'The Amazing Race': Zeroes to heroes
Let's see: A real cowboy's hat doesn't ever come off, cabbies who rely on GPS should never be trusted, knee injuries do make playing soccer difficult, and beer is clearly not for everyone. That and the fact that anything is possible in "The Amazing Race," from reversals of fortune to the tiniest of decisions having major consequences.
The eight remaining teams left Bariloche, Argentina, to head to Hamburg, Germany, where they faced the first Intersection of the race, had to swallow sauerkraut, drink a boot of beer, and endure polka music ... all while fighting to remain in the race and remain sober.
While it was an oddly drama-free episode (at least on the part of the contestants) after the last few weeks of squabbling and stress, this week's installment mixed up the racing order of the teams significantly and signaled that the cowboys' first-place streak had come to an end.
I've been rooting for Jet and Cord the last few weeks, but they made a few serious errors this week that moved them down a few rungs to the middle of the pack. Which is a shame because I think they're funny, confident and smart, and they run a hell of a race, cowboy hats and all. But this week they made a mistake and hopped on the metro instead of taking a cab, which wasted valuable time and allowed their closest competitors -- that would be coppers Louie and Michael -- to get the jump on them.
I thought it was only fitting that the first Intersection should unite the city mice with the country mice, and it seemed like it was an evening of firsts for Jet and Cord: first time playing soccer, drinking a beer, navigating the metro. But throughout it all, the duo found time to enjoy the race with their trademark good spirits, even as they sank further back. Best line of the evening? Jet, upon entering Hamburg's red-light district: "Cord, we're not in the Bible Belt anymore."
Louie and Michael, meanwhile, ran a very good race, propelling themselves from the back of the pack and seemingly inevitable elimination to first place. After completing the tandem bungee jump with the cowboys, the detectives managed to smoothly sail into a first-place finish, handling both the timed sauerkraut feast (to the tunes of polka, no less) and downing that boot of beer with ease. For a team that I had all but written off, I have to say that I'm pretty darn impressed with how they performed this week. Whether they can continue to do so remains to be seen. ... Zeroes to heroes, indeed.
Likewise, I was happy that father-daughter team Steve and Allie breezed through this leg, between their skill with a soccer ball on the pitch and Steve's ability to guzzle that boot of beer in no time, and they handily walked off with a second-place finish.
Carol and Brandy annoyed me a lot less this week, perhaps because of their mantra du jour being "respectful." They seemed to squabble less, which in turn led to less mistakes, which meant they squabbled less. Is this the end of the vicious cycle? We'll find out next week, I'm sure. I wasn't sure what Carol was doing at the sauerkraut-eating Detour, though; considering there was a huge mound of sauerkraut and having a limited amount of time in which to eat it, I would have thought she would have taken great big forkfuls. Alas, she opted to take dainty bites, relying on Brandy to finish the entire thing on her own.
But it was Brent and Caite and Jeff and Jordan who were fighting to remain in the race at all. Caite about had a mental breakdown on the soccer pitch, throwing a tantrum after her legs began to hurt her and she missed several penalty kicks, despite playing soccer since she was 5, as she reminded us a few times, and Brent threw up when he had to polish off the boot of beer on his own. (Still, they didn't head to the hospital this week for IVs at least.)
Meanwhile, Jeff and Jordan got way sidetracked by a cabbie who had no idea where he was going, and they got further behind when they were unable to eat the sauerkraut, though it didn't seem like they even tried. At all. Fortunately for the "Big Brother" team, this was a non-elimination leg, which means that Jeff and Jordan will live to see another leg of the race, though if they hope to stick around for longer, they'll have to complete a speedbump next week. We'll see if these zeroes can turn their luck around to race another day. ...
What did you think of this week's episode? Sad the cowboys lost their first-place spot? Surprised Carol and Brandy kept it together? Wondering whether the producers made this a non-elimination to keep Jeff and Jordan in the race? Head to the comments section to discuss.
-- Jace Lacob (Follow my musings on television, food and more television on Twitter at @televisionary)
Photo: New York City cops Louie and Michael dive into a big plate of sauerkraut on "The Amazing Race." Credit: CBS.