The Amazing Race 7: Episode 4

What a Gaucho You Are

By Reagen Sulewski

March 23, 2005

Mrs. Bates and son, Norman.

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In the fourth leg of what is proving to be one of the better seasons of The Amazing Race to date, we start off in Argentina. Lynn & Alex carry over their lead from the last leg, though as we’ve seen so far, that doesn’t hold up.

Oh good. They’re still obsessing about Rob & Amber. I thought maybe they might have moved on. There are (counting…) still six other teams besides them you have to beat. They’re playing their own game, which happens to be throwing the other teams off theirs, and you’re playing right into it. And you obviously haven’t been watching the show if you think there’s not going to be a bunching point soon.

Uchenna & Joyce’s wandering at the end of last episode took quite a bit of time, judging by their departure time, 18 minutes behind Lynn & Alex. That end game of the leg will become important as the race goes on.

Ron & Kelly and Brian & Greg leave about 45 minutes later. Ron is shocked, shocked! that other people whom he is competing against for one million dollars might not have his best interests in mind at all times. Isn’t this the guy who said, “Game on” in episode one, after he’d been screwed over? The game is on, brother. Please step it up. Brian & Greg’s declaration for the day: “No mistakes.” As the producers have a tremendous sense of irony, this is likely to be a theme of the day.

Lynn & Alex do keep a bit of their lead as Uchenna & Joyce continue to have navigational issues. Lynn, clearly the brains of the group, correctly deduces that a challenge at a horse ranch just might have something to do with horses. It’s the roadblock, and it requires one of them to perform a gaucho barrel race and spear a ring with a stick in less than 40 seconds. I declare this Freudian challenge of the year. Alex is the contestant for his team.

Rob & Amber leave about half an hour after the ranch opens, or about three and a half hours behind first place. Their stunt from the least leg has definitely cost them some time from the lead, but they also didn’t have to perform a challenge, and this is time easily made up.

Alex’s first ride through the barrels ends up at 41 seconds, and if this is close to a “competitive time” on the Argentinean rodeo circuit, then they really need to work on their talent levels, as Alex mostly trotted his horse through the course. Joyce, meanwhile, has a much more difficult time as her horse decides to take her for a spin (the ominous music when she chose her horse should have been a clue) and dumps her on the ground. Alex finishes his run under the deadline and he & Lynn are off.

There’s definitely some impetus to get out of this ranch quickly, as they next have to fly to Buenos Aires on one of two flights, which are spaced five hours apart.

Joyce’s horse starts to develop a cruel streak, as it takes her almost all the way through the course, before rearing up and dumping her yet again. It’s a devil horse!

Breaking their vow of, oh, 25 minutes ago, Brian & Greg make their first mistake of the day by missing the exit to the ranch, and allowing Ron & Kelly to pull ahead of them. Kelly chooses to perform the roadblock for her side, while Ron, confronted by the image of a line of Argentinean cowboys, feels the need to point out that he’s not wussing out, and don’t you know he ate a bunch of meat yesterday? I half expect him to challenge them to an arm wrestling contest.

Joyce has finally tamed the demon horse and her first time completing the course is under the 40 second mark.

Navigational issues come to the forefront with Brian & Greg realizing they’ve gone too far on the highway, and Rob & Amber making their first real mistake of the game, pulling a Susan & Patrick by getting lost in town.

Kelly completes her task just as Brian & Greg arrive, meaning they only lost a few minutes, but this should be a wakeup call to Team Goofball. I’m so glad these guys actually say each other’s names all the time (or at least, “B” and “G”) as I still can’t tell them apart. Brian makes short work of the course, with the fastest time of the teams so far.

Ray & Deana leave about five hours back of first place, with Ray disgusted at his position in the back of the pack with the “bottom-feeders”. Defeat does not exist in this man’s dojo. Does anyone remind him that he personally thought the deliberate penalty was a good move at the time for them?

Meredith & Gretchen once again remind us that they are old, and leave ten minutes after Ray & Deana. The penalty that they took put them a lot closer to last than either they or R&D liked, as Susan & Patrick are just a few minutes back of them. Crucially, they leave just a half hour before the first plane is scheduled to leave (which so far has Lynn & Alex and Uchenna & Joyce on it), and all three of these teams are virtually relegated to the second flight.

