'The Amazing Race': Dude, we're in the desert
Does karma play a role in the success or failure of teams running "The Amazing Race"? Can performing good deeds actually propel you to a better performance and, conversely, can behaving like a jerk result in elimination?
New favorite team Brian and Ericka attempted to put their belief in race-related karma to the test, making a concerted effort to help other teams that asked for assistance ... and managed to walk away with a spot nearly at the top of the pack. Of course, it helped that they worked their butts off this leg of the race and also used their smarts and skills.
It was all about contrast this week as the teams found themselves in Dubai, where they had to take an elevator to the world's tallest building, search for water-filled urns in the desert, and build snowmen in 120-degree heat. (Endurance also played a part as well: Walking around in that desert looking for urns was a bit like searching for a needle in a hellishly hot haystack.)
Throughout it all, married couple Brian and Ericka pulled off a fantastic performance while also extending a helping hand to several other teams. Brian pointed his competitors to an urn filled with water and directed the extremely lost Mika and Canaan to the desert conservation when he could have kept driving. Sure, former Miss America Ericka said her husband was too nice, but it's great to see a team that's not only running a strong race but also keeping in mind that your actions can often come back around to you. Lending an assist to a team in need means they might return the favor down the line. Of course, there needs to be a point where you realize you're in a race and it's every team for itself. In the meantime, these two landed in second place.
They probably would have had a shot at first but Meghan and Cheyne, appropriately dubbed "Malibu Ken and Barbie" by Brian and Ericka, grabbed the Fast Forward and wound up reaching the mat first. (I was extremely jealous that Cheyne got to race in the Dubai autodrome. That looked awesome.)
Elsewhere, brothers Sam and Dan continued their unspoken alliance with professional poker players Maria and Tiffany. Now I've always been an "Amazing Race" viewer that has never quite understood the concept of alliances in the race; after all, it's not a series like "Survivor," where craftiness and manipulation play a large role. No, "The Amazing Race" is like a gigantic foot race and you're only hobbling yourself if you decide to go in for a three-legged race when everyone else is running solo.
Still, the brothers stuck around after Maria drove over a spike in the sand and ripped open her car's radiator. They didn't need to stay and could have -- and likely should have -- taken off while the women waited for a replacement car. I'm not quite sure what they gained by waiting around but perhaps that was the brothers' way of cultivating a little goodwill as well.
The "directionally challenged" Keri and Lance continued to grate on my nerves, especially as they were still in the race while Zev and Justin got eliminated last week for a technicality. (Yes, I know Maria and Tiffany were in last place, but I choose to take out my frustration on Lance and Keri.) This week, the duo managed to make every wrong decision in the book, taking every wrong turn, running every which way but the correct one, and just generally doing everything backward.
This week's Hulk Smash moment? Two, in fact. A frustrated Lance smashed an urn in the desert when he discovered it was empty and, after building the snowman, he asked the poor woman at Ski Dubai if he could "kick" the snowman. Um, wow.
Was I surprised when a last-place Lance, after wandering around the desert for what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights, finally found enough water to fill his sack and then spilled out the remainder onto the sand? Nope. But perhaps it was karma, as punishment for his wastefulness, that led these two to come in last and get eliminated. I'd like to think it was karma, anyway.
Best line of the evening: "Chocolate melts in the sun." -- Ericka explaining why she was sending Brian into the desert to perform the roadblock instead of going herself.
What did you think of this week's episode? Were you sad to see Lance and Keri go or happy to finally see the back of them? Who are you rooting for now and which team is most likely to win the grand prize? Speak your mind in the comments section below.
-- Jace Lacob
Follow my musings on television, food, and more television on Twitter at @televisionary
Photo: Ericka and Brian prove there's room for karma ... and adorable couples poses on "The Amazing Race." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS