseuse is sheer evil, reveling in every scream and smiling menacingly into the camera. Eli Roth, the director of Hostel, will probably base his next horror villain on her.

After more than a few tears, Cara completes her "therapeutic massage" and the cheerleaders race to the next challenge. It's a swimming and diving challenge at Guangcai Natatorium, a preparatory swimming facility. Obviously, the ten minute massage challenge offers no way for teams to pass one another, meaning that the order is the same once everyone gets back to their cabs. Finding the appropriate swimming pool, however, proves quite difficult for everyone who doesn't speak Mandarin. Victor & Tammy arrive first followed by Kisha & Jen while the team that finished their massage first wander around a while before becoming the third team to arrive at the natatorium. Luke & Margie are well behind everyone else at the start, but fate smiles upon them.

The problems at the pool begin when Victor & Tammy choose the diving challenge. All the swimming challenge would have required was two laps in the pool by each contestant, something that would require no more than 20 minutes to complete and probably less than half of that for strong swimmers. As the clue states, Michael Phelps is able to do the entire thing in a little over four minutes. With the contestants allowed to use life jackets and to pull themselves along on the support ropes in the water, any adult should easily be able to finish this challenge. Victor & Tammy unfortunately talk themselves out of this. The diving task is much, much harder in my estimation. It is a synchronized diving challenge where the teammates must enter the water at the same time and receiving a judged score of 5 out of 10 to move on. Anyone who has watched synchronized diving has full appreciation for just how much coordination is required for such a challenge. As we quickly learn, Tammy may be beautiful, but she is NOT coordinated.

While Victor & Tammy stumble repeatedly in their attempt to perform a satisfactory dive, Kisha & Jen arrive and quickly make everyone aware of the fact that this is probably the event that sends them home. Jen is not only not a strong swimmer but she is deathly afraid of drowning. She is being asked to overcome her worst fear live on camera, and she handles it about as would be expected. She turtles. She and her sister make the grievous miscalculation of choosing to do the dive first. Given that it is performed from the three meter mark, Jen is forced to stare down at her potential doom for several moments before jumping. She chooses to leave the diving board for a while. Her fear is winning out. She and Kisha suit up for the swimming challenge and Kisha methodically swims the first 100 meters of the required 400 meters. Once Jen is expected to get into the water, she refuses, instead asking her sister to go back to the diving challenge. This is...not good.

There is other stuff going on at the gym, but the main stories are Jen's fear and Tammy's clumsiness. Once the cheerleaders get to the swimming pool, their only complaint is how tight the swimsuits are. They're in and out of the water in less than ten minutes. As Victor sees this, he winces at the realization that he chose very, very poorly for his team. While they continue to screw up dives, Margie & Luke show up, set the water on fire with a scorching eight minute heat and leave the facility. Only Tammy & Victor and Kisha & Jen remain and it is readily apparent at this point that neither team is going to be able to perform a successful synchronized dive.

When Jen returns from the swimming challenge, she bravely jumps into the water from the three meter height, an impressive feat in and of itself for someone afraid of drowning. When she starts swimming, it is readily apparent she has had no formal lessons. She sticks her face straight down into the water as she does the breast stroke, thereby swallowing as much water as is humanly possible as she moves. Irrational fear or not, if she does swim like that for very long, she will drown. She does two more dives off the board with the same result each time. The sisters are nowhere close to being coordinated in their timing and she is taking on water at an alarming rate as she swims back out of the pool. It's a scary situation, and she has a total meltdown. Reduced to uncontrollable sobbing, she asks her sister to go back to the locker room. While they are there, Victor & Tammy finally clue into the fact that they should do the swimming challenge instead. A little over ten minutes later, they finish it and realize they just threw away first place senselessly trying to do the harder, slower challenge. It's Transylvania all over again.

The editing of the show cannot do much here to make the situation tense. Given the order of the three teams exiting the building and the fact Kisha & Jen haven't started swimming again prior to Victor and Tammy's departure, there is absolutely no suspense here. Kisha sweetly leads her sister back to the water and Jen finds her courage once more, slowly making her way across the water. 25 meters in, she figures out that with a floatation device strapped on her back, she can simply roll over and backstroke her way to the completion of the leg. I'm stunned that it took them and Victor & Tammy as long as it did to have this epiphany. Less than 20 minutes later, they have completed the challenge and Jen has overcome her mortal fear. They will, however, be eliminated from the race.


The cheerleaders get to the finish line and are giddy from the heady pleasure of knowing that they have finally finished in first place in a leg of the race. They anxiously await Phil's description of their prize, only to be informed that this leg of the race is not over and they have been at least temporarily robbed of their rightful spot in the final three. God, I hate this show.

By the way, in case you are wondering, the total number of references to BitchGate in this episode was 14. Thanks for not running it into the ground, CBS!