Thursday, June 17, 2010

1x09: Kolkata, India

The teams disturb Mother Teresa, eat a shitload of food, wind up either with a lot of nuts or with a sticky, milky substance on their faces, and get up close and personal with Indian feet. And the leg isn't even over yet!

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Previously on Gilligan's Bile: The final six teams managed to avoid making jokes about the word "Bangkok" as they left it for Krabi, an island-y place in the south of Thailand. Some teams were smart enough to only have to take one bus to get to Krabi, while the others had to make so many switches that next season's cast probably could have made it to the cluebox quicker than they did. Howard seemed to have no idea how anything in the real world worked, but at least he knew where he was, unlike Marsio. Mardy and Marsio went for the Fast Forward, but their continued ability to blame their incompetence on their size almost cancelled out any time advantage they would have gotten. San was able to get bloody milk from a coconut, as opposed to all the bloody hands the others got. Cirran wasted his energy climbing up a cliff face in an effort not to be last. He and Howard were indeed last, and were mercifully given the size-nines. Only five teams are left. Who will be eliminated... TONIGHT?

Credits. Look at Team Idiot. It's like they're actively trying to audition for the world's least sexy frathouse porn movie. And there have been some pretty bad ones over the years. Or so I've been told. Not that I would know or anything. Because I wouldn't. Know, that is. [SSSSHHHH!]

Sunrise. People walk along the beautiful beach, as WuWho manages to mispronounce both "Krabi" (per the Greeter last week, approximately "Krah-bee") and "Andaman" (per pretty much everywhere, "And-uh-m'n") in the same sentence. At least he manages to get through the Why Krabi Is Amazing spiel without any more fuckups. In any event, one of the little islands was the eighth Pit Stop in this race, and the teams are about to leave. Let's join them, shall we?

4:37am. The Super Marsio Bros. learn that they'll have to head to Kolkata, India. Whee, India! Again! When they get there they'll have to head to the St. Teresa of Avila Church. WuWho makes special effort to mention the former pronunciation of the city, and almost manages to make "Kolkata" and "Calcutta" sound different. Apparently, the city (however you choose to mispronounce it) is the fourth largest in the country, which kind of makes me want to know what the top three are. I mean, obviously Delhi and Mumbai are first and second, but what's the third? To compound his plentiful pronunciation problems so far this episode, WuWho informs us that St. Teresa of Avila is the same person as Mother Teresa. Which? Is not true. At all. Sigh. The Super Marsio Bros. opine that they should be able to deal with whatever the producers chuck at them, because they've gone through so much already. Well, we'll see about that.

4:41am. Handy and Laura kick off a little montage of teams departing, shortly followed by SanFran (4:42am), and Antsy (4:44am), with Zabrina and Joe Jer (4:59am) bringing up the rear. The three co-ed teams all seem to be decidedly less than overjoyed about their next location, and a lightning bolt flashes behind SanFran to tell them what the assorted Hindu deities think of their preconceptions. Zabrina and Joe Jer seem almost excited. Somehow, San, Handy, and Syeon all manage to say, "India, here we come," making me wonder if it was a random in-joke they thought of at the Pit Stop. By the way, note that after all that work for the Fast Forward, the Super Marsio Bros. are only leading by four minutes.

Despite his inherent lack of optimism at the mat, Admiral Whinypants confessionals that he didn't know anything about India, but knew it was going to suck. Meanwhile, Zabrina confessionals that she was excited about being able to go to India, and Joe Jer tells us that "this race" has taken them to places they never thought they'd go. Is it any wonder they're my favourite team at the moment? To contrast, Fran matter-of-factly confessionals while scratching her arm that "it's not about the people, it's not about the smell, it's not about the poverty, it's not about anything like that. It literally comes down to worrying about getting sick." Because, as you know, Kolkata's population of sixteen million (or whatever it was back when this was filmed) are all riddled with contagious diseases. Shut up, Fran.

The Super Marsio Bros., Handy and Laura, and SanFran have all decided to eat now, for the simple reason that they're "probably not going to eat in India". I... have no idea how to respond to this. Do I treat it like it's any other remark, and tell San to shut up, or do I make reference to the fact that the previews at the end of last week's episode revealed that there was going to be an eating task at some point in the episode, and thus call this out as the Foreshadowing it undoubtedly is? But I suppose that since I've managed to do both, the answer, therefore, is "neither".

Uh, I mean, "proooobably not".

The sun rises over Krabi, and it's very pretty, and I swear we saw this exact same shot last week. The teams all set off for the airport, with Antsy trying to convince the Super Marsio Bros. that Handy and Laura are "always up to no good". Because, as you know, when you're a British contestant on a foreign reality show, you automatically get downgraded to "pantomime villain". Always. As if to explain how annoying they are, we get a piece of confessional from the Krabi Pit Stop in which Handy decrees "second place" to be "the first loser". And if anyone on this cast knows about being a first-rate loser? Well, it's not San, I'll give you that much. On the plus side, though, he appears to be saying this genuinely, as opposed to a certain team on the current American season who have been making similar comments calling second place "first runner-up", quite clearly in an attempt to garner more camera time. So he's got that going for him, which is nice. It's not much, but damn it, it's something.

The teams arrive at the airport, where Antsy continue to bitch about Handy and Laura to the Super Marsio Bros., bringing up the map-hiding thing. Oh. My. GOD. That was five whole legs ago. Grow up and move on like everyone else apparently did, you two. Mardy says that he's "going to get them, someday", sounding far more melodramatic than he probably intends. Syeon remarks that they should just Yield them. Oh, so that's what this is about. Antsy want Handy and Laura to be Yielded, without actually getting their own hands dirty, apparently. Nobody in the room seems to realise that Antsy conning somebody into Yielding Handy and Laura is even worse than the map-hiding ever was in the first place, given that there's no possible way hiding the maps in one overpriced airport bookshop could make any difference, especially when that airport is one of the world's largest and probably has more than one overpriced bookshop inside its walls. Also, shut up, Admiral Whinypants.

Oh, and all five teams take the same flight, making a quick stop in Bangkok for the Amazing Yellow Line to take his girlfriend out for the night, at which point she tells him a "very special secret" and is never seen or heard from again.

The teams rush for their standard post-airport taxis, and head off for the church. We do not have to put up with the standard, local-pitying Being Poor Is Stupid speeches contestants somehow always seem to find themselves making when in India, because they're all in such a hurry to get to the church. I approve. Not that being poor isn't a horrible thing, but... life is not communism. If it hadn't been people here who wound up getting the short end of the stick, it would have happened in some other part of the world. Yes, it sucks that they're poor, but... there are other features and other elements of culture which make India a surprisingly major tourist destination, and I am so unbelievably glad we got all the "Zed Oh Em Gee Icky Poor People!" out of the way before we arrived. Besides, all the speeches wind up being the same thing, and I don't want to have to recap the same thing five times. And because this season has the clipshow episode at the end, it'll probably be ten times I'll have to recap, and I just can't be arsed doing that. And one of the fundamental rules of any visual medium, such as television, is "show, don't tell". I'd rather see the effect being immersed so deeply in Indian culture has on the contestants than hear them tell me umpteen sejillion slightly-more-polite variants of "India makes me wish I was back home with my running water and my streets without cows on them."

Aaaaaaaaand moving on.

Everyone wants to pass everyone else. You'd almost be forgiven for thinking these people were in some kind of competition. In their cab, Fran praises the driver, calling him a "legend". Meanwhile, San practices for the inevitable time some point in the future in which he will be called up and asked to be a greeter. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell him that he doesn't actually, you know, qualify to be the guy saying, "Welcome to India!"

Admiral Whinypants is whining in broken English. Is fast, is good, you see? And now I have a hankering for some processed meat. Thanks a LOT, Admiral Whinypants!

Zabrina points out that "this is getting a bit insane". I agree with her.

San hopes that there's only one church. Fran misunderstands what he's saying, and tells him that they're only headed to "one Pacific church", because it's sort of hard to be in two places at once. Or something. And also, because you wouldn't want to go to one of those Atlantic churches. I hear they're the ones with all the voodoo and whatnot.

Marsio title-quotes that "this is totally, totally out of this world". We see a man walking down the street with hundreds and hundreds of red... cups or something, all balanced on his head. (Quotable Redneck In My Head: "Y'all ain't gonna see that 'round here, y'hear?") The Super Marsio Bros. and their cab head up onto some tram tracks or some such, and suddenly we hear a probably added sound effect which can only mean one thing. Flat tyre. The Super Marsio Bros. get their bags out, but decide to stay with their cab anyway, it seems.

Handy and Laura provide us some completely pointless exposition in their cab. Like, either we're going to see the flat tyre, and it's unnecessary to tell us that; or it'll be edited out, and therefore we won't need to know. Sigh. The Super Marsio Bros. interview that all they could do was laugh about the situation. And indeed they do, as (it sounds like) both Zabrina and Joe Jer and Antsy pass them. Admiral Whinypants calls it "natural justice". Dude, I know natural justice. I have been known to inadvertently cause natural justice. That was not natural justice. You want natural justice? I'll send a little doll of you to an Atlantic church, and then we'll see who's laughing. Fuck off, Admiral Whinypants.

The lead teams -- everyone except for Antsy and the Super Marsio Bros. -- arrive at a Pacific church and get their cabbies to wait for them. As it turns out, it's not THE Pacific church, but it is the church where Mother Teresa is entombed. Imagine for a second, if you will, a shot of the teams standing right next to Mother Teresa's casket, realising they're in the wrong place. Now throw that image out the window, because this show rocks so hard they're not going to give it to you. Instead, a brilliant cameraman comes up with the idea to have the teams in the background, then shoot the scene from the other side of the casket, placing it in the foreground. Now add to that a sombre, low-key violin piece as your background music. Every so often, something happens on television that's so unbelievably awesome it makes you forget about any problems a show has, and forgive them for the problems you remember. It's not a sort of moment that makes you cry, or laugh, or get angry, or anything like that, but this, my friends, is one of Those Moments. Still? Points off for touching the casket, Laura.

Zabrina and Joe Jer confessional, telling us that it's great to be able to put the race on hold every now and then, and pause for a moment to take in whatever experience you're currently having. And given there's approximately a zero percent chance this episode is going to end with an elimination, this seems like a perfect place to reflect. But that's just me.

You will note that Handy and Laura are the first to leave the Church Of Wrong Teresa, and are immediately arguing. I have no idea whether the editors were thinking that way when they put this segment together, but BWAH! Zabrina and Joe Jer get a local kid to lead them on foot to the Church Of Right Teresa, but SanFran and Handy and Laura get back into their cabs for the short journey. When Laura kvetches that they'll be in last place because of the church fuck-up, Handy correctly states that the Super Marsio Bros. are still behind them.

Speaking of them, they are laughing in their cab about how surreal everything is.

Antsy have arrived at what their cab thinks is their destination, but they both neglect to notice a big sign noting that it's Mother Teresa's former home they've arrived at, not the Church Of Right Teresa. And it's a red and yellow sign too, so they can't use the "we were just looking out for the race colours" excuse some other teams would give if this sort of situation happened to them. On the other hand, this is now four teams who've gone to the wrong place. It sort of seems to me that the teams told their driver to take them to the Church Of Right Teresa, but mentioned Mother Teresa in the cab or something, and they've all just taken them to a place connected with her, as opposed to where they actually asked to go. Antsy find a lady dressed in the same sort of outfit as the typical representation of Mother Teresa, who tells them they've got to go "far from here" to light the candles for her. Either this candle-lighting thing is something people outisde of this show actually do, in which case I love the task, or the producers were smart enough to realise that someone would end up lost and called ahead to explain, in which case I love the producers. Still, you can't not love the idea of Mother Teresa being deemed important enough to open up this show's first ever Indian visit.

