The Amazing Race: Family Edition - Episode 9

Don't Talk To Me Like I Was An Animal or Something

By Reagen Sulewski

February 2, 2006

The Madagascar crew is shocked by the title of this episode.

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Nearing the (blessed) end of this Family Edition of the Amazing Race, we take off again from Salt Lake City, Utah, with the Linzs in the lead. Phil gives an array of dizzying and irrelevant facts about the city (they are clearly starving for good content here) and they are away at 12:46 a.m., as the entire state sleeps. Megan is feeling under the weather, and Nick astutely steals my joke by saying that's she's more than likely sick of being around them for so long. Their clue sends them to a local high school, so we're hitting all the cultural hot spots.

The Bransens are out in second, at 1:23 a.m. They're a rather perceptive group, having figured out that the Weavers are mildly unpopular among the other racers left. They've also determined that water is, in fact, wet, and that Fox cancels far too many brilliant series before their time.


The Godlewskis are third out just seven minutes later, where the line on "least popular person in this car" has just been taken off the board. Christine should watch out lest she be killed and eaten. I exaggerate a little, but her sisters are openly grabbing maps away from her and actively ignoring her. It's a good thing chemistry isn't an issue with this race. What? Oh.

By this time, the Linzs have reached the high school, where, learning the crucial lessons of number-taking from last leg, remember to take their number and secure their first place spot for the time being. Opening the clue box, they find that they will have to help inflate a hot air balloon and take a scenic ride. However, this doesn't happen until 6 a.m. the next morning, with ten-minute intervals between the teams, so the Linzs's lead is once again lost to the ether. They do twig on the idea to get some sleep in their camper, proving they're not entirely there just for looks.

The Bransens and the Godlewskis pull into the high school in the same order they left, in accordance with the show's policy of having as little drama as possible. Thus, we finally get to the Weavers, who are finally getting out of the gate at 5:07 a.m. That was one hell of a detour. The high mountain air seems to be making this team delirious, as they now are claiming they knew the race would be down and dirty, even as they complain about how unloved they are.

The 6 o'clock start lets the Weavers catch up to the main pack and leads to what might be the apex of their insanity. With the other three teams looking on in bemusement, Linda starts screaming at the top of her voice (and hey, they got to catch up, I'll give them that) about how the Yield didn't work on them. Sure, but only because you were so incompetent at navigating that any yielding proved pointless, and the only reason you're still here is due to the fact the producers wanted to keep the game at four teams for one more leg. It's also worth noting that no team has ever been yielded out of the race. In short, they're on crack.

Linda next confronts the Linzs, telling asking them if they're sorry they wasted their Yield, and then answering her own question by saying they will be. Are they under some impression that there's going to be more? Have they not seen this show before? Nick, to his credit, boldly states they're not sorry, leaving Linda unprepared for this bold rhetorical attack. Apparently, she was expecting them to grovel in fear.

Their war against sanity continues as they reach the balloon field. Singling out the Godlewskis for elimination, they peg them as all "bottle blondes and implants". Now we've been over the implant thing before; two of the sisters are, in fact, fairly large in that department, but are large anyway. The other two are the 1s to the others' 0s, and are rivaling Keira Knightley for boyishness. What's especially funny this time around is the hair color comment, when all four sisters have the same vaguely brownish blonde hair, when there's no way that Linda's blonde hair is natural, Rebecca has blatant streaks, Rachel has roots showing and Rolly's hair can be seen from space. I'd call it hypocrisy, but that would imply this team was capable of self-analysis.

The first balloon in the air is, of course, the Linzs's, who somehow turn this slow-speed chase into a reason for boasting. An interesting bit of non-race intrigue transpires here as Tommy's booyahing inspires an admiring comment from Lindsay Bransen. I think we have finally found this season's love connection. And here I was thinking Linda and Wally.

