Bam! Welcome to the Kim & David version of the recap of The Amazing Race. Don't worry - Daron will be back next week. Until then, we'll be your guides for a season that has been annoying to the point of being almost unwatchable. When you basically have to watch two episodes to see an elimination, something is wrong with the setup. We are enjoying the way that the producers are torturing the living daylights out of the returning competitors, though. The Amazing Race: now 38% meaner!
The Amazing Race All-Stars Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
April 25, 2011
Previously on The Amazing Race, well...let's just say it was a non-elimination leg and be done with it. We have six teams remaining, so we're nearing end game. Of course, at the rate we're going, it will be July before we get there.
How do we see the power rankings?
1) Zev & Justin - We're a little surprised to have these guys at the top. We know that Zev can be easily frustrated with certain tasks, and that can be very detrimental for this team. We also know that they've been prone to mistakes in the past - the lost passports spring to mind immediately. Still, they're showing a lot of gumption over the last couple of legs, and they're also working well with the team we have in second place, which can definitely play in their favor in the long run.
2) The Globetrotters - They're always having a lot of fun, which is so crucial for the race and continued success. They can also have issues with certain challenges, but since we know that they're willing to work with Zev & Justin, they do have a lot going for them right now. We're definitely hoping to see a victory for either them or the Cowboys.
3) (tie) Jet & Cord and Kisha & Jen - The Cowboys have shown some vulnerabilities throughout this edition of the race. A tendency to get lost and misunderstand instructions has been to their detriment, not to mention their (bad) decisions to take unnecessary chances. As for the sisters, they haven't really done anything to stand out, but they haven't done anything to make us think they're inferior to...
5) Kent & Vyxsin - This season's team everyone loves to hate. Constantly bickering and fighting, with Kent in particular hating everything about the race, it seems like they're just a blowup away from elimination. We'd have them in last place, but there is one team with a bigger challenge to face.
6) Gary & Mallory - The father/daughter team had been solid through most of the race so far, but they were the last place team last week and since we know it was a non-elimination round, we also know that they are going to have to get through the Speed Bump in order to stay in the game. The good news is that this duo works extremely well together and they're having fun.
Tonight's leg begins at The Villa Trapp, but we will spare you the earworm that coincides with its family history. Zev & Justin are briefly shown enjoying their new cars before they depart at 3:14 AM to Schaanwald, Liechtenstein. Is it coincidental that Daron takes the week off right as the destination names grow exponentially harder to spell? We think not.
Eleven minutes behind the first place contestants are their allies, Flight Time & Big Easy. While Zev & Justin point out that their confidence is high due to their finishing first more than any other team, we think the real genius of their play this season is befriending the Globetrotters. They'll have front row seats to enjoy with their kids for the rest of their lives! Now, if only they could convince some women to breed with them...
The Globetrotters state something interesting as they depart. They note that there has been information shared between four of the teams. There is no mention of the Angry Goths, but they specifically address the fact that the cowboys, Jet & Cord, are running an "independent race." With only six teams remaining the isolationist strategy is a risky play.
Twenty-five minutes later, Kent & Vyxsix are ready to race. Remember a few seasons ago when they worked so hard to prove you should not judge a book by its cover? They were all sunny optimism and wide-eyed positivity. Let this be a cautionary tale on the nature of relationships, folks. The newness phase of their relationship is over and the thrill is gone. Now, they are a bickering couple who have no business being together but are afraid to break up for fear that they will not find another partner with the same shared love of makeup. So, they muster up their courage and start the day with a fake smile the way so many unhappy couples do. In fact, Vyxsin even throws in a fist pump to show her conviction. We've all been in this relationship. Except Zev & Justin.
Ten minutes later, the sisters exit the Sound of Music mansion. A minute after them, the Cowboys begin their trek. Their explanation of their situation is a different interpretation from what the Globetrotters said. The cowboys believe that they have been deemed too big a threat by the other competitors. As such, they are not being set apart by their own choosing but rather intentionally ostracized.
