June 15, 2011

Australia 1x04: Addo, South Africa

Previously on Holy Macau!: Last week's episode, the recap of which came in at EXACTLY ten thousand words on my word processor's counter (because I'm just that lazy), and which was therefore completely and utterly perfect. Also: Ten teams flew from Vietnam to Hong Kong, then spent the night doing things normal Chinese people do like breaking clay tiles and eating fortune cookies and trying to figure out which order the animals actually go in in the damn Chinese zodiac. Between ambiguously not-entirely-heterosexual farmer Tom using the word "buggery" in a sentence, and him helping his One Twoo Wuv in the Road Block, and the three most enjoyable teams all having fun in a casino together, and the hilarious appropriateness of some of the fortune cookie messages, and Jenius being absent from half the episode (but now with some very visible scabs or scars or whatever they are), and the fact that even with the bad tasks it was still better than any other China-based episode in years, it was like a recapper's wet dream. But then came the realisation that Jenius was sticking around while Giggle and Cackle weren't. Nine teams remain chomping at the bit. Who will gag on it... TONIGHT?

Credits. Wow, Luke looks like the Terminator. Which begs the question: Should the punchline here be [COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO BOMP.] or [BOMP WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO COME.]?

Commercials. It's coincidental how completely unarousing ads for erectile dysfunction treatments are, right?

A crapload of stock footage of casino lights welcome us back to Macau, as Grant explains that Macau has "become the gambling capital of Asia". He does the same basic explanation of the A Ma Cultural Village as he did last week for the Hue Citadel, but it doesn't really matter since we're not starting this week's leg there anyway. They don't even really hide it, giving us a nice stock shot of the St. Paul's cathedral ruins before FBA depart at 9:52am. They learn that they'll have to fly to Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Sweet! It's been far too long since the race has gone to South Africa, and looking back at all the legs the race has ever spent in Africa, there's been excellent leg after excellent leg, with the only real exception being one in Mozambique. And even then, the only real issue with that leg is a horribly lopsided Detour. (I am excluding the four legs the race has spent on islands in the Indian Ocean, since all of them have been remarkably underwhelming despite great scenery.) So, anyway, this is going to be awesome. More stock footage tells us that there are animals and buildings and such in Africa, as Grant explains that they'll have to search the airport carpark for a marked four-wheel drive containing the next clue. Not too hard, since they're all lined up in a row next to each other. In their cab, Jenius tells us she hopes she'll "get to do something with, like, animals or a safari". I think that can be arranged.

At the airport, where the graphics confirm once again that Macau is governed by the Chinese, FBA rant some more about how everybody sees them as "a very competitive couple" and "a big threat" because they're "in this game to win". As opposed to how all the other teams are here to limp their way around a couple of countries before collapsing in a heap? The Amazing Red Ribbon then speeds halfway around the world to show FBA's path from Macau to Bangkok to Johannesburg.

Melana and the surfers both leave at 1:00pm. Oddly, all three teams so far have been shown leaving from different points in front of the landmark, which makes me think they actually did start at the Pit Stop, heading to the ruins as the first destination of the leg, and the entire first stage has just been cut out of the show. I mean, I can kind of understand it if Melana and the surfers are in slightly different positions given they're starting at the exact same time and all, but there's no reason for FBA to have been halfway down the stairs to read their clue. Alana explains in a confessional that their only real plan for doing well in the race is to beat FBA. Mel tells us she thinks it'd be "amazing" if they could somehow manage to suck less than all of the other teams for a leg. Just one, she's not greedy. They and the surfers yell between their cabs to take a ferry to Hong Kong and try to get a flight there, seeing as it's a bigger airport and all. I kind of love how it seems they're not forcing teams to use a specific airport on this version of the race. They did it when teams left Lombok for Vietnam as well, and I think it adds in an extra layer of strategy to the race that isn't there usually. Even in the past when we've had extreme airline chaos, teams are usually forced to travel through a certain city's airport on their way out of the country (most notably, travelling from Cancun to Mexico City to leave the country despite Cancun having better connections to get them to London, the next destination). There's only five exceptions I can think of, and four of them happened during season finales -- including two in the SAME finale. (If you're playing along? Alaska to San Francisco in season two, Salzburg or Munich to Paris and later Hawaii to Phoenix in season four, and Barcelona to Paris then Paris to New York in season ten.)

Grommet could not be less enthusiastic as he confessionals about how he thinks their race is going. Still, at least he accurately notes that he and Wallace are a genuine threat. Unlike certain incompetent nitwits. Both of these two teams take the first ferry back to Hong Kong.

At 1:31pm, Dave & Kelly head off all excited, while the farmers are much more businesslike as they leave with their $216 three minutes later. As Dave talks to a cab driver in extremely slow English (because speaking slower makes words you don't know easier to understand, apparently), Kelly explains that because they've been married for so long, their arguments no longer have any meaning. Free Kelly! She believes their pointless arguing is helping them in the race because they can concentrate on... well, I'm not sure her argument makes any sense, really. Wait, scratch that. I'm absolutely sure her argument makes no sense whatsoever. Dave whines about how the race is "getting bloody harder" as it stretches on. Let the record show that Dave thinks getting pelted in the face with rice is easier than sitting down in a casino and making what are essentially 50-50 decisions about freaking PLAYING CARDS. Somehow, Dave & Kelly manage to get onto a ferry before the farmers even get a taxi, Matt wishing Macau a hearty "Toodles!" and bringing the total number of heterosexual men to ever use that word on television to... one. Unless. Tom explains that travelling hard and fast isn't exactly his style (mmmmmmm), and the Fiddles Of Being A Country Bumpkin play... well, surprisingly quickly, given the context. Shut up, fiddles. They briefly forget where they are. As you do.

At the airport in Hong Kong, the surfers and Melana arrive and check the departure screens. Mel voices over that there's a flight to Port Elizabeth departing at 11:35pm, but since we're, you know, about to be shown the teams travelling with a connection, I very much doubt the flight between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth is listed on a departure screen IN HONG KONG. They head to a counter and book tickets to South Africa (though notably not to Port Elizabeth), learning that the departure board was lying anyway and it's departing at 11:45pm. Well, that's helpful, the displayed timetable having precisely zero relevance to what's actually happening. It's like the task is "navigate the Melbourne train network".

