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'The Amazing Race' recap: God's will

October 24, 2011 |  9:10 am


If you wanted to know why snowboarders Andy & Tommy have been winning so many legs of this season's "The Amazing Race," they have the answer for you this episode. "It's God's will," says Andy. "God's always there with us, and he's going to help us," Tommy says, explaining how they overcame a mistake.

The teams are in Thailand, where they must first take an elephant ride upriver. Everyone enjoys the elephant ride, except Sandy, who complains to Jeremy that she's scared, and Marcus, who looks like his size is going to drag his seat right off the elephant. Five of the teams get into an elephant jam on the narrow riverbank. Twins Liz & Marie, who escaped elimination last episode, have a roadblock: They must wash and clean up after the elephants before taking their ride. Good thing the twins LOVE ELEPHANTS! They squeal that they LOVE ELEPHANTS SO MUCH! "Hi, I love you!" they cheer while elephant washing. When shoveling elephant poop, they even say, "It doesn't smell!"

The elephant ride takes them to a stopping point where one team member must go to a waterfall and pond and look for a clue near a traditional Thai floutists. There are bundles in the pond, and everyone finds them quickly. Inside, they find directions to their next task: disassemble a small shrine called a Spirit House and take it to a Buddhist temple.

The directions don't say they'll have to reassemble the complex shrine when they get it to its destination. But they do.

A few of the contestants assume they might have to reassemble the shrine and take notes, including oldsters Bill & Cathi. Those who don't have a much harder time of it, having to shuttle back to take a closer look and write down directions. Ernie says Cindy will kill him if he doesn't get it right.

The show's first ugly American episode is at the Buddhist temple, where Tommy declares, "God is greater than the temple." From the sidelines, Andy says that there’s “one true God,” which he knows because it’s in the Bible, and is eager to get away from this Buddhist place. It's the first we've heard of the snowboarders' Christian faith, all the more surprising a revelation because of lack of tolerance.

Thank goodness for Jennifer. “While it may not be the same religion as mine, it still deserves the same amount of respect,” she says.

As Zac struggles to reassemble the shrine, Laurence tells us that he would have been able to knock this task out, continuing his bid for worst father of the year. At one point he declares, “Being the father, Zac will heed what I say,” which doesn't work out so well. After the shrine is done, the teams must take a 13-hour bus ride to Bangkok. They're on one of the earliest buses, a nice "first-class" bus. After a few miles, Laurence insists they've violated the show's rule of no first-class travel, so they stop the bus and hoof it three miles back to the bus station. Now they're on the next-to-last bus, and as Phil explains when they finally reach the pit stop, the no-first-class rule applies only to air travel. So they could have been at the front of the pack if Zac hadn't heeded what Laurence said.

Back at the bus station, Ernie and Cindy have the show's second ugly American episode: Not only do they underpay their cabbie, but they get huffy and shout at him about it. A translator, who appears to be there to make sure cabbies don't get stiffed, intercedes, and they turn their anger on her, screaming it's not her business and asking why she's doing this to them. It's a horrible moment, where the misunderstanding is all their fault, but they march off as if they were in the right. Later, they'll tell the camera that they feel awful about it -- at least they're embarassed.

LIz & Marie have even more trouble. They never converted their U.S. dollars to Thai baht, and must have been overpaying all along. By the time they get on the bus -- after some desperate negotiation with the ticket seller and their cabbie -- they're entirely out of money. Whatever else remains between them and the pit stop, they have to do completely broke.

And before they're done, there are still more tasks to complete: a visit to a river to feed ginormous gray fish that might be koi, and a taxi ride to the pit stop. Liz & Marie, who we know are behind all the other teams, feed the fish and set out to walk to the check-in point -- five hours away.

In a reversal of fortune, Bill & Cathi and Amani & Marcus are neck and neck in the lead. The oldsters are the first to feed the fish and cab to the pit stop, but Amani & Marcus beat them in the foot race to check in. Ernie & Cindy might have been first, but they jumped out of their cab while stuck in traffic, sacrificing their lead; they're third. Justin & Jennifer are fourth.

After feeding the fish, Andy & Tommy stop to ask directions to their pit stop at an official-looking building. The official-looking lady who helps them says she’ll go ask and leaves with their clue; there seems to be some miscommunication going on. Turns out it’s a school, she’s a teacher, and she’s now teaching a class -- clue in hand. It sets them back -- way back. "It's God's will," says Andy, keeping the faith. "God's always there with us, and he's going to help us," says Tommy. They're fifth to check in.

Laurence & Zac are sixth. Jeremy & Sandy, who had been toward the front of the pack but had a hard time finding the pit stop, are next -- convinced they're going to be eliminated. Is it just me or do these two seem ready to not be racing together anymore?

Meanwhile, it turns out that it's not too hard for a pair of identical twin blond women to get a free cab ride in Bangkok. Spared elimination last round, they're not so lucky this time -- the two are out. They cry. But at least they got to ride an elephant.


"The Amazing Race" recap: A day at the beach

"The Amazing Race" recap: Cooperate for the Buddha

"The Amazing Race" recap: Survivors expire

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Indentical twins Liz & Marie (or maybe it's Marie & Liz), left; right Cindy & Ernie with a Spirit House. Credit: CBS