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'The Amazing Race' recap: Keeping the hog wound down

April 25, 2011 |  7:06 am

Race Technically speaking, when Joseph Conrad penned his immortal line “The horror! The horror!” he could not have been watching Zev in the throes of a marathon struggle with melted cheese.  But wasn’t Zev’s face exactly what Conrad had in mind?  That look of dead-eyed, hollow-cheeked soul rot?  It’s what happens to a guy when he stakes his fortunes on finishing a big pot of Alpine goo to the accompaniment of accordions.  “I’m not very fondue of this fondue,” Zev declared.  And after he and Justin had belched and vomited and staggered their way to first place, Zev was moved to add: “We’re just in it for the fondue of it.”  To which Justin (and no one else in the world) replied: “Ha ha.” 

Heterosexual flirting did break out in Episode 9 of “Amazing Race” -- unless I’m mistaken, Kisha and Jen have some serious eyes for the Trotters -- but this has been the season of bromance.  And so it seems particularly sad that the show’s only pair of actual brothers should at last bite the dust.  Watching Jet and Cord claw their way out of last place time and again has been a source of parental frustration for me.  At the end of every episode, I want to sit them down and pour them two drams of tough love.  “Boys, boys, why do you keep getting off to such bad starts?  Why are you always taking the wrong planes?  And Jet, honey, how’d you manage to add 13 kilometers to the length of Liechtenstein?  Seriously, did you throw in Belgium too?”

And then I want to turn my wagging finger on the rest of the contestants: “Why you always trying to keep my sweet Okies down?  Why’d you U-turn 'em, Trotters?  And Kent, what’s with that crack about putting ‘em on ice?  You know, it’s not just anyone who can climb on top a motorized Solex and say, ‘I’m a-gonna keep this hog wound down,’ and make it sound so very charming.  Something you’d want your daughter to hear someday.  When she’s good 'n' ready.” 

Well, it’s no use, the cowboys are gone.  And the only upside is that without the stark example of their decency I may even grow to admire the dating Goths, whose dysfunctions are beginning to look crazily strategic.  Yes, the sniping continues. (“Ow, you hit my ankle!” “You need to get it together!” “Stop being stupid!”)  And, yes, Kent is the biggest cloud of sulk to darken TV since the Osborne kids. But somehow or other, the Goths power on. 

And the Alpine setting suits Vixsyn, who, with her fuschia pigtails, bears an uncommon resemblance to Heidi … if, say, Heidi had left Clara and Grandfather and started dropping acid in a garret in Zurich.  I actually felt a light tug at my heartstrings when our pink liebchen began ferrying the “injured” Kent through the streets of Zermatt.  I don’t know if it said anything about love, but it said something about something.  And it erased, for just a second, the image that would not otherwise leave my mind: a spoonful of cheese.  Run, Zev, run!

-- Louis Bayard

Photo: Cord (left) and Jet must eat an entire pot of cheese fondue. Credit: CBS.