We began last night's episode of The Amazing Race where we left off one week earlier: Dave and Connor having just won the leg despite being down precisely one human leg and Phil asking them, as Zen inquisitively as one might expect from the King of Arched Eyebrows, if they'd like to keep going in the wake of Dave's injury. We waited with bated breath while the team hemmed, hawed, and —
Duh, they kept going. (Unlike three of the teams in the premiere episode, they are not quitters!) And the second question, "who would be eliminated?" was dealt with shortly thereafter when 9th place Chuck & Wynona were given a momentary reprieve. Thank God, because that would have been a weak way to go out, five minutes into the episode.
Off to BALI, INDONESIA! And not a moment too soon, as it had been a full one episode since the Race's last tropical destination. New Zealand is nice — monumentally stunning, even — but we all know this show does best with a little beach action to reinforce foreign perceptions of our Baywatch lifestyles. Cowabunga, American Capitalist Cowboys!
For maybe the first time this season, travel discrepancies actually offered a measurable advantage to those teams arriving in Bali three hours ahead of their competitors. Usually there's a time delay challenge (the trapeze school doesn't open until 8am!) bottlenecking all of the teams, but not this leg. Once you hit Bali? You were off, man. First, teams made their way to the "Monkey Forest" where they were tasked with getting some of their simian counterparts to break open a clue-filled coconut. It wasn't easy. Or at least, the monkeys seemed hesitant to perform their required tasks. Tourist noise agitated a few of them, prompting Pam to ask passersby to "PLEASE BE QUIET." Joey and Meghan, though without a camera, seemed to take the opportunity to rehearse a new YouTube video. Everyone else admired the monkeys' tactile skills and then moved on.
"Sandy Bottom" and "Fruity Top" are two entries in my line of flirty bikini separates but also represent Bali's two Detours, in which teams dredged a river for dirt or assembled an elaborate, religiously-inclined Edible Arrangement, respectively. Pretty much everyone save Mona and Beth opted for the latter. Wynnie, a Hollywood set designer/decorator, felt that this would be an easy demonstration of her talents. John, too, noted his "attention to detail" that would assure an easy Detour run. (This after the five minutes they spent at the wrong Detour location, arranging flowers in a stranger's backyard who, let's be honest, had a great time giving direction.) Ultimately "Fruity Top" wasn't so complicated: look at the fruit model, then make your piece look like that. So let's redirect our boasts, people.
Anyway, John and Jessica struggled so much to complete their arrangement that they eventually gave up and joined Mona and Beth down by the river. While they got through quickly, by this point most everyone else had completed their fruit arrangement and made their way to ULUWATU SURF BEACH. There they found a Road Block: one teammate tasked with combing racks of surfboards for one with a "memorable design." (Too many details, Phil! Just embrace the here and the now of surf, brah.)
This was…not the easiest Road Block for some teams. While Pam & Wynnie and Connor & Dave sailed through (the latter, it must be noted, eyeing the successful design the girls had found before beating them to the mat), teams like Nashville Singers and Chuck & Wynona struggled. "He spends hours in the garage doing his taxidermy!" Wynona offered as evidence of Chuck's attention to detail, which ‚ sure! The Nashville Singers had a mini-breakdown searching for the right board. "Can I just cry for a second?" asked Caroline. Take your time, sweetheart, I probably would have done the same thing.
Joey & Meghan, who I'll just say seem like a solid team and incrementally less annoying with each new episode, offered their winning surf design to "alliance"-mates Beth & Mona, which was generous. Certainly more so than Beth & Mona failing to pass the favor on to Chuck & Wynona! But no matter — one by one every team made their way to the mat.
…all except for John & Jessica, or more specifically John, who for the life of him couldn't find or identify the specific board he was looking for. Was the universe meeting and correcting his earlier claims of detail greatness? The closest team, Chuck & Wynona, beat them to the mat by what seemed like a good hour or so. Most upsetting is the fact that all of it — from the struggles with challenges this leg as well as the ultimate outcome — could have been avoided if only they'd utilized their Express Pass. Phil made a note of this on finally eliminating the two. They each had their own take on things. John: "The simple truth is we don't need a million dollars." Jessica: "We made a huge mistake."
But that's life, you realize. Staring at surfboard decals on a beautiful Indonesian beach, your closest companion in the world flummoxed with you, as a man outfitted head-to-toe in Travelsmith clothing tells you it's over and you have to go home. The beat goes ever on.
[Photo Credit: Robert Voets/CBS]