The Amazing Race 7: Episode 8

We Have a Bad Elephant

By Reagen Sulewski

April 21, 2005

It's strange how we don't really look all that evil.

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When last we left The Amazing Race, we were suffering from a severe case of Racus Interruptus after a surprise cliffhanger in India.

Rob & Amber had just reached the mat when Phil informed them that the leg was not over, and handed the next clue to a broken-in-spirit Team Romber. It directs them to a train station across the street (the better to mess with you, my dear) where they'll have to catch a train, where they'll be given their next clue.

Shortly thereafter, three trailing teams, Ron & Kelly, Uchenna & Joyce and Lynn & Alex all arrive, and each react with shock to Phil's trick. Lynn remarks that the leg has been going on for "days and days" and while it's only been about a day and a half, that's still a long time to go without a Pit Stop.

Finally, Meredith & Gretchen finish their Detour from last episode, and Gretchen cries out in pain - no, wait, that's just her yelling for a taxi. Easy mistake. On their rickshaw on the way to the non-Pit Stop, Meredith comments about the gay guys in front of them, and for a minute I'm wondering if they've somehow caught up to Lynn & Alex, but it's just some local color.

Finding the train station, all the teams find out that the train does not leave until 9 o'clock that night, or in about eight hours, which means that not only are all the teams going to be on this train, the events of the leg so far have been entirely pointless, and the producers designed it that way (that, or they realized that a non-elimination round would lead to Americans begging in India, which would be completely offensive). Reaction to this news varies heavily depending on a team's spot in the race, with Rob & Amber being disgusted, and Meredith & Gretchen unable to believe their good fortune.

To make things even more interesting, the racers don't know where the train is headed (would it be that difficult to find out?), though, seeing as they're in India and all, I'm guessing it's not Disneyland.

The loose alliances from the first part of this leg are holding so far, but really, at this point, all an alliance can do is keep a team in the race that will beat you. The psychological torture of this leg continues, as porters come by at 1 a.m. to give the teams their clues. They must search for their next clue at the Jodhpur train station, which they won't get to for another ten or 11 hours. I guess this was just to make the teams extra cranky when they got there.

This period of breathing space in the race gives us some time to know our Final Five a little better as well as to feel each other out (not that way, you pigs). Lynn, for instance, is feeling the rigors of the race in a different way than perhaps anyone except Kelly the beauty pageant queen, and is dying for some emergency skin care. Someone get Carson Kreely, stat! (Getting off topic here, do you wonder if the other members of the Fab Five get annoyed and start cat fights over the fact that everyone knows Carson's name, but that the rest of them toil in anonymity? Kind of like how Teri Hatcher and the rest of the Desperate Housewives can't be in the same room anymore. Hey, nothing's happening on the show. You try making this interesting.)

Joyce kills time by dressing up Uchenna in a powder blue veil - he'll be winning no beauty contests of his own - while Ron & Kelly and Rob & Amber get to chatting about how much of a puss Rob is about scary movies. There's an interesting divergence of attitudes here, with Ron talking about what a swell guy Rob is, and Rob saying that respects Ron, but he'll still crush him.

Arriving at Jodhpur, the teams find the clue box, deviously hidden in the middle of the train station, where they will have to find a clock tower in a market. There's a lot of scurrying for taxis, but it doesn't open until ten the next morning, so it's all for naught.

All the teams find a hotel for the night, splitting up again by "alliance". Amber makes a brave stab at a decision by suggesting that Rob & Amber split a room with Ron & Kelly, but Rob quickly shoots this one down. Ooh, so close, Amber! Maybe next time! Rob convinces the hotel manager to be his guide for the next day's activity, continuing his (I'm gonna guess life-long) strategy of getting other people to do his work for him. Ron seems to be under the impression that Rob is doing this for the benefit of both of them - when will people learn not to trust this guy?

That night is a street festival in Jodhpur, complete with dancing and fireworks (great for a good night's sleep), and Lynn & Alex, out experiencing the town, get pulled into a wedding party (please be Aishwarya Rai's - dang) and get to perform a goofy little dance. The producers seem to have pulled off the previously unfathomable: a non-depressing India leg!

