The Amazing Race Recap
By David Mumpower
May 4, 2009

I didn't even know they were such huge fans of Marcel Marceau.

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, nothing of consequence happened. I say this because the producers of the show decided to give a mulligan to all of the participants. Rather than end the leg as anticipated, some "changing the game" was done in order to create further tension. All it did was annoy us about the fact that the actual outcome of the game has probably been affected by this. Had the round ended as expected (and as should have happened), the sisters would have been eliminated due to Jen's hydrophobia. Instead, the contestants are starting over from scratch this week. It's the most blatant attempt to change results since Rob and Amber were cheated out of victory seven seasons ago. Tweaks such as this are why I am so frequently aggravated by the show.

Tonight's episode begins exactly where the last one ended. Jaime & Cara are ready to celebrate their victory when Phil hands them their next clue. The women's faces are crestfallen, but they recover admirably. They return to the cab and are delighted to realize that their cab driver knows where they are going, thereby preventing some of Jaime's usual xenophobia, at least temporarily. Fate provides me with a cheap giggle when the door closes on Jaime's head, knocking her silly for a bit. I like when bad, cartoonishly violent things happen to bad people. Sue me.

Margie and Luke would have been the second team to finish this leg. Instead, their excitement at the knowledge their mortal enemies are being eliminated immediately dissipates. Their bitterness escalates when they return to their cab and Margie tells Luke that she will quit the race if he yells at her again. The travails of an international race and the omnipresent company of their partner have worn on each of them. The personal toll of The Amazing Race on each contestant is something the show would be wise to explore more often toward the end of each season when there are few remaining teams. That would be much more engaging to me than someone crying at a swimming pool.

Now is the time on The Amazing Race when Travelocity pays for all the bills. This challenge requires contestants to find the Travelocity gnome, the similar but legally not actionable one to the cute little fellow from Amelie. Anyone who suggests that they stole the idea from that movie is a damned dirty liar unless they can prove it's true in a court of law. And Travelocity has some fine attorneys on retainer for just such eventualities. Don't be a hero, loyal readers.

Victor and Tammy repeat the behavior from their four peers. Tammy's heart falls into her stomach when she realizes they won't be going to a hotel for some well earned rest. This displeases them but an edited monologue shows them in high spirits at a later point in the race. Suffice it to say I like their chances to make the final three. Even moreso. Later, Kisha and Jen become the first team to be happy to hear that the leg isn't over. The governor has called them with a stay of execution, meaning that if they do lose, it won't be because of a lack of swimming skill. This is the one pleasant aspect of the double-leg. Throughout last week's episode, there was an undertone that one of the questions asked of each contestant prior to the race was "What is your greatest fear?" and they had picked Jen's as making the best television. Why do they never capitalize on coulrophobia? THAT would be some great video.

(Coulrophobia means fear of clowns. Don't be such a lazy non-googler next time!)

Margie and Luke are the first team to find the Travelocity gnome. They are informed that they must travel to Gu Gong Xi Bei Jiao where they will ride electric bicycles (these exist, apparently) past, I kid you not, the "forbidden city" to Dongdan Station (no, Dongdan is not a Freudian typo) to find their next clue. This whole thing sounds eerily similar to Jackie Chan's last movie, except for the fact that the electric bicycles were nuclear missiles.

Jaime has gone a full ten minutes without complaining about a foreigner and/or a cab driver. Recognizing that she has been too easy on the locals, she chooses this opportunity to play another round of The Amazing Racist. She berates her cab driver for not giving her the appropriate nod of the head when she gives him instructions. Apparently, this showing of deference is the only way for her to determine whether the person is following her evil wish. I pity the mirror that has the audacity to tell Jaime she is not the fairest of all.

