Kangaroo costumes, clues improve Amazing Race despite equalizer

At long last, I watched the second episode of The Amazing Race 18. (I spent the weekend with a former Survivor contestant for an upcoming story and have been playing catch-up ever since.)

I wasn’t all that fond of the first episode and its momentum-destroying twists, including a cliffhanger ending. This episode had an ending, though it was predictable–Kris and Amanda’s U-Turn penalty made it pretty difficult for them to catch up, especially after a mid-episode equalizer that erased other teams’ errors–but managed to deliver a lot of good moments. Here were the highlights for me:

  • When we saw Kent and Vyxsin at the faux pit stop, I thought we’d get to see him slap the hot surfer greeter’s ass again, but the editors left that out.
  • Talking about their alliance with Cara and Jaime, Luke did air quotes and said, “both of them are my ‘Race girlfriends,'” emphasis on the scare quotes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Mike said, “physically, it sure feels like the race is more difficult this time,” and that’s probably because his dad appeared to be keeling over and dying. “I don’t want to kill you over some joy ride,” Mike cried. Please, it’s a $1 million joyride; that’s very different.
  • Clues this episode were mostly actually clues that had to be deciphered, and Kisha and Jen got taken to the wrong place, but quickly Googled and found the anchor first. That allowed them to sign up for one of two flights, aka equalizers that neutralized Jet and Cord’s pathetic performance in the deciphering challenge and the clue deciphering. Cowboys are not good at deciphering.
  • Margie seemed concerned about Mel’s health, and hugged Mike as the ferry docked. “Take good care of your dad,” she said. A more competitive person might have said, “You really should just stop racing now, you selfish dad-killer.”
  • Amanda and Kris’s strategy to find the clue was to run around and have Amanda yell, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” Lose this leg and go home?
  • When Jet and Cord finally showed up at the faux pit stop, Phil told them, “Don’t waste your time standing here talking to me.” But it didn’t really matter if they’d asked the surfer to teach them how to surf. In fact, they wandered around all night looking for the clue and still had time to make it to the airport and catch the second flight; the equalizer saved them, period.
  • After the flight, teams drove themselves to the desert. “So we’re in the Outback,” Zev said. “There’s not a lot of steakhouses.” Or funny jokes.
  • “Oh my goodness, sorry,” Ron said, after nearly killing everyone by driving in front of a truck. The preview for next week shows that Jaime and Cara aren’t so lucky: they appear to get into an accident, and then keep driving.
  • Justin told us they picked a Detour task involving creating a mosaic because Zev is “very artistic.” Zev added, “And autistic.” There’s a good joke!
  • The rock Detour was somewhat lame, because the mosaic was laid out for them in the dirt; all they had to do was match, transport, and lay out the materials. I suppose creating it from scratch would have been, you know, challenging instead of just work. That’s largely the problem of the challenges this season: they are work, not challenging.
  • Upon arriving at their destination, Mallory cried out, “The Li-ving Deeee-sert!” She apparently thinks she’s Oprah.
  • For the second part of the mosaic task, teams had to dance on their design, and inexplicably, Kent said, “Vyxsin, please get me children.” He was so focused on gathering children/freaking the locals out that they forgot to read the clue carefully and thus did the dance wrong at first.
  • If Phil Keoghan ever retires, the aboriginal woman who was telling the teams whether they’d completed the mosaic and dance correctly should take over his job. She’d just stand on the mat and, without any expression, say, “yes” or “no.” Devastating!
  • Jet and Cord danced by acting like socialites stumbling around with one arm stabilizing the other, which seemed to be holding a martini.
  • Ron and Christina finished the challenge and Ron declared, “Oh lord, this is all messy.” But he was referring not to their mosaic but to his jacket contents scattered all over the ground. “You have a freaking market right here,” Christina told him, and he did. The quantity of stuff was amazing.
  • The final task was “hopping through this mining town,” as Phil explained, looking for an intersection marked on the periodic table of elements. That was awesome, but they were also dressed in hilarious kangaroo costumes! If the costumes had been a cheaper and something had been ejaculating in their faces, it would have been Big Brother.
  • That led to an awesome image of teams running down the street in kangaroo costumes–they should wear those for the whole race–and then a camera operator panning over to an animal control vehicle, which was just icing.
  • When Zev and Justin checked in, Phil said, “I’ll give you the bad news: You look ridiculous.”
  • Ron doesn’t seem to have his head in the game. “I haven’t read the thing, I’ve just been trying to get hydrated,” he said when Christina asked him about the clue. They kind of followed Gary and Mallory around until they realized that the other father/daughter team is even more scatterbrained than they are.
  • Speaking of, when they checked in, Ron looked at Phil and said, “Give us good news, Bill?” Phil replied, “Ron, did you just call me ‘Bill’?” Then his eyebrow flew off his face and smacked Ron in the face.

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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.