May 22, 2011

Australia 1x01: Lombok, Indonesia

Previously on The Mundane Disgrace: Many tasks including but not limited to sifting through a gigantic literal pile of bullshit for a clue, atoning for the existence of Borat by running around Kazakhstan's largest city in a pantomime cow costume, climbing bamboo scaffolding while being "attacked" by kung fu "fighters", running around Siberia in one's underpants, being a contestant on a fake Japanese game show, assembling Ikea furniture, rapping, and just watching the All-Stars season. On the other hand, Australian reality TV has given the world the basis for all of Survivor's repetitive "do this to get puzzle pieces, then solve the puzzle" challenges, as well as a Big Brother contestant named Hotdogs. Boy, we've got a lot to live up to, don't we?

We open on, of all things, a helicopter shot zooming across Port Phillip Bay to a random beachside Melbourne suburb. Because you know what helps stop people thinking this is going to be low-budget crap? Mentone. Luckily, we quickly cut to a different helicopter shot zooming in past the Sidney Myer Music Bowl into the centre of Melbourne. What, no Opera House? And no Harbour Bridge? I am shocked and appalled. And outraged. And offended. And in need of a better thesaurus.

The voice of one Grant "Quit Calling Me Denyer" Bowler tells us that Melbourne is Australia's sporting capital but, almost as if the editors were working on behalf of the Gold Coast mayor to ruin this reputation, it is overlaid on two shots of the city containing the distinctive Arts Centre spire. An obviously-fake reverb effect carries his voice as he introduces us to the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and to its equally hallowed roof. It's so important, in fact, that they need to use two separate fonts to tell us of his name and basic function on this show. Grant tells us, in case his exceptionally tight jeans made you think this was a Very Special Holiday Episode of Desperate Housewives or some such shit, that the 'G is taking a break from hosting whiny footballers and even whinier cricketers in order to temporarily host the eleven teams of two who will, I'm sure, make both Nicky and Ricky seem positively mature. There will certainly be bigger dicks on display. Said teams are riding in helicopters to the stadium, with the buzzing rotors helpfully stopping them from hearing Grant's booming voice telling them exactly how far this race will go: through 23 cities in twelve countries, and across almost fifty-thousand kilometres. So, you know. Sorry, Coffs Harbour, Ballarat, and Launceston. Maybe Getaway will have you.

The first pair are Perth "workmates" Anne-Marie and Tracy, dressed in watermelon. They and the show's preview commercials have made an enormous deal about the fact that they're regular people who work at Big W, which better be paying for all this free pimpage. As if to belabor the point, their interview takes place in front of several piles of delivery pallets. In their work uniforms. With clips of them pretending to price-scan Debbie Does Darwin. And failing to understand the touchscreen registers. Hey, it sounds just like my local Big W! Tracy (with the permier hair) claims it's the most exciting thing they've ever done. Well, after working for Big W for a cumulative total of 28 years, it would have to be close. Anne-Marie (with the straighter hair) tells us they are not exactly the running type. Well, that'll help them if and when their Speed Bump involves a bed of nails or something equally as lame and contrived. And you know it will.

In banana (-na-na-na na-NA-na-na-na), I hate Richard and Joey on sight. Their "married entrepreneurs" tag doesn't help, given that it is still yet to be proven conclusively whether or not "entrepreneur" and "porn star trying to get a real job" are in fact synonymous, and given the last and only other team in Amazing Race history to have the same designation got kicked out of a cab in Hungary, nearly got deported from Germany, and caused their own elimination by failing to correctly count the number of asses travelling with them. They are from Sydney, which will surprise approximately nobody from outside of Sydney. Amidst shots of Joey (who didn't order sausage on her pizza) and Richard (who will confirm my unabashed city-slicker status if I hear he ever played a lusty stableboy) making those bodies sing by auditioning for Aerobics Oz Style II: Boot Camp Boogaloo, they give us a half-assed version of the "our friendless life will help us win" speech we hear every season on this show, culminating in me deciding to start the unofficial The Amazing Race Australia Drinking Game based around the words "Focus, Believe, Achieve". But since I want to promote safe alcohol consumption, take one shot for every scene with these two in which those three words are NOT said. (Also, one shot for every time Anne-Marie and Tracy rock a challenge involving physical activity. I love 'em already, but they're this season's Gutsy Grannies, with the distinction of actually wanting to be on the show.)

The third team consists of "surfers" and ambiguously bisexual models Tyler and Nathan, and their hideous hobo-chic beanies. I literally get NOTHING entertaining out of their introduction, because I'm busy thinking about how Nathan is Erin McNaught's current boyfriend and Tyler is one in a long, long line of Paris Hilton exes, proving once and for all that stars ARE blind. I'm not even sure I care about working out which is which yet, even though they look totally different.

Dave and Kelly are "married bikers" from the fine city of Geraldton in Western Australia, and have chosen black as their colour. Nice contrast to the surfers' white, not least of all because these two seem to be interesting as opposed to Bogan Zoolanders. Kelly (pink hair) tells us that people think they've got an arranged marriage since they're such total opposites. Yes, because opposites NEVER attract. Dave has the third biggest beard in Amazing Race history, after beekeeper Arthur and Amazing Race: All-Stars winner Eric, and points out that their biggest problem is that while they're basically a Green Acres-style couple with a motorbike instead of a tractor, they don't spend significant amounts of time together in real life. Kelly adds that they're the sort of people who make it work, almost as if she's openly doing my job for me and mocking clearly incompatible couples coming on this race to test their relationship. (If they get annoying, I reserve the right to rename Kelly "Eva Gawhore".)

Queensland "farmers" Matt and Tom and their slowmotion horses ride into shot next, since Seven is clearly intent on milking the cowboy schtick they got with Jet and Cord for all its worth, and/or stealing some of the thunder from The Farmer Wants A Wife. Their introduction is the fairly standard I'm Not As Dumb As Thinkle Peep Me Isn't one, but what's more interesting is the stuff revealed elsewhere that didn't make the cut here. Among other things, Matt's (black Akubra) usage of technology in his regular life is so uncommon he might actually start witch-hunting the Amish, and Tom (white Akubra) thinks it funny that Matt is "paranoid that people will think we're the Brokeback couple". Probably shouldn't have agreed to arrive at the MCG in the form of common transportation most resembling an egg, then.

Descendants of Latvian migrants and "reunited sisters" Alana and Mel are perhaps the most unique and therefore cool minority any season of this race has ever had, but all that culture is glossed over for their other hook, which is that Mel (longer hair) ran away from their Adelaide home as a teenager and never came back until the opportunity to win large amounts of money on a glorified game show arose. Well, fine, they've been repairing their relationship for a few years now, and should thus know each other pretty well, but let's go with the show's decision to say that They Don't Know Each Other At All. Mel implies the reason they don't get along is because Alana (shorter hair) is a nerd. Alana, by the way, is ridiculously pretty. And you know it's true if a gay guy picks up on it without being paid.

Naturally, the next team are professional "models" Sam and Renae from Perth. Of course there's a model team. And of course their intro shows them completelt randomly running around in bikinis and sunbaking. What's the male equivalent of "titillation"? And why aren't we getting any? Unfortunately I can't tell them apart by looks, and will probably be getting them mixed up in these recaps for weeks on end, so apologies in advance. They are the typical bimbo team we get every season who will try and use their questionable sex appeal to their advantage, but Renae is also a tomboy who performs ute maintainance for a living. So that's nice, I suppose. The show refuses to mention it, but she was also the runner up for Miss Universe Australia in 2010, which presumably means that, for whatever reason, the reigning Miss Universe Australia was unable to perform her famewhoring duties.

Offensive bellydancing music kicks in for Melbourne "friends" Mo and Mos (actual names: Mohammed and Mostafa, but with racial and theistic relations the way they are that's only slightly better than having a team of Saddam and Osama), and the commercials would have you believe that they are a Serious Muslim Team who will stop and pray every single time they reach a stop sign. From the moment they open their mouths, however, you can tell that they are something said media would have you believe doesn't exist: Funny Muslims. Mos (bald) thinks he's the better looking one, and it's not quite sure whether he's being serious or self-deprecating, while Mo (short hair) tells us that, while they will indeed be praying throughout the race in accordance with their faith (accompanied by footage of them praying right in front of the SBS building at Federation Square, because FOREIGN CULTURE), they believe it will help them calm down and avoid stress. Hopefully they realise that, just as God is in the tub, Allah has invited 72 of His finest over for a pool party.

Jeff and Luke are "father & son", and oddly they seem to be without a hometown. Their story is pretty much identical to Alana and Mel's, except with more penises. Probably. Jeff (old) left the family when Luke (young) was fifteen, and Luke still carries a chip on his shoulder over it. Got it? I'm so glad you're keeping up. Jeff says he'll "do whatever it takes" to fix their strained relationship, and then closes their intro with a very brief sincere smile Luke's eyeline can't see. Awwww. Also, I've decided I need more Luke on my television. And to show just how much, I am even willing to settle for appearances in which he is wearing pants.

