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The Amazing Race: Rethinking the Validity of Bottlenecks

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Okay, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’m crazy.  Maybe I’m ludicrous.  I have railed on more than one occasion against bottlenecks on The Amazing Race.  I have stated that having all the teams end up tied at the airport may not be the best way to keep things close together, that there really ought to be a better way to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Apparently I’ve completely ignored the fact bottlenecks can separate a wheat/chaff combo from the super-chaff (SPOILERS abound below). 

I have never referred to a team, even during the dumbed-down version of the race we got a while back as super-chaff, but maybe Kent & Vyxsin ought to get that title as a one night only special due to their managing to missPhoto Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS their flight from Japan to China this week.  This flight would be the flight that the producers planned for all the teams to get on, there was no scheduled second flight (even if Kent & Vyxsin managed to find one).

The show doesn’t always do a good job of telling us just how a team goes awry when they get lost, so I can’t tell you exactly what Kent & Vyxsin did tonight to get so lost on their way to the airport.  There was a claim that they had been heading in the wrong direction for hours and while it may not have been the right direction, I’m not convinced it was all wholly wrong.  Let’s just say they got really lost on the way to the airport, missed the flight, and leave it at that.

I guess though, Vyxsin’s problems (she was navigating on the way to the airport) began even before they got lost – she was all flustered just getting into the car.  I think Kent, for his part, really did his best not to completely fly off the handle with her and he had plenty of opportunities.  For instance, after finally arriving at the airport, Vyxsin managed to leave her passport at the check-in desk. Kent said that he was going to shoot her, but he did so without any real oomph or conviction behind it.  Obviously he shouldn’t be threatening to shoot his partner, but it seemed pretty clear that he didn’t mean it.

Kent gets a pass on that (at least from me), but what I can’t excuse Kent for is allowing Vyxsin to do the Roadblock after getting lost and her losing her passport.  It’s not that I don’t think Vyxsin is competent, she’s had a couple of bad legs on her two races, but more often than not has proven herself to be up to the challenge.  Vyxsin was just clearly not up to the challenge tonight. 

The really terrible thing about their performance this week is that I don’t mind Kent & Vyxsin.  They’re not my favorite team, but they don’t annoy me (and often, that’s enough).  I felt horrible for Vyxsin as she broke down into tears again trying to work out the zodiac charm challenge in the Roadblock.  She was having a truly horrific leg, and that happens on the race, it happened to all these teams once before (that’s why they’re back this time around).

There was actually a minute when it looked like Kent & Vyxsin were going to catch up with everyone else (particularly Zev & Justin who finished the charm challenge while Vyxsin was working on it, but Zev & Justin being there is mostly due to another bottleneck after the flights).  Then, however, Kent left their fanny pack on a gondola, the fanny pack with their passports and money, the fanny pack without which they won’t be able to continue racing.  Hmmm… maybe that’s why Kent was so nice to her earlier, he knew his big mistake was about five minutes down the line.

Now,  we didn’t see tonight whether or not those two are going to be eliminated, upon arriving at the Pit Stop teams were again told that they were to keep racing (not that Kent & Vyxsin had made it to the Pit Stop by the end of the episode), but things don’t look good for them.  I’m loving the changes thus far this season on The Amazing Race, but I feel as though Kent & Vyxsin won’t be able to experience many more of them.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.