Amazing Race
Tears of a Clown

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Into the Rough

"I don't cry very often," Cherie says from the back seat of the last-place car after the ads. I guess we'll have to take her word on that, since we just met her twenty minutes ago and she's spent one of them crying. Dave is appropriately reassuring. Cherie makes the obligatory remark, "Tears of a clown."

The lead teams are approaching the fourth airport of this leg, and I happen to pause just as the subtitle is identifying Brendon and Rachel as "PhD Student & Event Hostess," while Rachel and Dave are "Army Wife & Combat Pilot." This Dave seems happy to be at an airport, unsurprisingly. But Art is the first to get to the clue box, and it's a Roadblock whose introductory question asks who has a great sense of direction. Art takes it and learns that this is what he has to do: "Find your partner after they have jumped out of an airplane." So it sounds like really, neither of them gets to sit this one out. If this is introducing a new breed of Roadblock that nobody skips, I'm all for it. The title of this activity is "'X Marks the Spot," and Phil explains that one racer from each team will use a map to find the landing site where their partner will land after a 10,000-foot skydive. Don't worry, it's a tandem jump so each racer will be strapped to a pro. Or to rephrase, Rachel will be strapped to a pro, alas. Once they meet up again on the ground, the jumpmaster will give them their next clue. Rachel nominates Brendon to do the Roadblock. Dave takes this one, not caring what it is, until he realizes that his Rachel is the one who's going to be jumping out of the plane. "I was completely demoralized," Dave interviews. Wow, he's taking this hard for a guy who's spent a year in Iraq. The blonde federal agent, Jamie, will be taking this (meaning Nary will be doing the jumping), and Vanessa is pretty excited to learn she's jumping out of a plane when Ralph takes it for their team. As for the twins, Elliot will be going up in the air while Andrew does the Roadblock on the ground (I could get used to this thing with the different-looking twins).

They all head into the hangar, where the "non-participants" are strapped into their harnesses. JJ in particular is dreading the whole skydiving thing: "I think you're playing with death." As opposed to working for the border patrol. Didn't he see what happened to Treat Williams in Flashpoint? The first group of skydivers (JJ and the Rachels) head out to the tarmac and board the small plane with their tandem divers, while their partners consult the map they've all been given identical copies of. Major Dave and Art work together, Dave calling it an "interagency coordination." You can totally tell he's a military pilot by how he uses very particular and precise vocabulary that would sound dorky coming from someone else, i.e. someone who doesn't know thirteen ways to kill you without standing up. They quickly figure out that they have about a three-mile drive. Wait, so all the skydivers are going to be landing in one place? What fun is that? I thought they were going to be sprinkled all over South America like sesame seeds on a bagel. What a rip-off.

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Amazing Race

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