'The Amazing Race' recap: Survivors expire
Two former "Survivor" champs failed to make it past the second episode of this season's "The Amazing Race" Sunday, proving that it's the toughest reality show on TV. Either that or no matter what else you've accomplished, you really ought to read the small print when doing a reality TV competition.
It was missing a small detail that put Ethan and Jenna too close to the back of the pack in an episode that promised the show's first double elimination.
The teams were fairly close for most of the episode, all traveling on the same flight and then the same overnight train from Taipei to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. There, there was much spelunking. One member of each team had to descend by rope 160 feet into a natural, very dark cave, retrieve a mask and knife, and then climb out on a rope ladder.
First, however, oldsters Bill & Cathi -- who the other players are affectionately calling "Ma and Paw" -- had to complete a roadblock. Maybe the show's going easy on them: they just had to untangle a rope, which Bill joked was just like unknotting Christmas lights.
Bill & Cathi escaped elimination last time, but seemed to flip their luck this episode, trading off the lead spot with Ernie & Cindy.
After the cave, the teams either had to dance in the street in a Javanese costume or park motorbikes for tips. While making the wrong choice can often mean curtains for a team, the two tip-earning tasks wrapped up in about the same amount of time.
Once completed, teams had to take tips to an orphanage. Once there, they were supposed to give not just the tips but also the rest of their cash to the orphanage -- a detail that was easily missed by teams rushing to make it to the next pit stop.
The first three teams to arrive at the orphanage -- Ernie & Cindy, Bill & Cathi, and blonde twins Liz & Marie -- all miss the donation note. Host Phil Keoghan sends each team back, one by one, to the orphanage before they can check in. When Cindy learns that she missed the note, she starts crying about her problems, which at this moment amount to not coming in first in this round of a reality show. The orphans' problems? They don't seem to be weighing on her mind.
Then a long string of misses show up: brother and sister Justin & Jennifer, who moved quickly past bickering into all-out fighting; dating pair Jeremy & Sandy; Amani and Marcus, her NFL veteran husband; Ethan and Jenna, who had lost valuable time retrieving a clue Jenna had left behind where they'd been dancing; and domestic partners Ron & Bill.
Southland father and son team Laurence & Zac make the right donation, thanks to Zac, who spies the note, making them the second team to check in. Kaylani and Lisa also notice the instructions; they're third.
The other teams all double back and return. Ethan and Jenna are eliminated, as are Ron and Bill. Ethan makes an impassioned if generally unconvincing statement about how blissful he is to be eliminated. Ron & Bill's good-natured, fatalistic joking with Phil as they get the bad news shows it might have been fun to watch them a little longer.
Will Justin and Jennifer stop arguing? Will Cindy's perfectionism get in the way of her racing skills? Will Ma and Paw hold onto their comfortable spot in the upper middle of the pack? We'll see next week.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Ethan and Jenna on "The Amazing Race." Credit: CBS