SanFran have found the Church Of Right Teresa. They light their candle as Handy and Laura arrive. Guess what? It's a RoadBlock, and Fran gauges from the "Who's ready to shine? Attention to detail is a must" clue that it involves shining something. Guess what else? Just as as it every other time you're racing outside of the United States, a RoadBlock is once again a task that only one of the team members can do. This time, WuWho informs us that this task will involve becoming Your Friendly Local Shoeshine Guy, at India's first ever underground train station. They've got to shine seven pairs, and have to get at least five rupee for each. As it turns out, apparently Mother Teresa's vows of poverty don't apply to the teams.

Fran takes the RoadBlock. Laura decides that trying to light a candle and failing is exactly the same thing as trying to light a candle and succeeding, and grabs their next clue anyway. There better be a penalty for this. Even with the "attention to detail" part of the clue, which she just proved she has no understanding of not five seconds ago, Laura takes it. It's worth noting that because they've been so lopsided with their RoadBlock division, if Handy had done it, she would have had to do all of the next four RoadBlocks, no matter what they were.

The two same-sex teams appear to both be near the Church Of Right Teresa. Meanwhile, Antsy have managed to convince their friend in the Mother Teresa garb to give their taxi driver directions to the right church. It does appear that she knows exactly where the right church is, which surely puts her ahead of most of the Kolkata cab industry.

The Super Marsio Bros. are at the wrong place after all. Sigh. EVERY. SINGLE. TEAM. What part of a factually incorrect clue is so damn hard to understand?

Zabrina and Joe Jer have managed to somehow get the kid who was helping them to come in their cab with them. Quite frankly, if it was any of the other teams, I'd totally be making a stranger danger joke right about now. Both they and Antsy have arrived at the Church Of Right Teresa. Zabrina and Syeon both decide to do the RoadBlock.

While walking from the same house Antsy first went to to the Church Of Right Teresa, the Super Marsio Bros. pass a random person just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, right in a puddle of what I can only hope and assume is water.

Admiral Whinypants tells us in Antsy's cab that they didn't even bother to try lighting the candle, because they're "not Catholics". Because, as you know, the whole point of a race through various cultures is to start clutching pearls when faced with something you're not used to in your everyday life. Antsy, do you think all the teams who did the Slave House memorial in that episode of the American version have black African heritage? Or that all the teams who went to Auschwitz had connections to the Holocaust? Of course not. But having a shred of respect for other cultures is the right thing to do. You lay a rose, you light a candle, you reflect, and you damned well better not bitch about it. Yeah, it might not affect you personally. But when you're on a show like this, chances are it affects someone watching, someone who -- for whatever reason -- may never get the chance to make the same journey in person, and will thus be using you as their conduit. If you're going to flat-out refuse to do something as simple as light a candle, simply because of the belief that if it's not important for you, it's not going to be important to anyone? Especially since the candle-lighting isn't a Catholic thing, but one to sinply show how important Mother Teresa was to the people of Kolkata? It's not one of the most offensive things I've ever seen on television, or even on this show (the American version puts its foot in it so often lately it's barely able to wash the shitstink off between seasons anymore), but it's one of the most unsettling, given the almost complete lack of reaction to it. Part of that may just be because Antsy are just so inertly boring, but... still, you know?

Less offensive, but also inappropriate? Handy claiming Laura will do well at the task because she can attract attention.

As the sun sets, and SanFran arrive at the train station, the Super Marsio Bros. arrive at the Church Of Right Teresa. Mardy volunteers Marsio for the task, and it's somewhat surprising that this only his third RoadBlock as well.

RoadBlock. As Fran settles in, there's already a large crowd of onlookers, because you can't have a task in India without big crowds being involved somehow, I guess. What sets this apart from the time the American version did a shoeshine task is that all the teams are going to be forced to work right next to each other, which makes the task both easier (in that the customers will come to you) and harder (in that you'll have to stand out more to get the customers). In all honesty, the ability to weed out the crap tasks from the American version and tweak the decent ones into being even better is one of the absolute best things about this show. Seriously, I can't think of a single time they've recycled a task and made it worse than it was before. (Aside from that first Korean leg next season.) Anyone?

In other news, Fran is trying to get her customers to pay with rupiahs -- Indonesian currency. Oh, Asia. It's all just one big glob of former European colonies, apparently.

Antsy's cab. Admiral Whinypants, not done clawing his way to the top of The List, declares the men of Kolkata sexist and unable to let a woman shine their shoes. Syeon is at least trying to not let him drag her down with him, but she goes with the almost as bad belief that they might get some sort of perverse pleasure from it. Shut up already. God.

RoadBlock. Laura and Fran both have customers, further pointing out how much Admiral Whinypants needs to shut his trap.

Antsy's cab is driving along, with a nice view of the Victoria Memorial out the window. He wonders how the Super Marsio Bros. are doing, because he just doesn't obsess about the other teams enough, does he? The Super Marsio Bros. realise that they're last, but are taking it slow. Slow enough, in fact, that they won't even make it by the time we reach the...

Commercials. This week's Andy Hallett Memorial Award winner is Matt Dallas. Fuck or pass?

During our little break, Marsio has learned that when you are in a race, it is imperative that you get there quickly, and so he is asking the cabbie to go fast. You will note, if you're paying close enough attention, that they haven't moved an inch since before the commercials. Heh.

Laura and Fran shine shoes, while Handy makes a nuisance of himself, firstly asking Laura if she's seen the Super Marsio Bros. (Answer: "Not unless they've appeared, tortilla-Virgin-Mary-like, in the shoes she's polishing."), and then asking the customer how long it's been since a "Western woman" shined his shoes. God. It's like he and Admiral Whinypants are in an eternal dick-measuring contest, the only winners of which are San and the Super Marsio Bros. And WuWho.

They continue polishing, as the same music they used for the lame car washing task and for the uncomfortable begging scenes plays in the background. And... like, it's a perfectly decent piece of music, all things considered, but it really has nothing at all to do with racing. Which probably explains why, of the four times we've heard it so far this season, two were in Uncomfortable Begging Scenes, and two were in tasks where people were cleaning stuff.

Zabrina and Joe Jer, and Antsy, arrive and make their way through the teeming throngs to the shoeshining stations. It looks to me as though Zabrina is actually walking over to the people in the crowd to get them to take those three steps over to her little pedestal thing, while Syeon just stands there and squeaks. Not surprisingly, Zabrina is more successful, at least as far as I can tell.

Fran finishes with one guy and immediately starts on with the next. (Not like that, you pervs!) Syeon fails to know that a shoeshine requires polish. Isn't that, like, the second thing you learn about shoes, after how to tie the laces? Anyway, Fran's next customer asks how much experience she has with shining shoes in an Indian train station. Fran lies and says she's "a professional shoe cleaner", with so much "what a stupid question!" sarcasm in her voice it's practically dripping out her ears. (My personal favourite part is when the editors or whoever subtitles the customer guy saying "Amateur or professional?", and they manage to misspell "amateur". Far be it for me to mock TV editors, because editing is one of the parts of being a film student I don't seem to be very good at -- I blame not believing in the "Everyone Watching Has Attention Deficit Oh, Shiny!" school of thought like everyone else I work with does -- but still? I guess we know the answer to that question.)

Everyone seems to be having fun with the task, which is nice. And not at all what you would expect from teams on this show, given it's (1) India, (2) manual labour, (3) the latter half of the race, and (4) India. Admiral Whinypants thinks Syeon's conversational skills are a bigger drawcard than the shoeshine itself. I think there might possibly be a kernel of truth in that thought, but honestly, it's probably the fact that there are TV cameras around. Zabrina asks if there's anyone else in the crowd who wears shoes. Ordinarily, I'd be annoyed by that comment, but she seems to be asking something closer to "Can anyone help me finish faster?" than to "Who is rich enough to afford shoes?" So, you know, I guess I'll give it a pass. For now.

People continue to shine and beg for customers, and Syeon would like some guy to pay twice as much as he needs to, solely because she doesn't want to give out change. Because she's had enough of Indian telemarketers conning money out of her, and she wants to return the favour. I don't see why she can't give change, to be honest. We know this isn't her first customer, so she's definitely got the money to do it. It clearly says in the clue that she's got to shine seven pairs of shoes, so there's no advantage to her in that it won't count as two pairs. And besides, what's five rupees going to get her anyway? I'm not sure. I think she's just being a bitch about this entire situation, to be honest.

San and Fran have a curt exchange in front of a demanding customer, resulting in the words "Babe, I'm doing it as hard as I can!" You know what always make train stations more fun? Unintentional innuendo. All aboard! In a shared confessional, Fran tries to make like San sabotaged. He instead take a much more tactful approach, pointing out that it would have been easier for her to get customers than it would have been if he'd had to. Probably.

Laura gets a customer wearing... what are those shoes called, anyway? They're not quite sandals, they're not quite thongs, they're... in the blurry middleground, you know? Anyway, Handy tells her to tickle his toes. As you do.

Zabrina confessionals that the RoadBlock was fun. Compared to the tasks coming up before the Pit Stop, where the confessional was made? Yeah, I can believe it.

The Super Marsio Bros. are still in their slow taxi to the RoadBlock. They will not be arriving before Handy and Laura leave, because she's done. The clue tells them to head to the Aaheli Restaurant at the Pearless Inn. WuWho informs us that, as you would expect when you're told to go to a restaurant, this will be an eating task, and each team member has to "consume a traditional Bengali meal" to get the next clue. So not only will the teams be eating non-packet food in India as part of a challenge, but there's also no way out of the challenge. You may know that despite the frequency of both India visits and eating tasks on The Amazing Race, they've never turned up in the same episode before. (Compare this to three separate eating tasks in three separate legs racing through Beijing.) So... you know, this is going to be pretty awesome, especially considering everything that's happened so far in this episode. I can't believe this show is making me excited to see somewhere that turns up pretty much every season!

The other teams continue in their renegade shoe-shining ways. Admiral Whinypants demands that Syeon do a better job, when her shoeshine-ee isn't quite satisfied. Fran and Zabrina also each have a "very tough customer", but noticeably, we do not hear San and Joe Jer telling them to be less sucky. I think they realise that a lot of this task comes down to not only being able to convince people to let you shine their shoes, but also in being able to pick the people who are more likely to be a bit lenient when it comes to being able to see their own faces in their footwear. These people are paying money, so it's only fair they expect a moderate level of competence, but there's a surprising amount of luck involved in this task, given it involves neither needles nor haybales. This, of course, makes it even more unusual that Handy and Laura were the first team to get the job done.

Speak of the devils, let's go check in on them now, shall we? Laura is busy telling Handy that Bengali food (because Kolkata is part of the West Bengal province, you see) is "lovely", as opposed to "steaming, scorching hot". Hmmm. Meanwhile, in their own cab, Mardy comments on how lucrative a business selling car horns in India would be. Heh.

Fran and Syeon are busy trying to get their customers to agree that their poor polishing job is good enough. Meanwhile, Zabrina is apologising for accidentally polishing her customer's sock. Oops!

Oh, and the Super Marsio Bros. have arrived at the metro station.

The three women still doing the RoadBlock count their money. San and Fran explain that as a small recompense for having to put up with Stinky Indian Feet, they get to keep the money they made shining shoes. Yay, free money! It's only, like, seventy cents, but still! Free money! As the Super Marsio Bros finally reach the shoeshining stations and quickly grift their first schlub, SanFran get their clue and leave. Fran is so pissed about having to eat food in India, they literally have to bleep her reading the clue. San just laughs, because he is always delightful and positive and happy and not Admiral Whinypants.

