Thursday, October 22, 2009

1x08: Krabi, Thailand

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

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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.

5 comments:

  1. So.. did you write the TARA-2 recaps? If so where are they? And can I still nickname people? Because... I will have to think about that, and come up with something for Terri. Team Harridan perhaps? Team Speedo - from nought to screeching abuse in the shortest time possible?

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  2. I didn't get to them in all honesty, mainly because I had not one but three computers crap out on me in the middle of writing the 1x10 recap, and sort of lost all interest. I did get the premiere of 4x01 done, though, and that should on the next somewhere.

    I've got to get around to finishing these off, to be honest. And doing TAR Australia recaps.

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  3. *should BE on the NET somewhere. *facepalm*

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  4. Cool. I live in hope of seeing the final TARA-1 and TARA2-4 recaps. More so now TAR-Oz is on and I can't remember which legs it is I'm seeing repeats of and what they've changed (I could always hunt them down again, but that would require cleaning.)

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  5. Actually towards the end of TARA-2, Terri would have to be part of Team Floater. Talk about the team you just can't get rid of...

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