With just five teams left, we’re down into the nitty gritty on The Amazing Race. It’s not the highest quality group of racers, but it has been one of the more entertaining bunches.
The Amazing Race 7: Episode 7
Mow Them Down Liike Grass
By Reagen Sulewski
April 13, 2005
Leaving at 12:45 in the morning from the Botswanan ranch (we’re almost done, and we’re barely halfway around the world) are Rob & Amber, who have the slimmest of leads but plenty of confidence. The next stop on the trip is Lucknow, India. It looks like we’re skipping Europe entirely this time around. Ron & Kelly are right behind them and really, really promise to get along this time. Good luck with that.
Uchenna & Joyce are approximately an hour and a half back in third place, though there’s no word on how close they’d be if they could follow instructions. Read first, then run. Uchenna claims they’ve found a groove, but a groove can look the same as a rut from the inside. (When did I become Dr. Phil?)
Lynn & Alex are two hours and 15 minutes back and remark at how adversity is bringing them together, even though it’s a cliché. I hate to break it to you guys (well, OK, I don’t), but you two are walking clichés. It’s only fitting.
Leaving in last, three hours behind the lead, are Meredith & Gretchen. Gretchen says that they never thought they’d make this many legs in the race, and hey, what a coincidence, neither did the producers! Meredith jokes that they just don’t want to break a hip and in any other season that’d be just a throwaway. However, considering this has been the season of ominous foreshadowing, I half expect an emergency room visit within five minutes. At this point, Gretchen looks held together by stitches and voodoo.
All the teams are on the same charter out of Botswana, which completely eliminates any leads any team had last leg. This is just simply poor planning on the producers’ part, and let’s hope there are no more pit stops in places that don’t have any sort of transportation.
Climbing onto the plane, Amber stops for her Meryl Streep moment, calling out, “say goodbye to Africa”. Yes, because with your million dollar Survivor winnings, it would be difficult for you to come back.
The first leg of their journey drops them in Francistown, the capital of Botswana, which can charitably be said to have an airport. With about an hour wait indicated by the ticket agent for their flight, the teams begin to scheme. Lynn & Alex borrow a cell phone to book their flight from Mumbai to Lucknow, helping out Uchenna & Joyce and Meredith & Gretchen while the Alliance of Evil, Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly, book their tickets with the agent, and both attempting to block the other group from using their help. Oddly enough, Lynn & Alex have no particular moral qualms with this strategy after all their righteous indignation in Peru. For Rob, it’s all in a day’s work.
Initially all this scheming looks to be for naught, as they are about to get the same flight, when Rob realizes that Mumbai and Bombay are the same city and gets a flight for himself & Amber and Ron & Kelly that arrives half an hour earlier (not five minutes, as he thinks). Rob has embraced the heel role, telling the ticket agent to point to him if the other teams ask why they can’t have the flight. And we all thought Johnny Fairplay was the Survivor who would make the best wrestler. No, wait, we didn’t think that. Anyhoo…
When Lynn tells Meredith that he’s included them in his ticket booking, Meredith asks a very pertinent and revealing question, which is: why would Lynn do that? Lynn’s response is that he wants Meredith & Gretchen in the finals with them. We should realize that this is not, in fact, a compliment and he just basically called them a weaker team he thinks they can beat. I personally, would want these guys out of the race as fast as possible as they have shown a spooky staying power that I would not want to tempt.
It dawns on Ron that aligning with Rob & Amber really does not do a lot for his popularity among the other racers and wants to stop associating with them. Okay, noted, but teams still do not seem to realize that this is not a popularity contest. In a moment that would make Sigmund Freud clap his hands together with joy and laugh, Kelly comments that you need to “keep your enemies closer” and nudges Ron toward herself.
There’s a Psychology of Loserhood essay to be written here on the tarmac, with comments from Amber and Kelly about how the other teams have not wanted to be around them since they’ve been winning legs. While there’s the outside chance it’s their sparkling personalities that are causing this, it strikes me as the most counter-productive attitude possible. If teams are winning all the time, try to be like them!
After arriving on what seems like the most unlikely transcontinental plane, Rob & Amber and Rob & Kelly make their transfer with just minutes to spare. Lynn & Alex are left to say, “Wha’ happen?” after thinking they’d been all clever and sneaky. Uchenna wonders what happened to the “drag us through the race so we can beat you” strategy, while Meredith & Gretchen attend to more practical matters, obtaining a replacement backpack.
Racing through the streets of Lucknow in a taxi, Ron displays the range of his cultural experiences by once again comparing a foreign country to Baghdad. Well, they’re sorta the right color, aren’t they? I’m beginning to think that he was fragged when his helicopter went down. Ron & Kelly’s taxi driver has to stop for gas, the bane of any racer, allowing Rob & Amber to take the lead.
Due to what I assume are flight delays, the lead is just eight minutes over the second plane. Uchenna & Joyce received a tip on the flight about proceeding to the pre-paid taxi line – which I might note, they did not share with the other two teams on the flight after whining about this new “no sharing” policy – and they get out of the Lucknow airport faster and with more money than Lynn & Alex and Meredith & Gretchen, who are trapped in the middle of a group of taxi drivers salivating about how much they can fleece from the rich Americans.
The clue is in Bara Imambara Palace, a huge Taj Mahal-esque complex in the middle of Lucknow. Rob gets in some sweet talk about how the palace he’d build for Amber would be twice as nice, but I get the feeling it would look a lot like Fenway Park.
Rob & Amber get to the clue box first, which directs them to travel by a horse drawn carriage to a steel emporium and notes that the Yield is in play. Ron & Kelly are worried that Rob & Amber will yield them, after reading the clue, but R&A for their part, are only concerned about not being yielded themselves for now.
