The Amazing Race 9 Recap
By Reagen Sulewski
March 1, 2006
Oh, The Amazing Race. How I've missed you. Oh, it might seem like we just had a season of you last fall, but looks can be deceiving. That was the bastardized, watered-down Family Edition, which, following this reference, we can safely dismiss as NEVER HAVING HAPPENED. Hear me?
We're back to our traditional teams of two, and hopefully off to somewhere a little more exotic than Huntsville, Alabama for our journeys.
First introduced are Lake and Michelle, a husband and wife team who are a dentist and a dental assistant, respectively. They're going to rock the teeth cleaning challenge. And oh mah, Michelle is just a sweet little ol' Southern Belle, ain't she? These two are seen working out in their preview clip, which is always a warning sign for "over-competitive jackass". But we shall see.
Next we have Danielle and Dani, who have an early lead on team chemistry, sharing so much in common like their love of hair products, cool things and the same first four letters of their first name. They could be trouble, as long as they don't end up splitting from each other and joining with whichever hunk they spot first.
BJ and Tyler seem to have escaped from an improv group on hippie night, or perhaps are actual time travellers from 1967. BJ may in fact be Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap. Sitting in front of a tie-dyed (!) background, they explain how they're really going to be the most cutthroat people in the race. Like, whatever, dudes. Ten bucks says these guys end up on the side of the road somewhere fixated on the end of their nose.
Next we have Ray and Yolanda, the token ethnic minority team. He's a laywer, she's a teacher, so they're almost the Cosbys. Well, Cosbys from "da hood" as Ray puts it. Also seen working out, this could be the team bringing the most baggage into the race.
John and Scott are listed as "lifelong friends", but that euphemism isn't really necessary – they're the gay couple of this show, although they don't seem to actually be "together" in that sense of the term. John is a big scaredy cat who is afraid of flying, which just might present itself on this show. Though we can take nothing for granted anymore.
There's always at least one impossibly perfect looking couple on the race and this time it's Joseph (a close ringer for Jude Law) and Monica (a blonder Mandy Moore), or Team Mo-Jo (oh, how easily that turns into Team Mo-Mo). They have the perfect relationship, apparently based on RV-ing, watersports and how pretty they think each other is.
Eric and Jeremy re-enact a scene from Top Gun for their intro clip, apparently oblivious to the homo-erotic nature of shirtless guys playing volleyball. Florida beach bums to the extreme, they "want to be millionaires, but don't want to work for it". Because lack of work ethic really helps you in anything.
Lisa and Joni are sisters that call themselves "The Glamazons", because they are, in their own words, "kind of glamorous and kind of Amazons". Apparently, their version of glamour includes leg wrestling and Bedazzling jeans. They look in their 50s, but they might just be 14.
The obligatory geezer team is Fran and Barry, who have been married 40 years. Geezer seems a bit unfair here, because they do look like they've kept themselves in shape, but there is a reason why these teams always crash at about the two thirds point.
Wanda and Desiree are the mother-daughter team for this edition, and offer a little more ethnic diversity by being Puerto Rican. They are one of many teams who feel they will be underestimated (this show's competitors have more chips than a fraternity) and plan to "salsa to the Pit Stop". Well good, but other teams will be running.
Finally, we have Dave and Lori, self-proclaimed nerds and... well, it's no fun when they already take the joke away from you. OK, but they do list their skills as "card games and taking tests". I'm betting that comes up a lot this episode.
All the teams are now at the Red Rocks Ampitheater near Denver, Colorado, where Phil runs the teams through the standard boilerplate rules speech, gives us the trademark People's Eyebrow, and sends the teams on their way.
The first clue sends the teams to... Sao Paolo, Brazil! Oh, Amazing Race, let's never fight again. As is traditional, the teams have three flights to choose from, or rather, to get to before they're filled up. BJ and Tyler set the early tone, with shouts of, "Let's go! ... where are we going?" Danielle (or Dani – I hope they're eliminated before I figure out which is which) is already complaining about being out of breath (so I may get my wish). Altitude is taking an early toll on teams, with several already reduced to a walking pace. Er, they were aware this was a race, right?
A so-called "intense" moment happens early when Joseph and Monica pass BJ and Tyler on the Interstate. Whoa guys, keep that blood pressure down and save something for the rest of the race! Some other early tidbits: Joni is worried they'll have to eat monkey testicles in Brazil – hey, don't knock it till you've tried it - Eric and Jeremy might take Phil's suggestion that they can do anything from this point a little too literally, as they suggest taking their $140 to go pick up chicks. I totally believe these guys have to pay for women. However, Danielle and Dani seem like easy marks for them. Lori says she's going to unsheathe her womanhood – can you even do that on a family show?
The editors are having fun right off the bat; right after Ray reads a note on the clue that says that the tickets may not be reserved on the phone, we cut to Lake directing Michelle to get off the freeway to find a phone. This could be the first big mistake of the race. Although they're given a spot on the first flight, we could see a penalty applied very early on.
Meanwhile, a whole pack of teams has reached the Denver airport, with most of them jamming themselves onto one shuttle. Danielle and Dani have themselves a slight lead however, and are able to get to the American Airlines terminal. The first sign that they may not be just hairspray and tanning spray comes when they check the arrival times of all the flights (a common swerve in this show), and they are first on the first flight to arrive.
