Amazing Race 7 update – Into the heart of Africa
It’s going to be a marathon Amazing Race recap tonight since it’s a two-hour episode; normally such a task is reserved only for the finale. Anyway, teams started out from Buenos Aires and headed out to Johannesburg, South Africa. There’s only one flight out of Argentina and everybody’s on it so all teams are starting from square one.
Once the teams arrived in Johannesburg, they had to choose a marked car waiting outside the airport with the next route marker. The first Fast Forward of the game is revealed and one team can choose to do a single task and go directly to the Pit Stop. Ray & Deana decide to take the Fast Forward and drive to some tall cooling towers where they will each walk across a foot bridge. All the other teams head to the Detour except Rob & Amber who also decide to try the Fast Forward. However, when Team Survivor arrives at the tower, they see that Team Karate has already started the task and they must decide to either wait and see if they’ll finish or give up and take the Detour. Just as Rob & Amber start to argue, the word is passed over the walkie-talkie that Team Karate completed the Fast Forward. Team Survivor leaves after wasting a good chunk of time while Team Karate heads to the Pit Stop at Soweto Overlook as Team #1.
The Detour is either Tribes or Tunnels: Lynn & Alex take Tribes as does a (late) Rob & Amber. They must collect a series of artifacts and deliver them to representatives of certain African tribes in a village. Meanwhile, Greg & Brian, Uchenna & Joyce, and Meredith & Gretchen go underground and search some caves for the next clue. Gretchen takes a bad fall and Team Codger falls further behind. From here everybody heads to a Soweto marketplace and the Roadblock. At the Roadblock, one member from each team must purchase five items for an orphanage; teams then deliver these items to the orphanage for the next clue. This clue tells teams to head to the Pit Stop at Soweto where Phil is waiting.
Team Codgers arrive in last place but – good news! – this is the first non-elimination leg of the Race and they are still in the competition. Bad news: this season, not only do teams have to give up all their cash, they must also surrender their backpacks and continue the Race with only the clothes they’re wearing and their U.S. passports. Ouch.
Part I of this leg:
#1 - Ray & Deana –Team Karate – FAST FORWARD
#2 - Ron & Kelly – Team America
#3 - Brian & Greg – Team Spicoli
#4 - Lynn & Alex – Team Showtunes
#5 - Rob & Amber – Team Survivor
#6 - Uchenna & Joyce – Team Africa
#7 - Meredith & Gretchen – Team Codger - NON-ELIMINATION LEG
Part II: Teams head out from South Africa to Gaborone, Botswana. Once there, they must travel by train and bus to a statue of a giant aardvark (not a typo). All teams are bunched up once again and they all hit the Roadblock. One team member must pick an African bushman who will set up a sack on a tree; the Racer must then throw a spear through the swaying sack. Team Spicoli finishes first and heads off to a village and the next marker. Boston Rob, exhibiting none of the skills of the Boston Red Sox pitching lineup, finishes last. However he drives ahead of several teams as the Land Rovers make their way across the African desert to a village and the next clue.
Through many seasons of the Amazing Race, there have been instances where the urge for speed overrides good judgment. Tonight, Brian & Greg use too much gas in their Land Rover, hit some soft sand, and completely flip their vehicle. Neither of them is injured but their cameraman is shown on the ground, obviously hurt, and the brothers are distraught about what they had done. Lynn & Alex pull up to the wreck and stop to see if everybody’s OK. This is followed by Team Survivor; Boston Rob does not even slow down to show the slightest bit of concern. The remaining teams at least pause to see if the brothers are all right before continuing on. Eventually Brian & Greg get a replacement SUV and continue on.
At the African village, it’s the next Detour: Food or Water. Teams must either grind up corn to fill up a basket to a certain level or suck water from an underground spring and fill up eight ostrich eggs. The most satisfying moment of this Detour was watching Team Codger pass Team Karate and the insufferable Ray who has been contemptuous of all the other Racers but especially the elderly Meredith & Gretchen. Ray & Deana simply cannot figure out the trick of grinding corn and they’re still pounding away as Team Spicoli pulls up in their replacement Land Rover. They head for the Water challenge and start filling eggs.
At this point, TAR cuts away from the African village to the salt pan (a dried lake) which is the next Pit Stop after the Detour. Team America arrives only moments ahead of Team Survivor and Phil can’t conceal his disapproving scowl. You didn’t stop for the wreck? asks our favorite host. No, replies Boston Rob, we’re in a competition. Fans familiar with the look that Phil gave Jonathan in TAR6 will recognize the silent condemnation bestowed on Rob.
Back to the village where Team Spicoli is working double-quick to fill their eggs while Ray & Deana are sniping at each other. They appear to finish close together but it might be a TAR camera trick. We can then see the Land Rovers moving over the desert with Team Karate miles ahead of Team Spicoli in the final sprint to the Pit Stop. Now the brothers are a half-mile behind. A hundred yards. A stone’s throw.
The shrinking gap between these teams builds suspense because you can start to do the racing math in your head: if the brothers get close enough to make it a foot race to the mat, you know they’ll win. Sure enough, both teams leap out of their SUVs about the same time and Brian & Greg outrun Team Karate to the mat. Phil tells the brothers that their cameraman will be OK and they’re obviously relieved at the news.
Part II of this leg:
#1 – Ron & Kelly – Team America
#2 – Rob & Amber – Team Survivor
#3 – Uchenna & Joyce – Team Africa
#4 – Lynn & Alex – Team Showtunes
#5 – Meredith & Gretchen – Team Codger
#6 - Brian & Greg - Team Spicoli (thanks Pat)
#7 – Ray & Deana – Team Karate – ELIMINATED
Epilogue, or why I hate Team Survivor again: I’ve been swaying back and forth with Rob & Amber but tonight I was reminded again why I don’t like them in The Amazing Race. First, it is undeniable that their celebrity is an advantage that no other team has the luxury of capitalizing on. In the South Africa leg, Amber is recognized while shopping in the market and suddenly she has a star-struck personal shopper helping her through the Roadblock. They pick up another woman (or was it the same woman?) who guides them through Soweto to the Pit Stop. Second, Boston Rob can be a right bastard sometimes. Yes, all the other Racers hate you and you hate them. But for heaven’s sake there were people lying on the ground next to a flipped-over Land Rover and you couldn’t even stop for a second? What a jerk. I used to hate Lynn & Alex because they never shut up about Rob & Amber but, dammit, they sort-of have a point. Down with Team Survivor - bring on the Yields.
Extra: Kris at Dummocrats also has an Amazing Race recap and writes this about Team Survivor: “Now, I understand it's a race, but all they needed to do was slow down, roll down the windows and make sure that everyone was okay. Plus, you could see that someone was hurt on the ground. You all may not know this, but the camera crews rotate among all the teams, so it's likely that Rob & Amber had traveled with the cameraman who was injured. It's not like this was some stranger. I think they showed a lack of common decency.” Right on.