The Amazing Race All-Stars, Episode Six

By Reagen Sulewski

April 5, 2007

Where do we find a hat like that?

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Mirna and Charla finished first in a leg and the world didn't end. I know, I'm scared too.

They head out on this sixth leg in the lead of the pack from Maputo, Mozambique, and are sent to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where they'll have to find their way to a ferry terminal and catch one of several numbered traditional boats to sail over to the island of Zanzibar. Although it sounds like something that was made up for a 1970s sci-fi film, it is in fact a real place. Random bit of trivia: Zanzibar was the birthplace of Freddy Mercury. Yes, I'm stalling so I don't have to deal with Mirna & Charla.

Dustin & Kandice are right behind in second, mocking the Terrible Twosome ahead of them – oh the fates they're tempting – and Teri & Ian following closely in third. Oswald & Danny are fourth, with Oswald "hand-modeling" the first clue. Good thing they're not clichés. Still, they're having a tremendous amount of fun and it's impossible to harsh on them for any length of time.

Joe & Bill are off next, about an hour off the lead, as paranoid and bitter as ever, with Eric & Danielle on their heels. The brainiacs of the race argue for a bit over whether they're going to meet the Tanzanian Devil, before realizing they are both too stupid to live and throwing themselves off a cliff. Or perhaps that's just what I was hoping for. Finally, we have Uchenna & Joyce, who carry the shame of the non-elimination leg upon them, needing to finish first to avoid a 30-minute penalty.

At the airport, Mirna & Charla find one ticket agent open, who tells them about a flight that leaves the next morning, but which she cannot book for them. The conversation that results as these two try and cajole her into calling is nominally in English, but sounds more like an argument between Russian gangsters and a New York City cab driver. Eventually they give up and head back to their hotel to try again the next morning.

The rest of the other teams come to mostly the same conclusion, though a few teams, notably Teri & Ian and Joe & Bill, decide to wait it out at the airport with the hopes of beating the lines the next morning. This seems like a smart enough strategy, but not one built for comfort, much to Teri's chagrin.

The next day sees the teams jockeying for position in the standby line – apparently the Maputo-Dar es Salaam route is quite the popular route – which leads them to start looking for alternative routes. Mirna & Charla are the only ones to dare the route to Johannesburg, which has a connecting flight that's already full. It's a big risk, as they admit, but they're counting on the "bigger airport theory" helping them out. It could leave them completely stranded, but these are the risks you take.

Right after they board, the teams are told that the direct flight is full, they're not getting on, and would you please stop bothering us? Honestly, teams, if you're making Mirna & Charla look smart, there is something wrong with you.

In the Johannesburg airport, these two are now seeking out standby options and commandeer an airport employee, leading to a severely awkward situation where Mirna grabs his hands and commands him to pray for them. I hope he gets hazard pay. Eventually they get on and have secured themselves a pretty big lead at this point.

We cut now to the remaining seven teams clustered around the South African Airlines desk like a band of refugees. A few of the teams spot an open door upstairs, and head for it, with the coot group (Teri & Ian and Joe & Bill) sitting tight. However, the teams that went upstairs find a helpful agent who gets them tickets and ahead of the line on standby. Remember kids, standing in line is for suckers.

All the teams get to Johannesburg, but the teams that went upstairs are pushed though to Dar es Salaam. But wait! Eric & Danielle have mistakenly been given someone else's seats, and are yoinked off the plane at the last minute. Eric makes a valiant attempt at staying on, offering 50 bucks to anyone who'll get off (Hey, big spendah!) but to no avail, and they're left to fight with the coot squad to get to the next point. Danielle has a stress and fatigue related freakout, and really, it's tough to blame her.

An airline official comes to tell them that the next flight is at 10 a.m. the next morning, making this the most ridiculous leg of the race that I can ever remember. To highlight this, Charla & Mirna are now landing in Dar es Salaam, and the last three teams are 18 hours away from taking off. They're about to take a commanding lead until... a ha, apparently there is a storm warning in the area. A storm of blue sky and calm winds. You really have to watch out for those. I half expect to see a producer in the background shaking a piece of sheet metal for thunder effects. Anyhow, the departure is delayed until the other teams can catch the weather abates, the next morning at 5:30.


The second group of teams arrives later that evening, and make a dash to the ferry area (as Danny & Oswald chuckle) to claim their spots of the boats to Zanzibar. Danny & Oswald are first, meaning they get a ride over with Charla & Mirna ("anyone want to trade spots?"), while Dustin & Kandice and Uchenna & Joyce are on the second boat, three hours later.

