As we began tonight’s The Amazing Race, I was exceedingly worried about my good friends Jet & Cord, the team affectionately known as the Cowboys (because they’re cowboys in real life). Now, when I say “good friends” I mean the team I rooted for the last time they were on TAR and think I’ll root for again this time. When I say “exceedingly worried” I mean semi-worried because while they were way behind at the beginning of the night, we saw in last week’s preview of this week’s episode Mel (of Mel & Mike) go down with some sort of exceedingly painful injury. It was the kind of injury which, if CBS wasn’t playing it up, looked as though it could cause them to leave the race, thereby saving my good friends and meaning that I didn’t have to be so worried.
Now you see, there are two ways that I can read that situation – one which makes me happy and one which makes me sad (and to be clear in advance, the happy one is not rooting for anyone’s injury, I never root for anyone to get hurt). The happy one goes like this – well if Mel & Mike are eliminated that will save the Cowboys who can make up the time that they’ll still be behind at the next inevitable airplane trip bottleneck. Giddyup! The sad reading goes this way – how dare CBS show us in a preview a potential game changer like Mel getting injured? I don’t want to worry about my good friends for the entire episode, but to show us how one team ends up dropping out of the race in a preview is just wrong. Wholly and completely wrong.
So, it was with those mixed emotions that I went into tonight’s episode (and it would be at this point that the SPOILERS start).
Yeah, I didn’t have to be so worried. The bottleneck came before the first elimination and Jet & Cord, despite being way behind, were able to catch up to folks by that point so the CBS’ reveal of Mel’s injury didn’t ruin what was going to happen (and happily it wasn’t a bad injury anyway)
There are, as you may have guessed, two ways to see the Cowboys being able to catch up. The first is the simple one – I can just be happy that the Cowboys did catch up at the bottleneck, that they weren’t automatically eliminated despite their being on autopilot last week. Then there’s way number two to see things, and this is the part that really pains me, it involves me being consistent in my world view. I have, regularly, railed against the bottlenecks on The Amazing Race (I may or may not have thrown in a quick dig against them last week). I hate the bottlenecks on the Race. I completely understand the need to keep the teams relatively close together, but they seem to occur all too regularly and having one before the first elimination really tweaked me. Bottlenecks destroy the flow of the game and level the playing field far too much.
Then, unfortunately, I kind of have another problem with Cowboys tonight. Despite their managing to come in third tonight, it still felt like they were just coasting. I may be wrong, but I just didn’t feel like they were firing on all cylinders, did you? I felt like they were looking too much to other teams (to be fair though, almost every other team seemed to be relying on every other team a little too much for my liking). I want my pick for the season to stand tall, to take help when they need it, but not to hang back and follow what others are doing. I’m not getting that from the Cowboys this season and it pains me.
You know what I can be happy about though – the clues we’ve seen thus far on the race this season have been pretty tough and that I love. I want to see the teams challenged (it goes hand-in-hand with hating bottlenecks) and hard clues are a great challenge. Hard clues and puzzled teams are exactly what I want from The Amazing Race and in terms of that, this young season has been hugely successful.
Plus, they made the teams dress as kangaroos tonight and that was awesome.