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Sunday, October 01, 2006
The Amazing Race: A Comedy of Errors

I can't remember an episode with so many mistakes before.

To start, the teams are to travel to Hanoi, Vietnam. In an oddity, there is no money to start this leg of the race; the first time I can recall that happening. Moreover, teams are forbidden from begging or selling objects to make money.

The teams get to the Genghis Khan hotel, where the travel agency making the arrangements is located. Despite some drama when the beauty queens jump ahead of the, um, queens, there really seems to be nothing to this trip as all teams arrive on the same pair of planes. We learn that Team Ashamed of My Gay Daughter has less money than the others. But they have a plan; they will use a local Vietnamese woman as a tour guide. However, this nearly becomes a disaster as she has apparently checked baggage, so they must wait for her. Then it turns out she wants them to drop her off at her brother's before heading to the next checkpoint: The Hanoi Hilton. As in the POW prison. But they get a break; the prison will not be open until the next morning, and the taxi driver accepts their $11 as payment in full.

Astoundingly, the Vietnamese have kept this as a tourist destination. The task is to locate John McCain's flight suit, which apparently requires quite a bit of searching through the grim prison. Kudos to Bruckheimer and Company for not sugar coating the experience, and to Team Gay and Team Cho for taking a moment to reflect on the solemnity of the location. Unfortunately nobody mentions Bud Day or Admiral Stockdale or Paul Galanti; if I'd been there it would have happened.

Next assignment is a roadblock; sell flowers from a bicycle until you have 80,000 units of Vietnamese money. Everybody hops into a cab except Team Ashamed; they have no money left and must hoof the mile or so to the flower stall.

As you'd probably guess, the beauty queens have no problem with this task, nor does the guy who makes prothstetic limbs. But they all make it through the task eventually, and it appears that Team Ashamed has caught up with the others due to Dad's skill at marketing to Vietnamese women. Better still, they can keep the money they earn.

Now they must take a bus to a town called Voc; here Team Triathlon, in the lead, make the mistake of taking the wrong bus and must transfer to the #22 bus. Unfortunately for them, this seems to take forever, and they are the last to arrive.

The next task is a detour; teams must choose between creating bricks of coal or a birdcage. Not surprisingly, everybody chooses to lay the bricks. But the problem appears to be locating the brick factory. The bricks are made by hand using primitive metal presses and the activity looks highly strenous. What's more, the bricks are discarded if they are not of sufficient quality.

At some point in here, Team Cho are offered a ride on a scooter, but for liability reasons, they are forbidden by the rules of the game to do so. Not long afterwards we see Team Gay agree to take a ride.

Lots and lots of sweating and grunting. Several of the teams get lost on the way to the brick factory, and Team Ashamed stumbles across the birdcage task and decide to try it; it's hard to tell which was the faster task, but certainly the birdcage is physically less demanding.

Team Cho finishes first and dashes to the mat, where they learn they have won a home entertainment system. Team Coal Miner accidentally leave a backpack behind, and the husband must double back while the wife, who has sprained an ankle, waits. BTW, did anybody else notice that not all teams had to deal with the backpacks? What's the story with that?

Team Gay arrive in second place, but Phil has bad news; they are assessed a thirty-minute penalty for taking the ride on the motorbikes. They must watch grimly as the other teams arrive and pass them. We learn that there is an informal alliance of Team Gump, Team Coal Miner, Team Gay and Team Cho.

As it works out, Team Ashamed does not get to the mat on time, and Team Gay finishes in penultimate position, still in the race, while Team Ashamed have to hear that they have been Phil-iminated. But we learn that Dad has become more accepting of his daughter's (lesbian) sexuality, so aren't they the real winners of the episode anyway?

As always, check out the Viking Pundit's excellent recap.
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