Let’s just say that if Phil pays you a visit on The Amazing Race, it’s a problem. This happened on the first hour of tonight’s two-hour block, an entertaining one despite it being unfortunately the weakest of the season so far.
There were two primary issues of the episode, though we can only blame the show itself for one of them: The continued reliance on equalizers within the middle of a leg. Teams in Zanzibar had a difficult Detour to execute, and then from there, they ended up going on a ferry over to Tanzania. This, provided that you were reasonably competent at what you were doing, was enough to get you on a level playing field when you got around to the next part of the leg. Then, the remainder of the leg was all about whether or not you could hammer out metal into a ladle. Given that this was a non-elimination, leg, basically the entire outcome of your performance could come down to just one task that really aids bigger, stronger people.
The show lucked out somewhat in having a team in Shamir & Sara end up so far behind that they missed the first ferry, since otherwise Brooke & Scott probably would’ve went home. We’re not going to criticism Brooke for panicking since we’re in a glass house here and shouldn’t throw stones — we’d be terrible at this, as well. What we will do is commend Team Fun for helping her out, and even commend Scott for being positive and encouraging to her. He made a bad move by saying she should do the Roadblock against her wishes, but this was one of the first times all season we saw him really trying to rectify the situation.
The second reason this episode suffered was the failure of Shamir & Sara at the Detour, where it seemed like they struggled mightily with both choices; then, Shamir wasn’t all that great at the Roadblock and eventually Phil turned up to eliminate them. Unfortunately, their team will probably be defined by Shamir’s balls causing him to have a meltdown, but at least they seemed to be getting along at the end … at least better than some of the teams working together.
It’s interesting in seeing how different teams react to different conflicts. Tara & Joey won the leg despite Joey giving her a ton of lip early on at the Detour; she gave it right back, and it seemed as though they had an understanding to not let any of their disagreements get to them. Vanck & Ashton, meanwhile, seem doomed. Vanck is too hard-headed and stubborn, but it doesn’t help that he has a partner who seems to also emasculate him. We’re not laying all of the fault at her feet, but we did really feel for Vanck at the end of the episode where she basically laid out how much she disliked having him as a partner at the mat. We think he’s probably a nice guy who has some social awkwardness, and this may not have been the right season of the show for him.
All in all, any leg of The Amazing Race is one we’ll typically enjoy, but there were probably a few kinks that could’ve been worked out here. Grade: B.