The Amazing Race Has Got A Tab At Zanzibar
In Tanzania, an oddly-placed U-Turn and a missing passport cause drama for the racers.
There's No "I" In U-Turn, But There Is A "U"
As they prepare to embark on Leg 3, the teams provide updates on how their newly established relationships are faring. Floyd and Becca, aka #TeamFun, are having a blast. Things are going similarly smoothly for London and Logan, who are doing their best to avoid drama of all types.
Now to the strained relationship everyone's waiting to hear about: Shamir and his testicles. They had a rough go of things during a harness-related task in the previous leg, requiring medical attention at one point. If you ask me, though, the person most in danger of sustaining a Race-related injury is probably Shamir's partner, Sara, who might end up straining an eyeball, such is the force of her eye-rolling. When his kvetching fails to garner enough sympathy from his partner, Shamir turns to a few fellow racers who actually have balls; they pretend to care.
Teams are now off to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, but they're really only there long enough to pick up a newspaper containing a clue that directs them to their actual destination, Zanzibar, which they'll reach via a ferry the following morning. Matt and Redmond try that thing where they pretend they don't actually know where the line is, or that people are waiting in it, so they just cruise on up to the ferry ticket window past where literally all of the other teams are queued up. This accomplishes literally nothing in terms of a head start; all it does is enrage Ashton, who already didn't like them thanks to their failure to honor a similarly meaningless gesture last leg. With a U-Turn coming up, it's probably not the right time to be enraging people.
Indeed, once the ferry docks in Zanzibar, Matt and Redmond are chiefly concerned with beating Vanck and Ashton to whatever happens next, since they know they're prime targets for a U-Turn.
"Whatever happens next" turns out to be...the U-Turn board. Hey, wait a minute. Don't you usually have to finish one side of a Detour before you can U-Turn someone, and then don't they have to finish their Detour in order to find out they've been U-Turned? Nobody's done any Detours yet. This is no longer a U-Turn. Nobody's moving in a U-shaped direction, and they can't actually turn because there's nothing to turn back to yet. This is, like, a Z, or maybe a T, depending on the typeface.
Tara and Joey, arriving at the U-Turn board first, are all too eager to deploy that sucker: they choose to U-Turn Seth and Olive, the perceived strongest team, in a bid to slow them down. Vanck and Ashton U-Turn Matt and Redmond, apparently out of pure spite, and since Matt and Redmond are pretty much three feet behind them, there's a lot of intimidation and shouting as they proceed to the boats that will convey them to the Detours.
The Amazing Race apparently no longer has time for cutesy puns or rhymes to connect their Detours thematically, so we're reduced to basic descriptive verbs: in "Build It," teams will assemble furniture and deliver it to a local school; in "Weave It," they'll weave baskets.
Shamir, by his own admission, is "horrible at building things," but he and Sara choose to Build It anyway for some reason, and a few minutes later, he is laid low by a near-fatal splinter. Sara talks him back down from the ledge and he gets back to work, but it's clear that he's concerned about losing the finger, such is the severity of the wound. Between last week's hand and testicle injuries and this week's splinter, Shamir's Race journey has thus far been fraught with suffering, and he seemingly never shuts up about it. Either this guy has that fragile bone disorder Samuel L. Jackson had in Unbreakable or he really did something to piss off the show's editors.
A few teams initially fail inspection on Build It because of their failure to correctly place a dowel, which is as thrilling as it sounds.
Weave It isn't much more enthralling for the viewer, although it has the benefit of being presided over by an energetic young man named "Butterfly" who retrieves the racers' palm fronds from the top of a tall tree with unusual panache. Alas, Butterfly's treetop twerking skills are not enough to recommend this task to most of the teams. The task initially appears to be up London's alley, since her career involves crocheting large art installations, but it's harder than it looks, so she and Logan switch in short order. Everyone else opts for furniture unless compelled to do otherwise by a U-Turn.
Honestly, most of these teams don't seem to be in any real danger, The real race is between Seth and Olive and Matt and Redmond, since they've both been U-Turned. Olive and Seth are the first to finish Build It, although Matt and Redmond, starting at Weave It, appear to have finished in roughly the same amount of time, and they seem to Build It pretty quickly.
