If aliens from another planet were to watch this week’s episode of The Amazing Race Canada to gather intel, what would they make of us?
It’s an important question, not so much to help counter the invasion, but because there’s nothing Canadians care about more than how others perceive them.
Although we’re known for friendliness (and Rob Ford), we also like to think we’re a hardy people—active and outdoorsy. We are a nation that banishes our young to live in the woods for an annual ritual known as Summer Camp.
The aliens, scrutinizing the show from their spacecrafts, would not know any of this.
This week, the 10 remaining teams raced through the stunning natural beauty of Vancouver Island, while making some cringe-worthy miscalculations.
The earliest sign of trouble was when married Halifax couple Shawn and Jen jumped into a cab in Victoria and asked to go from there to Tofino, cities that are about as far apart as Toronto and Ottawa. They were supposed to fly there, which the cab driver helped them to figure out.
The farther the teams got from the B.C. capital, the clearer it became that there are no innate Canadian survival instincts.
Tasked with sorting different types of fish in Tofino, Montreal couple Alain and Audrey panicked over how similar they all looked, with Alain suggesting that maybe one type has its mouth open and one type has its mouth closed. (Science says no.)
At this same challenge, brother-sister team Sukhi and Jinder correctly sorted the fish, but didn’t get the nod to move on. What were they missing? They were missing an entire fish, which Sukhi had lost down her pants, without noticing. To add insult to injury, CTV encouraged viewers to tweet about the incident with the hashtag #FishInMyPants. No one tell the Scandinavians.
Shortly after this, Sukhi and Jinder—driving an electric car for the first time—stopped to charge the car when it still had 450 km left on it.
But by far the greatest blow to the Canadian ego on Tuesday night was when ballet legend Rex Harrington and his fiancé, Bob, failed to complete two challenges in a row. They gave up trying to surf, then gave up trying to build a chair out of driftwood and rope, and accepted a six-hour penalty.
Two things salvaged our collective reputation on Tuesday night.
One, our hockey players are still the best in the world. At everything. Olympic gold medalists Natalie and Meaghan finished in first place for a second straight week.
“As it turns out, I can kinda surf,” shrugged Meaghan.
The second consolation prize: health care. We still have it, and it’s still free. When surfing didn’t come quite as naturally for Shawn, an ambulance took him to Tofino General Hospital to repair his dislocated shoulder.
In the U.S., this might mean a spinoff series about Shawn taking a second job in order to pay his medical bills. But he emerged from the hospital in relatively good spirits, with a cast but not a bill.
Shawn and Jen were forced to withdraw from the race because of the injury, meaning Rex and Bob—after waiting out their six-hour penalty—are still in the race.
Their unexpected survival means they’ll get to head to Hong Kong next week, when The Amazing Race Canada leaves the country for the first time ever, and we’ll see if the teams have better instincts in big cities.