Stripy "Brother & sister" Ryot and Liberty are here to represent Bogan Pride, just in case Ryot (pronounced "riot") not having a real word for his name was kind of hard to notice. It's a good thing too, since their sister Rebel (pronounced "rebel") is inextricably connected with the concept after creating a TV series of the same name. Liberty (pronounced "liberty") is continuing the family's tradition of entering beagles in dog shows, and that's exactly the sort of kooky thing that makes me want to like her in spite of her brother. Ryot is a professional poker player, which is a fancy way of saying "unemployed douchebag", and complains that he's the black sheep of the family. Well, yes, when you don't continue in your family's footsteps and don't co-star with Nicolas Cage, that is bound to happen. Liberty calls him intelligent and arrogant, and without skipping a beat he agrees that he is intelligent, confirming pretty much exactly the opposite. And we might have to be stuck with Ryot for a whole season? Frak us.

The final team on this grand tour is "dating" team Chris & Anastasia. Damn, we were so close to not having one for the first time ever as well. They do at least stand out from the other past dating teams by not being Anglo-Saxon though, which is good for Australia's sizable Greek community. But probably even better for the just as sizable Italian and Chinese communities, having avoided being represented by them. Also? Their orange outfits aren't exactly inconspicuous. Chris comes across as a haberdasher of asshattery, but would at least look nice in said hat; while Anastasia is kind of just... there. For now. They're using the race to test their relationship, and ZOMG HOW ORIGINAL. I must alert the presses!

The choppers finally touch down on the field, where a massive clue envelope has been displayed on the scoreboard screens. Self-promotion, much? Grant wraps this segment up by changing the "brains, brawn and teamwork" speech we hear every season to "strategy, strength, skill, and teamwork". I know it's blasphemous at this point, almost as much as hating Phil's eyebrow, but I actually think I like this version better. If only stamina was a factor. The teams disembark from their choppers and run past several kneeling people of unknown relevance, as Grant's final section of the speech amounts to a childrens-theatre "Join us, won't you?", and without the race even starting yet we cut to...

Credits. Is it deliberate the stock shot of Big Ben shows a time of 7:00? [HICKORY DICKORY BOMP.]

The combination of a wideshot showing the whole stadium, a subtitle telling us exactly where we are, and Grant repeating it for all the blind people watching (you know what I mean) help us to remember that we're still at the MCG, as if you thought the helicopters were actually flying backwards and we were starting somewhere down near Queenscliff. Grant overenunciates his way through his version of the speech, but does at least provide all the relevant information like the number of legs and how teams get a limited amount of money for each leg and how clues work, PHIL. He also goes into the rigmarole of explaining the Express Pass, also known as the stupidest invention to reality television since the Kardashians. The logo on the envelope Grant holds up looks a little second-rate, but then again this is a show on the Seven Network, so I suppose I should just be happy they managed to spell "Express" and "Pass" correctly. Functioning just as the American equivalent does, and probably going to have just as little entertainment value, whoever wins the first leg wins a piece of paper they have to take with them until they find a task they can't be arsed completing. For the sake of simplicity he doesn't mention the other three basic rules regarding its usage -- and, indeed, only one of these has ever been mentioned on the American version, so let's go over them now while I have your attention.

1. It does expire if you fail to use it. No holding off on using it until the last leg and then beating everybody because you didn't have to build an outrigger canoe or whatever.
2. If you get eliminated without using it, and it would have still been valid after the leg, whoever won said leg will also get control over the Express Pass, in addition to their amphibious vehicles.
3. This one's more wild speculation than an actual rule, but it wouldn't surprise me. It hasn't actually come up, since one of the two seasons it's been in previously didn't have any and the only one in the other was conveniently on the leg after it was used, but I suspect you can't use the Express Pass to win a Fast Forward. They don't want to waste the money they spent buying rhesus monkey testes for someone to eat.

When I unpause the video, Grant is busy telling the teams to do what fans across the world have been telling teams for close to 30 other seasons worldwide: Read The Fucking Clue. If you're new to the show, you may not understand how important that is; if you're a seasoned veteran, you know from experience that "walk" means "walk", and some other examples that aren't coming to me right now. The teams all cheer at the news that the winners get free money, a quarter of a million (tax-free) in fact, before Grant reveals that the season will be departing with tradition by having the first clue be in an actual cluebox instead of randomly placed on their backpacks. Which are... somewhere. "The world awaits. Good luck. Race hard. Race safe..." Luckily, his next words are not "But race to win!", instead finally yelling "GO!" to get this thing started. Is it just me, or did that take longer than usual?

The teams sprint across the field to the clues. Chris is quite clearly the fastest, making me hope this is one of those many seasons that doesn't come down to a footrace, but after Dave has to tell Kelly how to get the clue out of the envelope (yes, really), it's FrakUs and Liberty who reveal to us that the first clue of the season is a Road Block. Sweet! Not only is the first clue of the season something other than a standard Route Info for the first time, it's also only the second leg in history where that's happened, and the first since 2001. (Yes, this show is that old. It actually predates 9/11 by about a week.)

Grant tells us that "A Road Block is a task than only one person may perform", giving me the warm fuzzies for when we would be reminded of that every week (or, you know, at all), and also adds that we're keeping the rule that says you have to split them equally between team members. Specifically, since there are 12 legs and each has a Road Block, each team member must do six. I'm waiting for the season where they make the final one the token eating challenge, just for the lolwutz. One other thing, new fans: They only get a cryptic clue to help them decide. For example, this week's is "Who is your tower of strength?", and the task is fairly cool, which holds a lot of promise. Whoever gets chosen has to pull a number from a board at one of the six lighting towers (there are two numbers at each tower), then climb their way up the service ladder inside to reach the lights and get the clue attached to their harness. From there, there's just one way down: a 75 metre abseil. Their partner will wait at the bottom to helpfully mock their inability to plummet to the ground any faster. At the end of his explanation, Grant provides an aimless non-sequitur that doesn't have a pun and doesn't really provide any actual information beyond "75 metres is fucking HIGH, y'all". (If you're reading this in a country that doesn't use the metric system, firstly: get with the times; secondly: 75 metres is almost 250 feet.) Also, Grant? Teams won't have to do anything to finish the challenge. Individual players will have to do stuff, but no full teams will. Just... worth noting. Then again, I come to this show having watched five seasons with Allan Wu at the helm, so it couldn't get much worse than that.

It looks like what happens here is that each clue directs the team who picked it to a different tower, but since most of the towers require teams doubling up, it's still a race to get to the tower quickly so you don't have to wait for someone else to finish before you can start. And you've also got to work out which tower's which, which admittedly isn't too hard, but is still better than "Go that way!" It looks like Mo & Mos are headed for Tower 2, Anastasia and Chris for #4, Anne-Marie & Tracy for #6, and Alana & Mel for #1. In the process, Mel becomes the first non-Grant person to name-check the show this season, claiming that the concept of landing a helicopter on the MCG was "amazing" (and also conveniently gets the season's first confessional). Jeff & Luke are apparently also headed to Tower 1, but Sam & Renae are the first to reach Tower 2, just ahead of everybody's favourite Muslims. Mos does his best impersonation of a talking light tower, as we learn he's exhausted to the point of requiring asthma medication already. Oh, dear. The graphics help us remember that FrakUs and Liberty are separate people, as she's all "How AMAZING!" and he's like "Yeah." In a beachside confessional, she points out how they're "actually really on The Amazing Race Australia". Seriously, who would say that? Wouldn't you just say you were on The Amazing Race, regardless of the accuracy?

'Tis but a minor quibble, though, since the next team we see is Richard and Joey. Even though he's the one about to abseil down a tower, she gets to confessional that it was "insane" and her "adrenaline was pumping". Can't wait until she has to actually do something, then. Matt seems to think this is going to be just like climbing up a windmill. O...kay. Matt also has his '02' RoadBlock number (meaning whoever's sharing the tower with him got there first) stuck to his shirtfront like a namebadge. Thankfully, they don't go to the trouble of explaining it. Or using it like a fake moustache.

The camera rather excellently tilts up to show the entirety of Tower 2 right before the editors cut to an overhead shot zooming out from it to show the rest of the ground, zooming back in on the adjacent tower, where Mel is apparently preparing. Tyler is the first to start actually climbing, as the next montage basically tells us everyone doing the task first (Dave, Tracy, Renae, FrakUs, and Mel) is just having trouble getting to the top. As Renae becomes the third to actually get there, after Dave and Tyler, a camera tilts downwards to show that there's quite an imposing challenge still to go. So much so, in fact, that Tyler feels the need to become the first Amazing Race contestant in the world to be swear, uncensored, on television. Bring out the fucking cake already! As Tyler starts his descent, we get a confessional in which I can finally work out he's the one with the douchier hair. Not that Nathan's isn't plenty douchey, because believe me, it is. Very much so.

