Amazing Race 4: Thinking Smart in Episode 9by Jeffrey Clinard -- 07/29/2003
Well, I have to start of this week's column with a correction from last week's article. In it, I had noted that non-elimination legs were indicated by Phil's voiceover asking the question of what team will be eliminated next, instead of which team would be eliminated tonight. However, this week was an elimination round, despite the usual indications that it was not. The usual indicators for elimination, such as the warning in the final clue, were not present, so I got a pretty big surprise when Millie and Chuck were eliminated.
Now, going back two weeks, I had asked the question of why females do not do well in The Amazing Race, and got quite a bit of feedback. Some people suggested strength might be an issue. It was certainly a contributing factor as to why Tian & Jaree lost, but it wasn't the only one. Others pointed out that when a Detour requires either strength or skill, female teams are pretty much forced into the skill option as they wouldn't ever be able to complete the strength option. Well, I think that largely depends on the team. There have been some male teams without much strength, and some female teams that I think have had it.
Other suggestions are that men and women navigate differently, with men using maps and distances, and women using landmarks as guides. That would certainly give men the advantage when navigating through unknown places. It's been noted that women have been more likely to give up than men. There is certainly evidence for it, but it's not a consistent reason for elimination. Some readers cite anti-female prejudice in most countries the teams visit, which has been true in some cases. Finally, some say it just has to do with the women the Race has selected. One reader specifically suggested a team of two Tians would do well. Perhaps they would.
Moving into this leg of the Race, we saw use of ground transportation, a Detour featuring pine nut bunches, the usual Roadblock, and the Fast Forward option. Starting with the Detour, it's hard to figure out which option was faster. Luck played a role, as the Chop option featured three empty envelopes for every one with an actual clue. Hauling was the sure option. The Roadblock of climbing ladders provided a sharp contrast between the leading teams and the trailing teams. While the leading teams (Jon & Al; David & Jeff) climbed up and down with an eye on safety, the trailing teams (Millie & Chuck; Kelly & Jon) went for speed. Finally, both teams that went for the Fast Forward had good reasons to do it. Kelly & Jon were way behind and desperate to stay in the Race. Reichen & Chip somehow managed to get lost on the road to the Detour, but figured out they were on the right road to the Fast Forward. Given their situation, it was the thing to do.
In order of their arrival, which teams were Thinking Smart in Episode 9?
Reichen & Chip. This team used their Fast Forward to correct a basic navigation issue. While they would probably not have been eliminated if they hadn't used the Fast Forward, they couldn't have known about the navigation problems the two co-ed teams would make. However, there is one advantage to their having burned up their Fast Forward - they won't waste time going for another one. With three teams having it available, one of them might grab an advantage - but if several teams go for it, the wasted time will keep this team in the Race.
Jon & Al. This team continues to perform in high gear, gaining second place and leading the pack of the non Fast Forwarding teams through most of the episode. If they made a mistake, it was because they are decent guys who told David & Jeff where the clue to the Detour was. At this point in the Race, it should be cutthroat behavior, and any time advantage should be used to separate teams further away from each other. Granted, they were in the lead and were not worried about elimination, but this late in the game, they should be worried about winning. Guys, don't do this again!
David & Jeff. The Goats finished in the middle of the pack, behind the Fast Forwarding Chip & Reichen and strong racing Al & Jon but in front of the problematic trek of Kelly & Jon and the lost Millie & Chuck. They need to remember to follow the clue and look for the flags. No other team had problems finding the Detour clue (once they found it), but the clowns had to bail them out. While they are a pretty good team, they need to be even better on the next few legs.
Jon & Kelly. This team started with a pretty good-sized time disadvantage and it caught up to them almost immediately. If they had been at the first route marker when it opened (at 6:30 a.m.), there is no way they would have gotten lost there, as they could have followed the other four teams. However, after they messed up that task, they knew they were way behind and did the smart thing - went for the Fast Forward. They had every reason to do it - they feared elimination and would have been right except for the way Millie & Chuck messed up. Bad luck rather than strategy blew that option away, and they got very, very lucky for the second episode in a row. They were saved by a non-elimination round last episode and a screw-up by Millie & Chuck this episode. They didn't help themselves by not understanding the Detour Haul option, but lucked out at the Chop option. I'm going to give this team one solid piece of advice - go for the Fast Forward in the next episode, despite the way logic says it will be a non-elimination round (there are two left, and traditionally, the last non-elimination round is when there are three teams left, to make for a two-part finale). They are behind in hours, and the producers might play a trick on them and make the next round an elimination leg. With the odds good that it is non-elimination, it wouldn't matter if another team goes for it - they'll still be in the Race.
Millie & Chuck. What went wrong? Oh, let me count the ways. The real truth is, I'm amazed at the way fate put them and Jon & Kelly at the Roadblock at the same time. There were so many factors involved my mind boggles at the implausibility of it. How can a team like Jon & Kelly that got lost at the first route marker, went to a route marker 140 miles out of the way to find it had been used, and squabbled at the Detour, have magically appeared at the same time Millie & Chuck (after getting lost, and suffering from the effects of fogged windows and fatigue) found the Roadblock? It's just one of those coincidences that happen from time to time. A few seconds either way might have changed the outcome of this leg of the Race. In the end, both they and Jon & Kelly made mistakes to get to the point they reached and Jon & Kelly came out on top. Call it fate, luck, or destiny, they lost - but not by much.
Jeffrey Clinard lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his cats, Lam and Princess. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent Amazing Race articles at the Amazing Race 4 page and take a look at our sections on Fame and The Osbournes. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
For more news about The Amazing Race, be sure to check out SirLinksALot!