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The Amazing Race: Season 29, Italy, 4/27/17

May 1st, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

Sometimes, in place of a non-elimination leg, The Amazing Race runs two legs as one. Teams get to to the pit stop mat, and host Phil Keoghan tells them to keep racing. During the season 29 race, the seven remaining teams arrive at the mat on a mountaintop in Norway, and Phil tells them to keep racing.

As the sixth leg begins, immediately after the fifth, product placement begins, too. Teams are given phones with Travelocity phone apps, which are to be used only to book flights from Norway to Milan, Italy. Once teams book their flights, they take a train to the airport.

All the teams get the same flight:

  • Vanck/Ashton (the race’s odd couple, he’s a glasses-wearing Asian-American math genius, she’s an attractive blonde saleswoman)
  • Joey/Tara (policeman and military woman)
  • Becca/Floyd (Team Fun, she’s a vivacious pro rock climber, he’s an African-American college student)
  • Liz/Mike (working-class people)
  • Matt/Redmond (champion snowboarder and disabled vet)
  • Brooke/Scott (Team Will and Grace)
  • London/Logan (Team LoLo, she’s an artist, he’s a salesman)

Along the way Scott hatches a scheme he thinks will keep him and Brooke in the race longer (as opposed to actually performing well in the race). He persuades five teams to form an alliance against Vanck/Ashton at the next U-turn opportunity. Whoever makes it to the U-turn board first will U-turn Vanck/Ashton. Then a second team, knowing the first team has already been by the board, will deliberately U-turn that first team. This only works on a back-of-the-pack team, of course.

It’s a scheme more appropriate to Survivor: an alliance forms, and outsiders are forced out. If all goes according to plan, the targeted team has no defense except to do both U-turns quickly and hope another trailing team flounders.

Why Vanck/Ashton are targeted is vague. There’s something about the other teams don’t like them and they’re a non-social team, but we haven’t seen any evidence of that. It’s more like the race’s cool kids are ganging up on the outsiders.

Back to the actual race course: when teams get to Milan, they take taxis to a clue box near a tram stop in a downtown city square. The clues found here are for a roadblock:  “Who’s hungry for the next clue?”

A tram that loops around downtown Milan is a mobile Italian restaurant where riders dine as they travel and watch the streets outside the tram windows. The racers that perform the RB have to ride the loop while eating a serving of lasagna and pasta. While dining, they watch for signs in the streets outside the windows, trying to spot three words marked with yellow-and-red race colors. When they complete the loop, they tell a man the three words they’ve spotted. If they’re correct, they get the next clue. If not, they have to ride the loop, try to spot the words, and eat the Italian food again.

Tara, who speaks some Italian, and Mike get on the first tram. They agree to work together. They get all three words on their first try. That puts Tara/Joey in first place and Liz/Michael in 2nd place.

Vanck, Scott, Redmond, and Floyd get on the second tram. Scott, who’s gay, flirts with the guys and asks college student Floyd if he’s old enough to drink wine. (He is.) Floyd says the challenge is hard because yellow and red are a very popular color combination. Logan has to go on a third tram, putting him and London in last place.

Scott, Floyd, Redmond, and Vanck all have to ride the tram a second time. So does Logan. Scott, Floyd, and Logan spotted several different words, so they share their lists of possibilities with each other, but deliberately refuse to share them with Vanck. The five trailing teams all get the correct three words on their second try.

As teams finish the RB, they take taxis to a cruise terminal, where they are to take an overnight cruise to the town of Varenna on the shore of Lake Cuomo. It’s about 60 kilometers or 37 miles from Milan. As each team embarks, they get a time to disembark the next day.

Teams disembark the next morning in the following order:  Tara/Joey (7 a.m.), Liz/Mike (7:05), Becca/Floyd (7:10), Matt/Redmond (7:15), Vanck/Ashton (7:20), Brooke/Scott (7:25), LoLo (7:30). With teams being spaced five min. apart, their chances of encountering each other near the U-turn board are good.

Tara/Joey are first to find the U-turn board and the next clue box. (They used the U-turn option before. There used to be a rule a team couldn’t use a U-turn more than once, but apparently not this season.) Sometimes when teams form an alliance to use the U-turn board, a team doesn’t do what it’s told. Tara/Joey decide they’ll tell the next team what to do instead of doing it themselves. As they depart with the next clue, they encounter Liz/Mike arriving, and tell them what to do.

Liz/Mike sheepishly do what they’re told and U-turn Vanck/Ashton. Liz/Mike in turn encounter Becca/Floyd and tell them what to do. Becca/Floyd sheepishly do what they’re told, too. They deliberately U-turn Liz/Mike, whose pictures on the board offer evidence they’ve been by the board already (even if nothing else did). The alliance holds.

As TAR fans know, a U-turn is accompanied by clues for a detour, so the U-turned team has to complete both detour challenges. As teams open their clue envelopes they find the following detour choices:

(1) A physical challenge–one person rock-climbs the face of a nearby ninety-foot embankment and fetches down the next clue envelope, while the other person steadies their rope.

(2) An artistic challenge–contribute to a local art display. Go to a nearby castle and make sculptures of ghosts from plaster-soaked white sheets. One person gets to be the model, wearing a wire form over which the sheets are draped. The other person gets to be the artist, draping and drying the sheets. Once the sculpture is complete, a supervising artist hands over the next clue.

Tara/Joey choose to make the art. Liz/Michael, Becca/Floyd, and Matt/Redmond choose the rock climbing. Scott frets about the U-turn despite his scheme against Vanck/Ashton, but when he and Brooke reach the U-turn board, he finds he needn’t have worried. He gloats at length about how perfectly his plan worked.

Team LoLo were last to leave the boat but they get to the U-turn board and start the detour ahead of Vanck/Ashton. London’s an artist, so they choose to make a ghost sculpture. They arrive at the castle and begin just as Joey/Tara are finishing.

Vanck/Ashton have trouble finding the clue box–they slip to last place even before they learn they’ve been U-turned. They can’t even mount a defense because another team deliberately U-turned an ally (an accomplice?) who was already safely by the board. When is TAR going to institute a rule, thou shalt not U-turn a team you know has already been by the U-turn board? Maybe one day a team that’s on the wrong end of this stunt will put up another team’s picture anyway. What’s the consequences of that? Elimination? That’s happening anyway, right?

At the rock climb, Matt/Redmond and Becca/Floyd arrive at almost the same time. Becca and Matt are both very experienced rock climbers and they race each other to the top and back down–Matt wins by perhaps ten feet. (Many TAR fans probably hoped these two would have to rock-climb against each other.)

Once teams finish the rock climb (or the art), they’re to ride in Italian speedboats to the pit stop at a waterfront park. The male team’s boat is ahead until docking maneuvers. A slight difference in the angle of approach enables Becca/Floyd to take the lead by inches.

Redmond’s got an artificial leg but competes in para-athletic runs, so he and Matt can win a foot race, but not this time. Becca/Floyd beat them to the mat by perhaps ten feet. “Team Fun” wins a trip to Argentina. Matt complains they’re in second place because, “Our guy needs some parking lessons.”

Scott/Brooke are next to go rock-climbing, followed closely by Liz/Mike. Scott has a history of talking Brooke into physical tasks, even though she’s not physically strong, but he also has a history of helping her out, even when the task involves heights, which he’s afraid of. This time, however, he talks her into climbing up a ninety-foot rock face while he steadies her rope. She’s very frightened, and complains all the way up–and back down–about how much trouble she has finding handholds and toeholds. He yells at her, “It’s like pushing a baby out.” What makes him an expert at that?

Tara/Joey, Scott/Brooke, Liz/Mike finish their detours and start for the pit stop at about the same time. When Tara/Joey are the third team to reach the pit stop, Phil points out the other two teams’ speedboats are arriving. Liz/Mike take 4th place, Brooke/Scott, 5th. They (Brooke, mostly) gloat about how they wanted to keep their “favorites around” and how they’re so proud of how their scheme worked.

Vanck/Ashton decide to start with the rock climb, since she’s done some rock climbing and boxing, giving her some upper-body strength, and they may be able to finish it quickly. She climbs while he steadies her rope. About the time LoLo finish their ghost sculpture and head for the pit stop, Vanck/Ashton finish their rock climb and head for the castle to make a ghost sculpture. He models while she drapes.

LoLo place 6th. Thanks to an alliance hatching a U-turn conspiracy, Vanck/Ashton are the last team to arrive at the mat, and they’re eliminated. Given how CBS cross-markets its reality shows, perhaps on some season of TAR, Survivor host Jeff Probst will appear to snuff the U-turned team’s torch(es). Now the alliance of six teams must turn on each other.







Tags: Amazing Race