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'The Amazing Race': Horsing around in Argentina

February 28, 2010 | 10:18 pm

98759_D6276  And that's why it pays to read the clues.

This week's episode of "The Amazing Race" took the contestants from Chile to Argentina, where they searched the Andes for gunslingers, Travelocity gnomes, stolen money, fake horses and bandits. 

What was missing for several teams was the ability to read the directions that they were given, whether that was to count the appropriate steps while searching for buried cash or where they had to go next.

But one team--models Caite and Brent--were nearly out of the race before the leg even began as they succumbed to something resembling food poisoning... and promptly checked themselves into a Chilean emergency room for three hours of IV drips before heading back out on the road. Very luckily, they weren't due to depart Chile for several hours and managed to get back in the race with little issue. (Darn.)

I felt bad for Caite and Brent on the one hand. The race is a brutal master, and there's no place for illness when you're competing for a $1-million prize and getting little R&R. But really, the emergency room? I understand if you're unable to keep fluids down and are extremely dehydrated, but I can't help but wonder what was in those IV drips that suddenly made them feel better after just three hours of lying in a stark hospital room.

The cowboys--brothers Jet and Cord--once again managed to pull off a stunning performance this week... and made girlfriends Carol and Brandy extremely curious about just how they got into first place last week. I thought that Carol and Brandy's inquisition of the cowboys was outright rude and they're clearly more consumed with bickering between each other and competing with the other teams than concentrating on running the best possible race. 

Jet and Cord, meanwhile, sailed smoothly into another first place finish, aided by the fact that they're naturally adept with lassoing (which Brandy said was an unfair advantage), smart players, good with directions, and are only thinking about their own performance and not falling into catty behavior or second-guessing themselves. I thought it was brilliant that they faked being lost so that the other teams could pass them on the road to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's legendary hideout... where they had to play five-card stud with a Travelocity gnome.

Kudos go to father-daughter team Steve and Allie for coming out of nowhere to pull off a second place spot this week. They really stepped it up this week and managed not to get side-tracked or enmeshed in any inter-team rivalries. The second best line of the episode, in fact, may just go to Steve, who uttered the immortal line, "I'm 57 years old, what isn't hurting?" when they quickly made their way through the Horse Power detour challenge. (They certainly did better than detectives Louie and Michael who proved unable to find anything during the Horse Sense detour.)

But several teams failed to read the instructions and lost some serious time this week. Joe and Heidi opted to rely on the compass on Joe's watch rather than the marked signpost and headed out in some unknown direction in search of... I don't know what, really. (Yes, there's a reason why you are meant to count your steps in a particular direction.) 

Meanwhile, Jeff and Jordan--who are slowly growing on me, strangely (at least for comic relief)--failed to understand that there was a difference between the "gunslinger" and the "head bandit" and failed to read the clue in full to see that they were meant to take the bag they unearthed to the train station, instead repeatedly attempting to give it to the gunslinger. Again. And again.

Still, at least the "Big Brother" duo had a sense of humor about the whole thing. Jordan said of Jeff, "He is not a natural cowboy" at the lassoing Road Block (though he did get it in the end), while Jeff had the single best line of the night: "We definitely shouldn't reproduce."

I'm keeping my mouth shut on that one.

For mothers/attorneys Monique and Shawne, it was the end of the line after difficulties from both the lasso Road Block and the polo mallet-wielding Detour pushed them all the way to the back of the pack. But they were able to at least unearth their bag, present it to the head bandit, and finish the leg without giving up, bickering or bad-mouthing each other or other competitors.

Which is more than I can say for a lot of these players.

What did you think of this week's episode? Are the cowboys the team to beat? Are you slowly warming to Jeff and Jordan? (Or were you cheering them on since the beginning?) Will Brandy and Carol's relationship continue to implode? Head to the comments section to discuss.

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

Photo: Cowboy Jet McCoy attempts to ride an unfamiliar kind of horse on "The Amazing Race." Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton.

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