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'The Amazing Race': Shanghai surprise

April 25, 2010 |  9:00 pm

98733_D0607 It's an adage when it comes to "The Amazing Race," but it's true: "You're only as good as your cab driver when you're in a foreign country."

One of the detectives, Michael, said it in this week's episode, and he's correct as both he and his partner and brothers Dan and Jordan discovered in this leg, when teams decamped Singapore for Shanghai. But while no one lost because of an errant driver, it still irritated. (And it doesn't look to get any better next week.) But not as much as when Caite made such a big deal about being the "only girl left" in the competition. We get it, Caite, you beat the "mean lesbians," the ones who made a crack about your beauty pageant tiara on the first leg.

Which you then attempted to do yourself this week, offering a nonsensical non sequitur that wasn't even the most confounding thing you or fellow model Brent said this week. That she said it while clapping like a seal in an airport fast-food spot sort of removed any sort of feminist empowerment message she could have hoped to deliver.

This week, the teams had to contend with making noodles from scratching using the traditional method, unscrambling puzzles, pulling together clothes in a fashion house, and not getting flustered by the staggering amount of cigarettes that Ping Ping, the smallest man in the world (sadly, now deceased), smoked over the course of the challenge.

Arriving in Shanghai, the teams scrambled to get taxis and then headed to the village of Zhujiazhao. Or most of them did anyway, with Dan and Jordan and Louie and Michael sent way off track by two confused taxi drivers who deposited them about 3 kilometers away from their destination but fortunately in the presence of English speakers.

Arriving in Zhujiazhao, the teams caught hand-paddled boats and then discovered a Road Block, at which they'd have to make 1,000 grams of hand-made noodles before receiving their clue from Ping Ping himself, whom Caite seemed to treat as though he were either a child or a small dog. (Jet, on the other hand, had another take of Ping Ping: "If he jumped out of your trash can, he would scare the hell out of you.")

Jet quickly got the hand of the hand-pulled noodles despite a shaky start, and the cowboys finished the Road Block and headed out to their next destination, a fashion house in Shanghai. Dan looked on in amazement as Jet took off, referencing his "magic powers" and "magic hands." (The cowboys, it seems, can do no wrong.) Caite, however, didn't quite master the skill necessary to finish the challenge quickly. She soon descended into form, yelling at Brent (who said that he will never ask her to make homemade spaghetti) and attracting the derision of a toothless crone. Struggling to keep it together, Dan was comforted by Jordan, a nice display of fraternal support.

The cowboys, however, were in fine form this week, arriving at the fashion house to discover they would have to pull together various clothing to match a chosen sketch and then dress a model to match the drawing to receive their next clue. Despite their lack of fashion knowledge ("not more fine arts," they jokingly moaned), they quickly assembled the right ensemble after just one minor misstep (the wrong shirt) and headed off to the Hongkou Football Stadium.

On their heels were Caite and Brent, who threw themselves into the fashion challenge with every fiber of their being, reminding us for the zillionth time that they have modeling experience. Caite issued a bizarre rejoinder to the model getting dressed, asking her, "Do you need my tiara to help you?" I'm not sure what she meant by this, but it did lead me to question whether she knew the meaning of "tiara" and "help."

Another twist this week for the racers as they encountered another race first: There were two Road Blocks on a single leg and a stipulation that the other partner would have to perform this task. This Road Block, taking the place of a Detour, would involve one team member assembling a puzzle made up of 97 cards, which when properly laid out and handed to members of the audience would be turned around to reveal a seat number in the stadium.

Cord and Brent seemed to be unscrambling neck and neck until a mighty wind kicked up and blew Brent's puzzle pieces all over the field, resulting in quite a tantrum from Brent. Cord, meanwhile, completed his puzzle and the cowboys made their way via metro to the Pit Stop at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, finishing in first place. After calming down, Brent managed to finish and the two loathsome models finished in second place.

Which left the brothers and the detectives fighting for last place. Jordan managed to get his done first, leaving Michael stranded in the arena for so long that the lights eventually came on. (Deduction didn't prove to be their strong point this week. Not only did Michael have difficulties arranging the puzzle pieces in the right order, but they had a hard time finding the fashion house earlier.) Making their way to the Pit Stop, the detectives were stunned to discover that this was a non-elimination leg and they would have another chance -- albeit with a speed bump -- to fight for a spot among the final three teams.

Best line of the evening goes to Cord, who, upon seeing Ping Ping light up a massive cigarette, said, "Apparently, smoking will stunt your growth!"

I'm glad the detectives are still around, but I'm beyond ready for Caite and Brent to get the boot, especially after Brent this week confused Sicily for Venice. Not as bad as the anonymous/unanimous mix-up from a few episodes back, but come on. Clearly, like his teammate, Brent is in need of a map lesson. Or 10.

What did you think of this week's episode? Glad to see Louie and Michael stick around for another week? Concerned that the brothers are bound to have a breakdown before the final leg? Can cowboys Jet and Cord do no wrong? Whom are you rooting for to win this and which team should be the next to go? Head to the comments section to discuss. 

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

Photo: Detectives Louie and Michael give a thumbs-up to Shanghai fashion on "The Amazing Race." Credit: CBS / Monty Brinton.

Related:
'The Amazing Race': Marching to the beat of a different drummer
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