Amazing Race recovers from a weak season as it dumps its weakest team, Jeff and Jordan

Compared to last week’s lame drive, crawl, bike episode of The Amazing Race 16, last night’s episode felt like it belonged to a completely different season.

There was no Roadblock last week, but this week’s had more action than the entire previous episode: rappelling into a cave, searching for a bottle among thousands of others, climbing back up the considerable height via stairs, and opening a champagne bottle with a sword. Besides that, there were clues that actually were clues, and not just directions–even when they were place names, they confused even locals, who sent teams to two different cities at one point. The challenges lasted from before sunrise to past sunset, not just a couple hours.

It’s almost enough to make me forget that the teams checked in the exact same order that they did last week, except for one team that moved up (Carol and Brandy); that’s usually a sign that the challenges weren’t challenging at all.

Big Brother winner Jordan Lloyd and her boyfriend Jeff Schroeder’s luck finally ran out, and having started two and half hours behind everyone else, they were unable to make up the time. They were eliminated, finally, having been spared last episode and the previous episode, too. There just wasn’t a way to save them this time.

Though their time was certainly up in terms of their ability to stay ahead in the race, to be perfectly honest, I’d rather have seen Caite and Brent go home. They’re less entertaining and Caite seems to have given up, and even her stupidity is no loner amusing. Whenever they’re on screen, it’s like watching two infants in adult bodies; the preview for next week shows Brent saying “I quit,” but of course it won’t be that easy to get rid of them, nor did they seem to have any drive to improve and do better the more they fell behind.

  • With Jordan on her way out, I think Allie was auditioning for the role of not-so-quick or nonsensical team member. When she and her dad were unable to get clear directions to a statue of Joan of Arc, she said, “Maybe its Arc de Joan like Arc de Triomphe is–Arc de Triomphe.”
  • Dan and Jordan got directions from someone on the street and thought her pronunciation of “cathedral” meant she was saying “Cathy drone,” so they said “Oh, Cathy drone!” like everyone knows what that is. They quickly figured it out, and back in the car, one of them said, “People really do not speak good English here.” How weird that people don’t speak a foreign language well. And have no self-awareness about the irony of their own statements.
  • The cowboys didn’t do much this week except get lost, first driving to Châlons-en-Champagne instead of the correct location. “Did you know there’s a town about 40 kilometers down the road called champagne?” Cord asked. Did you know that sound from the orchestra means you’re going the wrong way?
  • Jordan, I think, asked, “How do you make champagne? Is it like wine and you add club soda?” Yes, plus the pain of listening to you.
  • “There’s a reason why we’re here, you know?” Jeff said. “We have to take advantage of that reason.” Uh, to take advantage of your popularity to help CBS draw viewers across its reality series? How exactly are you going to do that in the middle of France?
  • Jordan confused Joan of Arc with, well, another arc. “That was Noah,” Jeff corrected her. “I wonder why we’re in last.”
  • Phil said, “Teams must learn how to party like it’s 1799.” We need a name for these corny Phil puns references. Philpun?
  • Looking for the statue, Caite said, “Joan of Arc is a guy.” Brent corrected her, and she said, “Okay, never mind; I was just kidding, thinking of something else.” She should have tried that strategy during the Miss Teen USA pageant, although of course pretending we were joking when we are embarrassed hasn’t worked for any of us since fourth grade.
  • Carol told us, “Hopefully, she’s not in a piss-ass mood when she gets back up here” after Brandy decided to do the Roadblock before discovering she’d have to rappel. “Yeah, somehow I get all the height things,” Brandy said. More like you always find a way to complain about whatever you get.
  • After getting incorrect directions from a woman who he’d previously identified as attractive, linking that to her ability to provide good directions, Jordan said, “The lesson in this leg of the race was don’t always trust a pretty girl.” I just don’t know what to do with that one–kind of like Jordan!
  • “We’ll have to fix that,” Steve said when he noticed that he’d smashed the bumper in their car. “Oh man, you screwed the car up big time,” Allie said, and as they drove as the bumper dragged against the wheel. Steve tried to rip off the bumper with his bare hands while devising other brilliant strategies (“You want me to pull forward while your hand is right there?” Allie asked), but in the end he used duct tape to secure the plastic panel. Steve credited his wife with throwing it in his bag at the last minute, but was a bit too grouchy to realize that duct tape saved his ass. It’s official: duct tape fixes everything except stubborn old men.
  • The Detour offered a choice between two tasks that seemed equally difficult, though stacking 660 champagne glasses in exactly 15 levels was far more complicated than searching for a bunch of grapes among empty vines across a few acres. When Michael spotted the grapes, sending them to yet another first-place finish, he said, “If I can find crack in someone’s rear end, I can find grapes in a vineyard.” Alas, my brain shut itself down and purged its RAM when I tried to imagine one as metaphor for the other.
  • Carol and Brandy checked in second, and they were followed by Caite and Brent, who saw them driving and followed them to the mat. That’s when Brent realized, “We didn’t do the Detour. … I was wondering why we got here so quick.” Back in their car, Caite said, “Damn, I want to get the stupid lesbians out. I hate them.” Must be tough having to constantly see two women who manage to be attractive and smart at the same time.
  • At the pit stop, Phil asked the two women if they’d break the race’s streak of all-female teams never winning, and Brandy said, “Let’s not jinx it.” Then she jinxed it by saying, “Yeah, we’re going to win.”
  • “This sucks,” was all Brent could say while the episode’s most spectacular visual unfolded: hundreds of champagne glasses crashing down and smashing in a waterfall of broken glass. Back out in the field searching for grapes, Caite said, “Things happen for a reason … we can leave without a million dollars.” Okay! Bye!
  • “Pick a number,” tricky Phil told Brent and Caite, apparently to test their ability to count six fingers and/or add five plus one.. “Five?” Caite asked. Sometimes I wish I was making this shit up.
  • “What are we doing this for? To teach kids to stay in school?” Jeff asked as they searched a dark field. I have no idea what that meant besides that they were screwed, and when they finally found the grapes and checked in at the pit stop, I kind of expected Phil to say, “If you use the power of veto, you can stay.”

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

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.