Saturday, 22 August 2015

Amazing Race Canada 3 Episode 7 "I Dream About Eating Sandwiches" OR Hoping for Hopping, Hops and Hoops

There's a province up in Canada that's right next door to ours.
It's called Saskatchewan.
And, uh, in that province there's a small town, uh, where nothing much ever happens, called Saskatoon.
- From the Intro to "Running Back to Saskatoon" by The Guess Who

Well now, that isn't very encouraging, is it? Where nothing much ever happens? Uh oh. And that song was written in the '70s, when everything was pretty much boring. I mean, how else do you explain John Travolta? Unfortunately, I think I'm just going into this with a bad feeling that this leg in Saskatoon is going to be the mid-season yawner.

Take a look at the spread in the departure times out of Sudbury for the seven remaining teams:

Gino & Jesse   9:01 P.M.
Nick & Matt   12:05 A.M. (+ 3hrs, 4mins)
Brian & Cynthia   12:09 A.M. (+ 3hrs, 8mins)
Brent & Sean   1:05 A.M. (+ 4hrs, 4mins)
Simi & Ope   2:59 A.M. (+ 5hrs, 58mins)
Neil & Kristin   3:48 A.M. (+ 6hrs, 47mins)
Dujean & Leilani   4:21 A.M. (+ 7hrs, 21mins)

No wonder Trebek didn't hang around to greet Neil & Kristin and Dujean & Leilani. Also, note what I did there with the elapsed times. It's important. Not because (God forbid) Gino and Jesse can brag about how well they did on that Sudbury leg, but because of the very first task in Saskatoon - and it's right on the tarmac at the airport.

This looks like a job for Sheldon Lee Cooper
Teams were given an entire worldwide Air Canada system map and 3 flight schedule boards showing a variety of AC flights. The task was to come up with the correct combination of routes, in at least 3 continents, whose total flight time adds up to 25 hours. Each team is given a white board to write stuff on and try to look impressive. Like one of those Beautiful Mind kind of geniuses. It's kind of like what I picture of some poor schmuck of a travel agent had to do - sitting waste-deep in travel brochures and airline schedules in his little cubicle in 1984. Thankfully these days we have Expedia and Travelocity and, well, the Internet, so we don't have to worry about this kind of crap anymore. It's also the kind of task that makes some teams PANIC and perhaps make hasty decisions while other teams take advantage of the situation. Hell, I'm a math person but this kind of stuff is just plain bloody annoying. Ooooh, is this gonna be good or what?

Brent and Sean take one look at it, realize they are right-brain thinkers, and cash in their Express Pass faster than a fifth-grader can lose their homework assignment. Brian can't count past 10 without taking his shoes off (even if a calculator is provided) so Cynthia is forced to take control and do this herself. I guess at this point in the Race, even Brian can't stand the smell of his own "Racer's Feet." Kristen admits she has never heard of "Green-wich" Mean Time. Dujean and Leilani also realize that math isn't their thing (again....calculator), so they take a two-hour penalty. Neil and Kristen try to pick out some random routes, but Neil makes a one-sided decision to take the penalty. Props to Kristen for not blowing up on her Dad. I would have blasted my teammate (father or not) if that happened. After 3 teams leave, a lightbulb conveniently goes off in Gino's head. He finally realizes that the calculators weren't just to see what 5,318,008 is upside down. It's like some weird, paradigm-shifting moment. They need to convert hours to minutes. They may not know where half the countries are that are listed on the flight schedules, but they were the first to recognize they couldn't solve this by working in hours. They convert every flight to minutes, then gather up Nick & Matt and Brian & Cynthia to work together (for some reason, Simi and Ope wanted to keep to their No-Alliance strategy).

I've read several comments along the lines of, "that's what Canadians're so nice!" That's total bullshit. Gino and Jesse simply realized that if they all worked together, they could muster through all the various combinations quicker. And if they could get through this thing quickly, there might be time to grab a sandwich the penalties taken by those two teams would guarantee their safety this leg. The 3 teams finish it up, leaving Simi and Ope behind. Ope gets stuck on the minute conversion. Seems he's been using 1 hour = 100 minutes. That damn metric-time!