Marsio is shocked that it's taking him so long to do one shoe. This task seems like it'd take a fair while to do, actually. You're probably looking at about five minutes to get a shoe done to a decent standard, and you've got to do seven pairs, so fourteen shoes all up. That's seventy minutes right there, and add in the time you take searching for customers and you're probably going to be at the task for a good hour and a half. In terms of the whole race, it's not that long, but when you consider that back in The Amazing Race 13, three teams managed to finish an entire leg in New Delhi in less than eighty minutes? It's a lot of time to be spending on your knees on a train station floor in a country that's not exactly known for impeccable sanitation.

Zabrina and her latest customer agree that the entire deal here is pretty surreal. Apparently, you no longer need numerous ringing phones and creepy mute bureaucrats to make something feel weird. Eat it, Kafka!

In SanFran's cab, Fran explains that instead of the usual fears of heights and spiders and being even more of a coward than Cirran is, her biggest fear is throwing up. How... precious. Plus, she didn't want to have to eat anything in India anyway, so there's that layer on top of this. San agrees with her. I can sort of understand where they're coming from, in a "the tap water isn't safe to drink; therefore, the food must be just as dangerous to my health" sort of way, but they're going to a restaurant at what seems like it's a fairly elegant hotel. I'm pretty sure you can be confident you won't get brain-eating parasites from eating there.

Marsio also doesn't have change. Unlike Syeon, however, he does not ask the customer to just agree to pay him extra for the shine. While he goes hunting for another pair of shoes to shine, Zabrina gets her clue. She doesn't even take the clue out of the paper holder thingy before giving us an "oh, crap". To add to their distinct lack of enthusiasm, Joe Jer slowly shaked her head while she reads the clue in unison with Zabrina.

Syeon and Marsio hit on the idea of teaming up to get a group of customers, which is really one of those strategies that would only work when there are a couple of people left. If everyone's still there, then the customers who have to wait would have just gotten their shining done by someone else, so they would basically be back at square one again. This way, they both get out quicker, and they both have a better chance of catching up to the rest of the pack. I don't like Syeon, and I could take or leave the Super Marsio Bros., but this is a great strategy here. And because they're just working together to get one random task done, there's no reason for the two teams to agree to help each other with Every Single Task at the expense of their own race, which is part of my problem with the way teams have been racing with the intent of forming alliances over the past few American seasons. Both these people know that they won't be helping each other any more after one of them gets the clue, and they're both okay with it, you know? There are no scumbags, there are no debates about integrity and whether people can be trusted for not letting you beat them, it's very refreshing. Anyway, Syeon's first customer from this group also happens to be her last, so she gets the clue and leaves. It must be some kind of recurring joke for the teams to be upset about having to eat a free dinner at a nice restaurant, because even Syeon swears.

It's started to rain, or something, because Mardy is holding a jacket over Marsio's head. Outside the market, Admiral Whinypants is not happy at the cab fare he's been quoted to get to the restaurant.

Fran tells us that she's not expecting her brief stay at the head of the pack to be halted by anywhere being closed, despite it now being after dark, and even when they've still got, at the very least, an eating task and a Detour to complete. She's optimistic, I'll give her that. On the other hand, she realises that everything else that she didn't want to happen has happened, so it's entirely possible Indian people do actually need some sleep, amidst all the blaring car horns and whatnot. She even prayed that bad stuff wouldn't happen, but apparently the only praying she did was at the Church Of Wrong Teresa, and so it doesn't count. (Here, I imagine God holding his hand in front of his face, touching his nose with his thumb, and waggling his remaining fingers.)

Handy and Laura have found the restaurant.

Elsewhere, Marsio continues shining shoes. He does at least apologise for being inexperienced and in a hurry, so good for him. They confessional that they were lucky to be given the chance to shine shoes in an Indian train station. Yeah, I don't know, either. Unless they mean to finish the sentence with, "because it means we didn't have to get groped on the trains." And Marsio is done. We get a variant of the "India makes me appreciate what I have" speech from Mardy. Sigh. And we were doing so well! At least it seems like he actually does mean it, unlike certain other people who appear to only remark on it because it's a Thing you have to do. They don't seem disappointed to have to eat.

SanFran arrive at the restaurant. Inside, Handy and Laura get their fancy menus handed to them. I'm not sure this is a situation in which they let you choose what you're going to eat, though. I'd ask WuWho how eating challenges work, but he didn't even get to the eating challenge round when he was on Fear Factor, so... probably not going to be much of a help.

Mardy and Marsio appear to have decided to walk to the restaurant.

Fran reads the menu. She mentions that a Bengali meal demands "leisurely attention", and that the key to enjoying the meal is taking your time. So, reading between the lines, there probably isn't anything else they'll be doing tonight, is there? Just, you know, in case you think it's a good idea to cram the five or six different things they give you down your throat as soon as possible.

Laura can identify a lentil dahl, and calls it "lovely". As Zabrina and Joe Jer arrive, San tries to work out what a little drink they were given -- it looks like it's a mango lassi -- tastes like, and Fran's first answer is "curry". Because they're in India! Indian people like curry! Everything tastes like curry in India! Never mind that there really isn't one specific "curry" flavour. Shut up, Fran. Handy and Laura tell them that they're going to have to eat sheep eyes. Fran is all, "yeah, whatever, now go fuck yourself with a horseshoe". They get their Plates O' Feastiness soon after, and we clearly see what's on it for the first time. Basically, you have a small pile of rice, a piece of flatbread, and six tiny bowls full of different sauces and soups and whathaveyou. It actually doesn't look too bad, compared to past eating challenges, even if there probably is a touch too much browny-olive to make it a hundred per cent clear they aren't eating at least one dish that flowed out of a sewage drain.

Zabrina and Joe Jer get their menu. Joe Jer reads it as Laura comments on just exactly how much food there is. Fran wonders how long it'll be until the Super Marsio Bros. arrive and begin to "inhale" the food. Lesson: If you aren't ridiculously skinny, you eat faster than you walk. Speaking of not walking, the Super Marsio Bros. are in their cab, wondering what "Bengali dishes" are. I assume they're a lot like the plates you'd get around the rest of the world, except with the words "India! More than just the Taj Mahal!" painted on them. Back in the restaurant, there is eating, eating, and even more eating. But Antsy have arrived, so now we might get some whining mixed in with our chutney chowdown. Joe Jer has no idea how she's going to be able to finish all the food. Just... take your time. Didn't the menu itself imply that that'd be the best way of getting this done? Laura also doesn't think she can do it. But at least, unlike Admiral Whinypants, they seem to understand that you have to actually eat it all. Admiral Whinypants is apparently under the impression that three of the bowls are just there for decoration. Let's hear it for decoration!

Zabrina tells us she isn't good with quantity. There are so many jokes I could make here, none of them tasteful, so [mimes the univeral "my lips are sealed" action]. Syeon thinks the food doesn't taste half bad. Handy tells Laura "[they] can puke all night if [they] have to." Awww, how romantic. Reminds me of my first date. Poor Zabrina has to try and communicate the message "I need to barf" to her waiter, but he doesn't appear to understand. Thank God we cut away before it gets to Charades.

Commercials. What exact purpose does Richard Wilkins serve, anyway, besides annoying anybody and everybody?

Handy has interpreted the clue to mean that each person has to eat enough for two people, which doesn't look right, given how the portions in each bowl were relatively small. But then again, Laura does seem to be the sort of person who'd be all, "I think I'll pass on dessert, but bring an extra spoon anyway." So in a way, I suppose it could be a meal for two.

The chef's hat is floppy and funny. It's like a traditional chef's hat and a graduate's mortarboard hat had a love child. Joe Jer tells Zabrina they want to "finish it before those two finish it." Trying to finish fast in a race is always a good idea! Admiral Whinypants burps. And burps. And burps. Then he probably complains about how all he can smell is the contents of his own stomach, but we don't get to see. Syeon does giggle, however.

So, anyway, there is more eating, and more Handy and Laura bickering of their usual variety. Or, at least, the usual variety that's less "We Are So Incompetent! Unlucky!" and more "Stop Trying To Help Me Get This Done!" Suddenly, Joe Jer is finished. Wow. Go, girl! She tries to encourage Zabrina to finish. In a shared confessional, Zabrina squees about Joe Jer being "a machine" at the eating challenge. And the good news? Machines don't usually vomit. You're lucky if you can just get correct change out of them, most of the time.

Syeon feels "sick" at the concept of eating fish, because "it's so fishy". Oh, those tricky fish. Always out to get you with their fishiness. In a confessional, she explains that she doesn't like Indian food, and that she had never tasted the spices used in this meal before. Ah, yes. The old "I haven't tried it, therefore, I hate it" school of thinking.

Awwww, little Fwanny needs to go potty. If she was smart, she'd have loaded her mouth with food beforehand. While she's going, the Super Marsio Bros. arrive. They are hungry. (You're shocked, I know.) Suddenly, thanks to the magic of television, Fran is back at her seat by the time they sit down, and asks if she can hide some of her food in her napkin. As you do when you're at a luxury restaurant. Admiral Whinypants tells Marsio that he'll give up some of his food if he's still hungry afterwards.

Joe Jer posits that "if there's a time to develop bulimia, this is it". Cut to the toilet doors, and vomiting noises. Classy, show. Turns out the noises are coming from Laura, who claims that "puking doesn't do much for [her]". No! Really? Zabrina is also throwing up, and I have absolutely no interest in recapping the contents of a reality contestant's stomach, so let's just skip forward a bit, shall we? Good.

After all the eating and puking is done, and after the Super Marsio Bros, unfamiliar with how the concept of "don't eat until you explode", have requested some more rice, the first team to finish is SanFran. The clue tells them to grab a cab and ride to Kanishka's Sari Boutique. WuWho informs us that once they arrive, they'll have to search through hundreds of saris on display for a hidden clue. And the kicker? "Hours of operation apply." Heeeeee hee hee. These producers are sadistic, and I love it.

Back inside, everyone else is finishing off. Next to get the clue is Zabrina and Joe Jer, who apologise for throwing up. Not unexpectedly, Laura does not apologise for her own internal fire drill as she and Handy get the clue. Syeon claims to be allergic to the food. Excuses, excuses. (This is of course coming from somebody who is allergic to bees and to beer, and who has a taste aversion to beef. So, you know, nobody tell James van der Beek what I really think of him.)

In their cab, Handy claims that he hasn't "had a chance to yak". And the yaks are grateful. Meanwhile, San claims in a confessional that he was feeling sick after having to eat his meal, part of Fran's meal, and both of their desserts. And when San is feeling it? That's how you know it was a tough challenge.

Not tough enough? Antsy, which currently consists of one moaner and one person who thinks leaving half their rice on the plate counts as "finished". The Super Marsio Bros. exposit that even though they're quite used to giving their stomachs a workout, there's a difference between eating cheeseburgers at home and having to eat a feast in the middle of the race.

Anyway, Antsy are done. Soon, so are the brothers, and we're all done with the season's Token Eating Challenge. Unless someone chunders later on.

Kolkata has buses! And roads! (Poor cities aren't all chickens and camels and whatever, you know.) It also has Kanishka's where SanFran are arriving, followed quickly thereafter by Zabrina and Joe Jer and Handy and Laura. Unfortunately, it's only open from 9am to 7pm, so everybody's going to end up bunched together. Oh, well. Maybe they could go and visit Mother Teresa's tomb again. Antsy and the Super Marsio Bros. also receive the news.

Commercials. If it's gonna start raining men, I'm going to build me a dam.

It's the next morning now, miraculously saving us from the "let's find a hotel to get us away from these peasants" segment, and the teams are all waiting again at their hotel. Admiral Whinypants takes the time to point and laugh at some people washing themselves across the street, except without the physical pointing, while Syeon sort of watches on, intrigued. Meanwhile, SanFran leave in their cab, which is the same one from the previous night. Smart move, I think. Not only do they have someone they're comfortable with, they've also saved themselves from the stress of having to find a new cab driver to take them today, and the problems they'll have if the guy they find doesn't speak English. So one point for them. (This, you'll note, is exactly the problem Handy and Laura are currently having.)

