“The Amazing Race” 2102: Balloon Animals and Adongadongs

In the opening Leg of The Amazing Race 21, eleven teams of two flew to China to battle ping pong prodigies and force-feed frog fallopian tubes in their quest to be eligible to double the grand prize for winning the Race. Amy & Daniel foolishly tipped off Abbie & Ryan to the location of Mildred the albacock uccobus abacus lady and were sniped out of their shot at a double payday. Josh & Brent from Team Gay bickered but managed to luck into a seventh place finish and Jaymes, Team Gay’s third member, barely survived, finishing in tenth with partner James. Philiminated were Rob & Sheila, gone before I made even a single Monty Python “He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK” joke.

Also still racing are Natalie & Nadiya (twins), Rob & Kelley (Team Trucker), Trey & Lexi (Team Longhorn), James & Abba (Team Headbang), Caitlin & Brittany (Team Blonde) and Gary & Will (Team Subs).

Phil welcomes us back to Shanghai, which he describes as the “largest and fastest growing city in the world”. He reminds us that Abbie & Ryan snaked the top spot and they rip their clue at 5:35 AM.

They’re excited to learn they’ll be flying to Surabaya, Indonesia, which Phil calls “the city of heroes” which has something to do with the war for Indonesian independence in the 1940s. Once there they’ll travel to the Alun Alun Stadium to receive their next clue. We get our first clue of an unnatural bunch point when the camera pans over a big “Take A Number” sign at the venue.

The winner of this Leg will receive the Express Pass, which will allow that team to skip a future task. Ugh. I was hoping we’d seen the death of the Express Pass this season. No one ever uses it right.

Amy & Daniel rip their clue a heartbreaking minute later. They’re followed by Team Blonde at 5:41, who almost get wiped out by the only car on the road as they run up to a guy with a moped and tell him “we have to get to Indonesia. Indonesia!” I don’t think he can get you there on his bike, ladies.

“I may have to stop and fill up a couple times.”

The twins leave at 6:01 followed by Rob & Kelley at 6:08. We learn that the twins’ parents were the Romeo and Juliet of the Sri Lankan civil war and that Rob was Kelley’s first husband’s best friend and after he was killed in a monster truck accident they ended up falling in love. Which is sweet in a “plot of a number of murder mysteries” sort of way.

“This is literally the last pleasant second we will spend in a cab on this Race.”

Teams arrive at the airport and scramble for flights. Team Trucker finds a flight that leaves at 8:20 with a layover in Hong Kong. Rob says, “It’s the only one” and is immediately proved wrong when everyone else scores tickets for a 10:05 flight without the four hour layover in Hong Kong that team Trucker is saddled with. They fly off alone while the remaining teams all fly together, wondering where Rob & Kelley have gotten to. On their solitary flight, Team Trucker decides they’ve done something either very smart or very dumb.

The mass flight lands in Jakarta. James and Abba score tickets that will get them to Surabaya an hour ahead of everyone else on their flight. They land and it’s dark out which is our second clue that none of this Airport Drama is going to matter one bit. They arrive at the stadium where they take number one of ten toy-looking whips and note that the bull races begin at 8:00 in the morning.

The second flight arrives and everyone rushes for the taxis. Self-proclaimed “superfans” Gary & Will tell their driver to go where everyone else is going, which is so not a superfan move.

They reach the stadium and start pulling numbers. It ultimately ends up not making any difference who gets what numbers so the only thing of any import is that several teams arrive together and there’s a bit of a bump-up as they grab for numbers. But no one throws a punch or anything.

Also? The twins and Team Longhorn have an alliance going. Because there’s so much common ground between Sri Lankan twins and a couple from Texas, I guess?

Some indeterminate time later Team Trucker’s flight takes off and Rob says, “Personally, I think we’re in the lead right now.” Nope! He also suggests that all of the younger more physically fit teams will burn out at some point and “Mom and Pop will roll on up”. And how well has that strategy worked the last twenty Races? I bet the superfans know the answer! Eventually Mom and Pop roll up and claim the last spot. Rob says, “We like being the last team!” That certainly explains your Racing style.