Nick in his green T-shirt. Yeah, I know...Bana Hulk Bad
The Roadblock at Apex Trampoline Park is called, "Who's Ready to Jump?" It's a 3-part challenge, consisting of: jumping through a numbered and non-sequential grid of 9 mini-tramps without touching the sides; jumping over an obstacle without knocking it down; then, jumping and ringing a bell. Sean and Brent nail this. Not the challenge (which Sean is a little jealous that Brent got to do) - they nailed the description, comparing it to a kid's birthday party. Yeah, I hate to admit it but this seemed more like one of those amateur "Amazing Race" themed birthday parties that some parents take weeks organizing for their spawn. Or worse, like some totally stupid team-building exercise your boss makes you do on your day off when you just want to sit on the couch in your underwear, drink beer and watch something stupid on Netflix.

Gratuitous Hulk gif to compensate for the other one.
Funny thing. Only the guys choose to do this Roadblock. None of the girls. So, if you plan to watch this episode just to see some Bouncing Bettys, don't bother. Brent pretty much breezes through this, as do Dujean, Nick, and Jesse. None of which is surprising. Brian fails miserably, complaining his body just wasn't made to do this. I hear ya buddy...that sounds like my main complaint in every gym class I ever had. Neil and Ope have a lot of troubles, especially trying to build up the height needed to get over the obstacle. Then, surprise! Ope suddenly pulls a Fosbury-Flop-esque move. We are treated to more Nick-hopping as he barrels through the task, but the best part was Matt's very apt description, "Hulk SMASH!...NO wall stop ME!" This gives a whole new reason for Nick wearing that flourescent green shirt. Oh, and just one more observation. This whole task was accompanied by springy, "boing, boing boing" and sliding whistle sounds. Which, when seeing Nick going through the course, made me wonder...why doesn't the WWE do boing-boing sound effects? I might watch that.

Obscure Canadian private joke. If you don't know what this is,
then don't bother reading this paragraph.
The teams then get another object clue. This time it's a beer bottle cap that reads, "Original Founders." This refers to the Great Western Brewery. Nice story. Apparently, about 25 years ago sixteen employees banded together to save their jobs and formed The Great Western Brewing Co. This task is called, "Cap in Hand." All they had to do was search through a bin and grab 15 caps identical to the clue cap. I get it. The 16 caps represent the 16 employees who formed the new company. Nice symbolism but the task itself seemed like a filler. It was a pretty shallow bin....we aren't talking a shipping bin full of lentils here. Maybe I'm just disappointed they didn't have to shovel their way through a bin of hops or wade waist-deep in a vat of yeast or whatever else you'd find at a brewery. Or how about locking them in a beer vat slowly filling with beer, and make them drink their way out? Now, THAT would truly be The Amazing Race CANADA.

The Detour is at Wanuskewin Heritage Park and is called, "Mikwap OR Nimitook." Okay, I have no idea what the exact translation is here, but from what I gathered, it means, "Make a Tipi" OR "Dances With Hoops."

Sorry. Sometimes I just can't help myself.

Okay, in all seriousness the choice is between tipi making (Mikwap) and learning & performing 3 moves of the traditional Hoop Dance (Nimitook) of the Northern Plains Indians. Sean & Brent and Dujean & Leilani choose the dance. Surprise, surprise. Everyone else starts off with the tipi building. Brian and Cynthia get lost - badly, on their way here. Brian's patience is wearing thin and he gives Cynthia a bit of a hard time. "What are you going to do, give me a time out?" Maybe just a good old bitch-slapping might be in order. Frustration is definitely setting in. We've not heard nearly as many zingers from him as we're used to. Yikes. Not a good day. Meanwhile Nick and Matt can still manage to keep their humorous side (for now). As Matt explains he woke up today dreaming about building tipis, Nick says HE dreams about eating sandwiches...or pancakes.

