Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Saturday, April 22, 2006

TR: Amazing Race - Epsiode 8 (Leg 7)

Welcome back.

The first thing we learn at the start of this episode is the times the team's leave the pit stop. Sure, they always tell us but more often than not its only a couple hours difference between first and worst. This time there is a wide difference. Eric and Jeremy who benefited from the Fast Forward left jyst before midnight, while the first team who completed all tasks correctly arrived around 4:30. Therefore the fast forward would appear to have been worth about four and a half hours. The first two teams who chose Herculean Tasks arrived next around 4:30-4:45. (Recall Ray and Yolada were demoted from second the third place for disobeying the instrictions regarding the train ride to ithmus. This tells us two things, it first tells us that there wasnt much difference between those who correctly rode the second train, and those who took the first train partway and switched to a bus. After all, John and Michelle were on the second train AND played the roadblock after John and Michelle. It also indicated that Herculean Tasks was preferable to "It's All Greek to Me" Both teams that chose it second non-physical option arrived much later, with Fran/Barry around 6:00 and Lake/Michelle after 8.

I thought it curious that Lake/Michelle was issued a sand sifter to hekp search for pottery shards that were plainly visible. Perhaps the challenge was made easier after the initial test runs proved it to be much harder than initially thought. I wonder how much time Lake/Michelle lost by not getting all the letters translated first, or just how lost they got between the roab block and the pit stop. Did Fran/Barry suffer a delay for wrecking their car. Perhaps for safety the show insisted on them getting a different car, and if they aren't going to give a time credit when the team isn't at fault, you can be sure they aren't gonna get a credit when they were at fault. I tend to beleive Fran/Barry were not penalized, as that would have meant Lake/Michelle really had a hard time with the detour or got really lost finding the pitstop.

BJ and Tyler, were shown having gone two hours out of their way finding the Detour, but they myst have bled some more time, as the teams that completed the detour at about the same time checked in around 4:30, so add two hours to that and they should have arrived around 630, but instead they checked in at almost 9. They were shown breezaing through the detour, but that may have been editing, or they may have been lost worse than they thought, or got lost again one or more times before the end of the leg.

Whatever happned it really cost BJ/Tyler who were a very dominant team going into the leg. But enough about last leg.

They started at Fort Rion, Greece, the site of the last pit stop. They recieved:

Clue #42 - Route Info
"Travel to Ryam Park, Muscat, Oman"

This is a clue that needs to be broken down into its component parts. The race has really come a long way since "clues" that consisted of showing the team a picture or model of a building, or one of my all time favorites "Find the man pictured in the country represented by the enclosed flag" Now its more of a connect the dots puzzle. "Go HERE and here is how you do it"

It seems that in the case of Clue #42, teams were instructed to begin their jounrney by walking to a local visitors center, by crossing a bridge. This part of the clue was simple and straighforward and no team had trouble completing it, but there were some points of interest.

First we get to see Eric/Jeremy arrive at a closed visitors center and learn that they can't continue until 9am. They seem to take it sell that going for the Fast Forward merely mean they were assured of recieving one of the more underwhelming prizes awarded by the show, as they realize everybody is going to bunch up here.

Later we see Ray and Yolanda heading to the visitor's center. I only make mention of it bcause according to the previews this would be a critical plot point this week. It seems that they were lightly joking around when Yolando upon seeing the very large, immuminated and obvious bridge, asked Ray "Are you sure thats the bridge?" Ray responded probably with a grain of killer fatigue with a very short tempered answer thsat involved a curse word. Mind you that next to other teams, the curse wasn't bad at all. However, I suppose that as it should be even though they can usually joke around, there are some limits, and cursing each other it one of them. Yolanda rightly calls him on it, and instead of quickly apoligizing and getting on with life, Ray is stubborn, and refuses to acknowledge he was wrong let alone apologize. I have a feeling that Ray is gonna be embarassd when he sees this on TV. Then we have a Yolando confessional (and nice Greece T-shirt at that) that in part says that the longest they have been together is 4 days straight. A glance at the official site confirms that this is one of many dating couple who are using the race to "test their relationship". a theory I don't understand.

The last point of interest is that since BJ and Tyler checked in so late there is no way ther would arrive to the visitors center by 9, which means that they got to see the bus containing the other teams leaving as they were still walking to the vistors center. We see the other teams taking great delight in this, after all the whole functional stretegy of the Race is to make sure you have a team behind you.