The next morning the stadium opens and Phil exposits that “teams will now witness Kerapan Sapi, the traditional Maduran sport of bull racing.” Each team member will ride along with a professional motorcycle driver as he races against a jockey driving a two bull team. It is…not exciting. They don’t even have to win to get the next clue. Teams go in the order they pulled so there’s no chance of any position changes. One half of Team Headbang shouts “I’m Spartacus!” before his race which makes absolutely no sense, and I do not want to know if he enjoys snails and oysters.


“My ox is broken! This is BULLSH*T!”

The next clue directs Racers to Genteng Kali Bridge, where they find the Roadblock for this Leg. The Roadblock clue is “Who likes to party?” so of course Metal James takes it. Phil explains that the Roadblock requires team members to run a pedal powered children’s ride called an adongadong. While giving four children a ride, they must also make four balloon animals and four balloon hats to present to the children. Once they complete the task, miniature Edith Head will give them their next clue.

“I won eight Oscars and everyone still thinks I’m that cow from
The Incredibles.”

Long-haired rock star James leads his children to the adongadong and they look kind of terrified. Amy & Daniel arrive next and Amy (who you’ll remember has prosthetic legs) takes it. She interviews that she has no problem with a bike and indeed she starts knocking out balloon art. Abbie takes the Roadblock for her team. Gay Jaymes is the next partier and he starts riding the adongadong. Yeah Jaymes, ride that adongadong.

Lexi takes the Roadblock for her team; Nadiya takes it for hers but notes that if it involved “downing 30 bottles of tequila” she’d have given it to her sister. And for this your parents fought a revolution? Josh is up for partying and Caitlin and Will take it for their teams. Rob is tardy to the party in last place and decides he’ll do it.

I played a clown in high school so I am something of an expert on balloon animals and I can tell right away these people are making some rookie mistakes. They’re overinflating and they’re twisting the segments too small.

Lexi, fifth to arrive, finishes and she and Trey leave in first place. They rip their clue and are directed to Wijaya Motor Shop to receive the next one. Amy finishes second, followed by Nadiya. Team Headbang leaves in fourth place followed by Team Chippendale and Abbie & Ryan.

Team Longhorn are first to arrive at the motor shop and rip the clue to discover a Detour. A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. The Detour choices this time are “Ice by the Pound” and “Fish by the Barrel”. In Ice by the Pound, teams have to load ten 65-pound blocks of ice into a truck. They are then transported to a local market where they have to transport the ice in a cart, unload it and stack it. Fish in a Barrel requires teams to travel to the same market and select two barrels of fish. They must then sort through thousands of fish and set up a vendor’s stall.

Given a choice between a brute force sort of task and a “needle in haystack” sort of task it’s usually better to take the brute force one, in this case the ice. Team Longhorn does take the ice but the twins take the fish. They interview about how they were tomboys and the opposite of divas but they certainly shriek like diva women. About everything. They call themselves “the most badass Sri Lankans you’ll ever meet” and, it’s a safe bet. How many Sri Lankans does the average person meet?

Back at the adongadongs Will is struggling and Gary is being intense but supportive. Caitlin and Rob finish and now Team Subs are alone in last place.

After the commercial break Will regains some composure and finishes his first balloon animal. Yikes.

Rob & Kelley and Amy & Daniel are being driven around aimlessly in cabs. Kelley unleashes a stream of profanities while Amy & Daniel just look defeated. Team Headbang’s driver takes them to Wijaya Tire. Still paying off the Kab Karma from last Leg.

Team Chippendale and Abbie & Ryan both decide to haul ice. Will finally finishes the Roadblock.

Amy spots something called Wijaya Brothers but that’s not it. “Wajaya” is apparently the “Johnson” of Indonesia. Rob & Kelley are getting uglier and uglier with their cabbie, which makes perfect sense from a tactical standpoint, to berate the person transporting your Ugly American asses around.

Josh & Brent decide on Ice by the Pound. Meanwhile the twins are dunking their entire heads inside barrels of dead fish as they finish the Detour first.

They rip the clue that directs them to the Pit Stop. Phil, still rocking his Panama hat, exposits that teams must search the market to find the Amazing Mat. The first team to check in will win the Express Pass and the last team to check in “may” be Philiminated.

Abbie & Ryan get their Pit Stop clue at about the same time and after a brief back-and-forth between the two, Phil, accompanied by a greeter with disgustingly long fingernails on one hand, sees the twins emerge from the crowd.

“Palmolive? I’ve been soaking in it!”

One of them gives Phil a big hug and fweeet! Flag on the play! No one, and I mean no one, manhandles Phil! Phil snarks, “Oh my god, you guys stink! Thank you for sharing your smell with me!” before checking them in as team number one and presenting them with the Express Pass. They interview that they’ve been thinking about the Express Pass “since day one”. You mean, yesterday?

Trey & Lexi arrive shortly thereafter and are checked in as team number two.

Team Headbang and team Blonde both arrive at the Detour and both take Ice.


Jaymes & James finish the Detour and arrive at the mat in third place. Ryan & Abbie dump their ice, shattering it, but get the go-ahead to bring it on in. I was wondering whether broken ice would trigger a return trip for new blocks. They arrive at the mat in fourth. Josh & Brent move up two slots to fifth place.

“Team Gay, represent!”

Rob & Kelley and Amy & Daniel? Still in taxicab hell. Rob keeps getting nastier, berating his driver to random passers-by. Amy just looks stumped.

James & Abba finish their ice and get checked in in sixth place. Team Blonde’s delivery cart gets stuck in a rut and we think it’s going to tip but they make it over with no damage. They stack their ice and check in as team number seven.

Team Trucker and Team Subs arrive at the Detour at the same time. Gary asks the other team which task they’re doing and they tell him Ice. Team Subs decides to do Ice as well. No, sorry superfans, you’re wrong. The exception to the brute force rule is when you’re running at the back of the pack and the only chance of getting ahead of another team is to do the needle-in-haystack task. The correct choice for you here was Fish. In the back of their transport truck Will’s beating himself up over his balloon handling; Gary morosely concludes they’re in last place.

Nope, you still have Amy & Daniel behind you, still with no idea where the motor place is. She wants to call information but gets the 411 from a local that there is no information in Indonesia. Finally they spot the place and choose Ice.

Team Trucker unloads their ice and checks in as team number eight. So we have to put up with their nastiness for another week. I was really hoping Rob would get to stay in his beloved last place.

Amy & Daniel are in the back of their truck, hoping someone else is having as bad a time as they are. Right on cue, Gary & Will dump their ice on the ground and Gary flips.

They get their ice chunks put away and rip the Pit Stop clue. Gary Bitter Bettys about how his dream of a lifetime is over and refuses to run in search of the mat. Good, then just sit right down in the middle of the market and cry. This is Leg Two and you’re already at “I quit”? You suck.

Unfortunately the whiners stumble across the mat before the team who’s actually looking for it do and they live to whinge another day. “We’re going all the way! We’re going all the way!” they yell. Oh, shut up.

Amy & Daniel check in last and are Philiminated.


The Amazing Rankings

Philiminated with Extreme Prejudice: Amy & Daniel. Proof that what looks like a good team on paper doesn’t always translate into a successful Race.

Hopelessly Lost but Making Good Time: Amy & Daniel and Rob & Kelley. Both teams did well with the tasks but took far too long getting from one to the next.

Don’t Make Me Come Back There: Rob & Kelley. This season’s poster children for the Ugly American stereotype, they started out seeming so nice and so quickly devolved into gross.

Cruising: Natalie & Nadiya. They are still shrieking way too much, but they were the first to finish the Roadblock, the first to finish the Detour and of course first to the Pit Stop. It’s hard to argue with that kind of success.

And because Team Trucker’s general ickiness and Team Subs’ quitting spirit marred an otherwise solid episode, I can only give this leg Four Phlying Phils.