Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Amazing Race - Episode 9 (Leg 8)

Welcome back to Oman. Here we are on what is a fast paced race around the world. Last season week upon week spent in the United States, this season its "Nation of the Week"

We rejoin Fran and Barry who surprised us all by coming in first at the pitstop and winning a nice leg prize. We start this epsiode, as usual at the last pitstop. Fran and berry leave the pitstop around 5:45pm which seems odd becuase that means they would have arrived at 5:45am, and the daylight/darkness of the teams arrival just doesn't gel with that, so it was not the usual 12 hour pitstop. Anway we get introduced to:

Clue #48 - Route Info -
"Make your way to Perth, Australlia, and go to the State War Memorial in Kings Park."

Ah, good no more step by step directions. We see Fran and Barry leave, but they insist on visiting BJ and Tyler's car. Why? To drop of $20. Why? As you may recall BJ and Tyler came in last at the end of the last leg, which was a non-elimination leg, and the rules call for forfeiture of all property except the clothes on your back and your passport. This includes all cash the team has now, and the stipend for the next leg is also forfeit.

But why did Fran and Barry feel compeled to throw $20 in the collection seat. I suspect this has something to do with the Golden Rule, and helping out those in need, and their personal value systems. If, this were say a vacation trip, and one person on a vacation had their pocket picked, then absolutely the right response is to help that person out, bu this is not an informal vacation. This is an organized competition, the team is not going to suffer becuase you did not help them. They have a CBS production crew with them, if they need medical assistance, CBS can summon that, CBS also closely tails the team with security, in addition they have a car so getting out of the elements is not an issue. Sure the crew can't give them money, gas, food or beverage, and yes they will have to watch them flounder around and have a real miserable 48 hours, but as soon as the officials declare the team "out" the CBS crew can help them go to Loser Lodge. In short this is a game, BJ and Tyler have just been dealt a disadvantage, this is the time to take advantage of that fact, not try to help them out. Think of it this way, you are playing a fictional board game, an opponent draws a card "Forfeit all money to the bank" . You know that not having play money is going to make the game a lot harder on that person, do you go "Tough break Joe, here have $20 of my play money. No, you wouldn't, you let Joe stumble around while you move closer to victory. The Amazing Racers whould have done the same.

And why didn't Fran and Barry just hand the $20 to BJ and Tyler, well the rules also state "You must begin the leg with $0 to your name" If they do not go to their race vehicle first, they have technically started the leg with $0. Its a letter-of-the-law vs. spirit-of-the-law thing.

We get a montage of the players going to BJ and Tylers car turned collection plate. NExt up is Joseph and Monica. Jospeh and Monica are competetive and know not to donate to the cause. They do walk up to the collection car and act like they are donating, I suppose in case BJ and Tyler are watching. Third out is Ray and Yolanda who leave what we later learn is $10. Last up are BJ and Tylers arch rivals Eric and Jeremy. Eric and Jeremy display a sense of humour and leave $100 in the car, in the form of an IOU, which of course is totally useless to BJ and Tyler. Let's review, the competive teams did not fall for the emotional trap and saw the situation strictly in game terms and left nothing, while the two bottom tier teams fell for the tug at their heartstrings and left some cash.

Anyway, we see Fran and Barry heading for the airport and get caught in a huge traffic jam and road closures. They smartly decide to stop at a local gas station where they learn that a) The King's motorcade is in the area, and b) All roads to the airport are closed. (Fran/Barry asked for alternate route suggestions.) No choice but to wait it out. Fran/Barry wait it out as do all the other teams except BJ/Tyler, and once the blockage is clear they all head to the airport and arrange passage on the same flight itinerary.

