Sometimes there is nothing you can do to fight fate. This week, the nine teams remaining in the 16th installment of The Amazing Race traveled to Bariloche, Argentina, for the third leg, where teams played five-card stud with a gnome, roped cattle made of hay, and either searched for buried treasure or played polo with wooden horses. In a leg designed for cowboys, it seemed fated that the cowboys Jet and Cord, who took the lead last week, would win — and they did, quite easily. It also seemed like no matter what mom-trepreneurs Monique and Shawne did, they were doomed. So, spoiler alert! In a leg far too physical for them, Monique and Shawne were eliminated. I was impressed, however, by the moms’ persistence and support for each other.
In hindsight, there really was no question Jet and Cord would win. That said, I don’t think the leg was unfair. As Jet and Cord put it, just as there’s no reason for them to complain about the advantage Carole and Brandy get as fluent Spanish speakers with the first three legs being in Latin America, others shouldn’t complain about the advantage the cowboys get in “cowboy” tasks. (Of course, I have to take this position since my sister and I got to compete in China as fluent Chinese speakers.)
So in a leg whose outcome was more an issue of fate than any mistakes, I’m going to focus my blog this week on mistakes in terms of race preparation.
Anyone who has studied The Amazing Race knows that you have to learn how to drive a manual transmission! It is laughable how bad Dan and Jordan are at driving stick. But I have to call out Brent. He should have learned how to drive stick, instead of relying on Caite! Teams know that on the Race, one person will need to be the driver and the other person will need to be the navigator. Since they know Brent is “horrible” at navigation, he should have learned how to drive stick. It is also clear Brent does not like the role of navigator since as soon as they get lost, his first instinct is to yell at Caite to figure out where they were supposed to go. (Of course, the irony here is that Caite is the one who was ridiculed nationally about geography.)
However, the biggest mistake I see in preparation this week lies with the Big Brother team — as much as I like them. As this leg highlights, Jordan defers to Jeff, who makes almost all of the decisions for the team. Most of the time, this works. Jeff makes really good decisions (like trying a different bus route last week). This week, though, he made really bad decisions. Even though he found the loot quickly, he kept taking it to the wrong person. He couldn’t figure it out even when the answer was thrown in his face — he didn’t know to take it to the train station even when Joe asked him, “Where’s the train station?” (Jeff realizes how stupid their decisions were and declares he and Jordan definitely should not reproduce.) But I don’t blame Jeff. Given fatigue and stress, there will be times where will not be able to think properly. So I blame Jordan. As a teammate, she is supposed to be the person who steps up when her partner cannot figure things out. Going into the Race, though, it seems like Jordan and Jeff decided that Jeff would always take the lead. Though it’s good to have a leader, you cannot expect the leader to be perfect, and in those moments of imperfection, Jordan needs to be prepared to step up and contribute. Luckily, it did not prove disastrous here, but it may in the future. –Victor Jih
Tell us: Am I being too harsh on Brent and Jordan? Was there anything Monique and Shawne could have done to avoid elimination? And do you think cowboys Jet and Cord will run away with this race — or will their success be limited to “cowboy” tasks?Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic