Clue-eating goat more endearing than couple Amazing Race suddenly wants us to love

The Amazing Race teased a life-changing decision on last night’s episode, and that was a bit of a cheat. A decision is usually something that happens as part of the race, but last night’s episode had few decisions: teams had to follow directions, which didn’t work out well for some of them, and then perform two tasks. There wasn’t even a real Detour choice, because not a single team opted to do a task that sounded ridiculously complicated when Phil Keoghan described it.

So the choice we were left with was whether Stephanie would accept Chad’s marriage proposal, and whether viewers would choose to continue watching after projectile vomiting all over the television set. The entire episode was a celebration of the two, from their come-from-behind finish–they overslept and were alone on a flight that was behind everyone else–but thanks to an equalizer, good navigation skills, and a team that broke the rules, Chad and Stephanie checked in first, won a prize, and had their awful history magically erased. The previous episode tried to suggest they were growing, but an episode without one partner screaming at another does not mean they’ve addressed their issues. (We also had some ugliness from Nick and Vicki, who told Nick,”I can’t wait until you watch yourself.” He didn’t seem to be bothered with that, and called her stupid later.)

As to the leg, most of which took place in a very hot Oman, we started with airport intrigue that had zero consequence because everyone ended up at the same place. Fascinating. I liked the idea of a staggered equalizer, because teams who got there first were rewarded with an earlier start time, but here they just had to wait a half-hour to get a clue. Snooze. Likewise, rappelling off a spectacular cliff and then having to search through many magical lamps to find one with a ring is a nice twist, but didn’t seem to trip anyone up.

Driving directions did, however. Gary and Mallory bought a map but it ended up hurting them. Meanwhile, Thomas said at the start of the leg, “We definitely need to make less mistakes,” and while he meant that in terms of racing, not grammar, they still screwed up, paying a cab driver to let them follow him. When they tried to check in first and Phil confronted them about this and gave them a 30-minute penalty, there was some fishy editing; Phil looked annoyed and Thomas seemed to be angrily looking at producers or someone off-camera. And his reaction was a clear-voice over, edited in from sometime later. In other words, he seemed to fight the penalty at first, but we didn’t really see that.

Thus, Chad and Stephanie checked in first on the day they got engaged and won a trip from the gnome, and I don’t care. Gary and Mallory (“the boy I never had,” Gary called her) checked in last and got eliminated and I don’t care, either.

I did care about the goat the wandered over while Vicki and Nick were reading the clue for the Roadblock, and the goat literally ate Vicki’s clue, tearing off pieces and chewing them slowly. That was so awesome I’m glad I cleaned the puke off my TV in time to see it.

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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.