Tammy, who hasn't had that many shenanigans this season, finally pulls a boner on the trip past Tiananmen Square. She is frustrated by her bicycle, complaining that she is having to pedal way too hard and despite all of her effort, it is not accelerating. At this point, Victor patiently and calmly explains to her that twisting the handlebar will help the vehicle go faster. After this, Tammy has a much easier ride. I wonder what would have happened if she had been on a motorcycle. Would she have just sat there waiting for it to move on its own? For how long?

The options for the challenge today involve opera and a restaurant. On the opera side, contestants must get a makeover that gives them just the right touch of face paint to make them look like the fat lady may sing about them. On the restaurant side, contestants must play the part of waiters at a restaurant, receiving orders from customers that must be relayed to the cooks in the kitchen. This leg would be a tremendous advantage for anyone who speaks the native language of Mandarin, but The Amazing Race would never give one team such a significant competitive...oh, let's just call this the Tammy and Victor half of the challenge. As Victor says (in Mandarin), "If we can't do this task, Mom and Dad will kill us."

Victor and Tammy fail the task on their first attempt, mainly because of Victor. What's the opposite of patricide/matricide? In their defense, they don't miss by much. Customers ask for: Good Luck Fish, Vegetarian Noodles, Fried Chicken, New Taste Beef and Golden Pork Spare Ribs. Apparently, the difference between Fish and Squid is negligible as that is the pronunciation the duo gives the chef when he rejects them. Victor seemed to shout down his sister, but he had the wrong linguistics. While I'm certain this small mistake will be quickly corrected, it reinforces the idea that if anyone who doesn't speak Mandarin attempts this challenge, they're going to be there from breakfast through supper.

The makeover grows tense when Kisha and Jen are quickly followed by the arrival of Margie and Luke. While Jen is complimentary of her sister and they work smoothly together, Luke demonstrates that he has never wielded a mascara brush before. First, he almost smothers his mother with some sort of foundation (or flour?). Then, he puts on her eyeshadow in such a way that reminds her of Alice Cooper, a comment that immediately dates her a lot more than she probably intended. Margie is all the more aggravated by how smoothly their mortal enemies handle the challenge. The sisters finish well before their counterparts.

Meanwhile, Victor shuts his mouth and lets Tammy do the talking, which means they succeed on their second attempt. They are in first place at the end of the challenge. This takes them to the next cluebox where they discover a U-Turn. Unlike the other one this season, tonight's U-Turn is not anonymous. The brother/sister duo decides to target the other siblings, an unsurprising result since the sisters are the least popular remaining contestants. The other three teams have all been part of a nebulous but consistent alliance for a while now. This could easily set Kisha and Jen if the next challenge is quick. A 30 minute delay could be huge.

The Roadblock shows that the producers are a bit jealous of the Survivor crew. It's one of those disgusting "eat insects and vermin" competitions. Tammy's look toward Victor speaks volumes. She will not be eating grasshoppers on this particular day. He is good natured about the situation, asking for everything to be fried and wondering aloud if there is some ketchup anywhere. I don't envy his plight. I can't eat anything without ketchup. It's just not human to do so. That's God's own condiment and it should be readily available on every street corner throughout the world.

Humorously, word has gotten around town in China about The Amazing Racist. Jaime cannot get anyone to stop to give her a ride. What's beyond karma? Her behavior with Chinese cab drivers borders on being an international incident. She may become the first contestant to get her passport revoked in mid-race.

While Jaime and her much nicer friend struggle, Tammy tries to be supportive of Victor. She optimistically wonders if one of the things he is currently putting in his mouth, some form of starfish maybe, may be delicious. He glares at her and firmly states "IT IS NOT!" This ends the conversation portion of the meal. A few moments later, he completes the challenge and they make their way to the pit stop. They're going to win this leg by about a day and a half. Welcome to the final three, best team this season.

There are three teams who are not having quite the luck of Victor and Tammy. Jaime is repelling people as if she were a magnet. The sisters keep walking by the cluebox as they try to find the cluebox. And Margie and Luke cannot find their destination where the cluebox is right beside their mortal enemies. None of this is innately funny on its own...except for Jaime, of course. What makes it all very, very funny is that all of them have their faces covered in various colors of makeup paint. Lost people are not humorous; lost people wearing kabuki costumes/makeup are Steve Martin-level funny.

