Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Evil comes in all sizes
This week's Amazing Race was a special 2-hour installment, mostly because the airplance screwup was so colossal they couldn't find a proper break in the episode and ended up with 2 races running at once. Mirna and Charla (i.e. Satan and Beelzebub with fake Italian accents) were in first place, and were the first to leave. They wait oh-so-graciously for Danny and Oswald (poor Danny and Oswald) and head off to a travel agency to find a flight. Uchenna and Joyce go to a different agent, have to call the agency where the others are (Dustin and Candace are there now) and Uchenna gets a nice woman on the phone, but when the barbies see that she's writing down Uchenna's name they begin to freak out that she needs to hang up the phone and call him back later. So the woman hangs up the phone, only to have to deal with Mirna and Charla. About 3 minutes into the conversation -- "you-a hafta clickie clickie on your-a keyboard and get us flighty flighty" -- you could tell she just wanted to call Uchenna back and deal with him.

It's a loooooooooooooooong process for almost everyone (the barbies snag a flight pretty quickly, but they're the last ones on it and they head out immediately), but eventually, after about 7 hours in the agencies (seriously), everyone seems to have flights. Long story short, the Guidos and Eric and Danielle are on a flight leaves long after the others, and when they miss their connection (to the point where Joe, I'm so not kidding, runs out onto the tarmac trying to flag down the plane!!!) they're seriously behind.
Dustin and Kandice arrive in Poland before half the other teams are even on a plane, and they have to find Chopin (he's dead, you know, says one genius to the other) and have to choose either to tune a piano or carry a mannequin to some lab to x-ray it. They choose piano. They get a simple demonstration -- each key is connected to 3 strings, and when it's out of tune you must determine which string is wrong by placing a light instrument on it, then when you determine which one, turn the screw carefully and voila, tuned key. The girls do it effortlessly.

Then the others show up. First Charla and Mirna look baffled just to be anywhere (I was waiting for them to begin talking to the fake Chopin in bad Italian accents telling him how much they love his music and wondering when his next album was coming out). Oswald and Danny manage to break a string. Mirna pays NO attention to the guy giving the demonstration -- "What? What? What are you doing with that thing? Cleaning the strings? Huh? What? What's going on? He's cleaning the strings, Charla. I think we have to clean strings or something." -- and set themselves up for serious problems. First they just start turning every knob they find, then they ask the poor pianist to come and play the piece, and when he hits the awful note, they try to convince him it sounds OK! "Play-a it again. I think-a you play it wrong!" God what I would have given for someone to have thrown the both of them into the piano and slammed the top down on them.

Danny and Oswald eventually get it right and leave, and Uchenna and Joyce show up and do it quickly (though no one but Dustin and Kandice seemed to pay any attention to the demo) and eventually C&M leave to go to the x-ray lab, kvetching the entire way. They all find the clue, find some statue, and get to the pit stop. Seem like a short leg? Uh, yeah?? They have to do ONE task and then go to the pit stop? What the heck was that about? Barbies get there first, and then Danny and Oswald, then Uchenna and Joyce, then C&M, looking miserable.

A week or so later, the Guidos arrive with Danielle and Eric, but because they're more than 12 hours later than the barbies arrived at the pit stop, they have to start the next leg (hence the 2-hour ep). Off go Dustin and Kandice while Guidos go to an x-ray lab and Danielle and Eric do the piano task. Now, I do have to mention that by this point, clearly the pianists and the on-site tuner were extremely tired ("hey, producers! You said all the teams would be here within a 4-hour window and you make us stand here for 20??") and Danielle and Eric are allowed to cheat. I played piano for 15 years, and I know an out-of-tune piano when I hear it. That note was WAY off when the guy played it, but you could tell he just wanted to GO HOME so he said, "Yep, sure, whatever, it's fine, go away," and handed them their clue.

Eventually they all hit the pit stop, with Guidos marked for elimination in the next round.

In the next leg, they -- gulp -- get a notice that they're all heading to Auschwitz. Yikes. All I'm thinking is, "please don't let them turn this into a circus where they have to search gas chambers for a clue, because I'm turning off my tv if that's the case" but luckily, they turned it into a tribute where all teams had to light a candle. Also, this leg had plenty of ways to make the teams catch up, by making them draw times for a bus and trying to even things out. Dustin and Kandice should have had a 15-hour jump on everyone else, but instead they have to wait around for the next teams to get there so they can all go to Auschwitz together. Meanwhile, Danielle and Eric begin to show gaping holes in their relationship. She wants a coffee, he starts bitching about how they can't afford the two bucks. While I think she's a bit of a whiner, come ON, Eric, for god's sakes. I've seen contestants beg and get $60 on this show, so $2 ain't gonna hurt anyone. Danielle ends up in a huff, he tells her to shut up, and they all happily board charter bus #2 for Auschwitz where Eric declares that maybe the little things aren't worth getting worked up over. The guy had to visit a CONCENTRATION CAMP to realize that. This relationship is hopeless.

