November 8, 2012

Amazing Race 21, "Get Your Sexy On"


In a fast-paced competition like The Amazing Race, conventional wisdom might suggest that it’s wise to avoid getting stuck with the pack. However, the chaos and confusion actually make this false thinking in most cases. Teams that believe they can outperform the others in challenges should want to stay with the group. There are rare exceptions where a team is so powerful that they can grab a big lead and force others to follow. Season Five’s Colin and Christie are a good example of this strategy. On the other hand, there are less skillful players that are determined to “play their own game”. While this approach may work among the cannon fodder of the early legs, its chances of success are limited. The victims this week are Rob and Kelley, who make the wrong choice in Istanbul and take the metro instead of a taxi. What makes this gaffe feel worse is Rob’s insistence that they play their own game. He’s worn it like a badge of pride since the start, and they’ve spent much of the show near the back of the pack. The monster truckers make a strong effort, but the gap is too large to avoid elimination. For more details, check out my review for Sound on Sight.

Here are some other interesting points that I didn't address in my review:
  • Looking closer at the taking of James and Abba's money, it's not technically against the rules because the twins didn't go into their belongings. Natalie and Nadiya could technically claim that they just found the hundred dollars, even though it's clear that's not the case. Even so, it's a pretty shady move that forces the rockers to beg in a developing country. I'm still a fan of the twins and their energy, but this move is not one of their most endearing acts. 
  • To understand the depths of Rob's delusion, he utters the phrase "this might be the leg that might get us a win" while falling behind on the train. While it's good to stay confident on the race, bold moves are rarely rewarded. Also, not asking the locals for confirmation after Jaymes and James change their mind is just lazy play.
  • When teams arrive at the detour in the Spice Bazaar, the owner of "Shop No. 14" gives them an extra gift of Turkish delight. Also known as Lokum, this mix of starch and sugar looks pretty tasty. I'd be thrilled about any free chances to eat if I competed on the race. We don't see any shots of them eating it, but I assume this sugar boost did not hurt their energy. 
  • While the Turkish bath is technically an easy challenge, it works because the racers are clearly having fun. There are too many examples on the show of difficult tasks that don't engage the players. Watching them struggle to paint a bus doesn't have the same excitement as something that gives them a break. The key for the producers is balancing more challenging obstacles with fun moments. 

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