The Amazing Race – Season 20 Episode 4

One week Turin, and the next Turout. [/heidiklum]

Art & JJ: I think it says a lot about how utterly unpalatable they are as a team that they could give away half of the money they got for winning this leg, and I still have no warm feelings towards them of any kind. I think because the way they made the gesture was kind of gross: as Chris said, you could kind of tell that they totally think they’re going home with a million dollars at the end of it all anyway, so $10,000 is immaterial to them, and also the way they announced they were giving it to Bopper & Mark because they’re “good people” stuck in my craw – like, I don’t need you to arbitrarily decide who is good and who is bad, thanks very much. Still, the fact that this happened at all strikes me worryingly as an attempt to create a positive edit for a team that is probably going to make the final and might even win. Urgh. I knew they were a lock for first place this leg the minute we saw there was a fast-forward – though I did get some joy out of them repeatedly mangling what looked like a fairly uncomplicated task.

Rachel & Dave: Dare I say it? Rachel really grew on me this week. Dave was treating her appallingly, and I liked that, rather than getting whiny and crying in the face of a perceived slight the way that the other Rachel did, this one stood her ground and gently mocked him from a polite distance. There were many great moments: the way she had to stop herself openly laughing at him as she pointed out how unlikely it was that they’d be operating a REAL helicopter in the fast-forward (she was right), the way she remained calm while telling him that he should’ve taken the advice of the locals while driving, being at once very polite and also incredibly patronising in a way that she clearly knew would irritate him (and she was right, again), but by far my favourite was the part where he criticised her for not opening a clue properly and she just looked at him and said “Really?” I like this Rachel a lot. Dave sucks, but Rachel I can get on board with.

Joey “Fitness” & Danny: Speaking of teams I’ve got an increasing tolerance for, I’m starting to really enjoy these two. There’s something so relaxed and easygoing about their dynamic – they’re serious about the race, but not to the extent of letting it overshadow their friendship and their banter (positive, non-moronic sense of the word) with each other. They just have a goofiness about them that’s a lot of fun to watch, and they do seem to be starting to get the hang of the race, so good for them.

Vanessa & Ralph: These two might be my favourite team since Brook & Claire, because they are HILARIOUS. I loved Ralph’s naked glee at The Car That Parks Itself (particularly on the second occasion, when he used that feature even though he didn’t have to just because he thought it was THAT DAMN COOL), I adored Vanessa pretending to be KITT (“Michael, I think you should wear your leather pants today”), I loved Vanessa’s attempt at saying hi to Team Big Brother despite knowing she was going to get shut down, and I loved most of all her regarding the second Detour option and saying “I haven’t eaten that much salami since high school”, and then the two of them looking at each other and cracking up. These two just seem like they would be a lot of fun to be around. And I know it was largely assisted by a giant artificial bunch, but they made a good recovery from their disastrous last leg all the same.

Nary & Jamie: Either these two are seriously UTR, or they’re just not all that interesting. I’m starting to suspect the latter, sadly. They do still have their moments, though – I enjoyed Nary’s look of stunned amusement during the cleaning detour when they knocked the head clean off the statue. It gave me the impression that she was the sort of kid who NEVER got in trouble at school and didn’t quite know how to handle such a situation.

Brendon & Rachel: Okay, I’ll admit it: I did laugh at their unflattering nicknames for Vanessa and Ralph (the ogre and the triflin’ ho, wasn’t it?). Largely because I’m sure Vanessa and Ralph would’ve found it hilarious, too. I mean, nothing gives you the moral high ground after taking umbrage to another team calling you names than…calling them names right back. Anyway, let’s focus on their main narrative for this episode: the fact that there is no way on this Earth that Rachel should’ve passed the psych evaluation for this show. She seems exceptionally highly-strung, and while I doubt Brendon is entirely blameless in any of this, she does seem intent on seeing everything he does in the worst possible light. Worst of all, whenever she’s having a crying fit, she just refuses to do anything helpful – we saw her several times this week sobbing “I don’t know” and just expecting Brendon to carry her through the task, which is kind of pathetic from an adult woman, whatever the circumstances. And I say this as someone who liked Flo.

Kerri & Stacy: They never quite seemed to recover from those struggles with the car at the beginning of the leg, though they didn’t seem to be getting much wrong after that point. I think maybe they lost a bit of their hustle, which is what allowed Bopper & Mark to almost catch up with them a few times, but I enjoyed that they kept their generally sunny demeanour throughout the task, particularly Kerri (I think?) just delivering sassy commentary from the back seat of the car. They’ve been circling the drain for a few legs now, so I hope to see them stage a comeback next time, because they’ve shown in the past that they can be surprisingly good when they put their minds to it.

Bopper & Mark: Most heavily-telegraphed non-elimination ever, Y/Y? The loving goodbye montages, Phil taking forever to talk to them without ever actually saying “you have been eliminated”, the sudden reappearance of Art & JJ – we all knew they weren’t done yet. Still, hopefully they’ve learnt a valuable lesson about when to go to a travel agent and when to go directly to the airport. And hopefully picked up a few words of Italian along the way.

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