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The Amazing Race 5: Thinking Smart in Episode 8by Jeffrey Clinard -- 08/29/2004
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Sometimes the events of the race become so bizarre it's hard to write rationally about them, if only because the teams behave in a nutty manner. It happened this week. The events, of course, center around Colin. I don't doubt he has a somewhat pathological need to win the race. It's been hinted at in the episodes, in the exit interviews of the eliminated teams, and in The Amazing Race Insider footage. I've just never considered it to be a disadvantage in this contest. A desire to win – even an obsession to win – isn't anything to worry about. However, Colin went far beyond that into a very disturbing realm, one that makes me question his psychological fitness to run this race. His cab blew a tire. Okay, whatever. Bad luck hits even the best of teams. Even more so, bad luck has eliminated many teams in The Amazing Race. But how he handled that after the whole situation was resolved leaves me seriously questioning his sanity. He lost out on one charter flight – which turned out to be irrelevant. But then he tried to shortchange his taxicab driver out of $50. Plus, he was willing to take it to the judicial system (police, courts, jail, etc.) to make his point.
I write about Thinking Smart, so let's examine the facts. $100 for a 200- mile taxi ride is not unreasonable – indeed, it would be a bargain in the United States. Yes, they are in a third world country, where prices vary – but they didn't vary one bit from team to team. Everybody had to pay $100 for taxi fare. Was the cab driver irresponsible for driving on a donut tire? Yes, but no more than the driver who took the bowling moms without oil. Again, this is the third world, and stuff happens. Teams have dealt with flat tires, broken down cars, getting lost, and all that. It's a race, and bad luck hits people. He certainly wasn't complaining when Charla and Mirna had a flight delay which almost certainly cost them the race. Even given everything we might consider to be a point in his favor (blown tire, unsafe to ride on, he lost position, etc.), it still doesn't change the fact that he pushed the situation far beyond what any rational person would have. Getting thrown in jail – or even being held for judicial processing (something Colin apparently felt he was immune to) – would not have helped him cross the finish line in first place. I wrote last week about when foreign nationals take advantage of Americans and extort money out of them. It's not right, but it happens – deal with it. In Colin's case, it wasn't about being taken advantage of – indeed, he was trying to take advantage of a citizen of a foreign country due to his unhealthy desire to be right.
But, however big a schmuck Colin is, Christie may be even worse. She puts up with it – even agreeing to stand by him right or wrong, and apologizing to him at the pit stop. Huh? Just exactly what for? Colin brought the whole situation upon himself . There is no way she should have stood by his insane decision to risk jail over $50. She told him repeatedly to pay up – but he didn't. If she can't smack a lick of sense into him, she should cut her losses at once.
Now let's look at money as a factor in the race. Several team are not watching their money carefully, and it could have ended up biting them. Two teams are completely out of money right now (the twins, and Chip and Kim). Granted, the married parents will get some more at the start of the next leg, but they should never have run out to begin with. Brandon and Nicole are fighting over money, and Linda and Karen recovered from bankruptcy already. Ironically, it seems the team that has the least worries about money is Colin and Christie – and Colin was obsessive about that $50. The money is always adequate if it's spent correctly. The production team knows well in advance what each leg of the race will cost. Indeed, the production team has rigged it in such a way that teams can bounce back from being broke.
Getting on to the other points in the race, the Detour was about Off-Plane or Off-Road. Off-Plane was about skydiving – just tandem jump, and go on your way. Off-Road was about taking a vehicle over the sand dunes. What was faster? Well, if you're an expert off-highway driver (like my parents are) the Off-Road option was faster. If you aren't, Off-Plane was faster – for the first team that took that option. If you're neither the first Off-Plane team, nor an expert Off-Highway, then the answer defaults back to Off-Highway. The real problem with Off-Plane was that the dives were 45 minutes apart. That's a lot of time to spot the other teams. Brandon and Nicole did well by it; Kami and Karli didn't.
So, in order of their arrival, which teams were thinking smart in Episode 8?
Colin and Christie: I have to say this: they performed well in every segment of this leg of the race – except for Colin's irrational behavior over the taxi. The team was wise to try to bargain up front with the cab driver for a price up-front. It didn't work, but it didn't hurt to ask. And while behind in some segments, tasks which equalized the teams came into play and Colin's skill at driving an off-highway vehicle was the real difference in this leg of the race. He was able to complete it faster than any other team, and they earned another vacation for winning this leg of the race. Smart team – but if they win the race, I think the first thing their should buy with the winnings would be the service of a good therapist.1 2 Next-->
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