The Amazing Race Season 22: Episode 6
By Daron Aldridge
March 25, 2013

Unlike the other players, I've watched Survivor!

When I first read that The Amazing Race was issuing an apology, I immediately thought that it was because after the 15-minute mark when David & Connor withdrew from the Race, last week’s episode was utterly pointless and a waste of time. That wasn’t the case, though.

The apology centered on something much more serious. In a case of conscience, they apologized for insensitive content to Vietnam War veterans. The offending content could have been either the tactless use of a memorial in Vietnam that was the site of a U.S. B-52 crash as a clue site or the Roadblock that included a song praising the virtues of the Vietnam Communist party. Either way, it was a nice acknowledgement that they messed up and are trying to make it right.

Back at the Pit Stop, Pam & Winnie are raring to go and we are about to find out how little time separates all the teams. Since they are venturing to Africa (cue the Toto earworm: “I bless the rains down in Africa”), I fear that last place Chuck & Wynona will promptly be clumped back together with the others at the airport.

At 10:40 p.m., when the ladies open their clue, they find out that the city of Maun is their destination. Phil explains that when the teams arrive, they will take a spot on one of three charter flights that will deliver them to the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The only catch is that the travel agency security guard outside will only let them in if they know the name of the country Maun is in. With a quick jaunt across the street to a hotel to use the Internet, Pam & Winnie confirm that Botswana is their destination.

Almost an hour later, Cape Fear leaves the mat and Max takes the time to remind us that Katie is super smart and she adds that she has a doctorate, yet they have kept that to themselves. Only three minutes later, Sock ‘er Moms are off the mat, followed two minutes later by Bates & Anthony. That is how tight of a leg the last one was. Yet, all the racing to the mat couldn’t wring any drama out of that episode with David & Connor bowing out at the beginning of the leg. The Puck Brothers are more than happy to keep the pretty country crooners around for ogling (I assume). Speaking of the objects of their desire, Caroline & Jen leave about ten minutes later.

The wrinkle of having to know the country is the smallest of hiccups for teams as those that don’t know the name (like Cowboy Royalty and the hockeys bros.) get an assist from the other teams or just grab the nearest smartphone to browse the web.

Despite Joey & Meghan leaving the mat another hour later and last place Chuck & Wynona THREE hours after them, all the teams are on the same flight leaving at 10 a.m. that morning. Chuck reminds us that this was the third time in a row they have been in last place at the mat. This just makes me feel even more validated in labeling them the worst team on my power rankings.

While waiting for the plane, Joey & Meghan correctly pick up on the plan to U-Turn/eliminate them. Because she is not a real, vigilant watcher of the show, Wynona grills Team YouTube about why they were chosen. Meghan tries to point out that the Mullets were the only ones they knew for sure were behind them. Wynona seems completely insulted by them being U-Turned.

Sorry, Mrs. Mullet, but it’s no secret that you and your hairy better half are Amazing Race bottom dwellers. In fact, you guys were just lamenting this fact in your confessional. Here’s a fitting African analogy for you: On the savannah, you and Chuck would be the gazelle or zebra that all the other teams are faster than when the lioness came out to hunt. So, your team is just lunch for the Race.

After a "quick" flight that covers a mere 6,000 miles, the first team to emerge from the airport sprinting to the charter plane office is…

Caroline & Jen. Cupid has worked his magic on this leg of The Amazing Race because the other team taking the second and final slot with the girls is Team Slapshot. They will be leaving at 9 a.m. The second flight leaving 15 minutes later is then filled with Team Cape Fear and Joey & Meghan.

That leaves perennial last place team Chuck & Wynona on the last flight at 9:30 a.m. with the Sock ‘er Moms and the no longer pack-leading Pam & Winnie. The Mullets were rightfully hoping for the earlier flight because they know they are the weakest team. This recurring theme and self-loathing seems to just be telegraphing the demise of the married couple’s Race chances this episode. Yet, the time difference is not that colossal when you think about it, but then you remember how inept Chuck & Wynona are at the Race.

The charter flights are enjoyed by all, except Max & Katie. They are subjected to spending time in an enclosed space with the targets of their conspiring – Team YouTube. Chuck evens marvels that this was the place they made the Lion King. Even though he says that he knows it was a cartoon, I am not convinced he really does.

Caroline & Jen and Bates & Anthony get their clue at the airstrip and are directed to drive down a marked road toward their next clue. That clue in a jar reveals this is the leg’s Roadblock with the cryptic message of “Who’s ready to make a friend?” Bates and Caroline are up for their teams. The task? Follow a Kalahari Bushman to a scorpion hole. Dig out a scorpion, which the bushman will help place in their jar, and then they will get their clue. For the record, my skin crawled immediately upon seeing this challenge. Yes, I am a wuss.

As Bates takes off with his guides, ignorance is bliss for Caroline who selected the jumpiest of Bushman. He stops them in their tracks because he sees something not too far off. It’s a freaking LION!! The Bushman darts to a tree and climbs it while Caroline just kinda hangs out next to the tree and compliments his tree-climbing prowess. I’m sure that this was all done for dramatic effect by the Bushman because his two companions don’t overreact like he did.

The second plane’s teams are now at the Roadblock and the "petrified" Joey volunteers, as does the much calmer Max.

At the first scorpion hole, Bates’ Bushman gets the digging under way but then Bates has to take over and start scooping out dirt with his hand. Overall, the hockey player is pretty giddy about the task and rather pleased with the super-pissed off looking scorpion they find and get into his jar. Caroline, on the other hand, is reacting like a normal person and is hesitant to just stick her hand into the freshly dug hole.

As Max and Joey start digging, the first of the last place teams arrives and it’s Mona & Beth. Mona assumes this Roadblock for the Sock ‘er Moms.

