The Amazing Race 17 so far has been a pretty decent season despite it still not being in HD, some extremely easy challenges, and a cast that is mostly made up of fairly boring personalities (Brook and Claire aside). Out of all the reality shows, it’s still one of my favorites, possibly because it’s one of the few that doesn’t try to incorporate some type of drama between the players every second of the episode. Sure, there will be occasional flare-ups, but most of it is within teammates, which will likely happen to anyone if you spend that much time together competing around the World.
That being said, last night was probably an episode that just shouldn’t have happened due to a member of a team quitting last week but still getting a second chance to compete. I knew the episode was either going to be extremely unfair to one of the three teams that didn’t quit, or it would be extremely boring because we knew who was going home shortly after the show began.
Sure enough, the latter was true and it took about 15 minutes into the episode for us to find that out, despite as much buildup as possible from the editing. Last week, Nick quit on his partner Vicki on a challenge which resulted in a 6 hour penalty on top of an already late check-in time. With two non-elimination legs already being used through the race, it was a sure thing that they were going home, until Phil gave us his eyebrow and said they were safe for another week. Talk about one of the worst timed non-elimination legs in TAR history.
So that brought us to this week when the big question of the episode was, will Nick and Vicki be rewarded for Nick quitting by meeting up with the rest of the teams at the airport? When the airline only had tickets for 12:25 AM, it seemed very likely, and the editing also made it seem that way as long as possible until the clerk finally told them the plane had just taken off and their next flight was at 9:00 AM. There you had it, that was essentially the episode in a nutshell. Sure, i’ll recap a little more of it, but only 15 minutes in we already knew who was definitely going home, and the final three were, it was just a matter of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to see what order they’ll start off next week.
Teams flew to Seoul, South Korea and made a huge deal about driving to the North Korean border and doing a challenge on the DMZ. Sure, at first it would have been an eye opener to know you were going to be driving that close to the most reclusive country in the World, which has been known to capture journalists, and as we learned only recently, there is always the chance for North Korea to strike randomly, but they made it seem like they were driving into Iraq.
At the North Korean border, teams had to white water raft down this crazy river that looked extremely fun before they were driven by army vehicles to their next clue which was a simple Road Block. One member simply had to grab a bandana and match the writing on it worn by one of the 100 or so soldiers doing Taekwondo. All three teams cruised through the challenge with only one minor bump by Brook who just guessed the wrong one once.
The next challenge was the detour where teams either had to ice skate a total of 24 laps doing a relay method, or carry bottles of Jin Sing to someone without breaking. Shockingly, every team chose the ice skating challenge even Brook and Claire despite Claire repeatedly saying she had no clue how to skate. That certainly did seem like the much more fun challenge to compete in, and with a massive lead over your 4th place opponent, it didn’t hurt to do that.
The biggest issue was that the clue said they must take the train to the challenge, but Brook and Claire missed that and took a cab, which brought them there ahead of Jill and Thomas leading Jill to practically flip out like she was now on the verge of going home. Her adrenaline kicked in, as did her vocals and we got to hear her panic for the rest of the show until they finally checked in. I’ve never seen someone stress out so bad about not being in first place before as often as Jill does, and I guess that’s not a bad thing and it’s probably why they’re favorites to win next week. Thomas is extremely smart and Jill badly wants to win, that’s a rough combo to deal with.
After falling on their asses a bunch of times, all teams had fun with the challenge and made their way to the check-in. With more taxi troubles for Jill and Thomas, Brook and Claire were able to get their first but were told they had a 30 minute penalty, which is when the “drama” kicked in. They put up a 30 minute clock and showed Brook and Claire looking over their shoulder constantly as Jill and Thomas checked in and won first place, then looked even more hoping the doctors didn’t pass. It was really the least exciting 30 minute penalty I’ve seen in a long time.
The doctors didn’t check in first, so Brook and Claire finished 2nd with the Doctors shortly behind. It should be an interesting final leg of the race with all teams leaving around the same time, although we all know they would have met up on the airplane anyway.
Then we had Nick and Vicki who were barely on the episode, despite a few moments where they gave themselves false hope that they were still in the race despite the other racers likely already in their hotel rooms before Team Tattoo stepped foot on Korean soil. They still made it through the challenges, at least I’d like to think so but they didn’t even show them doing the challenges except for the speed bump which required them to wash a tank. For all I know, the producers told them just to go check in and get it over with because the show was over for them.
Their segment was basically full of Nick doing damage control trying to say how Vicki changed him and how he’s a better person now, but we’ve heard that pretty much every week until she pissed him off and it was back to bashing her. Because Vicki was really the one who carried that team, a real badass player as well as a super nice person, I had hoped better for them than to go out like that, but reality is, this episode probably should never have happened and last night should have been the finale. It was a way to extend the season just one more week for some reason, and almost not worth blogging about.
Next season should be back to an exciting race as it’s the season finale, and we get to see who gets to awkwardly run by all the losing players as they clap their hands and pretend they’re happy for the winner. There is a good chance this could be the first all-girl team to win The Amazing Race, but with such a strong team in Jill and Thomas, it’ll be tough for that to happen. Tune in next week to find out!