The Amazing Race Season 31
Here, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
May 6, 2019
Previously on The Amazing Race, Rupert Boneham proved once and for all that he’s the Men Without Hats of Survivor, a one-hit wonder whose one hit feels like forever ago. Rupert and his wife, Laura, formed one of the worst Amazing Race teams ever.
Team Boneham (which sounds like a delicacy) barely escaped the first episode. The only team that they “beat” took a four-hour penalty rather than complete a challenge. Then, they fell comically far behind the rest of the pack during the second leg. They were mercifully put out of their misery, leaving nine teams remaining in the competition. And since we've had eliminations in consecutive rounds, the odds are good that this leg is a pointless one that will end with no one being sent home.
Tonight's episode isn't subtle about the bunching. They don't even display the departure times for the various teams. The Afghanimals finished first and kicked off the leg, but the only drama doesn't take place until the teams reach the airport. Team Fun sidles up next to Korey and Tyler, whom they U-Turned during the last leg. The influencers seem to understand that Team Fun had little choice due to getting U-Turned themselves.
The cause of the conflict is the sister team of Janelle and Britney. They wanted to stir up some drama and succeeded when they threw Team Fun under the bus. Since it's so early in the game, the friendly team of Becca and Floyd hopes to join forces with the other courteous team, Korey and Tyler. The U-Turn reduced the likelihood of this union. So, Team Fun brings a baggie full of trail mix to their counterparts. It’s an apology crunch.
While the gentlemen seem amused by the gesture, Tyler firmly states that they’re trying to play a clean, respectful game. They are clearly a bit salty about the extra aggravation they faced during the last leg. Humorously, this discussion gets interrupted when the sisters bring a peace offering of their own. Tyler perks up at this hilarious turn of events.
The micro-reactions that Team Fun, Korey, and Casey demonstrate all indicate that they know what an insincere gesture this is. Also, it's a scarf, and they're all wearing shorts. Never let Janelle and Britney be your secret stalkers, everyone! Judging from their reactions, Tyler and Korey somewhat forgive Team Fun, but Becca and Floyd want to hurl the sisters into an active volcano. Alas, such human sacrifices work better with virgins.
Overhearing all of these conversations are Brett and Chris, who shamelessly eavesdrop because they’re feeling the pressure. With the Bonehams bombed out of the competition, these two are the self-professed "old guys" in the race. Conflicts between other teams can only help them.
Recognizing that they’ve already senselessly burned bridges with other teams, the sisters waste no time in switching to Plan B. They approach the other Big Brother duos and suggest a pact. They pledge never to do U-Turns. Anyone who believes that Janelle and Britney will honor this agreement throughout the challenge deserves to get eliminated when the time comes. Still, Nicole and Victor have the funniest reaction. They happily agree because they hadn’t planned on doing U-Turns anyway. There’s no downside for them.
At this point, the Afghanimals do some sort of rap. It's every bit as painful as you'd think. We'll spare you the details other than to say that we hope that they fall victim to some sort of gang violence over this insult to music.
After the awkward and unintentionally hilarious airport discussions, the participants arrive at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. They depart Tan Son Nhat International Airport in kinetic fashion. The taxi situation here is stressful, and the Afghanimals lose their cool to the point that other teams laugh at their near-immediate meltdown.
The city is beautiful, and the teams are in awe of the soft glow of many buildings in the area. For Team Fun, it’s less exciting. This place is where Floyd failed on his challenge and suffered heat stroke. They agree to hydrate during this leg, which seems both obvious and smart.
Teams are searching for a doctor who will give them clues about the next Detour. The choices are Reel It In Or Light It Up. During Reel It In, teams must catch their own ingredients, eight slippery prawns, for a meal at Tandar Restaurant. Light It Up is a shiny affair wherein teams dance with Vietnam’s 218 Dance Crew. You can and should google videos of their performances. The shows are glittering affairs full of high-res graphics that will hypnotize you.
As is so often the case with Detours, one challenge is quicker but requires precision. The other, Reel It In, is grueling and has a huge luck factor. Most teams pick dancing because it looks fun. Korey and Tyler go fishin’, as a fair number of Vietnamese residents cheer them on. Some crowd members excitedly notify them when they have a bite, which has the unfortunate effect of exciting some of the would-be captured fish.
The dance instructor/judge is kind of a drill sergeant. He isn’t just interested in competitors doing the routine correctly. They also need to show energy and enthusiasm. Team Fun fails at first, and one of them was a drum major at a major university while the other one had theatrical training as a dancer. Maybe this won’t be as easy as I expected.
