Nov 24, 2009, Ep 9: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Amazing Race 15 Insider, Episode 9:  How to Win Friends and Influence People

Another leg, another win for Meghan & Cheyne, so have the other teams declared war on them?  With Brian & Ericka (pictured) lucking out on this last non-elimination leg, are they finally understanding what it takes to stay in the race?  Will a line cut at the airport be the spark that sets off a bitter rivalry between Sam & Dan and Meghan & Cheyne?  And which team is still managing to have a blast the entire time?  I bet by now you know the answers, but read inside to confirm your theories!

After the Race

The Secret to Their Success:  Cheyne attributes their success to their athleticism and their aggressive nature, especially over the past few legs.  He understands that Meghan would like to play nicer amongst the other teams, but Cheyne is focused on ensuring they stay up in the front.  They’ve made excellent choices at the Roadblocks and Detours and he cites their decision to do the ropes course over the kayaking at this leg’s Detour.  The kayaks looked like a lot of fun but they both knew that the ropes course would be a safer choice.  They’ve managed to pick who does the Roadblocks well too (although I still can’t believe he basically made her do the haystack one!) and recognize they’ve had a lot of luck as well.  Meghan explains they also try to jump ahead whenever possible, whether that means getting seats at the front of the plane or getting off the plane first and running through customs.  Even if it’s only a few minutes lead, they like to be ahead as opposed to chasing someone else.

The Team to Beat:  Sam thinks that the pressure of being in the final four is really getting to everyone.  If you see another team running, you immediately start running too as you don’t want to get left behind.  He brings up the incident of the “line-cutting” at the airport (shown in the extra video, Meghan & Cheyne Jump Ahead) and describes it from their point of view.  Both Dan and Meghan & Cheyne got there at about the same time, but then Meghan & Cheyne got upset, followed by the ticket agent telling them all that you can’t cut the line.  Dan then left the line but Cheyne didn’t.  Sam doesn’t buy it that Cheyne got permission to cut.  That whole incident for Dan shows how much people are willing to do during these last legs to get any advantage.

Dan correctly points out that everyone has tagged Meghan & Cheyne as the team to beat.  Dan isn’t worried about all their first-place wins so far during the race as he’s only worried about who comes in first place on the final leg.  Furthermore he’s not stressed as Meghan & Cheyne are never hours ahead of everyone else, so it’s possible to beat them.  He understands it may just come to good luck, which Cheyne has had a lot of.  Sam lists off the previous lucky breaks Meghan & Cheyne have had, including getting the first wasabi bomb in Tokyo, finding a clue in the haystacks, finding the Praga and of course, getting the Fast Forward.  Neither are worried that it is impossible to beat Meghan & Cheyne just because they have won five times.

Day at the Opera:  Flight Time tells about entering the opera house and hearing Don Giovanni singing the praises of Kumbiya, or something similar to that.  Opera isn’t music they typically listen to but Flight Time enjoyed it as the singer was very good.  He was even inspired to jump in and sing a little bit himself.  Flight Time felt he needed to do something as he realized that they were going to be there a while.  It was just fun and since he’s an entertainer himself, he wanted to also entertain.

Big Easy also understood that everyone was stressed out at the opera house, especially with hearing Meghan constantly call out “Cheyne, Cheyne!”  That was driving Big Easy nuts.  So while the brothers were doing their stressed-out-at-each-other thing, Big Easy was happy that Flight Time was enjoying the moment as they are there to have fun.  Even when doing the tough ropes course, it was something they hadn’t done before and more importantly, they were having fun.  Flight Time was supportive and kept cool throughout Big Easy’s attempts to find the miniature instruments and constantly motivated him.  They were there for each other.

Please Stop Encouraging Me:  Ericka has learned during the race that she and Brian have very different motivational styles.  Brian is an “over-encourager” and she hates when anyone, not just Brian, does that.  It drives her nuts.  That style makes her feel incompetent.  When she has locked onto a goal, she will get there, so don’t feel the need to baby her into continuing.  Brian actually agrees with Ericka as she also has done the over-encouraging stuff too, back in Vietnam with the VCR task.  She was constantly motivating him and he just kept thinking that he’s doing what he can.  But he knows what Ericka means.  Ericka responds to his Vietnam example as she figured he must love vocal encouragement since he does it so much with her.  Brian admits that he tunes her out when she gets like that and that she needs to learn that skill too.  Ericka just doesn’t want to hear “good job, you can do it” anymore.

