Amazing Race
Triumph And Loss

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Miss Alli: B | Grade It Now!
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Thank You India, Thank You Providence

Cut to a little kid, sort of performing on the street -- and guess how he looks at the camera?

Nancy makes it back to the square. As she pulls up, Emily can see that Mom's in bad shape. "Don't get upset, don't get upset. Get out of the thing, c'mon." Nancy, unhappy as she is, of course pauses to thank her rickshaw driver. As they walk toward a cab, you can see that quite an impressive crowd has gathered, and is now apparently free to devote its full attention to the Momily cab. Nancy and Emily climb into the back of the cab, which is sort of van-like, and leaves them sitting facing each other. Emily reaches over and pats her mom's leg. "We're in last," Nancy moans. "It's okay, Mom, don't worry about it," Emily tries to chirp bravely. Then she gets down to business. "C'mon, where's our damn driver." Aside from the fact that her mom cringes when she says "damn," Emily's doing very well at this point, and she really did just the right thing when her mom came back. "Sir, get in the car, let's go," she says to their driver, insistently but -- I would argue -- not rudely. "Sir?" she goes on as Nancy sits, curled up. (The rickshaw and the things she saw on the street are, I think, obviously taking a heck of a toll on Nancy.)

And here is the very painful scene in which Nancy and Emily try to figure out where the hotel is. Unfortunately, they don't confidently make the connection between the hotel and the Taj Mahal, or they could just get going. To her credit, Emily does suggest this at one point -- "Do you think it's near the Taj Mahal?" -- and the driver immediately says, "No." Thanks, driver. At any rate, they start just leaning out the window at what has become a throng around the cab, just asking people whether they know where the Taj Khema hotel is. This doesn't turn out to be a very good strategy, which Emily figures out before her mom does. Nancy keeps asking and asking, and one woman in particular nods in a way that confuses Nancy and keeps her going down this path that's probably doomed to fail. The woman keeps nodding at the question about whether she knows where it is -- which I'm not blaming her for; it's just a communication problem -- and so Emily starts saying, more and more angrily, "Well, where is it?" The more Emily asks, the more frustrated she gets, and eventually she busts out, "They're stupid," and even as tired and used-up as she is, Nancy has enough of The Power Of Mom left to lay the smackdown. "Stop it! Do not insult them," she says sharply. Emily grabs the back of their driver's shirt, trying to draw his attention to someone who looks like he might know where he's going. "These people are nuts," she finally says, and starts waving her hand in disgust. "Look at 'em!" More people, now with the cab pretty thoroughly surrounded. "Where is this place?" Emily says angrily, slapping the clue in her hand. "Where is the damn hotel?" Back to Nancy. "Don't speak if you have to talk like that," she says. "Emily, I cannot deal with it anymore." It is actually here that Emily says the thing I think she shouldn't have said the most, which is, "Okay, well, why are we in this predicament?" Ouch! Like Nancy doesn't feel rotten enough.

Yes, that's an ugly scene for Emily. Yes, she's way out of line. Yes, she came across like a jerk. But you know what? I think the math here is that you add up Emily's lack of sleep, her lack of regular food, her confusion about the clue, her fear about the unfamiliar circumstances and the mobbing of the cab, some anger about her mom having taken so long to get back (which she feels guilty about, because her mom's crying), and her guilt and discomfort about the poverty she's seeing, and it's not that hard to figure out why you get ugly behavior from her. I'm not excusing it -- she's over the line, no question. But this isn't Amie and Ana in the premiere episode, just leaning out of the car yelling at people that they're stupid because they can't give directions in English. She's scared, and as if the throng of people weren't enough to get her scared, she's experiencing perhaps the scariest thing of all, which is The Moment Your Mom Can't Deal. It's a powerful scene, but fortunately it ends on a better note, as Emily reaches over to comfort her mom again. "Don't worry about it," she says. Cut to Emily, holding her mom, calming her down, cradling her head, stroking her hair -- it's a total role-reversal, and really quite touching. Don't let it distract you from your regularly-scheduled mockery of reality TV, but this last minute or so was actually worth something.

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Amazing Race

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