Welcome back to Panama for the latest leg of the tedium that is this season's edition of The Amazing Race.
The Amazing Race: Family Edition - Episode 6
I'm Sick of Doing Things I Can't Do
By Reagen Sulewski
November 21, 2005
The Paolos, who in a frightening portent for all, have developed into a competent and functional team, leave first from the pit stop at the Panama Canal at 8:22 p.m. The clue sends them to San Jose, Costa Rica, a good half-day's bus ride away. Bus charters are first-come-first-serve, so we could see a little bit of separation here for the teams. The next clue is actually on the rim of an active volcano nearby, which could present an interesting decision for teams with a particularly annoying team member. Like, oh, this one. Fears of a happy, cuddly Team @$%#*!& are unfounded, as DJ almost immediately snaps, yelling at his mother and threatening to kick his brother in the head. Ah, good times, good times.
The Weavers are second out of the gate, at 9:11 p.m. Each week we get to learn just a little bit more about the craziness that is this family. Again it's courtesy of Rebecca, who reveals that they were taught as children to not trust other people. Now, she might have meant "rely on", but I can't exactly be certain of this. Add in the fact that these are home-schooled kids, and they're probably convinced all the other teams are avatars of Satan. Backing this up is a comment about how because they are all Christians, they are better than teams that might talk about them. Ah, it's my favorite kind of religious person, the sanctimonious saved, that thinks believing God automatically makes you like Him.
The Bransens are third, five minutes behind, with the Linzs just one minute behind. With such a tight grouping, taxi battles become crucial, and the Linzs win here, potentially getting a huge jump on the bus charters.
Fifth place belongs to the lollygagging Gaghans, leaving at 9:23 p.m. Upon learning of their next destination, Carissa blurts out, "we have to run there??" Sure, sure, they're going to make you run to the next country. Oh, she's nine. On the other hand, I wouldn't be totally against punishing all these teams with a run across hundreds of miles of jungle.
All these teams eventually find taxis and are off to the bus terminal, where the Paolos have claimed the first spot on the first bus. It doesn't leave until 11:30 the next morning, meaning they have a long night in the bus terminal. They decide to go hide, or something, specifically so that the Weavers wouldn't see them. Yeah, good thinking, guys, cause then they might know that you're on The Amazing Race! At this point, they're actively working against the Weavers, and point the Linzs right to the ticket claim booth, vowing to help any team that isn't the Weavers. Something tells me these two teams won't be keeping in touch afterwards.
Finally out of the gate are the Godlewskis, at 9:43, they of the "underpants over underpants over pants". You know, to make things really interesting, they should make teams also have to wear the same outfits they came to the mat on for the next leg of the race, and I mean all of it. Then you'd see some careful decision making.
Because they start with no money, they enter the begging stage of the race, hitting up tourists and locals at a local hotel. One potential sucker - er, I mean donor - offers, in thickly accented English, "I have no money, I only have love." No, wait, girls. Don't be so hasty, at least consider it! They have a little more luck at a local bar, where American blonde good looks go a long way with some slightly inebriated Panamanian partiers.
The Paolos' strategy is tipped at the bus station when the Weavers and the Gaghans arrive at around the same time. Yelling at the top of their voice, they try and lead the Gaghans to water, but this team seems unable to drink. In any case, it's an entirely pointless effort, as although the Weavers do grab the next slot, it's already on the second bus.
The Bransens and Godlewskis end up on the third bus, a full hour behind the first one. One of the Godlewski sisters remarks, "at least we got one." What, you thought they were going to leave you behind?
While waiting for the buses, the Godlewskis go with the novel approach of making friends with the Weavers (honestly, targeting one team on this show never works) and hit them up for money, getting a whole five dollars from them. Then again, Michelle already seems to be planning a back-stabbing strategy for later on the in the race.
The ad hoc alliance strategy of the Linzs takes another form once they reach Costa Rica, as they group up with the Paolos after hiring a cab to lead them to the volcano. This is probably the smartest move in a game like this, as it keeps good will with all other teams while realizing that alliances are going to be completely situational. This is probably the smartest move in a game like this, as it keeps goodwill with all other teams while realizing that alliances are going to be completely situational.
We are then treated to a lovely trip through the mean streets of San Jose at night, as the collective brains of the Weavers and Gaghans are not enough to find a parking lot that is three blocks away from the bus terminal. This leads them to shed the entire half hour that they gained over the trailing teams, the Godlewskis and the Bransens. Perhaps the Paolos' hex is working after all.
