June 7, 2012

Australia 2x01: Misibis Bay, Philippines

Previously on Wallace and Grommet: A Two-Hundred-And-Fifty Grand Day Out: So, so much. And yet, so, so little. Every time the last season offered something brilliant, something happened to completely ruin the effort made, to the point where even the Western Bulldogs were laughing about all the choking going on (First gratuitous insult of the season! I'm back, baby!) (Incidentally, RIP Charlie Sutton). Our first pair of older women in years... crashed and burned, failing to complete even three legs before quitting, and only making it into the top half of the pack for one clue where the positions were basically a crapshoot. The second Muslim team in the show's history... managed to simultaneously collapse even more spectacularly and yet somehow last two legs longer thanks to a no-longer surprising first-leg non-elimination and because they quit the third leg before the aforementioned older ladies. The first ever visit by a non-American race to western Europe (no, Germany, you don't count)... left us with a sad feeling in our Netherlands after they only stayed in Amsterdam for a single task. The first ever visit by any race to Israel... was met by a Dead Sea of task design mediocrity, a team who dragged their feet all day and failed to make it to the Pit Stop, and a filler-redefining leg in which none of the teams did enough to change their position. And despite everything the show got right, the final three teams happened to be the three teams who weren't interesting enough to justify their being cast, ensuring an underwhelming result no matter what happened. Let's hope this season is better, y'all. Still, it couldn't possibly be worse than the last few American seasons. Yeesh.

We open, as we did last season, on shots of the water. Exciting, huh? However, the producers have decided this time that what we really needed was less Sandringham and more boats. Grant "I'm Not Phil, But Thankfully I'm Also Not Harris Whitbeck" Bowler's first voiceover of the season explains that it's morning and the shots we're seeing are of Sydney Heads. Uh-oh. Someone's getting fired for not making the first shot of that fucking bridge. Grant is atop the Macquarie Lighthouse, which like everybody from outside of Sydney I had never heard of before. He explains that the teams "from all over Australia" (read: "Sydney and Melbourne, with token teams from other places") are converging towards the start line aboard seaplanes. Prediction: Next year's vehicle of choice will be some form of boat. It can't possibly be another aircraft, can it? Grant exposits that this time we're headed to four continents and travelling over "more than 65,000 kilometres". Which sounds impressive, until you realise most of that distance will be covered in commercial airliners.

The next ritual we have to sit through is the bit where we meet the teams. But I've already done a team analysis recap, so let's cover this bit quickly. Shane & Andrew's clip sees them pretending to investigate a crime scene outside the AFL building. Because straight men like footy. Good Lord, that's almost as pigeonhole-y as having Momos pray outside SBS last year. They claim police "have to be by the book", which would be great and believable if only their employer hadn't had a huge investigation into corruption in the past year. Michelle & Jo are just as identically dull and unmemorable as their bio and the fact that they live in Sydney promised. Even Kami and Karli at least had half a personality between them, although it wasn't a very nice half a personality. These two? Zip. Zilch. Nada. Maybe actually calling them Kami and Karli might help, but then I would need to figure some way of telling them apart. Seriously ladies, couldn't one of you have dyed your hair brown instead of peroxide blonde for a month? Sticky & Sam's clip involves running and cricket, and Sam is so condescendingly "Wow, isn't he amazing?" while simultaneously trying to make everything about himself that I'm beginning to think Mirna was involved in this somehow. James & Sarah are still from Melbourne, and still "comically" mismatched. Yawn. He's much prettier on TV than he was in his bio photo, though. Adam & Dane are next, accompanied by offensive "jungle" music, which should tell you everything about how the show intends to treat them. Team number six are Sue & Teresa, who... yeah. "Athletic" is the understatement used to describe Ross & Tarryn. Lucy & Emilia's Italian heritage is shown with footage of them making a pizza. Seriously? At this rate it's a wonder we managed to get through Chris and Bambi's intro last year without them breaking plates and talking about their shared love of that one-man boy band Sakis Rouvas. (Which would be totally understandable, because dude is aDORable.) Kym & Donna are swing dancers, but aside from that are literally clones of Dave & Kelly, who were just so much FUN the first time around, am I right? Joseph & Grace are seen walking down Martin Place, which just happens to be the home of Seven's Sydney studios (much like the AFL building is basically next door to their Melbourne studios), and are kind of hilarious. Especially the part where she makes fun of him for thinking she knows more about makeup than he does. It kind of comes across like they were told to hide either his token homosexuality or his night job as a drag queen, and she completely forgot. Hee! Paul & Steve are assholes. Well, the one of them we get to hear from is, but he's enough of a tool to cover both of them. Now, only two questions remain: Who will win? And how did Grant teleport to the seaplane landing dock without the teams seeing him?

Credits. Okay, three more questions, brought to you by my recent Eurovision rewatching spree, and an incredibly aptly named song. Are we making the same mistake? Have we learned from the past? Could this be our second chance, the one that's going to last? [EDSILIA BOMPLEY? TOTALLY ROBBED. BOMP YOU EUROPE. MOTHERBOMPERS.]

Commercials. And what have I been doing over the break instead of finishing last season's recaps? Well, founding this, for one.

We return from the credits with a shot of... go ahead, guess. Seriously, Sydney, find a new landmark already. The teams are all gathered at the starting line, in the shadow of Sydney's only two landmarks, and are ready for that bit we all love where Grant makes a speech and tells them to fuck off already. Grant explains that “this journey will take [them] to places [they]'ve only dreamed of”, and I wonder just how remote the locations are going to be this season. Then again, it's not like any of these people are culturally aware enough to have dreamed of the wonders of Bulgaria or Antigua or Mauritania or some other place ending with A. Which is a shame. But anyway, twelve legs, Pit Stops, numerous eliminations (note he doesn't mention how many), prize money.

Oh, goody. The Lotto numbers now roll onto the screen. Because they weren't annoying and distracting enough last year. Next year: Ball rain!

Grant claims they'll have to earn their money this year, as opposed to the complete lack of challenging tasks Wallace and Grommet encountered, before hinting that the prize for this leg “will be bigger than ever before”. So basically they're getting Hummers, either from the show or from Joseph's opera-loving alter ego Barbara Seville. We're not entirely sure which yet. Grant goes over how clues work, because these people have never seen an episode of this show before, and claims they contain all the necessary information. We will see by the end of this episode that this is totally not the case at all, but... whatever. It's too early in the season to nitpick. We haven't even gotten to the first task yet, unless we count “try to tell the twins apart” and “try to pretend Paul has redeeming features, and that Seven agreed to let him on the show for any reason other than supporting the anyone-not-Anglo-Saxon-is-evil storylines used to death on Border Security and Today Tonight and basically every other show on Australian television”. But the world is waiting and self-centered shit like that, so let's get this show on the road!

Sticky is the first to reach the backpacks, and you know Seven's promotion department will want to ignore the fact that he was closest to the bags just so they can marvel at how amazing and wonderful he is, as they always do, and UGH ENOUGH ALREADY, EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVEN'T ACTUALLY DONE ANYTHING YET THIS TIME. The clue tells them to... walk to the Sydney Opera House. Way to avoid the Sydney stereotypes there, producers. Once they get to the Opera House, they'll take a boat to Barangaroo Wharf, where their cars are waiting. But of course, there's a catch. The cars are locked into a gigantic version of that puzzle game where you have to slide the pieces forwards and backwards to get the special car out of the exit. There are cars for each team (marked with giant race flags on their rooves, which will do wonders to stop the race from being spoiled), and 24 black cars that are there to block the way out. Because if Seven and this show's producers want to subconsciously reinforce anything in viewers' minds, it is that white cars are good and black cars are bad. Or something along those lines. We get an overhead shot of the grid, which shows that for some reason there are twelve escape routes and thus twelve marked cars for teams to choose from. Some of the escape routes cross each other, which means some teams are going to have to work together to get their cars out. Once a team gets their car out, they also get their next clue. Given the nature of the task, wouldn't it be awesome if one of the contestants from Grant's final season of The Mole (which had a similar task) was the clue giver? Sam reads that they're only getting sixty bucks for this leg. Which pretty much rules out places like Japan and Singapore and Zimbabwe as their first destination.

Everybody begins running, and it soon becomes apparent that James is able to run faster carrying two fully-loaded backpacks than Sarah is able to run in her heels. The editors earn their first standing ovation of the season by inserting a piece of music that, unless I'm very much mistaken, debuted on the American version during a task involving running around in clogs. Brilliant. At least someone involved in this show is genre-savvy, but more on that later. We are shown that confessional where she explains about her “hy-breed runner heels, heel runners, hunners”. And no, I'm not calling them that all season. For many reasons, but mostly because I'm sick of the need to turn everything into a portmanteau these days. Philiminate? Absolutely. Brangelina? You're pushing it. Hunners? No, darling. But if she is going to insist on a portmanteau, how about combining the uselessness of her shoes and her forehead muscles and calling her Botogs? (GROAN.)

The cops have somehow managed to make it to the Opera House without doing anything noteworthy, which is a surefire sign they'll probably be sticking around for ever to make these recaps a pain to write, and get the first boat. Awwww, it's just like Water Rats! Meanwhile, Asshole 2.0 and Steve narrowly beat the two teams containing professional athletes to claim the second boat. He confessionals, “I am the alpha male. I see an alpha male as someone that is dominant, is powerful, strong. I quite embrace that title.” In their own confessional, Donna's rebuttal is a simple “We've called them the boofheads, because they're boofheads.” Oh, honey. Douze points. As their boat passes under That Damn Bridge, Asshole 2.0 comments, “You know, I'm not sure I could bench press the Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb there but, you know, I'll work on it.” Yes, continue working on being able to lift intangible objects, you insufferable twat.

Our flotilla now includes both of the athletic teams, the brother and sister, and the cheerleaders, who are complying with the unwritten rule that forces every team of blond women to spend the race in skimpy pink outfits. Way to stand out from the crowd, ladiezzzz. At the dock, three of the other teams are soon joined by Lucy and Emilia, leaving only James and Botogs to complete the arduous task of walking a few hundred metres. By the time they do, it seems every team except the sisters have left.

Over at Barangaroo Wharf, the first teams are arriving. Andrew calls it “interesting” that they're not allowed to move the barriers in order to get the cars out. Oh. He's going to be one of THOSE guys. Shane thinks the task is “like a game of chess”. And he is the pawn. Asshole 2.0 gives us our first unnecessary “Woo!” of the season, thus confirming he is officially dead to everyone watching this show, including his own parents. Shane confessionals that his job as a police officer prepares him for anything, right before accidentally opening their car's bonnet instead of its boot. It seems like there should have been some sort of symbol or “clue” on the button to tell him what it opened, but what do I know? I'm not a detective. The other two all-male teams are apparently the next two to arrive, which does not give me hope for this season being more entertaining and surprising than the last. The twins arrive, as apparently Joseph and Grace also have, by the time Asshole 2.0 and Steve manage to get their car out. The clue they get tells them to fly to Manila. Gamelans play inappropriately as Grant voices over that they'll need to drive to Sydney Airport (as opposed to what, the Sydney Hovercraft Depot?) and fly to what he calls “the most densely-populated city in the world”. But isn't that Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh? When they land, they'll have to head to the Quiapo markets and search for a marked stall. Shouldn't be too hard.

Asshole 2.0 brags about being Filipino being half of his “background heritage” [sic], which is great and all, but you just know he's the sort of guy who would have said “I'm half Asian! This is perfect!” regardless of whether the first country was China or Oman or Kyrgyzstan. As they drive to the airport, breaking tradition by doing so side-by-side in the tiny car, he exclaims he “[hasn't] even met all [of his] cousins”. Steve tries to shut him up by claiming he might. What's the population of the Philippines, eighty-something million? On an island archipelago? And his cousins will just happen to be some of the, what, 30 or 40 people maximum they'll actually deal with? Yeah, right. And I'm the rotting corpse of Anne Bancroft.

Back in gridlock, Adam and Dane have somehow decided the “you cannot turn while moving any car” part of the challenge does not apply to their own vehicle. Idiots. The cops have noticed by virtue of having been blocked back in by the turning car, but unfortunately they're both still stuck until someone moves another of the marked cars out of Adam and Dane's original lane. Oh, look, the twins are out. And so is their car. One of them confessionals, “I think people need to watch out for us in the race, 'cause we're not just pretty faces. We are brainy, fit.” I am absolutely positive I would not be the only one to argue they need a second opinion about at least part of this statement. The other one voices over, “How many blondes does it take to move a car out of a massive jigsaw puzzle?”, before they answer “Two!” in unison. That's not going to get annoying at all. And I'm not sure that's something to be proud of, considering Emilia or Joseph or possibly even Botogs could have done it on their own, and an actual, non-dyed ranga could have probably done it WITH THEIR MIND. Sticky and Sam also exit gridlock slightly slower than the twins, but are nonetheless given the “Currently in 2nd Place” graphic by virtue of being able to get to the cluegiver quicker. Sticky explains in a confessional that he's able to drive perfectly fine with one arm. Unless he's drunk enough to be absolutely legless, of course (I AM SORRY).

They both leave for the airport at the same time, with the twins in front of the flatmates. Sam quickly cottons that they're from Sydney when they seem to know exactly which way to go, but still decide to head in the opposite direction. Good going, geniuses. Sticky soon complains, “Where's the airport sign? Why isn't it like Launceston?” Because some fools inexplicably like downtown Sydney enough to not make a beeline for the quickest exit? (I know. I feel so dirty too.)

Sitars and windchimes take us all the way back to the hairdressers, who are busy spraying their “aura-cleansing” liquid LSD around. Fascinating. Except not at all.

Tarryn has figured out what she and Ross need to do, and Joseph and Grace are already headed to their car. Grace whines about wanting to drive, even though she'll have to get out again in thirty seconds to get the clue, and Joseph wisely points out there's no point wasting time when she's already on the passenger side of the car. Oddly, the footage of this exchange is shown thusly: Grace runs back around to passenger side; Grace runs to drivers side and asks; Grace runs back around to passenger side FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE. So they must be our new Chris and Bambi, with scenes edited out of order all the time. Meanwhile, Donna tells Kym they both need to be in the car when they drive out. Let's be honest, that's a stupid, nonsensical rule, since we know they have to get out again to pick up their clue. Over on the other side of the puzzle, Grace waves to nobody in particular on her way out. See, Grace? You wouldn't have been able to make an idiot out of yourself if you were driving. In theory. All three of these teams get the Manila clue.

James is busy explaining the concept of “marked cars” to Botogs. She talks over him, of course, because attention is the mother of famewhoriness, and this leads to a confessional in which he basically tells her to shut up and listen. Yeah, unfortunate flashbacks to Chris, but... frankly, there are some people – both male and female – who deserve it. And I think she's going to be one of them.

The cops are done, exclaiming over Manila like the clue is telling them to fly to the Moon. Hey, guys. Remember the last time we had guys who were phonily enthusiastic over everything? It didn't end well.

Unsurprisingly, the girls and Team Asshole 2.0 are the first two to reach the airport. Elsewhere, Sticky and Sam are lost. How lost? Well, they're headed over That Damn Bridge. Sticky moans, “I don't want to go across the stupid bridge!” Damn it, boys. Don't make me think That Damn Bridge is the smartest character in this scene. At least IT knows where it's going.

Commercials. Seriously, why doesn't Moldova ever win Eurovision? Is it because clearly nobody knows where it is or how to pronounce it, and whether they should be bloc voting for it? (For the record... somewhere in Europe? I think? Possibly over near the Caucasus?)

We ignore the cliffhanger for the moment, because Botogs is busy making even more of a spectacle of herself. James somehow takes the highroad and reiterates the task details in a confessional, doing so with just enough “Yeah, I'm laughing at her on the inside too” deadpan in his voice to make it worthwhile. She loses her shoe and spends so much time putting them on (with James inexplicably sitting in the passenger seat, even in these circumstances) that the editors cut to a confessional in which she explains she can still run faster in her clodhoppers than she can in actual shoes, with James responding only by rubbing his eyes in exasperation. You just know he's going to dump her at the end of this.

The sisters are working together with the cousins in order to finish the puzzle. Or rather, the cousins are telling the sisters what do do once they leave. Carnivalesque music plays as both teams exit, with Dane also having to point the sisters to the clue guy. I'm impressed he managed to stop playing with his frizzy hair for long enough to do so. In their first confessional of the season, Lucy and Emilia finish cementing their place as My Favourite Team and begin work on a water feature by bantering about how they love checking out “the talent”. Amen, sisters. If I wasn't consciously trying to avoid repeating last year's “Tom and Luke” storyline (not that it will actually, you know, stop me), I'd already be shipping about four or five of the men. I can't speak for the fairer sex (although... the twins? Really, straight men? That's what passes for hot these days?), but it seems like we got a much hotter group of men this time. Remember how there was basically Tom, Luke, and Chris, then a wide margin to the allegedly-pretty Wallace and Grommet, and an even wider margin to everyone else? This time we have both cousins, Joseph, James, Sticky and Sam, plus possibly Team Asshole 2.0 for those who like their men rougher and the cops for those who like their Men Of A Certain Age.

James is on his way out. Unfortunately, Botogs is still with him, which means she can spend her time in the Philippines trying to track down and sell her clogs to Imelda Marcos. All three of these teams escape with clue in hand, leaving The Captain and Chennille as our final team in the carpark.

At the airport, the twins have decided that working for Jetstar (who sponsored last season, remember) means they will know more about how to use one than the other teams. And if Team Asshole 2.0's attempt to get tickets on the Philippine Airlines flight by asking at the currency exchange counter is anything to go by, they're not wrong. The twins find the right counter only to learn that the flight has been delayed by an hour. The long and short of it is that this is probably going to be enough for most of the pack to catch the same flight, especially considering the challenge is only about twenty minutes away from the airport.

Although The Captain and Chenille are currently doing their best to cause a default elimination before we even leave the country. Seriously, they are STILL trying to figure out what they need to DO, even though everyone else has already done most of their job for them. We get an overhead shot showing what the puzzle looks like with ten of the marked cars missing (see below), and it's not entirely hard. The Captain and Chenille are standing next to the marked car that will drive outside the very bottom exit. To get it out, all they need to do is drive the bottom car left, the car on top of it down into the gal, and the car blocking the path left out of the way. Alternatively, and more simply, they can go up to the top of the grid, simply reverse that row of four cars out of the way, and drive the white car on the left side out. Anyway, they get out, Chenille expositing, “We're a disaster!” Don't worry, I'm sure the Philippines has seen bigger disasters than you two in the past. Not many, I'll admit, but I'm sure it's happened in the last five billion years. Probably.

The sisters ask a passing cab driver for directions to the rental car place at the airport, with Emilia wasting time apologising for wasting his time. Oh, the irony. Lucy quite understandably takes the piss out of her, and it's all very hilarious in the same way “Hi, I'm Lottie from Holland!” was hilarious the first time I saw it.

Sticky & Sam have arrived at the airport, having somehow made their way off That Damn Bridge through unexplained methods, but while they check the departure screens the sisters run past them in the background. You know what would have been awesome? If they had one of those “Currently in 8th Place” graphics on the screen that changed to a “Currently in 9th Place” graphic the moment it happened.

Elsewhere on those crazy Sydney streets, where depressingly few people have actually gotten lost, The Captain and Chenille are still... doing something. I'm not sure what, but it can barely be called driving. The Captain explains that she chose to drive because she's “an excellent driver”, right before the editors cut to a car and a truck honking at them in quick succession. Yes, an excellent driver. In GERALDTON. That's like me watching an early episode of Blue Heelers and claiming to be Grant. Chenille tells The Captain, “I swear to God you're gonna kill me, you're gonna kill me”.

In the ticket queue at the airport, Joseph, Grace, and the cousins are busy trying to figure out who has yet to turn up. Natch, the first team Joseph bring up is Botogs “and the son, y'know whatever”. Snarking on them without meaning to snark on them, and not even bothering to fake an apology? I think I have a new TV boyfriend. I'm sorry, hot Estonian Eurovision entrant whose name I've already forgotten. I don't think it's going to work between us. As they stroll through some other part of the terminal, Adam points out they're a couple, which neither Joseph nor Grace can believe. Nor me, as a matter of fact. Grace calls her a cougar (which... no, but only barely), and feels the need to perform a cougar impression in case the cousins weren't aware cougars were cats.

But despite all the fun of the last twenty-something minutes, all of the teams manage to arrive in time to share the same flight to Manila, as Grant and the Amazing Red Ribbon explain that it's direct and will arrive at 6:20pm.

About seventeen different types of local music play at once over the introductory stock footage shots, which is both nauseating and kind of appropriate. Everybody rushes for taxis, but there are none waiting. Take THAT, people who think this is some sort of a race! A whole bunch of teams realise they can save time by cutting off the taxis as they arrive (or something) and head up to a different part of the car park. The twins claim it was their bright pink outfits that “stopped traffic”, but... probably not for the right reasons, considering the Philippines is a Catholic country. Isn't that where they stage the big mass crucifixion every year? They ask to be taken to Plaza Miranda, and... I know that place! From The Amazing Race Asia! This does not fill me with confidence. Still, they get a taxi before Asshole 2.0, which automatically earns them several points. When they eventually get their own cab, Asshole 2.0 rants, “That is a danger to us, that. Because I am the forward thinker, I don't want any other forward thinkers in this game.” Yes, how dare we have more than one person with racing ability! That might make this look like some sort of competition!

One of the cousins gives a Michael Jackson squeal in the back of their cab, and Dane confessionals, “The Philippines was awesome. We didn't realise it was going to be such, y'know, a huge city. And it was PACKED.” Imagine that, a big city with lots of people! That's what they get for being colonised by those nasty evil Spanish people. In another cab, Emilia tells Lucy, “I'm assuming it's not going to be an eating challenge, because... look at the time of the night it is.” What could possibly give her the idea that an eating task is coming? Could it be the fact that there was one in the exact same location when The Amazing Race Asia, also made by these same producers, visited Manila? And WHY DIDN'T THE PRODUCERS LEARN THEIR LESSON? Lucy tries to gee her up, knowing exactly what the upcoming task is.

Let's go there now! The twins are the first to arrive at the market, and the whole task of finding the marked stall seems to be trivial given the stall has a whole courtyard to itself for this task and the teams know exactly where it is. The clue they get tells them, “Each Team must eat 8 Balut, a local delicacy. Balut are fertilised duck egg embryos that are boiled and then eaten. They are a favourite Filipino snack and are believed to be an aphrodisiac.” Now, I have Filipino friends. And that entire last sentence is a crock, to put it mildly. Grant, ever the master of understatement, calls them “an acquired taste”. Also, does being “fertilised duck egg embryos” [sic] mean they will mature into fully-grown duck eggs? And what's the lifespan on a duck egg? One of the twins reads a special provision in the additional information that specifies the balue “must be fully consumed by your team”. So clearly the producers are savvy enough to know it's possible to stop them from, say, getting locals to do the task for them. Not that it will come up during the remainder of this episode.

One twin confessionals, “I saw the eggs on the table and I knew that we were in trouble. Straight away.” The same twin then goes on to explain the egg's interior design features, mentioning it “a baby chick”. Really, producers? You had to cast these two interchangable nitwits over someone who could actually tell you the difference between a chick and a duckling? Bullshit. They whine and complain about not being able to finish the task. Could this be our first ever quitters on the first leg?

Commercials. In the middle of this Diamond Jubilee year, I keep expecting to hear that Harry's orchestrated this whole thing as a Weekend at Bernies-style prank and the Queen has actually been dead since 1986. (Admit it, you wouldn't be shocked.)

