The Amazing Race Season 9: Episode 5
It's a Good Thing I Took That Human Anatomy Class in High School
By Reagen Sulewski
April 6, 2006
Leg 4 of this Amazing Race begins in Munich in the shadow of the peace monument that so typifies the German reputation. Eric & Jeremy are first once again, leaving at 2:15 a.m. The first clue of the day is to go to Palermo, Italy, or as they call it, "Pollermo". Somewhere, the Italian language is crying. After landing in Sicily, they'll have to find a 100-year-old opera house for their next clue.
Jeremy wins the understatement of the year award by noting that they haven't been overanalyzing the race so far. If only their slacker strategy wasn't so fricking effective to date. Girls are on their mind once again, hoping that the Danielle & Dani pulled through, and "pulled their heads out of their fine little asses". Chivalry, not dead.
BJ & Tyler are next out at 3:04 a.m., and wait around for Lake & Michelle, who leave at 3:09 a.m. BJ & Tyler seem to have an alliance with whoever is closest to them at the moment, aka the Karma strategy. Which, again, is tough to argue with so far. Lake declares that Michelle has "room to grow" when it comes to navigation, which is a rather rich overcompensation given how many times he's gotten them lost. He's still the leader of the team, of course, which makes him right by default.
Eric & Jeremy are first to the airport and get working on tickets, finding out that the first one leaves at 10:15 a.m., though they are not available to be booked yet at the kiosk. And what would an encounter with a woman on this race be for these two without them hitting on them? Scarves apparently equal hickeys in their world, and they have no ability to read awkwardness, apparently. How can they not read the body language that their targets aren't flattered? Seriously, their love life has to be doomed when they get back. They take advantage of the downtime to have some wheelchair balancing competitions, and this is what they're doing when the next two teams arrive.
Michelle sends some scorn their way ("dumbasses") and goes off to find an Internet terminal, while BJ & Tyler join in for an impromptu Roadblock challenge. After BJ loses to Eric in the wheelchair race, they head over to the Internet to book their tickets. While Michelle struggles with the German website, BJ is able to figure out that, yes, most airline Web sites do translate their sites. They find the same flight to Palermo and book it, which, in one of those strange Amazing Race coincidences, are the last tickets for the flight, thus proving Michelle's inadequacy to Lake yet again.
Fran & Barry, serving as this year's Team You Just Can't Kill, are fourth out at 5:03 a.m. What's worse, they appear to be learning from their mistakes! Dave & Lori are next at 5:28 a.m., accompanied by their Nerdly theme song supplied by the producers. Dave & Lori would also like to let you suckers know that they are in love, unlike the rest of you. Watch out for the Love Power!
Joseph & Monica are the sixth team away at 5:52 a.m., with Monica repeating Jeremy's butchering of Italian, but slower. At least she recognizes "Italy". Perhaps they'll eat some Parmeesian cheese while they're there.
Around this time, the ticket counters open, with Eric & Jeremy finding out that the flight they found out about is now full. Lake & Michelle, standing behind them, bail in disgust, but perhaps a bit too soon, as Eric & Jeremy find out that standby might just be available. It's a risky move, but not a bad place to take a shot as the only risk is if the second flight fills up, which is usually not a problem.
Lake & Michelle end up with a flight that lands in Palermo at 2:00 p.m., which appears to be their second mistake of the morning, as Fran & Barry ask about quicker connections from Rome and find out that gets in 35 minutes earlier. Ah, but Lake doesn't make mistakes, remember? Try not to laugh in his face when he says that. He looks like a spit-talker. Fran freezes him out at the counter, to which he responds, "She's a doctor's wife, she shouldn't be acting like that." I think I detect a little dentistry inferiority complex there. Dave & Lori also book the earlier connection, which means that Lake is also now inferior to nerds.
In the meantime, BJ & Tyler board their flight, with Eric & Jeremy snagging stand-by seats. These two teams are simply schooling the rest of the racers, and are in danger of making this thing predictable. To emphasize this gap, Ray & Yolanda are now just leaving the Pit Stop at 6:48 a.m. in seventh.
Fun with Italian continues, as Joseph asks for tickets to "Palomino". No, corrects, Monica, you want "Pollermo". Meanwhile the ticket agent tries to find a sharp object to get rid of these two. No jury would convict, my friend.
Danielle & Dani are finally out of the gate at 7:28 a.m., and are vowing to not make any mistakes, taking it slow and steady. You... might want to rethink that first part. At any rate, they are likely to catch up with at least some of the group, as the second flight to Rome leaves before Ray & Yolanda can get on it. They're able to book a flight that arrives in Palermo at 2 p.m., which, if you were paying attention, is the same flight that Lake & Michelle took. Danielle & Dani also manage to get on this flight, giving us our loser pack.
Arriving in Rome, Eric & Jeremy find that they've been booked on a different connecting flight, putting BJ & Tyler even further ahead. The fun with connections continue when Lake & Michelle realize they're being left behind, leading to a hilarious series of southern expletives.
BJ & Tyler are now in Palermo, and get their clue, which sends them another 40 miles by car to a seaside resort. Eric & Jeremy are not too far behind, which leaves them time to fulfill their apparent goal of trying to get rejected by women in every country they visit on the race. For their part, Danielle & Dani prove themselves to be just as shallow, macking on the Italian army boys. Why I ever doubted this match is beyond me now.
BJ & Tyler have found the next clue, which is the Detour. It's a choice between transporting a 110-pound church bell across town, or searching for a tag on a piece of laundry strewn on laundry lines. Yes, it's yet another haystack task, which they just seem to love this year. And by "love", I mean, "hate the racers". Apparently in a masochistic mood, they do go for the searching only to find the alleyway filled with many many lines of clothes. We've been through this before, guys, you shouldn't be surprised. However, they're remarkably lucky at this, and quickly find a tagged shirt to hand over to the most stereotypical old Italian woman, who hails from the small village of Central Casting. The next clue is at the top of a hill near an ancient ruin in Segesta, a town nearby. A Yield is in play at this point, and BJ& Tyler give their first hint that they might not be all sugar and spice by chanting "Frat Boys! Frat Boys!" Although, to be precise, Eric & Jeremy would have to be smart enough to get into college for this chant to work. The more accurate "Poon Hounds!" isn't exactly family friendly.
Traffic is hitting the following teams hard, with Dave & Lori stuck in rush hour. Danielle & Dani have trouble driving stick (oh, the irony), which drops them to last place overall. Lake finally has something to cheer today (Hooray! You don't suck the worst!) as he passes them.
Eric & Jeremy choose the laundry task, proving they have no clue what their strengths are (physical teams choose physical tasks, dummy), while Joseph has no trouble identifying which of the tasks is suited to him, going after the bell. Eric & Jeremy are fairly lucky as well (or perhaps are reaping the benefits of being early to a searching task, with more available clues), finding the clue in "one of Phil's shirts". He'll kill you for that later, you know. They're going to get the Eyebrow of Doom at the mat.
Fooling no one, BJ & Tyler choose not to yield any teams behind them – it wouldn't be in their nature. Then they get the Roadblock clue, which asks them "Who's good at piecing things together?" Tyler gets the call here, where he has to piece together a classical statue. However, there's two extra pieces, which they haven't told the teams about. As Simon and Hecubus would say, "EEEVIL!"
Joseph proves his manly manliness by doing the Detour almost all by his lonesome, much to the distress of Monica. C'mon, you're totally supposed to be getting hot right now! Fran & Barry happen upon this display as they drive up to the clue box with the Detour, which should hopefully scare them away from it, lest we have our first heart attack on the show. For the second time, however, these two walk right past a clue box without seeing it. Perhaps they should test the color-blindness of teams before they send them out into the world. This time, they just lose a few minutes, but their early-onset senility is going to cost them sooner or later. They choose the laundry option, which they plow through with a good deal of luck, staying in fourth place for the moment.
Dave & Lori go for the laundry Detour as well (this season is not the most physically fit bunch of racers ever), and are joined by Ray & Yolanda and Danielle & Dani, where Ray & Yolanda are the only other team to take on the physical Bell Detour. It's their smartest tactical move so far, as relying on luck at the Laundry Detour when they have an obvious physical advantage would not be smart.
Exciting clothes sorting action follows (c'mon, producers – give me bungee jumping or hang gliding or something), though tensions do rise among the teams due to the tediousness of the task, especially between the lovebirds Dave & Lori. Ray & Yolanda's tactical choice looks even smarter as they hustle through and have moved up to fifth.
The luckiest team at the Detour is Dave & Lori, who manage to find a tagged shirt and pass Ray & Yolanda while the latter team stops for directions. A fat lot of good it does them as well, since they promptly get lost.