At the clue box, we have the second and last Fast Forward of the race, which is basically a repeat of a Fast Forward from Season 5. After finding a temple, teams have to have their heads shaved for a Hindu good luck ritual. The teams don¡¦t know this, and it was a huge shock to Brandon & Nicole, who famously balked at this when it was tried in season, not wanting to risk their dashing good looks for a race. We'll see if we have any takers this time. Uchenna & Joyce head after it (cue ominous music) as do Lynn & Alex, while the other teams stick with the Detour.

The Detour is either pushing a large wooden elephant through the streets of Jodhpur, or a search through a bundle of tie-dyed sheets for their next clue. This second choice seems easier to me, but every team decides to go for the elephant. Somewhere, Bart Simpson nods in approval.

I'm guessing Ron wouldn't have passed the Officer Test; as Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly are slowly and quietly moving towards their Detour location, Ron starts to loudly ask their guide if he knows where they're going. Way to hide your guide from the other teams, dumbass. Lynn & Alex make a stab at going for the Fast Forward but see that Uchenna & Joyce are already a fair ways ahead and will probably beat them there. Of course, with their propensity for getting lost, who knows? At any rate, they give up after a short chase and head for the elephant Detour.

What happens next is not quite sufficiently described by the word "chaos". Gretchen, for some reason, believes she has to climb into the elephant and ride it like Cleopatra entering Alexandria, although I think the Indian man who helped her up just wanted to cop a feel. No, it's all right, go throw up. I'll be waiting here for you.

The gong show continues with this group, who are being led by dozens of Indians, pushing and pulling and yelling, with music and commotion all around them. And oh, good, Gretchen's feeling good enough to yell again.

Lynn & Alex, upon reaching the Detour spot, are surprised that Rob & Amber are also there. You'd think this would cease to be a novelty at some point. I'm wondering, do they think these last 20 days or so of seeing them has just been an incredible series of coincidences? I'm starting to think they have proximity chips in them that force them to mention their names whenever they're within ten feet.

Amidst all the screaming, Gretchen tries to get out, but there doesn't appear to be a good way without her falling. Lynn & Alex pass them, which causes Gretchen to exclaim that they "have a bad elephant", but it's that extra 150 pounds you're trying to push, you dolt. They fall further behind as the only help they receive are the child cast of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Out on the road to the Fast Forward, which Uchenna & Joyce seem to be taking forever to find, Joyce starts to get an inkling of what it might entail. She hopes it doesn't involve shaving your head, although thanks to the Foreshadowing Fairy, we already know that's what it is. Uchenna doesn't think so, but then again, he's already bald!

Ron & Kelly complete the Detour first and get their clue. They're directed to a farm used for a festival site eight miles away. Rob & Amber are shortly behind and steal "Sanjo" for their cab. Ron is still none the wiser about their relationship with Rob & Amber.

Uchenna & Joyce are still frittering away time on the Fast Forward, and are on the verge of making it pointless to have taken it. There are apparently about a dozen temples on the road they're on. Those legendary orienteering skills of this team are coming to the forefront yet again! I keep expecting them to be the first to accidentally leave orbit.

Why rickshaw NASCAR hasn't caught on, I'll never know. It's a thrilling race out to the farm between Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly that I bet reaches speeds of almost 30 miles per hour! Trade some paint, boys!

The four teams that went for the Detour are finally all through, with Gretchen finally getting the brainwave that she did not actually help her team on this one. I think the force of her voice actually pushed them backwards at a few points.

Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly have both reached the farm with the next clue box, which is, quite obviously, the Roadblock. It's a race with camel carts, two times around a marked course. Both Amber and Kelly take the reins (quite literally) for their teams. Camels are not the most cooperative of beasts, and it's not surprising when Amber's camel starts going backwards at first. Kelly is making good progress when her camel simply stops in the middle of the track. It's going to be one of those Roadblocks.

Meredith & Gretchen and Lynn & Alex arrive together at the farm, with Meredith and Lynn doing the honors for their teams here. Lynn continues to make use of the one Hindi word he knows and has been repeating throughout this leg, "hurry", but you know, I don't think the camel speaks Hindi.

Meanwhile, Uchenna & Joyce have finally found the right temple for the Fast Forward, and Joyce realizes her premonition wasn't far off after all. Uchenna makes a play for Sensitive Husband of the Year by offering to go back to do the Detour (and a sure loss) but Joyce will have none of it, though she's clearly distressed. It's the definition of uneven sacrifice as we see Joyce's big mop of a do, and in one of the best reveals ever, Uchenna's gleaming dome.

