I feel like I’ve been dragging out my farewell lap for far too long, after recently bidding adieu in the Pop Culture Club and Survivor Talk, but as I’m leaving Entertainment Weekly for another opportunity later this week (more on that later), I feel an especially large lump in my throat as I sit down to write my last Amazing Race TV recap. I’ve been writing this column for nine seasons, so maybe it’s for the best that I end it now. After all, I don’t want to get self-indulgent and start repeating myself. Everybody knows that if you try to repeat past glories, it never quite measures up and LOOK AT ME, I AM MAKING A METAPHOR!
Yes, as promised, the infamous hay bale challenge from season 6 was back! The first time we saw these mountainous wheels of hay, Kristy was stuck futilely pulling them apart for over eight hours until Phil arrived to put her out of her misery. And now, nine seasons later, Bertram Van Munster has decided to resume the torture. (Did it take this long just to get all the hay rolled back together? Man, those Amazing Race interns are slow.) And while the challenge was just as maddening as ever, its reoccurrence made me realize all of the reasons it fails as a good game. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself…
The leg began with everyone flying to Stockholm from Schiphol airport in Holland. Though, from the way Meghan pronounced it, I thought the airport was called ”S–tpole,” which sounds like something that I would have been called in high school back when I was a tall, skinny, terrible basketball player. But no, I misheard it…although, oddly enough, ”schiphol” is Dutch for ”hey, you stiff, way to miss another rebound.” Life’s funny, huh?
Everyone ended up bunching up at the airport that night, as the first flight didn’t leave until 6:55am. The ticket agents didn’t open until early in the morning, and at that point Brian and Ericka and Gary and Matt couldn’t get seats, and ended up leaving two and a half hours later. But here’s my question: They arrived at night hours before the ticket agents reopened, so, knowing they were last in line, why didn’t they take a cab into town to book their tickets via an internet café, thereby leapfrogging everyone else? You don’t write recaps for nine seasons and not learn a thing or two, people!
The first three teams arrived in Stockholm and were directed to find the tallest ride at a local amusement park. Sam and Dan and Meghan and Cheyne arrived first, and sprinted to the freefall ride. (Dan had a very odd running style, in which he clutched a windbreaker in one arm and waved it back and forth, as if it gave himself added torque. I think he probably misread an article about ”wind power.”) Once on the ride, a player had to scan the park and spot an arrow pointing to the next clue. This proved to be simple, as every team got it, and then it was just a matter of seeing them scream as the ride plummeted. Chalk up another anticlimactic challenge for the season; They should have to perform a task, not just get strapped in and have a task done to them.
NEXT: Let’s blow stuff up!