The Amazing Race 8: Family Edition Episode 3
I Don't Kiss, I Make Out
By Reagen Sulewski
October 13, 2005
The third leg of the Family Edition of the Amazing Race, which from all appearances is not going to leave the continental United States (would it have killed them to find a Griswold family for this?), starts off again in Virginia with just eight teams remaining.
Although they seem to be taking it easy on them travel-wise, it's good to see that they at least are sticking to the 12-hour rest period, with the first place Weavers heading out at 2:26 a.m. We stick with the Eastern Seaboard as the families fly to Charleston, South Carolina. Once there, they then have to find an area known as The Battery, with the clue located in a gazebo. Oh, the world famous Charleston gazebo, that one?
The Linzs are just one minute behind, as we saw last episode, and the Godlewskis are two minutes behind them. For some reason, all the teams this morning have a driver to the airport – have we removed all skill from the game yet? Why not pull names from a hat?
The next pack of racers consists of the Schroeders in fourth at 2:35, the Aiellos just two minutes back of them, and the Bransens in sixth and one more minute back. We shall see if Wally is up to any physical tasks this week, like opening car doors, walking, and breathing.
Billy retains his "most annoying member of the Gaghans" title for the third straight week with a little dance as they leave in seventh place, 17 minutes behind the leaders. Meanwhile, out on the highway, a wide load trailer is blocking the freeway, slowing teams to a crawl. How inconsiderate of them, moving a wide load at a time when there is virtually no other traffic!
Several teams at this point, having watched the show previously, understand that you don't actually have to be at the airport to book your flights, and borrow their driver's cell phone to call ahead. This seems like something that could easily have been controlled by the producers (like, say, not having drivers), but oh well. It's turning out to be that kind of season.
The Paolos are last out of the gate at 3:05, with the early hour causing friction between the team members... oh sorry, that's just a byproduct of them being within five feet of each other.
The Linzs reach the airport first after the Weavers overshoot the exit... excuse me, the Weaver's driver overshoots the exit, although both they, and several other teams get on what appears to be the earliest flight to Charleston, arriving at 10:04 in the morning. The Godlewskis trade up from their earlier booked flight that arrived two minutes later (airline scheduling puzzles me), but this flight fills up just as the Bransens get to the counter. They and the Gaghans end up on the flight that the Godlewskis originally had, and those two minutes are gonna be a killer, I can tell you.
Proving it's possible to over-think this game, the Weavers cause a minor kerfuffle when, as inexperienced flyers, they go up to the ticket agents asking about procedures. It's an intelligent move, but this gets the Spidey senses of a few other teams going, with the Schroeders and the Aiellos sure that the Weavers have found another flight somehow. Stassi coins the acronym "SBD" for Silent But Deadly, referring to the fact they said nothing when questioned about their trip to the ticket counter, so now you'll understand it when all the cool kids are saying this next week.
The Paolos grab the first flight they find, which happens to arrive later than all the other flights so far, at 10:38. It probably is no big deal, as Linda Weaver says, but it's another sign the Paolos are really just winging it.
While killing time at the airport, a little inter-team friendship starts to build between Hunter of the Schroeders and Rolly of the Weavers. Being that they're 15 and 14, this naturally involves hitting each other. Char, worried that their strategy might somehow leak out (Step 1: Read clues correctly. Step 2: Get to pit stop first) breaks them up, leading Hunter to make a comment that's more than likely to lead to some soap-in-mouth treatment. But really, he's got a point; what else are you going to do at an eight hour layover? Char reveals that they're going to cut him out of their strategic planning (see: above) in future legs, which is a cold, cold move in my opinion.
The Paolos have now reached the point where DJ would argue with his mother over whether water is wet or not, with the decision to get a map of South Carolina somehow proving controversial. Brian, taking notes for the tell-all book notes that his "family has many mood swings". Technically, it's not so much a swing, since that would imply that there was more than one mood in this family, but I'm in a charitable mood at the moment, so I'll grant the point. DJ complains that his mother wants to be in his business all the time, but might I remind you that you are in a team race at this exact moment? The fact that you apparently cannot stand to be in the same room as your mother is probably something you should have thought of prior to signing up for this.
After all that drama, we now move to Charleston, where after a mad dash from the airport, the Schroeders find the clue box first, which contains the Detour. The tasks are oh-so-cutely named Forrest Gump and Muddy Waters. In the first, your team has to stumble through three decades of American history in a nostalgic yet charming fashion... no, that's wrong. They have to dehead 200 pounds (!) of shrimp at a nearby shrimp farm. In the latter, they have to take on a 400 foot run through a mud bog in a town 37 miles away. The Schroeders, along with the Linzs choose the shrimp option, with the Weavers deciding to go with the bog option. The Aiellos made an earlier decision to make this a fun day, and choose the mud bog task, with the Godlewskis picking the shrimp.
