Oct 29, 2010, Ep 5: “Daggers in the Back”

The Amazing Race 17 Secret Scenes, Episode 5:  “Daggers in the Back”

Warning! Hurricane GrouchyPants (pictured) has arrived at Elimination Station and all the happy vibes have been blown out to sea!  Chad & Stephanie continue to insist they are the team to beat while languishing in seventh place while Jill & Thomas are happy to be rid of the Express Pass.  Also, Nat can tell you what is grosser than a sheep’s head.  Are you ready for some daggers in the back?  Read on for these revelations and more!

At the Pit Stop

Featured Team:  Brook & Claire (fifth place)

Banged Up Brook & Claire:  Phil can’t believe the carnage on Brook’s face while Claire is actually impressed that it looks like it was a makeup style.  Phil thinks she may even have a Harry Potter thing going on.    Brook lets Phil know he doesn’t know the half of it as she shows him her other battle wounds on her legs, where she’s got a few other gashes.  Both of them think that their home shopping career is over but Phil bets people will see how tough they are and be impressed.  They could even start selling adventure jewelry!  Brook thinks Phil has a good point as the gemstone industry is dominated by men so maybe this proves they can hang.

Concerning the race, they wish that were back in first.  While in the midst of the pack, they do well and everyone tends to follow and look to them as leaders.  If it weren’t for the bridge Roadblock, Claire knows they’d be in first place.  She laments their lack of male strength but Brook isn’t having it as Claire did amazing on the challenge.  Phil agrees as Claire has her own battle scars to prove her mettle.

Featured Team: Nick & Vicki (sixth place)

Nick & Vicki Break it Down:  Phil asks for Nick & Vicki’s assessment of the other teams.  Concerning Gary & Mallory, Vicki knows they’re strong as Gary is a former pilot and is the brains of the operation.  Mallory can use her personality to get further, and the two of them together make them a strong team.  As for Brook & Claire, both Nick & Vicki recognize that they’re strong especially due to their past performance.  For being an all-girl team, they’re proving to be a real threat to everyone.

What about near the end of the race?  Vicki bets it’s going to get a lot more sneaky and competitive.  It may not get mean, but definitely sneaky.  The Roadblocks and Detours aren’t their problem, it’s about getting the flights.  Vicki admits she’s a pushover so she needs to be more aggressive in that realm.  Take a chance on standbys and do research on other flights, as they saw how much of an advantage the four teams got in the previous leg when they got two hours ahead of everyone.

Featured Team:  Michael & Kevin (fourth place)

Father Knows Best:  Phil schools Kevin on the fact that while he thinks he knows everything in life, once he gets older he’ll realize he knows nothing.  Michael wholeheartedly agrees as Phil tells Kevin that you may think your parents know nothing but you’ll eventually realize they know a lot.  Michael appreciates Phil’s input and thinks that this experience on the race is teaching Kevin a lot of patience as he has to move slower.  Other life lessons that he hopes to impart on Kevin include focus, taking a safe path, and working as a team. Kevin has taken away from his dad to slow down and take in the view.  He’s been so anxious to go fast so this helps.

Featured Team:  Chad & Stephanie (seventh place)

Stephanie Talks Big:  Stephanie tells Phil that no one on the race is as competitive as Chad, because he’s even competitive with her and she’s on his team.  She has to remind him that he doesn’t have to compete against her as she’s his best friend in this situation.  Even more, Chad doesn’t just want to beat other teams, he wants to blow them away.  They both want to show that they aren’t a team that just gets by, as that’s what they’ve been doing the past two legs.  That’s not who they are.  There are teams in front of them that are not as strong as them and shouldn’t be there.  Phil begs to differ as the track record of those teams proves that they do belong there.

Phil talks to Stephanie about the other strong females and she claims that one-on-one with any of the other females, she’d come out on top.  Stephanie is certain that those teams only have the upper hand because of their travel smarts, but if their challenge performances were tied, she & Chad would come out on top.  Well, that’s a bit different of a boast than one on one with the other women, isn’t it Stephanie?  Most of the other women didn’t have the issues you did with that ski slope challenge, did they?  She admits that heights are her one caveat to the boast, which Phil points out isn’t something you can just dismiss.  He holds up Brook & Claire as a surprisingly strong team and Stephanie gives them credit for being strong women.  For their sake, Phil hopes her boasts aren’t empty promises!

Featured Team:  Nat & Kat (first place)

Nat & Kat Set Their Sights:  Kat would love for them to be the first all-girl winners of the race.  After 17 seasons, Nat thinks it’s about time.  Even if it’s not them, she sees a lot of other strong female teams that could make it happen.  Phil asks what their secret is for their success, and Nat admits they have had some good luck but it’s also been coupled with taking time to pay attention to the details.  He wonders if their occupational environment has helped.  Nat thinks the rigor of medical school definitely helps make them persevere and overcome major difficulties.

Kat loves that Nat is super positive and even when they each have their negative, stressed-out moments, the other always helps cheer the other one up.  Nat is especially good at keeping the team going.  At the end of each leg, they figure out what they both did well and what they can improve on, and that strategy has been working well so far.

Featured Team:  Jill & Thomas (third place)

Target Off Their Backs:  Jill was so impressed by how good Thomas (who went to college) did on the bridge Roadblock.  He just flew back up the rappel line almost as if he was Spiderman.  Thomas tells Phil that Jill (who didn’t go to college) promised him a full-body massage if he flew up the rappel line quickly.  Phil wonders if that massage offer was only good for Thomas!  Phil, you dog.  Phil laughs and lets them know he doesn’t need it really as he’s hanging out with Edward (his Norwegian Pit Stop host) tonight.  As for the Express Pass, they tell Phil that they let everyone know immediately that they had used it.  Phil wonders if the other teams actually believe them, and Jill doesn’t really think it matters.  They’ll have seen how strong they are at challenges and will still consider them a threat.

Featured Team:  Katie & Rachel (last place, eliminated)

Katie & Rachel Look Back:  Rachel tells Phil that The Amazing Race was important to her as she hadn’t been anywhere except for the U.S. and Canada.  There’s little chance she would have made it to Norway, Sweden, or Ghana otherwise.  Katie agrees but wishes it could have gone on longer.  Rachel starts to agree but gets choked up, so Phil hints to Katie that Rachel needs a hug.  Rachel plays it cool though and that triggers Phil to wonder why they’re trying to be all manly about it.  Hug, darnit!  Phil shows them how a hug should be by giving the Norwegian Pit Stop host, Edward, a big ol’ hug.  Rachel acknowledges it but you can still tell she’s not really up for it, but Katie hugs her warmly anyway.  Phil still thinks they hug like guys.  He is going to miss them as he figured if an all-girl team was going to win, it was going to be the volleyball girls.  They agree.

Extra Race Footage

Featured Team: Brook & Claire

Brook & Claire Enjoy the View:  On the gondola up to the top of the mountain, Brook is taking in the calm beauty of the environment.  Claire appreciates that they can just sit and take a break from the rush-rush-rush of the race.  It’s a little bit of beautiful downtime.  For Brook it’s a time when she can actually take a look at where they’re at.  They both think it looks very similar to Mammoth in California, except there’s no snow on the mountains right now.

Featured Team: Brook & Claire

Happy Holiday for Brook & Claire:  On the gondola down from the top of the mountain, Brook & Claire share how much they enjoy spending the holidays with their families.  Brook reminds Claire of the time she spent Christmas in a Snuggie and a glass of wine.  As for actual holiday traditions, Brook’s family has a Secret Santa gift ceremony while Claire really doesn’t have one except for eating, drinking and merry-making!

Featured Team: Michael & Kevin

Like Father, Not Like Son:  On Michael & Kevin’s gondola ride up, Michael can only see clouds but bets it’s very beautiful when it’s clear.  Kevin wonders if this is a ski resort as they are in a gondola.  The gondola stops and Kevin panics as they’re nowhere near the top while Michael wants him to calm down.  The gondola moves a little and Kevin keeps nervously checking their progress.  Michael continues to tell Kevin to chill and enjoy the view.  Kevin is clearly unable to enjoy the view as he grimaces and crosses his arms, waiting for their gondola to get to the top.

Featured Team:  Chad & Stephanie

Stephanie Does Damage Control:  Chad is driving along and comments on Katie & Rachel’s probable inability to quickly do the bridge Roadblock because of their lack of upper-body strength.  Chad has noticed that Katie has thick legs and cankles (!) and is likely to struggle.  Chad laughs to himself and Stephanie issues a warning that can’t really be heard but he comments that he only says those things with love.  Stephanie disputes Chad’s assertion that he said the cankles comment with love and argues that Katie does not have cankles.  They’re both two young, lovely girls who are in even better shape than she is.  Chad states that they have really strong legs and Stephanie reminds him that she does too.  By this time, Stephanie has had enough and asks him to shut up.

Featured Team: Nat & Kat

Degree of Disgust:  As Nat & Kat drive away from their Fast Forward eating challenge with lingering grimaces still on their face, Nat explains that their strategy was to cut the sheep head meat up into very small pieces.  That way you couldn’t really tell if it was a piece of tongue or something else, it was all just mush.  Kat thinks their background in medicine and the associated experience with trauma and gore helped them deal with the head meat without getting too grossed out by it.  Some of the hardest things to see are operations for head and neck cancer as they have to split the skull right open.  Seeing a human face split wide open is much worse than what they just had to see.  The sheep head was nowhere near the top of the list of gross things they’ve seen in their life.

