Eight teams started the fifth leg of the sixteenth edition of Amazing Race
from a mobile point at a chateau in Epernay, France. With Jeff and Jordan
targeted for elimination from their last-place showing on the prior leg
, the teams break bread at Defontaine Boulanger in Sainte-Menehould, France; travel to a military base camp in Massiges, France, where they must either tackle Morse Code or an Army Crawl; and confront a blind U-Turn before cycling on a leg of the traditional Tour de France from the Church of Massiges to the pit stop at Wargemoulin-Hurlus.
This is one of those legs where team placements rarely change barring a horrible mistake. Louie and Michael
replicate their first place from the previous leg, Steve and Allie
continue strong with another second place showing, and the slower teams remain in the back of the pack. The real drama comes from Louie and Michael’s decision to put Joe and Heidi
up for elimination with the U-Turn, thus setting up a battle between them and last-place Jeff and Jordan. While Jeff and Jordan handle the speed-bump task of shoring up a trench with ease (their real speed bump is their inability to navigate), in the end -- spoiler alert! -- Morse Code proves an impossible task and Joe and Heidi are eliminated.
A big error in judgment this leg is Joe’s decision to talk up their team at the back of the bus, which annoyed Louie and Michael to no end. There is nothing to gain from talking yourself up -- especially on a crowded bus where everyone can hear you. During our season, my sister and I went into the race with a very specific plan to praise and flatter other . The original plan was to talk up Jennifer and Preston
, but they eliminated themselves quickly. So we talked up Luke
for his observational skills, encyclopedic knowledge of the Race
, and scary competitiveness. We also talked up Kris
for his intimidating physicality.
Fortunately, Luke U-Turned Kris and Amanda
, not us. But here, every team knew to avoid the Morse Code task given how hard it would be to learn how to decipher the fast-paced code under a high-stress situation (except perhaps Brandy
, who proclaimed that “smart would do Morse Code” while “dumb ” would crawl in the mud), so it was very likely anyone forced to complete that task would be eliminated. Joe and Heidi’s only mistake, then, was to become Louie and Michael’s target.
Even though Joe and Heidi's braggadocio led to their elimination, this week’s biggest mistake, though, belongs to Louie and Michael. They correctly understood that if you U-Turn someone, you should plan on landing a lethal blow. But if you’re going to eliminate a team, you should base that decision on your biggest threat, not whom you happen to be most annoyed with. As much as Louie thought Joe needed to be taught a lesson, Joe was limping and his team, while strong, was consistently in the middle. The real threat at this point is either Steve and Allie (who recently found their groove with two consecutive second places) or Jet and Cord
(who have two first place finishes). Watching this leg unfold, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Louie and Michael just gave the $1 million to another team.
I’ll close with a couple of random thoughts. Jeff and Jordan -- way to survive a rough leg and the speed bump! And a special note to Jordan Pious
-- I understand from Marcus Lehman
(of Survivor: Gabon
) that you’re mad I made fun of your manual transmission skills. No worries -- I’m not much better! I nearly skidded off the road in Novosibirsk, Russia. I share your pain. -- Victor JihTell us: Could anyone have conquered the Morse Code task? Who do you think Louie and Michael should have U-Turned? And can Dan and Jordan make a move now that they can drive an automatic?