Yeah, there's more heaving from the twins. While they struggle, a veritable flock of other teams (see what I did there?) arrive. As Donna explains, “I'm actually allergic to eggs, they make me... like, normal chicken eggs make me really suck.” Oh, I'm sorry, “sick”. It's just her accent. (NEW ZEALAND, YOU KNOW THE JOKE WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.) So poor Kym has to down all eight eggs, which he deems “vile”. Hilarity of the circumstances aside, who the HELL thought it smart to have a task like this when you knew one of the contestants was going to be allergic and unable to do it?! Meanwhile, Ross & Tarryn are also struggling, though with not nearly as much noise. The editors choose to play a clip of Asshole 2.0 having to ask how to open an egg directly before he confesses, “I knew what balut is [sic], being half-Filipino, but I'd never actually eaten it before.” Bitch, please. I know what balut are, and I'm half-Dutch and half-English They turn up as the eating challenge on reality TV shows so often it's fucking ridiculous. Say what you will about the sausages and appelbollen last year, at least they weren't something that's been done to death. While the teams continue trying not to vomit on national television (good luck with that, Ross, Tarryn, and most of the teams who haven't arrived yet), Donna and Asshole 2.0 take swipes at each other in their respective confessionals. Not surprisingly, Donna's swipe seems to be based on something approaching fact, as the editors show us, while Asshole 2.0 just basically decides to call her “a dominatrix” (and Kym “the slave”) for fun, claiming “it's a bit scary”. Something suggests to me from the way Steve is silently laughing awkwardly at this that he's... dabbled.

The cops arrive in fifth place. Andrew also gets clucks and ducks mixed up, explaining, “It's just the whole idea, I think, that it's a chick. That's what turns you off.” Shane laughs knowingly, and... seriously, last season the gay jokes were just the awesome subtext. This season, they wear a spangly tank top and a thong with a convenient hole in the front for easy access.

Speaking of Slave Steve, he and Asshole 2.0 are done. Despite having a half-Filipino who could read the Filipino words present, Slave Steve is ordered to read the clue, which directs them to the TSI bus terminus to sign up for a charter bus to the Cagsawa Ruins. Which is awesome, because despite being yet another thing taken from The Amazing Race Asia, is taken from one of that show's best ever legs. As opposed to the balut, which... was not. Anyway, the buses for the ten-hour ride depart at 12:30am, 1:00am, and 1:30am, so getting the early bus is critical. Or it would be if there was a bigger spread between the departure times. Given the tasks we've got coming up, arriving at 10:30am isn't going to be that much of a lead over the teams who arrive thirty minutes later. When the buses arrive, teams need to search a carnival for a snakecharmer who'll give them the clue.

Cheers from the crowd and a bitchface from one of the twins accompanies Team Asshole 2.0's departure from the market. Awesome. While Slave Steve shoves something else in his mouth in a cab without good reason (oh, we've all been there), Joseph and Grace and the cousins get out of theirs. “Joey” struggles with the concept of having to eat the balut, but Grace explains in a confessional that she likes her eggs partially-fertilised. Neither of them seem to be having too much trouble with their gag reflexes, unlike Adam, who would be busy throwing up if only his mouth wasn't currently full of egg. When his mouth is empty, he complains about how they taste so much worse than witchetty grubs. Still with a mouth of balut, Dane calls him either “pissweak” or “a pipsqueak”, and although it's hard to tell I think we all know which one he's saying. He tells Adam he “should have to do a nudey around here now”. And then one of the editors decides to show a little kid at the front of the background crowd. Which is great, except he's completely starkers. And as far as I could tell without actually pausing the video and zooming in, there's no pixellation or blurring of any kind. The intended message, clearly, is that nudity is nothing to be ashamed of. The actual message that comes across, however, is something along the lines of WHAT THE FUCK WERE HIS PARENTS THINKING? And even more, how did the idea of filming and showing a naked minor on television seem fine to any of (1) the cameraguy, (2) the editors, (3) the producers, and (4) Seven's censors, let alone all four?

But on the lighter side of the situation, Tarryn seems to think naked Adam is a Good Thing. I knew I liked her.

Sticky and Sam are in their cab, bemoaning how quickly the fare is rising. They seem to think their being stuck in traffic is lifting their fare close "towards, like, seventeen hundred." Which is a problem when they've "only got two thousand". A quick shot of the meter confirms it's currently at 176.50, although in their defence the decimal point is remarkably small, although that may just be my copy of the episode shrunk into the corner of my screen at the moment. But... isn't it pretty much a universal thing that there are two numbers after the decimal point (or the comma if you're in some European countries, and what's up with that)? I mean, really. They generally save the leg where they don't give you nearly enough money for later in the race to see who's been good at saving. You can be pretty sure the first leg's allowance will be enough to get you to the Pit Stop. As if to give them a hint, their cabbie asks them how many hours he'll be needed for when they tell him they "can't give [him] any more than two thousand". Compounding their misery, they forget to have their cabbie wait when they reach the Plaza (unlike the sisters), meaning they'll need to find a way of getting to the bus terminal with no money and no cab. Oh dear. The sisters beat them to the stall, but they're not far behind.

So yeah, there's more eating and more complaining and more not-vomiting, and I tune out until Kym somehow finishes before all the other huddled masses, even without Donna's help. Meanwhile, over at the terminal, their friends Asshole 2.0 and Slave Steve take the first place on the first bus. Ross & Tarryn also beat the twins, debating in a confessional whether the latter retained her dignity. There's apparently no doubt Ross lost his. And then all of a sudden, Joseph and Grace are done, as are the cousins AND the cops. Who appear to be wearing matching "Plainclothes Cop" T-shirts undermining the entire purpose of being plainclothes cops. So to recap, Sticky, Sam, and the two teams of sisters are still eating, while James, Botogs, The Captain, and Chenille haven't even turned up yet. They eventually do bother to show, and there is even more histrionics from The Captain as there is from the other ten teams combined. She tells us, "I... almost collapsed. I nearly died. I'm a member of Greenpeace, WWF, I actually only donate to anything to do with animals or the environment. I just couldn't cope with that." Look at the bright side. It's not like the duckling embryos were ever alive. It's like... think of them as little duck abortions. Mmmm, tasty!

Lucy and Emilia are done. Wait, what? Also surprising: The Captain and Chenille somehow managing to get over their disgust and finishing in eighth, before the team who arrived FIRST. The twins also get beaten by the guy with one arm and the lady in heels. (I realise neither of these facts is actually relevant here, but let's be honest. It's fun to mock the twins' uselessness.) They call themselves "done", but they apparently have no idea how a little thing called bunching works. Or of how the race in general works, considering they haven't yet encountered a Detour OR a Road Block. Or that Sticky and Sam have no money and are currently attempting to "work together" with James and Botogs, in that very high schooly way like they've forgotten to bring their homework and are now attempting to work with even the people they normally hate and spend all their time making fun of. You know those people, admit it. And Sam is totally one of them. Botogs isn't having a bar of it when they try to make her give them "twenty bucks" - a full third of the money they were given. Damn it. Don't make me side with Botogs, guys. Sticky calls their stupidity "frustrating".

Commercials. Fuck off, Gina Rinehart. And take pretty much everybody involved with Australian breakfast television with you.

We open on an incongruous stock shot that does nothing but remind us Manila is in fact a big city. Well, of course. What did you expect it was going to be, chickens and cows?

Sam blames James and Botogs for their inability to go anywhere. Because the situation they have found themselves in is totally Botogs's fault. What else is she responsible for, the JFK assassination? The Holocaust? The Plague? Justin Bieber? In their cab, James thinks running away makes them look bad. And as you know, this show is a popularity contest, and that is why Giggle and Cackle won last year. Sarah responds, "We're not there [sic] to butter people's buns." Heh. She said butt AND buns. (Wait a few minutes, you'll get it.) But since the Taswegians manage to find a jeepney driver willing to shout them a ride to the bus terminal, it's not going to matter that much, joining the long list of pre-commercial crises that weren't.

At the terminal, Kym & Donna join Asshole 2.0 and Slave Steve on the first bus, along with Adam & Dane, who narrowly beat Joseph and Grace in a footrace to join them on the World's Most Fun Bus Trip.

The cops are lost.

