The Amazing Race Review, Season 21, Episode 5, “Chill Out, Freak”
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
It’s time for killer fatigue! There’s only so long that teams can deal with limited sleep, intense stress, and small quantities of food before they start dropping. When these factors are added to excessive heat and grueling challenges, the likelihood of a breakdown only grows. Players start making mistakes and have trouble with tasks they would normally complete without a hitch. With only seven teams remaining, this also felt like the right time for a non-elimination leg. The tasks are usually more physically demanding in those instances to keep the excitement high. If no one’s going to exit, the producers don’t want viewers throwing up their hands in disgust. Despite the lack of a departing pair, this week remains exciting because of the higher difficulty level. Bangladesh is not an easy place to navigate, and even the stronger competitors struggle to finish this leg.
Because “Chill Out, Freak” stays in the city of Dhaka, it gives a huge edge to James and Abba. They completed the Fast Forward last week, so leaving hours in front of most teams guarantees them a spot at the top. They stay right there for the entire leg and take first place once again. This is the case where the Fast Forward is more powerful because of the design of the follow-up leg. Prior to the start, James gets unfortunate news that his father’s cancer is Stage 4 and has no chance of remission. This adds emotional weight to the experience and is almost certainly distracting. Even so, they plow though the challenging leg and remain in the front. Everyone must first head to the busy Jatrabari Boro Bazar to find a vendor selling eggplants. From there, the next step is going to Ferry Ghat Road for the Roadblock. This challenge seems pretty straightforward, but it takes an eye for detail to avoid getting stuck for a long time.
The “not heavy” Roadblock requires players to build an ancient scale out of wood and ropes and then balance rocks with a specific amount of wood. The second part is easy, but correctly building the structure is a different story. Abbie is the first to struggle with the task while Nadiya blows by her and into second place. The show is making a really big deal about the drama between these teams, but it seems pretty harmless. Abbie and Ryan don’t like the twins’ enthusiasm, but they’re mostly angry because they were passed once again. His arrogance is all over this week’s episode and makes him embody the “tool” label given by Natalie and Nadiya. When they reach the Pit Stop in second place, he complains because they didn’t move a step closer to matching Dave and Rachel’s record of top finishes. It’s good to have high expectations, but that seems like too much. Ryan also talks about wanting to be the greatest team that’s ever competed on the race. Get in line, buddy.
Josh and Brent have a rough leg and struggle to find the marked taxi stand. Their situation gets even worse when Brent reaches the Roadblock. He misses a pivotal detail about the ropes, which allows the monster truckers to stay ahead. By the time Brent finishes, they’re in desperate shape and must hope another team stumbles to avoid last place. It’s clear in this task that the nasty heat is affecting players, and it will only get worse. The Detour gives the choice between “Bamboo Jungle” and “Straw Dogs”, and neither is easy. Everyone but Abbie and Ryan takes the first choice, which requires them to haul large pieces of bamboo through the streets of Dhaka. The pieces are different sizes, and the longer ones even smack locals along the way. The big movers during this task are Rob and Kelley, who use their strength from lifting giant tires to pass several teams. They finish in fourth just behind Natalie and Nadiya, who continue to shine and end up third. It’s interesting that several of the top teams are surprised to not be first. Did they forget about James and Abba? The rockers were so far ahead that they didn’t even register on the radar.
“Straw Dogs” sends Abbie and Ryan to Latif Bawani Jute Mill to “hackle” the jutes to by whipping them into nails to separate the fibers. The next step is folding them properly, which proves to be a challenge. Even so, this appears easier than transporting the heavy bamboo. James and Jaymes barely hold it together while dragging their cargo to the final destination. Unfortunately, their hasty departure leaves three pieces on the ground. It’s brutal to watch them trudge all the way back with the bamboo to retrieve the final items. Both guys are about ready to pass out, which shows the extreme difficult of the situation. This task would be challenging in better weather, and adding the oppressive heat nearly sends them to last place. Josh and Brent try to catch up, but it is clear they’re too far behind. Their saving grace is the non-elimination leg, which is almost a certainty at this point. They will encounter a Speed Bump next week, but that’s usually a very easy task like tying knots are sitting on a block of ice. Even if they survive the upcoming episode, they are not one of the top contenders. Most of the remaining teams are definitely capable of sending the goat farmers packing in the near future.