The Amazing Race 7: Episode 2
By Reagen Sulewski
March 9, 2005
A rainy day in Cusco starts off leg two of the Amazing Race, with the first destination of the day being the city of Arequipa, Peru, where the next clue is contained in a shoeshine union building. Is it me, or are they not particularly challenging the racers early on this year?
A 15 minute gap separates first place Debbie & Bianca and third place Rob & Amber, which of course means nothing when they all get to the bus station in the middle of the night and the first bus doesn’t leave until 6:20 in the morning. While D&B and Susan & Patrick are content to take that bus, “Stupid Rob” does a little sleuthing (in Spanish!) and discovers that a later bus is more of an express, and will get to Arequipa faster.
Brian & Greg and Lynn & Alex leave within a minute of each other, and B&G reveal their strategy of building relationships by performing meaningless courtesies, holding a taxi for L&A. For their part, they reveal in a cutaway interview that they are hoping to “prove something, as a gay couple” and that they can be “butch”. First of all, it’s not butch, it’s just being competitive. Secondly, if I had a nickel for every team that came on the show to “prove something”… well, there’s only been seven seasons, so I could buy a cup of coffee, I guess, but you get my point. Probably the first step in proving something would be managing to hail your own cab.
Meredith & Gretchen are off next, with Gretchen discussing how best not to fall into an emotional wreck. Ray & Deanna are next, and Ray has come to the astounding conclusion that winning a two person race by yourself isn’t very likely, Season 3’s Zach notwithstanding.
When Ray and Deana arrive at the bus station, Rob informs them about the secret faster bus and says for him not to reveal it to anyone but Uchenna & Joyce. He also reveals that he paid off the local he talked to not to let anyone else know about the faster bus, which I’m sure isn’t going to cause any friction. Ray magnanimously deigns to tell U&J, making it look like his idea, saying he’s got them covered. For Rob’s part, carrying a couple of teams along is actually a pretty good strategy, as if you continue to do everything for a couple of teams, you can control them somewhat, and leave them hanging at your will. Ray & Deana, it seems, have done nothing at all for themselves yet.
Megan & Heidi have astoundingly figured this out already, and decide they want to work alone. Ron & Kelly bring up the rear, and Ron probably hopes that Kelly the beauty queen won’t have to stop for a manicure at some point today.
With everyone at the bus station, Rob’s secret plan begins to unravel. The security guard he got his information from fails the Peruvian spy test, telling Lynn & Alex “I’m told I cannot help you”, when a simple “I dunno” would have sufficed. This causes a shouting match featuring Rob, Lynn, and Debbie & Bianca, wherein they accuse him of lying… which he did, although I’m not seeing that as a big faux pas here. Rob then pleads the wounded party, still playing Survivor in his head. Lynn says it’s a good thing for him teams can’t be voted off, but perhaps Lynn meant to try out for a different show. The producers then hit us over the head with a shot of Rob winking at the camera, just in case we weren’t sure Rob was talking out his ass just now. Since no one was going to trust him anyway, it’s no big loss.
All the teams end up on the same express bus. I’m really not sure how that plan was going to work anyhow, as the other teams more than likely would have noticed them missing. The “let’s go it alone” strategy of Megan & Heidi suffers a setback (aw, and after three whole hours!) because, hey, cute boys! and a love connection starts to form between Heidi and Brian.
Rob then makes a full move toward heel, taking money from three other teams to bribe the driver to open only the front door, but pocketing his own bribe money (revealing this within earshot of the driver he’s attempting to bribe!). I expect his next move will be to tie Megan to a nearby railroad track. His strategy seems to be to infuriate teams beyond the capacity for rational thought, which in a fast paced game like this is probably a winner.
The clue is our first Roadblock, which requires one team member to shine five pairs of shoes in a local market. Good thing Joe Pesci isn’t here. Phil also informs us that the “six roadblock rule” is still in place, mandating that individual team members can perform six roadblocks at the maximum.
Ray & Deana are first to make it, with Ray taking the honors. Upon reading the clue, Rob recoils at the word “shoes” and passes it off to Amber as if it involved some sort of feminine hygiene product. Ron is third, claiming he’s shined military shoes all his life. He’s going to rock at the potato peeling and blindfolded rifle assembly challenges. Joyce takes the task for her team, while both Megan & Heidi and Lynn & Alex have momentary crises and miniature orgasms at the mention of the “s” word.
All the other teams arrive in short order, and begin to harass the locals. Ron, Ray and Amber finish quickly and secure a spot on the first of two flights to Santiago, Chile Joyce’s tactic of yelling at passers-by does not prove effective, and as we go to commercial, she screams in frustration, having shined only one pair. Also, someone should tell her there’s no “l” in “gracias”. Susan and Gretchen arrive next, taking the last two spots on the first flight for their teams. On the car ride to the airport, Patrick is seen sporting an eye bandage, from what I don’t know. Standing around not competing can be dangerous, apparently.
The five remaining teams are stuck on the next flight 45 minutes later, although I think Brian briefly considers giving up to make his career on the streets of Peru as a shoeshine, offering up an entertainingly flamboyant display. Brian & Greg may actually get a little lost if they fly to “San Diego, Chile”, which is how they read their clue. It's gratuitous gay joke time from Lynn, who says they’re both good at “pulling up the rear”. Richard Simmons wants his double entendre back, guys.
