The Amazing Race: Donkeys Have Souls, Too

Bex: Our favorite show has started again, Michelle. Luckily, instead of wasting countless hours at work hanging out in each other’s cubes discussing the ins and outs of the race, we get to blog about it!

So let’s meet the racers. There are your blood relatives: the sisters (Marianna & Julia), the brother/sister (Azaria & Hendekea), the father/daughter (Ronald & Christina), the grandfather/grandson (Nicholas & Donald).

Bex: They all seemed sweet enough to me at this point, but none really stand out. But I do wonder how long it will be before Grandpa (who according to his grandson, swears and talks inappropriately about girls) will offend a woman abroad, causing an international incident.

Then we move on to the friends. There are the girlfriends (Shana & Jennifer), who “plan to flirt our way through this competition.”

Bex: Genius! They must be scholars. Isn’t that how the winners of the last 11 seasons of Amazing Race have won?

Michelle: I just read in “Us Weekly” that Shana is dating Ryan Seacrest. I’m thinking they didn’t win and he must be her backup plan for making her dream of a million-dollar shopping spree come true.

There are the “best friends” (Ari & Staella).

Bex: As long as Ari remains, he will be referred to as “Evil Ross the Intern.” Ari claims “karma’s a bitch, but I am a bigger bitch.” I can almost smell how soon you will screw someone, and again how soon said karma will be coming around to bite you in the ass, Evil Ross the Intern.

Lastly, we have the couples, all in different phases of their relationships, from the “still in the honeymoon” phase (TK & Rachel), to the “scared of commitment” phase (Lorena & Jason), to the “having trust issues” phase (Nathan & Jennifer).

Bex: Really, if you are in either the “scared of commitment” or “having trust issues” phase of your relationships, what in the world would make you think that signing up for the grueling competition that is Amazing Race is going to heal your relationship? Even Dr. Phil could see that train wreck coming.

Michelle: I think Nathan and Jennifer are doomed — the only thing about their story that stands out is that he cheated on her. Dump him now, Jennifer!

Rounding out the list of relationship teams, we have the Goths (Kynt & Vyxsin) who are “real life cartoon characters” and the Lesbian Ministers (Kate & Pat) who are “not wimps for Jesus.”

Bex: As different as these two teams are, they are among my favorite teams.
Speaking of favorite teams, here is my top 4 at the moment: Azaria & Hendekea, TK & Rachel, Kynt & Vyxsin, Kate & Pat

Michelle: I like Azaria & Hendekea, Ronald & Christina and the Goths. Grandpa & Grandson did not get enough screen time, but they have the potential to be in my top 4.

Time for the credits.

Bex: I like to see what kind of silly situations the producers put the teams in to try to capture their personality. Michelle, we always talk about our least favorite synchronized head-turn. Mine for this year is Shana & Jennifer – it just screams, “Look, we are Bimbos! Our heads are empty, but we will flirt with you if you give us money!

Michelle: I found Ari & Staella’s head turn annoying; they were both giving their best “I’m a badass” faces. I like that the Grandpa & Grandson are posing in Chicago (my hometown!) and they rebelliously gave no head turn.

The race begins at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills. Our favorite host (Phil Keoghan) tells everyone to “Travel Safe” and the race is on. All the contestants race to their bags to find their first clue is to fly to Shannon, Ireland. Everyone is very excited to go to Ireland, especially the Shana & Jennifer team.

Bex: Apparently, one of them is Irish. You will have to excuse me; I really have a hard time telling blonde bimbos apart.

Michelle: I hope Jennifer took the time to introduce herself to Hef — perhaps he’ll have an open girlfriend position for her should they lose the Race. Shana’s already got Seacrest.

The teams have been told that there are seats waiting for them on British Airways, but not enough for all of the teams. The teams able to secure flights on British Airways are Kate & Pat, Marianna & Julia, Nathan & Jennifer, Shana & Jennifer and Lorena & Jason.

Azaria & Hendekea, after being just shut out for the British Airways flight, find a kindly stranger who lets them use her laptop. They find seats on Aer Lingus, which is where all of the remaining teams also get seats. Once the teams are aboard the Aer Lingus flight, Hendekea borrows a cell-phone from another kindly stranger to make taxi reservations for her team and Ronald & Christina, with whom they have bonded because they are “blood.”

Bex: Two things these players should have learned from watching previous seasons of “Amazing Race” are 1) just because you are the first flight to depart does not mean you will be the first flight to arrive and 2) always give a fake name that only you and your teammate know when making reservations of any kind. For instance, if I wanted to make taxi reservations for Michelle and myself, I would place the reservation for “Chauncey Gardner,” “Ignatius J. Reilly,” or some other fictional character. That way, a team can not steal your reservation by using your real name.

So, the Aer Lingus flight lands first. Ari & Staella steal the taxi reserved for Ronald & Christina.

Bex: Ari – 1, Karma – 0.

The British Airways flight lands just as TK & Rachel finally get a taxi.

