The Accidental Columnist: The Amazing Race 4 - Episode 5
by The Trades Staff
Published: June 27, 2003
Molly and Mary enjoyed the fifth episode of The Amazing Race 4, which involved travel from France to Amsterdam, cheese moving, manure digging, and eels.
Episode 4 ended at a chateau in Marseilles. After the mandatory rest period, each team departed at the following times:
1. Models: Tian & Jaree (beneficiaries of last week's Fast Forward) departed at 2:26 a.m.
2. Clowns: Jon & Al departed at 2:41 a.m.
2. Virgins: Millie & Chuck departed at 2:41 a.m.
4. NFL Wives: Monica & Sheree departed at 2:45 a.m.
5. Gay Couple: Reichen & Chip departed at 2:54 a.m.
6. Best Friends: David & Jeff departed at 2:57 a.m.
7. Engaged: Kelly & Jon departed at 3:00 a.m.
8. Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs): Dave & Steve departed at 4:19 a.m.
They were provided with $90 for this leg of the race.
Aiming for Amsterdam.
Tian and Jaree (Models), first out, were the ones to fill us in on what the next step was for the racers: they were to fly more than 1,000 miles to Amsterdam, Holland, and go the Magere Brug, a famous white bridge on the Amstel River.
One would think that being first out would put the Models in a good mood, but not so. Jaree drove to the airport while Tian gave directions, which made sense because, as Jaree explained in interview, Tian is better at reading maps than Jaree is. "But then it's like she treats me like a little baby," Jaree complained.
As with last episode, Chuck and Millie (Virgins) and Jon and Al (Clowns) left at the same time. But while close geographically, they were in different places in their heads. In interview, Millie complained that she felt sometimes like Chuck didn't even know her, and in the race, she didn't seem at all excited about going to Amsterdam. The Clowns, however, remarked in voiceover that their strategy was to always push as though there were five teams ahead of them. Their goal was to always keep their minds on the game and focus on themselves, without worrying about how the other teams were doing.
While the Virgins and the Models were displaying problems with their partnerships, the NFL Wives proudly proclaimed that they were having no problems in that regard at all -- still friends, always supporting one another, not fighting. They pointedly made a contrast with the Models, and while they wouldn't wish anything bad on anyone, they said, they'd be very happy if Tian were out of the race.
Chip and Reichen (Gay Couple) also seemed to be doing well with each other. Their big problem, according to Reichen, was getting distracted by sightseeing and then making mistakes. Jeff (Best Friends) said that he was determined to keep Dave on course, even if he needed to be bossy about it.
Kelly and Jon (Engaged) presented a Model redux -- she can't read a map, and he told her she needed to learn, because she couldn't drive all the time. But it's okay, apparently, because for Kelly it's all just training for the magic day when they are united in matrimony (I can't call it "holy" in this case; I just can't.)
And, while the others started arriving at the airport, Steve and Dave (Air Traffic Controllers) reconfirmed their "tortoise" strategy, figuring that sometimes when you hurry, you make a mistake. I wanted to tell him that it's entirely possible to make slow mistakes, but, y'know, they were in France. And I didn't want to distract them while they were driving, anyway.
At The Airport
Unsurprisingly when people were leaving at 2 or 3 in the morning, a pile-up developed at the airport. Tian and Jaree started a line for Air France, whose ticket window was to open at 5 a.m., and by the time Chip and Reichen reached the airport at 4:27 a.m., the Models had been joined by the Virgins and Team Engaged. (Strangely, the Clowns were not in sight.) Based on their previous history with lines and airports and such, Chip and Reichen were concerned that they would be shut out of tickets. So Chip went to Tian and asked if she'd be willing to get tickets for both of them. Tian said sure, and that she'd talk with Jaree about it.
However, the Virgins overheard, and Millie confronted Tian on this issue. Tian told Millie that she hadn't decided, and she'd let Millie know when she knew. That still didn't sit well with Millie, and she and Chuck headed out of the line. Meeting up with the Clowns (oh, there they are!), they decided they could probably be first in line at the British Airways counter if they went there instead.
I thought that they were acting precipitately, considering that no one knew how many seats would be left on the Air France flight (or at British Airways, for that matter). But they obviously knew something I didn't, because as it happened there were only enough seats for two teams. Chip asked Tian if she was getting the tickets for them, but this time she punted the decision to Team Engaged, telling Chip he'd have to ask them. Jon, unsurprisingly, was not in favor of the deal between Chip and Tian. "No cutting," he said sullenly. "I'll punch your eye out." Chip and Reichen backed down, and, as Reichen explained in interview, they decided to honor the line that had been there, because they could always use their physicality to catch up later. (Get a helmet, Millie!)
