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The Amazing Race 5: Thinking Smart in Episode 9by Jeffrey Clinard -- 09/03/2004
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In The Amazing Race, smart teams will always take into consideration what the producers will consider good television. This includes keeping the race relatively tight, and never putting a team in a position from which they cannot recover strictly due to race mechanics. It was quite apparent in this episode, and the trend will continue in the next episode.
First, consider the two fast forwards in the race. Both were on non-elimination legs, and the fast forward in this episode was a trap. I would bet that none of the teams that began the race would have opted to have their heads shaved. Only one team consisted of two men (Marshall and Lance), and I think women would be more reluctant to lose their hair for a temporary race advantage. So, while the producers pulled a fast one on everybody, they also made the leg non-elimination, leading Brandon and Nicole to lose their money instead of their hair. I actually think the producers were hoping for a long line of teams finding out the Hindu ritual – and all of them turning it down.
Second, producers have been stripping teams of their cash has been under conditions where teams had a fighting chance to recover. Two of the locations (the pyramids of Egypt and the Victoria Memorial) are major tourist attractions, and the other (the Oasis outside of Dubai) had, as the first segment in the leg, a drive-it-yourself task to a recreation center. I suspect that the producers thought the penniless team would hit up the water park guests for money, but the twins solved the money problem on the road. Hey, teams have to play to their strengths.
The Yield option came into play for the second time in the race, and for the second time, nobody used it. Indeed, most of the teams seemed to be wary of using it. Part of the reason is that the teams seem to like each other for the most part. If there was still an active blood feud (like Mirna / Colin), it might have come into play. However, the biggest dispute between the remaining teams was the spat the twins and the married parents had in Episode Two. They've since made up. Indeed, all the teams are better off for not having used it, as it wouldn't have delivered a knockout blow (which is the main point of using it in the first place). It would only have made the yielded team mad.
The Roadblock was a struggle, as some teams got the knack of making bricks much more quickly than others. Indeed, while this task was the biggest thing separating the teams in this leg, its main purpose was to create more intra-team conflict than generally occurs. The team members making the bricks, for the most part, resented the attempts of their partners to try to help by telling them what to do. The twins snapped at each other, Colin lost his temper, and Chip seemed to be annoyed at the nagging. The best way to help a teammate was to get out of the way, or bring water or food to their partner as needed. The real key to the event was taking five minutes to observe how an expert made the bricks.
In the detour, all teams opted for Heavy But Short, which involved pushing taxicabs a half mile to a garage. No team opted to find the right flower merchant, but, given how easily the teams got the cabs into the garage, it seemed to be the best choice. The real trick was getting the locals to help push – something they seemed to enjoy so much that when the bowling moms and the twins got into their cabs, they were pushed before they even realized the engine was missing. The Indian people are both friendly and love cameras (and the men like to grope – Christie and Nicole were victims; no word on the twins, Kim, or the bowling moms).
Many of the teams made mistakes in this episode, though, for the most part, they didn't impact them. These mistakes should be a reminder for all teams to remain on top of their game – and to keep thinking smart for the remainder of the race. With that in mind, which teams were thinking smart in episode nine?1 2 Next-->
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