The Amazing Race 23: Episode 8
By David Mumpower
November 17, 2013

You'd think that wives of professional baseball players could afford nicer clothes.

Previously on The Amazing Race, nobody was eliminated. This decision leads to a philosophical debate. When a reality competition fails to remove anyone, is it any different from The Real Housewives of Somewhere Irrelevant? We say no.

The good news for us is that for the first time in five (!) seasons, we will be recapping an episode that features a team’s elimination! That’s right! Daron Aldridge has miraculously timed all of his previous vacations in a way that leaves us discussing a duo finishing last yet not being eliminated. This season, he must not have informed the producers of the correct vacation dates since they suffered from premature non-elimination. Don’t worry. It happens to a lot of guys. Next time, think about baseball…but NOT the baseball wives.

With regards to the most recent leg, evil triumphed. The *sigh* Afghanimals (every time we type this, know that we resent it with every fiber of our being) stole first place through a series of shenanigans. Or maybe they were just better than anyone else. Any time they talk, we presume there is perfidy in their blackened hearts. Plus, they are more annoying than Andy Dick. Does anyone remember Andy Dick?

This week’s leg begins at the same location, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Phil Keoghan is wearing a hat to protect him from the desert sun. It’s not a good hat. Throw that hat away, Phil. Anyway, those annoying dudes (the Afghanimals, not Phil and Phil’s Hat) leave first at 7:10 a.m. Good riddance.

This week’s beginning challenge must be the work of Agent Maxwell Smart at CONTROL. For no apparent reason, the players must decipher a code using their previously discovered sack of Viking coins. Doing so will unlock the door to a car whose corporation presumably paid a pretty penny for this merchandising tie-in. We will not name them because this entire affair is #Shameless. Personally, we think it would have been easier and less annoying to, you know, give the players car keys. Viking sack-coins sound like the currency of choice on the ill-fated Sex Boat journey of 2005.

At 7:15, Jason & Amy sack up. Impressively, Amy had already deciphered the code in anticipation of the Agent 99 Challenge. She walks right up to the car, enters the code and is on her merry way. Then, her husband promptly gets them lost. They are feeling the pressure because they are only 8 minutes ahead of their true competition this season, Nicole & Travis. The doctors depart at 7:23, and they are similarly undeterred by the “puzzle”. The moral of the story is that if you are using Coin as your password, your stuff is not secure.

The true villains this season, Tim & Marie, are 34 minutes behind the annoying heels, Leo & Jamal. They are worried about the news that there will be a U-Turn this leg. Why? Well, they are roughly as popular as Congress. And Congress has single digit popularity in polling currently. I think Tim & Marie are still looking up at that type of approval. Marie has all the personality and warmth of a public execution.

The first quartet of teams debates the virtues of the U-Turn. They all need to hurry because the pair of all-women teams is less than an hour behind the first place team. There will be no need for bunching this week. Whoever reaches the U-Turn first will be well positioned to survive the leg. The team or teams who are punished with a U-Turn will struggle to survive. This is one of those situations where popularity matters. Four teams should be breathing a sigh of relief while four players sweat profusely.

Forget the shameless corporate tie-ins. The vehicle of choice this week is the speed buggy. The players arrive at a desert location to discover dune buggies. They will use these awesome looking rides to traverse the sand. Of course, before they can ride, Jason & Amy have to find their way to the designated spot. Alas, they get lost along the way and are forced to ask a hotel clerk for directions. Meanwhile, Nicole & Travis get stuck on a sand dune, which slows them down. The best two teams are off to a lackluster start while those annoying cousins are doing great. We hate recapping The Amazing Race.

You will never guess who backseat drives during the sand buggy adventure! Did you guess Marie? You must be the unholy offspring of a wizard and Nostradamus! Seriously, if we created a drinking game about Marie being a heinous bitch with her comments, everyone would be dead of alcohol poisoning by the first commercial break each week. Marie must not have ever heard the maxim that you’ll get more flies with honey. Alternately, maybe she was never interested in fly acquisition.

A moment ago, we mentioned that Nicole & Travis got stuck in a dune. Well, their issue was an annoyance. Nicky & Kim wind up with their vehicle 30% submerged in sand. Their only recourse to escape this plight is to dig out the sand with their hands. The middle of a leg of The Amazing Race is not the optimal time to build sand castles in 120 degree weather.

Oddly, the hockey cheerleaders have no problem whatsoever with this challenge. We are ready to write this off as them practicing on a Zamboni right up until they exclaim, “All those years at Pismo Dunes paid off!” Pismo Dunes has officially received a stronger endorsement than the Ford Explorer, the car shamelessly pimped during the opening segment.

