Things heated up in The Amazing Race last night and it was almost too much for Mark as the teams fumbled their way through a Bollywood dance routine. In what was one of my favorite episodes ever, we also got a cricket challenge and a lesson in taxi driving as we reached Cochin, India.
Poor Mark had had enough. The Indian heat and the pressure from a quite demanding Bollywood choreographer almost had him beat. Even his partner Bopper begged him to give in, but he wouldn’t. They did have a massive fall from grace, though as they began the race in first place. But they were battling against the odds as a medic ordered Bopper to put his knee in a brace when he just wanted to push on to try to win.
Ralph and Vanessa managed to squander a lead. They got an earlier arrival from their travel agent but then they had fallen to fourth place just ahead of Mark and Bopper and his busted knee by the time they got on a bus. They probably regretted getting on the bus, though. Mr. Toad is a road safety expert compared to this bus driver.
They arrived shaken at a field full of Bollywood extras. They had to learn and perform a Bollywood routine well enough to please the strict choreographer. No chance! This guy was out for perfection. This was a true challenge unlike most of the others we see on The Amazing Race.
Dave was confident. After all, “Rachel was a high school dance phenomenon.”
J.J. tried to pass the task on to Art, but he was having none of it. “No way, man, I did the last dance,” he said of the water bottle balancing debacle.
So eventually, J.J., Rachel, Vanessa, Rachel and Mark got dressed up like Bollywood dancers and started learning the routine.Rachel was great. At her first attempt she grabbed the race card and moved on to the next challenge. Things went less well for J.J. who sweated and struggled with the precise dance moves, complaining that he felt like “a fat Elvis.” Art thought he was more like “a gorilla in chiffon.” Go on, tell me you didn’t laugh. I did!
Ralph was glad he had a girl on his team for the dance challenge, but as Brendon felt he had to point out, they can be emotional. Don’t you just love the dated gender stereotypes! OK, so Rachel came unhinged after she failed the dance routine three times, but that’s more because she’s an unstable mess than the fact she’s a woman.
Dave and Rachel got their next card from an Indian coffee shop and had a choice between two detours: Cricket or Clutch It. With Cricket, each team member was required to bat a ball past a pro cricket player (in the air or on the ground). In Clutch It, each person had to drive a rickshaw taxi through a training course without hitting any of the poles. They picked Clutch It and they did pretty well, apart from some domestics.
Poor Mark had a horrendous time in the dance routine. He’d already been sick on the bus and was struggling with the smog. Bopper, “normally the dance man,” reluctantly agreed that Mark had to be the one to do this task.
Vanessa completed the dance on her third attempt, and Rachel on her fourth. J.J. ended up finishing a lot earlier than he or his teammate expected, and so Mark and Bopper were once again left in last place.
“It’s one hundred degrees and I can’t move,” Mark said. “But I’m gonna do this or die.” Bopper tried to stage an intervention: “Wrap up, man. It’s time to go home. To hell with that money, I want my buddy and you got no more to give.” But in spite of that, Mark insisted on continuing. “I got to,” he wheezed.
Meanwhile, Ralph and Vanessa had gone the clutch route and Teams Big Brother and Border Patrol attempted the cricket challenge.
J.J. and Brendon managed to bat a ball past the pro catchers and to the target line. But to my surprise Rachel actually managed to complete the cricket task before Art. “I hope it was a good feeling to know they both got beat by a girl,” Rachel gloated to the camera later.Their fifth first-place finish won them a trip to St. Lucia.
Brendon and Rachel got second place followed closely by Team Border Patrol. The Dating Divorcees rolled in later, though still hours ahead of Team Kentucky.
After failing eleven attempts, Mark was gasping for air and seriously considering quitting the entire Race. “We gave it everything we’d had, let’s pack up and go home,” Bopper insisted. “We come here friends, we gonna leave friends.”
By that point, Mark was so physically drained that he was legitimately concerned about having a heart attack. “It broke me down,” he said. “I just thought that a million dollars is not worth not walking my kids down the aisle, not going to my youngest’s ball games.”
The choreographer tried to get him to continue and then strangely so did Bopper. Had he got inside info?
“Let’s finish it for our kids,” he said.
So Mark changed into fresh clothes and finally got through on his twelfth attempt. The routine seemed no better to me but I was willing the choreographer to pass him for sheer perseverance at this point.
Bopper got really emotional about Mark on the finish mat.
“For me, he’s family. Everybody can use some extra money, but you can’t replace this guy.”
And guess what? This turned out to be another non-elimination round so Mark and Bopper lived to fight another day. That is the second time there has been a non-elimination round when they came in last. That is in two out of three cases so now I want them to buy me lottery tickets.
What did you think to Mark’s efforts and their save? Can Rachel’s relationship survive much longer? Check back here next week to find out.