The Amazing Race 29.4 “Another One Bites The Dust” and 29.5 “Have Faith In Me, Borski”

Last night, we had two episodes of the Amazing Race.  During the first episode, the racers remained in Tanzania and it ended with an elimination.  During the second episode, the remaining teams went to Norway and the episode ended with Phil announcing, at the Pit Stop, that the leg was only halfway over and, as such, the final team to arrive was not eliminated.

There was nothing that surprising about what happened in Tanzania.  It was a tough leg but, for the most part, the teams that have been doing well continued to do well and the teams that have been struggling continued to struggle.  I don’t think anyone was shocked when Sara and Shamir were eliminated.  Ever since Shamir’s breakdown in Brazil, that teams had been obviously doomed.  I felt bad for Sarah.  She seemed like a strong competitior but she got stuck with a terrible partner.  It definitely wasn’t fair to her.

The Norway leg of the race was a lot more fun to watch than the Tanzania leg.  Norway is a beautiful country and the detour with the trolls was really cute.  What was shocking about Norway was that, after working so well together, Liz and Michael had a complete meltdown.  They stopped communicated.  They started arguing.  Michael got his feelings hurt because he wasn’t in charge.  Even when they discovered that they had not been eliminated from the race, they stood at the mat arguing.  Will these two be able to continue?  I think they will, if just because they’re both racing for their families.  But they’ve got to get over being mad at each other or they’re doomed.

Here’s some thoughts on the racers, in order of their finish in Norway:

Tara and Joey — After coming in first in both Tanzania and Norway, Tara and Joey are suddenly the new front-runners.  Personality-wise, they’re still pretty bland but they’re running a good race.

Matt and Redmond — They came in fourth in Tanzania and second in Norway.  That first place finish continues to elude them but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see them win.

Becca and Floyd — Team fun is coming on strong!  Becca and Floyd did not annoy me as much as they usually do.  They came in 2nd in Tanzania and 3rd in Norway, despite doing the fast forward.

Vanck and Ashton — Team Unlikable.  After taunting Matt and Redmond about always coming in third, Vanck and Ashton came in 6th in Tanzania and 4th in Norway.  Vanck still seems to be off in his own little world most of the time.  Ashton has managed to annoy everyone and she is probably going to get her team u-turned.

London and Logan — They came in fifth in Tanzania and 5th in Norway.  They haven’t had any major missteps but they have yet to really show themselves to be the type of team that will make it to the end.

Brooke and Scott — They came in seventh in Tanzania and 6th in Norway.  With Shamir and Scott gone, Brooke and Scott are the new dysfunctional team.  Scott is regularly conquering his fear of heights.  Brooke had a nervous breakdown because she had to make a ladle.

Liz and Michael — Third in Tanzania and then 7th in Norway!  As soon as they got to Europe, Liz and Michael had an epic meltdown.  They stopped communicating.  They stopped working together.  They’ve got to get it together as they will be the next to go.  I put most of the blame on Michael, who can’t handle not being in charge.  He nearly sacrificed their race for his ego.

And finally…

Shamir and Sara — Eliminated in Tanzania.  No one was surprised.  Poor Sara.

That’s it for now!  We’ll see what happens next week,

Lisa Marie

Survivor 34 Episode 8 “There’s A New Sheriff In Town”

Tonight’s episode of Survivor was a two-hour episode.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps there’s some sort of sporting event next week, since The Amazing Race is doing a two-hour episode tomorrow as well.

One thing about these double-sized episodes is that, because they’re longer than usual and feature twice as money comps and councils as usual, there’s always a tendency to think that they’re more dramatic than they actually are.  To be honest, nothing unexpected really happened tonight.  No one expected Hali to be a major force in the game and she wasn’t.  Everyone knew Ozzy would probably end up blindsided and he was.

First Hali was voted out.  I’m not totally sure why everyone suddenly turned against Hali.  To be honest, I’m still not totally sure how she came to be the one who was voted out.  Maybe it was because she didn’t really have any close allies and no one felt guilty for voting for her.  I know that Sierra was apparently worried that Hali had an idol, because Hali was acting too confident after the merge.

