'The Amazing Race' recap: I'm going to shoot you
Reality shows must, at times, give way to reality. So it was that the opening sequences of this week’s “Amazing Race” presented us with … Japan, a country months away from its tsunami tragedy. In light of what we now know, this "reality TV" may seem pretty frivolous. If you’re looking for a way to help, here are some organizations accepting donations for disaster relief.
And with that, let’s return to the considerably more picayune stakes of this lovely piece of piffle we call “the Race.”
A show that, as Kent likes to say, is “about tragedies” but also “about miracles.” Really, as Episode 4 reminded us, it’s about following directions. Remember how Ron and Tony fell on their faces in last season’s opener because they couldn’t find their way to Stonehenge (despite being in an English-speaking country)? It was pretty much the same thing with the dating Goths, who were supposedly bound for Narita airport but swerved instead into a Sartre play.
Vixsyn: I’ve been staring at this compass for an hour, watching it go the wrong way.
Kent: It’s taken you this long to figure it out.
Vixsyn: I can’t believe it.
Oh, Vixsyn. Poor, dear, sweet, undermedicated Vixsyn, windmilling at every task that came your way. Your manic monologues were perfect arias of self-flagellation: “I just want to find it so badly. ... I am so sorry. ... I just need to stay calm. ... I’m just so confused. ... I don’t know what I’m doing. ... I never thought of myself as a stupid person until this race. ... I don’t understand what I’m doing ever.” How can you get mad at a gal who rides herself so hard? “My little pink kitten is trying her best,” said consort Kent, whose patience has begun to seem Job-like.
Although, in that moment, he did look very much like "Rebecca's" Mrs. Danvers waiting on the second Mrs. De Winter. And it might be added that, when Vixsyn contrived to leave her passport behind in the Narita airport, Kent was reduced to “Shining”-like litanies: “I’m going to shoot you, I’m going to shoot you, I’m going to shoot you."
Shooting remains a very real possibility given that Vixsyn (or Kent, or both of them) also lost their fanny pack full o’ dough in the gondola to Spruce Meadow. By now, of course, someone may have stolen it, but to my mind, the greater danger is that Ron ate it. Hunger is one of the human imperatives that “Amazing Race” tends to glide over (along with sleep and money and, with the exception of Kisha and Jen, bathroom breaks). Leave it to surly Ron to remind us: A fella’s gotta eat. Even in the face of his daughter’s disapproval -- “You are so ungraceful. You are so ridiculous. Stop eating. Get dressed” -- Ron couldn’t quit stuffing his hole with local fish and dragon buns and personally hammered nut confections and, hey, that border collie in Old Town Li Jiang looks kinda tasty, and what about those meaty blue-collar yaks that ferry tourists across the streams of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Me, I sense an even bigger meal in the works this season: filet in extremis. For the second time in four episodes, teams have been informed that their pit stop is, in fact, not a pit stop but a … To Be Continued! Now it may be that the producers want to give teams like Kent and Vixsyn -- “the pink and black attack” -- the chance to make up ground, but I think they’re lusting for that uncanny, uncomfortable moment at the end of so many “Race” episodes when pitch blackness has descended and the camera lights are blazing like judgment, and some baleful pair of contestants staggers out of the dark, no longer certain who or where they are. Phil? Phil, is that you? In such a context, the chemical hue of Vixsyn’s hair will, I am confident, assume a transcendental power: the pink after the storm. “Come on,” I can hear Kent whispering. “Come on, Big Vix.”
-- Louis Bayard
Photo: Vyxsin and Kent. Credit: Robert Voets/CBS.