There are a few basic rules on The Amazing Race: always read the clue closely; try to get a seat at the front of the plane; and if you are annoying or dim or have otherwise been designated a “team to root against,” beware of challenges involving stereotypically stubborn animals (camel, oxen, donkeys), because they will sense that you are unpopular and will make your task 75 percent more difficult. We saw all three rules flouted throughout this week’s episode, and consequences were suffered, cowboys were punished, and 7-Up was promoted.
The leg began with the teams flying from Paris to the Seychelles: The Seychelles is one of the few international locales that teams have been sent to that is actually pronounced exactly as it’s spelled, and yet we heard “se-chili’s,” “say-chellays,” and, with Caite giving it a Spanish twist, “say-hiel-ess.” Now it seems like they’re just spiting pronunciation.
Everyone was on the same flight, so the only suspense came over who would think to get the best (as in most frontward) seats, as it would be a mad dash upon disembarking to grab assignments for a helicopter ride to the next challenge. The cops and the cowboys decided to look for a restaurant upon arriving at De Gaulle airport, giving Caite and Brent a rare opportunity to get ahead. So in the Seychelles, those two, the brothers, and Steve and Allie got an hour’s head start in their copters. If the Seychelles Bureau of Tourism were smart, they’d cop this as their new slogan: “The Seychelles: Where Life Is So Easy, Even Brent and Caite Can Be in First Place.” Look out, travel bonanza!
The scenery was lush and gorgeous and made one wonder once again why CBS will not spring for HD cameras as they do for Survivor. Perhaps it was because of the spraying ox feces in the upcoming Detour — no reason to see that in 1080p. In the first option, Ox Trot, teams had to fill up a cart with all of the coconuts in a giant pile, then hitch the cart to an ox and drive it to a fruit merchant. In the second, Turtle Toddle, teams had to lead a giant, 100-year-old tortoise across a lawn using only a banana as incentive, and then carry a giant bunch of bananas two miles to the fruit merchant. As noted above, when given the choice, it is best to avoid the stubborn-animal option, but what to do when both options involve a slow, opinionated beast? In Brent and Caite’s case, the answer is what it always is: Devolve into junior high–esque name-calling. Let us check the transcript from when they attempted to steer and speed up their ox:
BRENT: You’re a dummy.
CAITE: You’re a dummy.
BRENT: You’re a friggin’ idiot.
CAITE: You’re a friggin’ idiot.
If these two get married, hopefully someone will step in when they declare they’re going to write their own vows.
Steve and Allie and the lesbians were the only teams to attempt the tortoise option; the father-daughter duo handled it with aplomb, while the lesbians were thwarted by a tortoise who had no intention of following them. In fact, never has a tortoise moved so quickly than this one as it dashed away from them. It makes one wonder if the “Tortoise and the Hare” parable should be changed for future generations; in the updated version, the tortoise wins the race because the hare won’t stop prattling on about her favorite “oils,” motivating the tortoise to speed up just to get out earshot.
Meanwhile, Brent and Caite finished their cart and took off, while the camera zoomed in on the errant coconut they’d left behind. This would become a very common shot in this leg. Behind them was Dan and Jordan, with all their coconuts, doing their usual shtick of not letting a single thought go unvoiced: For example, they named their ox “Box” (in honor of their dad’s packaging company), just as a way to vocally pass the time, perhaps not realizing that their animal’s constant spray of dung was a desperate plea for silence.
When Brent (who, it should be noted, has not blinked once since this race began), arrived at the fruit merchant, he was told “it’s not enough coconuts.” This enraged Brent to the point that he threatened to quit, a moment played up in last week’s coming attractions, but which clearly was just him blowing off steam. After a commercial break, it was he who was urging a snuffling Caite to just get back on the oxcart so they could retrieve the coconut. They passed the cops going the other way, who asked, “Did you find it?” It was as if Michael and Louie were begging them to lie and say, “No, it’s not down that way; it must be the other way,” and buy themselves some time. Alas, strategy like this is solely the province of the blinkable.
