The Amazing Race Review, Season 20, Episode 8,
“Let Them Drink Their Haterade”
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
If there’s one thing that unites fans of The Amazing Race, it’s a hatred of the non-elimination legs. Since the show is unlikely to expand the cast due to added costs, they’re a necessity to produce the expected number of episodes. The non-elimination penalty has varied over the years. There was nothing extra during the first four seasons, but Phil started “mugging” the teams by taking their money in the fifth season. Since that didn’t seem like enough, he also started taking their possessions a few seasons later. Viewers didn’t enjoy seeing teams lose everything, so the producers have tinkered with other variations over the years. The current penalty is the Speed Bump, which requires the last-place team to complete an extra task on the following leg. The problem is that this challenge is usually so easy that it has little effect on the outcome. That trend ultimately changes this week and virtually guarantees the elimination of a struggling team.
Nary and Jamie have shown good athleticism throughout The Amazing Race, but they’ve never been able to pull everything together. The federal agents barely survived being eliminated several weeks earlier, but they couldn’t avoid the inevitable this time. They begin this leg more than two hours behind the entire pack, which doesn’t bode well for their chances. There is hope in the appearance of the Double U-Turn, which arrives immediately after a nasty episode full of conflict. This is probably not a coincidence. Nary and Jamie perform well and actually pull even with Ralph and Vanessa near the end, but the brief delay is enough to spell their doom. This task is harder than the typical Speed Bump (sitting on a block of ice, going to a sauna) and involves setting up an art stand. It’s not impossible but does require them to think a little bit to receive their next clue. With only an easy Roadblock left before the Pit Stop, their departure is inevitable.
The episode begins with a stunning drive through the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to more than 25,000 animals. Similar to last week’s plane ride, it’s refreshing to watch the teams genuinely enjoy the experience of traveling through the gorgeous African landscape. Following this interlude, tensions rise quickly with the appearance of a crucial Detour. Teams must first locate the “Hillary Clington” stand, which actually rests near a Barack Obama shop. With the Double U-Turn waiting at the end of the task, it’s crucial to pick the right Detour option. The best choice is fixing a bike’s flat tire in “Air Supply”, which is tricky but takes less time. “Water Supply” doesn’t require skill, but teams must wait in a long line. Art and JJ choose this one and fall well behind the leaders. Rachel and Dave continue their dominance and are joined by the stellar Mark and Bopper at the top.
The Double U-Turn adds to the excitement and sends the two couples back towards the trailing feds. Teams have the ability to force another one to perform both Detour options, which is big this week. Art and JJ send the Big Brother duo back to “Water Supply”, and they make Ralph and Vanessa join them. Amazingly, Brendon and Rachel hold it together (relatively speaking) and retain their spot in fourth place. Ralph and Vanessa seem more vulnerable, and a flat tire adds to their problems. She makes the tragic error of proclaiming their good luck with taxis. The Amazing Race gods immediately strike down their tire for this overconfident boast. Despite all these blunders, Ralph and Vanessa hang in there and stay ahead of Nary and Jamie. These obstacles create some excitement in what could have been a predictable episode.
Dave and Rachel’s choice to not use the U-Turn also raises the ire of the Border Patrol agents, especially JJ. The teams had made a pact to penalize Brendon and Rachel no matter who arrived at the U-Turn first. When the guys realize their allies didn’t honor the agreement, they don’t take it well. JJ’s anger is no joke, and he’s still hot when they reach the Pit Stop in the end. While his rage seems pretty silly, it’s hard to understand how emotions are heightened during this type of experience. Art and JJ feel a bond with Dave because of his military background, so his decision is likely rougher. This choice will probably have little effect on the ultimate outcome, but it’s enough to fire up the agents. Looking closer at the Double U-Turn, the obvious move is to pick Nary and Jamie and guarantee their elimination. There are two probable reasons why this doesn’t happen. First of all, teams are letting their personal feelings control their actions. The other possibility is that no one considers Nary and Jamie a threat, so they’d prefer to go after the other teams.
“Let Them Drink Their Haterade” isn’t as bitter as the title suggests, and the race is always better when the contestants enjoy the ride. The Roadblock has players don a protective suit and harvest honey from a hive surrounded by bees. No one freaks out, and everyone rolls through the task. This type of challenge still works because it’s unique and fun, even if it’s not very difficult. Once they finish the Roadblock, the final step involves a brief jaunt on foot to the Pit Stop. This is no easy task for Bopper, who’s nursing an injured knee. Despite the pain, he sticks with it and helps the Kentucky guys take first place. Finally! While they’re still underdogs against the top teams, watching someone else grab the top spot is exciting. The fact that it’s the most likable team is a great bonus.