Oct 21, 2009, Ep 4: Frustration Station

Amazing Race 15 Insider, Episode 4: Frustration Station

The remaining teams are really beginning to feel the frustration of the race:  Half-Calf doesn’t think Four-Ox can hear correctly, Dan is incredulous that snowmen were so easy to find for those with cold ankles, and Meghan gives up frustration for pure unadultered nerves.  And Lance is…well, Lance.  Oh yeah, who the heck are Half-Calf and Four-Ox?  Read on to find out!

After the Race

Sam & Dan Dish: Sam gives credit to Brian & Ericka that they are a smart team but he thinks the race will catch up to them and Ericka won’t be able to keep up.  He considers her fragile and someone who won’t be able to buckle down and get it done.  He’s hoping that’s the case as he is just tired of seeing them around.  That’s a strange statement to make.  Sam heard her complain that her ankles were cold and feels those kinds of complaints warrant them to be out of the race.  They’re both annoyed that Brian & Ericka luckily got a snowman that was basically kicked to them by Sam & Dan in the ski slope Detour.  Dan isn’t positive they kicked it to them, but that’s what they’re going with anyway.

Canaan’s Blow Up:  Mika notices that the previous leg was the first time that she noticed Canaan blow up.  It was at the Cambodian hotel when they couldn’t find a room and while Mika was talking to someone to get help, Canaan lost it.  He was annoyed as they had already been there and hadn’t found it so he wanted to move on.  Mika reasoned that since it was a big hotel, it could be on the other side.  That was the case.  She’s able to laugh about it now, but after that had happened, she was upset with Canaan and didn’t talk to him.  He picked up on it and apologized.  She understands that the pressures of the race can get to you and is glad to learn these sides of each other now.

Canaan rationalizes that when a million dollars is at stake, the smallest things can seem like big deals.  He is very proud of how they rallied during this leg and got right back in it.  You have to always have hope and look for the silver lining.

Two Become One:  Tiffany explains that they have toyed with the idea of combining their luggage into one bag as the luggage for both of them is a definite hindrance.  To further complicate matters, one of the straps on Tiffany’s backpack broke.  They’ve come up with fixes but each stop they get rid of more and more of their possessions.  They now have achieved the goal of one bag and Tiffany is hopeful that Maria will be able to move faster if she isn’t carrying a bag.  Tiffany is the designated mule to schlep their bag around.  Maria will carry when need be, but Tiffany is the strong one who can handle the weight.  Maria is just weaker than Tiffany which was a known issue even before the race.  They’ve determined nicknames for themselves: “Four-Ox” Tiffany and “Half-Calf” Maria.  Tiffany isn’t thrilled with the name but she understands why it is.

Gary Cleans Up:  Wow – as this guy is shaving his face in a bathroom somewhere, I’m trying my best to figure out who it is.  It’s Gary!  It’s remarkable how different he looks as he loses the scruffy face.  Matt apparently is wearing clear studs in all his facial piercings so they don’t show up.  It’s what he normally does when he goes on jobs that frown on piercings.

Fun in the Sun:  Ericka is no fan of cold weather.  She lives where there’s no more than two inches of snow per year, there are four seasons, and life is beautiful in the spring again.  So having to go sledding in the snow was a bit of a shock.  Brian had to coach her how to get on a chairlift and on how to sled.  Ericka was scared and snow activities are things she isn’t familiar with.  She admits she had a lot of fun but her butt wasn’t able to stay on the little sled so the fun started to segue into painful stinging.  She laughed through it and had fun anyway.  Brian’s main concern was that he had to use the bathroom as after having been in the 120 degree weather you naturally want to drink lots of water.  That definitely took its toll once they got inside the ski slope.  The pressure from other teams was also on and Brian remembered from his youth about never eating yellow snow.  No rule about making yellow snow.    He was very tempted to do so but Ericka found the snowman in the nick of time.

Lance & Keri’s Farewell:  Lance addresses the comment that most people assume that he can’t back up what he brags about, especially now that they’ve been eliminated.  He recognizes there is both a physical and mental aspect to the challenges, yet there is also a lot that is out of your hands.  So for him, he will always talk smack.  So those people who would make comments about him are probably people who haven’t run the race.  For Keri, she doesn’t underestimate her competition so she tends not to call out her whole run.  She recongizes that’s Lance’s “thing” and that sometimes it does work out in his favor and his confidence is justified.