Throughout all of this, the indefatigable Steve and Allie plowed ahead. Having finished the Detour first, they jumped onto the boat to take them to their next clue, but realized they’d left their backpacks behind. Though Allie seemed to be considering turning back, Steve convinced her that it would lose too much time, and since they had their wallets and passports, they’d be fine without their packs. It does raise the question of what they’ll do when they head to colder climates, not to mention the fact that since Allie is covered in smashed bananas, in about a day she’ll have everyone longing for the comparatively aromatic smell of Dan and Jordan’s ox’s anus.
They completed the next (very easy) Roadblock quickly: dive into the water and pull out a bottle with a treasure map showing the way to the pit stop. Before long, they were on the mat, being awarded a horribly ham-handed bit of product placement. “Did you notice a ‘seven’ theme going on today?” asked Phil. Allie said, unconvincingly, “Yeah,” because other than the fact that it was the seventh leg of the race, how was this “seven” theme evidenced? Was a challenge left on the cutting-room floor in which the teammates had to choose from a room full of boxes, trying to find the one that had their loved one’s severed head inside? In any rate, this seven theme that did not exist was all in honor of 7-Up! They had won $7,000 and all the 7-Up they can drink, which, for most people, is not very much at all. Especially Steve: When they had finished the turtle race, he had joked that his wife led him around like that, albeit with a beer, not a banana. This was his third reference to loooving alcohol so far this season. To Steve, a lifetime supply of 7-Up is nothing but a cruel joke, like giving Popeye a grand prize of iceberg lettuce. But Allie the optimist reacted by saying that their first-place victory meant that “God has a plan, he wants us to learn, wants us to grow … ” and then she prepared to study scripture for a reference to the mixing of lemon and lime.
Dan and Jordan finished second, and after all of their travails, Brent and Caite finished third. (This after a short testimonial on their boat where Brent talked about how they were still in it, while Caite stood behind him, obliviously rearranging her breasts. Did someone cast a magic spell on her that prevents her from ever coming off well on camera?) The couple managed to catch up to and slightly overtake the cops, largely thanks to either their slow boat or Louie’s incredibly slow swimming style. (Elementary backstroke, Louie? Get this man a kickboard!) The two collaborated on the treasure map, and finished third and fourth. At the mat, Phil grilled them as to which team they didn’t like, and both agreed it was Carol and Brandy: As Brent said, “It’s anonymous,” before being corrected that the word was “unanimous.” At that moment, back at the Detour, his ox rolled his eyes and said, “Oh, right, and I’m the one they hook up to a cart.”
Meanwhile, a comedy of coconut errors went on at the race’s tail. The cowboys left with their ox first, and the lesbians looked doomed. But then, both teams had forgotten a coconut and were sent back. But still, the cowboys looked ahead, as they hit the Roadblock first. (And, as Cord dove into the water, he finally answered the question: What does it take for a cowboy to take his hat off?) And yet in a crucially dumb error, Jet and Cord left their bottled map aboard their boat and found the Pit Stop on their own, bypassing the map. At that point, Phil’s eyebrows went into arch overdrive as he passive-aggressively inquired as to where the cowboys’ bottle was. Jet’s explanation that he had seen something in the bottle, couldn’t get it out, and shrugged and moved on showed why these once front-runners will likely not win this game. Their predilection for analogizing every task to a ranch task (“Tossing coconuts is like loading up hay!”) has highlighted that things that have no cowboy analogue can be a problem: If only rodeos had a treasure-hunt event.
They went dashing back to their boat just as the lesbians’ boat arrived, and the editors did everything they could to make it seem like Jet and Cord could catch up and we’d have a footrace on our hand. But as we all know, if we never see two teams in the same shot, no matter how frantically close the final dash seems, in reality it wasn’t that close. However, the cowboys were saved by a non-elimination round; hey, they got lucky … just like that time back at the ranch when that horse nearly kicked them in the head but didn’t! Cue cowboy music!