The Amazing Race Canada might be best known for what it doesn’t do: venture outside of Canada. It’s like Stephen Harper, before he was elected Prime Minister.
But that all changed this week, when the show put its contestants on a 10,000-km flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong.
The reaction from the nine remaining teams was unanimous: WHAAAAAT?!
“The whole world is open now, you know what I mean?” marvelled Mickey from Muskoka, Ont.
(Though, to believe the international airfare truly came as a surprise to the racers is to believe they read this year’s requirement that everyone has to have a passport, and thought that was just in case Pauline Marois won a majority.)
Signing up for The Amazing Race is kind of like signing up for the prepackaged vacation from hell. “Book now! Hong Kong for one night! Fights with your significant other GUARANTEED as you argue over who will eat the soup filled with SNAKE GUTS!!!!”
Weirdly, everyone slurped down the mandatory (and expensive!) snake soup pretty easily—and the toughest part of the race on Tuesday night proved to be a quest to find Canadian maple syrup at a busy market. The two teams who attempted the challenge finished in the bottom two spots. The last ones to arrive—married couple Jackie and Laura—were eliminated from the race.
What changes when The Amazing Race goes abroad is that the challenges no longer need to be physically or mentally demanding on their own. The fact that racers are in a foreign country automatically makes something like grocery shopping a game-changer.
The key is planning for your own disorientation. Rex Harrington and his partner, Bob, for instance, redeemed themselves a little this week, when they called Hong Kong from Vancouver to get detailed instructions about how to take a cab from the airport. This temporarily put them into first place, though they finished in seventh.
The race didn’t absolutely need to leave Canada this summer. Despite the initial criticism, the first season of The Amazing Race flourished in the Canadian confines. You don’t need international airfare to see Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod zoom across a lake on a Jet Ski.
Generally, reality television thrives when interesting personalities clash. It doesn’t matter if The Bachelor‘s dates are staged in Palm Springs or Pittsburgh. You’re watching for the drama when the bachelorettes discover someone else got his first kiss.
But The Amazing Race is a different sort of show; there are no confessionals, no late-night antics. It relies much more heavily on drama within the day’s challenges. If nothing interesting happens when you drop your contestants at a butterfly conservatory in Niagara Falls, Ont., well, the editing team will do their best.
Now the show has made the big leap, it’s going to be fun to see exactly what’s in store for the teams, and where—even if it hasn’t changed the results much yet.
Olympic hockey gold medallists Natalie and Meghan continue to dominate the race, placing first for the third straight week after they used their express pass.
“Ladies, that’s a hat trick,” said host Jon Montgomery, who, last week, observed that the women had “stick-handled their way to glory” and, next week, will undoubtedly declare they are on a “breakaway.”
Despite the easy lead the Olympians are taking, they aren’t the only team worth watching: Mother-son team Nicole and Cormac, and dating couple Audrey and Alain, are going to give them a run for their money.
Well, not so much for the money—let’s be real. The prize everyone is after on this thing is Petro Canada’s offer of GAS FOR LIFE. That’s worth a bowl of snake soup anywhere.