This week's Departure Montage kicks off at 1:36pm with Jeff & Luke, then continues with Asshole & Bambi a minute later, and the Lucys a minute after that.

During the week, it was pointed out that Jeff & Luke have been edited as "the world's most vomitorious Hallmark card". And you know what? As much as I love them (or... one of them), I can't disagree with this assessment. Plus I was looking for a team nickname for them anyway, so they're now officially collectively known as Hallmark. As they snark at the complete randomness of being told to go to South Africa today, Jeff tells us that he's now approaching the race as Luke's "running mate" instead of as his father. I wish it was a surprise Jeff was shirking his role as a parent.

Meanwhile, Asshole and Bambi are laughing in their cab about South Africa. As they board the third ferry back to Hong Kong, Asshole tells us he thinks they've done far better at controlling their anger than they usually do at home. Cue flashback. But since I've already suffered through recapping The Argument That Continuity Forgot once before, I'm not about to do it again. I kind of wonder whether they're deliberately playing up this dysfunction for the cameras. Surely there would have been another argument by now if they were really so incompatible. Asshole continues by stating that they quite often have differing opinions, and Bambi butts in to say that they "have to go with the most logical, which is usually [hers]". After a perfect pregnant pause, Asshole's response is a simple "Um.", which is totally what I would do if I had either of these two telling me their actions are perfectly logical. I mean, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt in an argument that was edited out of order and out of context and still couldn't really do it. I mean, they both seem likable and relatable (unlike many Assholes Of Races Past), and they definitely do seem to enjoy each other most of the time (again), but they make it so hard to actually hope they do well, you know?

Ferry Terminal. Some random douche tries to pretend he doesn't see the Lucys and their gigantic backpacks. Right, dude. Sam tells us she thinks they're working so well together because Renae is a tomboy and she isn't. Sure helped them at the end of the last leg. Meanwhile, Renae believes that she's stronger but Sam is smarter. Wow, anonymous competence is boring. Anyway, all the teams who weren't already headed to Hong Kong now are, on Ferry #4.

Except for Momos, who are leaving the Pit Stop at 6:31pm, over eight-and-a-half hours after FBA. Mo explains that their goal for this leg, rather than to win it or something else that's unlikely, is just to get to the Pit Stop without having to face a penalty of any form. So... last ferry, unsurprisingly. And just to add insult to injury (or injury to insult, really), Mos gets seasick on the boat over. With plentiful retching noises and me looking away to avoid having to recap it, they manage to get to Hong Kong. Mo confessionals to explain that they were trying to figure out how sick they have to be to quit the race. Let me put it this way, guys: We've had asthma attacks. We've had someone collapse from dehydration. We've had people needing treatment for altitude sickness. We've had a 66-year-old woman cut her face open on jagged rocks, and her husband soldier on in spite of a broken foot later in the race. And none of them have quit the race. Quit being soft.

With Mo taking Mos's bag, they head off for the airport, where they are shocked to learn that, due to a shocking lack of direct flights between Hong Kong and a comparatively small city in southern Africa, everyone except for FBA will instead be flying to Johannesburg together. From Johannesburg, they'll take the same flight to Port Elizabeth as everyone else is on. Go, go, Gadget Amazing Red Ribbon!

We cut to the teams walking off the plane in Port Elizabeth, and running to the cars in a big bunch. The clue says, "Drive youselves to the Valley of Desolation." You know what makes me want to go somewhere? The fact that being unable to find help if you get lost (which I totally would) has been worked into the place's NAME. On the other hand, it would be nice to lose some of these teams on what Grant informs us is a 300 kilometre drive north of town to the Camdeboo National Park. And to make it even more fun, they'll have to search a sheer cliff-face for the next clue. Let's hope... never mind what I hope. Weirdly, we get the first four teams reading the clue in a montage before Grant's voiceover, and we get the last four teams reading the clue in a montage after Grant's voiceover, but Asshole & Bambi aren't shown at all. But they'll probably show it somewhere in Scandinavia or Latin America or something and expect me not to notice, so it doesn't really matter.

Dave notices it's a manual, and Kelly points out that "the girls" are going to struggle. Melana are indeed struggling to get it out of first gear. And their car, too. Alana explains that she tried to drive, but the results were less satisfying than finding out your jam donut has instead been filled with chocolate sauce. Weak chocolate sauce. Chocolate yoghurt. (By the way? Thanks, Krispy Kreme!) As Momos get directions, and learn of the ridiculous drive ahead, Alana struggles so much she decides to switch with Mel. Mel tells us in a confessional that they knew a manual car was probably going to be forced on them at some point during the race, so "Alana had a million lessons", while Mel figured she'd be able to pick it up easily and only had two. Somehow, Mel seems to be doing better (by which I mean "at least the scenery out of the window is changing"), but she still needs Alana to reach in from the back seat to change her gear for her. Isn't that kind of illegal? And if it's not illegal, shouldn't it be kind of impossible with the need for seatbelts and all? As she struggles with it and Mel yells at her because she's not sure what gear the car's in, Alana leans back into her seat and points out that it's kind of hard to be a literal backseat driver.

Suddenly, we're at the Point of Desolation as a bunch of teams finish the world's quickest three-hour tour (three-hour tour), but for the third week out of four Wallace and Grommet are the first team to actually read the Detour clue. Hopefully, they know by now that it's a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. This time, the choices are named Smash and Bash, because we've already had one called Cash and we're saving Stash and Pash Rash for the inevitable Detour in Amsterdam's red-light district. (Disclaimer: The Netherlands has been confirmed as a destination by the commercials, but no details of what happened there are known. Kind of like most trips to Amsterdam.) If you pick Smash, you choose a throwing station and a corresponding target, then take turns throwing a knopkierie to smash four pots and urns of various sizes that are hanging from ropes in a field. You don't have to knock them all off the ropes, but you do have make it impossible for the locals to reuse the pots for gardening and such. (Wikipedia tells me knopkieries -- which have multiple recognised spellings -- are much longer and often also used as walking sticks, but we'll go with it because it's at least less irritating a cultural stereotype than many things that could have been done in a country famous for its former racist policies.) If you pick Bash, you choose a building station and use the provided tools and materials to properly build a giraffe feeder that's sturdy enough to impress a park ranger, with only a finished feeder for reference. The feeders look simple enough to be both one of the easier construction challenges they've had -- past ones have included wooden cranes, bamboo rafts, Amish water wheels, Swiss army bikes, motorcycles, and an Ikea desk -- and yet still complex enough to be difficult, while also keeping it at about the same difficulty as Smash, so... very nice. And they test different skills, so it actually is a Detour instead of that shitty choice we had last week. Yay!

By the way? Smash = Hare; Bash = Tortoise. Simple enough.

As Wallace and Grommet leave for Smash, Wallace notes that both tasks are taking place at the Kragga Kamma Game Park back in Port Elizabeth, so that's a completely random and nonsensical 600 kilometre drive just to retrieve a clue. Heh. That's actually kind of brilliant, much as it looks stupid. It's an easy way to make the teams more fatigued, it requires actual navigational ability instead of something like a bottomless gorge of a stomach, it makes the race feel more epic than the "take a taxi half a mile" feel the recent US seasons have had, and it provided some stunning scenery. I approve for now, but let's not have one of them every week, okay?

We get two montages of batches of teams selecting their Detours, so to sum it up: Wallace and Grommet, FBA, Dave & Kelly, Momos, the farmers, and Hallmark all pick Smash, while the remaining three aren't shown choosing.

As Alana notices the next phase of their Great African Road Trip, we cut to FBA. Bitchard exposits that everybody was neck-and-neck, as though the last two clue readings only being in montage form weren't enough of a giveaway. His car cuts into the pretty small gap between Asshole & Bambi's car and the one in front of them, and even Bambi tells Asshole to "beep him". So you know it's serious. Asshole explains that had he not used his brakes, they would have crashed. And having two of the three most irritating teams get killed in a high-speed car crash would be a downright shaaaaame. In a confessional, Bitchard explains that "it was a friendly drive". Only in that it confirmed I'd rather be friends with someone I've nicknamed Asshole than with you twats. Asshole makes his way in front of FBA, wondering aloud how Bitchard would "like to be driven like a donkey" and saying something (conveniently not-subtitled) in Greek. FBA honks their Horn Of Irony as Asshole manages to get in front of them, as Asshole continues his rant thusly: "Does he even have a licence, that guy? Honestly? He should let his wife drive, mate. She's got his balls anyway." Oh, dear. Damn it, Asshole, don't make me side with FBA. I mean, I know the only teams who've actually shown an issue with FBA at this point have been you guys, Melana, and Dave & Kelly, none of whom is coming across as particularly that pleasant, but. When the annoying antisocial twats in fugly matching self-helpy outfits are the lesser of two evils, you've got to wonder just how unpalatable you are.

Perhaps due in part to all the reckless driving going on, Asshole & Bambi are the first to actually reach the Detour park, having driven six hundred kilometres in about three minutes and seven seconds. A homely-looking woman comes out to their car to explain that the "PARK CLOSED" sign means the park is... you know, closed for the night. What a helpful lady. FBA are the only other team shown arriving, and they vow to return early in the morning so they can be first in line. Hee hee hee, I'm laughing already.

Accompanied by some wonderful, wonderful Soweto Gospel Choir-esque music, the sun rises the next morning in what is the Travel Porn equivalent of a cumshot (you're welcome) as elephants and hippopotamuses (hippopotami?) frolic and a springbok licks itself. Oh, look. Travel Porn foreplay.

The teams are all lined up in their cars as the "electrical fence" is opened barehanded by a guy in safari gear. Safest job ever! As the teams travel along a marked path in a convoy, zebras watch on and shake their adorable heads in disbelief. Have I mentioned how much I love zebras? They're much cooler than monkeys. And about eighty-one per cent less likely to fling their poo in your face at the zoo. Then again, the last zebra I saw at the zoo came up to the glass wall at the edge of the enclosure and tried to lick me, so maybe I got an exceptionally tame one. Or maybe I have an exceptional ability to walk with the animals, talk with the animals, run and sing and squawk with the animals.

In the front of the pack, FBA can see a mudpit coming up. Oh, foreshadowing, how much do I love thee? Let me count the... nope, just one way. Hallmark explains that they know from experience that "the first vehicle" is always the one that gets stuck. A giraffe stands watch over the mudpit as the teams arrive, and Asshole confirms that "that is true mud". I'm so glad we could save the money on scientific testing. With everyone else behind them and honking, FBA explain, "We were in first, the pressure's on, we just didn't... think". But why think when you can believe? Aaaaand stuck.

Commercials. Why is typecasting only good when it happens to Johnny Depp?

We get to relive only the last second or so of FBA getting stuck in their car, but supplement it with a camerashot from the other side of the mudpit showing them driving in and promptly sinking the front of their car in the mud with a visible splash. Nice. They're stuck so badly they can't back up, causing Matt to give Cackle a run for her money. As Alana points out, "Nobody likes Richard and Joey, let's be honest." Ouch. I mean, the savageness of that comment was matched only by its utter appropriateness, but still. Melana realise they shouldn't be laughing, lest they invite karma in for a cup of coffee and a piping-hot smackdown fresh from the oven, but don't particularly care at this point. As precisely nobody bothers to even fake an attempt to help FBA paddle their way back down shit creek, Bitchard starts digging the loose dirt away from their car's grill while Jenius just sort of stands there and complains.

The Lucys explain that "they fully got bogged", and because of it "Chris tried to be a bit of a hero" and pass them while they were struggling. Of course, rather than go around the freaking mudpuddle, he decides to try a different path straight through it, and also gets bogged. Matt apparently can't believe that city folk don't have as much experience driving through mud as he does. Gasp! Next you'll be telling me city people cook with the weird plants those hippies next door grow. Bambi proposes getting out of their car to make it lighter, which would be great if not for one thing: You won't be in the car and thus can't drive it across the mudpit. Grommet redefines laughing hysterically, while the other teams just watch on silently dreading their turn to sink. As FBA seems to have thought, "Great. We're stuck in a hole. How d... I KNOW! WE'LL DIG OUR WAY OUT!", Chris tries reversing in the background and manages to move about two feet, if that. Meanwhile, Grommet decides even he's had enough, and moves a stack of tree branches that are on the side of the mudpit so he can get across. They at least manage to get right into the deep part of the puddle before getting stuck. Oh, dear. But luckily he realised that it was going to be much easier if he "changed it into low", and they manage to successfully get out. So, naturally, the others all follow. Except FBA, because they're still focusing on trying to dig their way back to China. Even Melana manage to get through in about ten seconds, despite not knowing how to drive their car.