Kanishka's House Of Hidden Clues And Less-Than-Hidden Fabrics. Everyone else arrives, but Handy and Laura are only just getting into their cab. No prizes for guessing which team's been so wrapped up in their own ego that they haven't learned anything on the race. When they do eventually rock up, Handy tells the other teams he "wanted to smack [their driver] in the head". Guess who I want to smack in the head? SanFran confessional that Andy's a bit of a hypocrite. Yeah, I don't know where that comes from either. Snerk.

The gates open (yep, a sari shop has gates for some reason), and the teams rush in. There is searching, more searching, and nothing but the searching until Syeon finds the first clue. It's not a very interesting task, to be honest, but the next one is, because it's a Detour.

As WuWho reminds us once again, just in case you've been under a rock on Mars with your fingers in your ears and a banshee vacuuming next to you, a Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. This time, the choice is between Carry and Count. Twooooo Detour options, uh huh huh! (I'm sorry, I'll show myself out.) In Carry, teams go to some place (we don't learn where, or how far it is, or any of the other things that make debating at home which one you would choose any easier), use ladles to fill urns with milk, balance the urns on their heads, and walk across a field to pour it into a bucket. The task only requires your brain for balancing things on, but teams will have to repeat the process until they've gotten 80 litres of milk into their bucket, so it could take a while. But you can use your hands to hold it. So, kinda easy. In Count, WuWho teleports to a market I'm not even going to try and spell, especially considering I'd be doing it as a phonetic translation of WuWho's probably-incorrect pronunciation. When teams get to the market, they'll have to find the marked stall, choose a basket of betel nuts, and count them all, getting the correct number to be given the next clue. WuWho tells us that betel nuts are commonly used as the Indian version of Listerine, basically, but betel nuts are kinda harmful to humans, so apparently they treat their cows ridiculously well. Or we've just answered why Indians have such a low life expectancy. It's not a physically demanding task, but teams have got to do it in one shot or they'll lose a shitload of time, basically. Oh, and each basket has a different end total, so teams can't steal their answers from each other. So, kinda not easy.

Before Antsy can choose their task, Handy and Laura have found their clue, and quickly choose Carry. Yeah, brainpower doesn't seem to be their strong suit. What's more interesting than their reasoning ("Who wants to count nuts?") is the fact that they have to be let OUT of the boutique back onto the streets, so apparently it's like a private, by-appointment-only kind of shop. Maybe they sell guns in the off-season. Sandy gets a clue. Zabrina gets a clue. They both decide to Count, as do Antsy (finally). There is much horn-honking.

It turns out that SanFran's wonderful, perfect cab driver has taken Handy and Laura instead, so that's six trillion points off for the Union Of Indian Reality-Show Guest-Star Cab Drivers (yep, this place is used often enough they have their own union now). Fran can't believe it. A cab driver taking a readily available customer instead of waiting for someone who's going to be inside a store for an unknown length of time? Unbelievable! Laura points out in what is a clearly an after-the-fact voiceover that it's basically impossible to steal another player's cab, no doubt telling us everything you ever wanted to know about how THEM IS JUS JELLUS!!1!1!, but I've started tuning out whenever Handy and Laura start being all smug and self-congratulatory, so I'm not really sure and don't really care. Andy takes the unfortunately hilarious stance that success in the game comes down to "servicing your cabbie". And really, like I've already said once in this very recap, who doesn't like unintentional innuendo? Unintentional in-your-endo always makes things funnier. SanFran do quickly find another cab, so good for them, I guess.

Yeah, I've really stopped caring about this episode.

Back inside the sari shop, the Super Marsio Bros. are still searching for the clue. Marsio tells us in a voiceover that they tend to make things too complicated. I'm sure that's probably true, but this is just a case of it being a luck task, and the Super Marsio Bros. getting screwed the way someone always does by this kind of task. Frankly, as much as I usually like the task design on this show, the result of a million dollar contest should never come down to "Who can find a needle in a haystack, and who will get their fingers pierced?"

SanFran? Still bitching. Zabrina and Joe Jer? Still playing to their strengths, which in this case is apparently their ability to know that walking across of the field while balancing milk on their heads won't be a... well, I was going to say "won't be a walk in the park", but that's sort of the entire point of the task, isn't it? Just change it to the relevant metaphor of your choice.

The Super Marsio Bros. are STILL rifling through all of Kerri-Anne's rejected Logies dresses, but Marsio eventually finds it, to the joy of both themselves and the other people in the store, who can finally begin trying to clean up the joint.

SanFran are pissed because their new driver is not as "aggressive" as the one Handy and Laura now have. Meanwhile, the Super Marsio Bros. think counting is tough, and Handy and Laura arrive at the Field Of Milky Goodness. Against all sense of reason, we finally learn that the Super Marsio Bros. have decided to ignore all of their concerns about how difficult the counting task will be, because milk? Ewwwwwww! I'm honestly not sure what they're going on about, to be honest. They think the counting will be slower but safer, but isn't that exactly the reason you should choose the milk? If you get any milk to the end, it'll stay there for the duration of the task so you can gradually creep up on the necessary amount, but if you make one wrong guess with the nuts, you've got to start all over again. That doesn't sound like the safer option to me. To steal something from another wonderful Amazing Race recapper (and I use the word "wonderful" rather loosely, the same way I might describe syphilis as "wonderful"), this is a bit like that old fable about the tortoise and the hare. Here, the milk task is the tortoise, in that it looks slower, while the counting task is the hare, in that it looks quicker but is much more likely to make you overconfident and snoozy and a loser. It's a very well-planned Detour in comparison to the last one, but most of the tension here is going to come from the counting teams realising they've chosen the wrong task, so it's still not great. Imagine if everyone chose the milk.

Andrew and Syeon have arrived at the nut market, while Handy and Laura are skimming through the milk task, and while Zabrina and Joe Jer are lost. SanFran are not lost, which is a nice change from the usual. They and Antsy both make short work or finding the nut stall, where all the baskets of nuts are set up. There's five pairs of colour-coded baskets set up, but the fun bit is that they're right next to each other, so it's going to be very easy to get confused when all the other teams start counting. Another reason why the milk is such a smart choice.

Zabrina and Joe Jer have arrived at the wrong market. So in addition to being the obviously worse task, the counting isn't easy to find, which maks it even worse. The Super Marsio Bros. have apparently decided that their ability to complete the task will be based solely on how big the nuts are. But... I thought betel nuts were also big (as in "common", not as in "my god, how can e count these when we can't even pick them up") in Indonesia. So how don't they know what the things look like? Or is that actual beetles? The Beatles? Volkswagen Beetles? Gummi beetles? Betelgeuse? Beetroots?

...Damn you, Wikipedia.

Handy seems to think they'll be "better off not putting too much in the pot". Clearly, he also thinks sanely choosing this task was an aberration that must be fixed. Basically, the pot weighs the same amount every time they have to carry it back and forth over the field, and they'll be getting more and more tired everytime they have to do it. Now, let's say you can either load up, ten litres -- about the weight of a three-year-old, and about as much as it looks like the pots will comfortably hold -- into each pot, and walk across four times each (because ten litres times four crosses times two players makes eighty litres in the finish bucket), or you can load up four litres -- about the weight of a fat newborn -- into each and walk across ten times to deliver the same amount. Since you're going to spend roughly the same amount of time ladling the eightly litres of milk into the pots either way, and since that size really isn't enough to drastically slow you down enough when carrying the milk over, the best way to approach this task is to make as few crossings as possible. Which Handy isn't doing. (Ironically, the best approach to making these recaps funny is not to spend so much time analysing why Handy needs to go fuck himself with a flagpole, but here we are.)

Elsewhere, SanFran are baffled at the betel nuts, Zabrina and Joe Jer are frustrated on some footpath, and the Super Marsio Bros. are confounded in their cab. Lesson: You cannot compete on The Amazing Race if you are rarely addled.

Handy claims the milke is going to make him "smelly". I know! His stench is so bad I'm overpowered from it, even though I'm four years in the future and behind a computer screen!

At the market, SanFran start again with their red basket (because red makes you fuck up faster), while Antsy decide to count out a hundred at a time together, then put it in. Good idea. Easier to stop yourselves from getting confused.

Basically, here, there's a bunch if quick cuts which pretty much just show them doing stuff silently and not being very mockable. It's very boring, as I'm sure you can tell by the simple fact I'm not actually doing a play-by-play for this little bit. Oh, aside from the bit where the editors have decided to show everybody else's silent teamwork as a contrast for Andy's whining over milk dripping down his back. Yes, he's actually crying over spilt milk. The saying has purpose! (Still meaningless: "There's nowt so queer as folk", "army intelligence", "Justin Bieber".)

Suddenly Antsy have lost track of how many hundreds of nuts they've counted. Similarly, I've lost track of how many times I've used the word "nuts" in this recap. Nuts nuts nuts. Nuts for all!

Handy suggests that it's quicker if one of them (by which he means himself, of course) ladles milk continuously, while the other (by which he means Laura, of course) hauls it across a field continuously. Not surprisingly, Laura isn't having a bar of it, milky or otherwise. What happened to the Milkybar Kid, anyway? I don't know, but I do know that everybody else is still exactly where they were before, until the Super Marsio Bros. finally arrive at the market. SanFran think they have 1,114 nuts, but are wrong. San tells Fran to add another twenty on for some they aren't sure they missed. I'm not sure which is funnier here, that she somehow decides 1,114 + 20 = 11,420, or that they get told they have to count the entire bundle again before they make a second guess. Elsewhere, Laura must have gotten her way, which means Handy gets to whine about the damn milk again. Back at the market, the Super Marsio Bros. are starting to count, while SanFran are continuing to screw themselves over with their inability to work effectively or efficiently. San tells us that it's "the most frustrating that I've been on a task". I'll say. It's nice to know his grammar's gone out in sympathy.

Commercials. Wow, I can't believe I've been working on this recap since before Christmas. At this rate, we might get the season finished by the time an all-female team wins the American version.

When we return, one of the Super Marsio Bros has dropped one, and SanFran are for some unknown reason moving their nuts back into the first basket to start again, apparently not realising they could save time by counting again as they go. Out in the ether somewhere, Zabrina has FINALLY found someone who knows where the market is. Hooray! While Antsy count with much less hullabaloo than the other two teams present, the Super Marsio Bros. have hit on a way that might work -- splitting the nuts into groups of ten and counting the groups instead of individual nuts. SanFran's next guess of 1,210 is also wrong. San suggests they start counting them again, as though they had any other option.

Zabrina and Joe Jer are apparently within walking distance of the market, and can point it out to us. Lucky, considering none of the locals can.

Locals play some sort of streetside version of soccer. But, given it's India, perhaps they're actually using their legs as replacement cricket bats or something.

At the Field Of Milky Goodness, birds flock to Handy and Laura continue hauling. They finish the task, thus proving once and for all that Counting Is Bad. Smelling beautiful, and expecting a clue directing them to the Pit Stop, Laura instead reads the Oddly-Worded Words Of Warning, those which mention the host waiting, but which do not mention a Pit Stop. This time, WuWho is waiting on a terrace over the Kolay Market, which he himself tells us is "located opposite the Sealdah train station". It's interesting for many reasons, not least of all that Phil had never actually done a voiceover for the clue directing teams to the mid-leg checkpoint before (and only ever done one for season 14's double-leg in Beijing), but also because it strongly suggests a long-haul train ride is coming up. As we all know from watching this show, Indian trains tend to allow for neither rest nor relaxation, so next week's probably going to be a very short-tempered one for the contestants.