At the shrimp boat, this task proves about as long as might be expected, with two full crates needing to be finished to complete the task. The Schroeders are there first, with the Linzs get a little lost at first, until Meg spots a sign. Her brothers express shock that she could help out on this race (she is after all, a girl), but they are none the worse for wear at the moment.
While the Bransens go for the shrimp Detour, The Gaghans pick the mud bog option (Carissa, missing the point entirely: "That would be fun to play in"), and it's about this point that we see that this may not have been a very good choice. The Weavers get about halfway through the run before getting stuck (or bogged down, if you will), and although the Aiellos make a great run of it, they get stuck just a few feet before the finish line. After a perfect beat, David then comments, "We were going great guns, though." And if the goal was to get 80% of the way done, you'd be golden. While both these teams are getting towed back for more attempts, the Paolos have finally joined the game, and choose the shrimping option.
Now on their sixth attempt at the bog and getting no closer to the end of their run, the Weavers decide to cut and run, with the Aiellos also considering their options. Meanwhile the Schroeders have finished their detour, with the clue directing them to the Charleston Vistors Center, where we have the traditional class separation of the teams. Two charter buses, leaving two hours apart, will take their teams to a mystery destination. I wonder if it's going to be one of those secret small club dates by bands like The Stones or R.E.M. or something. That would at least liven things up a little.
No orders change so far at the Detour until the Gaghans make a surprising move by blazing through the mud bog on their first attempt. Is their lighter overall weight playing into their hands yet again? The Aiellos can only sit and stew at this point.
The Linzs, Schroeders, Godlewskis and Bransens all make up the four teams on the first bus, giving them the first real separation created by the game so far.
And now back to the mud bog. After 13 (!) tries, the Aiellos are still no further ahead, and finally, it seems, get the idea to switch out drivers. David subs out for Kevin, who makes it through on his first try. And the Alex Rodriguez award for folding under pressure goes to... David or the Aiello team! This is a huge hole they've now put themselves in, but hey, there's always the Paolos, right?
The remaining four teams are now on the second bus (the Aiellos, missing the point, think they beat the Weavers; no, you're tied) to the mystery location, which turns out to be Huntsville, Alabama. The clue upon arriving directs them to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Luckily this proves easy to find, being as there's a giant rocket sticking up into the sky at it.
The Bransens are the first ones to the center, where they find the Roadblock. In a twist on the rules, this one is to be performed by two team members, and consists of being swung around in the astronaut training centrifuge at 3.2gs. In another twist, Phil actually is subjected to the Roadblock for the first time in memory.
This is ultimately a pretty trivial challenge, as it's first-come-first-serve, and there's no real bail-out. Also, 3.2gs is not all that strong, as anyone who's been to Cedar Point can tell you. Case in point, the Bransens are done quickly, and are on their way to the next clue, nearby Rocket Park. Lined up for the centrifuge are the Linzs, Schroders and Godlewskis, who finally make it after a short argument over whether a hangar is an airplane, or what an airplane sits in.
The next clue is a shameless piece of product placement and involves no actual task, simply moving teams along to the pit stop at the Space Shuttle Pathfinder. The Bransens keep their lead, and hit the mat first. The bonus prize this time is one of the more innovative prizes they've offered, with all four of them receiving free gas for life from BP and ARCO. The Linzs keep their second place finish for the second straight week.
Back on the second bus, the Weavers are deteriorating rapidly. No one told them they'd have to, you know, do stuff and things. Here's a thought – it's night, get some sleep! You're all on the same bus, it's not like you can be passed. At one point, I think they believe themselves to be a hummingbird of some sort. Mama Weaver puts on a brave face, trying not to show any weakness to the other teams, but the last time I saw a smile that creepy, I became afraid of clowns for life. Their nervous energy seems to pay off a little, as they are first off the bus in Huntsville and on the road quickly. We know, but they don't, how crucial positioning is going to be here. Meanwhile, the Schroeders and Godlewskis have finished their strong legs, making it third and fourth, respectively.
At the space center, the Weavers are comfortably in fifth spot, leaving the other teams to battle it out for the remaining positions. The Paolos are quickest to realize the "first come first serve" portion of this task, and grab sixth spot, and the Aiellos are caught napping and fall to eighth behind the Gaghans. A rather drama-free Roadblock follows, despite the momentary impression that the Paolos would somehow miss the giant freaking rockets on the grounds. The producers do their best to insert some tension here, but there's clearly too much separation because of the Roadblock, and the last three teams come in as the Paolos, Gaghans and the Aiellos, who are eliminated. In this humble recapper's opinion, it was a huge mistake to have such a bottlenecked Roadblock so close to the finish, with no major task in between. It reduces the whole thing to who can grab a number first, which reduces us again to the drawing from hats idea. I'd almost prefer it at this point. While a lot of the team dynamics this go around have been interesting, the actual race so far has left a lot to be desired.