Thursday, 28 July 2016

Recap of Episode 5: "The Little Blind Tugboat That Could"

I really looked forward to this episode. Following two very dynamic and difficult legs in Vietnam, it was supposed to be the gem of the season. Surely this was going to be the best of the domestic legs this year. I wanted to be overwhelmed by the beauty of northwest British Columbia, entranced by the Haida peoples, and most of all, thoroughly entertained by a well constructed TAR leg.

I wasn't. Well, it was gorgeous and the Haida segment was nice, don't get me wrong. But I just felt they could have done so much more with it. And this leg had only 3 tasks, two of which were Roadblocks. No Detour. I think it made for a boring leg, making it very linear. No real flipping back and forth of positions. And the timed seaplane and ferry departures only aggravated the situation.

Teams set off from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and are directed to the island of Haida Gwaii, just off the coast of British Columbia.

Kelly and Kate are the first to depart at 10:28 AM. They say they've learned that the position can change at any minute, so they are going to stay humble, focused and never give up. [This doesn't sound very hopeful coming from a team who just won the last leg, does it?]
Steph and Kristen 10:38 AM They've come in 2nd for three legs now and are bothered that they haven't been able to close the deal.
Rita and Yvette 11:17 AM They say they don't know if other teams see them as a threat, then add "They should."
Frankie and Amy 11:56 AM They are very, very excited they are going back to their home province with an Express Pass in their hands.
Joel and Ashley 11:57 AM. Their only line is, "Haida Gwaii, British Columbia."
Julie and Lowell 12:18 PM. They don't know where Haida Gwaii is, but think it should be a fun leg anyway.
Jillian and Emmett 12:56 PM. Coming in last [actually 2nd last] was a wake up call and now it is going to be a huge push to get back to where they want to be. [1st place]

Only 2 hours and 28 minutes separate first from last place, but it doesn't matter. It's a long way from Ho Chi Minh City to Haida Gwaii, resulting in the trip being another equalizer. Teams flew into Taipei, connected to Vancouver, then on to Sandspit, B.C. Here they must jump into a Chevy Volt and take the ferry to the village of Skidegate in Haida Gwaii.

The first task is at the Haida Heritage Museum, where Haida dancers greet them. This is a Roadblock called "Who wants the inside story?" One person from each team must listen to 6 storytellers who give them details of the story behind 6 totems, as well as the Master Carver who created each. They must then identify the totem and name the Master Carver to receive their next clue.

Kristen gets it on her first attempt, realizing the key is to pick out 1 or 2 characteristics of each totem, and then simply memorize the name. One of the most endearing moments of the episode happens when one of the storytellers - a young woman named Alice, whispers to Ashley, "Ashley Callingbull?" Proud Papa Joel looks on, telling us how his daughter is a role model for Aboriginal girls. Then as Joel and Ashley leave the task, the ceremonial dancers cheer them on. Meanwhile Kate is the third to succeed, after her and Amy ask Ashley for the last two names. Amy uses that information to finish fourth, and runs right past Jillian, Julie and Rita, ignoring them when they ask for help. I hope it doesn't come back to haunt her at some point. You know, that Karma thing. Julie is the next to finish, then stays to help Jillian and Rita. Rita succeeds, then she and Julie call the last name back to Jillian who is now the last one there. But as Jillian finishes, she scoots ahead of Julie and Rita. Tsk, tsk. Now that's bad Karma.

From here, teams must make their way to Spirit Lake Trail, then walk to the end of the trail for a simple and quick Route Marker task. They must put together two sets of puzzle pieces, each being a work of contemporary Haida art. The puzzle pieces are cut along the lines of the work, so if you have ever seen aboriginal art you will know this means the pieces will have some very unique, curved shapes. In addition, the pieces are matt and coloured on the top, and glossy black on the bottom. Artist Ben Davidson is the judge for this. It should have been simple and quick, but it gave most of the teams a hard time. Steph and Kristen are the first to finish, followed by Jillian and Emmett who stop to repay Julie and Lowell with a few tips. Just trying to clean up that Karma. Joel and Ashley are right behind Jillian and Emmett on the path running back to the cars, when Jillian unknowingly drops her clue. I believe in Karma, but I don't think Karma works that way. Jillian wouldn't have dropped it otherwise. Or maybe that was Karma telling Jillian she needs to clean it up a bit more. Joel and Ashley notice the clue on the ground. Emmett wants to delay Joel and Ashley while Jillian looks for the clue, so he asks them where they are supposed to go. Meanwhile, Rita & Yvette, Julie & Lowell, and Frankie & Amy finish their puzzles. Kelly and Kate are the last to leave, falling way behind because they were trying to fit the glossy black underside of the pieces into the puzzle. Yes, it's a slap your head could they not have noticed this before?