Ross & Tarryn and the sisters grab seats on the second bus (this will be important) as do, somehow, Sticky and Sam. This leaves The Captain and Chenille, James and Botogs, and our two absent teams on the last bus. While the first bus is already leaving, Michelle-or-Jo and Other-Michelle-or-Jo are still eating, prompting one of the locals to sarcastically comment, "Go super twins, go!" Can we take that lady with us? She'd certainly be more fun that about half of these teams. They finally finish, but the second bus takes off before either they or the cops arrive. The twins read in their clue that the last bus isn't going to wait, which sure would cause a huge problem later in the episode if that actually was the case, but you know and I know it's not going to be. Both teams manage to arrive on time (or "on time") to make the 1:30am bus, having somehow spent about seven hours going from the airport to the market, eating seven eggs, and going to the bus terminal. As if to compensate for the departure time, their bus is the most opulent of the three. Heh. Take that, Asshole 2.0.

Timelapse clouds show us it's now morning, nothing interesting having happened on the buses for what must be the first time ever. At Daraga, which a subtitle helpfully informs us is still in the Philippines (just in case you thought the bus drove all the way across the South China Sea to Borneo or something), the teams pretty much just run down a straight path to the snakecharmer, making this whole searching thing once again rather inconsequential.

The clue is a Detour, and sadly Grant has joined Phil in eschewing the usual "A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons" explanation to instead spend the time trying to make the tasks seem mildly relevant to the local culture. I would think that much like a joke, a well-planned task wouldn't need to be explained. Right? Even if it does need some slight explanation - which has been the case approximately never since the change was made - the old "In this Detour, teams must choose between two festival traditions" would be perfectly fine. Show, don't tell, guys. (Says the guy who's currently at over 7200 words and still has half the recap to go.)

On the plus side though, I no longer need to come up with a new joke to explain how a Detour works each week so... you know, that's a load off. This time, the Detour is a choice between two local harvest festival traditions, and to the surprise of nobody who saw the episode of The Amazing Race Asia we're stealing from this time, the tasks are named Jig and Pig. Teams choosing Pig have to cover their arms in lube and work in relay to catch four pigs in a muddy circular pen, taking them to a farmer waiting in a smaller pen nearby. Teams choosing Jig have to put on provided outfits and correctly perform a traditional Ibalong (thank you, shot of the clue) dance to the satisfaction of a quartet of local judges. So, basically, it's the same "catch farm animals or learn a dance" Detour choice we got when we were in Poland last year. Who knew the two countries were so similar? But more importantly, will anyone learn the dance this time? And why hasn't anyone worked out Grant isn't great at making horrible puns sound hilarious?

The two teams of men decide the pigs sound fun, while Kym and Donna decide to take advantage of the swing dance performed in their intro clip. Donna seems to think her being "an aerobics instructor" made Jig "the obvious choice". Geraldton: The one place in the world where aerobics is still a thing. Donna sets the scene for us in a confessional, pointing out the number of colourful dancers and how there were more drums than that year after the drum-heavy Ukrainian song won Eurovision. She adds that Kym looked "fantastic in his costume," to which he unhappily remarks, "I was wearing a dress." Yes, because only WOMEN wear dresses, and putting on the dress makes you EFFEMINATE. Gah.

Over at the pigpen, Asshole 2.0 and Slave Steve learn they need to grease each other up. Not surprisingly, Slave Steve is totally into this. He explains that his approach to catching the pigs was "go for the midsection [...] and hopefully that's enough". Let the record show that I did not go for the obvious 'size queen' jo... damn. He enters and catches a pig that's pretty much right next to the gate, but as he's carrying it to the holding corral it slides itself out of his hands and into the crowd. As he voices over, "I really don't know how but somehow he got out of control." Because both of you are covered in mud and your arms are also covered in a shitload of lube? Nah, couldn't be that obvious, could it?

Commercials. Hey, look, it's next week's show! Remember when these recaps were timely?

We get to relive the crowd-scaring moment in all its awesome glory, albeit with the next second of footage not cut off. Literally, it takes Slave Steve one whole second to catch the pig after it wriggles free. And yet it's still the most interesting commercial break moment of the whole episode. He gets control of the pig again and carries it to the holding pen, where we learn for the first time that this task will be accompanied by the same counting graphics we used with the bakso last year. Asshole 2.0 confessionals, "I don't think they were too keen to get cuddled by us." Me neither, but not because you were covered in mud. Just in general.

Adam is the next person we see in the pig pen, although it looks like Asshole 2.0 is also in there at the same time. But since (1) it's Asshole 2.0 and (2) Adam's about to fall flat on his face, let's focus on Adam. Who falls flat on his face. He recovers and grabs possibly the smallest piglet in the entire pen, which is a nice compromise for the "gravel rash" his stack resulted in. Paul also gets a pig, accompanied by traditional Filipino circus music.

Back at the dancing task, Kym and Donna are realise it's taking them too long just to learn the routine, let alone publicly humiliate themselves for our amusement (or the continued amusement of the people who thought Kym in a dress was simply HILARIOUS), and switch tasks. Agawan Baboy ahoy!

Dane and Asshole 2.0 are currently both in the pen, and as Asshole 2.0 tells us, he "kind of purposely bulldoze[s] my way through Dane to try to get a pig" and that "I made it look like I accidentally collided into him, but it was quite intentional." Didn't reality shows once have rules against deliberate physical violence? I swear people have been kicked off them for throwing punches before. Why can't we do that here? Is it just because otherwise the twist in this episode would be anticlimactic? Or do producers think this is genuinely entertaining?

Ahem. The clue both of these teams get tells them to take a waiting jeepney (pretty much just a more colourful and even less seatbelty version of a minibus) to Luyang Beach on Misibis Bay, where a bunch of clues are partially buried in the sand. Pretty simple. For now.

In their jeepney, Asshole 2.0 gloats about being in first place. We'll see how long it lasts. Slave Steve mentions the cousins being in the next car back, which would make this a tight race if only they weren't still cleaning the mud from their junk. And no, that's not a euphemism. Nor am I making dirty jokes where there are none to be made, for once.

Donna is first into the pigpen. She explains she's "grown up with livestock" (hey, she IS from Nuh Zuhland) and apparently knows from experience that pigs bite. But that's only when they're horny. She takes the slow, calm approach to pigcatching, and while it's not the quickest way of doing it at least the pig she catches doesn't try and escape into the crowd. Kym also catches a pig without any hassle.

The second bus arrives in Daraga and teams run to the clue guy and his big snake. Sam feels the need to mispronounce the word "Detour", which isn't going to get annoying at ALL, but the teams all decide to get down and dirty with each other. But before they do that, they're headed over to the mud pit. But before they arrive, Kym and Donna get to leave.

And then one of the oddest sight gags in the history of The Amazing Race. Remember how the teams have to grease each other up? Well, this also means Sam has to lube Sticky's stump. And he does so with a MASSIVE smile on his face. I think I saw a porn film start like this once.

As Sam enters and promptly gets a faceful of mud, he confessionals, "The whole ground was covered in gravel instead of, like, nice foam or something like that, so our knees are absolutely shredded." Well, of course. It's a reality show on Seven. Like they could afford padded foam. Meanwhile, Ross is having no trouble at all, and explains, "A football background helps when you've gotta tackle a greasy pig." Hmmm. Tigers, Demons, Saints, Magpies... don't remember any Pigs in the 1980s. (Disclaimer: Born in 1990.) Somehow, despite only one team member being allowed in the pen at a time, Sticky catches a pig before Sam. There really doesn't seem to be too much hassle with this group during the task, although Joseph falls flat on his arse and Ross takes the chance to passive-aggressively bitch about how basketball isn't a contact sport and therefore sucks. As Sticky and Sam finish in fourth, Joseph once again ends up basically on all fours with his arse to one of the stationary cameras. It's like he WANTS me to comment on it. I think I'll wait until we get a shot where it's not covered in brown mud. After getting the clue, Ross calls the task "the funnest thing [he's] ever done", before once again making a comparison to professional football. That's it. I'm declaring a moratorium on teams trying to relate everything about the world back to their already-questionable casting gimmick. By all means, you should absolutely take advantage of your transferable skills to help you complete the tasks. But don't claim that catching pigs is just like "'Plugger' Lockett at the SCG". Because that happened ONE TIME. Strangely enough, sometimes the world acts differently than you expect from your sheltered life in whatever relatively unimportant city you happen to be from. Get used to it.