Eventually, the bunnies are informed that they have ruined the clutch in their dune buggy. They have to exchange it for a functional one that is not smothered in sand. To their credit, they think the whole thing is hysterical during their post-incident monologue. We are glad because we feel guilty laughing at the sheer volume of sand their dune buggy spits out as they try to escape. It looks like a sand funnel…or Iron Man escaping his desert imprisonment.

Jason & Amy continue to lament their lack of Google Maps access. Jason the driver is informed of some basic guidelines by his girlfriend, the navigator. “When you go left four times, you are back to where you started,” the exasperated woman states through clinched teeth. This marks the second real conflict they have experienced with each other this season. Ordinarily, they only exchange harsh words with Marie.

Team Gray’s Anatomy decides to make their move. They choose to utilize the Express Pass they were previously given by Tim & Marie. You may remember this Express Pass as the justification for Marie’s entire existence. She treated that thing like she had rediscovered the Ten Commandments on their original stone tablets. In fact, we spent a couple of episodes counting the number of times Marie said “Express Pass”. The fewest in a single episode was 11.

As Marie laments being permanently separated from her paper baby, Nicole & Travis prepare to take control of this leg. All they have to do is head to Al Jahili Tower then search for their next clue. At that point, they should U-Turn Marie and thereby bring karma squarely down on the head of its next deserving victim.

Hey, this leg has a double U-Turn! Hey, the doctors choose the wrong team! Well, they really had no wrong choice here. Marie is despicable, but the Afghanimals angered all of their opponents by lying to their faces about a previous implementation of the U-Turn. Anyone who is willing to lie so shamelessly deserves their fate. The fact that the Afghanimals will be punished via U-Turn for a previous U-Turn based lie is quite satisfying. So Leo & Jamal will have to perform both tasks this week. Hopefully, one of these assignments will be to go an entire hour without being annoying. They’ll never complete the challenge.

What are this week’s challenges? Beauty Contest is a camel event wherein players must find attractive beasts then dress them in the finest vestments. The Kate Uptons of the camel world will earn their players the next clue. Wedding Guests is a meal preparation challenge. The players must amass the ingredients for a traditional wedding meal then follow the recipe to craft the dinner. At that point, they will deliver it to the serving station then receive their next clue.

The first two teams to arrive split their choices. The Afghanimals will wind up doing both, but they don’t know that yet. Their preference is the wedding preparation because one of them owns a bar and thereby loves cooking. You know what most people love at bars? Drinking.

Team Psycho Bitch & The Other Guy chooses camel dressage, which goes poorly for the former baseball player. He gets kicked in the shin and spit on by a camel. I guess the camel spitting thing is not just an urban legend. Anyway, the judges inform Marie that her camel is like her personality. It is not beautiful. The Massachusetts couple arrives, and the former Miss Rhode Island USA (and former Miss Rhode Island Teen USA) notes that this is her skill set. I suspect she simply likes to re-live the glory days of pageant life.

We return to the team that will win this week. Nicole & Travis are informed that all they need to do to complete their Road Block is “navigate the world’s largest manmade rapids." There are three different flags they must grab during their white water trip. This week on The Amazing Race, we learn which contestants can survive repeated attempts at drowning. Nicole’s issue is a simple one. She is not tall enough to grab the flags the first time. Then again, the purpose of this segment is to trick people into thinking that maybe they won’t win this leg. Don’t believe their lies, people!

Marie appears likely to remove a boil in need of lancing for another episode. She completes the camel dressage challenge to the satisfaction of three of the four judges, good enough to advance. Oddly, Marie’s stupidity in the moments afterward could have a profound impact on another team. For no apparent reason, Marie wanders into the area where Leo & Jamal are preparing food for a rehearsal dinner. She is lost, and has not read her clue correctly. Somehow, her confusion and odd behavior strikes the Afghanimals as an indication that their task is taking too long. The dudes switch sides of the challenge, which we as viewers realize is hysterical.

As the boys scramble, Tim & Marie do the only thing they know how to do: argue. Tim wants the couple to carry their bags. Marie…never wants to do whatever it is that Tim does. At roughly the same time, Amy & Jason complete the Beauty Contest challenge with most but not all of Jason’s body parts uninjured. They reach the U-Turn, but they choose not to use it. Had they been aware of Tim & Marie failing to advance further, they could have put that tandem in danger. Instead, karma chooses to give Marie a pass this week. But it’s coming. Oh yes, it’s coming.