With all four balloons now in the air (close your eyes, Weavers, so you don't have to endure the ugly Utah scenery!), we get a near-disaster involving the Linzs and the Bransens. OK, it's potentially upsetting. Mildly interesting? Something that happened? Okay, we'll go with that, as the balloons gently touch in the air. The forces of nature were trying to bring Tommy and Lindsay closer together, I think.

The Linzs then land and receive their clue, which sends them back to the sprawling metropolis of Heber City, where they must find Heber City Railway for the next clue box. Apparently the Utah Tourist Board shelled out the big bucks to CBS this time.

The Bransens and Godlewskis land without incident, but the same can't quite be said for the Weavers, who have annoyed their pilot enough in their short time together that he is passive-aggressively trying to kill them. They set down on a near vertical hill, leading them to be dragged for several more feet in what proves to be several seconds of drama. However, they are eventually on their way safely, dammit.

At the railway, the Linzs find the Detour, which has them choose two different forms of manual labor: banging together a stretch of railroad track, or hauling 400 pounds of coal. The track task involves a little more precision, but could be shorter than lugging several wheelbarrows back and forth. The Linzs go for that task and are quickly at work, though basically three-handed, as Megan mostly sits this out.

The idea of hauling that much coal scares off both the Bransens and the Godlewskis, but the latter team immediately finds itself out of its depth. They're four team members acting independently, which is pretty much death in these kinds of tasks. The Weavers arrive last and take a chance by going for the coal task. Judging by the whining going on about the rail task, they likely have made a good choice for both them and us.

It's a proud moment for women in the race when the Bransen daughters basically just step aside and let Wally do his thing. Man strong! Woman weak! Man pound hammer quickly! Meanwhile, the Godlewskis peck away at their spike ineffectually. You're letting the Weavers back in, dummies!

Finishing first in the Detour, the Linzs are on their way to Bonneville Salt Flats the Tree of Utah, an 87-foot-tall sculpture designed to "provide color and beauty to the landscape", according to Phil. I gotta say, it ain't really working. The Bransens are done next, thanks to Wally.

Poor Christine Godlewski. She's so eager to help on this task, but succeeds only in getting in the way of her sisters and pissing them off. She really is at the point where she needs to just sit down and stop trying to prove things to them. By this point, the soot-covered Weavers have finished their task and on their way to the next clue box. Damn the Godlewskis' incompetence! We get a little peek into their family dynamic, as they start to turn Christine into a scapegoat and accuse her of choosing this task. Bossy older sister Sharon specifically says she wanted to do the other task, but a review of the tape reveals that she was the one that insisted that precision work would be their best chance. J'accuse, Sharon, j'accuse!

The Linzs have reached the Tree, which turns out to be just a scenic stop. The next destination is the Bear Lake Rendezvous Beach (or in the words of Tommy, Rendever – oh, so close). Things have tightened up considerably, as the Bransens and Weavers both arrive while the Linzs are running back to their vehicle. As well, the Godlewkis are right on their tails, so they clearly couldn't have done that badly at the Detour.

However, as we reach the campground where the teams will stop for the night, the Bransens have magically moved up to first place, getting an 8:30 a.m. departure. The Weavers are in for second, and an 8:45 a.m. departure, but not before we get another doozy from this family; Rebecca asks the rest of her team to watch out for the signs, since her brain is fried like she's been in math class. We then find out, via Rolly, that she's failed math class. Rachel doesn't believe him, but Rebecca says, sure she did, twice. Um, isn't she home-schooled? How do you fail that? This really could explain a lot. At this point, they take the opportunity to beg for money from other campers. If only they knew.

Now, the Godlewskis have arrived at the campground, grabbing the 9 a.m. departure, and we're wondering if the Linzs have driven into a canyon after Alex farted in Nick's face or something. But no, we're informed that the production crew has drained another team's battery, dropping them to fourth. Honestly, I hope they're cracking skulls on the crew at this point.