Chip and Reichen ended up doing okay, since they, as well as the NFL Wives, got on the British Airways flight with the Virgins and the Clowns. But the late-arriving Best Friends and Air Traffic Controllers had a harder time. The best they could do was to fly to Orly Airport in Paris, where they would have an hour to go from there to Charles de Gaulle Airport to catch their next flight.
At 6:25 a.m., Team Engaged and Team Models were the first to start traveling towards Amsterdam, flying by way of Paris. They were closely followed by Teams Virgins, Clowns, NFL Wives and Gay Couple, who were on a 6:50 flight which connected through London. At 7:14, the Best Friends and the ATCs were on their way to Orly Airport.
I was shocked to hear Jeff of the Best Friends refer to the ATCs as the BFGs (Kelly's nickname, standing for "Big Fat Guys"), and the ATCs cheering it on. They all go OML ("on my list") for that. And I'm impressed that retribution was swift. As soon as they left Orly Airport, with only 30 minutes (due to their arrival time) to make it to Charles de Gaulle Airport, both teams were stranded in traffic.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Both of the earlier planes arrived in Amsterdam at virtually the same time -- the Air France flight arriving at 11:02, and the British Airways flight landing at 11:05 ("3 minutes later", as we were helpfully told on the screen -- my goodness, we're watching The Amazing Race! I understand possibly not expecting the Meet My Folks crowd to be able to do basic subtraction, but surely The Amazing Race viewers can be assumed as reaching a higher standard!)
Most of the teams headed to the train to go to the Magere Brug (with the Models getting so bogged down in instructions and map-buying that they had to take a later train than the others), but Millie and Chuck opted for a cab instead. They were told that it would be faster, because the train stop was North of the bridge so the others on the train would have to double back. Apparently this information was good, because Chuck and Millie were first to the white bridge. (If you'd like to play along at home, you can go to this panoramic view and pretend you're on the bridge, looking around in whatever direction you want.)
The instructions from the next clue were for the teams to drive themselves in the nearby small motor boats to the Scheepvaart Museum, a 400-year-old former warehouse which is now a nautical museum.
At this point, things inexplicably slowed down for Team Virgin. They seemed frazzled and unable to figure out which direction they needed to go in, who was going to drive the boat, etc. Their efficiency was not aided when the other teams started showing up. Millie kept telling Chuck to just start driving, just go, and Chuck kept insisting that they needed to figure out exactly where they were going. "We have to make sure we're going the right way, or else this is useless," Chuck explained. "Please go, Chuck," Millie said disgustedly.
But whatever problems Chuck and Millie were having, the Best Friends and the ATCs would gladly have changed places with them. They ended up missing their 9:10 flight out of Charles de Gaulle Airport, and had to instead take an 11:45 a.m. KLM flight to Amsterdam.
Meantime, Teams Virgins, Clowns, Engaged, Gay Couple, and NFL Wives are all bunched up with their boats. We're treated to more nicknames from Team Engaged. "Millie Mole" is actually courtesy of Jon, Kelly explained, because every time he sees her he goes "Mole-y-mole-y-mole-y" (when I start feeling sorry for the guy being shackled to Kelly, something like that comes to my attention and I figure it's all working out for the best), while Kelly felt that Chuck looked sort of like a second-stage werewolf.
Fortunately, the boats started moving and we were spared more Kelly. Team Clowns headed in one direction, and everyone else played follow-the-leader behind Chuck and Millie in the other direction. All at once Chuck and Millie switched strategic philosophies from their earlier stances, with Chuck wanting to take a particular direction and Millie telling him not to do anything until they know that it was the right direction. Either way, they're screwed (well, no, you know), and so is everyone trailing behind them. Meanwhile, the Models, who'd been on a later train, got their boats (with Jaree still complaining that Tian doesn't listen to her), and the Clowns, who had been wondering what the others were doing, got the clue.
The next clue was a Detour. A Detour is a choice between two tasks, and this time the choice was between 500 Kilograms or 15 Feet. In 500 Kilograms, the teams had to travel about 30 miles to an open-air market. Once there, they would need to put on wooden shoes, and carry cheese from stockpiles to scales on a wooden stretcher. After they've put exactly 500 kgs on the scale, they would receive their clue. In 15 Feet, the teams needed to travel only 12 miles to a ranch where cow manure is processed for use as a fertilizer. Once there, they would need to search in a 15-foot pile of cow manure with bare hands to find the next clue. The Clowns jubilantly decided on the cow manure.
