Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Amazing Race 4: Thinking Smart in Episode 5by Jeffrey Clinard -- 07/02/2003
View Printable version of this article
We're at episode five, and that means the weaker teams have nearly all been eliminated. This becomes the part of the race where it's more important than ever to think smart and not make mistakes. Each of the remaining teams have shown they've been able to race well and avoid the major mistakes which have led to elimination in past legs.
There are many qualities that make up a weak team, but one of them that does not is bickering among the team members. All things being equal, team members who get along well may do a bit better, but all things really aren't that equal. Many teams who bickered have done poorly, but many teams which bickered have done well. Consider Frank & Margarita (Amazing Race 1), Wil & Tara (Amazing Race 2), Teri & Ian (Amazing Race 3) – all teams who bickered quite a bit but ended up in second place. Also consider Flo & Zack – despite all their bickering they actually WON Amazing Race 3. Other teams who have gotten along well, such as this year's Debra & Steve, have not done well. Bickering may provide a lot of on-screen drama, but it's rarely the cause for a team to be eliminated. The more important things for a team do to is to navigate themselves through the tasks. If they can make these decisions despite the bickering, they will do fine in the race.
This episode featured another case of "follow that boat" performed by several teams, a tactic already used once in Venice. The lesson, unfortunately, was not learned. Teams should only follow another one if they think the preceding team knows what they are doing. In this race, the only team I think I'd follow is Jon & Al, because they are showing that they are the best racing team in this group.
This week's leg featured travel from France to Holland, a boat trip through Amsterdam, plus the usual detours, roadblocks, and fast forward option. Theoretically, the most important part of the race was the travel between France and Holland, but in practical terms, it seemed the ability to navigate through the waterways of Amsterdam was the real tricky part of this leg. It's because none of the teams really bothered to take advantage of thinking smart tip #2, which is to look for loopholes in the instructions. In this case, the teams were instructed they had to drive themselves to the museum route marker, but nothing was said about navigating themselves. This is exactly the opposite case from their detour in Venice, where they had to navigate themselves if they took a gondola, but get help in the navigation if they took the walkways. A good team might have found a local to help them navigate, but the closest we came to see that was teams shouting from their boat to passers-by. Even piloting the boat to the shoreline and asking for directions would have been better than anything the teams tried in that segment of the race. It is to be noted that people seemed to have learned something from last week's fiasco where teams got lost; they looked for the flag as their guide.
The detour allowed teams to either stay clean and haul cheese, or get dirty and dig through cow manure for the clues. I thought from the beginning that the cheese option (500 kilos) was an obvious trap, however, two teams picked that option. Those wooden shoes are not easy to walk in, and I rather suspect the producers took advantage of the ignorance of American teams in translating weight into metric terms. The 15 feet (which I think should have been presented as 5 meters, but that's just my opinion) option was, quite literally, quick and dirty.
The fast-forward was one of the most interesting ones of any race, providing a thrill ride which was visually exciting. The real question is, should Millie and Chuck have gone for it? My answer is NO. They were well ahead of two teams when they cut out of navigating the waterways and went for it – and one of these teams had already used the fast-forward option. So I don't think their using it was the correct thing to do. It was an emotional decision (given their frustration in Amsterdam), not a strategic one.
After all that, which teams were thinking smart in episode five?
Mille & Chuck. This team landed in first place again and won another trip, this time a cruise vacation. This is nice, because if they do split up, one can go to Hawaii, and the other on the cruise. Their first mistake was using a cab instead of the more economical (and still fast) train once they reached Amsterdam. It got them to the route box faster – though not much faster – but I think the price was too high. Then they used their fast-forward to finish up the leg in first place, a move I think was a mistake. They should have stuck it out in Amsterdam and continued along the route in the regular manner. I think they still would have beaten out Steve & Dave, and still had the fast-forward option available for a later leg of the race.
Jon & Al. The clowns are showing us that they are an elite team. They've done well on every leg of the race, and have only been denied first place positions because other teams fast-forwarded. While most teams have shown us drama by fighting, they've been the comic relief, happy to do any task, no matter how disgusting it is, with smiles on their faces. They've also commented on their strategy – ignore the other teams and concentrate on themselves, a very wise decision. While they've also said that they always act like there are five teams in front of them, and keep pushing, they are really only telling half the story. They ARE pushing, but they aren't doing the other things trailing team have done: panic, spend money unwisely, or use a fast-forward when they didn't need it. The money and the fast-forward will be available to them later, when they really need it.1 2 Next-->
View Printable version of this article