"The Amazing Race" update you didn't ask for
Each week, I'll attempt to break down odds as "The Amazing Race" continues to shed dead weight and move towards its usual thrilling conclusion in the race for a million dollars.
This week saw goth couple Kynt and Vyxsin (or as Elkhorn Donald calls them, "the Pinkies") go down in flames thanks to a bone-headed move at the U-Turn. For those who don't watch the show (and why aren't you?), a U-Turn is a strategic move employed twice in the race that allows competitors to "turn" another team around so they have to finish a second, time-consuming task before proceeding. In a mad dash to the turn, fourth place team Kynt and Vyxsin -- who were already at a competitive disadvantage because of last week's slim survival in a non-elimination round -- beat quarrelling fifth place couple, Nate and Jen, by mere seconds. It should have been a no-brainer. Send Nate and Jen to finish the second task (they were visibly behind them, after all) and it's gravy for the goths. Instead, Kynt decided to U-Turn old school/new school tandem, Nicolas and Donald, on the slim chance they were further behind at that point in the race.
Good-bye goths. You kept it real for Bauhaus fans everywhere -- though they really look more like a bad Dead or Alive cover band.
The standings: First place, TK and Rachel. Second place, Nic and Donald. Third place, Ron and Christina. Fourth place, Nate and Jen.
Contenders: Team Elkhorn is showing me something despite Donald being around since the FDR administration. Nic seems to be taking more initiative on challenges while Donald is aware of his physical limitations due to age -- an important concession to make at this point in the race. Nic needs to re-evalute his comment about having strong navigation skills, though. Um, remember Lithuania, dude? Still, with the goths out (and if not for a disastrous highway detour that killed their momentum, they'd be at the front) TK and Rachel appear to be the strongest team. They already survived a blunder of epic proportions -- leaving their clue at a restaurant -- and even then, showed tremendous resolve and patience with each other before getting back on track. Perhaps most important, they don't follow the pack. More than any other tandem, they trust their instincts and trust each other.
Nate and Jen aren't quite as entertaining as past volatile couples, but they're daring to reach "must see TV" status. It's not even the pressure that gets to them. They simply haven't mastered the fine art of fighting. Biting sarcasm, the silent treatment, a well-timed 'yo momma's so fat' joke? Nope. Nate and Jen go straight for the jugular and fight for the final, scathing word like it's the last chopper out of Saigon.
Nate: "I don't know how you can't do this, you're a girl."
Jen: "I don't know how you can't row a boat, you're a guy."
''The tone of your voice is making me absolutely sick.''
The X-factor: It's rarely the challenges that get teams to fall behind (though don't tell that to Rob and Amber a few seasons ago). "The Race" consistently kills teams on two fronts: in the air because of a plane delay or on the road because of poor navigation skills (most common). Whoever brushes up on MapQuest stays ahead: plain and simple. The fact that TK and Rachel are comfortable moving away from the pack could be a tremendous advantage.
Next episode: According to CBS.com, "one racer begins showing signs of physical deterioration, prompting the teammate to step up to the plate. But will it be enough? One volatile relationship takes a turn for the worse. Will the team be able to get it together before it's too late? Taxi drivers have caused grief for teams at the most inopportune times. Now, it's the revenge of the racers as they don gloves and hats and drive Japanese passengers around the confusing streets of Osaka."
Prediction: "The Race" is impossible to predict for the reasons already stated above. But we have to take a stab, right? Ron and Christina have physical limitations and a Vesuvius-style eruption waiting around every corner. The safe bet is that "Team Who's Your Daddy?" starts to lose ground -- and maybe in the case of Christina, her sanity and self-worth goes with it.