The Amazing Race Week 2: Beware the Dragon Puppets

The second week of The Amazing Race is always fun, because you get to see a little more personality and quirk from the teams, and to see which teams really are viable competitors rather than first time good-luckers. And, sigh, it would appear that once again youngs beat the olds.

First off, congrats to our Harlem Globetrotters, who whistled and spun their way to a first place finish. How'd they do it? Well, it had something to do with a cab ride. All the teams were on a riverboat when they awoke for this leg. At their start time, they were told to go to a weirdo dragon water puppet theater in Ho Chi Minh. Basically the teams that got the early leads were the ones who figured out that upon disembarking from the riverboat, they were not, in fact, actually in Ho Chi Minh. Those smart teams climbed into taxis and sped off for the two hour drive. And, sadly, other teams just sorta blundered along and ran through this little exurban town yelling to strangers about dragon water puppets. But not the Globetrotters! Though they started third that morning, their taxi driver was either awesome or glamored by their crazy ball-spinning, so he stepped on the gas and blasted them to Water Puppet Dragon Hour for a first place arrival. Once in the top spot, the two tall dudes didn't cede first place until almost the very end, when they had a foot race to the pit stop with the silly Disney-looking couple that is Meghan and Cheyne. Meghan and Cheyne were never going to win that race, but it was fun to see them try.

Oh, and the challenge? Well, first there were the water dragons, who held a clue in their mouths. All the dopey, frantic teams had to reach out and grab the thing while the fake creatures writhed and wriggled and spat water. Some teams were very practical and just reached out as far as they could and snatched a clue when a dragon came by. Others, like Mika and Canaan, tried, er, more alternative strategies. They danced and danced and danced, hoping to lure the dragons near them. Which, um, I'm not sure they exactly got that the dragons were puppets being controlled by people, rather than actual living creatures who might be compelled to approach Canaan's rhythmic gyrations. It was sort of lovely, in a sad way.

Once done with the puppets, there was a clue inside a little bullet that told them to go to the central post office. Well, the clue didn't explicitly tell them, but it was a stamp with a picture of the post office on it. This would seem fairly straightforward as to where you should go, would it not? It certainly was to most of the teams, who looked at the stamp, and then jumped into taxis, pointing wildly at the picture. But not so for Lance and Keri. Ohhh Lance and Keri, proud representatives of my home state. The two Massholes saw the stamp and were just dumbfounded. "Where's the clue? I mean, Keri, where's the clue??" Lance kept pleading, almost to the heavens rather than his rattled fiance. So they stumbled all around the puppet theater, until finally finally finally they figured out "Oh, it's a picture of a building. Maybe we should go to that building. It's almost too simple..." So that was sad and embarrassing for them, and they kept being sad and embarrassing for the rest of the challenge.

Once at the clue box out in front of the post office (Lance and Keri of course barreled past it into the actual building, bellowing about the clue box), the folks were given an option. Either do a challenge called Child's Play (in which they had to wheel a cermaic animal around a park collecting balloons and then deliver the whole bizarre package to a little corral where kids hang out) or one called Word Play (in which they went to the top of a hotel and looked for scooters in the rotary below that were adorned with letters, which spelled out their next location). All but Team Old Folks--the oddly paired Marcy & Ron--decided they trusted their brawn more than their brains and went for the Child's Play. So, now they can always say that one time in their life they ran around a Vietnamese park with a ceramic goat on a dolly while collecting colored balloons from conically-hatted old ladies. Yay!

There were various incidents with the ceramic animals--Zev and Justin nearly shattered theirs--but for the most part the damn thing just took time. Meanwhile Marcy & Jon were having a dilly of a pickle of a time unscrambling their word puzzle. At first I was frustrated with them for not stopping to ask a stranger what the clue could possibly mean, but then I realized that I too do not know the Vietnamese for "Yes, hello, what are these jumbled letters an anagram for? And it probably must be a location..." So, I don't blame, really, for trying to figure it out on their own. It just ate up so much time until they did, of course, end up asking someone for help.

Meanwhile everyone else had finished carting their animals around and were hard at work at the next task. Apparently in Vietnam stripping electronics for their parts is a common thing to do, so that's just what our sweaty dumbfounded American sprinters had to do. Each guy (all the guys did it except for the two girl team, who nominated the better-than-expected Tiffany) had to take apart two VCRs. It looked like frustrating, painstaking work until Lance showed up and just ripped the things apart with his hands. I thought he was going to have to start over for not keeping circuit boards intact, but, I was wrong. He and Keri made up a ton of time with that and didn't end up as far in the bottom as I would have liked to have seen them (namely, last).

So everyone scurried over to the Imperial Palace or whatever the place was called and jumped on the Doormat of Protection. Harlem boys were number one, the Abercrombie Twins (Cheyne and Meghan) were second, and the still-strong dad and son team of Gary and Matt secured the bronze. Let's see if they sink further down the totem next week, now that they don't have the first-place start time. The Brothers Gay and the Massholes had a little sprint to not be second-to-last, during which, of course, Lance & Keri went wildly off course while Phil just stood--so close to the damn entrance, guys--and watched bemusedly. But alas it was the molasses-moving Ron and Marcy who walked slowly to the finishing line and were told they were done. At least they get to hang out some more in Vietnam, a country that Marcy seemed pretty into. Though, the whole Ron/Marcy relationship seemed a mite awkward and strained during this episode, so it might not be the most awesome sequestering. Poor Garrett and Jessica were probably hoping for peeps a bit sprightlier to show up and keep them company at the Elimination Station. Ah well.

And that was that! Brian & Ericka made a big surge from 10th to 4th, so I'd look for them to become tough competitors. I'm also sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop on Maria & Tiffany, who seem to skate by on the kindness of people who are willing to help damsels in distress. Though, I guess that's a skill and a strategy in its own right, so I probably shouldn't knock it. I'd like to see Lance & Keri go home next week, because they are abrasive and, well, dumb and make me cringe. Sigh. I still love you though, Taxachusetts.

What'd you think? Who are you liking now that the third leg of this rather incredible race is done? Who do you want to see get sent to the dreaded Station?

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