Rob & Amber stumble onto the ranch by more or less blind luck, and Rob chooses to perform the task. He flies through the course, and makes Amber a little, uh, flushed with his display of manliness. I swear to God that he gets the horse to strut, and it all makes sense; he managed to pick the horse that was just like him. They leave the ranch at 9 o’clock, half an hour before the first flight leaves, making it very difficult for them to catch the other teams on this plane, which now includes Ron & Kelly and Brian & Greg.

The spite is strong with Amber, as she starts to fantasize about how much it would kill the other teams if they caught up after taking their penalty. Rob, playing the alpha dog to the hilt, surmises (correctly in Lynn & Alex’s case) that the other teams just want to be like them. The four leading teams start to board the plane about this time and it’s not hard to understand why they think they’re safe. They all crow about how you can’t give up on any tasks in this race… as we cut to Rob & Amber arriving at the airport, where a sympathetic ticket agent lets them on the flight. Now, I’m not saying producer Jerry Bruckheimer slipped this guy some cash, as he’s a busy man, but he might have had an underling do it.

If this was a horror film, this would be the scene where all the teens think they’ve finally killed Jason and have let down their guard to go skinny dipping again. Little do they know he’s right over their shoulder. Oh look! It’s Rob & Amber coming up the tarmac!

At this point, I’d like to start the Lynn & Alex Survivor Drinking Game, as they mention their mild dislike for Rob & Amber yet again. We’re a couple shots behind, so there’s catching up to do.

As they board the plane just minutes prior to take off, the rest of the racers have a look of disgust/broken spirits. Two more drinks!

Right about this time, Ray & Deana reach the ranch, with Deana going for the Roadblock. One of the gauchos looks on somewhat incredulously, and it appears that team Cobra Kai has chosen incorrectly yet again.

Meredith & Gretchen come across a street performer on their way to the ranch, and Gretchen declares - let’s just say wonderfully optimistically - that it’s great to see him paying for his own college. Not to judge, I guess, but it’s a grubby little kid juggling on a street corner. I’m not sure a PhD is in this kid’s future. Compare and contrast: Susan & Patrick come across a different performer, and Patrick wants to run him over.

Ray continues the “motivation through yelling” seminar that has worked wonders for them so far, declaring that their horse is “not broken” and “doesn’t need new batteries”. Then in a stunning display of sensitivity, he asks Deana if she wants to quit and go home. In the meantime, Meredith & Gretchen arrive, and it turns into a side by side race between Deanna and Meredith. With Ray urging her to sweep the leg, Deana’s doing pretty well until her horse pulls up, and Meredith makes it in under 40 seconds.

Susan & Patrick now arrive, with Patrick performing the task. Ray says that Patrick is “weak”, and that she just needs to yell at the horse more. Surprisingly, this works, which means, well… nothing, and they get to spend a luxurious five hours at the Mendoza airport.

Patrick is having big boy issues with his mom, and an outfit that makes him look like Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet isn’t helping. Listen, if you choose to do the tasks, you don’t get to bitch about how hard it is to your partner that’s giving advice. This is two in a row now where you’ve decided this is the time to try and leave the womb, something you should have done, oh, 20-odd years ago. Gritting his teeth, he tells Susan to stop “before they have an embarrassing moment”. Too late, Patrick, far too late. They’re not quite going to win the team spirit award.

Leaving behind the incompetent teams, we move on to Buenos Aires, where the small plane in Mendoza forced the teams to check their baggage. The “last on, first off” rule of baggage claim works in Rob & Amber’s favour, and they get out of the airport first.

The clue is at a clock tower, given to them by Johnny Depp. Er, maybe that wasn’t him. It directs them to the nearby city of Tigre, which they have to reach by train. All five teams make it onto the same train.

Back in Mendoza, the three trailing teams book tickets on their special plane, and Gretchen calls them the “ménage a trois”. Excuse me while I throw up for a little while. Stop making inadvertent sexual references, Gretchen! Being in this pack in clearly just eating at Ray’s ego, who all but spits bile at the other two teams.

Drinking time! Lynn & Alex get help from a local about the location of the dock in Tigre, the next location of the clue, but none too stealthily head to the front of the train, which attracts Rob & Amber. Lynn compares them to an STD, placing them in the running for least sensitive people of the year, though it might be tough to surpass Ray.

The next clue is the Detour, which is one of the least appealing yet. Both options are needle in a haystack searches, one for a shipwreck, the other for an island. Lynn & Alex pick the island, Rob & Amber pick the shipwreck. They both have a significant headstart on the other three teams, who run the wrong way (hint: docks are usually on the water).