Bates & Anthony’s next clue directs them to drive their trio of Bushmen down the road they just came in on.

Shockingly, when the Mullets arrive at the Roadblock, Wynona finally accepts one. Granted, she accepts it with the most trepidation possible and because Chuck has already done five of them, but she’s actually doing one. And Pam is up for her team.

Caroline is the next one done and it seems that part of the task is that while the bushman catches the scorpion, the racer has to at least touch the animal, along with digging with their hands. Here’s a fun fact that I will never ever try to prove as a myth: You can apparently calm a scorpion by putting it in your mouth and sucking on it. Several Bushmen do it with such a result.

So far out of the Roadblock, we have Team Slapshot in the lead with Caroline & Jen behind them in second and Max and Mona finished with the task but still needing to rejoin their respective teammates.

As Meghan ponders where Joey is since Mona & Beth have now passed them up, we cut to Joey about to wet himself at the prospect of having to touch the scorpion. Sounds like a good time for a commercial. Please oh please let one of the ads be for Depends.

My pleading goes unfulfilled, but Joey does overcome his fear that the scorpion would rock him like a hurricane. You didn’t really think that the entire challenge wouldn’t result in at least one reference to the '80s hair band, did you?

Bates & Anthony are now at the Detour, which is a choice between Fire and Fowl. For Fire, they have to go with their Bushmen to start a fire using two sticks, zebra manure and grass. Then use the fire they start to light the elder’s pipe to get the clue. For Fowl, they have to use the necessary materials to construct a snare trap used to catch a guinea fowl. It looks like it uses several sticks and twine. When they show that the trap works properly, they get their clue. The brothers choose Fire and the singers are next up, electing for Fire as well.

The boys watch the required demonstration and get to the fire-making. Or more accurately, get to the attempts at fire-making. Caroline & Jen are now at the site with the Sock ‘er Moms and Cape Fear right behind also going with Fire. Playing the role of the obnoxious, spoiled American is Katie, who repeatedly complains about the way the Bushmen smell. I’m not surprised that someone belittles these people or by the person who did it but rather that it took her this long. In this primitive of a setting, there will always be one person that complains about the people who live there.

At the Roadblock, Pam finishes in sixth place and Wynona is firmly in last place as usual.

Team Slapshot proves to be the heir apparent for the “Firestarter” sequel if Drew Barrymore passes on it because they are the first ones out of the Detour. They must now follow their Bushmen to the Pit Stop. I assume the Bushmen have served a dual purpose this leg as guides on the tasks and protection in case the animals in the area do something unpredictable.

The singers get some quick fire-making advice from Bates & Anthony but it doesn’t appear to be helping. The brothers speculate that they will have to switch tasks but have their eye on getting to Phil first, which they do easily. For their efforts, they claim that first place slot and a trip to Thailand.

Joey & Meghan are now at the Detour and following the road most-traveled over to Fire. They join all the teams at the Detour (Cape Fear, the singers and Sock ‘er Moms), who are all making no fire or progress, for that matter.

Bucking the Detour-choosing trend, Pam & Winnie and the Mullets show up and opt for Fowl. Winnie rationalize that much TV-watching has taught them that making fire from scratch is too difficult. On the other hand, outdoorsman Chuck feels this trapping challenge could be his chance to excel at something on the Race.

With each failed fire attempt all the teams are debating switching tasks. The Bushmen demonstrate the constructing of the trap and Pam & Winnie get to building. Their nerves are amped up when Chuck & Wynona show up because they fear that building snares is one of Chuck’s hobbies, which is probably not too far from the truth.

Meanwhile, three of the four teams failing to build fire have bailed on that task and switched. The lone holdout: Team Cape Fear. Max wants to change but his "brilliant" wife Katie wants to keep trying. This could be bad news for the team I just put in second for this week’s power rankings.

Pam & Winnie successfully build the trap before Chuck and get their clue. They are heading to a second place finish unless the Bushmen take them on a scenic walking tour of the grasslands. Well, they don’t, and Pam & Winnie are indeed second.

Finally, Katie comes to her senses and realizes that they aren’t any closer to having fire than when they showed up. Max feels confident (as usual) that they can beat the others at whatever this next task is.

With the task tailor-made for Chuck, the Mullets have rebounded nicely and are now heading to the Pit Stop. Given how quickly teams are completing this task, the precious minutes that Max & Katie wasted staying at Fire may have just gotten them eliminated.

Chuck & Wynona are in third and for once, Wynona seems to actually be enjoying herself on the Race. When she isn’t being a naysayer they do better. Crediting their each of their fathers’ vocation of carpentry, Joey & Meghan build and get their Pit Stop-directing clue next. Fourth place is theirs, as is the memory of the most awkward high-fives in the show’s history between Joey and the Bushmen.

Caroline & Jen are giddy that Fowl was simpler than Fire as they are done and claim fifth place.

In a first on this challenge, a team fails on their build attempt when their snare doesn’t work. That team is Max & Katie. This delay is about all the time that Sock ‘er Moms Mona & Beth need to finish theirs and get their clue. In all their excitement, Mona & Beth overlook the need to follow their Bushmen to the Pit Stop and take off down the road to their cars.

Unnecessarily running back down the road to the Pit Stop, the mothers are unknowingly in a footrace with Cape Fear, who is just praying for a non-elimination leg. And seventh place goes to…

Mona & Beth, which means last place goes to Max & Katie. And their prayers have been answered as it is a non-elimination leg. Let me remind you that I actively dislike these types of legs. No risk of elimination seems like an exercise in futility, especially when there invariably is some leveling of the teams that makes the work of the leaders futile as well.

Anyway, next week continues in Botswana and involves a Speed Bump for Cape Fear, Wynona struggling at a canoe Roadblock and donkeys.

Have a good week.