After a plane trip that takes them the wrong direction twice to Santiago, the teams then have to search for a statue of the Virgin Mary. Ron & Kelly and Rob & Amber get there first and beat the traffic jam that holds back the other teams. The clue is the Detour for the leg, cutely titled “Shop or Schlep. The first option has them in yet another crowded market, searching for items for a recipe, while the second has them carrying 180 books to the Library of Congress. The numerous bribes have already started to affect Rob & Amber’s strategy, as they would have had to pay for the ingredients and they claim they’re low on cash. For what it’s worth, I think it’s the better choice of tasks anyway.
A more serious money problem hits Susan & Patrick, whose extravagant lifestyle has left them without enough money to buy a ticket for the ride up the hill to the statue. This is the first time I can remember this happening other than the Blake and Paige fiasco in Season 2. After a short begging episode, they’re on their way.
Getting to the bookstore, Rob continues his all-world performance, applying his construction know-how to book stacking, while Ron & Kelly’s stack looks more like something a seven-year-old would put together. They end up deciding to take two trips, while Rob & Amber head off with their full 180. Ron clearly was not the navigator for his crew in the air force, as they head out without bothering to look for directions, while Kelly throws up her hands and says, “I don’t speak Spanish”. You can read a road sign though, right? Right?
Ray & Deanna also wander around for a bit with their books, which makes me wonder if any of these teams knows what this show is about. Amusingly they ask about the “Chilean Library of Congress”, as if a local would stop and direct them back to Washington D.C. “Whoa, whoa, you’re way off, my friends!”
Most of the second group of teams, with the notable exception of Debbie & Bianca, choose “shop”, including, insanely, Susan and Patrick, who have no money. Meanwhile, Brian & Greg and Megan & Heidi are still stuck in traffic and falling back rapidly.
At the Library of Congress, Rob & Amber have brought the right number of books, while Ron & Kelly dimly realize that 112 is not 180 and need to make another trip.
Ray gets in his supportive moment for the episode, telling Deana to “pick those up” after he runs over her ankle with the book cart, spilling a dozen books or so. Hey, that’s what they taught in him in Cobra Kai dojo, can you blame him?
Kelly shows she didn’t win the scholastic portion of her beauty pageant by thinking 180 minus 112 is 78, although Ron gets the answer right at 68. This proves, sadly, that he is the brains of this particular operation.
Rob & Amber stroll into first place at the mat, winning a trip under the sea… no wait, to Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. With 20 minutes left in this episode, they are officially kicking ass.
Meredith & Gretchen are first to the market, but money troubles again run rampant as they can’t afford their ingredients. Can none of these teams budget? Eventually, the fishmonger takes pity on them although this is only item one of five.
Debbie & Bianca are forced to take two trips with their books, while in the market, Lynn gets his GLAAD Butch card revoked by refusing to touch the fish.
Ron & Kelly arrive at the pit stop second, while Ray & Deana are shortly behind in third; both teams making a huge turnaround from their weak first episode performances.
As expected, Susan & Patrick don’t have enough to buy their ingredients in the market and have to turn to a second round of begging, though this time with less success. This has been a pretty incompetent leg all-around from them.
Gretchen announces her presence in the next market location with an ear-splitting howl, “Chicalolo!!” that wakes up a poor little street kitty and makes a dog howl at them. I think this was one of the sound effects from the Ringwraiths in Lord of the Rings.
Lynn & Alex also run out of money here (it’s getting pathetic now) and execute American foreign policy by robbing a developing country blind, although the shopkeepers claim their produce is a gift. These people still need to take taxis to the pitstop.
Last place appears to be a battle between Brian & Greg and Megan & Heidi at this point, with B&G choosing the books and M&H taking the shopping. One of the brothers gets in a goofy reference to Stack-o-matic record players, so at least they’re having fun while they’re about to be eliminated. So far, only Rob & Amber and Ray & Deana have been able to complete the book task in one trip.
But wait! A scale controversy arises as Meredith & Gretchen and Lynn & Alex’s fishes both fall just shy of three kilograms on the restaurant scale. Now we witness an exercise in two different kinds of diplomacy, as Merefith & Gretchen nicely exchange their fish, while Lynn & Alex storm in demanding a larger fish for nothing. Guess who’s more successful?
Uchenna & Joyce continue the flip-flopping order as they move up from eighth to fourth. Someone please shut up Gretchen, OK? That voice when she yells? It’s the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, and it’s not helped by the fact that she and Meredith appear to be lost.
Meaningless drama for this middle of the pack finish is next, with Lynn & Alex stumbling in at fifth despite completely mismanaging their money situation. Debbie & Bianca make it in for sixth and Meredith & Gretchen eventually get going in the right direction for seventh, which is good because it would eventually turn cold, and wolves would be after them.
Susan & Patrick finally come in at eighth, and react like they made it to second. Team Mama’s Boy is showing some weakness early.
It’s down to a cab race for the last spot, and Brian & Greg and Megan & Heidi hilariously end up at the gate to the pitstop at the same time. With more gesticulating and broken speech than a Roberto Benigni acceptance speech, Brian & Greg manage to maneuver ahead and get in ninth, eliminating Team Hilton.
For the second straight elimination, it’s a little dusty in the room, although B&G seem a little more upset that they’ve just booted their girlfriends out of the race. Way to take one for the team, guys, although they have managed to make the girls feel almost worse for them somehow. Neither of these teams did much of anything well in the leg, and Brian & Greg are really going to have to step up not to get bounced in the next episode.
This is probably go down as one of the worst collective run legs in Amazing Race history, although we are starting to get some separation in the teams. Rob’s machinations proved to be the key in this episode, as the three teams he helped out during this leg finished one through four.