Over on Tower 6, which is luckily enough right next to where all the cars and the teams' bags are positioned, Dave is abseiling. He confessionals that "the quickest I could get to the bottom was the only way down" (gee, thanks), and that he wasn't much in the mood for sightseeing. Kelly shouts out encouragement -- yes, actual encouragement, on THIS show -- from down on the ground, near the statue of what a trip to the MCG to try and work out who's actually where in this segment tells me is Dennis Lillee. FrakUs is also on his way down Tower 4, and does that thing about 90 percent of abseilers do where they almost wind up kicking themselves in the head when faced with the wall moving away from them. Niiice. The editors try to imply Liberty's shouting is loud enough that the people on the passing train (which was probably scheduled to arrive 45 minutes earlier, knowing what Melbourne's train network is like -- in fact, I'm writing this sentence on a train right now) could hear her.

Tyler's done already, after apparently travelling so fast it seems he just loosened the safety devices on his harness enough so that the rope would just slide through rather than having to be pulled. Bud's down not long after, soon followed by Dave. They all hand the clues to their partners to read, and learn that they must get themselves to Lombok, Indonesia. Part of me wants to wonder how much of choosing Indonesia as the first location is its close proximity to Australia (and thus being cheaper, especially with so many teams), and how much of it is deliberately choosing a location the American version of the show hasn't gone to yet. Grant exposits that teams have to get to their bags and the nearby cars, then drive themselves to the airport before flying to Denpasar, on the island of Bali. From there, they'll have to catch a fastboat (presumably after heading to a dock or something, unless there are now international seaplane flights, which really would be amazing) to Lombok. Three teams can get on the first boat, while four will take the middle and four will get stuck in the arse end of the panto horse. They'll be taken to a small fishing village, and must search it for their next clue, which appears to be caught in a net in a boat along the shore instead of in a standard cluebox. Probably because it'll take them time to get all those clueboxes to Lombok.

Tyler and Nathan somehow manage to beat Dave & Kelly to the cars, even though the latter could probably have thrown a shotput from their tower to the bags, and are soon heading off. Bud & Liberty and Dave & Kelly also depart quickly, passing Mo & Mos in the process. Meanwhile, Mel begins to abseil, and soon has "the biggest wedgie ever". Oh, please let that turn up on that "How well do you remember the race?" challenge they usually do in the final leg. Richard's on his way down Tower 6, and it's right about now I begin thinking they were only using three or four of the towers, because it seems that quite a few people are coming down that particular one. Joey has to yank the clue envelope away from Richard's arse, because he's just that exhausted and/or lazy. He's such a good entrepreneur. Joey confessionals that it was "incredible" to be leaving Australia. Does she even know what show she's on? THIS ISN'T TODAY TONIGHT, LADY!

Alana and her Amazing Wedgie are down, and head off in fifth place. Meanwhile, Renae is freaking out. There's one in every bunch, isn't there? (I say this as the guy who would be The One in any bunch I am a part of.) Sam seems to think a round of "Woo!"s will help. What's helping even more is the name graphics telling us who's where in this task -- too often the editors of this show expect people to be able to work out who is who with no clues at all, especially when they look the same, and it's very refreshing to see something like this that makes it easier for us.

Over on Tower 4, right next to one of Melbourne's busiest sections of train lines -- which makes me wonder how this task wasn't spoiled when even the clueboxes in the middle of the field were -- Tracy's finally on her way. The giant clue envelopes are still hilariously displayed on the scoreboard as we cut back to Renae, who is taking so long turning it into a "mind over matter" task that even Mo & Mos are complaining. Tracy's making good progress... right up until she just randomly stops in the middle of her descent and leans back. Anne-Marie tells us she thought Tracy was dead, which I suppose would make this a very different kind of elimination leg. Tracy has enough energy left to complain about being "knackered" (ah, real Aussie slang, not like that stupid Road Block from the American version's first visit with its "bushies" and "lairy" "daks"). Renae tells us in a confessional upon landing that she would have kissed the ground (right outside the National Sports Museum) if she wasn't still attached to the rope. Um... ew. I'm not sure even Rex Hunt would have kissed the ground. They also get the clue telling them to give Melbourne a yibbida yibbida and head for Lombok. Hot Luke notices the girls running past (which would place Jeff as abseiling down Tower 1), then yells at his dad to go faster. As he leaves the decking of the tower, one of the safety guys wishes him a good race. Heh. I miss when they would let people who weren't the teams or the host show some personality. Tracy's finally down, but too exhausted to run. She tells us that this clue is giving the teams $140 for this leg. We don't know whether that's Australian or American currency, but either way it makes a mockery of Grant's comments about how they wouldn't be getting any money in the middle of the leg.

Matt, in 8th place, and Chris, in 9th place, both have no problems with the task, for which I thank them. It's really not easy to recap eleven people doing exactly the same thing when the most interesting part of the task is Who Is At Which Tower. Matt & Tom, however, do have a bit of trouble figuring out which way to go. It's kind of understandable, since not even locals would be able to find their way out of the MCG without a sherpa sometimes, but still funny. For the first time, we hear the fiddle-ridden tune that's probably going to be their theme music throughout the season, but it's at least more tolerable than the horrible noise we got with The Other Cowboys. Tom tells us Matt's never been to Melbourne, and Matt adds that there's a few more cars than he's used to. On the other hand, Matt's probably more capable of doing a hook turn than most Melburnians, so it balances out. Matt pretends he needs a bullbar just to get through the other cars on the road (of which there are very few, being the middle of the morning by now), and we learn that Tom has a really, really high-pitched laugh that's kind of endearing. I may have to dump Luke as my Imaginary Race Boyfriend. Or at least propose an Imaginary Race Threesome.

Jeff's done. Whee! Now firmly entrenched in last place, Mos is finally coming down, as a group of random people walk past. Mo tries to claim they're a cheersquad, but it seems more likely they're just passing through on their way to smoke some dope in one of the paddocks next to the 'G. (Disclaimer: Not encouraging.) In a confessional, Mo provides what is one of the funniest and most self-aware lines I've ever heard on any version of this show, and what needs to become the unofficial title quote for this. The line? "I'm surprised they didn't call the police. 'There's a random Arab climbing up the MCG. Should we be concerned'?" Yeah, I know. I'm not going to top that. But on the other hand, the precedent does allow me to make jokes about the All Muslims Are Terrorists stereotype without feeling like I'm going to get slapped with a fatwa, so that's nice.

Arriving at the airport rather quickly, and yet still providing us with more driving footage than we've seen out of any premiere episode in years, Tyler & Nathan head straight to the Jetstar counter, where they learn that there's either a 2:30pm flight connecting in Darwin and arriving sooner, or a 6:45pm direct flight arriving over an hour later. Not surprisingly, they take the Darwin flight, while Dave & Kelly and Bud & Liberty arrive in time to learn that tickets have already sold out. It won't matter at all with the fastboat schedules, but it's interesting that they're already letting teams organise their own flights -- in every other season, the first international flights teams take have prepurchased tickets to ease them into the process. I kind of like it this way. But what I really love is these shiny, shiny new map graphics. They're very much like an actual update of the original green-globe graphics, instead of zooming in and out on Google Earth maps like the American version now does. My only real complaint is that the line needs to be a color that's easier to see than a semi-transparent red, but since they're already improving on the current American maps to begin with, as well as making the line thick enough to see without glasses AND remembering to curve it to match the shape of the globe, I'm fine with it for the moment. Grant adds that Tyler & Nathan will be arriving at 8:30pm.

Back at the MCG, Mo & Mos walk to the cars, Mo reading that the clue says to search the beach for the next clue. Hmmm. Interesting. When they put their bags in the back of their cars, Mos manages to bonk Mo over the head with the boot door. Well, as long as they're only harming themselves.

In their car (!), Jeff notices that they've "got bandits at three o'clock", and... your guess is as good as mine. Sam notices Luke's stupid backwards-hat-wearing from their car, so I guess Jeff thinks they're trying to steal his money. Or something. But that's still drawing a pretty long bow. Sigh. MAKE SENSE, PEOPLE I WANT TO LIKE.

Alana and Mel appear to be confused by what looks like it's a road with embedded tram tracks, and aren't even sure whether it's a road. Don't worry, the tram drivers act as if it isn't a road either. Even though I live here and all, I totally empathise with Mel when she yells, "Melbourne roads are stupid!" Because they are, and anybody who tells you they aren't is a douche. Or living in Sydney. (I realise the two are far from being mutually exclusive.) Alana points out in a confessional that the pair don't often spend much time together, and certainly don't spend much time driving. Back in the car, Mel posits that they're going to have trouble finding their way around in Indonesia if they can't get out Melbourne on their own. Of course, she's failing to realise that Indonesia's not the sort of place where letting game show contestants drive themselves around is a good idea, and thus that they'll probably be taking taxis or buses or some such, but it's still a pretty decent argument, albeit not in the way she intended. If you can't work out how to get to the airport on Day One, how the hell are you going to be able to drive yourself around Korea or Russia or Mexico or somewhere after weeks of sleep-deprivation and sheer exhaustion?

