Victor's 'Amazing Race' Blog: One Team Averts Disaster

Photo: Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

After eleven grueling legs around the world, the final three teams in the sixteenth installment of The Amazing Race are now set. So which teams made it to the final sprint? Beware of spoilers below!

The results of this leg should have been 100 percent drama free since the first three teams leave the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum over two hours before Louie and Michael, who, after being spared elimination the last leg, also face an additional speed bump task. Of course, the Race is far from predictable and this leg becomes a white-knuckle affair as brothers Dan and Jordan find themselves in a battle with the detectives for the last spot in the final three.

How did Dan and Jordan get into this predicament? As viewers, we typically focus on the roadblock or the detour tasks, but in this leg, the most difficult challenge was finding the first clue. As teams leave the pit stop, they must locate the “Garden Bridge.” It sounds simple enough but as teams ask taxicab drivers, passing pedestrians, and local merchants, few speak English and those who do fail to recognize the “Garden Bridge.” Every team faces difficulty, but Brent and Caite and Jet and Cord manage to find their way relatively quickly. Dan and Jordan, however, really struggle and — after two hours and twelve minutes of wandering aimlessly — have no clue how where the “Garden Bridge” is.

What makes the challenge so deliciously difficult? (I loved this clue.) Part of it is certainly the language barrier. Getting frustrated with who “ought” to speak English is generally not a productive way of dealing with it. (Indeed, more in China speak English than Americans speak Chinese.) But in this episode, it’s not only the language barrier. It’s the fact that tourist names do not always match local names. Residents know the bridge as “Waibaidu” Bridge, which SO is not “Garden” in Chinese. Locals who try to translate “Garden Bridge” literally send teams to a park, which is not where they need to go. And it’s not that the “Garden Bridge” is an obscure location. A quick search on Wikipedia identifies it as a popular destination since it is the first all-steel bridge and instantly reveals its Chinese name.

With over two hours, I can’t understand why Dan and Jordan didn’t just find an Internet connection and type “Garden Bridge Shanghai.” The other teams do the same by finding Shanghai residents with Internet access on their mobile phones.

Despite wasting time flailing around Shanghai, the brothers do have a brilliant moment. They suddenly realize their best move is to team up with Louie and Michael. Instead of roaming lost by themselves, they can turn the race into a two-team match-up for the final spot. It’s risky but it’s the best move since they are unable to make progress on their own. To their credit, Dan and Jordan generally keep their cool and are able to out-compete Louie and Michael in counting statues at the roadblock and finding the “needle-in-a-haystack” Chinese stamps at the detour. Dan and Jordan join Brent and Caite and Jet and Cord in the final three. Louie and Michael are eliminated, one leg shy of all the way.

There is no obvious winner going into the final. Brent and Caite have surged with two second-place finishes and a first place this leg. But it’s not clear which Caite will appear for the final — the supportive teammate who brings the best out of Brent or the one that won’t let Brent go to the bathroom? Jet and Cord have the most consistent record, with four first-place finishes, but the cowboys are also capable of really bad decisions (remember the Seychelles?) Having averted disaster, perhaps Dan can really make his brother’s dream come true and help him win the whole thing. But will it be the strong, sensitive brother, or the one that nearly kills the lost taxicab driver in Shanghai? We’ll find out next week! — Victor Jih

Tell Us: Who do you think is going to win The Amazing Race? Who do you think should win?

Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

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