Amazing Race

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M. Giant: B | Grade It Now!
…And the Horse That Rode in on You

At 8:30 AM, the Cowboys, Carol|Brandy, and Joe|Heidi board the bus to Bariloche. Twenty minutes later, at the Cruz Del Sur Bus Terminal, the other six teams board: Dan|Jordan, Louie|Michael, Monique|Shawne, Steve|Allie, Jordan|Jeff, and finally Brent|Caite, who are looking forward to getting some rest on the six-hour ride. I am impressed, and I say this with all sincerity, that all six of these teams went to the right bus station.

An Amazing Red Line takes a circuitous route through the mountains from Puerto Varas to Bariloche. "Bienvenidos a Argentina," reads a sign visible from the road. Also visible from the road? Some pretty cool-looking scenery. "The Andes are pretty sweet," Jet observes. Yeah, that's what that soccer team said.

They disembark in Bariloche and soon find the fleet of SUVs lined up and waiting for them. Jet and Cord are out in front, with Joe and Heidi deciding to follow closely, and Carol|Brandy behind them. Jet and Cord do not fail to notice the situation in their mirror. Carol and Brandy complain about how slowly the Cowboys drive, since they're stuck behind them and all. Cord wonders if the other teams know where they're going, and if not, whether they shouldn't probably stop leading them there. So Jet pulls over while Cord does a little pantomime with the map. Both teams behind them are totally fooled. Brandy's even impatient with them. I wish I could remember who it was that said most people think other people's opinions of them fluctuate a lot more widely than they really do. Whoever it was, that person never met Brandy.

The second bus arrives, and of this group, Jordan and Jeff are the first ones to the cars, followed by Steve|Allie and Louie|Michael -- both of whom know they're looking for highway 237,and Monique and Shawne, who may or may not. Brent and Caite, on the other hand, definitely have no idea at all where they are. But at least all these teams are able to keep their cars moving forward. Unlike Dan, who stalls his car out on an uphill slope. Jordan tries and fails to push them uphill, then gets back in as Jordan has more success with the clutch on the second attempt. I think there's actual traffic behind them this whole time, in which case Argentinean traffic is a lot more patient than the kind I'm used to.

Joe and Heidi find El Boliche Viejo even without the cowboys to lead them, and head inside. Carol|Brandy seem to get there just after the Cowboys somehow, which I'm sure will lead to a whole new round of grilling later. Inside, there are the gnomes and the dealers and that photo of the Hole in the Wall Gang. Joe and Heidi sit down across from a grizzled, sour-faced dude, who grudgingly deals a hand for them and one for the gnome. "Are you our lucky dealer?" Carol asks their host, and gets a fairly convincing look of naked hatred in return. Joe and Heidi "win" their first hand with a pair of nines, although Joe thinks the gnome's hand is his until they are handed the gnome. The clue on the bottom reads, "Hoof it to the Peña Gaucho." Carol and Brandy also win their hand by having a king in it, and are inordinately happy to have beaten the Cowboys. But the Cowboys also get beat by the gnome, so how much of a victory is that, really? In an interview, Cord deadpans at length about the gnome's fantastic poker face. "He should go to Vegas." I'm all for anything that gets it off this show.

Out back, in the Peña Gaucho behind the saloon, Joe|Heidi and Carol|Brandy find themselves in some kind of fiesta, complete with local music and dancers. Phil talks about the local gaucho traditions going back generations. Standing in front of a gaucho roping a hay bale with steer's horns attached to it, Phil says the racers will be learning how to do just that. Specifically, they'll watch a demonstration and then try themselves to lasso a target (the horned hay bale, that is) that's 18 feet away. Then they'll pull the target to them and pull off the clue that's attached to it. Heidi and Carol will be doing this for their respective teams.

Finally Jet and Cord defeat their gnome, which means they now get custody of it for the rest of the leg. Meanwhile, Carol and Heidi are just starting to watch the demonstration. Given her rope, Carol works to familiarize herself with its various parts: "Okay, here's the end." That's a good start.

Jet and Cord are pretty happy about this Road Block, as you might expect, and it's Jet's turn. Seeing the ropes, he says, "I don't know what we're doing, but I bet I like it." No word on whether Jet is a sub or a dom. Brandy is all bitter about how unfair this is, but as Cord points out, "We didn't throw a fit because they know Spanish and we don't." That's not the best example, but the fact is that everyone comes into the race with different strengths and weaknesses, and bitching about it never gets anyone to the finish line. You might as well complain that it's unfair for other teams to know how to drive a standard transmission. Carol and Heidi are still trying to get their ropes unkinked when Jet throws his rope, and MISSES! But the ladies are missing as well. By which I mean they are failing to hit the target, not that they have disappeared.

Jordan and Jeff reach the saloon. "Let's dance," Jeff tells the dealer. Is he trying to launch a catchphrase?

Heidi and Carol's throws are still coming up way short. "I think this is, like, the impossible task," Carol says. But then Jet succeeds on his second attempt, to cheers from the crowd of locals. Jet and Cord are now in first place, and the clue they pull off the target reads, "Drive yourselves to Puente Nirihuau." Phil says they need to "search the cliffs overlooking the river." That's where the next clue is. Fortunately this is neither a very big river nor very big cliffs.

Jeff tips over his chair getting up with their gnome after winning their hand. "I'm busting up this joint," he jokes. Coming out, they spot the Cowboys already running past on their way back to the parking lot. When they reach the car, Jet is embarrassed to have missed on the first try. No word on which try Heidi and Carol are on. "Get comfortable, you could be here a while," Carol calls to Brandy. Brandy does not appear to comply. Then the ads start, which means Carol will be fine.

Jeff is now working on this, as she-Jordan tells us, "He is not a natural cowboy." He's getting all tangled up in his own ropes, which is another one of those things that's difficult not to see as a metaphor for the Big Brother house. But Carol manages to get a loop of her rope over one of her "steer's" horns and pull it to her. "If Carol can do it, you can do it," Joe calls to Heidi, which I'm sure he didn't mean as the put-down of Carol that it sounds like. Soon, Heidi also succeeds, and they're in third place. But the second-place team is arguing because Brandy, behind the wheel, complains about not seeing a river yet as they head down the road toward the next clue. "Who's the one who's navigationally challenged?" Carol asks.

Dan and Jordan are stuck behind a slow-moving truck in a no-passing zone. Meanwhile, Brent and Caite are also bickering about directions. Steve and Allie find El Boliche Viejo next. "Bitch!" Jeff says to his rope. "I'm a city boy, not a country boy." Steve and Allie win their hand in fifth place. I'm dizzy from all these scene transitions.

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Amazing Race




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