After a long night in Tanzania (one supposes), the early morning departures are ready to board, with Danny & Oswald making "lady of the night" jokes to each other and at Mirna & Charla, who fortunately have their irony shields up and just stare blankly back. Good for you! It's a fairly lengthy ride across, so this could become a bit tedious for them if they're just going to ignore all their best stuff. Like, say, trading them for food, as Oswald suggests. These are the jokes, people!

Back at Johannesburg Airport, Eric & Danielle are the only team able to get on the first flight over, giving us the brief possibility that the trailing two teams might be left yet another day behind. However, they are able to head over to Air Malawi, which will take them to Tanzania, albeit another three hours behind.

Sea voyages don't agree too well with Charla, who is next seen hurling over the side of their boat on the ride to Zanzibar. That's one you tell your kids about. It's Oswald to the rescue with a cold towel, which Mirna then describes as a "beauty tip". Apparently in her whacked out sensibilities, any advice that comes from a gay man is a "beauty tip".

If the editing is to believed, this first boat arrives at Zanzibar just as the last group of teams is landing in Dar es Salaam, so the lead has been shrunk for the last group, but is pretty insurmountable with the ocean voyage in there. The first two teams find the Detour, which is a choice between solving a puzzle, and hauling two 50 pound logs to a shipyard. Both of these teams choose the puzzle, which is probably the easier of the two tasks, since it's quite color coded.

Danny & Oswald hustle through, and are next headed to the Roadblock. In a toned down repeat of an episode from their first time around, they stop to go shopping, albeit with a more practical, immediate bent, pulling over at a roadside stand for fruit. With their lead over the majority of the pack, there's no way this can eliminate them, and it might even prove advantageous if they as dehydrated as they say.

That said, Charla & Mirna do pass them, and get to the Roadblock first. It's based on Masai warrior culture, and requires one team member to use a special throwing stick to knock down a target some distance away. There's a nice little bit of theatre from Phil as he describes the task, giving a tribesman his best "don't eff with me, man" look as he takes the throwing stick from one of them.

Judging by the efforts of our teams, we can expect an invasion by the Masai any day now, as they see the pathetic ability of these teams to use their weapons. They never really consider the image we're sending out to the world with these teams. Mirna flukes off a hit, putting them in first spot and inspiring a tremendous amount of shrieking celebration cries. Maybe the Masai will think twice now. Danny hits his, and there's a real race on to the Pit Stop, in something called The Old Fort. Mirna & Charla start wandering around aimlessly, it looks like Danny & Oswald might pass them, but as always with this show, it's the team that was in first place to start that shows up to the mat.

Mirna & Charla are now the first place team for the second week in a row. Amazingly the Earth does not open up and unleash foul beasts beyond horror and imagination like was foretold in the prophecies. Must be a translation error. They race up to the mat, and Phil informs them of their bonus prize; they've each won a catamaran. The reaction from both is priceless; for all they know, they've each just won an exotic piece of livestock, or a exercise machine. Phil patiently explains it's a boat, which based on Charla's reaction to being out at sea, is probably not the best prize ever for her. Danny & Oswald shuffle in for second spot just behind them.

Our second group of teams is just getting into Zanzibar now, with Eric & Danielle now waiting at the dock for the third boat and hoping desperately that the other teams can't catch up from the later flight.

Uchenna & Joyce get through the puzzle before Dustin & Kandice can deliver their logs, also getting to the Roadblock first. Despite the misleading advertising, Uchenna actually has very little problem with it, and they're through before Dustin & Kandice are even to the Roadblock. Although Uchenna & Joyce still have the half hour penalty to deal with, it certainly doesn't look like it'll be a factor in their elimination. They end up beating Dustin & Kandice by enough that they stay in third, with the beauty queens sliding in for fourth.

In the mean time, the coot-off race for last is going on strong, with both teams on the last boat across. It's down to pure Detour and Roadblock skill at this point. Eric & Danielle get through the puzzle, with Danielle completing the Roadblock (the term "glancing blow" doesn't begin to do justice here), and they land on the mat in fifth.

Both of the trailing teams choose the puzzle, mostly to keep an eye on each other. This is one of those situations that really hits home the mundanity of the race sometimes – here we are in Zanzibar, in a random room, doing a puzzle. It's quite bizarre when you stop to think about it. Joe & Bill are slightly faster than Teri & Ian, and they hold onto their lead through the Roadblock. Now it's just a case of not getting lost. It's actually the morning of the next day for these teams, so even the one that survives will have a tough task ahead of them. Maybe they'll strand them in Alaska again.

Teri & Ian give it their best, but Joe & Bill live another day, and Teri & Ian head home. This wasn't a terribly effective leg, as so much depended on who was able to get on standby on a flight, with very little room for teams to actually race. It's almost as if they decided to make an episode to counter all the people that complain about bunching. They certainly showed them.



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