The Amazing Race – Season 20 Episode 2

“I’m going to die from this beef!” Ah, Mirna. Neva 4get.

I see Phil’s sneaky padding of his part continued apace this week. “So, Kerri and Stacey. You were on the bus that left LAST, but the bus ahead of you had to stop, so you actually arrived BEFORE them, and you are now team number five.” Like, way to bury the lead, asshole. Why not just say “you are team number five” and watch their surprise and delight as they rank several places higher than they expected to? Wouldn’t that have been much more dramatic? Honestly, having to sit through Phil explaining to half the teams THINGS THAT WE HAD SEEN HAPPENING WITH OUR OWN EYES was beyond tedious. I had thought this was rather a short leg; considering all that footage made the final edit, it really must have been. Anyway…

Rachel & Dave: Ugh. They really are a pair of titanic bores, these two. I just get absolutely nothing from them, apart from an annoying tendency to finish first, an inability to do maths unless clinging to a border patrol agent (that’s her, mainly) and a liking for alliances with similarly dull teams. Still, the teaser for next week implied that there’s trouble ahead for these two, so let’s hope the meltdown is imminent. I can’t bear the thought of them just breezily Meghan & Cheyne-ing their way to the end. At least Meghan and Cheyne had personalities, even if they didn’t get developed much beyond “terrifyingly intense” and “spiky hair”.

Art & JJ: The other half of the civil servant boreliance, I had high hopes that their insistence on taking the fire-building Detour option at the start of the leg would do them in when they had such trouble finding it to begin with, but no such luck: it turns out that waiting for a handmade solar oven to boil water takes a lot longer than leading a donkey to a village and building a fire, and they made their way into second place, where they remained for pretty much the rest of the leg. One of them (I want to say Art, but I can’t really tell them apart yet) proved to be kind of sinister this time around, and I’m finding their self-righteousness incredibly tedious already, so I hope their bond with Rachel & Dave ends up with both halves of that alliance in a tailspin from which they never recover.

Bopper & Mark: I still really can’t warm to Bopper at all, but Mark grew on me a lot this week, so there’s hope for these two. I like that Mark launched himself into the oven-building with glee, stating that he’s built lots of things with Lego and it was much the same philosophy behind the two. I also liked that Mark was kind enough to help Rachel at the Detour when there really wasn’t anything in it for him – he just did it because he saw someone struggling, and presumably realised they both had enough of a lead that it was unlikely to be a game-breaking error to give her the answer, so he did. It’s not something I’d recommend he does too often, because eventually it’s going to backfire on him, but I thought on this occasion he seemed very gentlemanly about it all, and I find that very encouraging.

Brendon & Rachel: Not the best leg for her, it has to be said: she didn’t seem much help in the solar-oven-building Detour (and I seriously hope her “I’m sorry I’m a girl” was meant to be ironic, which I think it was, because otherwise SHEESH) and she properly went to pieces trying to count the cattle at the Roadblock. If it hadn’t been for Mark generously helping her out (i.e. telling her what to do), I think they might still there. I didn’t think Brendon was being overly douchey about it, but perhaps more went on there than we saw, because she did seem pretty upset afterwards. Still, they made it to fourth and hopefully learned a valuable lesson along the way. We’ll see.

Kerri & Stacey: Who knew Stacey would be a secret badass? If she carries on at this rate, she might be this season’s answer to TAR12’s Donald, the man who officially already knew how to do everything. Okay, so it was basically just the fact that she was always the one who programmed the video back home and this apparently extended into tech-savviness, but I was also impressed by how quickly she did the necessary sums in the Roadblock. If they carry on like this, these two could really be ones to watch. Also, much like Bopper, I liked that they feel secure enough at this point to offer help to the other teams when asked, but I hope they don’t continue to do so later on when it might cost them the race.

Nary & Jamie: Ah, the “let’s lie about our professions so the other teams will underestimate us” strategy. Because it worked so well for Maria and Tiffany. At least the Poker Chicks had some experience of lying (they were poker players, after all) – Jamie’s attempt at convincing the other teams she was a teacher was embarrassingly stilted. Still, after their barely-there edit last week, it’s a personality of sorts, isn’t it? Somehow their oven was the least successful of anyone’s, and they really lucked out that Bus No. 2 broke down, because otherwise I think it might have been curtains for this two this week. Let’s hope they have some better luck in the future. And also learn how to fib properly.

Vanessa & Ralph: I must confess, when Bus No. 2 got delayed, this was the team I most feared for – not because I necessarily thought they would be eliminated (I did figure the clowns were probably the weakest team on the vehicle), but just because I couldn’t bear to lose Goddess Vanessa and her compelling sense of humour quite so quickly. She even swears like me – “son of a monkey’s uncle!”, indeed. I worried again when she elected to take the Roadblock and Ralph fretted that she wasn’t good at Maths because she’s an English major (normally here I’d complain about people assuming the two are incompatible, but I have a degree in English and my mental arithmetic skills are quite poor, so perhaps there’s something in it after all). Anyway, they ended up top of the Bus No. 2 batch, and that’s good enough for me. Plus it looks like they have drama with Big Brother Rachel next week: even better.

Joey “Fitness” & Danny: I think the blast that broke the window on their bus was some sort of karmic force driven by the twins, after these two blatantly leaned on them for help in assembling the solar oven and yet somehow still ended up finishing before them. Perhaps it’s cruel of me, but I really did cackle when whichever one of them did the Roadblock agreed with Andrew that they would “team up and beat the clown”. And they did.

Elliot & Andrew: These two really aren’t the powerhouses I anticipated that they would be – in fact, they’re kind of dorky and uncoordinated. They don’t seem to be featuring very heavily so far – and it concerns me that Andrew seemed to genuinely think that the greeter at the pit stop with Phil was Maradona. I guess they weren’t hired for their smarts.

Dave & Cherie: It didn’t bode well for them when they started talking about how he’d beaten cancer twice, so surely he could beat the race. After all, as my boyfriend out, Ethan from last season beat cancer a bunch of times, and he…also got eliminated on the second leg. It wasn’t a great leg for these two: they failed to spot the picture clues on the box to help them assemble the satellite oven, and they were always going to be the most at-risk of the teams on Bus No. 2, so when the window broke and the bus got delayed by two hours, their cards were marked. Ultimately the social game seemed to do them in – they lacked closeness to the other teams, and a Detour where several opponents opted to work together left them out in the cold. Still, if there’s one bright side in all of this, their entire elimination sequence demonstrated to me that I’m very right to loathe and fear clowns.

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