The Afghanimals quickly tear through the dressage challenge. Their excitement is short lived when they discover that they are victims of the U-Turn. Here is hoping that they threw out the ingredients when they left the meal preparation area. The good news for the Californians is that they are still in fourth place at the moment. They do not appear to be in danger of elimination since the female teams are so far behind.

In a shocking twist, Nicole & Travis win the leg. Nobody could have possibly seen that coming because, you know, Nicole missed her jump a couple of times on the rapids when they were only a few hours ahead of the other challengers. And we’re back to pimping as the doctors are informed that they EACH win their choice of Ford vehicles. Thank God the doctors win a pair of cars. How else would they be able to afford them?

The Afghanimals are playing the helpless victim card right now. They attempt to convince one another that the only reason they are being U-Turned is because they are strongest team remaining. Never let the facts get in the way of some quality whinging. Hopefully, this situation escalates into them yelling at each other over nothing once again. That’s always fun with these two.

The more important U-Turn occurs elsewhere at roughly the same time. Marie is currently exchanging cross words with her ex-boyfriend. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. For once, she is right but since we want her to die screaming, please ignore that part of the paragraph. What matters is that they have wasted a lot of time, so they feel pressured to utilize a U-Turn against another team. Little do they realize that there is no reason to do so yet the Bunnies fall victim to their panic.

Remember back when we discovered that Tim used to play baseball with Kim’s husband, David? Back then, Tim promised to be her ally to the end. In Tim’s defense, that was like 96 hours with Marie ago. It must feel like an eternity of screaming and yelling has happened since then. Last week’s promises shouldn’t count. As such, the baseball wives are in a world of hurt. Marie mentions an airport incident as justification for the decision. We’re guessing that Marie doesn’t have a lot of female friends.

The Race grows a bit more interesting when Nicky & Kim arrive at the same area as the Afghanimals. The women grow confidence that they have a chance to survive the round. The men are their primary challenge because the hockey dancers absolutely destroy the camel dressage challenge. They are in and out faster than a slapshot. Sorry, we hadn’t done any hockey references yet this season.

The situation grows grim for the Bunnies when their male companions complete the challenge. At this point, the baseball wives will need a miracle again this week to live to fight another day. Right on cue, Ally & Ashley are shown getting lost on their way to the rapids. Meanwhile, Nicky and Kim finish their meal only to discover the bad news about the U-Turn. “I think Tim and Marie turned on us because…they’re mean.” Words of wisdom indeed.

There is a lot of faux tension during the final segment. The ice queens drive in circles as Jason & Amy and Tim & Marie reach the finish line in second and third place. Marie provides this illogical bit of gibberish about her feelings toward the Nicky & Kim. “We don’t want to see the Bunnies go because we like them, but after they screwed us over in the airport, that was their payback.” She later adds, “The Bunnies just did not deserve to survive another leg. Like, enough already.” Suffice to say that we doubt Tim and David Dejesus remain buddies after the events of The Amazing Race.

When Jamal and Ashley are shown navigating the Rapids, we realize that Nicky & Kim are in last place for certain. The news becomes grimmer when Phil reminds us that since the duo finished last in the previous episode, they are required to complete a Speed Bump. Nicky & Kim are free-spirited, likable women but they are only mediocre competitors on The Amazing Race. Even the strongest teams in the history of the game would struggle to survive a leg wherein they received a U-Turn AND a Speed Bump.

The producers of the show accidentally kick Kim while she is down. Mrs. Dejesus is afraid of heights. The challenge requires the women to traverse a series of waves in a wave pool by jumping into water. Then, they must climb a fairly tall ladder to exit on the other side. Kim is almost reduced to tears before the challenge begins. Nicky volunteers to go first, leading by example. Kim follows bravely before having a bit of an emotional meltdown at the ladder on the other side. She really does not want to climb it, but she overcomes her fear long enough to ascend.

As Kim does the impossible (thereby making her mighty), the Afghanimals reach the finish line. They spout some nonsense about how tough they are. Their words are negated by the arrival of Ally and Ashley, who started 43 minutes behind the dudes while also managing to get horribly lost along the way. Had Marie not randomly chosen to feud with the wife of her partner’s friend, the Afghanimals would have been neck and neck for elimination this week.

Instead, the Bunnies are sent packing. The good news is that they seem to be in great spirits about their adventure. Unlike so many competitors, money was not their motivation. They wanted to have a life changing experience, and they accomplished just that. They were a fun team who never experienced conflict with any other human in the competition.* They will be missed.

* = Marie is a diabolical succubus, not a human.