Amazing Race: Thinking Smart in Episode 6by Jeffrey Clinard -- 07/10/2003
With six teams gone, the weak teams have been eliminated, and now the rest of the teams are facing a basic truth - a single mistake can cost them the game. In Episode Six, a single error cost Monica & Sheree the Race. Jon & Al also made their first serious mistake, and it nearly cost them the Race as they ended up in the next-to-last position. The mistake can be made during transit, by picking a Detour option that is a trap, or even during a Roadblock. With fewer and better teams as the competition, it's more important than ever to think smart.
This leg of the Race featured travel from Holland to India, a bicycle ride, and travel on India's mass transit system, plus the usual Detour, Roadblock, and Fast-Forward option. In this leg, there were several events that served to separate the teams, and others that brought them together. The two events that brought them together were the wait at the airport and the wait to enter Bollywood. After that, teams were separated by flight selection, physical ability, mass transit, the Detour selection, and their ability to follow instructions.
This isn't the first Race where physical fitness has come into play - or even the first time in this Race. Debra & Steve lost in Episode One because they were physically unable to complete the snow hike as fast as the other teams who had been on the last flight into Italy. This time, the teams in better shape, or those with lighter burdens, had the advantage on the bike trip through Bollywood. David & Jeff, in great physical condition, took the lead for the first time in the Race, while the models ended up walking their bikes (no doubt due partially to the way they overpacked, and partially due to the fact they are smokers).
The next event that separated the teams, and ultimately proved to be the undoing of Monica & Sheree, was the Detour. Thinking Smart Tip #13 tells teams the tasks are almost irrelevant; the bigger problem is finding them. While this edition of the Race is showing that the tasks are becoming more and more relevant to the outcome of each leg, in this case the ability to get to it proved the difference in the Race. Indeed, this section of the Race showed that thinking smart is an extremely important part of the Race. Some teams wandered around, others followed them, and a few teams had the sense to ask the locals for information. However, the real key was to get on a bus to the city, then switch to a train. As for the Detour itself, Jon & Al went for the "Duds" option, which involved searching for both a shop and a saree with the route information in it. Every other team elected "Suds," washing clothes in the outdoor laundry facility. Which was faster? It's hard to say, but given the evidence, "Duds" might have been slightly faster, as the clowns caught up to two teams who had boarded buses earlier when they all clustered at the Roadblock. Overall, though, teams finished the leg in pretty much the order they boarded the buses, with the sole exception being the flip-flop of the lead between the first and second place teams.
The Roadblock presented its own challenge. Phil's voiceover, and presumably the instructions, said they needed to get twenty Palai fish from the mixed selection. Indeed, there was a sample fish sitting in a bucket of ice for teams to examine in order to sort out the fish. However, three teams didn't follow this basic instruction and ended up having to get a second load of fish. It didn't really end up affecting the outcome of the Race, but it's one of the little things that show which teams are thinking smart.
For the first time in the Race, no team elected to use a Fast Forward. As things worked out, nobody needed to use one to avoid elimination, so the teams were wise to avoid using it. The episode did show how important it is to use the Fast Forward at the right time. Monica & Sheree should not have used it in the first leg of the Race, where they had a two hour time advantage over four other teams. Thus, it was not available for them during this leg, which might have saved them from elimination. In fact, at this point, five teams have used Fast Forwards, and three of them have been eliminated. Could it be that weaker teams feel more vulnerable, and thus are likely to use the Fast Forward earlier?
So, in order of their final positions, which teams were thinking smart in Episode Six?
David & Jeff. For the first time in the Race, their physical abilities came into play. They won the bicycle race through Bollywood and stayed in the front of the pack for the rest of the leg. They ended up in first place and won a cruise as a reward. The only issue I could see with them in this leg was their race to the pit stop with second-place finishers Reichen & Chip. My only explanation for that is after the three-way tie for first in Episode One, the producers told the teams there would be no more multiple prizes given away for winning a leg. That's the only thing that would have made their bribe of the cab driver worthwhile; otherwise they could have saved the money and tied with Reichen & Chip, with both teams getting the trip.