A sobbing Joyce has her braids lopped off, and Uchenna plays it exactly right, comforting her as she gets the full Me'Shell N'Degeochello. He's getting some bald nookie tonight!

Back at the camel races, Amber's animal is starting to get annoyed at getting hit in the butt with a stick. Which, you have to admit, is a legitimate complaint. I don't know many people that would put up with that as a part of their job, except for, let's say, certain "tradespeople". Meredith is having problems of his own, as his camel decides to just sit down and take a break. This allows Lynn to pass him, leaving him in his dust, and this isn't just an expression. However, any sense of order you get from this description is purely accidental, as the camels do pretty much what they want.

It's over to the Fast Forward, where I have to say that Joyce has quite a nicely shaped head. She pulls the look off quite well and I¡¦d even say she looks better without hair. They get their clue for the Pit Stop (is it just me, or should they have given Uchenna a token swipe with the shaver?) although not as quickly as they probably should have. The Pit Stop is at a gigantic palace/mausoleum in Jodhpur.

Kelly finishes the Roadblock in first place, and they're off to the Pit Stop. Amber's camel seems to have a case of performance anxiety, as once again starts to turn around at the finish line. This causes a rather evil cackle from Gretchen that I'm not sure isn't going to haunt my dreams. Eventually they're across and on their way.

Tensions are building between Meredith & Gretchen, as she decides that yelling at him from the sidelines is going to help. He snaps back at her, or at least what passes for snapping for him, and it's about the first harsh words between them on the race. Lynn is through the finish line and he & Alex head off in fourth place, with Meredith slowly coming up to the end of the Roadblock.
In a quick pan across the city, we see that there are in fact two, virtually identical rock palaces in Jodhpur, both at either end of the city. Will this information come in handy? Do Lynn & Alex TiVo Will & Grace every week?

Speak of the devils, Lynn & Alex arrive at what they think is the Pit Stop, but after running around aimlessly, pulling a Brian & Greg, realize this isn't the place they want to be. They find another taxi driver and get back on the road, but this could let Meredith & Gretchen back into it. Gretchen laments her day thusly: "We had a slow elephant, a slow tuktuk driver and a slow camel." Hey, Gretchen, at some point you have to look in the mirror and - uh, never mind. You definitely don't want to do that.

Out amongst the leading teams, the race is on, with Ron & Kelly's driver forced to stop for gas. "Dangblame it!" exclaims Ron. Hey, buddy, watch that language. This is a family show. To give you a sense of how "speedy" these taxis are, Rob & Amber are actually in visual range of Ron & Kelly but are unable to get past them as they are filling up.

Uchenna & Joyce hit the mat first, justifying slightly the trouble they went through to get to the Fast Forward, although there's no bonus prize. They've got to feel a little bitter at that. Uchenna strays slightly into hyperbole by saying that Joyce made the "Ultimate Sacrifice" for this leg. I dunno, I can think of, oh, several hundred more things that are more serious than shaving your head. Unless she's actually Samson from the Bible. Is she Samson?

There's a rather meaningless footrace between Ron & Kelly and Rob & Amber, except to show their competitive spirits. Ron & Kelly hit the mat just a fraction of a second faster, though not for lack of effort by either team, since the last bit of running was over uneven, jagged rocks that could have made either team into a Gretchen, lickety split.

Fourth place is up for grabs now, with both Meredith & Gretchen and Lynn & Alex potentially going home. To my eternal shock, it is the old fogeys that wander up to the mat first. They just keep hanging on through more or less incredible luck, although Gretchen now looks like she should be put out of her misery. Seriously, don't get her too close to Bruce Campbell or he'll take her out with a chainsaw. Phil informs them that they are the oldest team to make it this far in the race, but they're really the oldest team to do pretty much anything, even outside the race.

As Lynn approaches the mat, he expresses his displeasure with the management for placing two palaces in the city. I mean, it's not his fault they went to the wrong place, is it? We know they're last but the only question that remains is if this is a non-elimination leg or not. Phil informs them they're out, which means we're down to the Final Four. They both exit with a high amount of class and they've both clearly had a blast, their inability to defeat and destroy Rob & Amber notwithstanding. Aside from one first place finish, they came in fifth or fourth every single leg, which is eventually going to catch up with you. Of course, this still doesn't compare with Meredith & Gretchen, who have now finished all but one leg in the bottom third of the racers.



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