Much like Grace is. She confessionals, "Well, it's not every day that I handle pigs, so I didn't really know how to pick it up." And indeed she doesn't instead preferring to kind of crawl her pig and her ridiculously baggy t-shirt (is that really what you want to wear for this task?) over to the exit gate. When she eventually finishes, the team gets their clue.

We splitscreen to the beach just in time to see the cousins and Team Asshole 2.0 arriving. The clue tells them, "Build a raft using only the materials provided and paddle to the first Pit Stop." Grant explains pretty much the same thing, but adds that they'll need to paddle a couple of beaches down to Mosboron Beach, where the Pit Stop mat itself is on a dock or a dam or a dijk or some other thing probably beginning with D, and where the last team to make landfall "MAY be eliminated". Or they may not.

Each team is going to get six plastic jugs, a large bundle of rope, a pile of bamboo shoots (chutes?), and a knife. Seems like it shouldn't be too hard, right? Let's watch. Asshole 2.0 is immediately requesting orders from Slave Steve, and... not going to end well, is it? Slave Steve refuses the responsibility and tells Asshole 2.0 they need to work together. Also not going to end well. Asshole 2.0 confessionals, "The first thing I read was 'build a raft' and my heart sank, because I knew that this was one of my weaknesses." One of? Still, I'm sure if you just Focus and Believe, you can Achieve anything you put your minds to. (Seriously, these two are making me miss FBA, who were at least - very - mildly entertaining amidst their rampant blowhardiness.) Slave Steve seems to think they only actually need three of the bamboo pieces to sit on and that the rest are decoys. This is the crux of the problem, and the single reason pretty much every team is going to struggle beyond belief here. BAMBOO FLOATS. It's not the bamboo that's the decoy, it's the containers. You can pretty much just tie the bamboo pieces together in a large bundle and it will work as a raft. In fact, it'll be faster than a regular raft to boot, as the water won't hit as much of the surface as it would if you had the plastic containers attached. But these are contestants on a reality show, so aerodynamics? A bit beyond their comprehension levels. (Although we do have a professional javelin athlete AND a merchant seaman in this cast, who should at least have some passing familiarity with the concept, so Sticky and Adam will have no excuse.)

Back at the Detour, the sisters have finally made their way to the pigpen so Emilia can amble through the mud. She explains that their approach was to act calmly and just try to pick one up instead of running around like a bacon-hungry maniac.

Speaking of bacon, the cops (and the other three teams on the last bus) have finally arrived, apparently still a part of this show. Damn. The cheerleaders and the cops use their respective talents back home as their basis for picking Jig and Pig respectively, while The Captain and Chenille decide to dance and Botogs thinks running through a muddy field in her not-quite-heels is worth trying. Hee, I'm laughing already, and so is James. Over at the pigpen, Lucy is continuing to meander while Shane literally snatches a pig so roughly I'm surprised the animal rights lobby didn't complain.

The twins are now in their costumes and are so far out of time James and Botogs are doing a better job with the task, and they're only running past on their way to the mud pit. They soon attempt the task for the judges, and unsurprisingly their attempt to Australianise the routine is completely unsuccessful.

Lucy has her final pig, and the sisters run off clue in hand, although they encounter a very brief delay when Lucy is unable to realise the Emilia-shaped humanoid running in front of her actually IS Emilia. Awkward.

The Captain and Chenille are attempting the dance for the judges. They complain in a confessional about the actual speed being much faster than the speed they were taught the dance at, complete with the sort of hiphop impersonation you'd expect from a couple of mothers who are in (at least) their late thirties. It's the most disturbing thing in this episode, which is really saying something.

Shane and Andrew are done.

And then it happens. Botogs is in the pen, slowly creeping up on a solitary pig right near the fence. She gets within striking distance and dives on it, completely forgetting that her skirt barely even covers her vajayjay when she's standing up straight. When she's bent over with her arse in the air, and apparently wearing only a thong beneath the skirt? Well, it's lucky for her the editors have apparently discovered the wonders of crotchal blurring at some point in the last twenty minutes of episode or so. Not so lucky for that poor kid from all the way back in Manila, though. The best part of the entire sequence, though, is James's sarcastic commentary. It's so clear from his tone and expression when he snarks, "Perfect thing to wear when you go pig hunting. Rahrah skirt," that he knows she's an idiot for even bringing it on the trip with her. Okay, the other best thing is that she seems completely oblivious and keeps chasing the pig, which escaped in the middle of her little show. She notes that the pig is "bacon". What other sage pieces of wisdom does she have to offer? And then she's done, without any further issue and without us having had the pleasure of even seeing James get muddy. We do get to watch him get his (fully-clothed) shower on, though, so that's nice. Of course, Botogs decides there's just too much pig crap in her hoohah, and jumps into a barrel for the world's most cramped bath. Because that barrel was there just for her to get clean, and not to, say, store water for cooking. She exposits, "I don't like having pig poo or mud on me," to which St. James immediately points out that very few people do. Free St. James!

The twins have failed the dance again, and decide to cut their losses at the ankles before they wind up getting cut off at the end of this leg. The Captain and Chenille also fail, and seem to have figured out that it this point it's better for them to stick with the task and hope they can make up time rather than go to the pigpen like every other team and pretty much guarantee they'll be last. Over in the pigpen, one of the twins is struggling so much the other twin decides to switch with them. Which makes no sense, because they both need to do two. They eventually notice the lack of other teams at the pigpen means they and The Captain and Chenille are the last two teams. Oh noes!

Commercials. Seriously, are there still twenty minutes of episode left? I feel like I've been recapping this bloody thing forever.

The twins are still less Lucy Lawless and more Lucille Ball, and even then they're more Lucie Arnaz. Sigh.

Asshole 2.0 is still shitty. He confessionals, "Unfortunately I wasn't too helpful with the actual labour work," which is a bit like saying Milli Vanilli weren't too good at the actual singing caper, while at the beach he says, "I want it bad, but I don't know how I can help [Slave] Steve. He's the man right now. I feel so useless and I feel bad for you." Yes, because women are WEAK and USELESS and SHOULD BE IN THE KITCHEN, while men are BIG and STRONG and GOOD AT BUILDING BAMBOO RAFTS. Shut up, dude. You're giving the rest of us humans a bad name.

The cousins have decided to build what looks like an elaborate bambooo workbench, loading their water bottles on top for some reason. They get in the water and begin paddling, while Team Asshole 2.0 looks like they decide to just copy Adam and Dane's plans and hope they can beat them. Yeah, that'll happen.

As Kym and Donna arrive, I notice that for some reason there are still eleven clue envelopes in the little cluster, even though only nine (now eight) teams need to colllect them. Que? The leg hasn't really been designed to the point where you could lose track of the other teams and get confused by it. Kym explains that they're experienced ocean paddlers (of course) so knew that they'd be pretty good at actually moving once they had their raft made. Team Asshole 2.0 have about as much success getting on their raft as I do giving birth to octuplets, given I am (1) male, (2) one hundred percent gay, and (3) a non-fan of larval humans. Kym notices their incompetence and asserts, "I don't like to laugh at people just before I get laughed at," but Donna doesn't seem to care and lets loose anyway. I like her.

Twins are done. The Captain and Chenille realise they're in dire straits, and get out their liquid LSD. It somehow makes its way over to the hardass judges, who ignore The Captain's lack of synchrony and pass them. Yay, clue! In their jeepney, they vow "they're not giving up". Unlike some other people who shall remain nameless, GIGGLE AND CACKLE.

Our two teams of professional athletes are now at the beach and begin building their respective rafts. Ross confessionals that their plan was to get it right the first time, while Sticky and Sam point out the raft was hard to assemble. I wonder if we'll see many teams struggle with it? Like, say, the next batch of four teams who are just arriving? And how did St. James and Botogs make up so much time? And how did Joseph and Grace LOSE so much time? In their mass clue-read, we learn for the first time that if teams fail to finish, they'll "be returned" to the starting point and must try again. Which, again, we'll soon learn is not the case, but whatever.

