Amazing Race adds more product placement as Kent and Vyxsin survive, threaten to fight more

All in all, a decent episode of The Amazing Race last night, at least relative to its weaker episodes, and despite the fact that Kent and Vyxsin are still around and may just get worse.

In Austria, clues weren’t just spelled out for them, and clues lead to more clues at destinations that required directions, and that was the most fun. There was a clue visible only via their car’s back-up camera, the fun of which was quickly ruined because we heard Phil’s instructions and thus sales pitch for the Ford Focus over and over again. I’d like to know who, exactly, at either CBS or World Race Productions, thinks we are such morons that we cannot handle hearing something just once, or that we need to be beaten over the head with product placement.

Despite a Sigmund Freud couch-carrying task, the challenges weren’t quite as great as the travel, since one of the detour task’s options seemed near-impossible: eating a bunch of food in 12 minutes. The teams who attempted it gave up and dropped to the back of the pack, but Zev and Justin impressively still managed to recover and come in first and thus got the opportunity to film their own Ford ad.

The Roadblock was absurdly easy (drop a weight in a hole, pull it out, repeat three times), but Phil standing on a chimney to introduce the chimney sweep roadblock task was pretty awesome, and at least it gave Zev the opportunity to throw in a “that’s what she said” joke.

The weirdest part of the episode was the preview for next week’s: Phil didn’t do the voice-over, so we heard another man’s voice. Sometimes producers do voice overs like that on early cuts of an episode, and then the host or talent records that dialogue later, but I’d guess that here, Phil just wasn’t available to record this week.

Before that, freaking Kent and Vyxsin came in third place, after a leg that contained an odd combination of whining and cheeriness, perhaps because they realized they were being awful. But there was still a lot of awfulness. “Don’t drag me down,” Vyxsin said at one point, and then had a meltdown while they were driving, threatening to never speak to him again if they got eliminated. Because they were not, Vyxsin got an idea: “Maybe we just need to fight more.”

Gary and Mallory’s non-elimination leg save was tolerable, in part because I would have stabbed my television if Kent and Vyxsin had been saved, and in part because I continue to be impressed by Mallory. After they were unable to finish the Ferris wheel eating challenge, she said, in all seriousness, “I can throw up and then try again, Dad!” More of that, less of the goths and product-whoring.

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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.