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Television

The Amazing Race. It should be cause for the competition to kick into really high gear. This doesn’t really happen though. The remaining teams are definitely thirsty for a win as the race heads to South Korea but it isn’t very tense. One team, Matt and Redmond, make a huge mistake at the start of the leg choosing the much slower subway over a taxi. This puts them in dead last place and they can’t get a leg up, no pun intended towards Redmond’s situation, after the error. Thankfully The Amazing Race makes up for Matt and Redmond’s blunder by providing some of the most entertaining challenges of the season, if not series. It easy the blow of this leg being decided before the first commercial break.

Stack to the Top

One of these interesting obstacles is the first of two Roadblocks for the leg. The teams head to a gymnasium where little kids are practicing. They aren’t training for any kind of average Western sport. These children, most of who are sweating as if The Amazing Race has wandered into a prepubescent sweat lodge, are stacking cups with nearly superhuman speed in specific patterns. They are often doing it all in under three seconds. South Korea is a magical place. 

Even Brooke seems to be infected by the wonderful frivolousness of this Roadblock. (It also helps that Brooke has some experience with cup stacking so this is apparently the one she can do.) Brooke still communicates in nothing but screeches, her personal volume is always a 7 on a scale of 10 (or higher) but it is a more positive wailing than the usual variety. Everyone though has a ton of fun stacking cups which is not a sentence that I ever thought I’d write. 

Since Matt and Redmond are so far behind, the other teams become one big blob. They are all at the same challenges at the same time, starting with this Roadblock. There has been far too much talk between the cast this season about helping each other. The Amazing Race is still a competition and these contestants need to nut up eventually. However, when the mood is this generally happy, it’s hard to complain too much.

The Great Korean Bake-Off

From the Roadblock the teams head to one of those weird Amazing Race challenges without a cutesy name. At this random obstacle, the teams must create a famous Korean dish: kimchi. Though it is quite popular, it is brand new to me and it looks delicious. The teams don’t have much time to admire the dish they are making because they have to cook it while the customary locals look on and giggle at them. It has never made sense to me why The Amazing Race hires natives of every country to just stand at the challenges. They do nothing but whisper to each other and obviously mock the contestants, but it is something that should never stop. 

Of course there is plenty of mocking going on between the contestants themselves, especially when it comes to Brooke and Scott. Brooke doesn’t regain her entire monster persona when cooking with Scott (FYI this is a Amazing Race spin-off I would watch) but she gets dangerously close. She does point out the giggling locals which is appreciated as contestants almost never do even though they are always there. The bickering might rear its head again but it is not enough for the top three to get anywhere close to giving up their lead. Things start to change when the next Roadblock arrives. 

Button Mash for Your Life

At this Roadblock, which immediately precedes the final Pit Stop, the designated team member must participate in one of Korea’s biggest national pastimes. It is e-sports — otherwise known as watching other people play video games. Once again, South Korea is a magical place. 

This Roadblock might be the most fun challenge that The Amazing Race has ever aired. It is easy to understand, the contestants are playing a fighting game against professional gamers and everyone gets to cheer for each other. A whole theater full of young adults are watching the gaming go down. It is as if The Amazing Race is having the contestants participate in a boxing match with no actual concussions or bleeding but a lot of fireballs being shot from (virtual) hands. 

Scott and London, who must do this Roadblock, do a pretty good job button mashing their way to victory. This is in the most literal sense too because while playing the game London shows all the coordination of a severely underdeveloped toddler. Tara though really struggles and she is completely flummoxed by the video game and all this newfangled technology. (Way to break those stereotypes Team Mom and Dad!) 

Tara does so awful that it allows Matt and Redmond to finally catch up but it is not enough for them to overtake Team Mom and Dead. The gamer against Tara becomes so artificially handicapped by The Amazing Race that Tara basically just has to breathe on the controller to finally win a match.(To his credit, he seems very sorry about kicking her video game butt though Joey wants to kick his actual ass.) Tara and Joey leave the theater and rush to the Pit Stop. Though editing makes it look like Matt and Redmond are right behind them, it is a trick. Tara and Joey snag the final slot in the finale. Matt and Redmond come in last and are eliminated from The Amazing Race. 

It’s sad to see them go as they probably were my favorites after they recovered from their noxious first appearances. Now all my chips are on Team LoLo but who are you rooting for? Who did you think will win? Are you surprised that Brooke and Scott did so well? What did you make of this batch of challenges? 

(Image courtesy of CBS)

May 25, 2017
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