Tyler gets the Roadblock right on the first try, not getting fooled by the two extra pieces of the statue. Their lead is such that they are leaving here right as Eric & Jeremy are arriving at Segesta. They hustle over to the Pit Stop, where they are, of course, first. Their bonus prize is a "digital imaging" package, which the hippies promptly try to act enthused about, but even they can't hide the lameness of this prize.
Eric gets the call for the Roadblock, with Jeremy offering to model for the statue. There's just no beginning to these guy's modesty, huh? That, or these two just need to get an economy-sized tub of baby oil and work out their issues together. They'd be happier, the viewers would be happier and women around the world would be happier. Eric finishes the task, and they trundle down to meet Phil. They're so upset at finishing second that they don't even bother to make a pass at the Italian greeter lady. There's just open contempt coming from Phil towards these two at this point.
There's still two teams at the Detour, giving us one of the biggest spreads in some time. Lake & Michelle find a tag, followed shortly after by Danielle & Dani, whose last place position is mitigated in their minds by not being in Russia. They're not out of it yet, as Ray & Yolanda have basically gone in a circle all this time.
Monica and Fran are tackling the statue for their respective teams, with Monica getting a bit of a mental block on the two extra pieces. However, it's short lived and they get through the Roadblock in third place.
Navigating in Sicily is proving to be quite the challenge, as Dave & Lori end up taking a backroad, allowing Lake & Michelle to catch up. Lake gets a fairly frightening look in his eyes as he spots them, which makes me think he's about to hunt him for sport. The race is on to the Yield, but Lake & Michelle falter, mistaking the Pit Stop structure for their next destination. But again, they don't make mistakes.
Joseph & Monica are in for third place, and Fran & Barry manage fourth place again, passing by a frustrated and lost Lake & Michelle. Barry's grin shows they're perhaps a bit too proud of themselves, but they are, despite their copious mistakes, right in the thick of things.
Out on the highway, Ray & Yolanda are lost yet again, and are now dead last, leaving some hope for Dani & Danielle. But wait, Lake & Michelle have finally reached the top of the hill and decide to exercise their Yield. With the Jersey Girls hot on their tail, they panic and choose them to be yielded, which is a bit of a strange choice, since they're far from the strongest team behind them. I bet Lake is the kind of guy that will refuse to trade properties in Monopoly just so no one can build hotels.
Lori and Lake are busy working away at the Roadblock (if you're counting at home, Lake has done every one to this point), and Lori is the first to be caught in the trap of the extra pieces. It's a classic smart-person overthinking problem, which is likely what they were counting on when they designed this task. She's on the verge of tears and it looks like the breakdown from the previews may be fatal for their chances. But no, it seems the producers have learned a thing or two from Survivor and its extent has been overemphasized, even though it certainly did stress this team out.
At this same time, Dani & Danielle have left Yield Purgatory, but Dani (or Danielle – does it matter at this point?) is struggling herself with the task. That the edges of the pieces might make a smooth continuous leg is somehow escaping her. This is a golden opportunity for Ray & Yolanda, who are just now racing up the hill to the Roadblock. Ray finds a way to bring brute force into a puzzle, and with Dani having to start again, they're on equal footing now.
Lake & Michelle are in for fifth spot at the Pit Stop, which is both a disappointment after their third place start this morning, and an achievement after dropping all the way to last mid-leg. I hereby dub these two Team EKG. Dave & Lori are in for sixth place, with the emotion of the day just a little too much for both of them. This is apparently the meanest they've ever been to each other, but the only response to that really is, "...Huh?" That's mean? They really must be the happiest couple in the world.
Back at the Roadblock, Ray is, according to him, "coming like Christmas", with Dani still not getting that people shouldn't have ridges in their leg. This proves crucial as Ray beats her through the task, and with their speed and a lead, this leg is pretty much over. We're given a fake out that Ray & Yolanda might be lost, but they do get in for seventh. These two could be one of the strongest teams in the race, but they really need to work on not getting lost in every single episode.
Dani & Danielle get the walk of shame into the Pit Stop, and are eliminated, thereby being the first team to be Yielded and eliminated in the same leg. Their major fault in this race was to essentially have no racing skills of their own, with their attempt to latch on to other teams failing early on. Add to that two major mistakes in leaving behind their packs and following a team to nowhere, and it's clear that they couldn't have lasted long. No team that continues to make mistakes makes it far in this race.