Extra Race Footage

All Smoothed Over:  While riding in their “Old Man Cab,” Big Easy explains to us that they are cool with Sam & Dan as it is understood that the whole elbow incident was a mistake.  Flight Time agrees that it’s cool and that everyone is just trying to win the race.  He jokes that there may be some sneaky elbows getting thrown in the future and if they don’t show up on the tape, then it’s all good.  Sounds like Flight Time isn’t buying that the elbow was a mistake.  He mentions that if there isn’t “sufficient evidence” to back up his theory that Dan elbowed him, then he has to live with it.

Flight Time also explains that he is all “Ally’d” out.  That means that mentally, physically, and emotionally, he’s ally’d out.  That gets a laugh out of Big Easy yet Flight Time is still in the game despite his exhaustion.  He is ready for this next leg and ultimately they’re happy to be in the race still even though they still have an amazing basketball career awaiting them upon finishing.  He jokes that most of the public probably thought the Globetrotters never got off Gilligan’s Island (ha!) or disappeared into a Scooby-Doo cartoon, so he’s glad to have the opportunity to show them in a new, positive light.  He appreciates the efforts of the earlier Globetrotters and just wants to remind everyone that the Globetrotters are still here.  I admit I’m not really sure what this whole last point was, but there you go.

Meghan & Cheyne Jump Ahead:  While at an airline ticket counter, we seem to catch the middle of an encounter between Dan and Meghan & Cheyne.  Dan is at the ticket counter asking for tickets that will put him in the front of the plane while Meghan is stepping behind him and visibly annoyed.  Another racer chastises Dan for ignoring the line and he surprisingly gives in and leaves the line.  Meghan & Cheyne move up to the counter and Cheyne explains that he actually has received approval from the others in line to jump ahead of them in order to get tickets, while Dan didn’t.  As the ticket agent is doing her thing, Meghan mutters to Cheyne how annoying it can be when people do things like what Dan just did.  She is concerned that they don’t do those things that can be needlessly annoying.  Cheyne just nods and agrees with her, but as we all know from the rest of this leg, I’m not sure he heard what he was agreeing to.

A little later, Meghan & Cheyne are explaining to us that they will cut in line, with approval, when they can in order to keep just one step ahead of the others.  Cheyne doesn’t see the purpose in being rude as it only creates animosity and very little advantage.  Doing catty little things like what Dan did isn’t worth it and they are going to ensure that make every effort not to race like that.  That is just funny.

Brian & Ericka’s Bad Advice:  Brian clarifies that the advice to take the subway into Prague wasn’t given to them by only one person, but by three different people on the plane.  He presumes that it must be faster when the traffic is bad, but there wasn’t traffic when they came in this time.  Advice they’ve taken throughout the rest of the legs has usually panned out so they didn’t think to doubt it this time.  Ericka points out that when things are cheap and fast (as the subway was supposed to be), it probably won’t be good, and when it’s fast and good, it probably won’t be cheap.  She thinks they took that into consideration this time and were looking for the cheaper alternative.  Unfortunately it was a bad move as Brian believes that the taxi ride really wasn’t that much more expensive than the subway as the destination isn’t as far as he had thought it would be.

Brian’s Lesson Learned… Maybe:  Ericka considers Brian’s optimistic and giving attitude during the race and agrees that there have been mostly positive results gained from it, but she thinks that with having just had their cab stolen by Sam & Dan, that perhaps Brian may be learning his lesson finally.  It’s a game but it’s also not a game as there is a million dollars at stake.  Everyone left in the race wants to win it, so no more nice guy, less stupidity, and more strategic racing.  If they need to stay with the group and do less of the “feel it out for ourselves,” then that’s what they’ll do.  Brian admits he’s going to play hard but just because Sam & Dan stole their cab doesn’t mean, to him, that now they are going to play dirty.  Ericka’s eyes briefly flare.

Brian continues that they won’t be sharing as much information and Ericka immediately cuts him off, stating they’re not sharing any information.  Brian knows that if they had been in the brothers’ situation, he would not have taken someone else’s cab.  He would have asked for another cab to be called for them, and surprisingly Ericka does agree.  She realizes that it’s not worth it to play dirty only to get some money, as money is fleeting.  She’s had plenty of money before and it’s gone.  You have to be able to live with yourself.