St. James explains they pretty much had the same approach as Ross and Tarryn, and it's about this point that I finally figure out what that is underneath his shirt. Is it a giant tattoo? Some kind of falcon, perhaps? No, just excessive chest hair. Sadly, unlike literally everyone else, Joseph doesn't take his shirt off. How is it that this single task has more topless men than the entirety of last season, and more hot men participating, and I'm STILL disappointed?

Kym and Donna are ready to go, the former commenting, "Most of the time we were building with Paul & Steve just trying their twenty-eighth creation. And they pretty well had their twenty-ninth ready to go by the time we were ready to launch ours." I don't know where to put the [sic] in that first sentence. It's pretty much fully [sic]. It kind of sounds like the editors spliced two different parts of the confessional together, and forgot to check that it made sense. Kym and Donna, and Asshole 2.0 and Slave Steve, take to the water, neither of their rafts actually looking seaworthy in that they're both kind of underwater from the beginning with the players wet up to their hips.

Adam and Dane are approaching the Pit Stop, where Grant is waiting with a pretty girl in a dress that makes her look like there's a roll of toilet paper stuffed between her knees. With only about a hundred metres left, which I'm sure would mean something if we were actually told how far they had to paddle, their raft falls apart in the water. Oops. They paddle to a beach to start again, but considering this beach has flags on it and Grant can see them from the Pit Stop, it seems plausible they didn't have to actually start again but merely had to go to that beach (which none of the others have yet reached) instead. Kind of like reaching a checkpoint in the middle of a level on, like, Donkey Kong or Crash Bandicoot or [insert other similar game here]. So not nearly as dire as it sounds, but still, let's pretend it's serious enough to warrant...

Commercials. Why does it feel like every piece of queer cinema has a token heterosexual sex scene?

The twins and their matching skimpy pink bikinis are at the beach. Meanwhile, St. James and Botogs have taken their outrigger into the water, although Botogs is too busy looking for her shoes to paddle. Seems about right. Tarryn explains, talking for what feels like the first time in this entire episode, that they knew they had to push their prison bars hard in order to do well. Seems like that would be your first hint the raft isn't that strong. But what do I know?

Adam and Dane are rebuilding. Adam blames their failure on a "big wave", as the editors editorialise by showing us in the background that the waves are pretty much only forming in the last couple of metres before the shoreline.

The Captain and Chenille arrive, officially making this a twenty-two horse race. Although by the law of averages one of the men should probably be hung like a horse. (I'm betting on Joseph, unless that's where the rest of Sticky's arm went.) (I AM SORRY.) Chenille confessionals, "The best feeling is when we hit that beach and there were still six, seven teams, and I thought, 'Awesome! I can build a raft!'" Awwww, I think I like Chenille. Still a bit iffy on The Captain, but... you know. With Chenille, St. James, Sticky, Donna, Tarryn, the sisters, the cousins, Joseph and Grace, and possibly even Slave Steve, it's already a much more instantly likable cast than last season, so I'm not going to complain. Sure, I could - there might be MORE likeable people, but the people aren't necessarily more LIKEABLE, if that makes sense - but I'm not going to.

Ahem. The Captain and Chenille decide to take their time. I wonder whether all these teams deciding to measure twice and cut once is going to make a difference?

Out in the water, Slave Steve figures out that it makes more sense to have the floaty bits on the bottom of your boat rather than on top. The brilliant part of all this is that when he says it he's still sitting properly, but Asshole 2.0 has turned the arse end of the raft into a recliner and is currently nipple-deep. A group shot shows four teams in the water - Kym and Donna first, St. James and Botogs behind them, Asshole 2.0 and Slave Steve third, and Ross and Tarryn in the background. As the SS Asshole 2.0 bookshelf finally goes all Titanic, Ross & Tarryn pass them, seemingly without any issues at all. Heh. When Team Asshole 2.0 makes it to the halfway beach, "totally spent, totally exhausted", Slave Steve decides to work on his tan instead of finishing. He could at least take off his life jacket if he's going to insist on ignoring the "Race" part of the show's title.

Kym and Donna explain that their boat was a strong design, but "it was a brick in the water, she was a brick". Meanwhile, Ross and Tarryn are making like this is a training session and are doing the whole "ten really big pushes, then a rest" thing. Ross tells us, "There's always an element of proving to yourself that at 55 years of age I'm still able to mix it with those that are a lot younger." You know what also helps you fit in with a younger group of people? Not using the words "mix it". That doesn't even sound like an expression that was cool when YOU were their age.

Asshole 2.0 wants to quit (yay!), and Slave Steve takes the opportunity to scold him for his complete and utter uselessness. He plays the "I'm too tired" card, and some bodybuilder he turned out to be. Where's Chris when we need him? Slave Steve shuts him down by ranting, "It's not over till it's over. Anything can happen right now. Let's just keep going, I don't care... I want to finish it, even if we finish last. Don't give up. It's not part of it."  Amen, sister. Why would you even sign up for the race if you were going to quit at the first sign of difficulty? (Oh, right. Famewhore. Never mind.) Asshole 2.0 continues his futile attempt to get out of this situation: "If it makes you feel any better, I'll call it. No-one will ever call you a quitter, and you aren't a quitter." Slave Steve just gets back to work fixing what can loosely be called their "raft". Is it possible to eliminate half the team but not the other half? Because Slave Steve actually seems kind of awesome.

Way back at the start, the cops and twins are still working, while Lucy and Emilia enter the water on their giant bamboo picture frame. They immediately realise they're going to sink and return to shore, Lucy confessing, "I'm not a beach person. I can't stand the sand at the best of times. In my opinion you should put slates down or tiles down." Heh. I'm not a beach person either, but that's mostly because all the hot guys wear board shorts instead of budgie smugglers now. Which is probably the reason I love watching the diving so much. Hot guys in tiny Speedos doing backflips in midair? LOVE.

The Captain and Chenille have the most raftlike creation so far, having been the only team so far to base their work on what a raft actually looks like, but are still not confident in their own abilities. A whole gaggle of teams join the flotilla already in the water to give this leg a nice sense of symmetry with the opening mass boat trip. Sticky explains that only having one arm was a bit of a hindrance, but it didn't stop him, ASSHOLE 2.0. In a confessional, Sam tells us, "Nothing ever surprises me with Sticky any more. I just treat him normal [sic], really," (because nothing is better than someone who points out how well they treat you, as if it's a chore) to which Sticky responds "The novelty's worn off with you now, I might have to find a new friend." Hmmm? No, I'm not making that stage cough at all. I'm certainly not miming a blowjob either.

Way up at the front of the pack, Kym and Donna are slowing, while Ross and Tarryn notice this and decide to try and overtake them. We then jumpcut to a scene where they are already in front and Ross is still badgering Tarryn to try harder. Even though they're already in first place with no teams close enough and whatever the opposite of exhausted is enough to pass them again.

They get to the final beach without much issue and run up a short jungle path (with an arrow pointing the way even though there's no other way to go) to the Pit Stop, where Grant and the greeter are like "God, FINALLY." The greeter provides the traditional welcome in both Filipino and English, which is probably the coolest little detail this version of the show has ever added, before Grant officially checks them in as Team Number One and gives us this season's first twist. While they still win ten grand in cash, which is basically your average week's winnings on the crappy new version of The Price is Right, Grant also tells them they've won "an equally valuable prize". Which it totally isn't, but whatever. They've won the Salvage Pass, a twist which we're seeing for the first time because every other version had enough sense to avoid it. Basically, they can either choose to cut an hour off of their Pit Stop to leave earlier and eliminate whoever comes in last, or they can have their regular Pit Stop and make this leg a non-elimination. And because the producers want conflict this season, they have to have their Pit Stop rest period interrupted just so they can announce their decision to the last team's faces. Isn't that incredibly unfair, keeping them on edge during the Pit Stop and increasing their fatigue levels while they're forced to stay awake and wait? Especially if they take the extra head start? And what will they do to get rid of the extra team if it becomes a non-elimination? I just think this entire twist was incredibly poorly planned. They could have at least countered the first point by making the individual reward an Express Pass like last season, thus making it a tough decision. The only real good thing about this twist is that it doesn't require another bloody yellow streetsign prop. Even the name sucks.

