What sucks more, though, is tearing your Achilles tendon in the second leg of "The Amazing Race" when you have the strong combination of heart, competitive drive, physicality, and smarts needed to complete the televised trip around the world in the top spot. Even worse must be that moment in the fifth round when you realize the jig is up. (This phrase chosen specifically to honor the St. Patrick's Day airdate of this episode, of course.)
On the advice of a surgeon back home, father-and-son cancer survivors Dave and Connor, who managed to hobble their way to two first-place finishes despite the bum leg, finally had to call it quits. They flew from Bali alongside the newlyweds and besties Pam and Winnie to the next pit stop in Vietnam, explaining that they were going to go straight to Phil and excuse themselves. Of course, Max questioned whether they were lying and if this was just more strategic gameplay. Ironically, the two in-the-know teams turned the knowledge into a smart move when they made the other teams believe Dave and Connor had gone to another doctor during the layover and fell behind the pack.
Not surprisingly, there were tears at the mat as Dave repeated that he didn't want to let his son down. Connor's reply didn't leave a dry eye in the house: "My dad has never let me down and never could. He's my hero and best friend. I would rather run four legs with you than run the race with anybody else."
The Twitterverse was also pretty broken up about it.
Still bummed that dave & @coleary00 eliminated themselves but they quit with dignity. imagine how tougher they could have been! strong team.— Daniel (@danieldepe) March 18, 2013
Awh, Conner and Dave are such a great team. Will miss them on #AmazingRace They're inspirational. ☺— Linda⚡Shinoda. (@linodah) March 18, 2013
Moments after being eliminated, Dave & Connor share an emotional goodbye with Phil on the mat:
However, the viewer vibe turned quickly from sad to mad when the Roadblock forced teams to watch a pro-communism song be performed and then run to another room during a five-minute intermission to search rows of political posters for the Vietnamese phrase revealed at the end of the number. Only Pam got it on take one, and it took two more performances, which one of the country blondes likened to "One Direction," for the rest of the pairs to put up the right poster. Later on, a clue was hidden at a memorial of a downed B-52 bomber from the Vietnam War. Reaction ranged from threats to quit watching to labeling it "a strange episode" and "disrespectful to Americans killed there."
Nothing like watching communist bullsh** propaganda on #AmazingRace tonight. Wife had a hard time convincing me not turn that crap off.— Paul Prosise (@PaulProsise) March 18, 2013
#AmazingRace in Vietnam. Aired Communist pop song, showed memorial to shot-down B-52. I thought, "There's Glenn Beck's first hour Monday."— Sean P. Means (@moviecricket) March 18, 2013
The contestants didn't seem fazed by the propaganda. Maybe they were preoccupied with the looming threat of the anonymous double U-turn and the rising tension between two distinct alliances. It's the YouTubers and derby moms versus the newlyweds, country singers, L.A. besties, and hockey brothers. Team Mullet seems to be almost as neutral as they are incompetent. While waiting for a gallery to open, Max fanned the flames by mocking the elimination of "idiots" John and Jessica while they were in possession of the Express Pass.
You couldn't be annoyed with Pam and Winnie this week as they raced like champs. They skipped through the bamboo dance, which gave a few teams trouble when they did it without holding hands like the sample dancers, in what seemed like seconds; meticulously set up a human chess board and quickly corrected a mistake; and didn't regret or hesitate to follow through on their alliance's plan to U-turn the YouTubers. They also, despite coming in first and winning a trip to Whistler, British Columbia, kept level heads about being in the lead. Winnie told Phil, "You never want to feel superconfident because that's when you let your guard down. You can ask John." (One of their many zingers of the evening!)
Max and Katie chose to do the other Detour option -- track down baskets and live chickens by a temple, shop for pho ingredients in precise measurements at a market, and then make two bowls of the national dish to a chef's liking -- and pulled the leg's other smartest move when they found an English speaker to translate the recipe needs to the shopkeepers. Team Mullet played completely the opposite way at every turn. Wynonna was so frustrated with her husband -- who couldn't find the market, wandered aimlessly, didn't grab the chickens, left her to dodge dangerous traffic, and, most important, wasn't listening to her -- that we worried that she'd implode the minute she realized that the YouTubers had U-turned them, even though they were dead last most of the day. It also didn't make sense that Meghan, who claimed to have been turned into "a huge ball of fiery righteousness" after seeing her frowning mug on the flat screen, didn't choose one of the other strong teams who aren't aligned with them and who will surely be more of a threat than the country bumpkins like the country singers or the John-clowning Max.
Fortunately for Team Mullet, who admitted they "may have bit off more than they can chew" with TAR, the Dave DQ meant that no one required Philiminating, and they'll get another shot at the "torturous" competition when it lands in Africa.
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 PM on CBS.