At the airport, Tracy & Anne-Marie are entering the undercover carpark, while Anastasia & Chris find the actual outdoor parking spaces reserved for the teams. When they get inside, FrakUs & Liberty and Dave & Kelly are still waiting for tickets. Yeah, that sounds like Jetstar. Kelly tells them that they've already given them the nicknames of Muscles and Bambi, and since that is much quicker and easier to type than their actual names, I'm fine with it also. I'm not doing this to be faced with the prospect of writing nine-letter words on a regular basis, you know. As is, I'm already almost at my "Indonesia" limit. It turns out that Bambi's mum also calls her Bambi, and if that's not ironic, I don't know what is.

Back on the roads, Matt notices "another mob", and Tom points out that it's "the competitive yellow team". That's one way of putting it. Joey, of course, is pissed that the farmers have caught up. As it turns out, everyone is allowed to focus and believe, but only SHE can achieve, thank you very much. They both run into the airport, but while the team hereafter referred to as FBA (which is likely going to also be able to stand for Fuckhead Bogan Assholes by the end of the race) manage to find the counter quickly, the farmers and their fiddle are stuck trying to figure out what level of the airport they're supposed to be on. Once again, Melbourne is delightfully confusing. Motion to start every season of every race here? Couldn't possibly be worse than all those LA starts. Unfortunately for the farmers, they manage to ask one of the many unprofessional staff at the airport where they should go to buy tickets. More specifically, they ask her HOW to buy tickets, since they've never left the country before. She basically tells them "over there, lunkheads, where all the other idiots with cameras and sound guys are". I don't even like them yet, although I suspect some of that may be due to having to replay every scene with Matt talking three times to figure out what he's saying, but still: Fuck off, lady.

Outside, in what is sure to become the first of many commercial-break cliffhangers too lame to actually recap fully, Anne-Marie and Tracy realise they've driven into the wrong part of the carpark and are going to need to pay to get out. Since they've somehow spent their entire $140 already -- or, more likely, since the money was given to them in American currency -- they're not going to be able to get out. It's not a great cliffhanger (though certainly better than some past examples I could think of), but still: Dun-dun-DUN!

Commercials. While we're still talking about Melbourne Airport being a bit out of touch with reality?, does anyone know why there's a Burger King inside when it's called a Hungry Jack's everywhere else in Melbourne? Surely even American tourists can figure out that it's the same thing.

Anne-Marie and Tracy manage to get enough money to escape the seventh circle of hell. Cliffhanger resolved.

As expected, Mo & Mos are the last to actually get to the airport (and have since revealed in interviews that they fell further behind because they didn't want to risk a fine by travelling on the CityLink tollway without the requisite e-Tag [tm 1998]), but are at least smart enough to find the right damn car spaces the first time around. Inside, they learn their deficit doesn't matter, since they're going to be on the same flight as everyone except Tyler & Nathan. That's... odd, actually. Did the producers expect more teams to finish at the latter's fast pace, so they could have a bigger split? Did they expect Tyler & Nathan to be slower, putting everyone on the same plane? Was it planned to have only one team make the first flight? I don't think we'll ever know. Anyway, Mo & Mos head off for a quick prayer before their flight, Mo pointing out in a confessional that they probably should be praying a bit harder. Grant and the Amazing Line tell us that the last ten teams are on a direct flight scheduled to arrive at 10:20pm.

At 9:15pm, however, Tyler & Nathan touch down in Denpasar and are very quickly telling their taxi driver to go fast. In Indonesian. Not Spanish! For once! People on this show actually know that "Rapido!" isn't a universal word! With all the other teams currently in the middle of the air, there's no suspense to whether they'll make the first boat, and we cut to them writing their name on the board at 9:46pm. I really want to like these two for, you know, having actual racing skills, but they're totally going to be That Team who always looks like they're drunk and/or high.

At 10:55pm, everyone else lands, storming out of the airport in a big bunch. Luke tells us it was "really hectic getting out, and being in a country you don't know, in the middle of the night, in the rain, hoping you're going the right way" was quite daunting. Understandable, I think, although at least this is at the point in the season where you're not so tired and stressed you could flip your car at a roundabout. As Anne-Marie and Tracy express astonishment that Indonesia and Australia are in fact separate countries, we see a random shot of Matt's hat falling off as he gets into a taxi, right before Sam & Renae earn my seething hatred (assuming they didn't have it already) by putting on fake accents and telling the driver in broken English he's taking "Australian princesses". They're no Beauty Queens, that's for sure.

Muscles sounds oddly like Vince Sorrenti as he promises his cabbie a tip if he passes the two teams just ahead of them. Cue a montage in which every team is worried about whether the others will pass them, but since they all seem to arrive at roughly the same time it all basically comes down to a footrace. Bambi & Muscles and Alana & Mel are the first two teams to actually reach the board, and will join Tyler & Nathan on the first boat. The lotto numbers appear (22, 3, 10, 26, 12, 1, 20, and 19... did you win? And do I get a cut?) just as Sam & Renae take the fourth place and the first place on the second boat. They are joined by Dave & Kelly and Jeff & Luke, with the Big W ladies somehow managing to beat everyone else and claim the final place on it. FBA consider it "tough" to have had to write their names down for the last boat. You know, if they just focussed, they might be able to achieve more. They're certainly not low on misplaced self-belief. The farmers express shock that FBA could have passed them (heh), and they, their hats, and Tom's adorably mincy running (go ahead, watch it again) arrive in tenth, just behind the Mos. Ryot and Liberty are surprised to arrive in last place. After a shot of the board showing just how messy and illegible everybody's handwriting is, we learn that the teams are going to camp out for the night. Yes, that's right. Without a hotel. Hooray!

It's suddenly the next morning already, and the beautiful sunrise accompanies the three lead teams (Tyler & Nathan, Bambi & Muscles, and Melana) head off at 6:00am. Wow, early. Nathan confessionals, telling us that "the other teams had an opportunity to catch up, which, um, sorta sucked a little bit actually". I'd offer to fix that by moving all the other teams ahead of them, but then I would have to sit through FBA for at least another week, and I'm not sure I care that much. At 6:30, Sam & Renae and the three teams with people over 50 board the second boat. Talk about your Earlybird Special. Anne-Marie wonders what "the guys at work" would think "if they could see us now". Um, there's a funny thing about television. See that camera right in front of you, ladies? At 7:00am, the band of Unfocused Disbelieving Underachievers departs. Joey tells us that they're going to "step up" today, and I only have one thing to say to that: "Numfar, do the dance of sorrow!" Later on in the ride, Richard looks a bit green around the gills (see what I did there? Because they're on a b... oh, never mind), and confesses to hating small boats that get affected by the waves. BRING ME THE EMERGENCY KAYAK!

The first split-screen of the season takes us to what Wikipedia informs me is the village of Mataram. So you know it's true. The first boat arrives at 8:27am, with us helpfully reminded via graphic that the teams are in Lombok, and everyone begins looking for a cluebox. Somehow they all managed to avoid reading that bit of the clue that says they needed to search the beach for the clue, and all run off into the middle of the village, complete with random cows looking around like the teams are idiots. Heh. There is yet to be a sequence on The Amazing Race that would not be improved by having animals mocking teams' stupidity. Mel tells us she and Alana agreed to the highly inventive plan of running around looking for the clue. Smart move, that. While Tyler & Nathan go off on their own, running through a school playground, the other two teams seem to stick together, yet still have no idea where to go. Everyone's back in the general vicinity of the beach in time to notice the second boat's arrival (at 8:57am), and more importantly to laugh along with the Gong Of Idiocy as Anne-Marie falls flat on her arse getting out of the boat. They and the rest of their teams join the hunt for this non-existent cluebox. Jeff tells us the race is a bit like "snakes and ladders", with how a team could fall behind at the drop of a hat. I'm not sure what game he's been playing, but as I recall they don't hold all the players up until everyone reaches a certain number in that game.

Sam & Renae are the first to have locals tell them there is no cluebox to find, but misunderstand the schoolgirls' "no"s as being told they don't speak English. Muscles and Bambi get directions, as Tracy tells Dave & Kelly that this is haaaard. Dave confessionals, telling us that the leaders were "running around like headless chooks, so we went and joined 'em". Because following people is always the best way to get ahead in a race. Right on cue, the editors cut from Dave's "headless chooks" to a very much intact chicken ambling around slowly, just before Anne-Marie walks past it. Hee! She and Tracy are the first to actually look inside a boat, but fail to see that the clues are hidden underneath the net inside.

OH MY GOD. You know what this reminds me of? Girl-on-a-swing. (I realise that if you haven't seen the relevant episode of The Amazing Race Asia that remark makes no sense, but you should totally go and do it, because it's quite possibly one of the best episodes ever.)

The final boat is approaching, and Tom comments on how adept he and Matt are at finding clues in small Indonesian fishing villages. Yeah, they totally come here on their days off and pr... oh, wait. Never left the country before. I get it, they're being IRONIC. Oy. (Still more entertaining than FBA, though.) Arriving at 9:05am, which is both remarkably slow for a "fastboat" that left at seven o'clock and still over twenty minutes faster than the other two boats, the teams disembark and begin running in completely the wrong direction.