FBA continue digging, now back where they're most comfortable: last place.

The lead teams have arrived at the Detour, where there are half a dozen local women in regular clothes chanting and just as many men in loincloth-y shorts working to retrieve the thrown knopkieries. Yes, really. Classy, show. (Still, it leaves me with just one thing to say: Haba haba.)

We learn for the first time that Asshole and Bambi are playing to their strengths and picking Bash. (Not like that; Asshole's "a civil engineer" outside of the race and is therefore used to bossing people around. And building too, presumably.) He notices fairly quickly that the nails provided "aren't that strong", which means Bambi has to try not to pull or push too hard as she holds the poles in place while he nails. At the next workstation over, Alana seems to finally have found something she can do, and takes charge. Hooray! Of course, she directs Mel to do all the "hard labour" and hammer the nails in while she holds the pole. Because doing actual work would require... you know, work, and we can't have that now, can we?

Asshole has decided that, while Bambi is currently stretched out like a G-rated version of a picture from the Kama Sutra to hold three poles up, he will instead nail the fourth. Well, obviously. It seems to me that the best approach for this part would be to build the whole thing on its side, and then pick it up and move it into position at the end, kind of like a bookshelf. Then that way the person who's holding the logs in place will only have to hold one or maybe two poles at a time instead of turning all Vitruvian Man to try and keep all four steady. After a brief confessional in which they both marvel over her flexibility, it seems Asshole has safely secured one of the three poles Bambi was previously stretched out trying to keep in the air. Rather stupidly, he's done it to the one right in the middle, which means she's still spreading her legs instead of helping. Which begs the question: Why? I mean, aside from his probable ironic belief that women and tools aren't a good mix.

As Smash, there is throwing, and people (by which I mean "only Luke") are getting close enough to hit the support struts. Because this is funny in other cultures or something, two local guys (who look old enough to not be "local boys", but not old enough to be "local men", kind of like Josh Thomas) laugh like it's the most hilarious thing EVER. Just you wait, guys. The farmers are nowhere close, but Grommet manages to knock a pot clean off the rope, causing Wallace to jump in the air, touching his toes like he indulged his bi-curiosity in a threesome with Luke and Tom at the last Pit Stop. Speaking of the latter, he also smashes a pot, while Momos are having no luck. I mean, I could finish this quicker than them, even given that (1) the race is over, (2) I am not in South Africa, (3) I would have picked Bash, (4) I am a pacifist, and (5) I am so klutzy I would trip over while throwing and shatter my kneecap with the thingy. Without "Lightning and Thunder" helping them, they switch to Bash, as do Hallmark after a couple more bad throws. Perhaps with Wallace and Tom both there, Luke was getting a bit distracted.

As Hallmark leave for Bash, Tom smashes his and Matt's last urn, and they get the clue. It's a Road Block, delivered without any warning. This time, they've been given the highly-descriptive hint "Who wants to take the plunge?" to help decide who will be the One Team Member performing the task: The world's highest bungy jump, 216 metres from the Bloukrans Bridge near Port Elizabeth. And yes, "bungy" is the correct spelling. No J's, no E's. I'm not a huge fan of the Road Block being a first-come-first-served task, but at least there's a chance for the order to change as they drive over (which it would anyway, but still) and at least it's not another task the same as the last two Road Blocks. The farmers also note that there's a U-Turn ahead. I'm going to skip over Wallace and Grommet also finishing to get to the bit where Grant explains that the U-Turn is an idea executed far too poorly for the potential it actually has. Except not in so many words, obviously.

If you're new to the show, or if you understandably tune out the moment it gets mentioned, a U-Turn turns up at the end of a Detour and allows a team to force someone behind them to go back to finish whichever task they thought was horrible enough to not bother with the first time. You can only use it once, but since there's only ever been two at most during the race it's not much of a loss. This is a plain U-Turn with no other lame gimmicks designed to make the bad design less obvious, so you still have to put up a little picture of yourself so the team you pick knows who to blame, only one team can use it this time, and you still cannot make a team finish the sucky task wearing sock puppets. While it's probably not a good idea to have it right before a task where the order can't change between starting the bungy jump and finishing it, it's definitely one of the best Detours they've matched the Detour with, in terms of allowing the team affected by it to survive. A lot of the problem, I think, is that the producers of the various versions have tended to pick crappy legs to put U-Turns on -- legs where one Detour is obviously much slower than the other (crawling thirty metres and back or translating a Morse code message in the middle of a full-scale World War I re-enactment), legs where both tasks are the same basic skill (Israel's version had a U-Turn with the exact same Dance/Stance Detour we had last week; the Asian version had one where the choice was pretty much "do a slightly smaller bungy jump separately" or "do a slightly higher bungy jump in tandem"), or legs where there's no logical way for a U-Turned team to catch up (the Asian and American version have both had it as the very last thing in a leg) are all horrible places to put a U-Turn. It really shouldn't be too hard to get right. Put the U-Turn on a leg where the Detour is the first major task, put it on a leg where the tasks aren't designed to take hours, put it on legs where the tasks test different skills, and make sure there's a decent amount of travel time in the rest of the leg, and you're all set. Here, they've managed to do all four of these -- I'd estimate the tasks as taking about twenty minutes to half an hour, which is really the perfect amount of time for tasks in this situation -- so, basically, if the U-Turn is ever going to work this is the time. (By the way, this is the first time teams have driven themselves to the U-Turn, and also the first time the previous clue hasn't just directed them to the U-Turn itself, with another clue in a separate cluebox just behind it. I know, totally important.)

So the farmers get to the U-Turn first, causing Wallace and Grommet to have as much of a freak out as two stoners can have without actually coming down, but they choose not to make any enemies and instead allow Wallace and Grommet to do everyone else a favour by U-Turning FBA and in turn saving all the other teams their little U-Turn sticker for later. The oddest thing, of course, is that even though they're doing is just because FBA are "not really [their] cup of tea", it's the perfect strategical move in this situation -- when the ultimate goal of the leg amounts to little more than "don't come in last", you should try and delay the team currently in last place rather than the one right behind you, because the further someone else falls behind you the more you can afford to waste a few minutes here and there. If these two were forced to U-Turn by the farmers, they'd probably be in the middle of the pack for the leg and the only real change to the end result was that Wallace & Grommet would get pissed and vow a revenge that would never actually happen. But if you U-Turn a team that's at the very back of the pack, then the extra time would almost be enough to guarantee they'll find it hard to get out of last. And if this leg isn't a non-elimination...