Admittedly, the scene of them standing on the tracks at Auschwitz was devastating, and the show gave proper respect to the situation. We also discover that several of the people -- mostly Joe and Bill -- have some depth to them as they talk about it. Danny and Oswald and Uchenna and Joyce say some equally moving words about it.

Next pit stop is an intersection, and because D&O and U&J get there first, they pair up to do the next task together. Poor Dustin and Kandice (I was finally starting to like them at this point) are upset because they have to wait 4 hours for the next team, which sucks. And what sucks even more... it's Charla and Mirna. They literally look into the distance to see if it's worth waiting a little longer for other teams, hahahaha!

D&O and U&J easily win the fast forward and head off for their long lead to the pit stop. The winners can only have one prize, and D&O gracefully hand it off.

Meanwhile, the other teams have to choose to either transport some bagels or eat 24 inches of Polish sausage. "How much is 24 inches?" asks Danielle, as the Guidos show her by holding up their hands. Charla says she doesn't think she can do it, D&K say just make a decision, Mirna bitches loudly at Charla, and off they all go.

The sausage is HUGE, almost as big as Charla, and they all dig in. Mirna eats daintily like she's in an etiquette class, Charla just picks it up and starts shoving it in her mouth, occasionally stopping to pick things out of the sausage and flicking them constantly (here's a pic of them looking their very best) but still eats slowly and Dustin and Kandice mow down like, you know, THEY'RE IN A RACE. Joe and Bill eat as fast as they can, with Danielle keeping up bite for bite, while Eric eats more slowly while somehow accusing Danielle of being too slow.

Charla decides she just doesn't have a big enough stomach, so she gets up, shoves a knife down her throat, and throws up the 3/4 of sausage she's just eaten. UGH. Danielle, sitting back to back with her at the next table, covers her ears. Um... wouldn't you be plugging your nose? When you're trying to gag down strong-tasting sausage, wouldn't the last thing you want to be wafting up your nostrils is another person's bile combined WITH that sausage? Disgusting. Meanwhile, Charla jumps back in her chair and continues wolfing it down while Mirna stands beside her screaming the entire time at her. Insane.

Off to the next leg. Guidos are marked men so they're kind of in a hurry. Mirna tries to not-so-sweet talk some cab driver into taking them there, "I drive-a da car, I-a follow you. NO, you drive-a driva-a da car, I-a follow you. Why-a you no listen to me??" while Charla looks like she's going to be sick. These girls no longer even TRY to read a map and spend all their money bribing cab drivers. The guy can no longer take her rudeness and grabs her car door and closes it on her (!) while she gets upset and tries some tears on him. It's a beautiful moment.

Meanwhile, the other teams -- commenting on what a bad driver Mirna is -- shoot ahead, FOLLOWING THEIR MAPS (imagine!) and look for the place. Mirna starts screaming at Charla that she never helps the team and makes Mirna do everything.

Yes, you read that right: Mirna complains that CHARLA does nothing. You know, Charla, the one who is half Mirna's height, the one who does all of the legwork, almost all of the roadblocks, and the one Mirna uses for sympathy at every airport and bus terminal. She's just weighing Mirna down, don't you know.

They all get to the next challenge, where Mirna's guilted Charla into doing it and.... they have to wear a suit of armor and lead a horse. Since they don't have a suit of armor for a little person, they put a regular torso armor on Charla, and then a half leg on each of her legs, meaning she can't really bend her legs and has to walk like a robot. It's humiliating, but worse, there's Mirna screaming at her the entire time, "CHARLA! COME ON! DON'T LET THE HORSE LEAD YOU! OH MY GOD, WE'RE GOING TO LOSE" like what part of "the pit stop is right in front of you" and "Guidos are right behind you" and "THEY HAVE TO WAIT 30 MINUTES WHEN THEY GET THERE" are they not grasping?? You'd think they'd never played this game EVER when in fact this is their second time. The entire time Charla walks the path she's muttering, "God help us, God help us" like they can somehow lose at this point. Charla, the only way you could lose is if the horse kills one of you.

Charla does a terrible face plant into the ground (was I wrong to laugh out loud at that point? Probably... but I did anyway) and Mirna seems to be more upset that she has to help her up than the fact Charla might have broken her nose. Horse continues to walk in circles (part of the problem is Charla's giving it the full rein, rather than bunching it up and holding it under the horse's chin, allowing her to lead it easier) but eventually they get to the mat, looking completely upset, knowing there are 2 teams behind them.

Inevitably, Guidos are eliminated (they arrived 5th with Danielle and Eric on their heels, so unless Eric tripped on a branch, hurt his leg, and Danielle stood there crying that she couldn't possibly drag him the 15 feet to the mat, and they played this game for 30 minutes, Guidos had no way of winning). And Charla and Mirna live on to play another day. God help us all.

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