Lance isn’t ashamed that he throws out his confidence like he does.  It’s just who he is and since they came there to win, that’s what he’ll say.  Even if he comes in second, he’ll still talk trash.  Overall, Lance is disappointed they won’t get any more of the traveling experience that the race gives you, but the amount of time they did have was great.  He hasn’t been humbled by the experience though.  Most observers don’t realize how tough the race really is and while the challenges by themselves seem do-able, it’s the environment and circumstances around them that is the tough element to overcome.  It’s a tough experience and when you let your guard down, you’re going to come in last.

Extra Race Footage

The Blame Game:  While driving to the Bedouin challenge, Keri explains that the morning so far has been tough as they never knew what they were going to be doing.  The Burj Dubai was a mystery that turned out to be nothing more than a clue box at the top.  Getting put in the second group put them at a disadvantage though yet Lance is hoping a bunching situation occurs to let everyone get back together.  He blames himself for screwing up on the driving but Keri says that they just didn’t know the directions.   Lance recognizes that they are now so far back that it’s hard to get stressed about it.  They’re in a hole and they have to fight their way out of it.  He’s hoping for some better luck than what they’ve had in the race thus far.

The Blame Game, Part Two: Tiffany asks Flight Time what airline they’re using to get to Dubai.  He tells her Emirates and that he’s not telling anyone else that information.  After the Globetrotters have left, Maria is annoyed as she doesn’t believe Tiffany heard them correctly as there is no airline named just “Emirates.”  Tiffany insists that is all he said.  Maria is convinced he must have said more.

Tiffany has had enough and asks why Maria is being like that.  Maria gets annoyed at that and now you know it’s time for both of their naptimes.  Seriously.  Maria thinks that it’s important that if another team is going to help them, it’s up to them to make sure they hear it right as it’s not cool to ask about the information twice, especially if it’s secret info.  Tiffany insists that she’s being blamed and wants the blame game to stop.  Maria denies this.  Tiffany assumed they’d just find an internet terminal to research Emirates yet Maria is quick to point out that the Internet may not always be available.

Impressions of Dubai:  Maria & Tiffany are driving around Dubai and are especially happy that many people in Dubai speak English.  Maria recognizes that Dubai is a huge tourist center so it makes sense that this is the case.  Maria admits she was ignorant about Arabic culture but there wasn’t ever any negative connotations for her.  She picks up on the religious themes throughout the country and the associated customs, but it doesn’t seem as if in Dubai these are hindrances.  Tiffany is also surprised at how different the perception the U.S. media provides on Arabs is (terrorists, etc) while in reality, people are pretty much normal.

The Nashville Bond:  Driving through the desert, Canaan tells us that while looking for the clue last night, Brian noticed them struggling and helped point them in the right direction.  Yet again in Dubai, as Canaan & Mika stopped on the side of the road to find the Roadblock, Brian stopped again and provided them directions.  Obviously it isn’t hurting Brian too much to do this, but if I was Ericka, I’d suggest a little more firmly that at some point, no more freebies to the other teams!  Canaan is well aware that the Nashville camaraderie won’t last forever.  He astutely observes that if it were just the two teams left, Brian probably wouldn’t help.  Canaan is happy to ride the wave as long as it lasts though.

The Frustration of Following:  Meghan is stressed in the backseat of the car as they head to the race track as she is concerned that the people they’ve asked for guidance may not know where they’re going.  They’re out in the middle of nowhere and she is agonizing while they’re following a truck that it’s just not the right direction.  Cheyne constantly praises her for working the deal out to follow the truck and to try to calm her down.  It’s so not working.

Lance’s Positive Attitude:  While riding their shuttle into the Bedouin desert, Lance explains he doesn’t want to quit even though he’s not happy with their current position.  He’s irritated with himself which he hopes will motivate him but he also recognizes his performance may just suck anyway.  Keri believes they should remain positive while Lance is already imitating that Phil will great them with a “You’re team number… last.”  Keri jokes that it’s this kind of positive attitude that keeps them going.

