The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business – Episode 5 Review

I take it back – if The Amazing Race is going to follow up “You’re still racing” episodes with ones as intense and exciting as last night’s, then I take back my complaint that they kill the drama. Sunday night’s episode was crazy!

Halfway through the episode, I was sure my beloved Globetrotters were toast. They were in dead last, they’d been U-turned, and I didn’t think the challenges played to their strengths. But holy crap, did they turn it around! In fact, it was an episode full of comebacks.

You Again

We picked up where we’d left off last week – Kent and Vyxsin were in last place and desperately needed to locate their missing fanny pack. But luckily, we breezed right through the rest of their catching up. They found the fanny pack, completed the last challenge, and met up with Phil for a good old taste of the bittersweet – they were still racing (and therefore not eliminated, as they’d feared) but they’d receive a 30 minute penalty at the real end of the leg for missing the required flight to China. And there was a double U-turn coming.

Luckily for the goths, the bus everyone needed to catch to get to the next clue wasn’t leaving until 7pm, which left them plenty of time to catch up while everyone else played basketball. I loved seeing the cowboys, Kisha and Jen, and the Globetrotters all play ball together. They even had a pair of professional cheerleaders there! As on cowboy mentioned, it was “like playing basketball with trees” but it was a rare glimpse of fun in an otherwise intense and competitive leg.

Justin and Zev were back to their regular, hilarious selves as they boarded the train, making sure to grab top bunks and decrease their chances of getting axed. “Yeah, I feel like any murder would happen on the bottom bunk. Or the middle bunk,” Justin said. 

Ready to do some heavy lifting, doll? 

The teams had to head to a flower market to get their first clue. The Globetrotters ended up being the last ones to leave, and walked out into the parking lot to find out that someone had jacked their cab. The cowboys! I guess country boys aren’t so gentlemanly after all, hey? Next the teams scooted over to some Golden Arches (but not the Mickey D’s kind), where they got the clue for the Detour.

For the Detour, the teams had to choose between “Honor the Past” and “Embrace the Future”. “Honor the Past” was for those who consider mental tasks to be their strong suit – each team would have to watch a performance and then go backstage to place dolls in the same order as the dancers on stage. Not easy, since there were fifteen of them. Even splitting the difference, a sequence of seven or eight bizarre costumes is a lot to remember.

“Embrace the Future” was for the physically fit teams. They had to install some sort of piping water solar environmental doohickey (yes, that’s exactly how Phil described it, too) on a rooftop. The actual installation didn’t look hard, but the dragging boxes of heavy pipes up the stairs sure did. Especially for Kent, who appears to weigh all of eighty pounds.

Justin and Zev, Kisha and Jen and Ron and Christina all finished the doll task very quickly, and the first two teams latched onto Ron and Christina for help, since they could speak the local language. A smart move, right? Well, unfortunately even though Christina gave her cab driver specific instructions in Chinese, they still ended up in the wrong spot. And that gave four other teams the chance to get to the double U-turn first.

Margie and Luke, Jamie and Cara, Jet and Cord and Kent and Vyxsin were the first four teams to finish the physical task. You had to hand it to Margie this week – that woman is a total rock star. She and Luke arrived at the double U-turn first, but passed. Next came the cowboys, and they chose not to U-turn either.

Then came the goths and the redheads, at virtually the same time. The problem for the goths was that they had a thirty minute penalty looming, and they had to make sure not to repeat a past mistake and U-turn someone who had already come through. So they took the safe move, the one right in front of them, and U-turned the redheads. Like, to their faces.

I don’t love U-turns, but I do think the concept of the double U-turn has corrected the previous issue that only one team would be set back, and almost inevitably eliminated. So I think the goths made the smart choice. They did what they had to do to stay in the game. The redheads then U-turned the Globetrotters, since they knew they were the last team left at the “Embrace the Future” Detour.

As the redheads turned back, Gary and Mallory rocked the doll Detour and continued on, and the Globetrotters arrived to greet their own picture with a confused “huh?”.

Double Jeopardy

I thought the “Honor the Past” task would be the kiss of death for the Globetrotters, especially after the redheads pulled it off in one shot. But Flight Time and Big Easy gave all the costumes hilarious nicknames like “mop”, “skunk” and “buckethead”, and also managed to get the clue on their first try. And then they passed the redheads, since the girls’ cab had had to stop for gas. I loved Jamie’s flashback to Hawaii, but I still wonder if anyone has taught her the word “karma” yet. I’m sure there’s a Playboy Bunny named Karma somewhere in Hef’s mansion. They should have a little chat.

For the Roadblock, one team member had to build a giant model of a dinosaur. And it was hard. The diagram they had to follow wasn’t particularly detailed, and the pieces had to snap together really well for it to pass. And if you messed up, they whole thing had to be taken apart!