Of course, the original target was Michaela who, like Hali, didn’t have any close allies and was seen as being an “easy” vote.  But then Michaela and Cirie teamed up and, when Sierra started talking about splitting the votes between Hali and Michaela, Cirie saw an opportunity to convince everyone to just vote for Hali instead.

After spending much of this season in the background, Cirie really stepped up and proved herself tonight.  Cirie’s smartest move was to go ahead and vote for Michaela, even though she had convinced enough people to vote for Hali.  That way, if Cirie’s plan hadn’t worked, she could have claimed to have been targeting Michaela from the beginning.  It was a risky move but it paid off for her.

Here’s how that first vote went:

Andrea — Michaela

Aubry — Hali

Brad — Hali

Ciriie — Michaela

Debbie — Hali

Michaela — Zeke

Sara — Michaela

Sierra — Hali

Tai — Hali

Troyzan — Hali

Zeke — Michaela

Ozzy — Hali

Hali — Zeke

As I said, it was a messy tribal and I’m still not totally sure why everyone voted the way that they did.  But the important thing is that Hali was evicted with 4 votes and became the first member of the jury.

As for Ozzy — well, we all knew Ozzy wasn’t going to last.  What’s amazing is that, for all the times that Ozzy has been on the show, he still doesn’t seem to understand the importance of having a good social game.  Just being the “provider” and bragging about catching fish is not enough, especially after the merge.  The minute that Ozzy started bragging on himself while holding onto the pole during the immunity challenge, I knew he was doomed.

And I was sorry to see Ozzy go.  I like Ozzy.  I wanted Ozzy to finally win this season.  But Ozzy has got to learn from his mistakes or he’s going to get blindsided every time he appears on Survivor.

The second tribal vote was, in many ways, just as confusing as the first.  A lot of people received just one vote, which would seem to indicate that none of the alliances (if you can call them that) are particularly solid.  Personally, I think that it would have made more sense to get rid of Zeke, who is actually more of a threat to win than Ozzy.  But, at the last minute, Sierra and Debbie decided to go after Ozzy.  Debbie even wasted her extra vote on him.

(By the way, if I have to listen to Debbie talk about how difficult Exile was one more time…)

Here’s how the vote went:

Andrea — Zeke

Aubry — Zeke

Brad — Ozzy

Cirie — Sierra

Debbie — Two votes for Ozzy

Michaela — Zeke

Sarah — Ozzy

Sierrra — Ozzy

Tai — Ozzy

Troyzan — Ozzy

Zeke — Aubry

Ozzy — Zeke

By seven votes, Ozzy was voted out.

So, after tonight’s episode, here’s who is left in the newly formed Maku Maku Tribe:

Andrea

Aubry

Brad

Cirie

Debbie

Michaela

Sarah

Sierra

Tai

Troyzan

Zeke

Right now, Cirie seems to be playing the best game.  Zeke is also a threat to win, though he’s starting to get a little bit cocky.  (The same thing proved to be his downfall last season.)  As for who is playing the worst game, both Sierra and Debbie are coming on way too strong and getting rid of Ozzy is only going to make them worse.  I’m predicting blindsides for both of them.

That’s it for now!

Lisa Marie

The Amazing Race 29.3 “Bucket List Type Stuff”

Things change quickly on The Amazing Race.

At the end of the first leg, I thought that Seth and Olive were the team to beat and that Liz and Michael were obviously doomed.  Now, two legs later, Seth and Olive have been eliminated and Liz and Michael are quickly emerging as the team to beat.

Last night’s episode saw our teams going from Brazil (home of my friend, Alexandre Rothier — hi, Alex, if you’re reading!) to Tanzania.  The episode also saw this season’s first appearance of a Blind Double U-Turn.  Ashton and Vanck used the U-Turn on Matt and Redmond, largely because Ashton is still mad over … well, nothing.  (Ashton is convinced that Matt and Redmond went back on a promise they had made but the fact of the matter is that, when Matt and Redmond arrived at that travel office, Ashton was nowhere to be seen and…AGCK!  I get annoyed just writing about it.)  Tara and Joey used the U-turn on Seth and Olive and essentially knocked them out of the race.

