The Amazing Race – Episode 20-6 Review – “Is This Normal?”
by Jill Mader on March 29, 2012

Despite a rather obvious finish, I enjoyed last night’s episode of The Amazing Race. The teams hit new territory as they traveled to Azerbajan, and they were met there with a combination of nerve-wracking and hilarious challenges.

Another Fast Forward was in play on Sunday night’s episode of The Amazing Race, which meant that Art and J.J. were demoted to a respectable second place finish and Team Meathead met an unfortunate demise.

The leg kicked off with all the teams heading to Azerbajan on the same flight, while Nary and Jamie theorized that their disguises as teachers and last place finish put them right where they want to be – no one thinks they’re a threat. Right. Except they are literally not a threat. So if that was their goal, mission accomplished. Otherwise, it’s the TAR version of when cops go undercover as drug dealers but then actually get sucked into gang culture. Nary and Jamie had been pretending to suck for so long that they actually do.

Hoedowns and Hay Bales

The teams were directed to a temple for their clue, which didn’t open until sunrise. Luckily, there was ample entertainment while they waited. Everyone grabbed hands and had a good ol’ fashioned Azerbajanian (I don’t know) hoedown. Borat would have been proud. Predictably, Bopper had the best time. If you are at a Zooastrian hoedown and you’re not the one having THE MOST fun, then you do not deserve the nickname “Bopper”.

Once inside the temple, teams had to decide if they were going to go for the Fast Forward or continue on to the next clue. Three teams could have competed for the FF, but only two decided to go for it – Dave and Rachel, and Danny and Joey. Their task was to unload 150 bales of hay from a wagon and stack them in a 10x3x5 mound.

I was pretty sure Team Meathead would get this one, because it seemed like Rachel and Dave were struggling. Dave threw the bales while Rachel stacked them, but it seemed to me that stacking was a more difficult task. Dave was tossing them so close to Rachel’s head that I feared for a hay-induced spinal cord injury. Yet the army couple pulled through, and with limited bickering at that. They moved on to grab first place at the pit stop – as they approached, Dave knew they were close and said “I can smell Phil’s cologne.” Ha! Good one.

Meanwhile, Joey and Danny had to start from scratch. They were so annoyed to have been beaten by a girl that I immediately began rooting for their elimination.

Helicopter Havoc

The other teams had followed the clues that led them to the Roadblock, which required one team member to go through a helicopter crash simulation that had them trapped in a helicopter, underwater, upside-down. Hey! I have a GREAT idea for a date on The Bachelor next season.

First Bopper, Jamie and J.J. completed the task. Thank god Bopper stepped forward for his team, because that challenge was not designed for a guy who barfs in the backseat of a cab. Poor Mark. Later Brendon finished the task, followed by Vanessa. Vanessa was most nervous of all (I also have a thing about being underwater and enclosed spaces, so I could relate) and she still finished the task on her first try. As long as you didn’t panic, it was a pretty simple Roadblock to complete.

All the teams had moved on to the next clue, which was located at a carpet shop. Vanessa and Ralph wasted some time here, miraculously missing the obvious clues while they tore the place apart searching. But by the time Joey and Danny made it there everyone had moved on, and their only shot at staying in the game was if someone screwed up the Detour, but unfortunately for them they didn’t pick the right one.

Like Apples and Oil

The Detour was a choice between “Apples” in which teams had to search through a tonne of apples for one with a TAR marker on it, and “Oil” in which teams had to head to a health facility and clean off a man who’d been bathing in oil. I knew “Oil” would be the easier task because it was also the more disgusting task. Of course producers want you to choose it.

If you’re thinking “bathe in oil” means lovely smelling lavender massage oil, you’d be hella wrong. No no, we’re talking Beverly Hillbillies liquid gold, y’all. Art and J.J. got their first, asking “Is this normal?”. J.J. couldn’t get his mind around it, saying “What the heck is going on, Art?” and “This is wicked strange.” No kidding! I know oil is plentiful in Azerbajan, but isn’t it still, you know, a commodity? How much do one of these baths cost? Man. So wasteful! And to think, I feel bad when I leave the tap running while brushing my teeth.

Art and J.J. completed the task though, followed by Mark and Bopper and Brendan and Rachel. It was obviously the easier of the two Detour options, because those teams arrived at the pit stop in second, third and fourth places.

Meanwhile, the other teams were digging through mounds of apples jammed into crappy cars. Nary and Jamie finally found theirs and made it to the pit stop in fifth place, but they could’ve been better had they gone for the oil. And Vanessa and Ralph were too busy saying “Cheese and crackers!” over and over again to bother looking for their apple. What the hell was that? If they were trying to make me hungry then chalk up a success, because I practically had to pause the show to run out to the grocery store for some goat cheese.

Even though the editors tried to create suspense, I knew that Vanessa and Ralph’s temporarily missing cab driver wouldn’t lead to their demise. They left the Detour before Joey and Danny even showed up, and although it was based on luck it didn’t seem like a challenge people were getting through quickly. Vanessa and Ralph squeaked through with a sixth place finish, while Team Meathead was eliminated.

So what did you guys think? I can’t say I’m sorry to see Team Meathead go, and their exit confessional about how we’ll see them “at a nightclub near you” confirmed that for me. Yeah. No I won’t.





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