Amazing Race Canada

The Amazing Race Canada: Shoveling coal in oil country.

I can tell that Canada has pulled together a terrific Amazing Race cast because at the end of this week’s episode, as the final two teams raced to the mat, I found myself hoping fervently for a non-elimination leg just so I wouldn’t have to lose anybody. Thankfully, I was not disappointed—the Tims live to race another day, and I can put off my dread until next Monday.

e3-brettholly There’s more than one location to get a map.[/caption]

Right out of the gate, Brett and Holly made a tactical move designed to sabotage the competition when they took advantage of their small lead to hit the airport first and hide all of the maps to the next destination. Is this a little unsporting? Sure. Against the Race and everything it stands for? No. There’s plenty of precedent for this level of sabotage. As long as you don’t tamper with actual task-related equipment (like the stuntman brothers did back in season 14), you’re not breaking Race rules. Paying a driver to let you off of a bus first, stealing cabs, and giving out wrong directions are all fair game, and so is this. I do feel a little bad for the poor newsstand clerk who has to re-sort all the maps, though.

An interesting pattern has surfaced over these past three episodes. The doctors have come off as a little diabolical, a little calculating, and very snarky, but when you take a closer look, it’s actually Brett that’s doing most of the active scheming. Holly is on the sidelines, asking him what he’s doing and then jumping in to help. One of two things is happening here: Holly might be the secret stealth genius behind Brett’s more in-your-face scheming (the Amber to his Rob, if you will), or this is Brett’s adventure and Holly’s just tagging along because the Race doesn’t let you go alone (the Wynona to his Chuck, if you will).

It’s too soon to say for sure which it is, but Holly’s mini-meltdown definitely betrayed some chinks in a previously strong team’s armor. She was so thrown by the difficulty of the line-dancing task that she was nearly useless for the rest of the day. As a result, the doctors lost so much time that they fell from first place to sixth and nearly got themselves eliminated. Karmic retribution? Maybe.


Line dancing ain’t so easy.

And then it turned out that none of Brett’s hard work at villainy paid off anyway, because not only did the doctors end up having a very tough go of things in Calgary, they didn’t even get to claim the title of most evil team. Just when you think the Amazing Race has depicted every possible archetype, Amazing Race: Canada rolls out the Villainous Hippies. Express Pass rules dictated that Darren and Kristen had to jettison their second Express Pass on this leg, and they agonized for about .03 seconds about whether or not to honor the agreement they’d made to give the pass to Brett and Holly before going back on their word. Not that John and Jessica wouldn’t have done the same thing in last season of the U.S. Race if Dave’s injury hadn’t made their decision a no-brainer. As I said then, these kinds of “rewards” are more trouble than they’re worth, and there’s no way they wouldn’t have pissed someone off no matter what they did. Still, a little remorse would have painted them in a more positive light, and they’ve not only now painted themselves as the Race’s biggest villains, they’ve made an enemy of the second-biggest villains. Don’t be surprised to see Brett deploying more active sabotage on future legs—this time with a specific target.

At first it seemed like giving the pass to Vanessa and Celina was not only a dishonorable move, but a stupid one, as the sisters have had a couple of great legs and were off to a very strong start on this one as well. After managing to finagle their way onto the first flight out of Vancouver, Vanessa finished the line-dancing Roadblock fairly quickly, and they were near the front of the pack when they left the Ranchman’s Cookhouse. But it turns out that the sisters might have charm and strength and drive to spare, but they have absolutely no sense of direction—and, apparently, not a whole lot of common sense either. A few minutes of watching these girls hauling coal with their bare hands has convinced me that Darren and Kristen made a smart, if not honorable, choice.


YOU, are team number one!

The team that DID manage to totally crush the coal task was Tim Senior and Tim Junior, who hit upon a very easy way to fill their coal trough quickly and made up a lot of time. It’s too bad Senior couldn’t have been a little quicker to master the art of dance. Jody had more trouble than I would have guessed, too, given how eager he was to jump into this task.

With the hippies and doctors enmired in villainy, and the sisters, brothers, and Tims ineffectually flailing through this leg, there were two teams who had an excellent week. Despite not knowing whether “exterior” means something different in Alberta, Jet and Dave also finished strong, thanks to tasks that favored the same skills honed by bodybuilding (Jet) and cheerleading (Dave).

And you didn’t think I’d forget the fan favorites, did you? Hal and Joanne are keeping fit, having fun, and kicking ass. They have been very quick to remind their Twitter followers that this wasn’t Joanne’s first encounter with line-dancing, but they seem to have every aspect of this race nailed, not just the ones they filmed for BodyBreak. They can navigate, they can problem-solve, and they’re totally unflappable. Don’t be surprised if the oldest team on the Race makes the finals. It will take some seriously bad luck to knock them out of the front of the pack.

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