This was supposed to be a blind U-turn but it didn’t work out that way.  Matt and Redmond figured out that Ashton and Vanck u-turned them and, since Ashton and Vanck were the 2nd team to arrive at the u-turn, that meant that the first team — Tara and Joey — must have u-turned Seth and Olive.

Matt and Redmond were not happy about being u-turned and they quickly showed how scary a team they can actually be.  They not only flew through both tasks in the detour but then managed to finish in fourth place.  For no good reason, Ashton and Vanck have now made permanent enemies.

Seth and Olive were less successful.  In fact, they almost seemed to give up once they saw that they were u-turned.  A final mistake — Seth deciding to run to the pit stop instead of taking a taxi — sealed their last place finish.  Despite the fact that there was a delay in checking in Becca and Floyd (as a result of Floyd temporarily misplacing his passport), Seth and Olive were eliminated from the race.

Here’s how each team finished, along with a few thoughts:

In first place, Liz and Michael.  After a terrible first leg, they are working well together and are now the new front-runners to win it all.  Who would’ve guessed?

In second place, Tara and Joey.  They’re not an exciting team but they are emerging as a strong one.  Playing the U-turn paid off for them.

In third place, Vanck and Ashton.  They’ve run two good legs but it’s hard not to feel that they’re about to fall apart.  Ashton is way too hung up on Matt and Redmond’s supposed betrayal.  Meanwhile, Vanck remains as detached as ever.

In fourth, Matt and Redmond.  In must be said, Matt and Redmond went a little bit overboard when it came to getting upset about the U-turn.  It really is just a part of the game.  But it was hard not to be impressed by the fact that the U-turn didn’t even slow them down.  They are a scary team and definitely contenders to win it all.

In fifth, London and Logan.  So far, they’ve shown no personality but they’re just so pretty!

In sixth, Brooke and Scott.  They seem like they a strong team but they are perennially stuck in the back of the pack.

In seventh, Shamir and Sara.  I’m tempted to call them Team Whiny Little Bitch but that’s not fair to Sara.  There’s only one whiny little bitch in this team and it’s not her.  Sara’s strong but she’s found herself stuck with one of the worst partners in the history of the Amazing Race.  What’s funny is that, every time they check in, you can tell that Phil absolutely loathes Shamir.

In eighth, Becca and Floyd!  They would have been in fifth place but Floyd misplaced his passport.  Oh, how I was hoping to see Team Fun eliminated.

In ninth, Seth and Olive.  Bye bye, former front runners.

Who will be eliminated next?  I’m going to guess Shamir and Sara because it’s going to have to happen at some point.  Poor Sara.

Lisa Marie

 

Survivor 34 Episode 7 “What Happened On Exile, Stays On Exile”

Before this latest season of Survivor began, I heard a rumor about Jeff Varner.

Supposedly, Varner was in therapy and had been since returning to America.  It was said that he was terrified of how people were going to react when they saw something that he did on Game Changers.  Apparently, he felt that he had done something so wrong that he was worried that he would never work again after America saw it.

Now, I have to admit that I was pretty dismissive of those rumors.  I mean, we all know that every season, there are rumors.  It’s rare that they ever turn out to be true.  And I’m not saying that the rumors about Varner being terrified or guilt-ridden were true either.  In his previous seasons, Jeff Varner was such a nasty and vindictive player that it wouldn’t exactly require psychic powers to guess that he was going to do something bad during Game Changers.  Predicting that Jeff Varner would act like a jackass is like predicting that a member of the Hantz Family would end up doing something violent.  It’s kind of an obvious guess.

That said, tonight’s episode of Survivor … well, it’s hard to know where to start.  It certainly wasn’t a typical episode of Survivor.  The immunity challenge and the reward challenge were handled quickly.  We did get some footage of Culpepper bonding with Aubry and Cirie over on the Mana Tribe.  And we got a few scenes of Varner trying to recruit everyone to vote off Ozzy on the Nuku Tribe.

But, once Tribal started, we all knew that Varner would eventually be voted out and the show didn’t make any attempt to convince us otherwise.  This was one of the longest tribal councils that I can remember but there was never any question that Varner was going.  From the moment he asked Zeke why he hadn’t told the tribe that he was trans, I knew Varner was going to go.