Lance & Keri’s Anticipation Plan:  It’s morning before the Burj Dubai challenge and Keri is prepping herself for what the challenge may be.  She’s ready for it to be climbing stairs but if coming down involves anything besides stairs, she may have a problem.  Fortunately for her and unfortunately for us, it was none of any of that!  Lance is ready for anything and knows that regardless they will do it.  He isn’t thrilled with any of the possibilities though and would rather dance around like a monkey.  Lance is certain this will be the craziest challenge on the race.   He’s surprised at how modern everything looks out here compared to a place like Boston.

Doing it for Flash and Dad:  Big Easy is driving in Dubai and is telling us about his dad and his dad’s fight with cancer.  His dad raised his kids right and with respect, love and happiness.  Big Easy keeps living that way and hopes that his dad is looking down from heaven and is proud of how he’s racing.  One of his closest friends and teammates also recently died so it is a reminder to always keep living his life and appreciate it.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, nothing is promised, and people are more important than material things.  It’s important to share your life with your friends and family as that’s all you really have.

Flight Time & Big Easy have known each other for five years and have a lot of shared connections in Arkansas.  They’ve even had the same college coaches, although Flight Time is five years older than Big Easy.  The loss of their teammate this past December was tough but Flight Time is impressed that Big Easy is still racing with the very recent loss of his father.  He’s proud of Big Easy and is glad they can do this together.

Slow Roasted Canaan:  Canaan doesn’t think there’s anything harder to do than what he just did at the Bedouin water-hunting challenge.  Coupled with the fact that they were one of the last teams there and thus there were fewer jugs of water, it was a very tough challenge.  He looks utterly exhausted in the back seat as he recounts his tale.  Mika says that he looked like a dot at one point as the area was a square quarter mile to search within.  The jug he finally found was at the very outer point you could reach.

Globetrotter’s Dial-Up Connection:  As Flight Time & Big Easy are in their taxi headed to the airport in Cambodia, they tell us about how they found out where the world’s tallest building is using an internet cafe.  They know it’s in Dubai and are familiar with the area having played there a few times.  Flight Time noticed that you can’t buy tickets unless it’s within 24 hours of departure so they’re heading to the airport to do so.  Another reason for not booking the tickets there is that the connection seemed to be operating at 1994 dial-up speeds.  He’s certain that there is a method to the madness and that the cafes get money by charging you by the minute. Big Easy respects the hustle the cafe is doing if that is the case.  He wishes it had been faster, but he’s counting on the other teams having speed problems too.

Pit Stop

The Story of Meghan & Cheyne:  It takes extra effort to spell Cheyne’s name.  Now that we have that out of the way, on to this recap.  Phil asks Meghan & Cheyne how they respond to others who may think they’re just dumb kids in love.  Cheyne informs Phil that they’ve been in a relationship for four and a half years and a lot of that time was spent in a long-distance status.  Through all that as well as having known each other since elementary school, their relationship has thrived.  It was love for him since middle school, but it was once they were in college when she reciprocated the love and it became a romantic relationship.

When they started dating, one of their goals was to do the Amazing Race.  They’re amazed they’re in first place now as they were happy to have even been in sixth place during the last leg.  Meghan’s very proud of Cheyne and as she talks about today’s experiences, she actually starts choking up.  What the?  He drove a race car around a race track one time.  There was minimal danger.  Still not sure why she was so emotional at the track.  She was confident in his ability at the track, but nonetheless nervous.  Phil notices her fear and asks where it comes from.  She’s always over-thought things and she worries too much about things.  Cheyne helps her deal with it even when they went to the top of Burj Dubai.  She was relieved there was nothing scary done there, but also a bit disappointed to not have been tested.

They’re both ready to travel and experience everything.  Meghan’s always wanted to have gone to Dubai since first hearing about it.  They even see the sailboat building that actually was part of an Amazing Race season a few years back.