We splitscreen back to the mudpit, where FBA are STILL trying to get their car out. With the mud "getting slushier and slushier", and Jenius calling it "disgusting", we're probably supposed to care. Yeah, not happening.

Commercials. Ways This Show Could Be Worse: "Make your way to the next Pit Stop, the Rooty Hill RSL."

Bitchard confessionals about how they "never gave up", thinking, "eventually, something has to give". Unfortunately for their own highly-inflated egos, it takes the form of another car randomly driving past and hauling them out. Well, of course. You can't believe your way out of a mud puddle. (One wonders why they didn't try to Crush It.) Nevertheless, the show's former Previously On... music, dubbed the Horns of Perseverence by some sections of the Amazing Race fandom, plays inappropriately as a couple of giraffes watch them try again. They get across, but not without making so much noise even Maria Sharapova would have told them to stop screaming. Off to the Detour, shall we?

We shall. Asshole and Bambi are almost done, and Hallmark are getting there. Luke tells us he and his father both have experience in carpentry -- and a quick check of the presskit reveals "Luke grew up in Melbourne and now runs his own landscaping business on the Gold Coast". Firstly, we're totally claiming him as one of our own, so suck it, Adelaide. Secondly, if they both have experience in the wise and noble art of "hammer hit nail here", WHY DIDN'T THEY PICK IT TO START WITH? I love 'em, but that's kind of a stupid decision to pick the task not based around your actual freaking occupations. They get the clue, but their little foray into weapons training means they're in fourth place behind Asshole & Bambi. Asshole and Jeff both take the task.

Dave and Kelly notice that even the giraffes have heard of their general incompetence with the knopkieries and have "come for a stickybeak". For whatever reason, Kelly does not make any shown attempt to throw, but Dave eventually gets their final pot. And takes the Road Block. Seriously, what does Kelly actually do? Besides... no, not even really just sitting there and looking pretty. You know that joke about how to tell if You Might Just Be A Redneck? Well, if you have pink streaks in your hair, wear leopard-print shawls and have an angry husband with a loud beard, You Might Just Be A Bogan. (Dear Americans: To work out what a bogan is, take one part Big Brother, one part Celebrity Rehab, two parts Real Housewives, and seventeen parts Jersey Shore, and mix them all up in a meth lab.)

Back over at Bash, the Trombones Of Isn't This Funny? Isn't It? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, NOT REALLY?! play as Momos begin to build, and realise the poles aren't going to stand up on their own yet. As they decide to work together on one part of the feeder, the other part they've already stood up falls over and nearly bonks them on the head. Twice. Meanwhile, the Lucys literally get less than fifteen seconds to show that not only did they pick Bash, they did it competently. And that time also includes a confessional in which they snigger about their proficiency with tools. Oh, make your own joke. They clearly did. It really is unusual that a team they built so much out of in the first episode has been so invisible since then, especially when they're a Token Hot Girl Team and the biggest drawcard of the first episode has been eliminated. Renae forces Sam to take the task.

FBA have apparently switched to Bash at some point (hee), and Bitchard is focusing so much he manages to splice open part of his thumb. With the blunt end of the hammer. When his hand really isn't that close to the nail he's halfway through inserting. But more importantly, it sounds like his role as an "entrepreneur" isn't as a fluffer but as an audio mixer. Nobody else could possibly enjoy moaning that much.

Circus music accompanies Dave & Kelly to the U-Turn, where he takes childish glee in celebrating what happened. Apparently the reactions of Asshole, Bambi, and Hallmark weren't interesting enough to be shown. Although even an "Oh, they got U-Turned? Huh." would have been hilarious in its own way.

Two giraffes practice headbutting each other's backsides in time with some classical music. As you would expect, this is a sign we're about to cut to Melana. We learn that at least they've picked the task based on what they know - Alana's hubby is a "building designer" (which I think is a fancy way of saying "architect" in a world where people have become too dumb to pronounce "architect"), while their father was a builder. See, they need to spend more time with Hallmark. For one, it might give the latter an ounce of non-Hallmark personality. Watching those two is kind of like being in that vehicle that passes right by a car crash in progress without trying to do anything. You know, like Canada or Mexico.

On the other hand, watching FBA is kind of like being IN the car that crashed, with a piece of crumpled metal embedded so far in your thigh you're hoping you can still get into the afterlife if you have someone drag you into the light. So I'm just going to ignore their little spat about Jenius being "so perfectionist sometimes" [sic] [naturally], and cut right to the bit where they get the clue and Bitchard takes the Road Block. So... they get the clue and Bitchard takes the Road Block. Bitchard tells us he figured, "Everybody's doing their own race. Who are we going to get U-Turned by?" Well, that depends. Who got there first? As they drive up and realise that this time it was Wallace and Grommet, they randomly invade the cluebox attached to the sign that stores all the big team pics (teams have to take the little ones themselves, and can't U-Turn if they've lost it), just in case there's a nice handwritten letter of apology or something in there. Jenius confessionals that she figured it was because they were "such a threat" that a U-Turn was necessary when they were already in "number ninth position". Yeah, she's such a perfectionist. Did she forget they left Momos and Melana at the Detour? Or that nobody in their right minds would see a team whose only decent finish came because of a stupid combination of a needle-in-a-haystack task and a Fast Forward? Then again, if they WERE in their right minds they wouldn't have travelled back to Kyoto circa 1612 just to get a haircut. They decide that the surfers are "fake", and while I can't dispute that they don't seem to be putting themselves forward as much as Mel or Dave or even the one-note farmers, I still feel like I need to make a remark about how they're totally the Pot right now. Bitchard then decides that the surfers were "smart" for realising that they "want to win this game". Because everyone else? Totally taking the scenic route to the World Tiddly-Winks Championship.

The scenic route, as demonstrated by Wallace and Grommet themselves, seems to consist mostly of freeways. They hear a police siren coming up behind them, and wonder what they've done wrong, but quickly realise the cops are instead chasing the farmers. Matt seems to be confused by the fact that a horse or a tractor could make such a shrill noise, and pulls over. Still in denial about their speed, the situation has become so serious Tom has taken his hat off. No! You can leave your hat on! Or at least wait until the surfers are in eyesight before you show everybody what Real Hair looks like!