Featured Team: Gary & Mallory

Gary’s Still Got It:  Gary is driving from the bridge Roadblock and tells us that while the rappel down was fun, the climb back up was exhausting.  His forearms are shot even though he tried using his legs as much as possible.  At 53 years old, he’s just not as flexible as he once was as he used to climb telephone poles for a living.  Regardless, he’s got a smile on his face as the experience was fun and beautiful.

Featured Team: Jill & Thomas

Express Pass Recap:  While it was nice to have the Express Pass, Jill was getting stressed out by the other teams wanting to U-Turn them.  She knows they can still do well on the race with or without it, but having to constantly live with the threat of getting U-Turned was annoying.  Thomas thinks that getting U-Turned wouldn’t have made things worse as they could then just use the Express Pass to skip the U-Turn.  He thinks other teams were also thinking it would be a waste of a U-Turn as it wouldn’t have changed the standings at all at that point plus the team that uses the U-Turn would now have Jill & Thomas gunning for them.

Featured Team: Katie & Rachel

Katie & Rachel’s Targets:  If they were in first place and could U-Turn someone, Katie & Rachel would U-Turn Chad & Stephanie as Chad is really strong.  Is no one paying attention to the fact that Chad & Stephanie haven’t proven to be an actual threat on the race?  Sure, he could probably out-benchpress everyone on the race, but so what?!  Katie & Rachel are afraid of how fast Chad could get through a strength challenge so it’s important to target him.  Seriously, have they watched this show before? Strength is rarely the deciding factor.  Katie also would like to target Michael & Kevin (“the Asian Sensation” as Rachel calls them).  Katie isn’t worried about Jill & Thomas as she doesn’t consider them a strong team especially now that they don’t have the Express Pass.  Katie considers Nick & Vicki  too as they snowboard three or four times a week.  Really, Katie & Rachel are not paying attention.  Rachel wisely notes that Nick & Vicki are more of a following team than a leading team and Katie supposes they might be driving in circles at this very moment.

After the Race

Featured Team: Katie & Rachel

Katie & Rachel Learned Nothing:  Both Katie & Rachel tell us that they didn’t learn anything new about the other on the race.  They already knew each others’ triggers and how they each react to situations so they already knew what steps to take to help each other out.  Still there were moments on the race were they managed to lose their tempers but they would reflect and laugh about it at the end of each leg. After the race they’re both going back to the beach in New Jersey.  The summer awaits and Katie will be coaching and hopefully they’ll both win some tournaments to make up for their loss here.  Rachel would like to take a vacation together too.

Featured Team: Jill & Thomas

Working in Harmony:  Jill believes they’ve done good about getting along except once in Africa.  Between cab drivers and the stress of Africa, they ended up getting short with each other.  It wasn’t too horrible, but that was the worst they’ve had it so far.  Thomas admits it is too easy for him to get frustrated so he apologizes to Jill frequently.  It’s just that he can get so focused at times on the challenges.

Featured Team:  Gary & Mallory

A Proud Daughter:  Except for Michael, Gary is the oldest and is competing with people nearly 30 years younger than him.  Mallory is so proud of how well he is hanging with these other young teams.  Mallory draws a difference between her team and Michael & Kevin though as Michael has a strong son to fall back on.  Gary only has her and she’s not all that strong so he’s got to really do a lot of the heavy lifting.  Gary thinks Kevin may be overprotective of his dad and chooses actions in order to keep Michael from having to do too much physical exertion.  Their challenge choices prove this but Gary believes Michael is stronger than Kevin gives him credit for.  Mallory has noticed that Kevin’s choices of challenges are costing that team time as Kevin & Michael probably could be higher up in the standings otherwise.  She recognizes that Kevin is good to his dad but Mallory believes in her dad and that he can hang tough.

Featured Team: Chad & Stephanie

Chad & Stephanie’s Big Plan:  Chad & Stephanie comment that Michael & Kevin got lucky and went from last to first all because they pursued a quicker flight from Ghana.  Meanwhile, Chad & Stephanie were hanging back and not even thinking about flights at that time.  Chad is kicking himself for that.  Stephanie points out that Gary & Mallory are a great strong team and are doing well, but Chad & Stephanie are better.  Gary & Mallory are just playing smarter.  So how does that make you guys a better team then? They now claim that the gloves are off and even though they’ve been merely just thinking about traveling smarter, they now are going to actually do that.

Stephanie believes that as long as they travel smarter, they’re inevitably going to shoot ahead.  Their communication skills are amazing and they’ve learned so much already on the race.  This next leg will be golden as they have basically have learned all the lessons they need to.  They don’t fight anymore and that’s going to be their edge.  They can focus on thinking and on how to get in the front of the pack.  I’ll believe it when I see it, folks.

