This past week, “The Amazing Race Canada” had what was in our mind its worst leg ever. The design of the challenges was off, there were avoidable mishaps that took place, and while the Face-Off twist was a fun idea in theory, it flopped miserably in practice. Also, confusing rules on time penalties made matters even stranger.
With all of this in mind, it was nice to see Wednesday night’s episode bounce back with some fun challenges that brought us a good bit more of the competition we like to see on the show, and also some strong character moments.
Let’s go almost in reverse order here, since we want to start with a postmortem on the eliminated Nic & Sabrina. They weren’t good racers. They were really fun people and we really liked their story as a couple, but this was probably the spot to lose them since we never got a sign this entire season that they would be a competitive threat to win the race. Their mistakes during this episode were numerous, and included getting lost and frankly not being too quick at the tasks. They were doomed ultimately by a Roadblock, a CPR simulation that Nic just couldn’t figure out.
As for everything else, it was somewhat-predictable but still fun. Gino & Jesse, buoyed by a Fast Forward, dominated their second straight leg. This is probably another good reason why Nic & Sabrina went home over Dujean & Leilani, who struggled in their way to 7th place: You need teams around who can beat the guys. If Gino & Jesse don’t make mental mistakes or have any bad luck, they are almost unstoppable. They’re faster, stronger, and more aggressive than any other team. They crushed the eating-gross-food portion of the Fast Forward at the museum in a way we’ve never seen anyone do before.
Elsewhere, Nick & Matt continued to improve in getting a second-place finish, but also showed tonight that they are capable of a few mistakes, as well. The mining challenge to start the leg was really fun, since this and the giant nickel were probably the two parts of the leg that actually made Sudbury the star. Design-wise, our main problem with this episode is that you really didn’t take advantage of the location that much. The Detour (synchronized swimming vs. crime-scene investigation work) could be done in just about any city, and the same for the CPR roadblock, as crazy as it was with Cynthia taking it so seriously and acting like the crying woman was about to actually lose a loved one.
Brian & Cynthia continued to do really well on their way to third, but we didn’t really love them as much this time as in past legs with their insinuation that they knew just as much if not more about CPR than the challenge’s judges.
The real comeback kids of the night were Simi & Ope, who also continue to move up our likability rankings to the point where they are now one of our favorite. Sudbury Alex Trebek was the greeter for at least part of the day (until he disappeared; what, they couldn’t afford to hire him for the full day?), and his reaction to Ope overcoming his fear of water was surprisingly moving. We saw more emotion from Trebek in those ten seconds than we have in decades of watching “Jeopardy!” on the air.
Despite some minor complaints about the lack of Sudbury representation (we would’ve taken advance more of being in the Canadian Shield), this was a very solid episode of the show. Sure, it was an elimination you saw coming, but this probably is for the best in how it will set the stage for more drama later. Grade: B.
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