Commercials. Shamwow or Snuggie? Death is not an option.

The farmers get pulled over AGAIN, because they're just that unlucky. So, basically, it's just a "slow the fuck down" warning from the cop, meaning that once again The Commercials Have No Meaning. And just to make it worse, we get another Accent Impersonation, but since this one's at least close to a South African accent, I'm going to let it slide. For now. The cop tells them, "Enjoy your wonderful stay", so I suspect either the local police were informed about the race coming through and told to keep an eye out, or he just took a look at the camera and figured out what was happening. Whichever it is? Still cool.

Melana are done with the Detour, now leapfrogging FBA to be in seventh place. They both realise the task is a bungy, which I suspect would be harder had the hint not been used for a bungy Road Block in the past, and Mel immediately takes it. Again.

FBA are struggling to Smash their pots, but manage to get one. Meanwhile, Melana drive past the U-Turn in the rain and celebrate it without getting out. Alana explains that they "did not feel sorry". Oh, well.

The surfers and Asshole & Bambi arrive first and second at the bridge, and suit up. Wallace explains that, walking out to the bungy itself, the bridge below was as seethrough as a Kim Duthie apology. He calls Grommet "a terrible teammate" for making him do this task he had no idea about before they both discovered what it was, and it's right about here that I realise Wallace looks like Tom Williams if the shot is tight enough to cut out the Ewfro. (I wonder if any of the camera guys pointed out the resemblance to Grant.) He sort of freezes up, basically making the two guys at the bridge push him a little bit. The editors cut all sound except Grommet's minor gasp from on top of the bridge and some random wind noises, because that is totally relevant when the person in question isn't deaf. Returning to the platform, Wallace explains that he felt like his eyes were about to pop out of his head. Well, that's why most people just raise their eyebrows instead. Clue! They completely butcher the name of the place they're going, which the graphics tell us is called Nomathamsanqa. Grant explains that it's a small village with a goat pen at one end and a sangoma at the other end, and that teams will have to "deliver" a goat -- not drag, deliver -- to the sangoma to get the clue. Unfortunately, whoever writes his copy decides that a sangoma is the same thing as a witch doctor, having not checked the "Sangoma" Wikipedia entry and therefore having not seen that one of their major roles is "counteracting witches". It seems they're more like a combination of a fortune teller, a counselor, and a herbal chemist than an actual witch doctor. Just, you know, for future reference.

Back at the Detour, Bitchard yells out "little pansy boys", which is offensive on its own but even worse when the local guys aren't even two metres away after returning the latest batch of knopkieries. He smashes their third pot, leaving them with just one left, but Jenius misses. In other news, Momos are done. Mos takes it.

Bungy. Chris screams on his way down, and confessionals that he can now confirm he is indeed alive. Good to know. For someone, I'm sure. Tom gives Matt his Akubra, because bungy jumping in a cowboy hat would just look stupid and attention-grabbing, and doesn't even wait for the guys on the bridge to finish the countdown before he leaps off. He's totally like a German chicken. (Why did the German chicken cross the road? Because it was the most efficient way of getting to the other side.) On his way down, he gives his wrist-mounted camera either a thumbs-up of a finger-gun with his free hand, but the sun glare makes it impossible to tell. Upon his return, he comments on how jumping off a bridge is "not standard mustering procedure, no".

Asshole and Bambi get directions telling them to head to the Addo Elephant Park, while Tom remembers seeing it on a map at some point and chooses to go it alone. While Bambi points out that the clue says to go to Nomathamsanqa, not Addo, Asshole decides to show off his mad Afrikaans skillz and explain that "Addo" means suburb. (It totally doesn't, by the way.) In a team confessional, Asshole explains that he's "doing [his] best as I can to take her opinion seriously" and that they need to try harder to work as a team, while Bambi appears to be falling asleep. Back in their car, he yells at her some more and she tells him to do whatever he wants. Oh, great. This is turning into A Streetcar Named Desire.

Although, to be honest, taking a trip down to the Sodom and Gomorrah on the Mississipp' would be infinitely preferable to spending much more time with FBA. They whine about how the last one wouldn't fall, right before Jenius finally smashes it. They take off without reading their clue, and I do believe that's our first Blunt Metaphor Alert of the season! Woop woop woop!

The surfers and the farmers arrive in Nomathamsanqa, parking at the Masizakhe Community Hall. After the scriptwriters decide Wallace needs to repeat the task details again, as well as Nomathamsanqa being kind of a long name, Grommet decides they need to grab "the chilledest" goat. Awww, I'm sorry, all our goat is fresh today. As they leave with a goat, a second tries to escape and is promptly caught by the farmers. Heh. Grommet tells Wallace to spank his goat and "grab his horn", neither of which are actually euphemisms (thank God), then compares it to "dragging a freaking train". Meanwhile, Tom tells us "the village was a bit of an eye-opener", what with its little streets and red dirt. Both of which are completely out of place in Outback Queensland, apparently.

It's clearly time for another Hallmark Moment, so let's cut back to the Bungy. Luke tells us Jeff was his Superman growing up, and "could do everything". Now with added flying! He continues, explaining that he tries to set the same example for his son. Jeff returns and calls it "the best thing [he's] ever done", before amending it to claim that Luke himself was the best thing he's ever done. Bleh. I hope those cards come in scratch-n-sniff, though.

Melana notice they've fallen behind Momos. Mel takes the chance to blame Alana for getting them lost, even though... they're... on the right track? I'm not sure I see her point, to be honest. Is it that they get behind Momos? They weren't too far ahead to begin with, and the thing about roads is they allow more than one way to go places, though. Shut up, Mel.

Dave is freaking out at the bungy jump while the guy tries to explain to him how not to choke himself on the cord wrapped around his ankles or something. He explains that he had a career in the army but managed to avoid jumping out of perfectly good helicopters. I smell some Foreshadowing. Mmm, turkey. He jumps, of course, blaming "Holy God" for how ridiculous it is. Well, of course. Blame the invisible guy who may not even really exist.