I'm Not Gonna Cook It, But I'll Order It From...Well, You Know
The Roadblock asks two different questions: "Who's ready to do some market research?" per the clue, or "What's for dinner?" per the chyron in front of Phil. Basically, it's the same shopping-list task we've seen in many past seasons of the show. A good portion of the food words are in Swahili, which sort of adds to the difficulty. Instructions curiously call for a live chicken and "make it halal," which puzzles Joey, because he's not sure what "halal" means. Other racers who DO know the definition are a little stymied because halal is a status that generally only applies to a dead chicken...and then it's revealed that they'll have to take a live chicken and, y'know, arrange for it to be dead. This really should cause more drama than it actually does. All we get is a shot of Michael, a butcher by trade, not being bothered by it.
Vanck initially thinks he's hit the jackpot when he finds a helpful local willing to gather all the food items for him, but when the bill comes to pretty much the entirety of the contents of The Amazing Wallet, he realizes he might have to find ways to cut corners. Indeed, since racers need to use money from their budgets to buy the goods, and the prices are generally not fixed, running out of money turns out to be an issue for most of them. Sara has the toughest time of all; she spends way too much money on her first few items, and runs out before she gets to the end of her list. No problem, she says; she'll just...go back to the places where she bought the first few things and ask for some of her money back? Because that's how commerce works.
Michael is naturally in his element in the marketplace, and he and Liz land on the mat for their second consecutive first-place finish. Tara and Joey are close behind.
Team Fun(damental Failure To Keep Track Of Possessions)
Oddly enough, with the help of a translator, Sara actually does manage to get some money back, or maybe she just gets a random guy to give her some money; it's unclear. By that point, though, only she and Olive are left at the market.
Vanck and Ashton, finishing in third place, get the third degree from Phil regarding their U-Turn. Conveniently, Matt and Redmond are close enough behind them that they can roll up on this conversation and chime in for themselves. They're pretty proud of themselves that they managed to do two Detours and bypass five teams who weren't U-Turned. Ashton informs them that she U-Turned them to get them back for lying. "This is cool," replies Redmond sarcastically. "I didn't think I was going to have any drama. Everybody [else] likes us!" He and Ashton snipe back and forth a little bit more. Matt and Vanck just sort of stand there awkwardly, maybe beginning to regret their respective choices of partner a little. When Becca and Floyd roll up, beaming with excitement and basically radiating the fulfillment and exhilaration they all came to this Race to find, you can feel Vanck, at least, doubling down on regret. Becca's wearing a little lapel pin featuring a "Fun-Meter," and that sucker's been stuck on 11 from Day 1.
Back at the market, Sara finishes a little bit ahead of Olive, who's run into trouble with her negotiations because she's trying to spend the last few Brazilian reals in her bag.
A bigger problem has arisen at the mat, though; Becca and Floyd can't be checked in because they're missing a passport (Floyd forgot to zip his fanny pack, apparently). The Fun-Meter drops down to zero as they furiously backtrack in search of their cab driver. Fortunately, they had the foresight to take his business card, and equally fortunately, he's easily summoned and has the missing passport. Still, Becca will be taking charge of the passports from here on out, thank you very much. The Fun-Meter may never fully recover.
This makes Olive and Seth officially the last team to arrive, undone by a U-Turn. And here's where the strangers theme saps a lot of the intrigue. There wasn't enough time to learn anything meaningful about them, and they didn't have the hook of rebuilding a relationship or learning new things about each other to fall back on. They're just a pair of above-average-looking strangers who ran a race in tandem for three legs, and now they're out of the Race, and I wish that were a little more devastating, but I really got to know them about as well as they knew each other at the start of this crazy experiment.
Zanzibar looks like a gorgeous place, particularly the rooftop hotel serving as the Pit Stop, and any destination that gets a Tenacious D song stuck in your head can't be all bad. However, the inexplicably placed U-Turn, petty sniping, and a relatively forgettable elimination tend to pull your Fun-Meter down.