Meanwhile, Antsy have their correct total of 1,212, as Zabrina and Joe Jer arrive. Out in their cab, they have to convince their driver not to tell SanFran's, who is also still waiting and likely getting pretty fed up by this point. As Zabrina and Joe Jer get up on the little stage or whatever it is that's been set up, the Super Marsio Bros. seem to think their delay was because of some problems with the milk task. Of course, had they chosen the milk, they'd probably be on their way to the checkpoint by now, but still. SanFran are wrong again, as are the Super Marsio Bros. Fran finally suggests counting them in piles of twenty.

Handy and Laura are speeding along.

Inside, the Super Marsio Bros. can't even organise how they're going to count the nuts this time, let alone perform the task. This does not bode well, unless you have Inability To Count on your Killer Fatigue Bingo cards.

Antsy? Still cruising.

SanFran are wrong AGAIN, and Fran thinks they might only be one away. With their next guess of 1,219, though, the Super Marsio Bros. are none away, and finally get to leave. Fran's theory is wrong, and she resorts to having to count them in piles of ten. Zabrina and Joe Jer are also incorrect. (Today's show is brought to you by the number 666.) They try once more with a minimum of fuss and histrionics, and how did they get all the way through the auditions? Meanwhile, Fran confessionals that she told them to shut up because their competence was distracting her. Or something. But she was long way gone before the girls even arrived, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt here. San tells us it was hard to block them out, and Zabrina takes the absolutely correct moral standpoint that this is a competition, and they were going to try the strategy that they were hoping would work for them. Good for her. And it does work, becuase their guess of 1,234 (how... obvious?) is indeed correct. Zabrina apologises to SanFran as they leave, now wrongly under the impression that she owes them for something, and Fran takes the chance to claim it screwed her up right at the end.

At the Kolay Market, Handy and Laura and Antsy have both arrived, and begin searching on foot for the flagged entrance they need. First to find it are Handy and Laura, who appear to ditch their bags at some point between entering the building and walking out onto the checkpoint mat. Look, I'm not going to insult your intelligence here. You know and I know that this one isn't a Pit Stop, and it's the seasonal "Psyche! Still racing!" point. Andy and Laura also know, and Laura immediately holds her hand out to grab the next clue. As expected, we are...

TO BE CONTINUED.

Next week: Let's see what we can tell from the ad, bearing in mind the next episode aired more than three years ago, is probably readily downloadable if you know where to look, and has part of the season's Wikipedia article written about it. It's clearly still in India, and Handy and Laura are standing around in the middle of the day, waving their arms around, which suggests to me they've completely hit the wall, giving them a case of amnesia so bad they don't even remember they're in a race. Oh, goody. The voiceover guy gets to use the words "Andy and Sandy drag their asses down the streets", and mean it, so one point for him. Unfortunately for all of us lusty perverts, the accompanying footage makes it entirely clear they're leading donkeys. Shame. The teams get nice and muddy. At least, I hope that's mud, or they could wind up becoming literal and metaphorical bullshit artists. Hee. Actually, now I hope it's not.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

1x08: Krabi, Thailand

The teams take to the water! Well, eventually they do.

====================

Previously on Lost In Translationalising: Seven teams flew from Queenstown to Singapore to do absolutely nothing that wound up having any consequence on the episode as a whole, as well as nothing of any interest in general. Said waste of episode time included making suggestive gestures with a car (San), washing the very same cars (everyone except San), and dancing in a fountain like Friends did circa-1996 (nobody, but wouldn't it have made the episode more fun?). From there, everyone took a midnight joyflight to Bangkok, whereupon they collectively decided to sue whoever deemed it a "joyflight" as false advertising. Bells were tinkly. Teams somehow managed to be so polluted with Ugly that I wound up having to add another whole page to The List. Handy and Laura's only real issues were with each other as opposed to their Thai compatriots, and they unsurprisingly finished first. Zabrina and Joe Jer, probably the least Ugly of the remaining five teams, rocked up last and were thankfully saved by a non-elimination, leaving us with a glimmer of hope about having a likable pair of winners. Zabrina shrieked in response to being considered likable. Six teams still remain. Who will be eliminated... TONIGHT?

Credits. Head-turn, head-turn, head-turn! Head-turn like you mean it! Please don't make me Yield you! [YIELD!]

We open on a solitary tree, which represents Bangkok in the Thailand of WuWho's Mind. A Buddhist monk walks around, trying to ignore the shameful lack of complete and total poverty. WuWho tells us that Bangkok is filled to bursting point with streets and markets and traffic, and we DID watch the last episode, you know. "Dotted amongst the frenzied activity" are a ragtag assortment of Buddhist temples, each devoted to celebrating religion and Richard Gere movies. One of these temples in Wat Pho, where the only Pretty Woman is one who walks in off the streets to worship at the giant lazing Buddha statue. Wat Pho was the seventh Pit Stop, and the final six teams must leave it in the same order they arrived, but apparently not twelve hours after they did so.

Handy and Laura will be the first team out, and they'll be doing it at the convenient time of 1:00am. I wonder whether they can manage to keep their lead! Laura reads the clue, which tells them to take a taxi to the Southern bus station, and then head by bus to Krabi. WuWho's expositional introduction to Krabi adds nothing except for some pretty shots, reminiscent of the last time the race was in the area back in the very first American season, and the detail that the teams will have to find some flagged longtail boats on Nopparat Thara Bay. Laura snatches the cash, because Handy can't be trusted not to waste money. Just look at all the money he's spent on Laura! Jump-cutting all over the place, they get to the bus station in record time, and Handy tells us in a voice-over that their plan is to not have a plan, thus defeating the entire purpose of having a plan.

1:05am. Antsy. Admiral Whinypants reads the bit in the clue clarifying the difference between "travel by bus" and "travel however you damned well feel like". He voices over that he thinks Handy and Laura are going to Yield them, because they've finished first "twice in a row" while Antsy have been second. See? The Queenstown leg, in which Handy and Laura were second and Antsy fourth, was so bad that he's completely repressed it from his memory! Also, it turns out that "everyone's playing games at the moment". In a competition? On what is pretty much a game show on wheels? Never!

1:11am. Howard and Cirran. We learn they've been told not to find Nopparat Thara Bay, but to get themselves to a specific beach which I'm not even going to try and spell, because it's got one of those names that'll sound like I'm taking the piss if I get it wrong. Even more than usual, I mean. Cirran voices over that he and Howard are so exhausted, they don't even know what day or time it is. I'm going to take a stab and say it's probably nighttime, what with the complete lack of sunlight and all, but... you know. I'm not a weather guy, I might be wrong.

At the bus station, Laura tells Handy that there are going to be two buses down to Krabi -- one leaving at 7:30am, the other a full half-hour earlier. She knows that it's going to be a long ride, so suggests that they head for a nearby hotel to catch something approaching sleep.

1:36am. SanFran. Fran tells us that everyone else seems to think that San is a physical threat, because he "has the willpower to just push on through". Not like the other five teams, each of whom have all quit a RoadBlock already -- Howard quit the shark tank in Sydney, while the other four teams are the four beach-dig quitters who survived the Bali leg. So to recap: SanFran are the strongest team left in this competition, for the sole reason that they're completing the tasks to begin with.

Antsy and Howard and Cirran have both reached the bus station, and seem to find a bus leaving at 5:30am. Score! Howard wants to try and figure out where it's going to. I can see how that might be an important little detail to check out. They learn from a random helpful local that the 5:30 bus must be for some other place, because the 7am bus is the earliest one to Krabi. Howard believes that Handy and Laura are cowards and went back to the Pit Stop hotel rather than spend the night sleeping on a bus station floor. At the hotel, Handy and Laura do a little camera-aware bit in which they try to decide whether to go into the hotel or spend the night on the mosquito-filled streets of Bangkok. But since they've already taken the taxi back to the hotel, it's sort of an anti-climax. What will they choose? What, I ask you? WHAT?

1:55am. Super Marsio Bros. They tell us in a shared hotel-room confessional that they're trying to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, because they don't need to win yet, so that it will be more of a surprise when they "strike" "like a dragon". They laugh, because the idea of attacking dragons are never not mildly funny. In their cab, they briefly debate the merits of advanced Jungian psychology. (...Fine. They actually argue about money a little, before coming to the conclusion that whatever money they were given when they were leaving the Pit Stop should cover them until the end of the leg, unless they get lost.) It turns out that in the absence of airport leg massager chairs, they've decided to spend much of their money replacing their big heavy backpacks with smaller, lighter models, and are suitably miffed that they're only being given forty bucks to get themselves down to Krabi. Honestly, it serves them right, really.

The Super Marsio Bros. find the other teams, still waiting. However, we suddenly jump-cut to Howard and Cirran and Antsy, in the same location, without the Super Marsio Bros. in sight. The fuck? They decide that instead of going to the hotel, they'll work together to get to Krabi as quickly as they can. Strangely, the quickest way seems to be by switching buses in a place called Prachuap, which may or may not even HAVE buses to Krabi. These two teams and the Super Marsio Bros. all board the Prachuap bus.

3:27am. Zabrina and Joe Jer. Wow, that wasn't even close last week, was it? And yet they still managed to make it seem tight -- it's a sign these editors actually know what they're doing, even though there are jump-cuts all over the shop this week, and we're only six and a half minutes in. We do not get to see them tell us how much money they'll have to make up to be on something approaching even footing with the other teams.

Bus to Prachuap. Howard is happy to have a seat and air-conditioning. Three cheers for arse comfort!

Zabrina and Joe Jer get a montage of them standing around and sorting through the money all the other teams have given them, and then of them begging random people for cash. So, as usual, the penalty they got at the end of the last leg means nothing for them, but does mean the other teams and a bunch of locals are a few dollars poorer.

Bus. Marsio has learned that there aren't any buses to Krabi from Prachuap. Probably should have looked into that before you got on the bus, huh? Admiral Whinypants and Howard try and work out whether they should stop and go back to the bus terminal. They don't know.

SanFran display the first moment of racing ability we've seen this episode, by telling us that since they found out before getting to the bus terminal that the counters wouldn't be open until 5am, they went straight back to the hotel for some sleep. They and the girls (nickname pending) search for tickets. Handy and Laura soon arrive and follow. Zabrina and Joe Jer are shocked to learn that travelling halfway across Thailand by bus will take most of the day to do.

Prachuap bus. Howard's ultimate decision is to sit tight and "enjoy the journey". Because that helps you get to Krabi faster? I don't know how that could possibly be considered a good strategy. Either head back to Bangkok and catch the bus to Krabi, get to some other stop on the line to Krabi and head from there, or work out how to get from Prachuap from Krabi while you're on the bus so you don't have to waste time when you arrive. God. There's being a laid-back racer, and then there's complete and utter failure to understand the definition of the word "race". And guess which category this decision falls under?

Bangkok. Laura tells us she knew there was another bus, so Handy decided to check what times the other buses left. Which will make a difference while you're on the first bus... how? Laura tells Handy to sit back down, because she doesn't want to have to miss the bus they're already on -- which is leaving in "three minutes". Handy basically tells her to be quiet, because the grown-ups are talking, and walks off to check anyway. Aren't the team partners supposed to stay with each other at all times? I thought that was one of the basic rules of this show. Laura claims that this "could be fatal, absolutely fatal". SanFran are happy to be on the bus, but annoyed at how long it will take to get to Krabi. They think the other teams have either found a better way of getting to Krabi, or are "just taking their sssssweeet time". Handy comes back, telling Laura that the next bus will get to Krabi at the "same time", six o'clock that night.

The Amazing Yellow Squiggle slowly makes its way down from Bangkok to Krabi, with a little assistance from the Amazing Red Squiggle.

Four hours in, the Super Marsio Bros. sit patiently in their seats, while the other teams on the "local bus" sleep their day away.

On the "express bus", Zabrina and Joe Jer tell us that the three non-Prachuap-ing teams are on their bus, while SanFran play with their food, and Handy and Laura try to make it to Krabi without wanting to decapitate each other. Joe Jer thinks that the Local Bus teams are "really intelligent".