From here, teams must drive to Queen Charlotte City, then board seaplanes to fly them into Prince Rupert on the B.C. mainland. Steph and Kristen are the first to depart. They are not yielding their lead on this. Of course the flight is gorgeous, prompting the TAR theme to play while the girls are landing.

Okay, I really must tell you that I watched the teams come in that day. No, I wasn't there. You see, there is a nice webcam pointed at the docks. I can tell you that the seaplanes were very well coordinated, with a 10 to 15 minute gap between arrivals. It was extremely interesting to watch the timing and movements of production. At one point, a saucy Mike Bickerton walked right up to the webcam and looked in...telling all us race-chasers he knew that we we were there. We knew, that he knew, that we knew. You know what I mean?

Seven shiny 2016 Camaros are lined up at the docks waiting for the teams to drive into Prince Rupert. Once there, they must locate a statue of Charles Melville Hays. All Jon tells us is that Hays was the city's founder, and nothing else. I am a little disappointed they didn't elaborate. Hays was an American businessman and previous CEO of the Grand Trunk Railway who was responsible for bringing the transcontinental railway to Prince Rupert. He traveled to England to find support for his endeavors, but was unfortunate enough to board the Titanic for his return voyage. His body was recovered and was buried in Mont Royal Cemetery in Montreal. I also feel there might have been more to this task, possibly an edited out task...because teams were seen reading the historical plaque in front of the statue - Frankie and Amy were even seen writing something down. Or maybe they just took it upon themselves to read it, in case the information became pertinent later on. Meh. Anyway, the clue directs them to the next task, which strangely is another Roadblock called "Who's ready to log on?"

Teams must drive to Cow Bay Marina and catch a water taxi out to the task location. Note, the taxis are 20 minutes apart. The team member who did not do the Roadblock in Haida Gwaii must do this one: Steph; Emmett; Frankie; Joel;  Yvette; Lowell; and Kate. They must steer a little tugboat (called a dozer) and move 3 bundles of logs (called a boom) marked with a red flag from one side of their lane to the other. The problem is there are a lot of booms in the way, all of which must be moved first. That's when I was distracted by Jon calling the little tugboats "dozers." Yeah, you guessed it, my mind wandered off and all I could think of were the Doozers from...what was the name of that kids show? That Jim Henson Muppet thing with the old guy and the scruffy dog. Oh, crap. As it turns out, these dozer tugboats are very wobbly. A lot like Weebles. Keep on wobbling but they don't fall down. UGH. Some other damn kids' thing. And all that wobbling makes them very hard to control.

No one has an easy time with this task, except maybe Emmett. Once they successfully move all 3 of their booms, they must catch the water taxi back to dock then drive to the Pitstop at the North Pacific Cannery. Built over 100 years ago, it is a National Historic Site and a fairly long drive.  Here is what happened:

Steph and Kristen manage to hold off Jillian and Emmett and win the leg. In fact, they didn't give up first place all throughout the leg. I'm very impressed. They win a trip for two to New York City. Now their only problem is everyone finding out about that little lie. Uh, oh. Of course the edit made it seem like the race to the mat was tight but the girls had a 20 minute jump on the BB-ers, thanks to the water taxi.
Jillian and Emmett take 2nd, and they think it sucks. They wanted to win the leg. Just a second, I think they must be confusing this show with Big Brother or something. No guys, you don't get Head of Household when you win a leg. It doesn't give you any power. Have you never heard the adage that there is only one leg that you need to win? UGH. These two really need to calm down a bit. And clean up that frigging Karma.

Wait a friggin minute.

Frankie and Amy are third, and they didn't even have to use that Express Pass.
Joel and Ashley are fourth. Don't worry guys, good Karma is on the way soon. I can feel it.
Rita and Yvette, fifth. They put in a good leg, but had a hard time finding Cow Bay Marina. They didn't dance at the Pitstop this leg. Maybe they didn't have a logging dance. Here is one they could have done:

Julie and Lowell are sixth. Poor Lowell had to do the log sorting task, a situation the couple hoped to avoid. As Julie watches Lowell, she calls him "the little blind tugboat that could" - giving the episode it's title. All things considered, he did well and just narrowly beat Kelly.
Kelly and Kate are last and are eliminated. Just as I was starting to like them. That silly puzzle did them in, thus fulfilling the jinx they put on themselves at the beginning of the leg. But I also know they got lost and had to stop to ask directions to Cow Bay Marina. Well, at least they can shop to their hearts' content with that trip to L.A. they won.
Lowell, being Lowell.

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