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'Amazing Race' recap: Bullet in the bunny

March 21, 2011 |  6:33 am

Race Oh, Cara and Jaime! Busty, spunky maidens of the pom-pom! How sad I am to see you leave "Amazing Race," just as I was beginning to to be able to tell you two cheerleaders apart. (Same thing happened with the volleyball players last season.) And how cold was it that Kent and Vixsyn U-turned you while you were standing right behind them? To speak in your own idiom: T-h-a-t s-t-i-n-k-s. All props, though, to Kent for explaining things in his idiom: “Putting a bullet in the Playboy bunny was the only thing that was going to save us.”

And it saves the show, just a little. True, we will no longer hear the bunnies say things such as "China: It's like Hawaii all over again." But we can go on basking in the effulgence of the "dating Goths," a phrase that retains its strangeness no matter how many times you hear it. Who else could bring the same dysfunctional resonance to the act of carting solar tubes up several flights of stairs? Vixsyn to Kent: "This isn't rocket science, just walk ... Come on, go! ... Help me! Push! I can't do this by myself!" Kent to Vixsyn: "Hrrrggrrmnnn." Being fluent in Goth, I now translate: "Hey, Miss Pinkie, you spent half of last episode staring into a compass while our taxi took us to the wrong side of Japan, and you're busting my chops? I don't care if you're twice my size, I will take. You. Down."

As it turned out, quite a few contestants were taken down ... by dinosaurs. Not living ones, thank God, although the task of erecting 20-foot dinosaur replicas did call to mind some of the richer moments from "Bringing Up Baby." Sure, Howard Hawks, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn might have come up with all that stuff about falling off ladders and realizing that the coccyx should be touching the whoozit and not the hubba hubba -- but that business with the scowling Chinese paleontologist peering at all the cantilevered dino-joints and snarling "Not safe"? Genius.

All glory, laud and honor, then, to cowboys Jet and Cord, who zipped through their Jurassic Erector Set and hustled into first place, clearly expecting yet another free-trip-to-the-middle-of-nowhere prize. (Weren't we all? My son's lips were actually forming the word "Travelocity.") Instead, they each got $5,000 in cold, hard Oklahoma cash, which I pray they will spend not on hats but on the provisioning of an "Amazing Race" truth squad.

For the second time in a row, you see, this show has refused to be a vehicle of escapism. Last week, we were confronted with the spectacle of a pre-seismic Japan with intact cities and nuclear reactors. This week, rather more bizarrely, contestants were tasked with "honoring China's past" by watching costumed figures in a "traditional Tibetan performance." Now, I've no doubt that the "Race" pre-production team nailed down every logistical wrinkle months in advance, but wasn't there a single book- or newspaper-reading soul to suggest that China's past conduct toward Tibet falls outside even the most charitable definition of "honor"? About the only thing that could have rescued this moment was the Dalai Lama popping up with a yellow envelope. (Personally, I think he'd be game.) But it does suggest future directions for the show: I look forward to next week's Indian adventure, in which Margie and Luke personally launch nuclear warheads at Pakistan while U-turning Sri Lanka.

Dating Goths … Dating Goths … Still sounds weird.

RELATED: Full Show tracker coverage of "The Amazing Race"

-- Louis Bayard

Photo: Jaime erects a dinosaur. Credit: Robert Voets/CBS.