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The Amazing Race 10: Thinking Smart in Episode 7by Jeffrey Clinard -- 10/31/2006
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As we have seen, there are pros and cons to running with a pack on The Amazing Race. Teams traveling together accept a risk and gain a reward for running in a pack. The reward is teams are less likely to get lost as the directions of one team become the directions of all teams. They also can share information on faster flights, bus trips, trains, or other modes of transportation. In short, the best information on one team becomes the best information of all the teams in the pack. The Six Pack of David & Mary, Erwin & Godwin, and Lyn & Karlyn have avoided elimination because they avoided getting totally lost like Peter & Sarah two episodes ago or Tyler & James in the last episode.
It’s a great benefit, but teams pay for it by traveling at the pace of the slowest team. It showed in this episode as the Six Pack ended up in the last three positions, despite the problems of the three front running teams. Dustin & Kandice had a car accident, Rob & Kimberly had car trouble, and Tyler & James had problems navigating a few times. Any one of those problems can lead to a last place finish, but all three teams passed up the Six Pack. By not being part of a group, Rob & Kimberly and Tyler & James didn’t have to discuss the idea of abandoning the Detour task and come to a group decision. The teams made the choice on their own, and it led to better positions.
In addition, Tyler & James are correct in stating that alliances can only last so long. The Six Pack is in a position where it has to fall apart very quickly, probably in the next episode. David & Mary can’t really afford to run with them any longer; they need to try to grab any advantage they can in order to beat the potential 30-minute “marked for elimination” penalty. Otherwise they’ll be banking on another team getting totally lost or having an awful time with a task in order to stay intact. The six weakest teams have already been eliminated. Banking on one of the three strongest teams left in the race self-destructing is a bad idea.
The episode also featured a non-written clue, in the form of the model ship. I’m a fan of non-written clues, which were prevalent in the first season of The Amazing Race, but have slowly gone by the wayside. This race has already had an audio clue, and I hope they continue the trend of making teams work a little harder to figure out their next destination. Most teams asked locals, though I was a bit surprised no team thought of taking the ship back into the airport and asking assistance there instead of trying to meet somebody in the street. If the entire clue is a model ship, the odds are strong that it’s a local landmark. While teams did find help along the way, the airport was the closest source of people known to speak English.
The Roadblock fell to the cutting room floor, though it probably didn’t change the positions of the teams. The Detour was a choice between “Salt” and “Sea.” As five teams abandoned the Salt task, it seems clear that Sea was the way to go, even though Dustin & Kandice thought they had picked the hard one while searching for the mast and sails on the island.
At the Salt option, ten people spent a lot of time digging through salt, but only found three shakers filled with pepper. I suspect it was one of those Detour options which looks easy on paper, but is a nightmare in practice.
Six teams started, and six teams are still racing due it being a non-elimination leg. Which ones were thinking smart in episode seven?
Dustin & Kandice: The pageant girls led for much of the leg, getting good directions and making intelligent decisions on the tasks. They showed lots of endurance at swimming, and were the only team to initially pick the better Detour option. However, they stumbled a few times along the way. First, there is no percentage in being snotty toward other teams. If Yields are still around, they just gave Lyn & Karlyn the emotional excuse to use it on them (the upcoming Intersection might be another way for a team to stick it to them).
Second, their own emotions got in the way of good racing decisions. If it wasn’t to their advantage to help Tyler & James (and it wasn’t), they shouldn’t have done it. Getting even with Lyn & Karlyn wasn’t worth it. Third, while I can understand their skepticism about the route to Mauritius, it wouldn’t have hurt for them to book the flight then look around to find something better. Finally, Dustin needs to pay closer attention to the road. That accident could have ended their race if somebody was hurt or there was major property damage to the other vehicle or their own.
Tyler & James: The former drug users ran a very uneven leg, but had the good fortune to make their mistakes in the early parts of the leg. They were dead last to the schooner, though they made up some time by being strong swimmers. Next they had a hard time finding the post office. However, they caught up at the Salt Detour, and were the second team to abandon it in favor of the Sea option. They finally caught a break in getting good directions to the Pit Stop. They didn’t race exceptionally well, but made the right decisions when it counted the most.1 2 Next-->
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