Once teams make it to the visitor's center they are to sign up for charter bus to the airport. Now I ask why could they have not driven themselves to the airport, they had cars at the end of the last leg. BJ and Tyler are stuck along on the 10am bus, which I suspect was added along with the sign in sheet once it became obvious they would not catch the prearranged 9am bus. The sign in sheet they showed in the close up had one space remaining on the 9am bus, and note the sign in sheet and stand and clipboard were clearly more official looking than BJ and Tyler's joke sign in sheet.

BJ and Tyler, class clowns that they are take it all in stride and put on a comedy routine on their way to the airport, doing impersonations of the eliminated teams.

All teams arrive at the airport and most take Gulf Air to Oman, and in fact they are still at the ticket counter buying tickets when BJ and Tyler catch up. The teams act cold to BJ/Tyler and refuse to give them any information on the flight. BJ/Tyler ask another agent who reveals the time the flight would arrive, and also that the flight is now full. BJ/Tyler make a smart remark at the other teams "Your flight arrives at 10:30, as if you didn't know" before making alternate arangement on Qutar Air, arangements that would get them there about an hour later. During the explanation instead of the usual map they use that just gives up outlines, they use a political map so that people can better see where Oman is. I admit I would not have known precisely if I had not looked at my globe earlier this week.

All the airport intrigue while interesting at the time was quite moot, as was the different charter bus times, as by the time they arrive in Oman, and arrive at Ryam Park they learn the park will not open till 6AM. We do get a nice montage of driving around Oman at night, at teams seemingly to genuineily appreciate the beauty of the architecture. Oh, and they were given vehilcles at the airport. At 6AM you get the usual footage of teams racing each other to get to a clue box located near a "giant incense burner".

Clue #43 - Route Info
Go to Sur, Oman, and find a cetain ferry boat for your next clue.

The most interesting part of the trip from Muscat to Sur is that the road is completely flooded out in two places. At the first place which looks like a small lake, there is a local who assits the teams by guiding them through the lake, in what we learn are 4 wheel drive equipped vehicles. The second spot, which looks more like a mud pit, has no friendly locals to help them. The teams arrive and play "Chicken" as in no team wants to be the first team to attempt to cross (and risk getting hopelessly stuck) the teams are each encouraging each other to go first. Eric/Jeremy pull us and note that the teams have stopped, and E/J decide to go ahead and try to cross the mud. The teams who had before been willing to let someone else test the muddy waters first not act outraged at Eric and Jeremy's gall at cutting the line. Well, if you aren't willing to go ahead, you have no right to get upset at the person who does. The teams wish bad luck on Eric and Jeremy but the two make it through the mud pit okay and are soon followed by the other teams.

Once they arrive in Sur, they receive
Clue #44 - DETOUR
"Camels" or "Watchtowers"
In "Camel" you have to use a block and tackle to load a live camel onto a pickup truck. You will then deliver the camel using a crudely drawn map. One teammate will drive the pickup, the other will ride in the bed of the truck, obstensibly to look after the camel, although the camels handler is also riding along. Deliver the camel to get the clue.

This would seem to be the physically demanding option, but more likely you are taking an object from a known location to an unknown location.

In "Watchtower" you cross the river by ferry, then search three watchtowers to find a 'message box' There are five message boxes, one for each team hidden amongst the towers, one tower has three, another two, and one tower is a red herring with no message boxes. Once you find the message box you have to drive to the nearby town and find a designated gold/silver shop and exchange it for your next clue.

This option initially looks worse as you do not know where the object is, you don't know where you are taking it, and you have the added time taken up by the ferry crossing.

BJ/Tyler, and Fran/Barry chose watch tower, and for once, Fran/Barry chose the better detour option as both of these teams finsihed before the teams that chose the camel option, despite the fact they also got to the detour around the same time.

In the camel teams, Eric and Jeremy really had a hard time finding where to deliver the camel, and lost a lot fo time because of it. The other teams did not seem to have any difficullty on this task.

Whichever option they took, they were awarded with:
Clue #45 - Route Info
"Travel to Al Hawiyah, Oman"

Not much to report here, the teams drove from Sur to Al Halwiyah and received their next clue.

Clue #46 - Road Block
"Who's willing to work for food"
Argh, its a Lucky Chance task.
In this taks the chosen player has to dig up marked places in a sand dune in hopes of finding a sna dpile that has a wicker bag that contains the making of a lamb meal. When they show the attendant their bag of food they are given their next clue, the "Your going to like this part" I want you take the food to the pitstop as this is your dinner for this leg. Teams are cuationed that the sand dune acts as a natural oven and thus will be quite hot.