Tyler & Nathan are the first to actually rifle through the net and grab their clue (finally), and walk back into the village to read it, in order to stop the other teams from following them. They seem to be racing pretty well, which is a shame because the combination of their competence and their complete lack of charisma is overpoweringly dull. Kind of like watching Sunrise, only with competence. The clue tells them to take a cab to the Pura Lingsa temple. Grant informs us that they'll then have to run across the temple courtyard in the middle of a traditional ceremony where, basically, the teams will get pelted with balls of ground-up rice, in order to get their next clue. He adds that while the war may seem violent, it's done to unite Muslims and Hindus on the island. Well, that's okay then. Maybe we can get Israel and Palestine to fling rice in each other's faces and it'll be fine.

As they rush off to grab a taxi, Kelly notices them and she and Dave chase after, demanding to know where the clue is. Good for them. The surfers tell them it's in the boat painted like a raceflag, which seems kind of obvious now that I think about it, and they manage to get there before any other teams have found it. Sam & Renae correctly realise that it's "a chain reaction" they've got going on, after Dave & Kelly tell them where to go, and they tell both Anne-Marie & Tracy (who get it 4th) and FrakUs & Liberty (who still only get it tenth, after everyone else finds it on their own, and Melana are a bit slower). Richard expresses that sort of angry confidence only tools and NRL pla... no, only tools have, as he celebrates being ahead of the Big W ladies in his cab. And as we know? If there's one team you don't want to compete against towards the end of the race, it's the two older ladies who are struggling to keep up on Day TWO. In a confessional, Anne-Marie tells Tracy they're going to need to run at points during the race, Tracy countering that the ability to breathe is also an important skill. If I had the choice, I could probably think of a few people this season I'd rather see running than breathing. Speaking of FBA, Joey acts like she's sooooo sneaky, telling us she covered the net back up to hide the clues again. Richard sounds like he thinks she's the smartest woman alive, and... well, you made your bed, dude. Don't force the rest of us to lie in it. FrakUs and Liberty marvel at having essentially made up "an hour" on Melana. Well, you didn't really, since the other teams from the first boat are still far ahead, but whatever. In their cab, Melana wonder how they're going to catch-up. Because teams never switch positions on the race, apparently.

Commercials. Ways This Show Could Be Worse: Sarah Murdoch hosting. "You won!... WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THERE ARE ALREADY TWO TEAMS HERE?"

When we return, FBA are busy psyching themselves up -- I'm sure it'll help, aren't you? -- while Mos points out that he's fine with having rice cakes thrown at them, since getting hit in the face with cake is "every fat man's dream, apparently". Look, I'm... decidedly not anorexic, but I can think of many things that I would rather do that get HIT in the FACE with CAKE. Especially when it's not a cheesecake.

Travel porn (um, I mean, "establishing footage", because I'm a professional and shit) welcomes us to Pura Lingsa, where Nathan & Tyler are preparing. As they descend down a staircase into the courtyard, the locals begin hurling their rice, and it's quite hard to tell whether anything's actually hitting them, or where they're getting hit, but it looks kinda fun. And it's the sort of quick task the show never really does any more, so that's also a point in its favour. They get across quickly, Tyler providing a confessional about how "intense" it was (DRINK!), and then run back across with their clue to open it, revealing this season's first Detour.

If you're new to this show, (1) I'm shocked you made it this far into the recap without getting confused, and (2) a Detour is, often enough for Grant to explain it as such, a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Sure, there are exceptions, but I promise not to mention the really bad ones like painting a couple of people's fingernails versus packing and hauling coal around Mozambique, or the one in Finland where the two tasks basically sounded and looked exactly the same, or the one in the Netherlands that combined stupid costumes, bike travel, physical strength, dancing ability, and gross food into just one SIDE of the Detour. In any event, this week's Detour is a choice between Cash and Carry. Either way, they'll have to make their way to the Mandalika Market. Teams who pick Cash will have to find a bakso stall then ladle up and sell fifteen bowls of the local meatball soup, getting at least 5000 rupiah per bowl. On the other hand, Carry requires teams to find a market stall with a bunch of baskets of assorted green vegetables, then balance a basket each on their heads and walk across the market to a second stall to deliver them. To use some terminology common in the Amazing Race fandom back in Ye Olde Darke Ages, Cash is your standard "Tortoise" option, where you'll finish gradually but without having to redo the task (well, at least in theory), while Carry is your "Hare" where the task is faster, but you'll have to start again if you fuck it up (which won't be hard). There are two other basic Detour categories, but we'll deal with them if and when we get to them.

It's actually a very good Detour, all things considered. Neither task is too easy, neither task is too hard, they test different skill sets, and the title is a decent pun compared to some of the lame efforts in recent seasons. (Yes, that last one is TOTALLY IMPORTANT.) I could do with less task-recycling (Cash was from the first season of The Amazing Race Asia, Carry was from the fourth) but since they correctly worked out that the task originally paired with Carry in the episode this leg was based on was pointless and nearly impossible, I'm glad they changed it. And I'm not even sure it really matters that the tasks are copies anyway -- probably about 99% of the audience weren't even aware until idiots were complaining on Twitter during the premiere that these other versions even exist, and the producers are smart enough to not recycle the crappy tasks. At least not for another couple of seasons when.

The surfers choose Carry, as Sam & Renae arrive and are attacked. Renae thinks they were "cute", but Sam disagrees, calling them "evil". I'm not sure which is more disrespectful, to be honest. They get the clue without much fuss, and have the tough decision of choosing between two tasks practically catered to pretty blonde beauty pageant contestants. They also pick Carry. Somehow, FBA have managed to shoehorn their way into third, and pick Cash. Oddly, they seem to read the clue BEFORE running back through the gauntlet, so... you know, whatever. Right as Richard tells us from the safety of his cab that he still can't see out of his eye after getting hit (also accompanied by the farmers' fiddle, suggesting its less their theme music than it is Song For The Stupid), we cut to Dave telling Kelly to cover her face. Heh. Perhaps FBA should focus more on safety and less on being jerks. Just a thought. Dave & Kelly also pick Cash, ostensibly because of their cooking skills. In the next little montage, the Mos and the Big W ladies pick Cash, while the farmers and Jeff & Luke pick Carry, right before pretty much everybody complains about being exposed to actual culture on the race. And... seriously. Shut up, or let someone who actually wanted to be on the show take your position.

A split screen takes us to the market, where some odd tribal-sounding music that wouldn't have been too out of place on the first season of Survivor plays over some generic travel porn. Tyler & Nathan arrive and find the starting stall without much trouble, but almost instantly Tyler is complaining and saying they should switch to Cash. Dude, you haven't even taken a step yet. Shut up. Not surprisingly, Nathan gets fed up with Tyler being such a little bitch (earning themselves the nicknames Wallace and Grommet respectively), and tells him to keep trying. They eventually work out that going slow and steady will get them to the end of the course, but it still doesn't stop the local ladies from laughing when Grommet drops his load again. In a confessional, Wallace tells us that Grommet thinks it was because he washed his hair that he sucked the bag so much. Of course it was. Because it could never have been his ridiculous hairstyle to begin with. Just before what is generously being called Attempt 3 by the graphics, we see a guy walking around with a whole bunch of metal buckets balanced on his heads. Sideways. Awesome.

Back at the rice war, FrakUs and Liberty run through as she confessionals wondering whether the kids hired to throw rice at them had "a licence to kill". If only. They appear to choose Cash. In FBA's cab, she hits on the idea of selling two bowls at once, and as expected, Richard thinks She Is A Genius. I, on the other hand, would be surprised if she could even spell "genius". In other news, Jenius makes this comment with one of those put-on fake Asian accents that were outdated even in 1960s sitcoms. Honey, if they don't understand you when you're speaking English, they're certainly not going to understand you when you speak English sounding like Rose Porteous on crack. (Then again, we live in a nation where prawn-flavoured two minute noodles are no longer sold, yet "Oriental"-flavoured noodles are readily available. So I suppose I can't be too shocked.) In happier news for cultural relations between our two fine nations (well, between one fine nation and one that isn't Indonesia), the Mos ask their cab driver what the Bahasa words for "come eat" are. Yay! Elsewhere, Muscles and Bambi choose Carry. On their way back out, though, Bambi take a shot in the leg or something, and requires Muscles to carry her back up the stairs to their cab. As a final salvo, he calls the locals "pussies" on the way out. And nobody knows pussies better than dickheads. (I'M SORRY, LESBIANS AND RABBIT CONNOISSEURS OF THE WORLD.) Melana, still bringing up the rear, choose Cash. Happily, they choose not to complain about anything.

So to recap, that's FBA, Dave & Kelly, the Mos, the Big W ladies, FrakUs & Liberty, and Melana choosing Cash, and Wallace & Grommet, the models, the farmers, Jeff & Luke, and Muscles & Bambi choosing Carry. That's as even a split as you can get in a leg with eleven teams, and it's also the first time EVER the first Detour has been an even split. A sign of promise, I think, that teams are being faced with such a good Detour right off the bat.