Asshole and Bambi grab their goat, despite her being scared and him using the provided rope as a lasso to grab it by its horns. Wallace and Grommet are also leading their goat by its horns, and get to the sangoma first. She rubs something (which looks like zinc cream but probably isn't) onto their cheeks like war paint, then gives them the clue, which sends them to the Pit Stop at the Addo Elephant National Park. Grant explains that the 500 elephants living in the park have lovingly left a plateau free for the day so Grant and the greeter can stand around without fear of being crushed in a stampede. Thanks, elephants! Also, the last team to rock up "WILL be eliminated". I wonder who it could be? As the surfers leave the sangoma's little area through a gate, it looks like they're only going to be let in one at a time, since the farmers are waiting. They also get the clue and go, passing by a struggling Asshole and Bambi. This causes Asshole to yell like he wouldn't have found an excuse anyway.

Sam enjoys her bungy jump, while Mel threatens to throw Alana from the bridge after her jump if she gets them "lost" again.

The farmers have arrived at the Pit Stop, and Matt wonders aloud if there are going to be elephants. Congratulations, you've learned to read. Noticing the surfers are behind them, he tells them to "line up". So there's the standard dick-measuring contest between the two teams, the only real winner in which is Tom, before they pull up to the little clearing where Grant is waiting. For some stupid reason, both teams decide to waste time grabbing their bags out of the backs of their vehicles instead of, you know, RUNNING TO THE MAT. Off this brief moment of stupidity...

Commercials. I'm waiting for the one that actually comes out and says, "Shit happens. Buy Huggies." or something along those lines. Still wouldn't buy them, but it's about time there was some truth in advertising.

We return to the footrace, where... well, I freeze-framed it and still couldn't get a clear idea of who won. Matt was first and Wallace was second, but Tom and Grommet appear to hit the mat at the exact same time, before both falling over. In any event, the greeter welcomes everyone to Port Elizabeth, and Grant decides that the farmers are Team Number One while the surfers are Team Number Two. The surfers complain that the dash was too short a distance for them to catch up, and perhaps they should have raced harder instead of complaining. It's drawing the attention away from the $5000 Kathmandu shopping spree the farmers have just won, which is possibly one of the best thought-out prizes in the show's history. I mean, the last thing anyone wants after spending a month away from a reasonable source of income is to be given a holiday, and the usual Wacky Vehicles serve no purpose, so it's nice to see something that both acknowledges that the contestants are the type of people to enjoy adventure, whilst also acknowledging that they need to be at work often enough to avoid losing their jobs. Brilliant decision. Matt explains that winning makes him happy...

...And if you can't tell that's a sign we're cutting to FBA, you need to spend more time watching reality shows. While Bitchard prepares, Mos jumps. Aaaaahhhhh!

Hallmark are at the goat pens, and Luke grabs one. While a lamb bleats to the camera as they walk in the background, Asshole is almost at the end struggling to haul his goat. He explains, "ten metres from the end, I was actually that tired I couldn't pull. The goat was stronger than me." If only he had someone with him who could help him finish the task. They get their zinc cream and clue, taking the time to briefly dance with the locals before heading back to their car. Bambi explains that the locals were so welcoming it was ridiculous.

Bitchard jumps, screaming before he even steps off. Wimp. While waiting for him to be brought back up to the bridge, Jenius explains that "if anyone can come from behind", it'll be them. Suuuure it will. Leaving, Bitchard confessionals that they "bungy'd as fast as [they] could, we ran as fast as we could out of there, and we drove as fast as we could". Screw speed limits and gravity, FBA want to catch up!

Hallmark have learned their goat is pregnant instead of just plain lazy and stubborn, and so decide to carry it instead of dragging it. Because it's totally fine to DRAG a GOAT across a VILLAGE when it's not pregnant. They drop it off and receive the clue. Get well soon, goat! They run back to their car with a horde of famewhory kids celebrating their second appearance on The Amazing Race (Nomathamsanqa also appeared in Israel's version), and Jeff decides to remark that "it was just an incredible connection with this country" to be able to run down a road with a kid with no shoes on. Good Lord, if this gets any sappier the Canadians will be harvesting it for syrup.

The Lucys are struggling, as are Dave and Kelly. But since they're not in danger of being booted, unable to win the leg, and not prone to become a walking advertisement for Hallmark, it doesn't really matter.

Momos have realised FBA are following them, while FBA are just happy to have made up some time. Mo explains in a confessional that FBA are the only team who haven't bothered to help them, while Mos in the back seat of the vehicle claims that "nice guys do finish last". But not yet, hopefully.

Asshole & Bambi arrive at the entrance to the Pit Stop and have a park ranger tell them to stay inside their vehicles at all times. I can't wait to see them driving over the Pit Stop mat to be safe. They and Hallmark both notice elephants on the roadside, but the tortoise Hallmark also see is enough to allow Asshole & Bambi to pass them. And the fact that they were already behind, I suppose. Asshole & Bambi, you're Team Number Three; Hallmark, you're Team Number Four.

The Lucys arrive at the sangoma with their goat, getting the clue at about the same time as Melana arrive. Alana shows she's grown some balls on the race by grabbing the goat's and telling him she'll pull him the whole way if she needs to. Dave & Kelly get the clue, walking back to their car as Melana continue their little individual drag race. They notice that "there's another car", and both Momos and FBA pull up at the same time. Wow, tense! While these two catch their goats, with Momos apparently having less trouble (and not deciding to switch to a second goat after they actually manage to get one), we are treated to what sounds like some completely irrelevant Russian opera music in the background. Bitchard tries to explain that "it wasn't a bad idea, it was a very good idea to change the goats because our goat wasn't moving, so you might have good luck and find a goat that does want to move." Or, you could just, you know, ignore the fact that goats have legs and try to carry it instead. Just a suggestion. As Hallmark proved, the task is "Get A Goat From A To B, Where A = The Pen and B = The Not-A-Witch-Doctor Witch Doctor", and there's no restriction that says you need to drag it. I can understand why a team like Melana is doing it this way, but there's no reason for a team that's supposedly as strong as FBA to be doing it.

Melana, in fact, now have locals telling them to pull the goat's tail to make it move. Do the RSPCA know about this task? Mel bitches via confessional that while she was getting her hands into position to do so, one of her fingers accidentally managed to check the goat for prostate cancer. (Disclaimer: I am assuming goat prostates are in roughly the same position. Don't email me just to tell me it's in their left wrist or something.) As she complains about how a hotel-sized soap bar isn't enough to wash the smell away, she picks exactly the right moment to (clearly deliberately) wave her hand right under pool Alana's nose.

The Lucys squee over the elephants. Welcome, girls, you're Team Number Five! Dave & Kelly then walk up hand-in-hand to finish sixth, which they deem "not too shabby".

