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'The Amazing Race': Baguettes and doughboys

98733_D0528 War is, as they say, hell. But apparently so too is Morse Code.

On this week's episode of "The Amazing Race," the teams were transported from Hamburg, Germany, to a secret, undisclosed location within the French countryside, where they participated in numerous activities including shopping for baguettes, bicycling and deciphering encoded messages amid a re-created WWI battlefield, complete with artillery fire, trenches and the Red Baron himself swooping overhead as they were drafted into the role of American doughboys.

But while the scene attempted to re-create the pressures of WWI battles, it was the teams' own inner stresses that supplied the drama this week, in an installment that featured a Blind U-Turn, a speedbump, a penalty ... and a general lack of direction from several teams.

The "Big Brother" team of Jeff and Jordan would have to make up a huge amount of time and complete that speedbump -- an extra activity that only they had to participate in -- if they had any chance of remaining in the race. It's a big ask of a last-place team with an enormous amount of ground to cover after a non-elimination leg. I do think that had no one implemented the aforementioned U-Turn, these two would have been heading to Elimination Station rather than to Le Pit Stop.

Arriving in France, the teams had to make their way to the charming village of St. Menehould, where they searched for a boulangerie to receive their clue, which was hidden beneath the crusty exterior of a freshly baked baguette. Every single team was able to figure out after a few milliseconds that the clue was inside the bread ... everyone, that is, except for Jordan and Jeff.

I'll admit I've grown strangely fond of these two, perhaps because they bring a hell of a lot of unintentional comedy to the table. While they were perplexed by what to do with the baguette, it was the subtitling of Jordan's mumbling (depicted on-screen as "????") that had me rolling on the floor. And if I'm being honest, they're much more amusing than models Caite and Brent, who at times make me want to rip off my own ears when they're on screen. 

This week, Caite continued her trend of making bizarre and often head-scratching pronouncements. On this episode, she uttered several gems: "I'm gonna eat the crap out of it, shove it down my throat" (re: the baguette) and "I'm really hoping it doesn't have any crazy crap in it." Beside her favorite use of the scatological, just what the hell is she talking about really? What would be in the baguette? What "crazy crap" do French boulangeries normally bake inside their bread? But the best was on the battlefield when Caite bemoaned that they would have to wear "out-of-style army clothes" while crawling around on the re-created battlefield. What was she expecting exactly? Vintage Chanel?

And that's saying nothing about Brent continuing to make me question whether he understands the concept of directions. Tasked with walking south, they ignored a signpost that indicated north and south and instead used his watch to walk ... north. After which Brent still continued to wonder whether the clue meant "the direction south" or "going in the direction of south." Um ... It was no wonder that they bypassed the U-Turn and headed to the bicycles, applying fake mustaches and then cycling 4 miles to the pit stop, at which time they were told they'd have to go back. (Best Brent line? "They're up in some sort of flying things," upon seeing the Red Baron above the battlefield.)

Which meant that Brent and Caite cycled 12 miles to come in sixth place, while all this time, Joe and Heidi -- who had been U-Turned by the first-place Louie and Michael -- were attempting to decipher the Morse Code message at the battlefield Detour. Despite being in second place, they quickly fell into last as team after team completed the Detour and headed to the Pit Stop while they continued to try to use the field manual to decipher the message before eventually just giving up altogether. Which is exactly what you should never do on the race: give up. There are so many things that can and often do go wrong that it's beyond foolish to just throw in the towel. People get lost, they make mistakes, and they often go off track when nearing the end of the leg. But these two -- who really did annoy me as much as they did Louie and Michael -- did just that as they gave up and waited for Phil to arrive. Au revoir!

As for the cops, they held on to first place this week and proved that they are not only the team to beat but they're willing to do anything to hold onto the position, including U-Turning an injured team to knock out a major competitor. Or as Michael put it, "There's sheeps and there's wolves; we're wolves." Touche.

Meanwhile, father and daughter Steve and Allie got about 30 seconds of screen time this week, making me wonder if they're just not doing anything provocative, controversial or exciting enough to focus on. The same can't be said about Brandy and Carol, who made a cutting remark about "stupid people" not doing the Morse Code challenge in the Detour, even though they all chose the more physical task, themselves included... and then whined about being forced to do physical activities on the race.

All in all, a tense and fun episode that proved that there are only a handful of teams worth watching and rooting for this season. 

