Watching the previews of this episode I was thinking it would be all about cobras – I even thought to name this recap “One man’s snack is another man’s poison.” But! The episode turned in a different direction. The first task – eating cooked cobra meat – was more about rolling eyes, making faces and raising eyebrows than about real drama or fear. All the teams, even Marie – the pickiest of eaters – ate their grilled cobra servings without much problem.
We see some hand holdings in this episode (between Travis and Jason), some snide comments (from oh-so-nice Amy), some panicky cries of Nicole (what else is new). We hear multiple repetitions of the fact that Marie does not know how to boil an egg. In other words – nothing too exciting or fun.
For those who have not watched this episode – please be warned that in the next few sentences I will reveal the “winners” and “losers”. But don’t fret if your favorite team is in the wrong “camp” – this was a non-elimination leg. Not a terribly exciting leg, too – the Roadblock (“Who is feeling hard boiled?“) was about boiling eggs in steaming volcanic spring. The Detour was a choice between “Paint your partner” (applying Indonesian bridal make-up on each other) and “Turn over a new leaf” (looking for a pair of clipping shears hidden in the bushes of a tea plantation). Amy and Jason (finally) won this leg of the Race, and the Afghanimals (who had to switch the Detour twice) were the last to arrive. But – as I mentioned – it was a non-elimination leg, so they still live to see another leg of the Race.
Now, back to my musings. Why did I name this recap the way I named it? Why “Ode to the Afghanimals“?
If you read this blog in the past, you might have noticed that in the beginning of the season, before the start of the Race , I wrote some “introductions” – my first impressions of the teams. And you might recall that I generally disliked team “Afghanimals”:
My first recap or two were not favorable to this team. However, over the course of this Race they have proved themselves more entertaining that possibly all of the other teams combined.
To me personally – it’s absolutely not important if the teams are nice or not, good-looking or not, famous or not. But! They must be entertaining. Entertainment is the reason I turn on the TV. That’s the reason I watch this show. And that’s the contestants’ “job” – to entertain us, the viewers. Do they seriously think they are on the show because they are oh so nice or oh so honest or oh so pretty.?! They are there to entertain the viewers. If they don’t do this “job” – there soon will be less and less viewers, and the show might cease to exist. That’s my defense of the importance of being entertaining.
I read a lot of fan posts and forums, and I see there is a good proportion of people who find the Afghanimals annoying. I hear also that many of their fellow racers disliked them. But I can only go by what I see. Yes, sometimes they are annoying (who isn’t?). Yes, sometimes they are show-off-ish (tempted by cameras perhaps?. But their joy for life and enjoyment of the Race are so palpable and infectious. They come across as mischievous, light-hearted, sometimes silly, sometimes playful. They don’t give us solemn (and oh sooo overused by other contestants!) proclamations of how “we are not quitters” and how “we must prove this or that“. They (unlike most others) don’t take themselves too seriously. They bring fun to the Race. They spice up the not-so-exciting cast. They do their “job” of entertaining very well, much much better than the rest.
And during this episode, when the possibility the Afganimals being eliminated became so real, I felt sort of sad: I normally so much look forward to the finale, but without the Afghanimals (and with what’s left now), I doubt the finale would be that fun.
Yes, this was a non-elimination leg. But my gut feeling tells me the Afghanimals still will be eliminated next. Between their Speed Bump in the next leg and Amy’s penchant for completing Nicole’s Roadblocks, they stand very little chance.
And most likely the winners will be either Nicole/Travis or Amy/Jason. Marie and Tim get lost way to often for us to hope that they wouldn’t get lost again, somewhere between the beginning of the leg and the Pit Stop. Amy/Jason and Nicole/Travis are now like one single team instead of two separate competitors: Amy finishes Nicole’s tasks, Nicole cries on Amy’s shoulder, Travis and Jason run to their Roadblocks and back holding hands. B-O-R-I-N-G (and I am not even going into that being unfair).
Think of it…5 seasons from now, would you really remember inept Nicole-and-hypocritical-Travis? Would you really remember sort-of-nice-but-oh-so-bland-Amy-and-Jason? You might vaguely recall the pink tips of Marie’s hair. But the Afghanimals – the Afghanimals you will remember. You’ll see.