Sitting in Second:  Phil is curious how Brian & Ericka managed to move up in the standings.  Ericka thinks it’s about the confidence and the right circumstances.  Brian is just happy to be here and have fun.  Phil comments they’re not even sweating and Ericka is amused by his comment.  She jokingly kids that it’s a Miss America thing to be able to conceal the sweat.  Brian was entertained watching Ericka sled down the ski slope.  Recounting the day’s events, they remember starting with the brothers and the poker girls, separating a little after the Bedouin camp, and finally reconnecting at the ski slope.  They ended up getting lost in Dubai trying to find the ski slope which is why everybody met back up again.  Both have noticed that there’s less yelling happening yet I suspect it’s mostly due to them doing quite well.

Globetrotters Get Heated:  Phil asks how the heat is treating them.  They’re okay with the heat but it was the snow that was tough.  Flight Time comments that only in Dubai can you get such a diversity in temperature.  Phil also wonders if they’re getting any stares from the locals but they’ve been moving too fast to even bother to notice.  Apparently the Globetrotters have played games over in Dubai so the people are definitely aware of who they are.  Flight Time is more interested in why Phil is so sweaty – was he out there on the dunes digging for water too?  Nope, Phil is just schvitzing.

The Brothers Unload:  Sam & Dan aren’t exhausted by the heat as much as they are frustrated.  Sam didn’t like the hot then cold then hot again but for Dan, the frustration of breaking water pots was maddening as when he would find water, he wanted to drink it but couldn’t.  Sam jokes that he thought the race was going to be easy.  Phil openly mocks Sam with a humorously withering look and asks him what show was he watching.  The hardest part of the race thus far are the logistics as well as the frustration factor.  Working together is tough as is the effort to try to enjoy where they are.

The ski slope temperature was refreshing for about five seconds until the cold began to take its toll.  Phil obviously relishes the discomfort the temperature disparity was causing all the teams as he keeps bringing it up.  Next challenge: survive pneumonia!  What was most annoying to Dan was Ericka’s whining about cold ankles and then her finding the snowman.  That drove him nuts.  Phil is surprised they would stick with the snowman Detour for so long without switching and wonders why.  Sam wanted to stick with their guts and finish it through, but that cost them a lot of time and placement.

Concerning the remaining racers, Phil asks for Sam & Dan’s appraisal.  They consider Brian & Ericka good people and beatable in the top three.  They find the Globetrotters tough but Dan correctly reasons that if you could quickly find a snowman, you’d be in a good position at the end of this leg.   Yet Sam reminds Phil that every time it’s been a race between them and the Globetrotters, Sam & Dan have edged them out.   So when it’s luck that makes the difference, they have to deal with it.

Family Bonds:  Phil gives Gary & Matt a pep-talk on how great they must be feeling having made it this far.  Gary agrees and says they’ve managed to work through any difficulties fairly well.  Matt is proud of his dad especially in the last leg when Gary was dancing around like a monkey and with his dad’s expert navigation skills.  Phil asks what their next step is then.  They both see more trips together afterward such as a kayak trip and rock-climbing.  What was the delay in finally growing closer?  Gary thinks it’s mostly just work and regular life that have kept that on the side.  Gary is still in shock that Matt is already 22.  He’s just glad to finally have the time to be together with his son.  Matt is very relieved to finally have this time as all during his youth, Gary was always work, work, work.  Their schedules never meshed so that they could see each other.  Now it’s a 24/7 arrangement, and they’re both loving it.

Mika & Canaan’s New Plan:  Phil is amazed at how hot it is here in Dubai.  Canaan would prefer to run around naked if that was an option…  Phil thinks that’s probably not the best idea as getting sunburned is even worse.  Concerning their second-to-last status, they’re relieved to still be in it.  Mika recognizes they’ve been hanging on by a thread this whole race yet they keep managing to stick it out.  She’s confident they can keep doing that.  Canaan is amazed at their bad luck with taxis, especially when the driver will say he knows how to get somewhere but really doesn’t.  Mika recognizes he’s starting to make excuses and calls him out, and he backs off but you can tell he’s still frustrated.  He knows it comes down to luck and would like some to come his way.