At the market, the models and FBA arrive, heading off to their respective tasks. Jenius takes her place in the makeshift kitchen without consulting Richard, so either (1) Richard can't cook at home, (2) "entrepreneur" is actually code for "desperate housewife", or (3) she's a bit of a cunt. I suspect some combination of all three, since as Richard is trying to sell some bakso she's yelling over him offering a price that's both in the wrong freaking currency (rupees is India, not Indonesia) and severely underpriced (five THOUSAND, dumbass). She then can't stand the heat and gets out of the kitchen, trying to sell bakso with an even stronger fake-Asian accent than before. I'd ask her to apologise for her rudeness, but I'm not completely sure she wouldn't strap on some fake buckteeth and say something like "Me so solly, me ruve you wrong time". In what is probably the most amazing moment of this episode, it actually WORKS. (Elsewhere, Sam tries a Bollywood shimmy to keep her basket on her head. Also works.) They continue to sell, successfully getting three in succession, but Jenius is so smart she doesn't realise she's been conned out of 12,000 rupiah by only accepting 1000 rupiah notes. In a confessional she attributes it to being "in the moment". Isn't that one of those things only douches say, like "No, it's not a combover" or "The 10:43 train to Belgrave has been delayed, and is now expected in eighteen minutes" or "Once again, Immunity! Back up for grabs!"? Richard tells us they had to sell more bowls to make up for their own lack of focus, as the little graphic ticker trickles back down to 2/15. They give us our first actual FBA since the intro footage, which means you should be soused by now.

Carrying on up the aisle, Wallace & Grommet are moving very slowly to avoid dropping their baskets and still have about twenty metres left, which would probably mean something if we knew how long the entire trip was. As they do so, we see the models speedily walk up to and overtake them, almost running. Wonderful.

Commercials. The number of times the song used to advertise this show has been played on the radio just before Playing To Win or No Second Prize or something equally relevant recently is hilarious.

We relive the models passing Wallace and Grommet, this time with a Grommet confessional in which he impersonates a crab and Wallace chides him for "checking [the models] out", which apparently caused him to drop the basket AGAIN. Sigh. After this latest failure, they give up and head off to sell bakso. On the other hand, Sam & Renae are done. They read the next clue, and... okay, pay attention here. They've got to take a cab to Malimbu Beach, then ride in a traditional local boat to Gili Trawangan, put on snorkelling gear and search the seafloor for a briefcase, take the briefcase to a shack built on the beach, and count the money inside in order to get the next clue. Oh, and you can't cheat and use someone else's answer, since they all have different amounts. I realise it's entirely coincidental, but that's exactly the sort of wrinkle we need after how piggyback-friendly the most recent American season was. Anyway. In their cab, Sam is "proud" of how they "absolutely floored it".

The middle gaggle of teams arrives at the market and begins their tasks. Someone appears to do the Robot while Carry-ing, and Matt has decided to complete the task while still wearing his Akubra. Whether that's within the rules or not is up for debate, but... you know, you've got to use what you have to the best of your ability. The models were able to use their experience to help them get through the task, I don't see why there's any real difference here. And the baskets are more of a flexible material anyway, so people without hats wouldn't have much trouble molding it to match their own cranial contours if they were smart enough.

Over at Cash, Wallace is whining about Grommet making him switch tasks, calling him "the old man". I'm fairly certain actual old men could have done that task, though. They might have needed a Zimmer frame, but they definitely could have done it. The teams now attempting Cash all seem to have different approaches to selling, from Dave's loud yelling to Liberty's begging to Tyler's standing there with a bowl of bakso in his hand to Jenius's overt racism, but it's Tracy and Anne-Marie who make the first successful sale. Dave confessionals that he was trying his hardest to make love the secret ingredient, but still couldn't shift a bowl. After realising that selling so much soup is going to take a long time when there are so many other people around, they decide to Carry.

And now we enter the Jeff And Luke Finally Get Some Decent Camera Time part of the episode. They're trying and failing to Carry, and on their third attempt already. Luke confessionals that the local women thought it was hilarious that men would be doing this, especially when they were so slow and stiff-necked. Luke is apparently able to read minds and knows What Women Want, but not to the point he strips. More's the pity. After they fail again, they return for their fourth attempt, Jeff telling us that they "got really resolved" and vowed to finish the task no matter what it took. At no point during this confessional does he mention the words focus, believe, or achieve. Just worth noting. Luke drops his basket AGAIN.

Wallace and Grommet have somehow convinced their cabbie to give them a 50,000 rupiah note, allowing them to pretty much just make ten bowls and give them out for free. FBA watches on in frustration. as you would. Yeah, it's kind of cheating, but they do have the money and they are selling soup, so I'm fine with it. It's like their cabbie is shouting a round of drinks. You wouldn't get kicked out of the pub for that, would you? (Okay, you would if you shouted everyone Diet Pepsi.) And it has the added bonus of making Jenius pissed.

The farmers are done with Carry, and are leaving in second place. Go, team. In their cab, Tom marvels over how wonderful Matt's hat is, and... surely he's bisexual, at the very least. I mean, COME ON. I have the worst gaydar in recorded human history, and even I would get this right. Matt, still scared about being Brokebacked, points out that one of the things the "bomb diggity" Akubra is good for is picking up women. Rather than use the typical irritating sound effects the American version has and overuses, we instead hear a bassoon blowing on the soundtrack. Hee!

Muscles & Bambi and Melana have arrived and head to Carry. Dave promises Kelly a 'nana if she can get to the end in one attempt, but she grabs the basket after he stops right in front of her to let some people walk past. That's probably an even bigger part of the task than the actual balancing, I think. It's not too hard to balance it on your head, but being able to duck and weave while carrying it is quite tough, it seems. Everyone continues walking. Very slowly.

Wallace and Grommet are finished selling. In their cab, they consider it "a girl thing" to "do stuff with your head". I'm sorry, but THIS? From the guy who slept with PARIS HILTON?

In other news, Melana relate the story of having to balance books on their head to fix their posture as a child while chairdancing like penguins in a confessional, while Mel shows off her bellybutton and promptly scolds a guy who looks while she does it; and Tracy calls the Cash side of the Detour "mental" with everyone vying for the same customers. Um, you work at Big W. Surely there's a K-Mart or a Target or a Myer or whatever nearby trying to steal your business. By the time we wrap up this trip to Cash, the Mos and FrakUs and Liberty have each sold six bowls, Tracy & Anne-Marie have sold eight, and FBA have sold nine bowls. For real, this time.

As Mel drops her basket and prepares to return to the start of the course, she almost knocks it into Bambi, until Chris has to warn her, which in turn makes him drop his own basket. Oh, schadenfreude, I've missed you.

Commercials. It's 1:07am right now and not a single channel has an ad on for me to mock? Seriously? Not even a Danoz Direct infomercial?

When we return, Dave & Kelly are finishing up, still managing to be in 4th place despite switching tasks. He calls the old lady at the finish line 'love' (so Australian), and hugs her. Probably not the wisest thing he could have done in a conservative Muslim country, but since she's in a busy market in a tourist hotspot? I doubt he's the first guy. We learn that the clue specifies wearing swimwear for the task, and I really, really do not want to picture Dave in his underwear. Thanks, editors. Melana are done next, and Mel bemoans the fact that it isn't a Pit Stop yet. I can see where she's coming from, but I really like that they're actually trying to wear the teams down early. When they cut the budget for the American version after The Amazing Race: All-Stars, they had to drop two legs from each season (meaning the fatigue experienced and shown was greatly reduced), and for whatever stupid reason also decided it was good to start having legs that really only have a couple of tasks. Sure, you could argue that it was being done to ease the teams into racing, but... why do they need it? Start tough from the beginning and the stress and the fatigue that build up will be just as amazing as the tasks and the locations.

Anyway. Melana pass FrakUs and Liberty on their way out, and Liberty begins to realise how far behind they're falling, starting to give out free kisses to people who buy her bakso. She may not realise that she's probably cutting her market in about half by doing this, but whatever. In her confessional she admits, "I have no idea how many strange men I kissed today, but I think that strategy really helped us." Who knew that sex sells? I mean, aside from FBA? When they try and sell to a woman, though, they find it a bit more difficult. It's no wonder, when FrakUs is busy smelling his armpit.

Muscles and Bambi are done, as are the Mos and Jeff & Luke, who include the less-old finish-line woman in their group hug. Awww. I'm simultaneously touched and a little bit jealous.

Over at Malimbu Beach, the models arrive and promptly trip into a shallow little moat between the car park and the boats. Of course. Having grown up around bikes and boats, Renae realises that one of the waiting boats has a stronger motor than the rest (and, thus, will be faster), and unsurprisingly claim it for themselves. I'm impressed. I mean, we've had Blonde Bimbo Team after Blonde Bimbo Team for years now, and the only other one that would avoid failing an IQ test is more of a girly-girl team with brains, as opposed to being proper tomboys. It's quite refreshing to see a blonde woman on this show kick ass without a man in her life. (Yes, an old Ally McBeal repeat is currently playing on TV, why do you ask?)

