''The Amazing Race'': The Swede smell of success
Obviously, teams like Lori and Bolo have never been in need of a laminate end table or a cheap chest of drawers or they would have known how easy it is to assemble a piece of furniture from Ikea: The directions are a cinch because they're made up entirely of illustrations! But no, the wrestlers and several other teams opted to perform the mind-numbing task of counting thousands of teddy bears and frying pans rather than assembling a simple desk at the world's largest Ikea, located in Sweden the teams' next destination after exiting Norway by bus.
Normally, I can't stomach such shameless product placement (what is this, Survivor?), but this nifty task gave us a rare and valuable glimpse into the mind of guys like Don. The old guy became an embarrassment to shrivs everywhere, including my caramel-chewing grandpa back in Yucaipa, Calif., when he tried to play the age card to that poor unsuspecting Heidi type who had to watch how he and Mary Jean couldn't accurately count 2,304 bears and pans. ''I'm 40 years older than these other players!'' he whined. Fortunately, the Swede didn't budge, and Don was back at it again before he finally figured out that counting wasn't his game. ''It's not rocket science to count bears, but I couldn't do it,'' Don mumbled. Count your blessings, pop this race ain't over yet. Miraculously, the golden-age duo managed to assemble the desk and remain competitive in the race. Meanwhile, Kris and Jon and Hayden and Aaron were fast becoming insta-buddies and ended up checking in first at the Stockholm pit stop.
But first, a quick word about entrepreneur Jonathan. Rather, a quick Aerosmith title about Jonathan. Dude looks like a lady! This guy is quickly establishing himself as a real sissy la-la while Victoria is coming off as the actual he-man in that relationship. Anyone notice how Botox babe often ran ahead of Jonathan, took the lead seat on the tandem bike, and had the unenviable task of unrolling unwieldy bales of hay at the roadblock? Oddly (and I say this because who among us has any sympathy for anyone who chooses to have sex with this jerk?) I found myself sympathizing with her, because she's obviously built up some serious mental and physical muscles to deal with her husband. All I can say is, you go, girl but only for a minute. Victoria still sat quietly in that taxi while Jonathan yelled uncontrollably, even when it looked like he was about to throw a punch. Somebody's gotta do some serious intervention on the Bickerings (are you reading this, Phil?) before he really goes for the jugular.
But I'd take any sign of blood flow from Gus and Hera, who are proving that slow and steady can win the race but will do nothing to improve your Q rating. Damn if I don't want to take a pee when these two are on screen. Honestly, has anyone actually heard or remembered or actually cared about anything Gus may have said?
Back to those bales of hay. After Ikea, teams had to ride a tandem bike to a field where 270 rolls were awaiting with only 20 clues hidden inside. Stunts like these are such a painful crapshoot, and you just know that someone will get stuck working like a plow-pulling ass. In this case, it was poor Lena, who ended up spending eight hours out there while later arrivals like Don found their clues quickly and made it safely to the pit stop. Maybe this was the TV gods at work, wanting to punish Race for casting too many hotties. (I still couldn't care less about Freddy and Kendra or Kris and Jon.) Still, I found myself choking up when night fell and Phil finally came to put Lena out of her misery and tell her she was cut. Blondie worked her fingers to the bone and never, ever, played the ''I'm just a weak female!'' line. Somewhere, Don had to be watching. I can only hope his granddaughters were off sneaking Tabasco into the old coot's denture jar.
What did you think? Who came off looking better or worse this time? And is there too much luck and not enough skill involved in the Race?