The Waiting Game:  Sam & Dan are standing outside the Riga airport in Latvia as they have two hours to kill until their flight to Prague leaves.  Sam tells us that they have seats in row 5 while Brian & Ericka are in row 6 so they are at least ahead of someone.  It’s not that big of a deal though as getting into taxis is where teams tend to split up.  Sam thinks that everyone is a bit more pushy to get up front now that there’s only four teams left and every advantage is needed.  He remarks that over the past three hours they’ve been in three different countries and they’re just very tired.  And they still have a day of racing ahead of them.  Sam laments that flying during the night is tough as it’s not easy to catch up on sleep.  He’s hoping they’re not going to be tired once they get to Prague.

Heard it Through the Grapevine:  While in their cab to the Pit Stop, Flight Time tells Big Easy that Brian is mad at Sam & Dan for stealing their taxi.  Apparently they had to wait a half hour for another cab to arrive.  Big Easy points out that when you’re working together, that kind of stuff can happen to you.  Flight Time tells him that while Sam was sitting next to him at the opera house, Sam confessed about the taxi theft and hoped that Brian & Ericka found another cab.  Big Easy says that’s why he would rather race alone than try to team up with another group.  As it is now, if someone stole the Globetrotters’ cab, so what?  There aren’t any personal bonds that have been established over the race so there wouldn’t be any lingering guilt.  But since Sam & Dan and Brian & Ericka have been friendly the whole race, those kinds of moves are going to be harder to pull without feeling guilty.

The Other Three:  In the cab to the Prague city square, Sam describes Brian & Ericka as well-rounded, sweet, nice and generous people, so they like them (obviously this is before their taxi theft).  The Globetrotters are very strong competitors, very fierce and seemingly wiling to do anything to get the million.  Cheyne & Meghan are just crazy, sneaky, sly and won’t hold anything back.  Dan chimes in and thinks that he & Sam embody every single one of the characteristics they’ve just described.  They both humorously come to the conclusion that because of that, they will win.  Sam is very excited to see Prague as he has friends who’ve been there that have told him how beautiful it is.  He also is a fan of beautiful, unique architecture.

Even More From Meghan:  As they ride in their cab just after ditching the Globetrotters, Meghan explains to Cheyne that she’s not worried about how mean she is to Sam & Dan, as they race the same whether she’s nice or mean to them.  But the Globetrotters race harder when someone is mean to them and they go out of their way to screw that team over.  She doesn’t see a reason to fight with them.  Meghan also thinks it’s not a bad idea to work with them on this leg to get further.  Cheyne agrees that they could work together but if the opportunity presents itself to get ahead of everybody, he doesn’t care which team is standing next to them.  Meghan can understand that logic but doesn’t understand why you can’t be nice to that team too.

Cheyne admits he may have been overly aggressive in his decision but he knew it was the right move to make.  Meghan isn’t persuaded yet as she still thinks they could have been at least up front with the Globetrotters with what they decided to do.  Cheyne pats her arm and tells her that she can do that part.  She persists that it’s a team effort.  He tells her that she’s good at that kind of thing while he was busy being aggressive.  Meghan explains to us that she does a better job of hiding her aggressiveness underneath a level of civility.  She’d rather not pick fights when it’s unnecessary to do so.  At this point, it’s clear Cheyne isn’t listening and he’s got the infinite stare forward going on.

Pit Stop

Brian & Ericka’s Second Chance:  Phil asks Ericka how it feels to have a second chance.  She’s happy but stressed because she doesn’t want to screw it up.  Brian knows that in life you rarely get second chances.  It was just a bad day for them today and he just wishes that Meghan & Cheyne would finally have one.  Ericka agrees as she wants them to know what it feels like to struggle.  Phil reminds them that they’ve felt this way before (in Amsterdam when they thought they were last but weren’t) and they’ve been saved yet again.  He speculates there may be an angel watching out for them.  Brian promises Phil they won’t take this second chance for granted and will keep fighting till the end.  They want that final three really bad.

Phil wonders what they think of the fact that the other teams are probably unconcerned with Brian & Ericka as they are so far back.  Ericka isn’t counting themselves out as other teams have come back from worse and anything can happen.  The key is not to give up too soon.  Phil motivates them with a sincere wish to see them on the mat at the end of the next leg where he can tell them they’re going to be in the final three.  Brian & Ericka hope so too.

Globetrotters Look Ahead:  Phil asks the Globetrotters which team they don’t want to see in the final three.  It doesn’t matter to Big Easy as they’re going to race the same no matter who they’re competing against.  Flight Time gets the same question and admits that the team with the most first-place finishes (Meghan & Cheyne) needs to get taken out.  Phil is amazed at how unstoppable they are now having won five legs of the race.  Wow.  Phil honestly wonders if they can be beat.  Big Easy sums it up handily by mentioning that the only leg worth winning is the final leg.