We are treted to the results of a Lucky Chance task at its worst, BJ and Tyler who arrived at the roadblcok first and finished last. BJ appeared to suffer from dehydration as was shown in the previews. Joseph and Monica who arrived third finished first, although I think Barry found his bag first, he just had trouble digging it up. Most teams finished this in about the order they arrived, with the notable exception of BJ and Tyler, who got but hard by the Lucky Chance.

Is it just me, or are there a lot more of these luck based detours this season, I was just reading an article about games that indicated that Americans prefer luck based games and Europeans prefer skill based games I hope the race isn't going to heavily towards luck.

To date this season:
Leg 3-1: Detour - search the nesting dolls for a clue - or get out of it by washing a trolley , assuming you could find said trolly, which caused teams problems.
Leg 3-2: Roadblck - Search the field for a Travelocity Gnome - no way to dodge this
Leg 3-2" Detour - search through bottles for one with a specially marked label - or get out of it by learnign and performing a traditional Bavarian dance.
Leg 4: Detour - search through laundry for a specially marked garment - or get out of it by luggng a 100 pound bell up stairs.
Leg 6: Fast Forward - break plates to find the one that has a hidden race logo in it. - Optional
Leg 7: Road Blcok - Search sand piles for your dinner - can't dodge this one either.
I'm not couting finding the pottery shards in the Leg 6 Detour as the word scramble puzzle was the real operative challeng ein that physical/metal detour.

So now teams have had 7 road blocks:
For those interested Eric and Jeremy have each completed three, they got to skip one as an often overlooked benefit of Fast Forward.
BJ, Monica, and Barry have each completed 4 roadblocks to their partners 3, and Ray has completed 5 to Yolanda's 2. I mention this in case the 6 roadblock maximum per player is enforced. Ray better choose his one remaining roadblock carefully, and the other teams better start thinking long and hard before designating a player.

Completing the roadblock gets you dinner and:
Clue #47 - Route Info
"Travel to Jabreen Castle, Nizwa, Oman" - Warning this is a Pit Stop

Okay, the biggest news here is that Eric And Jeremy, who left the roadblock squarely in third place decided that despite the fact they knew two teams were behind them, that they would venture off the main road and try to find a short cut. You know what they say about short cuts, short cuts never are. A dirt road through a desert? Yeah, that sounds like a safe idea. PArticualrly when they took the big risk merely to try to come in first (and win their 4th leg prize), not to avoid being last. Very risky, I hope it comes back to bite them.

We arrive at the castle and learn that Fran and Barry have managed to pass up Joseph and Monica on the road, and have come in first place. We see footage of a team that is genuiely proud and mazed to have come in first. A refreshing sight, after the Eric/Jeremy pit stop prize show. Fran and Barry win a trip to Rome, Italy. (Who thought for a moment this would be a "Congratulations for coming in first, but there is no prize this round") The other teams file in Joesph and Monica arrive and are tottally stunned that they did not come in first, I mean they made Eric and Jeremy's second place arrival a couple weeks back look giddy. There were more than a few remarks and reactions that read "We got beat by Fran and Barry!" like it should be a source of shame. So Fran/Barry will receive a nice leg prize, and then more than likely will run squarely into a bottleneck/equalizer at the start of the next leg. Judging from sun position, Fran/Barry arrived significantly earlier than the other teams, you know the show can't let that stand for long.

Ray and Yolanda arrive third, it is not clear if they have made up yet. ( They left the roadblock fourth, so Eric and Jeremy's short cut cost them at least a place.

Oh darn, here come Eric and Jeremy now, coming in fourth. And wow, they did make Joseph/Monica look like the sorest loser team as they at least tryied to act humble at being told they came in fourth.

Well, now we see BJ and Tyler, who finished the Detour first, who were the first to arrive that the Roadblock, who got bit by the fickle finger of fate, and are now reduced to arriving last at the pit stop. Wow, did you just catch that. Earlier this week I was saying that E/J and BJ/T are the clear race leaders, now an epsiode later and they are now the bottom feeders, though I have a bit more sympathy for BJ/Tyler since they met their demise by a Luck based detour, and not trying to outsmart everybody and find a shortcut in a strange land.

Luckily for those of us who enjoy seeing BJ/Tyler - this was the first of three non elimination legs, which also means the pace of this show is going to slow down as far as kickiing teams off the race. The penatly is the same: loss of all money and possesions except passports and clothes on back. I don't theink BJ/Tyler even tried to layer up in anticipation of this demise.

Oh and next week we head to Australlia - my aren't we moving about the world in a fast clip. I suppose this is another way of making it up to the viewer for last season where we say only 4 nations, and 1 of those was the USA. We are up to 7 so far this season, including the USA but not incuding Australlia, and we have at least 5 more episodes to go.


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