Watching Jeff Varner tonight, I found myself wondering how he really qualified as being a game changer.  Varner is not only a nasty and vindictive player but he’s also a rather stupid one.  When you consider that his goal was to get everyone to vote out Ozzy, what did he hope to accomplish by outing Zeke on national television?  Varner apparently felt that, by not coming out to the tribe as trans, Zeke was showing that he was capable of deception but, ultimately, all Varner did was prove himself to be a malicious and desperate player.

I know, I know.  Varner apologized.  Varner cried.  Varner said that he didn’t mean to out Zeke.  I didn’t buy it for a second.  Varner thought that he was going to 1) get the tribe to vote out Ozzy and 2) get the tribe to distrust Zeke so that he would be targeted at the next tribal council.  When Varner cried, it was because his plan had blown up in his face.  Need proof?  Just look at the way he constantly cut off Andrea when she said that she didn’t believe he was truly sorry,

So, no, I have no sympathy for Varner.  He knew what he was trying to do.  His plan backfired.  He was unanimously voted out.  Good riddance,

Next week — the merge!  Yay!

Lisa Marie

The Amazing Race 29.2 “Scared Spitless”

Jessie, Francesca, and Phil

Hi, everyone!

Last night, my experience with the Amazing Race was a little bit choppy because the show kept getting interrupted with special news reports.  However, though I may have missed a few little scenes, I saw enough to write about the episode.

For instance, I can tell you right now that I am ashamed of myself for ever thinking that Shamir might be a contender to win this season.  Oh my God, what a wimp!!!!!  “The harness was uncomfortable!”  Well, guess what?  Being suspended in the air over a city is going to be uncomfortable.  Sitting in the ambulance and crying about it is not going to change that.  Apparently, he was willing to give up his chance at the money just because he didn’t think it was fair that he should be uncomfortable.  What Shamir, in his self-centered way, didn’t consider was that he wasn’t just screwing up his chance to win the money.  He was also screwing up Sara’s chance as well.

That’s one reason why I don’t like the idea of strangers being forced to race together.  In all probability, Sara would never have agreed to race with Shamir if she had know what a whiny little baby he is.  I doubt anyone would have voluntarily raced with Shamir.  But now, she’s stuck with him.

When they reached the finish line, Phil did his best to encourage them to put their hard day behind them and move on.  Sara was in tears.  Shamir kept complaining about the harness.  If Shamir quits, does that mean that Sara’s race is over as well?  Or could they maybe give Sara a new partner?  I doubt it.  It wouldn’t be fair to the other teams to let someone switch a partner.  But, at the same time, it just doesn’t feel fair that Sara, who is a strong competitor, is stuck with Shamir.

Anyway, here’s my thoughts on how the rest of the teams did.  As always, the teams are listed in order of how they finished the latest leg of the race:

Liz and Michael — Wow!  I seriously thought that Liz and Michael were doomed but they came from behind and came in first!  It’s nice to see that they apparently learned from the mistakes that they made during the previous leg of the race.  They went from being the weakest team to potentially being one of the strongest.

Vanck and Ashton — Double wow!  I seriously thought these two were even more obviously doomed than Liz and Michael.  From having a meltdown during the last leg, they came in second this leg.  That said, their “feud” with Matt and Redmond reminded me of why I’m still not a huge fan of Vanck and Ashton.  It’s a race.  No one is under any obligation to do anyone a favor.

Matt and Redmond — Team Bro is still running strong.  They came in third and Redmond even made a funny joke about why he wanted to win the second leg.  (It involved the fact that he only has one leg.)

Seth and Olive — Still running strong.  The fact that they didn’t come in first this time is probably a good thing, believe it or not.  A fourth place finish will keep this strong team from getting overconfident.

Becca and Floyd — TEAM FUN!  Oh my god, they’re just having so much fun!  Bleh.

Brooke and Scott — Brooke and Scott seem to be doing better.  That said, they went from 4th to 6th.  There’s only so many times you can fall back in the rankings before you’re eliminated.

Tara and Joey — 6th last week.  7th this week.  They’re moving in the wrong direction.

London and Logan — 8th last week.  8th this week.  They’re pretty and consistent!

Shamir and Sara — Poor Sara.  They went from being in a good position to barely avoiding elimination and Shamir never seemed to understand that it was literally all his fault.

Jessie and Francesca — One was tall.  One was short.  I was never sure which was which.  And they’ve been eliminated.  At least they had fun without turning into Team Fun.

Will Liz and Michael’s luck continue?  Will Shamir ever start acting like a man or will Sara have to spend the rest of the race begging him to stop crying like little baby?

We’ll find out next week!

Lisa Marie

Survivor 34 Episode 6 “Vote Early, Vote Often”

The Queen is gone, long live the Queen.

I have to be honest.  I was almost convinced that Sandra would somehow manage to survive yet another tribal council.  After the tribal shakeup at the start of tonight’s episode, she and Varner were definitely the odd people out on their new tribe.  Sandra was the obvious target if they went to Tribal.  And yet, I really did think that Sandra might pull it off and survive.

Sandra may not be the strongest physical player and she doesn’t really have the right personality to ever win based on her social game but Sandra is a master manipulator.  From the minute that she ended up on her new tribe, she knew that she would be the target.  Even after Zeke lied and said that Tai was the target, Sandra knew she was probably in trouble.  Quite skillfully, she did manage to make some people paranoid about Tai and then, she managed to make Tai paranoid about his tribe.  Tai nearly blew it at tribal council when he allowed his nervous nature to get the better of him and he announced that he had considered voting out Ozzy.  How close did Tai come to getting voted out?  We may never know.  Everyone decided to stick to the original plan and voted for Sandra.  But I’m sure that, both before and after the vote, there was a lot of doubt and double guessing.

But, in the end, the Queen was voted out.  All things considered, she did surprisingly well.  Given her track record, she should have been the first one voted out.  But she managed to survive quite a few tribal councils.  There’s a reason why, after 90+ days of playing Survivor, this was the first time that Sandra had ever been voted out.  And give Sandra some credit — she handled it well.  She walked into the jungle with a certain amount of dignity.

As for her new tribe, they got rid of the game’s biggest threat.  But now they’re stuck with Debbie on their tribe.  Poor things.

As for the rest of the show, it started out with yet another tribal reshuffle.  Buffs were dropped and redrawn.  We are now back to two tribes and here they are:

Nuku Tribe

Sandra (First a member of Mana and then a member of Nuku, voted out at tribal council)

Andrea (First a member of Nuku and then a member of Tavua and now a member of Nuku)

Sarah (Nuku, Tavua, Nuku)

Ozzy (Nuku, Tavua, Nuku)

Zeke (Nuku, Tavua, Nuku)

Tai (Nuku, Mana, Nuku)

Jeff Varner (Mana, Nuku, Nuku)

Debbie (Nuku, Mana, and then back to Nuku after Sandra was voted out)

Mana Tribe

Aubry (Mana, Nuku, Mana)

Michaela (Mana, Nuku, Mana)

Culpepper (Nuku, Mana, Mana)

Cirie (Nuku, Tavua, Mana)

Hali (Mana, Mana, Mana)

Troyzan (Mana, Tavua, Mana)

Sierra (Nuku, Mana, Mana)

Because there were 15 castaways and only 14 buffs, Debbie ended up buffless.  She was sent to Exile, which turned out to be a luxury yacht where she was joined by John Cochran.  Cochran seemed to be a little freaked out by Debbie but he still gave her some good advice, the majority of which was to stop acting like herself.  I doubt Debbie was really listening to anything that Cochran had to say.  Debbie was allowed to pick from three advantages.  She picked the ability to cast an extra vote at Tribal Council.  Since Nuku went to tribal, Debbie will replace Sandra on their tribe.  This means that she’ll finally be away from Culpepper.

Tai managed to find an idol at his old camp and then, when he reached his new camp, he found a second idol!  So, Tai now has two immunity idols!  Tai’s a terrible player but he’s good at finding those idols.

Meanwhile, at the new Mana Tribe, Culpepper and Troyzan bonded over the fact that they’re the only two guys on their new tribe.  So, I assume that they will now form a middle-aged Alpha Male alliance.

But for now, the important thing is that the Queen is gone.  Who will step into her place?

Lisa Marie

The Amazing Race 29.1 “We’re Coming For You, Phil!”