This new convoy heads out to the volcano site is a somewhat discombobulated fashion, with Linda Weaver's claim of being able to drive a stick shift proving a bit premature. Tensions mount in the Bransen van, with Wally refusing to get out of the van to ask for directions, the daughters refusing to do likewise, some angry shouts, and a look on Wally that's vaguely reminiscent of Jack Torrance. I wouldn't bet against some sort of ritual sacrifice once we get to the top of the mountain.
I'm establishing a new rule here, in honor of the Weavers. Whenever they call on Lucky Rabbit's-Foot Jesus to help them in some trivial task, take a drink. It'll make them tolerable, at long last.
Completely unsurprisingly, since it's pitch black out, the park is closed, making the majority of the maneuvering so far completely pointless. It's a mad dash to the clue box the next morning, with the Linzs and Gaghans coming out ahead of every one else. The next clue directs them to a nearby coffee plantation, warning of a Yield in play. Hmm, I wonder if there's a team out there that other teams don't like that might fall victim to it. It looks like there's a Fast Forward clue in the mix as well, although it's completely unmentioned by any teams or by Phil's voice over.
The Weavers are officially the Boogeymen of this race, with the Linzs hightailing it to dust their tracks, or something. The ever-cheerful Rachel remarks about this last task: "that was the dumbest volcano I've ever been to." Oh, so you've been to a lot of volcanoes in Florida, have you? Also, do you make a habit of being negative and surly about everything? Can't you enjoy the free fricking trip to Costa Rica?
The Godlewskis were not told beforehand there would be running, and fall back to fifth spot, with the Bransens pulling up the rear for now. Wally's officially gotten his game face on, and starts some crazy driving down the mountain. His daughters may in fact have pushed him too far. Now he'll drive them off a cliff trying to prove how competitive he is.
Meanwhile, the Linzs are trying to decide if they want to be "evil" and yield the Weavers when they get to the mat. It may be a moot point as the Weavers are currently stopped by the side the road asking for directions. Linda asks in her best Spanish-o if the turn is on the righto or the lefto, which I'm sure endears her to her supposed helper. He's gonna send her off a ravine.
I would like to give the editors of this show a hug for the next scene, which consists of a point-of-view shot over the clueless Linda's shoulder as every other van zips by them. It turns out that there may be a fight for who gets to yield the Weavers, as even the Godlewskis can't wait to flip on them. They gave you five dollars!
Finally, the Weaver family is finished with their impromptu tour guide and bid him "muchos gracios" to which Rebecca appends, "even though you were no help." Dude. Who asked you to stop? I will pull this TV show over right now and make you walk home, missy. Don't think I won't do it.
Most of the rest of the teams arrive en masse at the coffee plantation, where there's practically a stampede (and through a corral, even) to get the Yield mat. The Paolos get the honor of holding up the Weavers, and everyone else moves on to the clue box, which reveals the Roadblock. It's not a needle in a haystack task, but it's pretty close; the selected team member has to find a single red coffee bean in a pile of other beans (thankfully unripened).
All the teams dive into this, with an amazing variety of styles on display, including a dog-like digging technique from Megan Linz that seems like a reeeeally bad idea. Tricia Godlewski finds hers first, and with much screaming and wailing, these four sisters are on their way to the next clue, located in Jaco in a surf shop. An aside; as they read their clue, one sister shushes the other and I have to ask, why? It's not like the other teams aren't going to get this same clue eventually, and it's not like they can leave early. Just think! Marion Paolo is next to find hers, and the Paolo are on their way.
And here's the moment we've been waiting for as the Weavers reach the coffee plantation and find out they've been yielded. It's a pretty ugly display, and more or less shows that the other teams' instincts are dead on. Rebecca mocks the Paolos for standing in front of a garbage truck (some people have to work for a living, princess. Perhaps you'll find that out one day), and they call the other teams retards. Rachel punches the board in anger. This is one of their uglier moments, and there are a few to choose from.
More bitterness ensues as they work through the pictures of the teams in the box; claiming the Godlewskis have had their breasts done (you have got to be kidding), calling Brian Paolo a squirrel. This is really weak stuff, guys. Fifth graders bring better game than you guys. The Linzs run past, after finishing the Roadblock in third, and Megan offers a word of encouragement. They practically spit it back at her, which is especially dumb since they didn't yield you. They're convinced that all the teams are banding together against them, but as we've seen, they've all come to their position independently. It's pretty remarkable when you think about it.
