'The Amazing Race': Are you a candelabra?
Oh, "Amazing Race." You continue to teach us things, whether they be the actual definition of a candelabra (Hint: it's not a boozy man dressed in medieval garb), the existence of the sauna-laden underbelly of Estonia or the lengths to which CBS censors will go to obscure even the slightest hint of male genitalia.
Yes, it was another hilarious and odd episode of "The Amazing Race," one in which the five remaining teams had to wait around impatiently for a ferry, attempt to unlock a door, use a candle to decipher a clue (or, as some players opted, crayon), play mud volleyball in some Estonian bogs, and race to a rather small tower overlooking a swamp. Along the way, things turned ugly for two teams as they jostled their way right up to the pit stop.
Relations among the remaining teams are typically strained at this point in the race. Tensions are running high, and there is bound to be some major friction, even between teams that had coexisted more or less peacefully just a few legs earlier. After all, the final leg of the race is within spitting distance now, and everyone wants to be the first team to cross the finish line. Never mind that "The Amazing Race" is an endurance marathon and not a sprint; there are still several more legs coming up and equalizers at every turn.
Even so, I didn't expect the teams to have to wait around until 5:45 in the evening to catch that ferry, putting all of the teams on equal footing once they arrived in Estonia. Gary and Matt got stuck doing that speed bump -- it involved climbing into a Saunabuss (yes, it's exactly what it sounds like) with a Finnish family -- but it was Matt who really delayed them, wandering around that underground chamber for far too long trying to figure out what a candelabra was (or, as he pronounced it, "candle-a-bra") and asking the medieval players whether they were a candelabra or could lead him to "a special room." Which sounded kinkier than he intended, I think.
Even when he finally located the room and the scroll containing their next clue, Matt did not fully grasp the concept of holding the scroll to the light to reveal Pikk Hermann Tower Gardens as their next destination and missed the all-important "garden" piece of that clue. I really like Gary and Matt, and I believe they've gotten more out of the race thus far than any of the other teams running, but I think they've outlived their time here. Too many mistakes on top of one another don't really engender much confidence in their overall abilities.
At the Detour, most of the teams opted for mud volleyball against the Estonian pros, which led to the aforementioned pixelation of Sam's and Dan's, er, crotch areas at various points and in fact drew MORE attention to their nether regions. It was, to say the least, odd, especially as the clue even gave teams the option of stripping down to their underwear. Was there actual nudity? Or was it just implied? Or was the network just worried about outraged viewers and overcompensated as a result? If CBS has an explanation for it, I'm all ears.
As for the ugly behavior both Flight Time and Big Easy and Sam and Dan were alleging against one another, I don't think that anyone intentionally pushed, shoved or tripped anyone else. What I saw were two teams, covered in mud, running at full speed along a narrow wooden path ... and when they slipped, I blamed only gravity and a lack of proper footwear and not either team. (I think they should all agree to calm down, personally.) As for why the two teams hate each other, I'm not sure. It seemed to come out of nowhere this episode though both teams made comments that indicated that the dislike had been mutual for some time.
With the teams all way ahead of Gary and Matt (even with issues in the bog), I had a feeling that the father-and-son team would be going home this week and, sure enough, they were told that they had been eliminated from the race. As I mentioned before, I think these two managed to walk away with a real appreciation for each other even if they didn't win the million bucks, and I think they both felt the richer for it.
With only four teams remaining, the pressure is truly mounting. Which team will take home the million-dollar prize? Who are you rooting for? Will Flight Time and Big Easy make good on their promise to get back at Sam and Dan? Who will be the next to fall? Head to the comments to discuss.
-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food, and more television on Twitter at @televisionary)
Photo: Brothers Sam and Dan lean on one another on "The Amazing Race." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS