The Amazing Race 10 visits the Hanoi Hilton and Duke and Lauren are eliminated

After three episodes of The Amazing Race 10, I’m totally loving this race. It has that old-school, pre-Rob and Amber, vibe to it, like before it became incredibly popular, and before the families came along and made children cry.

Yes, the alpha male team is dominating once again, but they’re not jerks, like the teams last season. And David and Mary, easily my favorite team, are just too cute. Last week, during their interview, Mary said, “I’m making friends with people I would have never thought I would have met. I’ve never known an Asian person in my life.” Then, almost whispering, and with David completing her sentences, she said, “Honest to goodness, we’ve never been around gay people. But buddy, I like ‘em!” That honest, willing-to-change ignorance is the best kind.

There were no heartwarmingly funny pronouncements from David and Mary last night, but there were other highlights from this leg of the race:

  • “You have zero dollars for this leg of the race,” the clue said. Imagining all of the begging that was ahead, I thought that, perhaps next week, the producers can just have all the teams wear t-shirts that say “I am an asshole American who is trying to win $1 million and needs you, person living in a developing nation, to give me a few dollars, even though I am being followed by a camera crew.” Later, however, a team read more of the clue, which said, “You may not beg or sell anything.” That’s one point for me in the “incredible overreactions” column.
  • “A lot of these girls on the street walk arm in arm. Think they’re just friends, or what?” Duke asked Lauren, trying a little too hard to connect with his lesbian daughter.
  • Mary interrupted David’s heartfelt story about his dad’s Vietnam service to yell at him, saying, “Dave, if everybody’s passing you … we’re in a race and I’m going to get angry.” Even in these moments, when her behavior is rather obnoxious, she’s totally cute.
  • “The blondes are … always looking for any little inch that they can get on anybody else,” hot junkie model James said. Just a “little inch”?
  • Duke and Lauren enlisted the help of a local, who said she’d ride along and give directions. Instead, she had the driver go 30 minutes out of their way to drop her off. “He take me my brother,” she said. “After that, he take you the prison.” It was the most appalling behavior from a non-team member in quite some time, although her behavior was probably due to breakdown in communication, not malice.
  • “Why can’t we go in?” one of the blondes said, pushing on the locked door, as if the other teams just standing outside were too dumb to try that.
  • One of the things I love about life is the way I tend to end up in the exact same physical place but years later and for an entirely different, unpredictable reason. On a much more significant level, watching the teams race around the Hanoi Hilton looking for John McCain’s flight suit, I realized that, while locked up in the prison, he never in a billion years would have predicted that, 40 years later, a bunch of Americans would be racing through the prison followed by cameras in a desperate race to win $1 million. How fucking crazy is our world?
  • One of the former junkie/models said to the other, “It’s like Frogger, dude,” as they crossed the street. Then Kimberly came within about three inches of being run down by a motorcycle. (I was going to make a joke here but instead I spent 10 minutes playing Frogger. Still addictive after all these years, that game is.)
  • Phil explained, “For safety reasons, teams are strictly forbidden to operate or ride on motorcycles while in Vietnam.” However, they are free to get run over by them.
  • Clinging to the backs of male locals, Tom and Terry proceeded to ride on motorcycles. As punishment, Phil gave them a 30-minute penalty. And a spanking.
  • “You’re moving kind of slow on that. One kilometer–that’s a piece of cake!” Peter told Sarah as she struggled to run. Using her leaking prosthetic leg. I have good news for you, Peter: As the biggest dickhead on this race, you win the scorn of the viewing public.
  • One fun part of this season is that every team is just so nice–not necessarily to one another, but to the other teams. Lyn broke down at the pit stop, despite the fact that both she and her friends David and Mary were not eliminated. “You made such good friends, and we passed them on the way…and I just didn’t want them to go home because they’re such great people,” she sobbed to Phil. Somewhere, Rob Mariano is crying, too, as his dreams–of inspiring future racers to physically fight one another and participate in literal backstabbings–have now officially been crushed.
  • Tom and Terry checked in just before Lauren and Duke, and were safe. However, T&T cried just as much as if they’d been eliminated. I think we’ve had enough crying for a whole season, thanks. Besides, we need to save our tears for when David and Mary are inevitably eliminated (or–dare I say it–win).

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.