The Amazing Race – Episode 17-3 Review

Are you smarter than a fifth grader? That was a question a lot of teams had to deal with on this week’s episode of The Amazing Race. which saw the teams boxing (how many people were hoping one of those trainers might throw a punch at Brook?) and completing various tasks alongside several adorable schoolchildren.

Things kicked off at the last pit stop in Ghana with Brook and Claire in first place. Brook is SO EXCITED about EVERYTHING that I’m surprised she can remember to keep breathing in between squeals. They set off for the Akotoku Boxing Academy, where the motto is “I hate to loose”. Awesome. Brook was excited (obviously) because her and Claire work out at a boxing gym like, ALL THE TIME! Wow! Unfortunately, there was no boxing involved. The participating team member would just have to correctly tape up their hands, punch the speed bag for 60 seconds and then jump rope for 60 seconds.

Team Volleyball also sped through the challenge, as did Team Glee after serenading their cab driver on the way to the boxing academy. I keep having to remind myself that not everyone in the world is as easily irritated as I am, because the cab driver ate it up. Since he was now BFF with Team Glee, the cab driver sped past Brook and Claire to place the boys in first place.

The next task was to gather a list of tools and bring them in wheelbarrows to the next destination, a schoolhouse. Team Glee, in first place, set the tone for the rest of the episode by correctly gathering all the tools. The other teams? Not so much. Brook and Claire only brought one wheelbarrow. Team Volleyball forgot their trowels. That was too bad, since they’d at least managed to bring both wheelbarrows after witnessing the other teams bringing only one. One girl said “I don’t think we need two wheelbarrows. They only have one,” and the other responded “Well, they’re idiots.” I like how these girls work.

Although everyone was screwing up the task one way or another, Nick really freaked out when Vicki forgot an item. Of all the Jerk Boyfriends of Hairstylists on this race, Nick is the jerkiest. “It’s fifth grade reading!” he snapped at her. Then as Vicki profusely apologized for his oversight, he sneered about how “I don’t give a f*** about your sorries!”

Once teams had correctly delivered their supplies, they had to take part in a geography quiz with some of the (totally adorable) schoolchildren. From fifth grade reading to fifth grade math! Now, I’m pretty sure I could have identified Ghana on a map of Africa within 1-3 guesses, but I try not to get all judgey because I know that not everyone else in the world was a geeky geography buff as a child. Team Glee struggled, but still finished before the other teams showed up. They were first to choose between the two detour options – “Bicycle Parts” or “Language Arts”. Team Glee chose “Language Arts” and was the only team to successfully complete it.

The task required teams to use a decoder key to translate eight English phrases into symbols from a native language. Then they had to locate those symbols on a large wall, much like a word search. Team Glee didn’t have much trouble at all because they immediately saw the key. They solved the puzzle and trotted off to the pit stop, landing in first place. They won $5,000 each, which they cutely joked they should use to buy maps of Africa.

My money is still on Team Volleyball to win (because I can’t not go with an all-girl team) but I’m loving the parent/child teams this season. Mallory is so enthusiastic and hilarious, but adorable rather than annoying like Brook. And her dad, Gary, pointed out Ghana on the map on his first try. Then instead of choosing “Language Arts”, which ended up setting so many other teams back, they went for “Bicycle Parts”. This challenge looked fun – teams had to use a stick to roll a bicycle rim across a field and back. Team Father/Daughter nailed it and arrived at the pit stop in second place.

The other teams, however, did not speed through the tasks like Team Glee and Team Father/Daughter did. A whole slew of them completed the geography quiz pretty quickly and decided to try “Language Arts”. But for some reason they could not find the decoder key. It was right there. It was huge. I don’t know how they all missed it! Every one of them!

Claire decided that because there were eight phrases on their clue, and there were eight children playing nearby, that the solution was to creepily circle the children. She didn’t even realize how dumb it sounded when she said it out loud, telling Brook “I think we have to circle small African children.” Brook didn’t question her, and soon other teams were following suit and drawing circles in the dirt around groups of kids. If you think this sounds weird, you’re right. It was. Then one guy started rifling through their homework looking for the decoder key, which he threw on the ground when he was unsuccessful. Real nice. One by one, every team bailed and switched to “Bicycle Parts”. In doing so they ran RIGHT PAST the key decoder. Right. Past. It.

At the bicycle challenge, Nick decided to prove how jerky he really can be by finishing the task and then berating Vicki for struggling with it. It was until her asthma started acting up that he finally mellowed out and said “I felt kind of crappy for treating her the way I did. She didn’t deserve it.” Ni kidding! I can’t believe how patient and forgiving Vicki was, she never once lost her cool with Nick even though he was screaming at her. I hope she dumps him when they get home.

Chad and Stephanie and Team Volleyball sped through the bicycle rim rolling, landing in third and fourth places. They Vicki managed to complete the challenge, arriving at the pit stop with Nick in fifth place. The home shopping girls were right on their tail, landing in sixth place. Jill and Thomas, who kind of grew on me this episode, ended up in seventh place. They seem like they could make a comeback though, and they have that handy “Express Pass”.

The two teams that were really struggling this episode were the docs and Kevin and Michael. The docs had a string of bad luck with cabs, and Michael was having a really hard time in the scorching heat. Michael became so weak that medical staff had to be called in to take a look at him. It didn’t look like he’d be able to finish the task, and it was pretty heartbreaking to watch him keep apologizing to his son. Eventually though, the father/son duo went back to try and complete the task and Michael rolled his bicycle rim past the finish line at a snail’s pace. It was touching.

My one complaint, though, was the producer’s attempt to make it look as though the docs got so lost trying to find the pit stop. Come on, guys. No one bought that. Just show them finishing and let us wonder whether Michael and Kevin will be saved by a non-elimination leg. Because guess what? They were!

What did you think of this wacky episode? Could you believe that all those teams dunced out when it came to finding the decoder key? And will Michael and Kevin be able to complete their extra task next week without coming in last place?