Eventually, Margie and Luke find the location as well as the cluebox. At this point, they are overwhelmed with schadenfreude as they see that Kisha and Jen will be forced to perform the restaurant challenge. Margie would have a threesome with Victor and Tammy if they were standing beside her at this moment. Of course, they wouldn't go for it because she looks like a coked up drag queen right now, but I digress. The point is that Margie & Luke seem to be in good shape to make the final leg as long as one of them can stuff down some fried grasshopper.

Kisha and Jen finally discover the u-turn. This means unmitigated disaster to them although they don't realize it yet. They have to go back and do the restaurant challenge. If people who speak fluent Mandarin cannot do it, well, it won't be pretty. They are given the same meal orders as above. Their attempts at trying to relay these food items to the chefs lead to such mispronunciations as Monthly Use Taiwanese Chicken, Good Western Heads Lack Fish, Oil Comes Again to Please the Mouth (dirty!), Good Doll Basket Drum (this is the unofficial title for Saw VI), and Light Competition Red Dishes I've Played Before.

To their credit, they start writing things down phonetically and the editing makes it appear as if they get all of the answers correct on their third try. That's probably a bit misleading, but I consider their performance here to be admirable. Their excitement at their success is also indicative of the fact that they got done much quicker than they had feared. They may not be eliminated this week after all. Reinforcing this idea, they are the third team to arrive at the meal.

Victor and Tammy finish in first place as expected. Their reward is a trip to the Galápagos Islands. Not bad at all. Much later, Luke and Margie arrive, meaning that only one slot remains open for the finale. The question is whether it is the sisters or the cheerleaders who get it. Currently, the sisters are the favorites despite the u-turn.

Jen chooses to choke down the various local wildlife although the process is clearly draining to her. This is her chance at redemption after the swimming pool meltdown the previous day. Either way, there will be no fake tension this week. The cheerleaders arrive while Jen is in the middle of her meal. They note that Jen is breaking up all of the food into tiny, more palatable bites. She finds the food so distasteful that she is forced to drown it down with water, a process that makes her need to go to the bathroom. There won't be time for that for a while, Jen. Sorry.

Cara chooses to eat for her team and embarks upon a marvelous display of carnivorous brutality. Accepting her team's plight is desperate, the angel of team Angels & Demons (Sony owes me for that shameless plug of a May release) simply wants it more than Jen. Had her team not been trailing by so much, Cara would have finished off her competition right there and then. Instead, she only manages to cut the lead in half before Jen finishes and her team leaves. Kisha offers a nice display of sportsmanship by wishing her competitors good luck as the sisters depart. It appears that the cheerleaders are going home tonight due to Jaime's alienating the entirety of Beijing's taxi industry.

But wait!

Jen's bladder undoes her. During the entire cab ride to the pit stop, she complains about needing to find a restroom. After they exit the vehicle, they head straight to a port-a-potty rather than the finish line. We'll never know if they would have finished in third place otherwise since the cheerleaders are not still standing there when they arrive at Phil's mat. We do know for sure that at some point, the cheerleaders did overcome them and earned a spot in the final three. Whether this was because of a quicker taxi ride, a faster determination of the location of the pit stop in a confusing area, or Jen spending them a few minutes with the bathroom break, we'll never know. I presume it's a combination of all these things, but none of it would have been possible without Cara's ability to devour any and all carcasses placed before her. Is it weird to find her more attractive because of that? Not that I am or anything. Nuh-uh. Not me.

Kisha, Jen, and Jen's tiny bladder are eliminated from The Amazing Race. One duo out of Victor & Tammy, Margie & Luke and Jaime and Cara will win the competition next week. I'm not giving out any hints other than to say that I am reasonably confident that Victor is aptly named.