BJ/Tyler leave the pit stop last of course, point out the fact they have no money on them, and head to the car to count the collection. They state that the donations will be a factor if they get to yield a team., fair enough. That would be their valid game play move, just as J/M and E/J exercised their move of not giving them cash. Then we see parents everywhere cringe as BJ and Tyler pick up a hitchhiker, in Oman. Now, our local afternoon noons had a synopsis for this episode that said that we would see one team pick up a hitchhiker and then have to perform diplomatic relations. I fear the worst, but in reality BJ/Tyler and the hitchhiker get along nicely, even become temporary best buddies, especially when "he helped us out with gas, mango drinks and candy bars (Snickers, btw)" The way he said it made it sound like they made a deal with the hitchhiker that went like this "We'll drive you to X, if you gas up our car and buy us snacks" Isn't that diplomacy, they take the guy for money, and the guy sounds like he found two good friends. Makes it sound like they still haven't spent any cash, just 'creatively financed' their way to the airport. They appear to be having difficulties getting plane tickets, and the other 4 teams have counted their chickens and have declared "There is no way BJ and Tyler are going to make this flight" But, never fear, BJ and Tyler do make the flight, and their lack of baggage might ironically be what helped them with this last minute booking. BJ and Tyler board the plane , rubbing it in the others faces. The other teams are not exactly happy. Bja nd Tyler reveal that they were able to take up an in-flight collection for the Church of TTWOT to the tune of $300.

All teams now make their way to Perth on the exact same flight, arrive and catch taxis to the State War Memorial. No irther incidents so they get:

Clue #49 - Route Info
"Take a ferry to Rottnest Island, rent a tandem bike and bike to the lighthouse"
What the clue neglects to tell them is that Rottnest Island is a distance away (45 minutes - 1 hour. Some teams decide to bear the cost of the expensive cab ride, Ray/Yolanda & Bj/Tyler take the bus.

In the end the bus/cab decision does not matter because all teams miss the last ferry of the evening and have to wait for the first boat at 7:30am. Teams check into a Hostel. The hostel has funky names for its rooms, like "The Batcave" or "The Pleasure Dome" We see Fran and Barry go into "The Pleasure Dome" The editors fail to let us in on what was behind Door # 21. In the end teams that took the bus may have a bit more cash reserves. In the morning we see them all board the ferry, visit the Bike Hire shop where reserved bikes are waiting (complete with cute little Amazing Race flags). Tema bike for 3 miles on terrain that isn't exactly flat to reach the lighthouse. Fran and Barry think they have an advantage because they bike regularly. At the lighthouse they pull:

Clue #50 - DETOUR
"Sand" or "Sea"
In Sand teams have to move a pile of tree limbs from one side of a marked section of beach to the other side. We are told that this practice of brushing the beach is performed regularly to prevent beach errosion.
In "Sea" teams don swimsuits and snorkel gear and dive under the water in search for crayfish traps. They will find crayfish waiting in selected traps, each team member must find a crayfish and turn it in for their next clue.

Ok, "Sand" is clearly the physically demanding task with a defined start and end point, whereas "Sea" is ANOTHER LUCKY CHANCE task. Sure they have to snorkel pas part of the task, and handle what may be a strange animal, but the dominant part of the task is finding the lucky fishtrap that holds an animal. No defined end point, but teams who are lucky may finish quickly. I am getting sick of tasks that rely on luck.

Whichever option a team chooses they have to bike from the lighthouse to Salmon Bay whhere the detour is being conducted. We see teams arrive at the detour. Bj/Tyler who might be feeling the sting of their last round with Lady Luck decide to opt on the physical task. They comment that its harder than it looks but they press on. Eric/Jeremy choose "Sea" and are giddy to be in speedos as they dive into the water. Fran/Barry arrive, Fran is her typical "Can't Do" spirit flatly says "I can't dive, we have to do Sand" they start dragging brush as I say "They picked the wrong detour option AGAIN!" Eric and Jeremy finish up the Sea task rahter quickly and make snide remarks about how BJ/Tyler are grads from well respected colleges and are reduced to manual labor. The way Eric and Jeremy say this is real snotty as if manual labor is beneath them. Guys, this isn't cheap labor, this is a choice of paths in the teams quest to win a million dollars. People will put up with and do a lot for a million dollars that they would not normally do. Just ask the people who go on Fear Factor and perform much worse tasks for a chance to win less money. (I now wish for one of the final tasks to be "In this Detour you must clean one third of this concert venue after a huge all day music festival", Eric and Jeremy will say "We are not lowering ourselves to that level even if a million dollars is on the line")