There were no smiles with the other boaters, though. Millie said despairingly to Chuck, "Chuck, I begged you back there not to turn. I said 'please.' And then you don't even acknowledge that I have an opinion." It's a dark, somber, Oscar-worthy moment, highlighting the banality of the Jon-Kelly interaction which followed ("I think we're going the wrong way." "I told you we were going the wrong way!"). One by one, the teams trailing Chuck and Millie decided to turn around.
Tian and Jaree, well behind the others, weren't navigating based on Chuck and Millie, right or wrong. But they had plenty of drama on their own. Jaree tried to provide directions to Tian, and Tian reacted with shock and sarcasm that Jaree, who couldn't read a map the other night, could read this map now. Jaree explained that she couldn't see the map last night, but that she could see this current map. They bickered some more, even snatching the map from one another, until Tian finally said to Jaree, "You're such a dumb*ss."
The Gay Couple, having abandoned the misbegotten Millie-and-Chuck path, finally found the next clue. Faced with the Detour choice of 500 Kilograms or 15 Feet, Reichen solemnly said, "Fifteen feet tall." Chip hesitantly held a hand up at about eye-level. "That's a lot of cow manure," said Reichen. Chip suddenly realized that he was actually 6 feet tall, not 16 feet tall, so 15 feet of cow manure would be quite a bit higher than eye level, and said, "Oh, let's go do the other one."
The Wind Beneath My Wings
Millie and Chuck, having gone from the front of the pack to close to the back, decided that they needed to do the Fast Forward. There is one Fast Forward (FF) per each leg of the race, and the team who completes it can proceed directly to the next pit stop without having to do any more tasks. However, once a team has taken advantage of a FF, they can never use another one.
In this leg, the FF involved finding the Malen von Sloten windmill in a nearby Northern Amsterdam. Each member of the team would be strapped to one sail of the windmill, and they would need to complete 10 revolutions in order to collect their clue.
(And way off in the distance, at 12:54 p.m., the Best Friends and the ATCs finally landed in Amsterdam.)
On the way to the FF, Millie was close to being in tears. Chuck told her he was sorry, and she said it wasn't his fault, it takes two. But she explained in voiceover, "I don't see how either one of us can not be realizing some of the huge incompatibility issues that have been going on.
At the windmill, Millie seemed taken aback at the prospect of being strapped to the windmill, and I myself was worried for claustrophobic Chuck. But once the mill was set in motion, everything seems fine. Millie remarked, "It's awesome." And Chuck said, "We're frantic. But to be alone, on top of a windmill, is some needed peace during that time." When spinning around on a windmill, upside-down-right-side-up-upside-down-again, is "peace," you know that it's been a stressful day.
Having won the FF, Chuck and Millie were instructed to drive to the pit stop for this leg, which was the Kasteel Muiderslot, a castle in the nearby town of Muiden.
It's Getting Deep In Here
The Clowns were first to arrive at the manure farm, and dug into the pile with abandon, even to the point of having a "manure fight". While usually the saying is "it's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out," apparently in a pile of manure it's all fun and games until someone's shoe gets stuck and they're left with only their socks. Fortunately for Jon, just at that point Al found the clue and they were able to get out.
This next clue instructed them to find a statue called "The Smoker," located in the fishing village of Monnickendam.
Meanwhile, back on the river, the ATCs' use of a cab got them to the bridge before the Best Friends got there, and their position looked even better when you considered that the Models were still floating around and bickering about which direction to go in. Tian remarked in interview that they just got more and more lost, and more and more frustrated. I imagine it reached the apex when they realized that they had ended up at exactly the same place they started, complete with the yellow-and-red flag.
The Models were still bickering back and forth (they acknowledged and acknowledged that they wasted 90 minutes because they couldn't communicate well with each other. And while they figured out where they were finally, Team ATC had already started the boat ride toward the museum. The camera showed Steve and Dave saying to each other "it's a beautiful day, isn't it?" "Yes." The friendship they showed each other was in stark contrast to the Models' relationship. Tian said she hated Amsterdam and Jaree said she liked it. The last team to arrive at the route marker was Best Friends.
Piling It Higher And Deeper
Kelly and Jon (Engaged) arrived at the manure activity (how many times in my life will I be able to write "manure activity" referring to a factual event?), and saw the Clowns driving away from it. Kelly, in a voiceover, mentioned that she thought the Clowns were pretty funny and that she liked the Clowns. They are probably the only team Kelly and Jon do like.
Reichen and Chip (Gay Couple) had arrived at the cheese activity and got into Dutch shoes and were carrying cheese across the square. It was a laugh riot to see them in the wooden shoes with a huge tray of cheese strapped on to each of them as they carefully plod across the square. The locals who were observing them were laughing and laughing. Chip and Reichen finished the Detour after about 4 trips back and forth, and they were sweating profusely.