Sean and Brent really get into the whole symbolism of the hoop dance, but go through multiple attempts to get it right. The two tasks are close enough they can see that Gino and Jesse, then Nick and Matt have now caught up. Neil and Kristin make a quick judgement call and switch to dance. They struggle a bit but stay with it. Nick and Matt are denied multiple attempts at the tipi by judge Mary, a sweet, little tribal elder. "Your sticks are wrong." Those sweet, little, old-lady judges can be the absolute worst. Matt and Nick finally give up after the 6th attempt and switch to the hoop dance. Brian and Cynthia stick it out with the tipi task. Simi and Ope are the last to arrive and go directly to the hoop dance.

The Pitstop was also at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, though quite a hike from the Detour. Here's what happened at the mat:

Brent and Sean take this leg and win two tickets to Paris, France along with a year's worth of free gas. They have an interesting Pitstop confessional. Sean tells us they came into the Race with 4 goals: to not get eliminated first (done); to get the Express Pass (done); to win the leg of Brent's birthday (this leg, done); to win the Race (hmmn) I almost forgot. Sean should have included another goal. Having the best, most memorable run-to-the-mat-in-first-place EVER. More Sean-vom, trip and roll over his back-pack, an overshoot of the mat while spewing. But that poor mat greeter, a tribal elder in full head-dress! He gives Jon a look as if to say, "THESE GUYS are the winners?"
Gino and Jesse, 2nd. The edit made it look like there was a foot-race against Sean and Brent. I always doubt this unless you actually see a shot of teams together.
Dujean and Leilani are third to arrive and third after waiting out their 2 hour penalty. Very interesting.
Brian and Cynthia 4th. Bad day for the couple, I think pressure is starting to get to them.
Nick and Matt are 5th. The tipi building and those confounded sticks really stuck it to them. No more tipi nightmares, okay guys? Just hoop dreams. Remember, sandwiches and pancakes will never stick it to you!
Simi and Ope arrive at the mat last again BUT place 6th due to Neil & Kristen's 2 hour penalty. And YES...Jon AND editing incorrectly stated they were team number 7...maybe they need a white board to keep track. One thing I have noticed in the last couple of legs is Simi and Ope tend to get too "in-the-moment" with some of these tasks. Something they need to work on. But at the same time, you have to admire their perseverance. "Just keep racing", as Ope says.
Neil and Kristen arrive at the mat 4th, (it appears that they arrive just before Dujean and Leilani are done serving their penalty, due to the edit) but Simi and Ope hit the mat before Neil and Kristin's penalty is up. They are eliminated.

With a name like Montani, I had to wrk this in somehow.
Sure, you could say in hindsight that penalty was Neil and Kristin's downfall. But it seemed like a good call at the time. How were they supposed to know the Brothers Montani would muster the troups like that? I blame them for this takedown. Are Gino and Jesse showing some signs of strategy? Are they the closest thing to the villain team we have this season? No, I'm not suggesting Gino and Jesse are the bad guys, nor do I think they will be introducing us to their little friends anytime soon. (you are free to take that any way you want) But. Brothers. Never trust 'em. Besides, I had to make that picture and work it into this somewhere. We'll know for sure if we see them hiding in a doorway in Kolkata, India....our next stop.

And in "The More You Know" category:
  • Sean Vom Count: 4
  • There was another task filmed in Saskatoon, edited out. This actually happens occasionally. Strangely enough this one was another dance task, the Red River Jig. It's a quick step dance, traditional among the Metis. Not sure where this was in the schedule, but maybe it explains that 2 hour wait by Dujean and Leilani passing without other teams showing up.
Finally, from the "Did You Notice?" files.

A shot of the Brothers Montani with the Leg 7 Pitstart clue.
And there were others in previous episodes. Let the speculation begin!