Kym & Donna, you're Team Number Two, and "you look too exhausted to be happy".

Back in the aquatic peloton, The Captain and Chenille have "somehow managed to pull off some kind of miracle". Yeah, they overcame their dreadful first impression. Also, they've managed to move themselves out of last place, but fucked if I can tell who they've actually passed. It's the sort of task where you don't really know who's doing well or not until they either capsize or finish. What we needed is, like, an overhead shot with the teams marked to show where they all were in comparison to each other.

Michelle (thanks, subtitles!) is bitching at Jo to paddle harder, despite her own paddling being more ineffective than the Australian government. Despite the fact that Michelle is apparently behind Jo and Jo is facing in the opposite direction, Michelle feels the need to claim, "I see whingeing in your face. I can see it." Really? All I see in either of your faces is a blank expression, like someone just asked you how to spell GST.

The cops and cousins are now in the water. Shane explains that Andrew came up with the idea of laying on their stomachs to paddle instead of sitting normally, because apparently Andrew is not allowed to be shown talking about his ideas on his own. All the way back on the beach, the sisters (with Emilia holding a sheet of fabric from somewhere) realise Team Asshole 2.0 have been sent back to the start to try again. Apparently that checkpoint I've been going on about? Is the actual finish point for the rowing. Which surely means the cousins and Team Asshole 2.0 actually finished when their "failed" creations ended up there, right? I'm so confused right now. Emilia exclaims, "I told you till the fat lady sings. Have you heard me singing in the last five minutes?" Hee!

St. James and Botogs, you're Team Number Three! The Captain and Chenille, you're Team Number Four! I have to be honest, I may not yet like either Botogs or The Captain, but at least they're entertaining, and I'm glad they're sticking around. Last season got ridiculously boring once we realised the four dullest teams were going to be the final four.

The cousins are still paddling, and one of them notes, "The coppers are behind us, and they're pumpin' up pretty quickly." Well, you ARE black. (Quiet. You were thinking it.) As the cops pass them, Shane confessionals that they passed "the boys", and it's right about now I realise he reminds me of Jeff from last year in the most uncomfortable way possible. Seriously, dude. They are MEN. And have names.

Sticky and Sam, you're Team Number Five, and I really need to figure out nicknames for you next week. Joseph and Grace, you're Team Number Six, and by far the most excited team yet. Let's hope you get shown more next week, because you were pretty much invisible for most of this leg. Twins, you have no names but are Team Number Seven.

The sisters and Team Asshole 2.0 are still back at the start, Lucy expositing, "For us it was about getting to the Pit Stop and not going 'Ah well, we can't build a raft, so we'll just sit here'." Because that would just make them look like horrible people who were only in this for the D-list fame. Not that anybody else on the beach would try that or anything.

Commercials. Buy the soundtrack from the upcoming Sesame Street porn film, Going Down for the Count!

When we return, part of the score from Who Dares Wins plays over the sisters rereading their clue. Lucy tells Emilia, "It doesn't say that we're not allowed to ask for help, but it doesn't say that we are allowed to ask for help." In other words, it doesn't say how to do it, it just said 'do it'. They eventually decide to risk a penalty - which they won't be getting, because the producers didn't close the loophole - and get a local to help them. Slave Steve notices they're getting help, but Asshole 2.0 rebuts, "I'm not sure what they're doing but I think they're packing up. I don't think they're in the game any more."

Shane and Andrew, you're Team Number Eight. Adam and Dane, you're Team Number Nine. And how telling is it that none of the final three teams were on the last bus to the Detour?

The sisters finally get back in the water, and Slave Steve tells Asshole 2.0 to go and get some help of their own. From the same guy who helped the sisters, it's worth noting. As they get back in the water, timelapse clouds present the transition to night, at which point Ross and Tarryn really should be trying to get some sleep but are still awake because of this horrible twist. It's completely pitch black by the time anything of interest happens, with the teams provided headlamps to help them see around the cliff in the dark. Clearly, not even the producers intended for this task to go on for this long. And yet, it's awesome that it did, because it suddenly makes the incredibly slow chase sequence worth watching. Plus there really aren't enough "long" legs in the American version these days, so having a leg end after a full day of work is very welcome. So there is paddling, and there is more paddling, and then they completely cut off the bit where the sisters get overtaken just to bring back the "running down the path to the Pit Stop" shot that I also miss seeing. Such a simple way to create tension where there is none, and they don't do it nearly enough any more. WHO WILL IT BE?

Damn, it's Team Asshole 2.0. Asshole 2.0 and Slave Steve, you're Team Number Ten. Lucy and Emilia, you're the Last Team To Arrive. And it's a "predetermined elimination leg... BUT there IS a possibility that you could remain in the competition." When the producers have succeeded in getting their confused reaction shots, Grant silently and awesomely indicates down the dock or dam or dijk or whatever we agreed it was to Ross & Tarryn, who really don't look like they've had a chance to sleep or shower yet. Wouldn't the first thing you do at the Pit Stop after a day spent chasing pigs through a mud pit be washing? Grant reiterates the concept of the Stupidest Twist Ever, before rather pointedly telling them to grovel for their lives in the race. You can tell even he thinks this twist is a steaming load. The long and short of it is that they don't really bother begging that much, but Ross and Tarryn still decide to save them. Anticlimax much? After all the hugging and kissing and whatever, none of which Grant is involved in, Lucy confessionals, "If you're playing a game like this game, there are a lot of people who would have said, 'Sorry girls, we're taking an extra hour in the next leg of the race." These people are called idiots. You're probably going to a new country in the next leg, and you're nowhere near an international airport, which pretty much means the time credit's going to be useless when everybody winds up on the same flight. Although wouldn't it have been awesome to see Asshole 2.0 get knocked off his perch so early in the race?

So there's no elimination, and "we race on with eleven teams". And we still don't know what's going to happen to this episode's elimination. A final four? A midleg elimination? Changing one of the other non-eliminations to an elimination? A double elimination? I'd probably wager what'll happen is they'll change the "to be continued" episode we're likely to get so that we get to see all the teams arriving at the first half's Pit Stop, with the final team to arrive being eliminated instead of getting to continue the leg. Since the first leg doesn't technically count as a predetermined non-elimination (thus the farmers didn't get a penalty for finishing last in the first half of last year's To Be Continued leg), it's fine for them to change it without any legal ramifications. It avoids the awkwardness of a double elimination, AND it avoids the awkwardness of eliminating someone in the middle of an episode.

Or because it's Channel Seven and Channel Seven think the Australian viewing public are idiots, they'll probably just pretend we were supposed to have a final leg with only two teams for the first time ever and they'll make like the third team's presence is a consequence of this.

Next time: An erupting volcano. India, in the race's earliest visit to the subcontinent ever. Angry cows. Tits on a bull. My fiftieth published recap. Hopefully, this will finally be the one I get right.


  1. Constructive criticism for you:

    This hurts my eyes to even attempt to read. It's long, very vulgar and asinine. You even talk about the commercials as if the reader would be interested in your commentary about them?

    I don't know what you're trying to communicate other than a subliminal message that you hate everyone and pretending you don't find the show entertaining.

    Good luck with that.

  2. I'm not commenting about the ACTUAL commercials - they're deliberate nonsequiturs. I would have thought that was obvious from the fact that the jokes were clearly not about commercials.

  3. then I would need to figure some way of telling them apart.

    I can help with that. Look at their chests.

    What could possibly give her the idea that an eating task is coming? Could it be the fact that there was one in the exact same location when The Amazing Race Asia, also made by these same producers, visited Manila? And WHY DIDN'T THE PRODUCERS LEARN THEIR LESSON?

    Personally I thought it was a good challenge, even if I picked it from the minute they read "Manila". It's a local food that's distasteful to most Australians, it's not a huge amount (I think - spread between two people it's not anyway) and it shook up the team order quite nicely.

    So far I dislike Cougar and Paul, although the latter is at least entertaingly blowhardy while simultaneously incompetent. Cougar is just wrong. Everyone else I'm enjoying so far. Hope it continues that way!