The Bransens are next out of the Roadblock, leaving just the Gaghans and the Weavers, whenever their Yield might run out. They continue to bitch about the penalty, and claim that they are playing with a higher authority. Three guesses what they're talking about. I am officially sick of teams complaining about the Yield as if it's some kind of unethical game tactic. Teams that play in the outlined rules have no ethical or moral quandaries as far as I'm concerned, and if you don't like this set of rules, you can go home right now. It's especially irritating when you consider that all they had to do was get to the mat before the other teams that wanted to yield them did, and none of this would have happened. It's all your own damn fault, lady. This is the game.
A few more choice moments: Lauren commenting on her underwear having been "out everywhere" during the Roadblock, the Linzs noting that Megan has finally earned "her balls", and Linda urging Rachel to "pray" while she competes in the Roadblock.
Eventually she does find the bean, leaving the Gaghans to drift all the way to the back of the pack again. You know, at some point, it fails to be bad luck and more of a symptomatic problem. I love the insanely positive attitude this team gives off. Maybe they can give lessons to certain other teams on this race.
Now in Jaco, most of the teams have found the next clue, which, as expected, is the Detour. It's a choice between walking over a series of rope bridges in the jungle to find some relics, or collecting 15 bushes of bananas to bring to a processing facility. Hmm, falling to your death or slave labor, which to choose, which to choose...
One of the fun things about this Family Edition is the wonderful bickering and in-fighting with certain teams. Wait, did I say fun? I meant irritating and pointless. The Godlewskis think this is a good time to has out 20 years of older sister issues and decide that it's time to teach Michelle a lesson by not telling her where to go for the Detour. Someone isn't quite getting the team concept here.
The Paolos have chosen the banana option for their Detour, with Tony's many years as a blue-collar worker shining through, hefting the heavy bunches (groups? gaggles?) onto a conveyor, putting his kids to shame. I'm more than a little impressed here.
The Linzs and Bransens are out on the rope bridges, with the Linzs proving to be a little more equipped for the heights. Wally holds his daughters back a little, who have to be reminded that this isn't really the time to freak him out. Does no one realize they're in a race? The Paolos are through with their Detour, thanks pretty much single handedly to Tony, and are off to the next pit stop, in the town of Quepos along the Pacific Ocean.
The relic task proves to be pretty demanding in its own right, as they range from about two to six feet in size. The Bransens and Linzs eventually get through and are on the way to the pit stop, with the Godlewskis in hot pursuit.
The Weavers are also through the relic course, and meet up with the Gaghans as they are about to enter the Detour. This means the Gaghans are more than likely screwed here, but fate seems to want to intervene. A torrential rainstorm has passed through, and the Weavers van is somehow stuck on grass. How they managed to do this, I'm really not sure. They make a fairly feeble effort at pushing the vehicle off the grass, and honk the horn to try and call over a park official, who I'm pretty sure knows he's not allowed to interfere. I'm fairly sure this was some sort of driver error, as she eventually gets it into gear and gets going. Umm, you forgot your kids, Linda. Linda?? Can someone please get this family a stress counselor?
We now return to Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, with the race to the pit stop between the Paolos, Linzs and Bransens. After much jockeying for position, the Paolos get out of the van first, with Marion struggling mightily. The Linzs, sensing weakness, circle and separate her from the pack, and using razor sharp teeth, sever her spine... Okay, so that didn't really happen, but it could have. In any case, after driving their poor mother near to death, the Paolos get to the mat in first place this leg. I know, I'm scared too. Their bonus prize is a choice of a Segway, a Vespa scooter, an ATV or a jetski each. I can really see Marion putting any of those to good use.
Phil spoils the surprise for the Linzs, letting them know they're second before they step on the mat. We'll overlook the slight breach of protocol for now. The Bransens are next in a tight 1-2-3 finish, although Phil does make a comment on some hygiene issues they are apparently having.
The Godlewskis are in for fourth, and have recovered nicely from last leg, although it has been essentially even all day for most teams. The only question now is did the Weavers' troubles slow them enough for the Gaghans to catch up? The answer is no, with an exhausted and defeated looking Weaver family on the mat for fifth.
The Gaghans stroll in for sixth, and are eliminated, but this is a fairly remarkable performance for a team with two small children. They simply kept making mistakes, in just about every leg, and this had to catch up with them eventually. Still it's sad to see these guys go, as they were easily the nicest team out there.