Of course, most teams seem extremely safe right now. Why? The Afghanimals and the team that mocked them the most, Janelle and Britney, are hopelessly lost. It’s so bad that the women accidentally walk right through the setup of a wedding ceremony! These two teams seem most likely to lose at this point.
At Reel It In, Korey is learning that he doesn’t like catching prawns. They have giant claws that do seem kind of dangerous. Also, the prawns seem like they can smell Korey’s fear.
Team Fun becomes the first duo to finish the Detour. While they can’t see it, they’d be immensely satisfied to learn that the sisters absolutely bomb in their first attempt. It’s brutal. Then, Christie and Colin try. They’re better but still fail.
We learn about the importance of attitudes when Corinne and Eliza join Korey and Tyler. The fellows are doing a “C’mon Shrimp!” singalong. Meanwhile, the women start mocking the entertainment decisions of the locals, thereby become the latest Ugly Americans on The Amazing Race. I’m immensely satisfied when one of the prawns bites the stuffing out of both women.
Speaking of glorious misery and schadenfreude, the sisters watch helplessly as Christie and Colin and Nicole and Victor pass them. They struggle so much that the editing indicates that the lost teams have caught up with them. More than anything, what we learn during this segment is that glow-in-the-dark dancing is a lot more entertaining to watch than crowd-cheered fishing. Also, Corinne and Eliza pass the influencers. Apparently, prawns respond to bitchiness.
The Roadblock for this leg is a karaoke challenge at a jumpin’ joint called Kingdom. The participants must master a Vietnamese song called Th?t B?t Ng?. It’s no Safety Dance. But the video has an adorable dog. Team Fun looks like they’ll have no problem with it and will eventually win the leg.
Something strange has happened at the Detour. Chris and Bret have just made their first attempt at dancing. This failure places them in last, possibly by a lot. There's no real explanation about the how or why of it. They just kind of vanished for a while and then were suddenly back. Maybe it's a Taken situation? Anyway, the dudes bail on the dancing and head over to fish, something that I'm surprised they didn't do in the first place. They tell poor Korey and Tyler, who are still stuck there, that the dancing is "hod," which I think is Bostonian for hard.
As expected, Team Fun absolutely wrecks karaoke and heads to Minh’s Flower Market, home of the Pit Stop for this leg. They win in a blowout and earn a trip for two to the Bahamas for their trouble. I should mention that an unnamed travel service awards this prize. Since they had a *painfully awkward* forced promo at the start of the race, however, they will get no name drop from me.
Tyler and Korey should have danced. They take forever to get their eighth prawn. Somehow, they're not the worst, though. Rachel and Elissa need 18 (!) attempts to succeed at Light It Up. Folks, these women were both professional cheerleaders. Routines like this were their livelihood. The only good news for them is that the Afghanimals are still there when they depart. In fact, those dudes are worse. They need 27 (!!!) attempts to become lords of the dance.
We've never watched Big Brother, so we're a bit confused by something. Nicole and Victor aka Nic and Vic are coming across as very nice people. In our experience with former Big Brother contestants, they're universally awful people. And Nicole won a season. We would expect her to be that much worse. So, it's weird that we find ourselves rooting for Vic and happily cheering him on during an entertaining karaoke session.
The rest of the teams are now doing karaoke in front of a white-hot crowd. This singalong might be the high point of Vietnamese-American relations. For the teams at the back of the line, it's demoralizing, though. They must watch their opponents finish the karaoke challenge, which isn't having many failed attempts. The order of finish becomes Team Fun, Nic and Vic, Colin and Christie, Tyler and Korey, Corinne and Eliza and then Janelle and Britney.
The intrigue comes from the bottom three teams. Rachel and Elissa, the Afghanimals, and Chris and Bret struggled so much on the challenges that they’re stuck waiting for everyone else to sing. It’s clear that any team that fails at karaoke is in a world of hurt. Right on cue, all three teams fail. They’re having terrible legs.
Ultimately, The Amazing Race veteran viewers can easily deduce who loses. The camera crew cuts to reaction shots of Chris and Bret after every team succeeds. The sisters struggle to find the Pit Stop, but Janelle & Britney honor their earlier Big Brother alliance by screaming until Rachel and Elissa see them.
Then, the Afghanimals show up and dejectedly state that they finished eighth. Clearly, the editing in this episode couldn’t hide the fact that Chris and Bret were far behind everyone else. They, too, were pretty bad on the show…but their race isn’t over yet. It’s a non-elimination leg.
Imagine us yelling every swear that we know, and you’ll get the gist of how we feel about this. A ninth place team should never get saved from elimination. Reserve the non-elimination rounds for the great contestants.