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'The Amazing Race': Slip and slide

October 25, 2009 | 10:19 pm

98246_D0495 It's funny (or perhaps terrifying) what people won't do, even with a million dollars at stake.

On this week's episode of "The Amazing Race," Mika was frozen with fear when faced with the ultimate combination of two of her biggest phobias: water and heights. But with a huge cash prize on the line and possible elimination, she found herself unable to ... go down a slide?

We all have phobias that are at times crippling, whether that be heights or spiders or water. But part of participating in "The Amazing Race" is about conquering those fears and pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone, even if it means facing up to rather scary obstacles along the way.

"The Amazing Race," of course, has an uncanny way of magnifying those fears because there's not only the sense of life-altering cash but also a ticking clock every step of the way. Under the heightened conditions of the race, what's actually quite easy (lying down and sliding or dividing numbers or reading a watch) begins to seem daunting and difficult. 

Big Easy wasted valuable time incorrectly reading the watch; Ericka and Brian were so close to figuring out the gold conversion rate at the Detour but panicked and changed their selection (always a mistake on "The Amazing Race") to instead spend two hours attempting to assemble hookas outside in an open-air market under the intense heat of the sun; Cheyne and Meghan are usually perfectionists yet overlooked several pieces of the hooka pipes, frustrating them to no end (though they still came in first). 

That said, Flight Time and Big Easy simply asked for a calculator at the gold exchange, making their task all the more easy. (Meanwhile, poker players Maria and Tiffany seriously lucked out that their allies Sam and Dan had brought a calculator with them from home.) Which proves my point: It all comes down to the details in the end, whether that's asking the right question or paying attention to the colors and patterns of the hooka pieces.

Last week, I spoke a good deal about karma on the race but neglected to mention how Flight Time and Big Easy told Mika and Canaan to bring their jackets inside the indoor ski park. It was a gesture of friendship, honesty and camaraderie that I thought showed true sportsmanship. But this week, the teams faced off for last place ... at that fateful water slide.

Despite arriving at the water slide ahead of Flight Time and Big Easy, Mika and Canaan found themselves unable to move on because of Mika's terror at the thought of sliding down a big plastic tube. But rather than express her fear as a rational adult, Mika threw a temper tantrum befitting a 5-year-old child, a comparison all the more apt as she was wearing water wings and stomping her feet. 

Given that there was $1 million on the line, I am completely shocked that she couldn't get it together enough to just lie down and take the plunge. But I was even more shocked that Mika's "sexually pure" boyfriend, Canaan, attempted to forcibly thrust her down into the tube. (Frustrated much, Canaan?)

Even worse: Even though it was clear that Mika wasn't going to do it, she refused to move aside for Flight Time and Big Easy, who then attempted to psych her out, much to Canaan's chagrin. (As for calling Big Easy "a piece of crap," I call shenanigans. After all, the Harlem Globetrotters had helped them the leg before, so puhlease.)

As for the guys, sure, they tried to get her not to slide. They wisely realized that the last team to check in would most likely be eliminated and they weren't going to let Mika's tantrum keep them from possibly walking away a million dollars richer at the end of the race. They were "doin' it for the hood," after all.

In the end, Mika didn't even slide down the tube and kept expressing her wish to be back in Nashville rather than in Dubai, taking a literal leap of faith. If that's not contrary to everything that "The Amazing Race" is all about, I don't know what is.

What did you think of this week's episode? Would you have taken the plunge, even if you were afraid of heights and water? Did you think Flight Time and Big Easy did anything wrong in psyching Mika out? Did you think Canaan was crazy to try to push Mika, even if she was acting like a bratty child? Head the comments section below and discuss.

-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food, and more television on Twitter at @televisionary)

Related:
'The Amazing Race': Zev and Justin's heartbreaking exit
'The Amazing Race': Dude, we're in the desert
Complete "Amazing Race" coverage on Showtracker 

Photo: Mika and Canaan are there for each other (even when push comes to shove) on "The Amazing Race." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS

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