New York City
Editor's Note: Pop-culture correspondent Trisha Lynn returns as a guest scribe to Tao of Poker.
Hope you are well while being embedded with hippies. Did you say to Benjo for me?
The longer I watch this show, the more invested I become in wanting to make sure that the Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle that are on TV are perceived "correctly" by an audience that is getting to know them for the very first time. And when I say "correctly," I mean not as lesbians or not with Maria being seen as a useless lump for not being able to do the more physical challenges. However, tonight's episode made that wish just that much harder.
In the pre-titles recap, we focus on the GayBros. initial strategy of not revealing that they're gay and Canaan's total douchebaggery towards Mika for not being able to go down a really tall and steep waterslide when she's afraid of both heights and water. They rehash the "Pokah, pokah, pokah" chant that I really hated from the first extra-long episode, and even finding out from Maria's Twitter feed that she's not only still in touch with Sam and Zev but she and Tiffany spent Halloween in Nashville with her "Racer fam" doesn't erase the ire I still felt upon seeing that clip again.
Tonight, they start off in Dubai again, at the Atlantis, the Palm resort and since it's still daylight, it doesn't look like they got to spend the night here. That's okay, as rooms here cost only $500 USD a night in the off-season, so I don't feel nearly as bad this time around. By the way, the resort itself is shaped like a palm tree and cost more than $12 billion USD to create. That's your fuel consumption money at work, ladies and gentlemen.
From Dubai, they have to fly to Amsterdam, get into a rental vehicle and drive to a 19-mile long causeway where they have to find a monument in the middle of the road and get their next clue. Since Meghan and Cheyne are the first to leave, they're the first to find out that the next flight leaves at midnight, which means that everyone will start off on an even footing again once they touch down in the Netherlands. On the way to the airport, the girls say that they're used to being able to gauge themselves and their opponents and break out more terminology by saying that they know when to get out of pots that they shouldn't be in. This pronouncement will prove prophetic.
Once the Globetrotters get to the food court where all the other Racers are hanging out, they recap to the other teams what happened with Douchebag and Whiny Britches, and Sam and Dan come out as being gay to everyone else. "Now, the matching swimsuits makes sense!" says one person, and they reply that it was their mom's idea. Of course, the editing cuts to the an interview with the girls, who say that gay or straight, it doesn't matter because they're sweet and adorable. Tiffany adds, though, that "Maybe there's a little teardrop" and she wipes away an imaginary tear from her eye.
When they get to the vehicles, Maria drives again and this time she doesn't back into a pole on the way out of the garage. She does get to smirk about Mr. America not being able to start the vehicle: "Oh, these kids aren't used to luxury cars." By the time they pick up the clue at the causeway, they've dropped back down to fifth place, and then there's more driving to a town called Groningen where one team member has to climb a narrow, winding staircase to the top of the tallest building, count all the bells in the carrillon along the way, and once they've arrived at the correct number, they'll receive the next clue.
When the girls get there, Tiffany immediately volunteers to do it, and I inwardly groan, knowing that every TAR-phile in America is booing and hissing at Maria right now. The Farmers get the answer right first and don't share the info. Sam, however, proves that he's a gentleman and not only did he work with Meghan to get it right, he whispers the answer to Tiffany on his way down. His reasoning is that the girls are a team that they can beat, and I hate to admit it, but he is 100% correct on that part.
Thanks to Sam's hint, the girls are in fourth place now, and the next task is to drive to another part of town where they have to find a windmill and get their next clue and perform one of two tasks: Farmer's Game or Farmer's Dance.
At first, it looks like Dance is the easier of the tasks, because in order to complete that one, they have to do one of those "strong men" bell-ringing games, learn a traditional folk dance to the approval of the townspeople, and eat a pickled herring covered in onions. Game is a task where they have to swim across a creek and play three holes of "golf" using clubs made of wooden clogs on sticks. If they can get under Par 8 on each hole, they'll get the next clue.
Oh, did I forget to mention that they'd also be bicycling to these locations while wearing traditional Dutch male and female costumes, down to the underwear? And that for the creek part, they have to strip down to said underwear? Yeah, when I text-messaged you and said that this episode was full of crack, this was the part I meant.
When the girls get to the windmill, Maria tells Tiffany, "I think I'm good at both; just tell me what you're better at." The girls choose Dance, and it's so freaking cute to see them take off on their bikes, with Maria dressed in the male costume. The clogs are swimming on both of the girls' feet making it difficult to ride the bikes, but they eventually get to the fair where they try to ring the bell...
...and try, and try...
...and finally give up after over 27 attempts to go do the golfing thing. This is where we learn that Maria and Tiffany don't know how to swim because they're given life vests and have to ease into the water and backstroke across. The Dutch underwear looks like a unitard (remember those things?) and if it weren't for the fact that they can't seem to get their oversized golf balls down the first "fairway" seeing them in them would be so hilarious.
"I can't hit that thing [the bell-ringer]," Tiffany says to Maria on the golf course during one of their many attempts, "and you can't, so we gotta focus on this." I totally love Tiffany in this moment.
Maria replies, "We're not going to be able to do this; look at them!" referring to the Farmers who are way ahead of them. Tiffany then says, "Let's try and hit the stupid thing."
At this point, I'm wondering if Tiffany backed down too easily. I mean, how hard could it have been to do the golf game? One of those clubs is lighter than the hammer, and even though it's irregularly shaped, it would take less energy to do, right?
Back at the fairgrounds, I'm comparing the two girls' hammer-swinging technique and while Tiffany is using the full weight of her swing, Maria is trying to figure out how to do it in a cerebral way, like she's thinking that shorter, more forceful blow will get the widget to the bell. They're getting more and more frustrated, and then Tiffany says, "Let's hug it out for a minute." They do just that, and the cameraman even swoops around the two of them in a loving embrace while they sniffle. It's the kind of moment that calls for a tinkly piano or a sad violin or something like that. Maria says to Tiffany, "You're my hero; I've never heard you say you can't do something," and my heart is breaking. Just breaking. They go back to the golf course where the wind has picked up, making the task more difficult because they had to re-cross the creek and now they're weaker after having swung the hammer about over 70 times in total.
Even with Mr. and Mrs. America incurring a 30 minute penalty for forgetting to pick up the bikes at the windmill, they are still able to check-in at fifth place, which automatically makes our girls the team that gets eliminated in this episode. However, they don't get eliminated at the mat because remember what they said before about getting out of pots you know you shouldn't be in? Tiffany and Maria decide that since they can't complete either task, they're going to quit the Race.
By the time host Phil Keoghan gets out to the field, the girls already have their exit lines planned. Maria says to Tiffany, "I wouldn't have been able to make it this far without you" while Tiffany explains their move by not saying that they're quitting but by saying "We do not foresee that we'll be able to finish this task with the weather." Even through my sadness, I notice that Tiffany is wearing a pullover and Maria is not, which means that someone must have given it to her because there's no way she could have gotten it across the river without it getting wet.
There's more platitude-sharing and of course the promo for next week, but at this point, I'm actually too sad to take it in.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Many of the TAR-philes who have seen this show through its 14 previous seasons have mentioned that the two things you need to be successful in this Race is teamwork and strength. They've also said that too many of the show's tasks are weighted against female players.
Over the last six weeks, there's no doubt in my mind that Maria and Tiffany make a great team. When there were difficulties, they supported each other and they knew each other's weaknesses and compensated for them. Despite their initial misstep in lying about what they do for a living, their other initial strategy in making friends with the GayBros worked to their advantage all along the way and I give them props for that as well.
Their ultimate downfall was the fact that they were an unbalanced team. Week after week, we saw Tiffany take on almost all the demanding solo physical challenges and the way this game is designed, towards the later half of the show Maria would have been forced to do them if they'd been able to continue.
Oh well, at least they'll have a chance at $1 million USD at the WSOP, right? And they won't have to herd ducks or eat wasabi bombs to get that money, either.
I missed the episode because I was still at the Phish Halloween Festival in Indio, CA. I'll take a peek when I get home. I gotta say that I'm a little bummed out the the girls did not make it to the Final Four teams.
At any rate, I loved your recaps (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, and Week 5). Thanks again for sharing them with me. What would I do without you?
I owe you dinner and then some.
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