Featured Team: Nick & Vicki

Nick & Vicki Aren’t Mental:  Vicki admits that the mental part of the race is the hardest part for them.  She laughs as she knows everyone has seen their performance in Ghana and that they took forever to find Ghana on a map.  Vicki doesn’t really care as they’ve been out of school for a long time and they’ve been focused on their career interests, including hairstyling and sports.  They’re both more street smart than book smart.  They do lag on the race and they want to improve on that, including better research while traveling.  Their current middle-of-the-pack location is actually part of their plan as they didn’t want any “daggers in the back” at this point.

Featured Team: Brook & Claire

Claire Surprises Brook:  With a band-aid covering her left eye, Brook tells us that before the race, she told everyone that Claire is going to surprise everyone.  Claire’s performance thus far has proven her words to be true, from the watermelon incident to this most recent bridge Detour.  Claire constantly shocks her and blows her mind.  For Claire, it is either that she’s really impressive or she looks like a complete ass.  It’s a toss up in her mind, she jokes.  Brook is certain people will be shocked and impressed when they get to see this on TV.

Claire knows that her family will be laughing at what she’s done so far because she has been so prissy in normal life so to see her cut loose will entertain them to no end.  Brook thinks she’s actually going back to the girl she was as after she went to college, she became a prissy girl.  So she’s going back to what she once was during the race.

Elimination Station

It’s another beautiful day so the gang heads to Kings Bath where legend has it that’s where the king used to bathe his kids.  They end up at a fairly nondescript pier from which they jump off into the water.  There’s lots of fish swimming around their legs as they hang out in the small cove.  Andie mentions again that it’s so much better here than whatever they must be having to do on the race right now.  In immediate response, everyone says “Wannh, wannh” (the noise you would make when Debbie Downer says something!).  That response is their way to overcome being self-proclaimed losers and make it a funny situation rather than a sad one.  Connor & Jonathan put a harmonizing spin on it while Ron & Tony do a dancing version.  Recently Andie & Jenna developed a strange operatic interpretation which makes everyone laugh.

Connor & Jonathan are enjoying the chance to get to know the racers at Elimination Station.  They admit they’re afraid of the balance getting upset by another team, but someone is indeed coming.  Back at the house, the talk turns to which team is headed there next.  Ron & Tony would like it to be Chad & Stephanie as they would like to get to know them better.  Similarly, Connor & Jonathan want it to be Gary & Mallory so they can sing with her.  Andie thinks it could be Nick & Vicki.  Everyone bets it will be someone fun as that’s what the energy has been so far.  Uh oh, I fear their little idyllic paradise is going to be upset by the arrival of grouchy volleyball players!

Cue the tense music as Katie & Rachel disembark their power boat and walk up the pier to the house.  Katie & Rachel walk around the corner into the living room and everyone screams in surprise to see them. The group asks how Katie & Rachel are feeling about being eliminated and Rachel tells them that they’re disappointed as they knew they could have won the race.  They know they’re stronger than other teams still left.  Privately to us, Ron & Tony obviously got the impression from them that they think they don’t belong at Elimination Station and are better than it.  Yet Ron & Tony both laugh as obviously that is not the case!

In the living room, Katie explains that it’s even more disappointing because the only reason they aren’t still in the race is because they didn’t get on the good flight.  Well, I think there was still five or so teams with you on that flight, so please don’t delude yourself too much!  Jenna tells them that Elimination Station is a lot of fun and that they’ll have a blast, but Katie & Rachel have such annoyed looks on their face that you know that there will be no fun had.  Privately, Katie can’t deal with the cheering-up attempts as they don’t want to be here and they hate to lose.  She just wants it to be over.  Tony is disappointed in the energy they’re bringing into the house but actually admits he expected it as the race progressed on.

In their room, Katie & Rachel are still having problems dealing with losing.  Katie is happy that Connor & Jonathan are here, as well as the girls.  Katie makes a face indicating disagreement.  They both just didn’t want to hear any of what the group was telling them.  Rachel realizes that they’re bringing a negative energy to the group’s positive energy.  Katie really doesn’t like that the group compared themselves to them as she doesn’t think they are anywhere near the same.  I hate to break it to you, but yes, you are also technically a loser so deal with it!  Katie hates to hear people say they just wanted the experience.  She knows they were better than those other teams.  Elimination Station definitely just got a lot more dramatic!


Hobie Barnes works in NYC at 30 Rock (the building, not the show). While not conquering Midtown, he might be found watching DVR’d reality TV, mastering intermediate guitar (is that you F chord?  get ready to be rocked), or getting lost on the subway. He can be reached at hobiewan76@gmail.com.


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