Since the redheads and the Globetrotters wasted no time on their U-turns, they didn’t even arrive at the Roadblock in last place. That honor went to Gary and Mallory, who wisely decided to use their Express Pass and head straight to the pit stop.

I think Gary and Mallory made the right decision there. Yeah, Gary is Captain America reincarnated and probably could have built a dinosaur. But it was a really difficult task and they arrived last, so why risk it? Since it was the second half of a two-part leg, there was almost no chance that it would be a non-elimination leg. I would have used the pass too. Since Captain America and his pixie daughter had arrived around the same time as Justin and Zev, their Express Pass meant that Justin was starting the task in last place.

Jurassic Park

The Cowboys finished the dinosaur first, and even managed to pass Gary and Mallory on the street. It was close, but they came in first despite Gary and Mallory’s use of the Express Pass. Gary and Mallory came in second. The Cowboys definitely redeemed themselves this week, but I’m still unsure if they are actually a strong team. They run so hot and cold, it’s difficult to tell if they’re a good team with a lot of bad luck or a bad team with a lot of good luck.

Margie was the next one to finish the task. Let’s all just take a moment to marvel over the fact that Margie is amazing, shall we? She’s Superwoman! In her and Luke’s original season, I liked her – I just didn’t like Luke. I thought he let his mom do too many tasks, and I thought he threw temper tantrums on the ones he did when they weren’t easy as pie. (And judging by the scenes from next week, he hasn’t grown up yet.) Luke is deaf, and yes that can make some tasks more difficult for him. But there are plenty of physical challenges, like the dinosaur one, that I think he should step up and do. He’s a young guy, and he’s letting his middle-aged mom do all the dirty work!

So honestly, major props to Margie. At the end of a mega-long leg, after doing the physical options for a Detour, she totally rocked that Roadblock. She and Luke came in third.

No Bones About It

At this point the teams started to struggle a little more. Kent managed to complete the dinosaur next, despite taking a nasty tumble right onto the stepladder. I’m impressed with how Kent managed to keep calm during that task. After the leg he and Vyxsin had had, some teams might have lost their cool. They arrived at the pit stop in fourth place, but first had to wait out their thirty minute time penalty.

That gave Kisha time to complete her dinosaur and make it to the mat in time to grab fourth place, bumping the goths down to fifth. The girls ran a really strong leg – they’ve always been one of my favorite teams and I hope they go far.

I was a little worried about Big Easy doing the Roadblock because in the past, Flight Time has appeared to be the stronger player when it comes to mental tasks. But Big Easy kept calm and finished quickly (maybe because he didn’t need to bother using the stepladder?), all the while gloating to the redheads that the U-turn hadn’t hurt them. Nothing wrong with that! If you dish out the U-turn, you have to be prepared to take a little hate in return. The Globetrotters almost arrived in time to steal fifth place from the goths, but instead they nabbed sixth. Not bad, considering I’d been fearing their elimination halfway through the episode.


After the Globetrotters made their comeback, only three teams remained at the Roadblock. Christina, who’d been their from the beginning; Justin, who was struggling a surprising amount; and Jamie, who was having the hardest time of all.

The task looked very, very difficult and I would love to know how long it took everyone to complete it. Christina certainly worked on it a loooooong time, even though she finished first of the three final teams. She and Ron landed in seventh place. Even though I don’t like them much, I didn’t want them to be eliminated on one of Christina’s tasks. I want them to go out because Ron stopped for a snack or something.

With one Justin & Zev and Jamie & Cara left, I was really rooting for Justin to finish first. I didn’t care for the cheerleaders much in their original season, and even though Jamie wasn’t quite as obnoxious this go around, I knew it would only be a matter of time before Evil Jamie reared her ugly head. I was thrilled when Justin finally managed to build the dinosaur, landing him and Zev in eighth place.

As much as I don’t care for Jamie, I do give her credit for finishing the dinosaur. I mean, you kind of have to since there is always the slight possibility of a non-elimination leg. But still, they could have thrown in the towel and I’m glad they didn’t.

With so many great teams, it’s going to start to get hard to root against anyone. If I’d gotten to handpick a team to get eliminated this week, it probably would have been the redheads, so I’m pleased. I still have so many favorites left in the race – the Globetrotters, Gary and Mallory and Kisha and Jen are my top three, but I also like the cowboys, Justin and Zev and even the goths. And I like Margie. And Christina.

So from here on out, I’ll have to start saying goodbye to favorites. Who are you rooting for? And did you find this episode as exciting as I did? I was surprised to read a lot of angry comments on Twitter following the episode, and I’m honestly not sure why. Is it because the goths were told to “keep racing” and were therefore saved from elimination? If you ask me, the double leg is just a more creative way to pull off a non-elimination leg, so I’m OK with that. I didn’t like it in the first episode, but that was because I thought it was unfair that Amanda and Kris’s Speed Bump was saved until the end of a double leg, when it would be nearly impossible to catch up. In this instance, I thought the double-leg really worked. What do you think?