Thus explaining why, after 5 hours, they are getting off the bus in Prachuap with no plan for getting the rest of the way to Krabi. They learn that there actually IS a bus from Prachuap which will get them to Krabi... but it's still going to take them another ten hours from the time it departs. The Super Marsio Bros. are not happy to learn about this, and perhaps they should have done their own work instead of blindly following the other two teams who didn't even check to make sure the bus would go where they needed it to go. Howard tries to look on the bright side, saying that at least they get a chance to stretch their legs. Cirran looks like he could cut someone at this point.

Commercials. This week's Andy Hallett Memorial Award goes to Andrew G├╝nsberg. Fuck or pass?

Prachuap bus station. Howard provides a quick interview explaining that everyone who boarded the Local Bus of Stupidity is going to have to wait around for another two-and-a-half hours before they can even get onto the ten-hour bus trip to Krabi. So, to recap, the direct route to Krabi will take the other teams eleven hours. The route these guys are taking through Prachuap is going to take them seventeen-and-a-half hours. Go productivity! He thinks the Express Bus teams are going to get in about four hours ahead of them. Syeon monotonously voices over that she would rather race with all six teams than with only three. But the problem is... she is racing against all of the other five teams. It's just that three of them don't suck the bag. Shut up, Syeon.

Admiral Whinypants has found a bus with a driver saying he's headed to Krabi, even though the guy at the counter tells Howard it doesn't. After 6 hours of travel time in total, they board it and head off, apparently to another city with another bus statino and plenty of ways to get to Krabi.

Express Bus of Not Sucking The Bag. Handy and Laura tell us that either they somehow managed to get an earlier bus to Krabi, or they're on the direct bus from Bangkok, which was supposed to leave an hour later and still arrive at the same time as Handy and Laura's bus.

The bag-suckers arrive in a place called Chumphon, and immediately begin looking for the Krabi bus. Turns out there doesn't appear to be one. Mardy tells us he thinks everyone "made a big mistake by leaving early". It sort of seems as though the teams themselves got off their bus early for no logical reason, even though they were sure they could get to Krabi from where they were headed. Not that that should surprise you at this point. They have trouble both getting their point across and finding the bus stop, but soon get onto a bus to Muang Mai. A "Travel Time: 9 Hours" graphic shows up, to remind us how stupid these teams have been today. Apparently, from Muang Mai there's definitely a bus to Krabi. Well, it's about time they started heading to the right city.

As Howard tries to sleep, with his head sticking out the window (yes, I'm serious), the Super Marsio Bros. tell us their decision-making skills sucked. At least we agree on something.

Express Bus of Not Sucking The Bag. Handy and Laura hit upon the right answer with regards to the other teams, wondering whether they got an earlier bus somewhere and decided to try and "wing it" to Krabi, "doing change after change after change". Joe Jer tells us that it's either "a very intelligent, very cunning move; or a very stupid move." One point for her.

At the Muang Mai bus terminal, the bag-suckers arrive and learn that they can get a bus at 2:30 that afternoon, which will arrive in Krabi at 8:30. Mardy yells at Marsio to stop eating. Marsio sort of just waves him off.

Express Bus. Laura tells us how the bus has been "reasonably comfortable", and raves about the choice of entertainment.

Muang Mai. Cirran tells us that the bag-suckers will wind up having to make yet another bus switch before they get to Krabi, because the bus coming down from Bangkok is full. So now, they're all taking a six-hour trip to Phuket, and will have to wait there for three more hours before they can even get on the final bus. Andrew thinks they're "in trouble". Well, yes, dear. Kind of. What gave it away?

The Amazing Map turns back up, with the Amazing Squiggles finally approaching Krabi. The Amazing Red Squiggle is now littered with yellow dots showing the changeover points in Prachuap, Chumphon, and Muang Mai, all unlabelled, which is sort of funny. As it zigzags down to Phuket, the Amazing Yellow Squiggle head straight to Krabi. Rather than comment on the extra time transferring through Phuket will use up, WuWho chooses to mention the extra 200 kilometres of road teams will get to stare out of.

12 hours. Howard explains the situation for the third time in ninety seconds, and complains about how "crabby" he and Cirran are.

Express Bus of Not Sucking The Bag. San tells us that, after only eleven hours, the bus is almost at Krabi. And right on cue, with Handy fidgeting like a five year old who needs to be taken to the toilet, the bus has arrived. WuWho interrupts my celebrations at finally getting to the end of the Less Than Amazing Bus Ride section of this recap, by telling us that the teams will have to take a songtheow (basically, the love child of a military Jeep and a panel van) from the bus station to Nopparat Thara Bay.

All three teams have no trouble getting songtheows, but Fran ventures uncomfortably back into Ugly Racer Mode for a moment. In theirs, Laura bitches about how they didn't pick the right "bus", because it's old and slow. She thinks this is picking the wrong bus? Boy, is she taking part in the wrong episode. Fran tells San that she hates not knowing whether she's heading in the right direction. Because, you know, SanFran are so good at reading maps. The girls' (nickname pending) are in a songtheow adorned with a couple of painted American flags. Apparently, there are only twelve stars for twelve states. Eat it, the rest of you! Laura tells Handy to "get on with it" when he dares to talk about fixing something, but it's not entirely clear what either of them means. Switching songtheows? I'm really not sure. San says he and Fran are going to "sit back and wait and see what happens". Well, I'm no expert on winning races, but I have to say that even I know that "sitting back" and waiting won't exactly get you to the end of the race very quickly. Or at all.

The three teams have found the Visitor's Centre they apparently need to go to, and have learned that it's closed. Therefore, all the bad racing we've had up until this point, and there has been a LOT of it, is entirely worthless, because all the teams are going to catch up by 8am the next morning, which is when it opens. I get that this would have happened even if the teams had all been on the same bus, but still? Fuck that shit. Zabrina wants to find somewhere to stay.

15 hours into the Bus Rides of Bag-Sucking. Cirran, official Spokesperson of Suck, tells us that the loser teams have managed to get their driver to call another driver, and arrange to switch buses "halfway between Phuket and Krabi", so they can cut off most of the travel time they'd had left. Cirran is just a little bit excited to finally have a bus headed to Krabi. On the new bus, Marsio says he "has no idea" where he is, other than that he's in Thailand. Cirran thinks the loser teams will "still have a chance" if they get to Krabi quickly.

The leading teams book hotel rooms, with the Tinkly Music of Slight Humour playing in the background. Fran wants a hotel with air conditioning. Handy provides a nice, less-than-subtle plug for the network. Shut up, Handy. The girls and SanFran share a room, and San is officially the happiest man in Krabi right now.

Not for long, though, because the bag-suckers have finally arrived, after sixteen whole hours of bus travel. The Super Marsio Bros. soon realise that after they pay for their songtheow to the beach, they won't have any money left at all. Syeon tells us that Antsy, in all their lack of understanding that they are not the other teams' parents, have given the Super Marsio Bros. some money so they can get to the beach. Howard laments the day he's had. The Super Marsio Bros. point out that it's 7pm, and they've been in a bus since 3am.

The bag-suckers arrive at the Visitor's Centre, also learning that it's closed. Just like the leaders, they all decide that they need a hotel for the night, because whoever heard of camping out? Only savages do that. Savages, I tell you! Mardy and Marsio, of course, have to beg for even more money before they can get one. They confessional from a beach that it's hard for them because they were born well-off. Because begging just comes naturally to poor people, apparently. I sort of understand where they're coming from, but... I just wish they'd expressed their sentiments a bit better, you know? They eventually decide to start selling stuff, like Mardy's hat from New Zealand, because they know it's not going to be easy to finagle money off of people when they're so fat. Did you know they're fat? They would like to remind you again.

The next morning, the sun rises, which is a bit of a shocker. At 8am, the teams sprint along a dirt path to the cluebox. Admiral Whinypants is ridiculously fast, which I'm sure will mean he'll find a reason to whine about Syeon not being as quick as he is. Inside the yellow Detour envelope is not only the Detour itself, but also a Fast Forward, which sort of make it feel like it's been demoted even farther than it has been in the past to Third Detour Option, when it should really be so much more. It was bad enough when they cut it down to two a season, and picked tasks only one team at a time could attempt. But anyway.

Fast Forward. WuWho struts along the beach, with his black shirt unbuttoned halfway, and his sleeves rolled up. He looks as though he's sort of trying to strip, but forgot that his shirt doesn't have velcro bits going up the arms. He explains the basic Fast Forward administrivia, about how only one team can win it and whoever does gets to go straight to the Pit Stop and choosing when it's a good idea to try and yada yada WHATEVER. In this one, teams take a longtail boat to Pranang Bay to find the instructions, next to a set of kayaks. Then they've still got to do whatever's in the cluebox before they win the Fast Forward.

Admiral Whinypants orders Syeon to choose whether to go for the Fast Forward. You'll note that none of the teams left have won the Fast Forward before, and, since this is probably their last chance to win it, there's even more reason to go for it, even if there is an even larger risk to be taken. SanFran ignore it and see the Detour.

From the same beach and with the same not-a-stripper shirt on, WuWho explains this Detour, with its two tasks and numerous pros and cons and this is seriously too much syntax in too short a time. This time, the teams have to get to a little tiny island called Koh Poda, where they'll find the two tasks, which have been named Smash and Grab. Because Thailand? Full of thieves. In Smash, you get a hammer and a pile of 75 coconuts, and you've got to keep busting them open until you find the only coconut filled with red ink. In Grab, you put on snorkels and search 100 buoys with clues attached to their anchor ropes, right near the shore, for one of the ten with correct clues. So, basically, the tasks are exactly the same hideous creation, with your only real decision to make being, "Do I feel like going on international TV in my Speedo?"

Unsurprisingly, after we have to sit through the teams all reading the instructions for Smash, and being indecisive for a little while, we learn that only one team will be swimming. Sadly, that team is not SanFran, but Antsy. For some reason, everyone loves the words "smash the coconuts". (By the way, Smash The Coconuts is totally going to be the name of my new novel set in the world of Japanese gameshows.)

Everyone gets in their boats. Fran thinks the coconut-smashing will take longer, but hopes that she and San will be able to finish it quickly. Because, as you know, it's always a good strategy to do the task you know will take you longer.

The boats speed across the water, Thai flags flapping in the breeze. Zabrina is happy to be overtaking another team. Mardy asks Marsio if he wants to go for the Fast Forward. Marsio wants to watch and see where the other teams are going first. Logical. Howard tells us there's "a bit of a risk" in trying for the Fast Forward, because of what happened with Journey way back in Jakarta. Boy, it feels like forever ago, doesn't it? The Super Marsio Bros. ask their driver which direction the Fast Forward is in. Antsy think they probably should have done it, because they think it's a rock climbing challenge, and they both go rock climbing all the time. Rock climbing? With kayaks? (Also, Foreshadowing.) When the Super Marsio Bros. learn that the Fast Forward is only "ten minutes" away, they decide to head for it.

Commercials. The world is a terrible place, Agent Mulder.

Not commercials. Marsio confirms that he and Mardy will try the Fast Forward. Admiral Whinypants notices that only five of the teams are headed for Koh Poda, and tells Syeon. For whatever reason, Admiral Whinypants seems to like obsessing about the other teams and where they are. Perhaps he could try focusing on his own race for once, because after yesterday, it's quite evident Antsy's strategy really needs some improvement if they want to survive much longer. Marsio thinks the others will be confused when they don't show up at the Detour. Yeah, not so much. Cirran marvels at the beauty of the islands, some of which he's about to get un close and personal with.

The teams arrive at Koh Poda en masse, and begin running to the tasks, which basically could not be closer together unless the coconuts were physically attached to the buoys. Handy and Laura bitch some more, this time about how Handy always talks to Laura like she's a child. I would have an easier time feigning sympathy for her if she wasn't such acting like a heinous bitch in her own right. Coconut-smashing occurs, with Howard and Fran watching as San and Cirran smash, even though Zabrina and Joe Jer show that each team gets two hammers. Huh.

