Pity me this summary. Not only is any episode following the Demise of Jonathan and Victimia bound to be anticlimactic, but this installment takes place mainly in Shri Lanka. One simply cannot be funny about Shri Lanka right now, for obvious reasons (see Footnote 1). TAR producers grappled with this issue, and the episode begins with a tasteful tribute statement. In the same spirit (and to make up, karmically, for Footnote 1), I offer you all a few highly googlable donation venues:
Non-recap race footage begins about 12 long minutes into the hour, after the requisite cavalcade of Julia Roberts’ maternity leave AOL commercials. We’re still in Ethiopia, and that dirty third world food is messing with Kendra’s pretty tummy! I’m hoping what’s upsetting her stomach is strychnine or, at the least, the collective saliva of hundreds of justified Patoos! (copyright Moonbaby, all rights reserved) as the Pit Stop Hotel staff responds to Kendra’s humanitarian musings while preparing her poolside brunch. At any rate, Kendra has to stop and vomit every few feet. I have rarely enjoyed Kendra footage so much.
The group heads, in stages, for the airport and the capital of Ethiopia (there will be a quiz later, boys and girls), Addis Ababa. (BTW, it’s fun to say “Addis Abbaba”…try it! Addis Abbaba, Addis Abbaba.) In keeping with this season’s theme, there now ensues great bunchification. Hayden and Aaron discuss world domination (“No team can beat us!”)…well, Aaron discusses and Hayden dominates. Lori and Bolo are savoring the clue: Bolo read very slow. There is of course no HINT of foreshadowing in the prolonged wrestler discussion of reading clues for details.
The racers are instructed to find a stadium where the teams will participate in a four-person relay race. I suspect, had they not already been eliminated, this would have spelled doom for Gus N Hera, not to mention Jessica Tandy and Hume (yes, I have forgotten their names already; early senility, perhaps). In adjacent golden TAR moments of political sensitivity, Hayden grouses that her cab driver doesn’t know what “Drive fast!” means (he does, Hayden; it’s just that he also knows what “Ignore the undersized American beeotch” means, too), and Bolo suggests to an Ethiopian teammate that he should “run like you do when the cops are after you.” All teams acquit themselves pretty well, however, even Bolo (Bolo run like Bolo read: sloooooooooow) and Kendra (although she clutches her side where she had those extra ribs removed and moans and generally suffers in a manner that would make Mel Gibson waaay too happy) -- not enough arsenic in the scrambled eggs, I guess. Better luck next time, Ethiopians!
Anyway, off we cab to Shri Lanka (I’m just going to gloss over most of the airport and train bunch and brak; it does not bear description every time. Or maybe it does, but it bores me. Freddy gets in his usual argument with the driver regarding how egregiously Fred feels it appropriate to underpay, and he and Kendra enjoy a good laugh about the greediness of the natives afterward. You know, beautiful stuff like that). Aaron and Hayden point out that Jon and Kris, in addition to being the only nonpsychotic couple left, may also present the stiffest competition. Well, duh. I guess we are all in danger of overlooking Kris and Jon (or would be if they weren’t, jointly, pretty damn hot) because the “long distance daters” seem to enjoy each other’s company, quietly and efficiently perform their tasks, and spend precious time savoring the exotic scenery when they could be abusing each other or threatening to quit. In short, the very unSpringerness of the couple results in them getting about 12 seconds of air time each week. No wonder the other teams have been slow to evaluate the competition.
Naturally, despite all the taxi stress, the teams end up on the same fecking plane in the same fecking bunch. When they arrive, they are confused and infuriated by the traffic patterns (having been to Southeast Asia, I will say that the fundamentally improvisational manner in which drivers in Malaysia, Indonesia, and, apparently, Shri Lanka hurl their tiny overworked vehicles around can be daunting to the uninitiated; traffic in such places makes Italian roadways seem rigidly regulated). Sick of cabs? We’re back to the trains. Rebecca and Heckboy miss the train the other teams are on and Mary Adam throws Hissy Fit #413, threatens to quit, threatens to commit suicide, and once again disappoints us by doing neither.
Jump ahead to the Detour, via cute sort of Vespa-SUV type vehicles called, I think, Jub Jubs (or is that the pig in Doctor Doolittle? Oh, well…): Tree Trunks or Elephant Trunks? The former involves climbing ropes up palms and knocking down coconuts or something like that. Hayden again mentions her Fear of Heights. You know, I watch TAR, and I watch Road Rules, and there is always, ALWAYS some moron who has a deathly fear of heights who nevertheless signs on for these shows, three out of four of the episodes of which deal with dangling contestants from great heights over something. It’s even more moronic than not learning how to drive a stick shift before TAR, or how to swim prior to a stint on Survivor. Still, it’s great fun to watch Hayden grizzle and scream from the top of the trees, and I’ll bet Aaron enjoys it as much as we do. Kris and Jon, naturally, rock the challenge and finish up in about five seconds. Rebecca also scampers like a monkey with good hair products, while Adam plots his traditional course of nearly fainting and sobbing like a colicky infant, a colicky infant girl. Lori and Bolo attack the challenge with the zest, and gentle vocal stylings, of “Ma and Pa Kettle Get Hopelessly Lost In the Jungle and Die.” Freddy and Kendra are the only ones to choose the “Elephants” alternative and, unfortunately, excel. In an elitist colonial sport like polo, it seems Kendra’s a natural. Quell surprise!
The next clue directs the teams to head for the Kandy Artisan Factory, or some such; when they get there Mary Adam and Rebecca, dead last, are relieved to find…wait, you’ll never guess…the place doesn’t open til the next day! Yes, we have achieved even greater heights of bunchosity! In the morning each team completes some really pedestrian task having to do with rice bowls and races off to find Lion Rock. Kris and Jon once again pass Hayden and Aaron, which is entirely and completely Aaron’s fault, and I don’t understand why he didn’t appreciate Hayden pointing this out to him, in a fishwife screech – she was just being helpful! – Aaron actually locates some tiny vestage of testosterone and tells her to shut up. Or something like that. More Jub Jub racing (Rebecca and Heckboy’s driver has the temerity to pull over for gas; are the very fates conspiring against this team? Is there any possible way they could avoid elimination tonight? Oh, surely not!).
The Roadblock clue states that one team member must climb to the top of the temple at Lion Rock and give the entry ticket to some official up there before heading back down with some token of task completion. Okay, I was dealing with cat vomit at this point and lost the thresd of the challenge. Apparently, so did Lori and Bolo, not to mention Fearless Freddy, because neither took their entry ticket with them when they scrambled up the stone steps. Wait, details! Could this be what the title meant? Is it not oh so IRONIC that Lori and Bolo discussed reading clues for all the information first, before jumping in, at the beginning of this episode? Do you even remember back that far? Anyway, this little gaffe puts Wrestlemania in last place as the teams head for the Pit Stop, where another demonically worded clue asks that they SWIM ACROSS THE POOL to Phil at the actual Point of Pittage. Naturally, each team (except Kris and Jon, who are still freaking hot, and who have reading AND intrapersonal skills) scrambles around the pool to Phil, who completely flouts the rules of the game and INSTRUCTS them to go back and swim to him. Hayden barely has time to scream at Aaron for missing this part of the clue. All the teams go back, dive in, and splash up to Phil: Dominatrix and Submissive 2nd after Jon and Kris, then team Skin Deep, and then Becky and her Special Little Guy (girl) … and Lori and Bolo? The last to arrive, down for the count, and yeeeeeeoooor OUT! Surrender those belts and climb outta the ring. Further proof, boys and girls, that Reading is Fundamental. Next week: More Infuriating Bunching. Don’t miss it!
Footnote 1. Okay, Shakes could. Because Shakes has that grandfathered “no tasteful boundaries” clause in his contract. So Shakes would probably say something like this 50-foot wave appeared on Dr. Phil last week and denied killing over 150,000 people; that was ALL EDITING, people. But I’m not Shakes, so I can’t go there.