The Amazing Race, Episode 4: Nice Guys Finish Last
by Alex Amorim
As if we needed yet another reality show to prove it, the old saying is true. Nice guys do finish last. Sometimes it's because of strategy, but this time it was just dumb luck working against them. What happened to Frank and Margaretta -- and everybody else -- in episode 4?
The old saying is true. My personal favorite team, Dave and Margaretta, was eliminated from the race this week, and I’m sad to see them go. As far as I can tell, they were the only people in the race who were really enjoying themselves. I guess their age gave them the perspective to appreciate that it’s not every day that you get to go on an all-expense-paid 44,000 mile journey around the world, and become famous while doing it. They were always smiling and happy, and are such a sweet couple. I thought they would go farther, because they seem to be the only team that really kept a level head, never got stressed, and were always calm and deliberative in their choices.
Yes, nice guys finish last. Another cliché that might describe this week’s episode is, “It’s better to be lucky than good.” I thought Lenny and Karyn, not to mention the eternally dim Paul & Amie, were much weaker teams. This week the race at the end was so very close, however, that a small delay made all the difference.
The teams started off at Lex Baux castle in southern France, with the first team of Drew and Kevin leaving at around 3 a.m. The clue they were given was a picture of a man they had to meet, and a Tunisian flag. Of course, I was not surprised that none of the teams could recognize a Tunisian flag; we Americans know geography like a monkey knows algebra. When it was Frank and Margarita’s time to go, they upset the lawyers, who asked them to read their clue aloud, so that they could hear it. Frank and Margarita refused, so the lawyers just had to wait an extra 7 minutes until it was their turn. That shaky alliance is apparently disbanded. As Frank & Margarita made their way to the outskirts of the town, they found a taxi waiting – a taxi that had been called for the night before by, guess who, Rob and Brennan. They tried to convince the driver that the taxi was for them, but he had doubts, and wanted to check their passports. While this was going on the lawyers came upon the scene, and they not only took the cab, but also pissed F & M off by telling the driver to NOT call them another cab after Margarita had asked. A race is a race, but I thought this was somewhat petty.
Dave and Margaretta had also called for taxis the night before, and Dave was quick to tell Margaretta that she was a “genius” for thinking of it. Nancy and Emily as well as Paul and Amie had also reserved cabs, but when they got to the bottom they found that only one cab had shown up. Nancy and Emily took the cab, as Paul and Amie fell into their usual routine: Paul throws a tantrum (and throws things) while Amie cries and whines, and both say they want to quit the race. Anyways, by asking the local French (who actually have a globe in their classrooms) the teams found out that the flag was Tunisian, so one by one they went to book passage on an ocean liner to the capital city of Tunis. Here there was a bottleneck, as they had to wait for their tickets and the ship. Team Guido lost favor with the other teams (they weren’t much liked to begin with) when they took it upon themselves to be in charge of booking everyone’s ticket, and tried to get a group rate. Many of the teams were mistrustful (and rightfully so) of Team Guido, and tempers flared as they handed out the tickets because many were afraid they were getting screwed. Team Guido later said in their interview, “I controlled the whole group and intimidated the whole group… I played them like a violin. We had total power, I could have ripped up all those tickets and there is nothing they could do about it.” They didn’t do that though, I guess because they are SUCH nice guys.
Once in Tunis, the teams had to find their way to the next route marker, located at a monument that resembled the Arc de Triomphe. There they met the fellow in the photograph, who gave them the info for the next detour. A detour is when the teams have to choose between two different tasks to get to the next leg of the race. Both missions were to be completed inside the sprawling ancient Turkish bazaar. They could either try to find their way through the labyrinth of unmarked passages to find a coffee shop, for which they only had a photograph as a clue, or they could follow a map to a massage parlor. When they got to the parlor however, they would have to wait through a 20-minute massage before they got the next clue. Most teams opted to try their luck with the coffee shop. Many of them wisely asked the locals for directions, who were amazingly friendly and helpful. I don’t know if it was the TV cameras, or the fact that they expected tips, or maybe the Tunisians are just darn nice people, but many locals even volunteered to guide them to the locations. As a crowd of apparent street urchins surrounded Nancy and Emily, Nancy naively commented that it was probably “because they thought that Emily was so pretty.” Call me cynical, but if I were you lady, I’d hold on to my wallet.
The next clue the teams received when they finished their task was a cigarette lighter with the name of a town called Eljem, and a picture of the ancient roman coliseum there. The teams could either take a taxi or the train. The taxi was faster, but cost more money. Most teams opted for the taxi. It was during this part that Dave and Margaretta lost the race. They had the extreme misfortune of taking a cab whose driver was not willing to accept dollars, only Tunisian dinars. There was a bank across the street, but bad luck would have it closed. It is illegal to change currency on the street, so they had to resort to basically begging people for dinars. They finally got enough for cab fare, but it cost them a precious 30 minutes.
Once the teams arrived at the coliseum, they were faced with a roadblock. A roadblock is when only one member of the team can complete the task, and the team must select which member BEFORE they are given the full details of the task. The task was to walk around the coliseum clockwise, and go down to the lowest level. There they would find a sword suspended by a string over a pit. Once they got the sword, they had to run to the top of the coliseum and fit the sword with a sheath, and there ended this leg of the race. Team Guido was the first to arrive, and finished in first place. It was funny to hear Emily say, “Walk clockwise from WHERE?”. Unless you invert the universe, circles on Earth only have one clockwise direction. One by one the teams finished. Lenny & Karyn were next to last in 7th place. Sadly, Dave and Margaretta arrived in 8th. They were pretty upbeat about it, and realized that they had done a pretty good job. The other teams clapped and cheered for their effort, and I think most of the contestants really felt bad that such nice people were now out of the race.
Oh well. Although the race is really getting more interesting, I don’t really know whom to cheer for now. I pretty much dislike all the teams, except maybe Drew and Kevin, whose only fault is being dumb. I liked Lenny and Karyn at first, but Karyn has really been a bitch lately, her and Lenny’s personality contrast in the fact that she is really competitive and stressed, while he is more laid-back and tries to enjoy himself. Paul and Amie are both big babies. Emily is the epitome of a spoiled brat. Frank seems about as nice a husband as O.J. Simpson. Team Guido are snakes, and the lawyers are jerks. But I guess the show would be boring if everyone was nice. I guess conflict IS drama, and The Amazing Race has plenty of both.