Ryot and Liberty have finished selling and pashing. Meanwhile, Joey's trying to whore herself out as a not-at-all exotic dancer, and it's failing. Yay! Mostly because she's trying to claim that nobody else is offering bad dancing and smiling, without realising the other teams are practically offering a shiatsu with a happy ending by comparison. And speaking of a happy ending, Tracy & Anne-Marie are also done. As they read the clue, we flashback to a scene from their pre-race interview in which they think having to wear swimwear on television will be their biggest challenge. And here we are. Now firmly entrenched in last place (believe it), FBA finally get their clue. And, hopefully, deported. To Bishkek. (Actually, no. I wouldn't want to foist her onto the people of Kyrgyzstan.)

Luke tells us that the Detour was "really, really hard" (I know the feeling), and hopes to make up some time if "people can't swim". Right on cue, the editors cut to Mos pointing out that he's not great in the water. Heh. Mo points out that they haven't seen the surfers for "the whole trip". Didn't they all spend the night together camping out? And if they all spent the night together, where is my Tom/Luke sex tape?

We split-screen to Wallace and Grommet arriving at Malimbu Beach, where the farmers have joined them. As they leave the farmers struggling to remove their thick socks to get into the boat, Wallace realises that there's one boat missing. That boat, of course, carries the models, who are whooping it up on the open seas. Dave & Kelly notice that there's only two gone when they arrive, so either the farmers have joined an emergency line-dance or there was an extra boat to begin with. Melana are next, and pretty much grab the first boat they see.

Ominous music takes us to FrakUs and Liberty's cab, where her stomach is turning into a Road Block of its own. They pull over, and she attributes it to the combination of being hungry and the winding roads. Is "winding roads" a cue to make someone chuck, like how people mention waterfalls to mock those who are busting to pee? Duly noted. And... like, I sympathise with them, mostly because I would probably be throwing up at this point also, but... seriously. Buy some duty-free snacks or something while you're waiting for your plane. It turns out the beach is just around the corner, but Liberty's still dry-retching. And on that classy note...

Commercials. You know what makes me reeeeeeaaaaallllllllllyy want to watch Dancing With The Stars, Seven? Being threatened with the combination of Brynne Edelsten and James Blunt.

FrakUs and Liberty are suddenly back in their cab, just in time for her to need to throw up AGAIN. What lucky people.

Way over on Gili Trawangan, the models are arriving on board their boat Hercules for the swimsuit portion of today's competition. Naturally, they strip down to their bikinis and begin to frolic, calling the island "a paradise". Well... whether any island with you two present can be called a paradise is debatable, but it certainly is very pretty. As they reverse into the water (I don't know either), Renae falls back and lands on her backside. They begin to snorkel, and it's all very porny in a Mormon sort of way.

Muscles and Bambi are arriving at Malimbu Beach. Or not, because it seems their cabbie has dropped them off at the wrong location. In perhaps the first sign this is going to be different from the American version that isn't based on speech patterns, they choose to grab their bags and hoof it to the next beach instead of waiting around to yell at their driver. Instead, he chooses to yell at her in Greek. I'd try and translate it, but it's all... you know. As they hike, they are passed by FBA (damn it) and one other unshown team, causing Muscles to flip his shit. Maybe we're not so different after all.

FrakUs and Liberty arrive at the beach, and FrakUs manages to whomp Liberty in the gut with one of their backpacks. No wonder he's the black sheep of the family. Jeff & Luke, the Mos, FBA, and Muscles & Bambi have also all reached the boats, and head off. (I'm sorry, but there is literally nothing funny I can write about having four teams turn up and get into boats, especially when they all do exactly the same thing. And because this recap's already getting a bit "too long, didn't read" with about fifteen minutes of episode left, I'm not going to go out of my way to try. Maybe later in the season, when I care about the teams, sure. But now? No.)

In a nice little sequence seemingly designed to confuse foreigners who downloaded this episode from the interwebs, Matt tells us that "there's another team right up our clacker", and Grommet says, "I wonder where these chicks are. They must have been smashin' it, dude". Please, all of you, RUN YOUR OWN DAMN RACE. It doesn't matter where the other teams are.

These chicks have found their suitcase and are diving down to grab it. It's far enough below the surface that Renae lost her breath before she could reach it (and far enough that they needed SCUBA gear when this exact task appeared on The Amazing Race Asia), and the new and definitely not improved Horns of Perseverence play as they return to shore, just in time to see Wallace and Grommet arrive. As the latter head out, the models walk up one of the beams into the little beach huts they've mocked up for the teams to count in. They realise that it's not going to be an easy task, given there are clearly "thousands upon millions of notes", and the largest of the notes is only 5000 rupiah. (More interestingly, the music playing in the background was one of the main pieces used to score The Mole, so... insert your own Grant joke.) They begin to count their money, and quickly realise that it isn't going to work if they're both counting aloud. Or, rather, Sam realises they can't both count aloud while Renae continues to talk even after being advised not to.

Grommet has his briefcase, while the teams behind begin to rock up en masse. Matt explains that diving isn't the sort of thing that people in rural Queensland are prone to -- and it's a good thing it's still too soon to make jokes about the floods right now -- which probably explains their slower swimming stroke. And I'm totally not thinking about Tom stroking. At all. Really. DON'T GIVE ME THAT LOOK.

Fish swim in the ocean. Who knew?

Sam & Renae have apparently sorted their money into piles or something, and are now proceeding to count them again. They attribute the difficulty of the task to how tired they are and how much they need to concentrate, rather than the fact that there's millions of rupiah in front of them. Tyler and Nathan begin counting at the same time, but seem to be taking a slower approach.

Tom dives down to grab his case, giving us a brief peek at his crack (not that I happened to pause the video right on it or anything), and Dave also grabs his. I do not feel the need to pause again at this point. Melana seem to be struggling just to find the seafloor, let alone their case. At their counting station, the farmers wonder if there's "really a best way to do it". Oh, honey. There's always a best way to do it.

...Oh, for this task? I'm not sure whether it's really the best way, but I'd start by going through and sorting the notes into their denominations -- all the 100 rupiah notes together, and so on -- then counting each note as "one" and doing the basic math at the end. It's much harder to get confused when you've got smaller numbers to work with, and if they manage to avoid said confusion they could be done in a matter of minutes, pretty much. Of course, it's much harder to think of coping strategies like these when you're tired from a long day of being hit in the face with rice and balancing stuff on your head and selling food, and when you probably didn't get much sleep the night before, but still.

Dave advises Kelly to be careful when opening their case to avoid the money spilling, and Kelly's response? "Holy shitballs." Welcome to Australia, race.

We split-screen to FBA's boat, where they're busy trying to talk themselves up. Because that's worked so well for them so far. They call themselves "the sporty couple", and the editors decide to overlay Jeff & Luke looking across the water, as if to say, "You think so? Either of these two could beat you up in a fight... and he's sixty!" A bunch of teams arrive at the snorkels pretty much at the same exact time, and we are treated to the dual sight of Mo walking around in flippers and the Big W ladies just trying to figure out how to float... in the same shot. HA! As the more physically capable teams in this group grab their cases, the surfers have realised that the task isn't going to be easy. Jeff & Luke quickly come to the same conclusion, but at least Luke has the sense to choose his words carefully in order to not come across as though he thinks counting is hard.

Mel and FrakUs both grab cases. Meanwhile, Muscles and Bambi are only just arriving in the boat. Muscles tells us in a confessional that it was tough having to endure a boat ride like that knowing they were in last place. Fair enough. In the water, the Mos are struggling, but Mo finally gets their briefcase.

After a brief bit of kind of boring stuff in which Muscles and Bambi arrive and everybody else grabs their cases, and in which I realise that even I'm beginning to think this recap is getting too long for it's own damn good, we come to a point where Anne-Marie (given the case by Tracy) promptly drops it while swimming back to shore. You know, I love 'em and all, but they really are not very good at this whole racing caper.

Commercials. I kind of love how all the other people in the Freeview commercial are all, "Camera? WHERE?!", while Richard Morecroft is like, "Whatever. Just leave me to read my Garfield."

When we return, Tracy dives down and grabs the case again, once again handing it straight off to Anne-Marie to bring back to shore. Did she learn nothing?

The other teams continue to count... and count... and count. Liberty tells us that the challenge was right up their alley, since they both love money (um, I mean, "numbers"). They seem very organised at the moment, which I suppose is promising for them. On the other hand, the Mos have figured out that they have to sort their money into piles, but are too fatigued to actually figure out how to sort the piles. Helpful. The first team to actually try an answer are Wallace and Grommet, but it's not right. The farmers are also wrong, and fail to realise that they've somehow dropped a 2000 rupiah note next to their little shack. The models are also wrong. As Melana also struggle to count, Dave whines about how Kelly's done nothing, and she sort of sits there incredulously and lets him rant for a little bit, to avoid having to argue. That's either a good sign that they know how to deal with each other, or a bad sign for their relationship in general, and I'm not sure which yet.