Take another drink as Lynn & Alex urge their boat driver to make a pointless pass (you’re on different tasks, you idiots). Take another as Lynn says he “destests” them…whoa, feeling a little woozy here.

Uchenna & Joyce and Brian & Greg pick the shipwreck, and Ron & Kelly pick the island for their Detours. I think that the shipwreck is ultimately the better choice, as the island task takes you four miles up river, which is going to take some time to get back from.

Catchphrase time! Rob gets off a “Holy Cannoli!” regarding the boat, which according to the closed captioning, he says is “dragging ass”, but I think he actually said, “cracked in half”. Really, with that accent, it’s anyone’s guess.

Time for another drink, as Alex comments that Rob & Amber are nowhere in sight. Yes, they’re on a different task, you dumbass! If they send much more hate their way, Gretchen is gonna start looking hot.

Rob & Amber find the shipwreck first, and get their clue, which directs them to a polo club about 30 miles away. A boat emergency strikes Lynn & Alex, and a new one has to be radioed out for. I’m sure this is Rob’s fault somehow.

Brian & Greg find their shipwreck (note to self: don’t take Argentinean cruise) and get back to the dock just shortly behind them. Both teams find a taxi and are off to the pitstop.

Ron & Kelly get to the island checkpoint, putting them in third, while Uchenna & Joyce have some of their navigation karma come back to them as they stumble upon the island, and quickly change gears. Lynn & Alex get their broken down selves to the island, and have fallen to fifth.

The race to the mat is between Rob & Amber and Brian & Greg, but R&A get there first, with their bonus prize being a trip to London. B&G continue to move up after a couple of slow starts and make it to second.

Despite earlier trouble in finding a cab, Uchenna & Joyce are able to make to third place, as Ron & Kelly end up with a slow driver, and Lynn & Alex’s driver has to stop for directions. It’s the big wheel of cab karma, and it never stops spinning. Ron & Kelly catch fourth place, while Lynn & Alex slide back to fifth.

Now it’s back to our latecomers, and Ray is hopping mad to be associated with such pond scum as Meredith & Gretchen and Susan & Patrick. R&D get a minor setback as their taxi driver takes them to slightly the wrong place, but they are able to get on the same train as Meredith & Gretchen, getting some separation from Susan & Patrick. Displaying some misplaced confidence, Susan & Patrick take the fact that they are on their train alone to be a positive sign. Ask not for whom the clue bell tolls, Patrick, it tolls for thee.

It’s only a three minute gap between the trains, but this could be crucial. However, going the proper direction is also crucial, and Ray & Deana give that advantage back to Susan & Patrick. Meredith & Gretchen have now taken the lead of the peloton. Boat trouble strikes yet another team, with Susan & Patrick drawing the short stick. One of these teams has to step up at some point. I mean they have to, it’s just too painful.

Ray & Deana find the island clue, and a lesson in running your own race follows, as Meredith & Gretchen decide to follow them after spotting them on their way back. Unfortunately, they haven’t found their clue yet. Ray comments that “they don’t belong in this race with us”, and while the first part of that might be true, Ray & Deana certainly haven’t distinguished themselves yet.

Patrick displays some remarkable resilience by wanting to give up before the replacement boat arrives – what happened to being the team no one expects? This is exactly what other teams would expect from Team Mama’s Boy.

Meredith & Gretchen find the island next, and Meredith comments about Ray that “I guess he was lying to us”, but I would point out that you chose to follow him with no prompting. Susan & Patrick finally find their clue, though Patrick really just needs a nap and his blankie. I wouldn’t just say that Ray and Patrick are opposites, but that if you put them too close to each other, they would annihilate themselves in a massive matter-antimatter explosion.

Ray & Deana make it to sixth spot, and the race for the final position is down to the fake suspense… and it’s Meredith and Gretchen, finishing seventh for the third straight leg. This means that Susan & Patrick are out and it’s far too early for a non-elimination leg. These two needed to go home anyway, but this means that both of the top two finishers from the first leg are now gone. The optimism/pessimism split between these two was just too much. Patrick amazingly fancies himself a realist, but constantly saying something isn’t possible isn’t exactly realism in my books.

In any case, it’s good riddance to these two, and we’re finally sifting some of the chaff out of this race.



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