What did you think of this week's episode? Were the cops right or wrong to U-Turn Joe and Heidi? Are you glad that Jeff and Jordan are sticking around to fight another week? Sad to see Joe and Heidi go? Head to the comments section to discuss.

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

Photo: Models Brent and Caite pose for the camera and look south on "The Amazing Race." Credit: CBS / Monty Brinton.

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Comments () | Archives (11)

There's a heck of a lot of whining going on this season and I still really haven't found a team to root for, though I guess the cowboys have gotten a laugh or two out of me. Steve and Allie clearly haven't impressed the editors yet...man, who are they? I keep forgetting about them the minute they're off-screen. And I thought the war games were kind of in bad taste, considering all the war going on in real life. But at least it was a harder challenge than eating sauerkraut and drinking beer.

Personally, I would've U-turned someone else - probably Steve & Allie due to their strength in challenges. I'd rather keep an inured team around, no matter how arrogant or annoying they were, knowing that I could beat them in physical tasks. This is a competition after all!

>>>As for the cops, they held on to first place this week and proved that they are not only the team to beat>>>

Are you kidding?? They think crawling on the ground is a CARDIO workout? They also seem to think we fought the German in trench warfare during World War TWO!!

Terrible shape, not too bright. They're going DOWN.

The Cowboys RULE!!!!!

I still maintain the supposed detectives are in reality wharehouse security guards from Brooklyn.I did not like this episode,it wasn,t fun or entertaining to watch...And when will we get to know the father and daughter?

I can't explain it, but for me this season is a uninteresting as the one featuring teams of families. There is not one team that I eiher am pulling for or against, or even find remotely curious. Love Amazing Race, just not this year.

So happy Jeff and Jordin did not get eliminated. They are so entertaining to watch. Too bad for Joe and Heidi, this is after all a competition and that was definitely a good move by the detectives.

I feel that the episode was boring.

U-Turning Joe and Heidi turned out to work quite well ... however, it was insanely bad game management. They did it to show Joe up, which is silly. But also ... the whole point is to make sure you aren't LAST. The cops were first, which meant they didn't need to U-Turn anyone, but if they were going to ... they should have U-Turned Jeff and Jordan, who were not only last but had an extra activity. It would have absolutely sealed that deal.

I'm rather glad Team Big Brother is still in it, and that Joe and Heidi aren't (though they seemed nice enough) but that doesn't make it a smart decision by the cops, just an effective one.

I agree with some of the other comments in that the teams this year aren't too interesting. I like the cowboys though. They make some insightful comments and I hope they win. The detectives don't seem like they are too smart, but luckily many of the challenges this season are physical, so that gives them an advantage. The two women dating are boring. All they do is whine and fight with each other. I hope Steve and Allie keep doing well. The couples (Jeff/Jordan and Caite/Brent) - talk about dysfunctional. I'm not sure how they continue to stay in the race, but there are fewer teams now, so their time may be up soon. Out of the four of them, only Jeff seems to have half a brain. Yeah, too bad for Joe/Heidi. I think they should have worked on the code separately then come together for an answer. It seems like they were guessing at the answer. Until next week!

There is a father/daughter team on Amazing Race? If so, I haven't seen them. This must be the least camera time a team has ever had on Amazing Race. I'm beginning to wonder about the team. Based on the 30 seconds or so of air time they've received, they seem to like each other.

Is it just me, or is there a lack of hustle on the race this year? I can't believe how slow Jordan was moving. Girl, you are in last place! Pick it up - sheesh.

Deciphering Morse code was the kiss of death - I was worried J&J would choose that option - glad they pulled through. Jeff cracked me up when he pointed the end of the rifle in his mouth, as if to end his misery! LOL

It was sad to see Joe and Heidi go home, but I think his knee would've been an ongoing - if not worsening - problem for him.

I think everyone is overly critical of Louie and Michael. We have no idea how well these men do in their jobs as detectives - they're clearly out of their element here, and not receiving the credit they deserve. Why would attempting to eliminate ANYONE in this game be "wrong"? Does it really matter who goes - as long as it's not you?

Kudos to Steve and Allie. Maybe they're the ultimate winners...that's why they're not getting much air time??? I dunno, it makes no sense to me either.

Yea, Caite and Brent don't appear to be strong as a couple. I think Brent is a jerk, and not a very kind person.

The baguettes looked yummy though :-}


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