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'Amazing Race' recap: 'You now go with the body all directions'

May 2, 2011 |  6:44 am

Who says the American family unit is fraying?  At about five minutes to 9 p.m. EDT, I looked around the room and saw my spouse and two children glaring at the TV set with an intensity matched only by mine.  Our teeth were gritted, our eyes were blazing as we breathed the prayer so deeply woven into our household fabric. 

Stop the Goths.

Well, in this case, our prayers were answered.  Whether through divine intervention or a more impersonal discharge of karmic debt, Kent and Vixsyn failed to read the words “on foot” in their final instructions and incurred a 30-minute penalty that allowed Zev and Justin, snow-seared and disoriented, to stagger into fourth place. 

Me, I thought it could have ended for the Goths several hours earlier when Vixsyn was lowering Kent into a teeny, tiny Alpine crevasse.  “Stop!” bleated Kent.  “Pull me back up!  You’re going too far!”  And here is where, if I were a “Race” producer, I would have run a clip reel of all of Kent’s crimes and misdemeanors.  All the goldbricking and backseat-driving, the blame-gaming, the whining (“My hands feel like they’re going to freeze off!”), the trash-talking (“We’re going to kick your ... again today.  Word.”).  On and on it would have run as we watched the cloud settle over Vixsyn’s face … watched her reach into her bustier for the Swiss Army knife … listened to the dying echo of Kent’s voice as the severed rope fell after him. ...

Well, that particular prayer wasn’t answered.  Ever the helpmate, Vixsyn hauled the Little Pale Prince back to safety, and her reward was to have him turn on her in the final moments and blame her for misreading the instructions and for emitting “negative energy.”  Vixsyn’s quite reasonable reply: “Your version of being positive is to attack me.”  For the post-game interview, her game face was back on (along with a bodacious nose ring and a small forest of new hair).  “Even though Kent and I have our moments,” she cooed, “at the end of the day, we’ll end it cuddling.”  And just as that image was working its way back up my esophagus, Vixsyn sent her final smackdown to the other competitors: “I’m taking the best teammate with me, and you don’t get to have him.”

The front-runners have manfully concealed their disappointment, but our departing Gothess does raise a good point.  Can one reasonably look forward to an “Amazing Race” finale when one can’t bring oneself to dislike any of the remaining contestants?  Everywhere I turn, I see reasons to cheer.  The proletarian unpretentiousness of Zev and Justin.  The winning (if wolfish) grins of Gary and Mallory.  Big Easy’s easily offended sense of justice, Kisha’s snigger, Jen’s swagger (“I like men when they’re shutting up”).  There’s something endearing about all of them, although I particularly relished the moment when a matronly Swiss candymaker indoctrinated Flight Time in the art of making chocolate gnomes.  “You now go with the body all directions,” she instructed.  How could she have known that her pupil would take the instruction so personally and begin shaking like a Polaroid picture?  Or that, in her fractured English, she would have hit on the perfect summary of “Amazing Race”?

-- Louis Bayard