In the water. Syeon voices over that Admiral Whinypants is a fast swimmer, so she was just trying to keep in his general area, lest he whine that she's not keeping up. Just out of curiosity, have we even seen Syeon do anything aside from following Admiral Whinypants yet? Aside from the RoadBlock's she's had (one of which she quit anyway), she has done practically nothing in the eight legs she's been racing. It's sort of one of those things I wouldn't normally bring up, but since she's been talking about it a little bit over the past few episodes, it's my job to mention it, you know? Anyway. They find a "Try Again" envelope.

People smash coconuts, some with more force than others. (Remind me not to get San in a bad mood.) Antsy are still swimming, and come up short again. (Get it? Because they're little? Oh, never mind.) Howard wants Cirran to watch what he's doing, because you know what helps you get the task done faster? Working at half of capacity.

The Super Marsio Bros. arrive at the kayak beach. Reading the clue, they learn that they'll have to paddle around the edge of the cliffs to find the Fast Forward. WuWho reminds us that the first team to find it wins, just in case you thought otherwise. Mardy tells us he's never kayaked before, as though we care.

Handy and Laura have finally reached their coconuts, while San and his very, very small singlet (yay!) continue to smash. Fran has to remind San that they're not looking for a coconut with a clue inside, they're looking for one with "coloured milk". Zabrina and Joer Jer confessional that San was making the coconuts spray like a fountain, while they themselves were hitting them limply. But on the plus side, though, they did take advantage of the free coconut milk on offer. San tells us that, being "a lot more fitter" [sic], he could keep going without the need for a break. Everyone smashes some more.

Antsy swims.

The Super Marsio Bros. have not chickened out of their Fast Forward, but also haven't started to kayak yet, because they're still trying to figure out how to get on the damn kayak without falling over. Heh.

Laura realises the coconut-smashing "isn't gonna be easy". San wonders whether it'd be better for them to swim. Surely, out of all the people on the beach at the moment, he'd be the one person who shouldn't even consider switching, given how well they've been going.

Antsy have found one of the correct clues. Even Joe Jer notices.

Cirran has only managed to open one coconut. Handy and Laura tell us that once they knew the coconuts still had their husks on, they figured that smashing them open was going to take a while. Add in Antsy finishing the swimming so quickly, and it's no surprise that Handy and Laura decide to be the first team to switch to swimming.

The Super Marsio Bros. tell us that, because they're so fat, it's harder for them to balance. Because, as you know, sumo wrestlers fall over much more often than stick-thin waifs. They talk about how they kept tipping over. Given that they haven't even reached the cliffs yet, let alone started to paddle around them, I have to wonder how fast the producers expected this Fast Forward to be.

Antsy high-five. Meanwhile, Laura bitches about how tight her snorkelling mask is, because it's toooootally Handy's fault. (Also tight? Her grandma-style bathing suit.) Antsy open the clue, and it's the RoadBlock.

WuWho explains, but not before giving us the stock-standard one-person-does-it speech. This time, the teams have to head to the Raile East 123 Wall, which WuWho tells us is popular "amongst rock-climbing enthusiasts". And monkeys, it seems. There, the chosen person has to rock climb up the cliffs to a hanging clue. That's... actually a pretty decent task. The RoadBlocks this season have tended to be pretty sucky, all things considered, but this one is awesome. Mostly because the others have either involved little or no skill on behalf of the person doing it, but still. Even the two of them that actually were difficult -- the beach dig and the aquarium -- were horrible ideas. This one? Not so much. It's already my favourite RoadBlock we've had so far this season, and we haven't even gotten to see it yet.

We cut back to Antsy, who decide from the "Who wants to rock?" clue that Admiral Whinypants will do it, and make Syeon even more superfluous in the process. There's a bit of writing beneath the hint reading, "This challenge is physical and requires a steady nerve," which make the hint itself entirely pointless.

Mardy and Marsio continue arguing about who's in charge or rowing and who's in charge of balancing. They do not seem to realise that it's possible to do two things at once, unless one of those two things is being snitty with each other.

San keeps smashing.

While Handy and Laura keep swimming, Laura voices over that they were extremely lucky to find a clue quickly, because they could have had to swim around to every single buoy before they found one. Except... no. Wouldn't there still have been nine correct ones after Antsy left the water?

Ashore, people keep smashing to their heart's content. Soon, we learn that neither option is good for the players' bodies, with Andy having a stitch from the swimming, and Howard getting blisters from the coconuts. Howard confessionals that he and Cirran thought the coconuts they'd have to chop would be like those fake looking ones they had on Gilligan's Island. Because they would like a little less physical activity in their race, if that's all right with you. Handy has a bunch of jellyfish stings. Ouch. San hits a coconut so hard with his hammer that the coconut rolls away and he breaks the hammer. Heeeeeee hee hee.

Handy and Laura read the RoadBlock clue. Handy apologises, apparently for taking the task away from Laura. So, instead of rock-climbing in Thailand, Laura will have to rock-climb when she returns home to... Thailand. Not seeing why he has anything to apologise for here.

Howard tells Cirran that they're going to have to switch tasks soon, because Howard's hands are all sore and "ripped up" and making him whine.

Fast Forward. The Super Marsio Bros. have finally made it to the cliffs, and are now paddling around.

While the trailing teams continue to Smash, Handy tells the camera from his boat that he thinks the others are going to be put off their game seeing Antsy and his own team finish Smash quickly. Or, possibly, it'll encourage them to switch to it and finish faster, but what do I know? I only mock people in big gigantic blog posts.

Commercials. Motion to fill the hole in the ozone (however large it is) with the cumulative hot air spewed forth by climate change alarmists?

Detour. Cirran wants Howard to just grab some gloves from somewhere and come back to help him smash through the rest of the coconuts. Howard, on the other hand, just wants to swim. I would probably find this argument a lot more interesting in terms of a racing strategy viewpoint if we hadn't already seen the end result in last week's previews for this episode. Cirran's basic argument is, and I quote, "Howard, don't waste time." Of course, he's right, in that they should be trying to finish one task or the other, but the fact that he's actually stopped smashing to argue really detracts from what he was trying to say.

SanFran don't have very many coconuts left. The girls realise that the Super Marsio Bros. must have taken the Fast Forward. Of course! It all makes so much sense now!

Fast Forward Of Slowness. Marsio can't find it.

Beach. Fran snots, as someone will always do if there's a luck-based challenge like this, that it's always the last one you try that winds up working. Well, of course, dear. Why would you keep smashing more coconuts when you've already found the right one?

Antsy sit around in their boat, smiling. Life-changing television, this.

San finally smashes open the red-milk coconut, cheering as he rips the rest of it open with his bare hands. Took him long enough. Suddenly, Cirran wants to swim, and Howard bitchily remarks that he just offered and Cirran didn't want to, so now they're going to stay and do the boats.

Fast Forward. Now, the Super Marsio Bros. can't even decide which side of them the cliffs are on, despite being right next to them. Oh, yes. I'm serious. While SanFran read the clue, the Super Marsio Bros. dock at a cave and enter it in search of the clue.

Howard and Cirran continue to argue passive-aggressively about whether to switch. There's a whole bunch of Killer Fatigue (ie. teams getting so burned out by the race they probably won't be able to recover until they're eliminated) going on with these teams at the moment, and most of it seems to be coming from Howard and Cirran. Don't get me wrong, the other racers (particularly Fran, as well as Handy and Laura) are certainly well on the way, but right now? These guys are leading the pack in terms of my desire to say "OMG! What a couple of dicks!"

Zabrina tells Joe Jer that the coconut-smashing "is really hurting". She confessionals that the only reason they stuck with it for as long as they did is because, after "the last time" (by which I assume she means "after Bali"), they wanted to keep going until they finished. But eventually they switch anyway. As SanFran board their boat and head off for the RoadBlock, both of these teams head out into the water to swim.

Fast Forward. The Super Marsio Bros. still can't find it.

San is giddily excited about going rock-climbing. He is adooooorable with his childlike innocence sometimes. I just want to pinch his cheek.

Antsy think some of the teams will "forfeit" if the rock-climbing is on something like an actual cliff. Nice to see some respect for the other teams and their abilities, isn't it? They and Handy and Laura (who can see a clue on the cliff from their boat) arrive at the wall. It seems as though the six clues on the wall are on six different climbing paths, and the teams get to choose which one they want to take. Nice. Handy and Laura, of course, can't even get off their boat without sniping at each other.

Detour. Both remaining teams are still in the water. Howard gives us a rundown of the situation, telling us that they'd essentially started from opposite ends of the search area, and that the girls were able to find one first. Woo! They read the clue, as Admiral Whinypants picks his wall.

RoadBlock Rock. Laura wants Handy to choose the climb with the lowest clue, even though "it's inverted" and there's practically nothing for Handy to hold onto, which will make it harder than, say, a very simple climb to the highest clue. This. RoadBlock. Is. Brilliant. So unbelievably well thought-out. If only the producers of this show -- and the American version while we're at it, because let's face it, the task planning sucks nowadays -- put this much effort into the tasks as opposed to trying to manufacture contrived drama, then the drama would create itself and wind up being infinitely better than the umpteenth rehash of "Dating couple! Racing to see whether they're right for each other!" We don't need ridiculous twists. We don't need the teams to come with "hooks" to get us to care about them in the near-absence of competent editing. What we need are interesting, well thought-out challenges that show off why the location was deemed Amazing enough to be worth visiting, and the quality locales to match. As far as I'm concerned, if you can't create an entire leg's worth of decent tasks, then hold off on wherever it is you've chosen until you can, or hire some fresh eyes to work on task planning. Don't insult your audience by resorting to offensive stereotypes and stupid, Wipeout-style tasks that have nothing to do with anything. (Also, while I'm at it, American version? Get out of Europe and Asia. It doesn't even seem to be budget cuts that are forcing it to happen. If it was, we would have had at least one leg in Canada or Central America recently, and yet the entire continent, Pacific-Ocean-bordering American states aside, has been all but ignored since the Family Edition. Which is a shame, because the best legs of said monstrosity of a season were the non-US legs, and the two on the eastern coast of the US. Learn from your mistakes. Don't make me have to rant about them again.)

...I can't believe I'm ranting like this after a GOOD task. Right. Moving on, shall we?

Detour. Howard and Cirran are still swimming around aimlessly. Well, as aimlessly as you can be when you know exactly what you've got to do, that is.

RoadBlock Rock. Admiral Whinypants begins climbing up the cliff.

In their boats, Joe Jer and Fran work on bandaging San and Zabrina's fingers. Wow. That Detour was brutal. Poorly designed, yes, but brutal nonetheless.

Slow Forward. Super Marsio Bros.? Still searching.

Fran reads the additional information for the RoadBlock, which includes a section telling them that they "must wear the safety harness and saefty equipment provided". Just in case someone actually decided to climb up the side of the cliff without it. It would make abseiling a lot quicker, though.

The stunt whore yells out for Admiral Whinypants to stick his "right hand high" above his head, and Syeon feels the need to repeat this. I wonder if she realises just exactly how bloody useless she seems to be. Handy has "nothing to hold onto", and Laura tells him "this is not worth rushing". Of course it isn't. It's not like Handy and Laura are in any kind of race. Laura is happy she's "not doing this". Probably because she knows Handy would be telling her what to do as though she was five years old.

Admiral Whinypants has his clue, and it seems there are two clues hanging up on his particular climb. Oh, well. It's still a great task. Handy gets to the midpoint, with sore hands. Laura orders him to "start working [his] way to the left".

Zabrina and Joe Jer marvel at the natural beauty of the area. And... yeah. This place really is pretty.