Bex: In my mind, TK & Rachel both smell of patchouli, which I love.

The teams now must take a ferry to Inis Mór, then make their way to Teampall Bheanain. All of the teams take the same ferry to Inis Mór. This is where we hear Kate tell us that “The Amazing Race is a love letter to the planet.”

Bex: I like that sentiment, even though I don’t truly understand it. I would think lowering carbon emissions and stopping the deforestation of the rainforests would be a much more heartfelt love letter to the planet, but her thought was there.

They all depart the ferry and try to get directions to Teampall Bheanain. Some right, some wrong.

Bex: I love the part in “Amazing Race” when you see the “couples” teams starting to disintegrate. As the teams are running to Teampall Bheanain, we are treated to the following snippets from Nathan & Jennifer, the couple with “trust issues” (because he cheated on her):
Jennifer: “Nate, stop. Is that where we are going?”
Nathan: “We are going somewhere where we can’t be walking right now.”
Nathan: “You are the worst person at this that I have ever met.”
Jennifer: “Don’t compare me to other girls.”
Jennifer: “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with someone who is gonna treat me like that?”
Jennifer. What the hell are you thinking? Drop the meathead, get back on a plane and fly home. Trust me, you will thank me for this later.

After all of the teams run and run and trudge up the hill to make it to Teampall Bheanain, we find they must all sign up for ferries that will depart the next day.

The first to depart are Lorena & Jason, TK & Rachel and Kynt & Vyxsin. Once they arrive, they are given the clue to drive themselves to Cleggan Farm. They will ride a tandem bike up a muddy trail to receive the next clue. The three teams get directions and agree to drive together to Cleggan Farm.

Bex: Remember how I said I love the couples’ meltdowns? Cue Meltdown #2. From Lorena & Jason, the couple with “commitment issues” (He stated earlier “I don’t know if marriage is the route for me to go. I always feel like I have my foot out the door.”)
Lorena: “They are not behind us. We are not going the direction they gave us. Just listen to me, we are not going the right way.”
Jason: “You weren’t helping me, you were screaming.”
Lorena. What the hell are you thinking? Drop the pretty boy, get back on a plane and fly home. Trust me, you will thank me for this later.

The teams arrive at a Road Block. “Who is ready to pedal for their partner?” The task involves pedaling a high wire bike 200 feet over a windswept ravine while your teammate dangles 8 feet below. None of the teams have a particular problem with this task; in fact, most enjoy it.

Bex: Michelle, I would have volunteered before I saw what the challenge was. Either pedaling or riding below, I would have to do it with my eyes closed due to my gephyrophobia. TK said it best, “I’m not scared of a lot, but this is terrifying.”

Michelle: I would have kept my eyes closed too, but this wasn’t too scary, compared to some Road Blocks. We would be in serious trouble if they had to bungee jump.

After TK & Rachel get across the ravine, we find the next clue is to pick a donkey from the nearby hitching post, put 15 pieces of peat in each basket, then walk the donkey back to the entrance of the farm for the next clue.

Bex: Not very many of the teams struggle with this task either, except the two teams I really hate, Nathan & Jennifer and Ari & Staella. Both teams think that the way to get these beasts of burden to do anything is to SCREAM AT THEM. I guess that is because that is how they get anything out of their relationships. I think Evil Ross the Intern sums it up when he bellows at the donkey “You lose this race for us, I’m gonna kick your ass.” Evil Ross the Intern, do you realize you just made a funny joke there? The score is now Ari – 1, Karma – 1.

No amount of screaming can make their donkeys move. Amazingly, all of the other teams have no problem sweetly coaxing their donkeys to the clue box. Grandpa even reminds the donkey screamers that “These guys spook easily” and Christina says “Donkeys have souls, too.”

After all of the other teams have passed these idiots, they finally realize they will probably get a lot further if they use kind words instead of screaming and pushing. They finally get their donkeys on course.

After the teams have hitched their donkeys and counted the peat, they must now drive 13 miles to the Pit Stop at Connemara Heritage Center. “The Last Team To Arrive Will Be Eliminated.”

Although TK & Rachel are the first to receive the Pit Stop Clue, they get a bit lost. Azaria & Hendekea are team Number One and receive a nice trip somewhere courtesy of a gnome. The rest of the teams trail in.

Then Phil says the words that every team dreads to hear. “Ari & Staella, you are the last team to arrive. I am sorry to tell you that you have been eliminated from the race.”

Bex: I’m not sorry!! Ari – 1, Karma – 2! What is that you said about karma, Evil Ross the Intern? “Karma came back and bit us in the ass.” Oh, another funny joke! Get it, donkey – ass. Ha, Ha, Ha.

Michelle: I’m a little sorry to see Ari go already, he might have been the one I love to hate this season. Oh well, The Goths are still in it and I’ll be watching to see if Kynt and Vyxsin can maintain their meticulously drawn-in eyebrows as the race goes on.