We see another montage in which everybody is as clueless as each other, and the Big W ladies are kicking themselves for not being better given their occupations to boot, before Dave chucks another tanty after getting the wrong answer. I'm... really not liking him. And if anybody knows how unlikable people named Dave can be, it's me. He does at least hand the farmers back their dropped cash, so that's nice, if not terribly smart. Why help another team get ahead of you when there's a prize like the Express Pass available? Why do it at all? Tom tells us in a confessional that "if it wasn't for Old Mate, we'd definitely still be there, I'd say". I kind of enjoy these early phases of the race where nobody knows anyone else's name, as long as it doesn't get dragged for weeks on end until you're down to five teams left and still complaining about "the competitive yellow team" or "Florida" or whathaveyou.

Montage of Angry Concentration Faces.

The first team to actually get the right answer are the models, squealing joyously. The clue tells them to take a waiting cidomo to Sunset Point, the Pit Stop. Grant adds some basic factual information about the Gili islands, then confirms that "the last teams to check in COULD be eliminated". As the camera guy continues to walk backwards from the check-in mat, we see for the first time that where the world map design is usually the one that puts the US on the far left and Japan on the far right, we've instead gone for a Pacific-centered map that means Portugal is on the far left side and the Caribbean islands are on the far right. This does mean that Australia is in the middle, which is kind of a cool little detail that I wouldn't have even thought to include. Anyway.

Dave & Kelly also get the clue, Dave choosing to hug the poor judge guy, while FrakUs and Liberty instead opt to cheer loudly. Perhaps she's out of kisses. All three teams get in their cidomos (horse-drawn carriages, pretty much) and ride to Sunset Point, another beach where Grant is waiting with the little lady functioning as this week's greeter. With plentiful flags to guide teams down the beach (because heaven forbid we make them think), Sam & Renae make it to the mat first. The greeter welcomes them in both Bahasa and English, another cool little detail that will likely get overlooked in the process of mocking how wooden Grant is coming across. "As the winners of the first leg of our race", they've won ten grand from NAB (which means it'll probably never get paid into their accounts), as well as the Express Pass. It's the first time the Express Pass has been combined with an extra prize, and... probably a good move, I think, to give them a bonus for after the race as well as the in-race prize. And I'm certainly a fan of NAB getting to pimp themselves here with a prize and a graphic instead of hijacking twenty minutes of the episode to have Grant try to explain how fixing pens to chains is cultural to Indonesia. They provide what is clearly a staged shot to show Grant handing the envelope for the Express Pass over, and the sun glare on the envelope is so bad I wonder why they couldn't have tried a second take, since it kinds of makes it look like he's handing over a random piece of yellow paper. As they point out how they've proven so many people wrong by being the first ever Australian team to reach a Pit Stop (and I'm among them), Grant congratulates them on their win. Shortly afterwards, Dave and Kelly arrive as Team Number Two, and FrakUs and Liberty will be Team Number Three, assuming they can stand up on the damn mat properly. Oy.

Back at the money, Jeff & Luke finish, followed quickly by the farmers. Wallace provides a confessional about how he was beginning to get disparaged by all the other teams managing to finish, leaving him closer to being in last place. The implied "and behind FBA" is omitted, but irrelevant considering they can't even figure out where they're going to put their counted money instead of actually, you know, counting. A guy on an ice-cream bike begins playing his bad muzak right next to the Mos' shack, and they point out that they don't have the money to buy anything. I wonder where they could possibly find some money.

Wallace and Grommet are done, as are Muscles and Bambi. At the Pit Stop, Jeff & Luke are Team Number Four, the farmers are Team Number Five, Wallace and Grommet are Team Number Six, and Muscles and Bambi are in seventh. It's the first time in quite a while that there's been three all-male teams finishing in consecutive positions, although the fact that there are rarely even three male teams in a season any more certainly doesn't help.

The Big W ladies have managed to luck into the case with a grand total of exactly four million, and are given their next clue in ninth place. (Um, who's in eighth?) They depart for the Pit Stop, and someone really needs to tell Anne-Marie to be quiet at some point during the race. I love their enthusiasm, but... tone it down a little. As they head off, the Mos realise they've got a pretty good chance of being eliminated.

Commercials. Shut up, Beatrice's hat.

Mel snarks that there's no reason for anybody to get too excited with their guess, thinking it's wrong, before they actually do get the clue and leave, this time really in ninth place. FBA follow, practically screaming in joy. Guess they finally decided to focus or something. The Mos are also done, and now it's a race. Or it would be, if the cidomo ride actually meant anything. They're all getting to the Pit Stop in the same order, and it doesn't change here, with the big women from Big W as Team Number Eight, Melana as Team Number Nine (and celebrating not being losers with a "bum five", heh), FBA managing to achieve the wonderful result of... Team Number Ten (out of eleven), and the Mos coming last.

I can't say they didn't deserve it, since there was plenty of chances for the lead to chance and they've pretty much been in last place for the entire leg, but it would have been nice to wipe the smug smirk of FBA's faces. "Luckily, this is a predetermined non-elimination leg", or so sayeth Grant, which means they're going to have another chance. As expected they've got a penalty in the next leg of the race they'll have to deal with, but since the Speed Bump is a pointless waste of time that's generally filled with lame tasks like "sit on ice" or "wash someone's hair", the producers have decided instead to regress to 2006, and the Mos will instead be Marked For Elimination. Basically, if they win the next leg, they'll be completely fine, but if they don't they'll be given a thirty-minute penalty and the lost time could push them into last, eliminating them. The Mos realise that they've got to shape up or ship out, so hooray for self-awareness.

So there we are. One of the best first legs we've seen in ages, and certainly in the running for Best Premiere Ever (though the premieres as a batch are not particularly great), with enough little tweaks to make it uniquely Australian without tampering with the basic formula of the show. The casting is very interesting, even though I still can't tell the models apart, with a kind of social/class divide instead of the usual cast of generic pretty people with little difference from one team to the next, some of the most fascinating characters (not caricatures) that have ever been on this show, and some sure signs right from the outset that this will really be one of the toughest races ever instead of being One Of The Toughest Races Ever. And when you consider that Masterchef's first episodes were shockers, and Survivor can't even string one act together without having someone threaten to cut a bitch, it's quite astonishing that we got an episode this wonderful as the first episode ever. Now, if only they'd bring back the Fast Forward so it's on every leg...

Next time: Vietnam, oxen, and Bambi, oh my!


So there you have it. I know, it's long. And I'm genuinely sorry for that. Part of the issue is that there was an extra half-hour of episode to recap, but part of it is trying to find the right mix of sarcastic commentary, play-by-play recapping, and actual analysis that a good recap of this style needs. I feel a bit like I overdosed on each of the elements at some point, while not using them enough at others, but the actual length is consistent with the recaps I wrote way back when I was hitting the mix perfectly -- usually, a well-written recap for a 44-minute show (an hour with commercials) came in at about ten thousand words, and this 70-minute episode (90 minutes with commercials) is a touch over fifteen thousand, so it's fairly analogous. Hopefully they'll be blended better in the next recap. I'd love to hear what you thought about the recap, especially with regards to what you'd like to see changed, regardless of whether you're a diehard Amazing Race fan or someone who tuned in for the first time for this episode to see what the fuss was about. Both opinions are equally important.


  1. Hey, I really enjoy reading your recaps, and this one was a really good read. Looking forward to the rest of the race, and for the next recaps.

  2. Great recap - looking forward to reading the next one.

  3. Yes it's long but the attention to detail is impressive. Loved it. I'm one of those first timers tuning in to see what the fuss is about, and am revved up by the whole thing. A well-crafted blow-by-blow (no pun intended) recap is a like an extra layer of icing to enjoy.

  4. Well, that recap was eighteen kinds of awesome, bravo. Love your attention to detail also (hi Nerm!). I on the other hand was slightly disappointed that no one yelled 'rapido' at their taxi driver, I like to see that used incorrectly on every leg where possible.

    I've watched every season of TAR (original flavour) - I love and miss Phil and his eyebrow but have to admit a thrill at hearing Grant repeat almost wordforword the spiel about Roadblocks and Detours and Eat/Sleep/Mingle. Exciting - looking forward to your next recap!

  5. That was a great recap, well done! I'm really enjoying this race, I hope it keeps the initial high standard up.
    "Married Entrepreneurs" is a terrible thing to describe one's team as!

  6. Thank you for the recaps. For those fortunate enough to be aware of the existence of TWoP, it's obvious you're a fan - if I close my eyes I could almost be reading Miss Alli - BOMP.

    FYI, "bandits at 3 o'clock" is air combat terminology - a bandit is an enemy aircraft and their position is pinpointed by the hour on a clock. Makes sense now? Jeff was pointing out another team approaching to the right.