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!


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...


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.

No comments:

Post a Comment