Anyway, back to the challenge, BJ and Tyler have brushed their section of beach, and are on their way. We turn to Joseph and Monica, who are trying to take the role of abusive couple. I hope this is just the killer fatigue talking because they weren't near this nasty to each other early on. As you may have guessed, they get lost finding the detour and then proceed to have the very productive and morale boosting Insult Fest. They arrive at the challenge and choose "Sea", while taking part in the challenge they have momry loss and think that they need only bring one crayfish back. They turn in their one crayfish and they are sent back to get the other, wasting some time. In the meantime, Fran and Barry have brushed their beach section and are on their way. Since Joseph brought back the first crayfish, the rules state Monica must get the second one. We learn that Monica is afraid of diving, and more afraid of the crayfish. We have footage of Monica having a panic attack and shutting down. We then go to commerical, and when we come back she has regained her compsoure and all is well and they are on their way. Amazing how commercials on Amazing Race do that. Can I have that in real life? Whever I am not having a good day, we cut to commerical and then we come back and I am having a great day? Joseph will not win a sensitivity award in this incident.

Ray and Yalanda who were having trouble with the bike arrived last at the detour, chose "Sand" and proceeed to brush their zone, and get their clue.

Completing the task led to:
Clue #51 - Route Info
"Make your way to Freemantle Prison"
("Go to Jail, Go Directly To Jail, Do not pass GO, Do not collect $200") - sorry, wrong game.
We learn that the prison is question has been closed and is now a tourist attraction. We also learned that its fresh water supply arrived via underground tunnels.
Teams must now bike back to the ferry dock, return their bike to the Bike Rental booth, and then get to the prison using any means they can.

Eric and Jeremy are first back to the ferry dock, and happen to board the Freemanlte ferry just before it departs. BJ and Tyler learn they missed the direct ferry, but the ferry operators advise them they can take a ferry do an alternate destination, then catch a cab to Freemantle and that will get them into Freemantle 30 minutes faster than just waiting for the Freemantle ferry. BJ and Tyler opt for the alternate ferry, and all goes well until they get stuck in traffic on thei way to Freemantle and in effect arrive after the Freemnatle Ferry they could have waited for. All other teams took the next ferry to Freemantle.

Of note Fran/Barry ask the ferryboat ticket seller if she can arange for a taxi to be at the ferry terminal when they arrive, while Joseph and Monica put on a little bit of charm and borrow a cell phone on the ferry to also secure a taxi. Ray and Yolanda make no taxi arrangements.
Eric/Jeremy arive at the prison.

The ferry arrives in Freemantle, but their is only one taxi waiting. It sounded to me like the driver called out for a Joseph, so Joseph/Monica correctly take their prearanged taxi. They take the time to declare for the cameras that the driver called for them, so they can't be accused of cab theft. Not a bad move, but can we ease up on the hate and spite?

Fran and Barry were left high and dry when their prearanged cab never did arrive. While tey were out lookig for a cab, Ray and Yolanda caught one. We'll never know if that was the cab that was meant to be picking up Fran/Barry who were no longer at the agreed upon pickup point. Fran/Barry decide not to try to summon a taxi and instead hop on a city bus.

Joseph and Monica edge out BJ and Tyler at making it to the prison, then Rayt and Yolanda show up, and then some time later Fran/Barry's bus arrive.