We know that Daron has an opinion on this; ours is that the truth is somewhere in the middle. People have not gone out of their way to work with the affable Jet & Cord, but that dynamic is not one-sided. As likable as the cowboys are, they have proven enigmatic in their interactions with other teams. Whether this is because the show is a competition or not is up for debate. Whatever the explanation, if four teams are working together, the other two teams are at a dramatic disadvantage no matter how good they are at the competition. Rob & Amber were the only previous contestants we are certain could have overcome such an obstacle...unless a plane were turned around on the runway.
At 4:36 a.m., roughly an hour and a half after the first team departs, Gary & Mallory are ready to begin the race. The good news for them is that they will be bunched in moments, negating their disadvantage. The bad news is that they must perform a Speed Bump that will cost them precious time later on during the leg. Of course, the father/daughter duo has such a harmonious dynamic that they seem well suited to handling the obstacle of a Speed Bump.
Flirtation alert: Kisha & Jen like their men tall and dunk-y. They spend a portion of the train ride asking the Globetrotters for foot massages. Big Easy replies with a sonnet about them keeping their nasty feet off of him. Die of jealousy, William Blake.
Okay, teams, let's all go to the Border Crossing and get ourselves a snack! And a green card! Wait, do they have green cards in Liechtenstein? You know what, that's not important. What is important is that we do everything possible to avoid having to type "Liechtenstein" for the rest of the column. It doesn't sound like there should be an e in that first syllable, so we haven't spelled it right yet. Damn you, Daron! How dare you enjoy Easter with your small children instead of recapping the show this week!
The first challenge in this episode asks the contestants to measure the entire length of...Liechtenstein. Oh, come on! They apparently have to ride a bike for 22 KM then present a card to an Olympian from the particular country which they are currently visiting. You know the one we mean. Also, while we hate to cast aspersions on champion athletes, being an Olympian for this particular country effectively means you play a sport. That's all. Seriously, this German-speaking country that is not Germany (hint: its name starts with an L) has a population of less than 40,000. Your high school track team had higher standards for lettering than Lickspittle (we just renamed the country...deal with the ramifications, Central Europe!) has for making the Olympics. Still, we're sure his family is very proud. Also, if he has brothers and sisters, his family comprises about 3% of the country's population.
Now that we've been (appropriately) branded as terrorists by the small but passionate population of Lickspittle, let's get back to the race.
Kicking Gary & Mallory right off the bat, the Speed Bump awaits them at this first location. They are also the last time to arrive, thereby adding to the precarious nature of their predicament. We think that it's best to finish this immediately so that they know where they stand for the rest of the leg. The challenge requires them to use provided tools to determine the amount of gas needed to fuel their bicycle. Yes, bicycles in this country require fuel. No wonder nobody wants to live there.
While Gary & Mallory finish their Chemistry lab paper, a pair of men experience some difficulty. Jet and Big Easy both miss their turns. This is important because their odometer needs to indicate the correct distance in order to allow them to complete the challenge. Meanwhile, Jen has a different problem. She drops her map during the journey. Later, Vyxsin (did her band sing Edge of a Broken Heart in the 1980s?) realizes she cannot read her map at all. Ladies and gentlemen, the Amazing Race All-Stars.
The horrible news for the struggling teams is that Gary & Mallory are capable of calculating basic math problems. They complete the Speed Bump in short order, meaning that they will be a factor the rest of this leg, which isn't always the case for trailing teams asked to do more.
Justin is the first to meet what passes for an Olympian in this country; he exceeds expectations by correctly stating that the country is 22 kilometers long. Yes, the COUNTRY is 22 kilometers long. You cannot even run a full marathon there. Jen is right behind Justin and asks him to confirm her guess of 22 kilometers before she reaches the judge. So, she knows she's golden when she reaches the end. Jet is third to arrive, but his number of 35 kilometers isn't even close. He is forced to turn around and come back. If only he could have eavesdropped on the conversation between Jen and Justin. Let this be a searing lesson in the politics of isolation.
Good news, everyone! The contestants who finish the first leg get to leave their current country and go to Switzerland! We can spell Switzerland! It is like an entire country dedicated to the legacy of Super Bowl champion head coach Barry Switzer!