Reichen & Chip. This team took an air transport that got them to India 35 minutes earlier than the other teams. However, they took several risks in doing so. A delay in the flight to Milan would have cost them their connection to Mumbai. Once in Milan, the flight from Milan to Mumbai could also have been delayed. They effectively doubled their risk to gain 35 minutes. Out of personal experience, a flight I once took from Athens, Greece back to Las Vegas was delayed from the start, and as a result I missed my connecting flight from New York City. At that point, flights were all booked up, and it ended up taking me another 24 hours complete the journey home. They should also have realized that they were likely to bottleneck in India, so their thinking was incorrect when they stated that the time advantage could be huge. Personally, I think the risk they took was too high for the time they gained. After that, they performed well, being the first team to board the public transport and get to the outdoor laundry. At that point, they made the same mistake they did a few episodes ago - they didn't look for the red-and-yellow indicator on the laundry bundle they needed to wash. If they had done that immediately, they'd have ended up in first place and won the cruise. As it stands, they lost first place by seconds.
Kelly & Jon. This team raced well, getting on the same train as David & Jeff, as well as getting to the laundry at the same time they did. Then they stumbled a bit, taking a bit longer to find their clue, then taking a bus instead of a taxi to the docks. There is a time and a place for saving money by taking public transportation, but this wasn't it. They had some idea of how far behind they were from the leading teams (David & Jeff and Reichen & Chip), but had no idea how far ahead they were ahead of the rest of the teams. Things worked out and they have the additional money without having lost much time, but they should keep the concept of time versus money in mind on future legs.
Millie & Chuck (have used Fast Forward). This team started off well, using a cellphone to secure plane reservations on their way to the airport. They also did well in trying to get seats as close to the front of the plane as possible in order to grab a few minutesí head start once they reached their destination. It never hurts to ask, and it can give an edge, so it's thinking smart. Millie also was thinking smart when she asked a local to take her and Chuck to the train station, but since bus partners Kelly & Jon and David & Jeff got to the train faster, they did something wrong at that point of the Race. At the laundry, they made the same mistake as Reichen & Chip (and later, Tian & Jaree); failing to look for the color-coded ribbons, and even starting to wash somebody else's laundry before their realized their mistake. They erred again at the fish market (as did Tian & Jaree and Jon & Al, the other teams with them) by not following the instructions, and ended up having to get additional fish of the correct type. They were able to get to the pit stop in front of those two teams, arriving in fourth place.
Tian & Jaree (have used Fast Forward). This team bogged down when they reached Bollywood. Their big problem is that they overpacked, and when it came time to ride bikes, they stalled out. They also acknowledged that if the difference between being eliminated or staying in the Race depended on their walking speed, they were sunk. Like a few teams before them, they failed to look for the red-and-yellow ribbon tied bundles of laundry at the entry, but they were the quickest team to recover from that particular mistake. Along with Mille & Chuck and Jon & Al, they made a mistake at the Detour, but since they were all clustered together it didn't end up making any difference. At the end of the leg, they dumped their packs to beat out Jon & Al. Since they couldn't have known about Monica & Sheree, it was the right move - risking losing their packs as opposed to losing the Race.
Jon & Al. The clowns made their first serious error of the Race when they failed to board mass transportation as quickly as all the other teams save Monica & Sheree. Then they picked the odd Detour task. Throughout the history of The Amazing Race, teams have almost always selected an easy-to-find place over a hard-to-find place. It's a simple matter of balancing the time needed to perform a task over the time it takes to find a place. Each Detour task has pros and cons, but in this case, the only apparent advantage to the Duds option was that the teams would stay clean. However, either because they are good at racing, or because the Duds option was actually faster, Jon & Al got to the fish market at about the same time as Millie & Chuck and Tian & Jaree. There, they were the ones who asked the locals about the fish. However, they should have read their clue more carefully, as the locals ended up giving them false information. They finished last among the clustered teams, due largely to a slower cab. They are fortunate to still be in the Race.
Monica & Sheree. What went wrong? The team started off well, taking a train to the airport instead of the more expensive cab ride. However, where they fell apart was when they left the route information box in Film City (Bollywood). They were the last team to figure out how to get on public transportation, well after most other teams had reached the Detours. At the Detour, they seemed to panic, failing to find their clue the first time through the bundle of dirty clothes. By the time they completed the Detour and Roadblock, it was too late for them. At this point in the Race, a single mistake can lead to elimination, and it did, putting Monica & Sheree out of the Race.
Jeffrey Clinard lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his cats, Lam and Princess. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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