Monday, March 15, 2010

DETOUR: MACHINE GUN CHARGE OR SEVENTEEN MONTHS STANDING KNEE DEEP IN MUD, FECES, AND HUMAN REMAINS: Dumb mistakes, odd strategy choices, brilliant visuals, and an in situ Philimination, what more could you want?

First, I thought the bus was going to be a dreadfully unnecessary bunch, but given the cost of staging the main event, all was forgiven. The baguette-to-battlefield stage was fairly standard stuff (N.B.: if someone hands you something that isn't a yellow and black envelop, open it anyway), but the battlefield made for terrific visuals. The 100 yard crawl was the obviously-better task (relying, yet again, on the basic ALOTT5MA maxim) and actually - with a Fokker DrI and a French airplane (which looked more like a mid-1920s DeHavilland than anything authentic used by the French) strafing the plane - looked like quite a bit of fun.

I do not understand the logic of doing a blind U-turn on someone when you are at the front of the pack and have at least a two-hour lead. Still, if you are going to try to eliminate someone, sticking them into that challenge was the way to do it. At one point in my life, I had morse code memorized and could probably have keyed out three to five words per minute and understood it at a rate of about two wpm. Even with that, I could not have made up time on the belly crawl. It's an art. And probably works better if you wear arm garters and spats.

The task was not undoable, however. There are breaks at the beginning of the message and between each letter. The first trick would have been to identify the number of letters, then break it down from there. Joe et ux figured out how to break it down eventually, but they were doomed by then. The speed bump was harder than the Sauna Bus, to be sure, but not hard enough that it made passing a struggling team impossible.

On the back end, the bicycle ride was cute but changed nothing. Next week, some sort of needle-in-a-vineyard challenge.


  1. Heather K2:49 PM

    I was disappointed by the fact that almost no one changed ordinal positions, considering most of the teams were so close together, I kind of hoped more shuffling of position would happen than the cowboys run past annoying brothers.

  2. What's interesting is that one of the teams actually said out loud that the tasks came down to physical vs. needle-in-a-haystack (though it was more cerebral that that), showing that some teams have actually learned what tasks are ultimately going to be easier on the Race. The lesson is that you should almost always pick the most telegenic task, since I'm sure the producers would rather show the planes and gunmen over people fuddling with Morse Code dictionaries.

  3. Lou W6:06 PM

    The bicycle ride certainly could have been yet another problem for Joe given his knee...I thought they were finally going to get the Morse Code and then lose in a Bike Race.

    As for the U-Turn, the cops had to feel positive that they weren't going to be eliminated...given that, you want to take out team 2 or 3 to give yourself a better chance at #1 and its prize.  I thought it was surprisingly rational (the second week in a row they've surprised me).  I never thought that it would knock a team out though!  Who would have thought the Morse Code would have been so hard.  I'd assumed that they'd slow it down, not run at full speed, which was brutal...especially considering the ambient noise. Great episode.

  4. Marsha7:07 PM

    That was an awfully long Morse Code message, and while I think it was doable, it's one of the hardest tasks I've ever seen on the race. It's fine when you have the option not to do it, but a real bummer when you have a UTurn and no choice. (I'd have thought some teams would have tried it and given up.) I feel bad for them, especially since I agree that the strategy of UTurning them was odd. Other than that, it was actually a pretty dull leg - mostly FIFO.

    It's a shame - they were likeable and good racers.

  5. Was it just last season that the U-Turn task was also a difficult "foreign language" task -- the Chinese restaurant?

  6. J. Bowman10:11 PM

    I thought that was the most brilliant elimination in Race History. Yeah, the cops were just trying to stick it to Joe for his earlier bluster, but it immediately occurred to me that this was the sort of thing that might set them back a long way, and if Joe and his bum knee had to be in a bike race...
    What would have been super awesome is if Team Big Brother had finally gotten to the task, finished their Speed Bump, and then one of them knew Morse Code.

  7. Was there a roadblock edited out of this episode?

    Also, I think the bus ride is a consequence of budget cuts. Note that there haven't been any flights so far other than LA to Chile and Argentina to Germany. And if we believe the Wikipedia spoilers, it looks like the trend continues. (Not that it bugs me; making teams find long-distance buses strikes me as a good thing.)

  8. The Pathetic Earthling12:32 AM

    They've edited out Road Blocks before, so I trust.  But if budget cuts is an issue, you can save more money by having people knead dough for baguettes than you can reenacting Ypres, right?  

  9. Andrew10:01 AM

    I suspect that there was a Roadblock edited out of this leg -- the sequence of completing the detour, running to a cluebox with the U-turn and then going to another cluebox to get the bicycle clue leads me to suspect that the U-Turn cluebox also sent teams to a Roadblock task that didn't end up changing the order and was edited out.


    I'm kind of meh on the teams, but Jeff definitely got my attention during the never-ending ride to the boulangerie with "Big Ben kids, Parliament"