When teams arrive at the prison they recieve:
Clue #52 "Road Block"
"Who is ready to make a great escape"
The task is loosely based on a jaibreak scneario. The person designated for this task must first acquire Duracell (product placement) batteries and a flashlight. then when they have a flashlight they must locate the entrance to the underground tunnel system and search the tunnels for a hidden clue. To help them they are told the batteries and flashlight will be hidden together in a cell in the "4th Division" They are given no other information about the layout of the prison.

Okay, I like the "Great Escape" road block (like the "Capture the Fort" roadblock in an earier season), but in a season dominated by luck, I could have done without the "Find the right cell" or "Find the right tunnel" elements.
However, the task was actually most ingenious, they start in the prison yard. First they have to figure out on their own where Division 4 is, and how to get to it, then once they find it they have to search the cells for the batteries and flashlight, and guess what no windows in the locked cell doors, they have to unlock each door, look inside, then close and relock the door. (It is not made clear where they got the jail key, or when they were instructed to relock the cells) The batteries are also sitting next ot the flash light, all the better to maximize on shots showing the battereis. Once they have the batteries in their flashlight, they can then search the prison for the tunnel entrance. Once they find the tunnel entrance some crew members will make sure they are properly harnessed before sending them into the tunnels. They then have a choice of searching dry tunnels and wet tunnels (through use of a boat) Find the clue, return yto your partner continue on the race.

Eric and Jeremy waste a lot of time after getting the flashlight finding the tunnel entrance. So much time that Joseph and Monica who were on the next ferry pass E/J coming out of the tunnel as they are going in. Eric had had trouble in the wet tunnel section, so he advised Monica to go for the boat in hopes of sending her on a wild goose chase. Other teams are disoriented by the task but pretty much proceed without too much trouble. Clues are available in both the wet and dry parts of the tunnel system.

Comleting the jail task, leads the team to
Clue #53 - Route Info
"Proceed to the Freemantle Sailing Club and go to the South Breakwater" - Warning: This is a pit stop.
Eric and Jeremy did not retain their taxi and are advised that the sailing club is "an easy walk" They proceed to start walking it, all the while whining about how unfair it is that Joseph/Monica will be able to just jump into their taxi they have held on retainer. Sepaking of which here come Joseph and Monica and their taxi driver advised them the Sailing Club is a two minute trip. The show tries to build some suspense, and we see, I don't beleive it, an actual footrace. It seems like we have gone ages without an honest to goodness RACE to the mat. Remember these used to be common.

Eric and Jeremy get to the mat first and are checked in, then Joesph and Monica are allowed to check in in second place. (In past seastns they made team #2 stay behind while Team #1 gets their leg prize, but this way makes it clear that Joseph/Monica's check in time will not be impacted. Eric and Jeremy then return to the mat so Phil can award them with the trip to Hong Kong.

I have seen some comments by viewers who think Eric and Jeremy should have displayed some chivary and since they have won several leg-prizes already they should have stepped aside and allowed Joseph/Monica a chance to take something home. As the Roaming Gnome ("Denouncer of travel myths") himself would say "Bull-hogray" This is a GAME with nice prizes involved, a competition is not the time to be all soft and chivalrous. To the victor goes the spoils, and that sort of thing. Remmeber there are no votes, no inter-team politics here, so take any and all prizes you can get your hands on.

Next in to the mat are BJ and Tyler who rose from last place to 3rd, and are happy about it. We then have the amazing editors try to convince us that Ray/Yolanda and Fran/Barry are close, but I don't think so. We see Ray/Yolanda check in in fourth place, barely staying alive. We then see Fran/Barry check in, and are in fact eliminated. First to Worst. Sure, they can and probably will blame their loss on the cab that never arived for them, but they get some of the blame for settlingon the slower city bus. We get the usual senior citizen final remarks about how well they have done, showing that they can still compete, then Fran reminds us they are cancer survivors, and we are out to prove we can do anything. This coming from the lady who is full of that good old "Can't Do" spirit.

Next Week; Playing with live crocodiles, and the BJ/Tyler Jospeh/Monica rivalry heats up.

See you then.


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