The next morning, the Bransens receive their clue, which sends them to a ranch near Big Piney, Wyoming. Who's naming these places, seven-year-olds? We get a little picture of why Wally is the way he is on the way there, with Lindsay and Lauren silently torturing him. They've sucked the life out of him, I just know it. Next out, the Weavers manage to work God into someone giving them maps as they leave. Billy Graham thinks these guys pray too much.

Sibling bickering is the theme of the next two vehicles, with Christine complaining about her stomach with no sympathy given from the rest of her sisters, and Alex being just a little too hyped up for the rest of the Linzs at 9:15 in the morning. Megan looks like she'd rather be anywhere else at the moment. Twenty-one years as the middle sister has to be tiring.

Upon reaching the ranch, the Bransens find the clue box, which is the Roadblock. Two team members have to drive cattle into a pen while riding horses, and they get the help of a cowboy. Lauren and Elizabeth get the call and go for a cowboy that looks an awful lot like Heath Ledger... wait a minute - cowboys, Wyoming, Heath look-alikes – I think you girls are barking up the wrong tree. They finish their task without any real setbacks and get their next clue just as the Weavers are arriving. It reads about as cryptic as this show gets nowadays, saying "I'm Old and Faithful". Hey, they're gonna find Paul Newman!

Somehow, this task plays right into the Weavers' hands, as they turn out to be horse people. Why does this show hate me? Rebecca and Rachel mount up, and quickly get to work.

The Godlewskis have managed to overshoot their mark yet again, leading to a repeat performance of the comedy show, "Four City Girls Try to Turn Around a Camper Trailer". It's a good thing some random dude happens by, or else they could still be there right now. Sharon and Michelle are up for them in the task, and it's entirely possible that we might lose them into a canyon for how well they ride.

The Linzs and Weavers play a little game of chicken as they meet up on the road into the ranch, which is barely wide enough for one vehicle. Technically, the Weavers have the right of way, but it's sort of flawed in that no one has anywhere to go. After a pointlessly bitchy exchange, both teams are on their way, with a minimum of bloodshed, unfortunately.

Tommy and Alex employ the screaming-at-the-cows method of herding, which is surprisingly effective. All four teams are now off to Yellowstone Park, where they'll have to wait to see an eruption of the geyser. It's a fairly unique bunching point, and completely at the whims of Mother Nature. The Bransens and Weavers are stuck at the geyser waiting for it go off, although it takes a bit longer for the Weavers to really understand the concept. The park attendant uses small words, and they finally sit down to wait it out. In an incredible stroke of luck, it goes off just as the Godlewskis and Linzs are entering the park, giving us two distinct packs. We have the Lucky Bastard Group and the Screwed By the Producers Group. Sounds fair to me.

We're nearing the end of the hour by the TV, and there's a crucial element missing from them reading out their clue... anyone, anyone, Bueller? Yes, there's no mention of a Pit Stop.

The Bransens do the Godlewskis a solid by pointing them in the direction of Old Faithful, though it's not like it's that tough to find once they're there. This "hu-man kindness" seems to puzzle the Weavers, prompting Linda to say, "Don't say anything to them" to her brood. I'm not sure they ever think about why they do anything they do. Both the Godlewskis and Linzs eventually get to see the geyser and are on their way, although the Linzs do seem to notice that no end point is mentioned on the clue.

The Bransens and Weavers are within mere seconds of each other and are talking strategy for the race to Phil; Rolly, the little brat, wants to get physical with the other team. Hey bud, they may be girls, but I'd put serious money on them stomping you into the ground. Although the Bransens do get to the mat first, it's all pretty pointless, as the rather obvious fact that it's a double leg is confirmed by Phil, much to the chagrin of both tired teams. I really think this is a bone thrown to the two latter teams that have been screwed by production trouble, and it's at least something to give them to make up for their stunning incompetence. It does, however, drag this race out even longer and gives us one more hour of the Weavers.



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