As the other teams find the clue, the original order from the start of this leg has amazingly reasserted itself. The Yield is firmly in the mind of all the contestants, including Lynn & Alex, who are beginning to see the error of getting on the bad side of a team that is always ahead of them.
Ron & Kelly arrive mere seconds before Rob & Amber at the Yield mat, and in a move that makes Machiavelli weep in rage, asks Rob what he wants to do. Boston's finest quickly convinces the fighter pilot goober not to use the Yield, although it would take some guts to yield the person standing six inches behind you, which Ron & Kelly have not shown to this point in the race. Rob & Amber also decline to use the Yield which strikes me as a mistake as well, although it would be tough to sell it politically when you just told Ron not to use it.
It’s the Roadblock, which is another boring needle in a haystack task, with one team member searching for one of ten clues in over 600 metal boxes in the alley. You know, I remember when they tried to have these clues reflect something about the place they were visiting. Kelly and Amber choose to take the tasks for their teams, correctly deducing that this is not something their menfolk would have patience for. Angry Rob SMASH would not be productive at this point. On the other hand… Kelly puts her beauty pageant skills to good use, saying to Amber, “will you holler if you see one and I’ll holler if I see one?” Which gets you… what, exactly? It’s not a co-operative task.
Amber finds a clue and does holler to Kelly about it, but surprisingly enough, all the clues were not placed in one box. The producers of this show are tricky like that. They then have to travel by rickshaw to their next clue at a gas station in a region known as Aishbagh. Kelly finds her clue (though sadly not the clue that would let them know how to best Rob & Amber) shortly after, and Ron laments R&A’s good luck. Goshdarnit, now he realizes what that Yield thing was all about. In this game, you make your own luck.
Uchenna & Joyce hit the mat third, declining to use the yield, with Uchenna performing the Roadblock. Lynn & Alex are completely flabbergasted by the fact that Rob & Amber didn’t yield them. Hey, guess what? Ron & Kelly didn’t either, and neither did Uchenna & Joyce. Perhaps you weren’t important enough in their minds to yield. If only Rob had yielded them, they would know that he cared. With the only team behind them the team they hope will be last leg fodder for them, they also chose not to use their yield. Alex performs the Roadblock. Alex quickly finds the clue, performs a quick number from Flashdance, and is on his way.
Gretchen is the Roadblock performer for her team, which may not be the best decision ever. When Uchenna finds a clue, leaving her alone in the metalworks, she freezes up and attempts to use her X-Ray vision to peer into the boxes. Here’s a quick primer on how to do this, Gretchen… open box, look for clue. Lather, rinse, repeat. Losing your spot in the boxes so you don’t know which ones you checked is on the top of the list of counter-productive moves in this task. Finally her (and our) misery ends, and they are back on the road to the next clue station.
Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly appear joined at the hips, arriving at the gas station clue box at the same time. The clue is the Detour, which promises a little bit of labor for the teams. One choice is to deliver 175 pounds of coal (!) to a local merchant, while the other has them delivering tea to five specific office workers.
Rob & Amber decide… wait, who am I kidding? Rob decides that the tea option is the best way to go, as do Ron & Kelly. A primer in male/female negotiation follows, when Ron wants to take a rickshaw to the tea emporium, while Kelly wants to take a cab, which might be harder to find but could be faster. Ron convinces her to just get moving, which causes Kelly to say, “I’ll do it but I don’t agree”. To Ron, this just sounds like “I agree” and frustrations build. It should be an interesting last few legs with this team.
While traveling through the streets on a rickshaw, Lynn says he wishes he “had things to throw at them”, referring to the people going about their business. Because, you know, they’re all just clamouring for your charity, right? I wish I had something to throw right now. They choose the tea task, and then end up in the same debate as Ron & Kelly over rickshaws and taxis. This leads them to be passed by Uchenna & Joyce, the fourth team to pick the tea over the coal.
Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly have since arrived at the office building for this task, which basically consists of annoying an entire company until they receive five business cards.
Meredith & Gretchen finally arrive at the gas station, helped along by a friendly bystander, and enter to an ovation. It’s a truly odd sight, and you sort of wonder what this crowd was expecting, or who they think they are. One man asks for an autograph, and you feel sorry for the guy a little. The presence of a camera just doesn’t mean much anymore. They choose the tea task as well, and the 175 pound coal delivery proves to be just a bit too frightening to all the remaining teams.
Rob & Amber finish delivering tea first, followed - again - closely by Ron & Kelly. We get a rare look directly at the clue, which is written strangely, not referring to the Pit Stop and ending with “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” What is up the producers’ sleeves?
Finding a taxi with the help of a local, Rob & Amber take a big lead over Ron & Kelly, who are on a rickshaw. In a callback to their earlier fight, Kelly bites at Ron about not trying to find a taxi.
Uchenna & Joyce continue their solid third place performance in this leg, though we shall see if they have shaken their tendency to wander off the map. Lynn & Alex are closely behind in fourth. Lynn hopes the pit stop is upcoming, as he’s exhausted. Pointless aside or devious foreshadowing? We will soon see. Lynn worries about Meredith & Gretchen having torn through their task – oh, the irony – but as we see, they are just reaching the office building. After delivering tea to the wrong Raj (I think you need to get more specific, as I think this is the Indian equivalent of Mike), they seem to have the hang of the task.
Rob & Amber find their way to the apartment complex indicated by the clue and waiting on the roof is Phil. Taunting them for a moment with the thought of the end of the leg, he then hands them their next clue and tells them the race is still on. He flashes them a little People’s Eyebrow and we fade to “To Be Continued”. Rob does well not to slug him. It’s not the first cliffhanger ever on the show, but it’s the first that directly involved the racers. I don’t know about you, but I feel a little dirty after this.