Mika realizes they should have followed the Globetrotters out of Dubai.  Phil asks why they didn’t.  Canaan wasn’t sure they knew where they were going and thought they had to take a shot of going where they thought they had to.  He also tells Phil about the difficulties at the Bedouin challenge with the scarce water bottles.  Mika is relieved she didn’t have to jump off the Burj Dubai.  Phil wonders what they think they’re going to have to do to get better and out from the back.  Canaan believes just doing their best and sticking with teams in similar circumstances will help.  Yet it really comes down to just doing your best.

So Sad It’s Funny:  Keri realizes that they just had to laugh after the day they’ve had.  At the ski slope, they couldn’t even make a snowman.  Lance admits that even though it was a bad day, at a certain point they realized it was over.  They weren’t going to quit, but upon that realization, it was time to just have fun.  Phil is amazed that Lance is actually calm about things.  Keri points out it was just a comedy of errors, while Lance compares their experience to the classic National Lampoon’s European Vacation scene when the Griswalds are caught in the English traffic circle: “Big Ben, Parliament!”

Phil follows up on Lance’s lion analogy to himself and how it’s holding up.  Lance tells him that he always approaches things with confidence and that’s why he’s successful.  He called his shot and it didn’t work this time.  He admits to being gracious in defeat and gives the other teams credit for doing so well this leg.  Keri was very proud of Lance’s efforts and Phil interrupts with how much love he’s feeling from these two.  He’s surprised.  Phil asks if Keri got what she wanted out of it from Lance, which is to be listened to more.  She’s not sure that is happening as she doesn’t know what there was for him to listen to (besides the crazy Boston accent!).  She is happy there wasn’t much yelling which she’s surprised about.

What is the future for this relationship?  They’re getting married a few weeks after the race is done, and Phil wants to know if Lance is excited about it.  Lance half-heartedly says he is but the race has kept him too occupied in order to focus on that.  Now he can change gears and get excited about the wedding.  They’re happy about having done the race and having made it as far as they did.  There’s now a lot more to look forward to with their life together.

Elimination Station

Back in Vietnam (sorry about last week where I stated Elimination Station was in Cambodia) at the resort they’re at, Marcy & Ron and Garrett & Jessica are having a meal and discussing when Zev & Justin will finally arrive.  Everyone’s excited to get to know Zev better yet all are conscious of the fact that Justin is going to feel guilty for having lost the passport causing them to be disqualified.  They all want to hear about what’s been going on during the rest of the race.

Out at the driveway, the two couples anxiously await who is coming next as a van drives up accompanied by somewhat ominous music.  Is Darth Vader arriving instead?  It’s certainly not Zev & Justin as it turns out that “Boston” (aka Lance & Keri) has arrived.  Everyone’s a bit shocked to see them instead of Zev & Justin.  Back inside, Lance & Keri explain that they were “directionally challenged” and that their leg was pretty rough.  Everyone now has some fun drinks with colored umbrellas in them so it’s now a party!  During the drinking, Ron comments that Lance & Keri seem okay but wonders how they are feeling.  They’re okay with it as they know it was mostly them and a lot of bad luck.

Ron asks if they are aware of what happened with regards to Zev & Justin.  Lance says he wants to wait to justify their story until Zev & Justin prove it.  It sounds like they don’t believe Justin lost his passport.  They then begin to tell everyone about the “most disgusting” hotel ever in Cambodia that they were staying in which was apparently infested with cockroaches.  Blech.

In their room, Keri doesn’t want to even open her backpack as she knows it’s going to be filled with the stench of their adventure.  While Lance keeps saying he’s not going to harp on the negative, every comment out of his mouth is a backhanded complaint or whine.  He’s going to enjoy his free vacation on “loser island” now.  He’s defeated but not down.  Enough already.  Move on.  The race is over, enjoy your vacation.

The three-couple group heads out in a van to a village on the coast where they have decided to run a guys vs girls race with a Vietnamese boat.  They’re going to paddle out and back and whoever has the fastest time wins.  Lance doesn’t “get” the boat as it looks like a round basket.  Keri isn’t convinced the guys will figure out how to make it go forward without spinning in place.  She’s confident the girls will do fine.  The guys go first and after “ready, set, go!” the video ends.  Even in bonus videos, there is suspense!  I guess tune in next week to find out who wins this high-stakes competition!

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 or getting lost on the subway. He can be reached at hobswriting@hobiebarnes.com.


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