After being off the air for over a year, The Amazing Race is finally back!

The Amazing Race has never quite gotten the buzz (or the ratings) of Survivor but I’m glad that it’s back.  I’ve always liked The Amazing Race, largely because my sister Erin and I have always jokingly talked about trying out for the show.  Beyond that, I love seeing all the countries that the teams go to.  I love seeing which teams can work together and which teams fall apart.  And I love Phil.  He’s a great host.  Much as how the snarky Jeff Probst is the perfect host for Survivor, the always compassionate Phil is the perfect host for The Amazing Race.

That said, I worry about The Amazing Race.  I don’t know how much longer it’s going to be around.  I suspect that the ratings are suffering because the show’s frequently been switched around on the schedule.  As well, the previous few seasons have been gimmicky in a way that the show never was in the past.  There was one season where The Amazing Race turned into a dating show.  And then, that was followed by a season where everyone was a social media superstar.

This season, the gimmick is that the teams are made up of strangers.  Everyone showed up in Los Angeles and, after running a race through the streets of L.A., they got to pick their partners.  Everyone was making their pick based on first impressions.  No one knew anyone before selecting them.  They’ll be getting to know each other during the race.

Which, to me, kind of misses what made The Amazing Race so special in the first place.  The fun thing about The Amazing Race was watching people with a history try to work together as they raced across the world.  The fun was watching marriages collapse, friendships fall apart, and siblings become closer.  That’s gone now.

With all that in mind, last night’s episode was good enough.  We met the racers.  We got to know some of them.  The first leg of the race took them to Panama, where almost all of them got lost and struggled with the detour.  As always, one team came in first and one team was eliminated.  In this case, the eliminated team was eliminated as the result of a time penalty.

Here are a few thoughts on the teams, in order of their finish.  Keep in mind that we still don’t know a lot about these people so these thoughts aren’t going to be particularly in-depth.  Hopefully, that will change as we get to know these people:

Coming in first, Seth and Olive!  Seth is a cop.  Olive is a fire fighter.  They bonded as soon as they met and worked really well together.  They are the early front-runners.

Coming in second, Becca and Floyd!  Becca and Floyd are Team Fun and they annoy the Hell out of me.  Becca is every teeth-grindingly annoying tour guide that you’ve ever had to deal with.

Coming in third, Matt and Redmond!  Matt’s a snowboarder.  Redmond has one leg.  Together, they solve crimes.  No, actually, they are this season’s bro team.  They seem like they’ll be a strong, physical team.

Coming fourth, Brooke and Scott!  Brooke and Scott finished well but still spent most of their time fighting.  When Phil asked Scott if he regretted picking Brooke, Scott may have said no but his body language said yes.

Coming in fifth, Shamir and Sara.  Shamir and Sara both seem to be really likable.  That’s pretty much the only impression they made.

Coming in sixth, Tara and Joey!  Tara’s a drill sergeant.  Joey’s a cop.  Tara picked Joey despite the fact that he was the last one to arrive in Los Angeles.  They worked well together but I don’t see this team making it far in the race.  Joey doesn’t seem to be that smart.

Coming in seventh, Vanck and Ashton!  Vanck is socially awkward.  Ashton won’t stop talking.  These two are doomed.

Coming in eighth, London and Logan!  They’re both just so pretty.  I’m Team London because we’re both artists.

Coming in ninth, Jessie and Francesca.  They fought in Los Angeles but they got along famously in Panama.

Coming in tenth, Liz and Michael.  I have a bad feeling about these two.  Liz is neurotic.  Michael is a bearded butcher who doesn’t know how to talk to people.  They would have been eliminated if not for the fact that another team got a penalty.

Coming in eleventh, and getting eliminated, Jenn and Kevin!  Jenn was a model.  Kevin was an athletic trailer.  They both had great hair but no sense of direction.  They got lost in Panama.  They had to leave the Detour when the sun went down and it became to dangerous to compete.  They managed to beat Michael and Liz to the pit stop but, because they couldn’t do the detour, they got hit with a two hour penalty.  They were the first to be eliminated.  It had to happen to someone.

So, as of right now, Seth and Olive seem to be the definite front-runners to win it all.  We’ll see what happens!

Lisa Marie