As Jen & Kisha and Justin & Zev prepare to depart for an easily spelled country, Flight Time pulls up and asks for help. Kisha and Justin are hesitant to give away the answer to the quiz, but Jen tells them to do so. When Flight Time asks if the answer is 20, Justin corrects him to 22, saving the Globetrotter from...additional Globetrotting. Later on the train, Jen confirms that she would have not wanted to aid the cowboys. They are going to be trailing the lead teams due to losing the popularity contest. Let this be a lesson to kids everywhere. Do whatever it takes to be popular, no matter how unethical or illegal that thing is.
Whether the editing is misleading remains to be seen, but moments after Flight Time shows his cheat-y answer, Gary and Vyxsin also answer correctly. Vyxsin also shows that she has a thing for Olympians from small countries when she passionately embraces this country's most (or only?) famous skier. Personal note: we should never vacation in Liechtenstein. The locals will be right to treat us poorly.
Several minutes later (in show time), Jet answers correctly. The cowboys are off to Switzerland, but they are well behind their counterparts. Since last week was a non-elimination leg, being in last place this week is assuredly a death sentence. They have a lot of work to do if they want to remain alive in the competition.
When the first two teams arrive at Zermatt, Switzerland, their choices are Cheese and Wheeze. The former is a fondue-eating competition, marking the first time in the history of The Amazing Race or Survivor that David could handle an eating challenge. The latter requires 20 pieces of luggage from the train station to be delivered to 5 different hotels. Zev & Justin get flashbacks to a nightmare they had in a recent eating challenge yet they decide to do Cheese anyway. Kisha & Jen follow suit. These choose to quit. Quickly. Okay, David could not have done that challenge after all. The quest continues.
The next three teams reach Zermatt late in the evening. All of them choose to do the luggage. These people hate cheese in a way that would make the entire population of France said. As an aside, if you were wondering, the population of France is roughly 1,840 times as large as Liechtenstein. With this realization, we are tempted to declare our neighborhood a sovereign country. This way, we can participate in the Olympics, thereby avoiding the cost for tickets. Hey, if Homer and Marge Simpson can Curl at an Olympic level, so can we.
Breaking news: Zev and Justin have been eating fondue for four and a half hours. Even Louie Anderson couldn't do that. Against all odds, they are the first team to complete the Cheese/Wheeze challenge, though. The luggage side requires a lot of travel back and forth from the train station to the hotels. This is important because a double U-Turn is up ahead. The cheese-eating surrender monkeys are given the first opportunity to slow down a competitor while Kisha & Jen race to catch up. Of course, both parties decide not to use it, thereby negating the presumed important of finishing at the front of the pack.
Oh look, Kent & Vyxsin are fighting again. The morning's forced optimism has faded into the night's ever-present frustration. In the immortal words of The Wedding Crashers, it's time to get out there and get some strange ass, folks. You're death together...and we don't mean because you're goths.
As the miserable couple bickers, super-happy-fun-team Gary & Mallory continue to have the time of their lives racing. These teams finish delivering luggage, choose not to delay anyone and head to the finish line. The soon to be broken up couple winds up in third place while the father/daughter tandem arrive fourth.
This leaves the Globetrotters against the cowboys in a race to the finish between our two favorite teams this season. The Globetrotters are absolutely brutal trying to deliver luggage. They take two bags to the wrong hotels, lose two tickets and then forget to deliver two more bags. Meanwhile, the cowboys blow into town and dominate in a way that would make Clint Eastwood jealous. What seemed like a foregone conclusion earlier becomes a result that is very much in doubt at the end. This is not a trick of editing, either.
The Globetrotters eventually finish the luggage challenge a bit before the cowboys; they feel they have no choice other than to U-Turn "one of their favorite teams ever" in order to avoid finishing in last. When the cowboys reach the U-Turn, they are confused as they have been so far behind the rest of the pack all day that they do not realize the situation has degraded into a do or die scenario for the basketball stars. As the Globetrotters reach the finish line in fifth place, the cowboys are forced to ingest a huge bowl of consolation cheese fondue. Moments after they finish doing so, they head outside where Phil informs them that two of the best contestants in the history of the show have been eliminated primarily due to their overestimation of the size of Liechtenstein. God, how we hate that place.