David and Jeff (Best Friends) finished the boat task before ATCs (what a shock), and they headed off to dig through manure. The ATCs decided to do the cheese task because (in an interview segment) they felt sure "no one would put their arms in cow crap." How little did they know. In a lovely bit of editing, the next shot was the NFL Wives working their way through the pile. The other issue with the ATCs deciding to do the cheese task is that it was clearly the more physically demanding activity. I was hoping the ATCs wouldn't have a heart attack during the activity. Meanwhile, The NFL Wives finished the cow manure task and one said she would never again complain about changing her son's diaper.
Get A Grip!
After completing the Detour, the teams discovered at the Smoker Statue that their next task was a Road Block. A Road Block is a task that only one person may perform. In this Road Block, the contestant would have to get in a marked boat, catch 25 live eels and put them in a marked container. After completing this, the fisherman would give them the next clue. Al (Clowns) completed the task first and he seemed less than thrilled with the prospect of picking up live eels with his bare hands. Jon, however, was on his case, urging him on, and being much more aggressive in his encouragement than we've seen with the Clowns before. After they completed the task, they were informed that they next had to go to the Pit Stop.
NFL Wives got their car stuck in some mud after trying to leave the manure activity. They could not get their car in reverse and when they tried to turn around they got stuck. They finally flagged down a truck, and some people got out and helped them get their car out of the mud.
Engaged was the next team to complete the Road Block. Because this review is for "general audiences", I will not state how Jon described the eels. Let's just say he compared it to an area of male anatomy. They finished the task pretty quickly. NFL Wives and Gay Couple arrived at the Road Block at the same time. Reichen did the task quickly, but Sheree squealed during the whole task. One of the fishermen told her to "close her eyes" during the task. NFL Wives finished right behind Reichen & Chip. Gay Couple agreed to let NFL Wives follow them. Reichen said that NFL Wives (whom he called "The Supremes") are the only team he trusts right now.
Meanwhile, Models were still fighting with each other, with Jaree stating she wanted to rip Tian's head off right now. This team was still trying to find the manure activity. (Jaree had remarked sarcastically that she was sure everyone else found it with ease, because they had partners who helped them.) They arrived at the task as David and Jeff were leaving. The Models seemed to find the route marker pretty quickly and arrived at the Road Block right after David and Jeff.
Team ATC, who did the cheese challenge, managed the task better than I expected, and seemed to have a good time, playing to the people around them. But it was a time-consuming task, and they were the last team at the Road Block.
The Models were having trouble locating the Pit Stop and Tian said in a voiceover that she didn't want to be eliminated, but part of her said, "Screw it." If my teammate was threatening to punch my face in, I might say, "screw it" too. The Models were in a really low spot during this entire episode. Viewers, at this point in the show, were convinced that if they did not leave at the end of this show, they were not long for TAR4 in any event. Tian, in some ways, seemed disappointed that she was not eliminated. She said in a voiceover "I don't know where this is going to go."
But the Air Traffic Controllers were finally eliminated. Thank goodness. It was a bit painful seeing them week after week. Here is the final standings at the end of the episode:
1. Virgins: Millie & Chuck won a 7-night cruise to Mexico
2. Clowns: Jon & Al
3. Engaged: Kelly & Jon
4. Gay Couple: Reichen & Chip
5. NFL Wives: Monica & Sheree
6. Best Friends: David & Jeff
7. Models: Tian & Jaree
8. Air Traffic Controllers: Steve & Dave
Mary's Final Comments: It is beyond time that the ATCs were eliminated, but I really hope the Models are next. Their negative attitude and inability to work with each other nearly rivals Flo's behavior from TAR3. Tian looks beaten for some reason and I think they really should be the next team to go. I think the hours she argued with Jaree in the boat really got to her. I am not altogether sure why Millie and Chuck took the FF. I am thinking it is more due to Millie's frustration with Chuck not listening to her. Taking the FF so soon might hurt them, but time will tell.
Molly's Final Comments: I was more surprised at the devolution of Chuck and Millie as a team than at their taking the FF. It's good that the ATCs are gone, for their own sake, but I think that they should be proud of themselves for having competed so hard. Based on tonight's episode, the Models should by all rights be next, but I hope that they rebound some first. Perhaps they can get their act together during this rest period and spend some time listening to each other.
The Amazing Race 4 is on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.
Meet the Contestants | Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4
Previous seasons of TAR.
On the Internet: CBS.com | SirLinksalot.net