Phil isn’t deterred and presses them as to what they’ll have to do differently in order to surpass Meghan & Cheyne.  Flight Time maintains that they will continue keeping a cool head, racing strong, and hoping for plenty of luck.  Phil compares that analogy to coming back from behind in a basketball game during the final seconds.  Is that really what they want?  Big Easy agrees, but would rather not have it be that dramatic of a comeback.

Big Easy has respect for all the teams in the final four, but makes a point to mention that he has a lot of respect for Meghan.  She will always try to do the right thing (except for maybe that suggestion they lie to the other teams about what a Praga is) while Cheyne wants to just press forward regardless of the other teams.  Flight Time mentions how Cheyne got angry at him for slowing them down while trying to exit the ropes course scaffolding and that Cheyne’s badgering basically encouraged Flight Time to slow down even more.  Big Easy lets Phil know that if Cheyne wants to come at them like that, he’ll need to be prepared for them to respond in kind.   Big Easy also understands that if you can identify an opponent’s weakness, especially with respect to the amount of heart they’re putting into the game, you have to try to attack that.  Of course he recalls his tactic to keep Mika scared at the water slide, which to me is still a great move.  Big Easy has no regrets and would rather be there in Prague than wherever Mika is.

Sam & Dan Stress Out:  Dan excitedly asks Phil if they’re running for the Finish Line and Phil tells him that he just needs to chill out now.  Be happy they’ve finished the tenth leg and relax.  Phil notices that Sam is tense and Sam reiterates Dan’s earlier question, and you can plainly see how excited they both are at the thought they’re about to run the final leg.  Sam literally is jumping up and down in excited anticipation as Phil keeps avoiding the question.  Finally Sam & Dan realize that Phil isn’t going to tell them they’re racing to the finish and happily accept that they’re in second place at the finish of the tenth leg.

In an attempt to distract them, Phil has them take a gander at the amazing view of Prague from Prague Castle.  Dan is blown away and casually wonders if the tower in the distance isn’t the tallest in the world.  In the footage, it’s almost ridiculously clear that is not the case – hell, he saw the world’s tallest building in Dubai!  Sam is still amazed at how beautiful the opera house and the castle are.  Phil asks if they’re feeling a lot of tension now especially after the last leg’s finish with the Globetrotters.  Dan feels the tension because every little thing, such as who is sitting ahead of you in the plane, actually matters.  The competition now is so intense that Dan can’t wait for it to be over, while Sam believes he could do this forever.

Meghan & Cheyne on a Roll:  Phil wonders if the people watching this at home are getting bored because Meghan & Cheyne have now won five legs.  Meghan admits that when she watched the show she didn’t like when one team constantly won.  She’s since changed her mind.  Phil asks what is it that they’re doing to keep in front.  Cheyne says it’s that they’re very competitive and that he’ll be aggressive, even if it’s not to her liking, to stay ahead.  They also jump out ahead when they can.  He’s very impressed with how well Meghan did on the ropes course as she did better than him.  Finishing that quickly gave them a good lead over the other teams and they also had good taxis this leg of the race.

Phil asks if they’ve thought about having to race against the two remaining all-guy teams and how they would do.  Meghan has lost one foot race to the Globetrotters already and she doesn’t plan on letting it happen again.  Cheyne tells Phil that Brian paid Meghan a compliment as Brian identified her as the most athletic person on the race.  Cheyne agrees with that assessment as Meghan has held her own against all the guys on the race.  Cheyne isn’t worried about the other teams and is only concerned with racing for themselves and not holding any other teams’ hands.  Phil asks if they might get too overconfident after so many wins and if they may inadvertently take the intensity of their competitiveness down.  Cheyne agrees, but knows that they have a good balance of realism and confidence.  Meghan explains they take each leg on its own without past performance as any indicator.  Each leg they are just trying to stay out of the bottom.

Once the four teams get whittled down to three, Phil asks which team they’d like to see out.  Meghan & Cheyne immediately answers the Globetrotters because they’re tough competitors, they’re lucky, and they run a good race.  Cheyne explains that while Sam & Dan and Brian & Ericka are strong teams, the Globetrotters is the only other team that have provided them any actual competition.

Hobie Barnes works in NYC at 30 Rock (the building, not the show). While not conquering Midtown (and crushing slightly on Sam), he might be found watching DVR’d reality TV or getting lost on the subway. He can be reached at


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