Michelle notices their huge early mistake while taking a second pass at the clue, and this team has given up a huge gap to every other one in the race. Their penalty may just be to be doomed to the last flight. Lake actually says "Dat gummit!" Is he a 19th century prospector? He nobly accepts "partial" fault for this mistake, setting an ominous tone. Is there someone else that directed them off the freeway?
The great crush of people starts to disperse throughout the terminal, where BJ and Tyler meet up with Danielle and Dani, dubbing them, oh so cleverly "Double D". I really shouldn't be surprised when they respond with "that's what everyone calls us". They're single handedly setting back feminism 30 years. Everyone is trying for the American flight, which starts the bailout to the next arriving flight with United. Monica actually has to hold back tears about potentially not getting on the flight, much to the consternation of Joseph, who I'm sure thought she was made of sterner stuff.
BJ & Tyler and Fran & Barry are the other two teams that get on the first flight, leaving everyone else playing catch-up. It's Eric & Jeremy, Wanda & Desiree, Dave & Lori and John & Scott on the second, United flight, leaving all the rest, including Lisa & Joni, who panicked and all the alpha couples on the last, Continental flight.
However, the fickle finger of fate has scrambled the arrival times somewhat with delays, meaning the United flight actually gets in first. Wanda speaks Spanish and a little Portuguese (naturally) and gets along with the locals "like peas and carrots". Eric and Jeremy inquire about their competition by cup size and hair color, and when find out it's not the blondes ahead of them, respond, "Bitches!" Yeah, that's a good tactic to impress people.
The American flight now arrives in Brazil, five minutes after the United flight, which could make things interesting. BJ & Tyler lead the way off that flight and display some newly found, and, in this impressive display of resourcefulness, useful Portuguese phrases. These guys are fun. Finally, the Continental flight is in, leaving the four teams on it scrambling to stay in the race and Lake's competitive nature emerging.
All the teams seem to have deciphered the clever clue that a "unique hotel" is, in fact the Hotel Unique, which has the next clue on its roof. Wanda & Desiree are first to the roof, and get the next clue, sending them three miles through the city to Ciaduto Santa Efigenia, a famous bridge. They're followed in quick succession by several other teams, however, not all were smart enough (I'm looking at you, Eric & Jeremy) to get their drivers to wait. They make their introduction to Danielle and Dani by stealing their cab when they arrive at the hotel. I expect the karma from this game of Musical Taxis to have vast and far-reaching implications.
Reaching the bridge, Wanda and Desiree pick up the next clue, a Detour. They're asked to choose from two "common" forms of transportation in Sao Paolo, motorcycle or helicopter. Wait, helicopter? Is Sao Paolo where the Jetsons live or something? Anyway, the producers seem to have taken the criticism of the ease of the clues from the Family Edition to heart and have really upped the ante. Teams actually have to put together a motorcycle, or spot one of three buildings from the air, in a city full of skyscrapers. As well, the buildings could have exhausted all their clues by the time they're reached. They're looking to break someone in the very first episode.
Wanda & Desiree, BJ & Tyler, Eric & Jeremy and Dave & Lori all choose the helicopter task, while Fran & Barry set a new standard for missing the clue box, as Fran nearly bumps into it while walking past it. Suddenly the plot of The Purloined Letter makes much more sense.
By their account, they lose 20 to 30 minutes walking up and down this bridge, and let Danielle and Dani catch right back up to them. They, to their credit, find it immediately, and are the first to choose the motorcycle task. I can see this being interesting for several reasons.
Thanks to some bad navigation, Dave and Lori are able to leap ahead into first place at the helicopter pad, though the manuals they have to look through are somewhat complicated and obscure. Eric & Jeremy get into a helicopter first, followed by BJ & Tyler, then Dave & Lori (who have chosen the second of the three buildings) Wanda & Desiree got really lost, and are now back in fourth (and who chose the furthest building).
Meanwhile, at the motorcycle shop, Danielle and Dani attempt to use what is most likely their standard coping mechanism – kiss a boy, and get him to do it. Although the one they pick is happy to be led around, the subtitles reveal he doesn't know anything about motorcycles, so he's probably not going to be much help.
Back on the bridge, Fran and Barry are saved when Joseph and Monica arrive, and they spot them going for the clue box. I think they might still have been there if not for that. Fran and Barry choose the motorcycle task (Fran is "good at putting things together"), while Joseph and Monica bail to the helicopter task. Fran suspects that the producers moved the clue box on them, which bodes poorly for their future in this game.
At this point, Lake (who Joseph dubs "Scott Peterson" – stay classy, San Diego!) & Michelle and Ray & Yolanda have reached the bridge, with both of these teams going for the motorcycle option. Lake is flexing his manly prerogative here, telling Michelle "not to second guess him". I'm seeing a mini-Jonathan develop. This leaves Lisa & Joni, along with John & Scott, stuck in the traffic jam from hell, as the last teams to arrive at the bridge. John's fear of traveling rears its head in mild xenophobia, as he insists they bail on their cab driver, then harass locals for directions. It's not looking good for several teams at this, just the halfway point of the first leg of the race.