Melana arrive at the sangoma exhausted, but still manage to upsize their ritual to include a hug. No, sangoma lady, she has Poo Hands! They leave passing the final two teams, telling Momos exactly how to get their goat to move while just barely wishing FBA "good luck" through gritted teeth. Heh. Momos explain that "there was something" that helped give them "the magic touch" with the goat. (And before someone points out their skin colour? Asshole has darker skin than either Mo or Mos, even though it's a fake tan.)

Jenius moans about how their new goat isn't moving at all, and tells Bitchard not to hurt her little protege. It's a Jenny goat! Bitchard tries to justify his animal abuse by theorising that goats don't have feelings. Not surprisingly, their goat continues to not move. Hey, it's a Double Blunt Metaphor Alert! FBA are going nowhere fast, and the editors don't want you to go anywhere!

Commercials. Which I would tell you about, but... spoilers, spoilers.

The goat eventually realises that the quicker it gets to the sangoma, the quicker it gets rid of Bitchard yelling at it, and begins running once it knows FBA are all but guaranteed last place. Hooray for smart goats!

Melana are seventh, Alana deeming it a miracle even though they've known for pretty much the last half of the leg that they were in seventh -- the bungy had teams pulling numbers, they probably figured nobody could have passed them on the way to the village, they had no position change at the goats, and passed two teams behind them on their way back to the car. So, you know, not really as much of a surprise as the editors probably want us to think.

The Violins Of Tension kick in as Momos and FBA get their clue. Run, boys, run! In their cars, Momos focus on trying to get to where they're going, while FBA complain about their goat some more. "Disheartening", indeed. My favourite piece of music in this show's arsenal attacks our eardrums for the Close-Ups And Crane Shots Of Intrigue, which this week proceed as follows: Car! Greeter Grant! Car! Mos! Bitchard! Mo! Jenius! Greeter Grant! Still standing there!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand... Momos! FUCK YES. Team Number Eight! Hugs all around. Grant feels the need to confirm that not finishing in last still means they get to stay around for at least another week. But more importantly, FBA don't. They arrive and are summarily eliminated, continuing the odd curse that seems to be happening with the head shaving Fast Forward. The first team to shave their heads (on the American version) won the race. The second (on Brazil's version) got eliminated the very next week. The third (on Israel's version) won the race. The fourth (on the Latin American version) won the leg and a non-elimination the week after but crashed and burned to become the next team eliminated. The fifth (on The Amazing Race Asia) won the race. And now FBA have continued the pattern by going from first to worst in the space of one leg. Well, first to last. Because I'm pretty sure they were already covering the worst part.

Bitchard compares the race to a "rollercoaster", which I suppose makes them that one at the Royal Melbourne Show that breaks down with monotonous regularity every year, while Jenius was "hoping it was a nom-elimination [sic]" so she could actually bitch about Wallace and Grommet to their faces. Well, there go our chances of finally having a team who understands that the U-Turn is a perfectly valid part of the game, even if nobody watching or competing actually likes it. Yet again. It does beg the question, though: Why isn't it ever on a non-elimination leg? Especially considering how often the Yield was on non-eliminations (four times in season five due to the race structure having one on every leg until the final elimination, on the first half of the To-Be-Continued leg in season seven, and on non-eliminations with four teams remaining in seasons six, eight, nine, ten, and eleven before being replaced with the U-Turn in season twelve), it seems stupid that they haven't had even one on a non-elimination since its introduction. Surely it would be infinitely preferable to turning whichever episode it appears on into an inevitable Less-Than-Amazing Death March.

Their final thought is about how they're strong and how they'll one day be able to tell their grandkids they were the team nobody liked on a reality show that, let's be honest, is not going to be remembered in fifty years time when their grandkids are old enough to care. I mean, just take a look at the local television industry. I'd normally suggest that it's a dog eat dog world and the weakest links get shafted, but man oh man, Australia has consistently proven itself to be an unworthy challenger to the gladiators of the international la... I was going somewhere with this, I swear. Me at 4:14am and bad concetration? A perfect match, it seems, and I can't even pass the buck. Goodbye.

Next week: The stuff that happened a couple of days ago as I'm writing this, which you probably already know about.


  1. Well, that's helpful, the displayed timetable having precisely zero relevance to what's actually happening. It's like the task is "navigate the Melbourne train network".

    Which is still easier than navigating the Melbourne Bus Network, whose timetable appears to have been developed using a random number generator and which bears no resemblance to any form of reality I've been in.

    she still needs Alana to reach in from the back seat to change her gear for her

    I spent a lot of time wincing at the noise the engine and gears were making during this segment. There was a lot of crunching going on.

    Bitchard explains that "it was a friendly drive"

    This to me summed up how completely clueless this team were about how they come across. I mean really, they obviously have absolutely no idea that they've pissed people off, they think it's all in fun. I do think the main problem the other teams had with them was that they were bloody annoying to be around more than anything else.

    As FBA seems to have thought, "Great. We're stuck in a hole. How d... I KNOW! WE'LL DIG OUR WAY OUT!"

    I surely can't have been the only person watching going "put the branches down to give the wheels some traction. Put the branches down and stop making the hole deeper. Stop using the branches to dig. FFS, fire up a neuron and use some common sense!" I have to say though, what I most admired was them managing to get the car stuck on what looked to be fairly close to a 45o angle. I mean... wouldn't you not try and drive down that to start with? Just me?

    U-Turning FBA and in turn saving all the other teams their little U-Turn sticker for later

    Yeah... that really was the major flaw with their plan. If they'd left it then Dave and Kelly would almost certainly have U-turned the same team, and they'd have some comeback against what I think is likely to be the inevitable U-turn/Yield/whatever-they-decide-on later in the race of them .

    And credit to FBA - they irritated me, but they almost came back even after the U-turn. Still glad they didn't though!

    As to Chris and Anastasia - I think at least one of their interviews was done after the next episode. Watching the first time we thought the body language was out of sync with what we were shown of them disagreeing - but it was perfectly in sync with the next episode. And hey, now we know where that footage of them in "Hue airport" came from!

  2. Actually after watching FBA's post elimination interview I have to say that I am slightly in agreement with Chris. How many words did Richard say during that interview? I'm thinking under 20 in total. She really doesn't appear to let him get a word in edgewise for most of it.