Admiral Whinypants returns to the ground, and Syeon makes like a war bride. Laura mocks Handy for the "very flattering angle" made when he spreads his legs to balance. Heh. Admiral Whinypants title-quotes that his "legs are shaking like jelly". Mmmmm, jelly. Handy continues climbing. Admiral Whinypants wonders aloud how the girls are going to climb, given how difficult it apparently was. Because girls are weak, apparently. Damn vaginas. Never mind that all the women in this race (except for Syeon and the Portable Posse, of course) have proven themselves extremely capable in all sorts of challenges; women are still weak, apparently. There are so many people on The List right now that I'm not even sure if Admiral Whinypants was on it, but if he wasn't, he is now. Syeon reads the clue (she found something to do!), which tells them to take their longtail boat to Koh Hong lagoon, where they'll find the next clue. WuWho adds approximately nothing of any importance, as per usual, but does translate "Hong" into "Room" for us non-Thai speakers. We learn from the visual evidence that someone decided to put the cluebox on stilts or something to stop the race flag underneath it from getting wet. Heh.

Marsio has finally found the Slightly-Fast Forward. Yay!

SanFran have arrived at RoadBlock Rock, just as Antsy are leaving in the background. Syeon congratulates Admiral Whinypants on how fast he did it, and he uses the praise as an opportunity to whine about his shaky legs some more. Laura says she's getting "dizzy just looking up" at Handy. Handy voices over that he tries to complete every single task as quickly as he possibly can. Thus explaining why they didn't even try for the Fast Forward, apparently. Fran tells us that San will be climbing RoadBlock Rock, even though he apparently broke his hands at the Detour. 'Cause you know what helps you recover from broken hands? Rock-climbing. Handy is almost done, causing Laura to say the words "humpy bit" and giggle like a twelve-year-old. An immature twelve-year-old. San has apparently picked what looks like it's the inverted path that Handy refused to take.

Marsio returns to the Super Marsio Bros. kayak, but manages to tip it over before they can go anywhere.

Howard and Cirran are still swimming around, watching their chances of winning drown in waist-deep water.

Fran tells San he has to go in the direction the instructor tells him. Handy has finished going in the direction he needs to go, grabbing the clue.

Howard finally finds the clue. About fucking time. He voices over that it took them "a good half-an-hour" to do so.

Handy lands back on the ground, as San gets his clue. Boy, that was fast. If we were in Mexico at the moment, there's no way in hell I wouldn't be changing his nickname to Speedy Gonzalez.

Howard forces the RoadBlock onto Cirran's shoulders. Hmmm.

The Super Marsio Bros. are paddling back to the beach. The teams who've just finished their RoadBlock are returning to their boat. This is a little bit of why I hate the water-based episodes -- although it's entirely based on the teams' abilities to complete the challenges, as opposed to the extraneous stuff, there's also so much stuff in the episode that you can get rid of without losing much of the sense of story. I mean, we've already lost over a third of this episode just with the bus rides and the hotel stuff, and we're still getting these bits in the rest of the episode. If this was a land-based episode, I doubt we'd be getting as much. I love the water-based episodes in concept, but in practice? They always wind up sucking pretty bad.

Howard and Cirran, still at the Detour beach and seemingly not even trying to catch up, tell us that even though Howard's hand will be fine in the long run, he can't do the RoadBlock. Thus, Cirran will be doing it. Oh, boy. This is going to be fun.

The girls pass Handy and Laura heading in the opposite direction, and both teams wave to each other. Way to show your competitive spirit, Handy!

Mardy is so excited to have finally finished rowing the damn kayak that he literally throws the paddle onto the beach. Heh.

Zabrina thinks that RoadBlock Rock is "a bit intimidating, actually". Of course it is. This isn't Australian Survivor.

The Super Marsio Bros. read the Fast Forward clue when they get back on to the beach. It directs them to Ko Pak Bia. Is it a transliteration thing that some Thai islands start with "Ko" and some start with "Koh". WuWho tells us that the last team to arrive WILL be eliminated. At this point, I'll be happy with the result as long as it's not SanFran or the girls. It's kind of weird how so many teams have managed to become barely tolerable over the last two episodes -- definitely Killer Fatigue. Which is weird, because usually it doesn't turn up until they cross the imaginary line somewhere between the Middle East and India. Go ahead, watch any season of the US version and tell me that's not where Killer Fatigue starts. Happens every time, without fail.

Joe Jer calls Zabrina a "spiderman", as she climbs up the same run as San went on. Nice to see she's not restricted by the usual boundaries of gender. (What? I totally meant that as a compliment.) (Also, since you really can't mention one without the other these days, "Spiderpig, spiderpig, does whatever a spiderpig does. Can he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a pig. Look out, he is a spiderpig.") Zabrina tells us after the fact that she was having trouble even standing up on the wall, because the Detour was so exhausting. I think she might have had a little too much coconut milk to drink. She flounders on a particularly hard looking section of the wall, doing the whole "Can't grab onto wall! Will grab onto rope and spin around for a little while!" trick all novice climbers seem to do at least once. (Still, I can beat that. I've been indoor rock climbing once before, and somehow managed to get into a situation like this so badly that I literally managed to push off from the wall and careen into a wall clear on the opposite side of the room, because there so much distance between me and the top of the wall that there was still enough slack for it to happen. Needless to say, I haven't been back.)

Howard exposits from the boat that they picked the wrong Detour, and because of it, Cirran will have to do the RoadBlock. San tells us he's been rock-climbing before. I bet he managed to avoid knocking himself into an entirely different wall.

Mardy is hungry. So use your time at the Pit Stop to eat (and sleep, and mingle with the other teams, just like in the olden days), and quit ruining the episode.

Zabrina grabs the clue. Yay! Joe Jer could not look happier if someone showed her a basket full of puppies and kittens. Joe Jer thanks the stunt whore "for saving [her] friend's life", and that really should have been the title quote. That is possibly the funniest thing I've heard all season long.

Howard and Cirran have found the wall. They seem shocked when they see how high the clue is.

Commercials. Guess what? I'm going to be recapping all of The Amazing Race Asia 2 after I finish this season, and I want your help. Very simply, I'm giving you guys, the wonderful readers who put up with my lax schedule and bad sense of humour, the chance to nickname a team for next season. If you've already seen the season, and want to come up with a nickname, just comment on this blog post with your suggestions, as well as your thoughts on the episode/recap, and I'll take a look at it. You can choose any team you want, you can choose any nickname you want. If I like what I see, I may use it at some point in the next season's recaps. The world isn't waiting for you. Good luck. Travel nowhere. GO!

Howard had to tell Cirran that the clue isn't very high at all. Well, not compared to Neptune or Gallifrey, it's not. Howard reminds us that Cirran has a little bit of a problem with heights, and here's where, if this was the American version, we'd be filling some episode time with some pointless grayscale flashbacks to the mall and to the Sky Tower and to the Nevis Platform. Thank God it's not. Howard tells the stunt whores on Cirran's behalf that he hates heights, and one of the stunt whores, who sounds like an Aussie, offers him a helmet if he wants it. Heh.

Marsio mentions how beautiful the cliffs were. Go, natural beauty!

Cirran is having trouble climbing right from the moment he starts. Howard tells him to "remember all those trees [he] used to climb at [his] grandparents when [he was] a kid", and suddenly Cirran slides even further down the path to full on mental breakdown. He keeps having trouble climbing, expressing his shock at having to move to the left even though it's quite literally the only way he actually can move from the position he's in. Howard expresses his admiration, as Cirran manages to stop himself from slipping all the way back down.

Antsy are looking for flags. It would probably help them find the flags if they were actually looking from the lagoon itself. Guys, read the clue. It says "Koh Hong lagoon". There wouldn't be any need to mention the lagoon if you didn't have to go into the lagoon. You're eight legs into the race, you really should know better at this point.

Cirran is still climbing, and is still scared. But I'm bored of this latest meltdown already. He claims to be "petrified", before falling down a little bit, right near the clue. Gasp!

Handy and Laura are approaching the lagoon. So are SanFran. The Super Marsio Bros. are twenty minutes away from the Pit Stop.

Cirran grabs the clue. Thank God. He voices over the usual "I'm scared of heights, but I beat my fear by doing one thing related to it rather poorly!" sentiments. They read the lagoon clue.

Antsy have made it to the lagoon entrance, a natural archway in the cliffs, but of course they discuss whether jellyfish can swim into the lagoon.

Cirran is a blubbering mess as he and Howard walk away from RoadBlock Rock. At least this time he saved the full-blown cryfest until he was back on the ground. Howard rants about how Cirran "did fantastically". Whatever. I'm just ready for these two to go at this point.

Antsy wade through the knee-deep lagoon water for the clue, and they're so short they can barely reach the clue. Hee. The clue once again tells them to take their boats, this time to the Pit Stop. Because they were totally going to magic up some aqua-bikes to ride. We are spared another explanation from WuWho. They leave as Handy and Laura and SanFran arrive. Wow, this is tight, considering everything that's happened so far. San really made up some time on the RoadBlock. Antsy watch as everyone else wades through the lagoon to the clue. It seems as though both team members have to be right at the cluebox before they can open this one, because San waits for Fran while Handy and Laura walk away.

Cirran? Crying like a baby. Shut up, Cirran.

The teams who just ran across the lagoon can barely get back in their boats.

Howard tells Cirran he was "like a gazelle" going up RoadBlock Rock. Is that a compliment? I have no idea.

Zabrina and Joe Jer get the lagoon clue, all tinged in yellow for some reason. So now there are five teams headed for the Pit Stop, and one team still headed for the place where they'll get the clue telling them to go to the Pit Stop. I wonder who will get eliminated! Soon, Howard and Cirran are at the lagoon.

Antsy appear to have stopped for no reason, next to some islands which don't appear to be the Pit Stop island.

Howard and Cirran get the Pit Stop clue.

Pit Stop. It's weird. It's entirely obvious from the way the last few minutes have gone what the finishing order is going to be, with possibly Handy and Laura and SanFran being the only switch, and yet this is still somewhat tense. I can't explain it. The Super Marsio Bros. arrive and are greeted in both Thai and English by a moustached older man in what looks like a white version of a priest's white shirt, without the little collar thing. Obviously, they're Team Number One.

The next three teams all see where they need to go, but apparently all have trouble telling their drivers where to go. Convenient. WuWho and the greeter watch on.

Howard and Cirran complain about their injuries some more. At least they'll have something to remember the race.

It turns out all the teams who were pointing were pointing at the wrong island anyway. Idiots. Handy and Laura voice over that they wanted to not do very well in this leg, so they wouldn't be seen as a threat. They are still Team Number Two. So much for that plan. They kiss.

SanFran arrive at the Pit Stop. Welcome, SanFran, you are Team Number Three. San "Whoo hoo hoo hoo"s, and they hug in what is possibly the least affectionate way possible.

Antsy arrive. Welcome, Antsy, you are Team Number Four. WuWho asks about "the long faces" and... they're not horses, WuWho. The joke doesn't work. Admiral Whinypants put his arm around Syeon, who seriously looks like she's checked out of the game. Her absence will not be noticeable.

Zabrina and Joe Jer! Howard and Cirran! Pit Stop! Who! Will! It ! Be!

Well, Zabrina and Joe Jer, thank God. Joe Jer says that they won't be giving WuWho any more money. Heh. Welcome, Zabrina and Joe Jer, you are Team Number Five.

Howard and Cirran step on the mat. They are sixth, they are last, and they are eliminated. Oh, well. Cirran brags about how much he and Howard have learned about themselves, and how they did some stuff they didn't particularly want to do. Howard says they're "just not ready to be out of the race." Well, that makes two of the three of us then. I'd like to say I'm sad to see them go, but... I'm really not. Bye, guys!

Executive Producer? Michael McKay.

Next week: India. Eating challenge. Oh, boy.