March 25, 2011

Reality Rundown: Stealth R Us

The Amazing Race: Unfinished BusinessThe Biggest Loser
Survivor: Redemption IslandTop Chef All-Stars

The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business - The leg in China continues from last week, where Kent and Vxysin realize they left their fannypack behind (a huge mistake). They find it as soon as they return- no fun. The teams board a train back to where they started and are warned of a double U-Turn, meaning 2 teams can be U-Turned (but it doesn't take a rocket science to guess that). In no surprise, there is only one train and every single team will be on the train. In the hours to kill time, the Cowboys, Globetrotters, and Kisha/Jen play a game of hoops. Equalizers are so lame, especially when a team performs so poorly the leg before and gets another chance. Kent and Vyxsin do receive a 30 minute penalty for taking the wrong flight to China to begin with, but they'll keep in on the DL to avoid being U-Turned. When Kent and Vyxsin arrive at the airport, they're quizzed about why they weren't on the flight and if they got a penalty, so Kent/Vyxsin make up a lie about a broken down car. Everyone gets on the non-terror train, with triple bunks, and heads to the city.

The teams bolt off the train to find a flower market for their next clue, the double U-Turning looming on their minds. The teams travel with taxi the some memorial arches, aka Golden Arches (but don't get excited- it's not an international McDonald's task). But there IS a McDonald's across the street which unfortunately doesn't dupe anyone. There's a Detour there with a choice of arranging dolls based on a theater performance or offload a solar water heating system and install it. Zev/Justin complete the doll detour first, with Kisha/Jen and Ron/Christina following (the dolls were a good choice); they'll have the first show at U-Turning the other teams, forcing them to complete the other Detour task before moving on. Margie/Luke, Jaime/Cara, Cowboys finish the solar power first, while Kent/Vxysin continue to bicket and annoy this viewer.

Margie/Luke arrive to the U-Turn first, since the doll trio were driven to the wrong cultural center. They choose to not U-Turn anyone. Instead they head to the next stop, the Stone Forest. Kent and Vyxsin U-Turn Jaime and Cara, as they stand right next to them on the map. SERVED. Jaime/Cara U-Turn the Globetrotters, hoping to offset their delay since they know Flight Time and Big Easy are behind them. Neither of the detour tasks were difficutly, it's just more a time setback, especially since Jaime/Cara's cab driver stops for gas. Jaime/Cara aren't in last place though since Zev/Justin's cab driver gets lost.

The teams arrive at the Stone Forest for a Roadblock: assemble a lifesize dinosaur with some cardboard bones (it's a 20ft Dilophosaurus). The Jurassic Park lover in me cheers on the inside and then remembers Newton getting a load of venom to the face. While waiting for their teammates to complete the Roadblock, Vyxsin admits they have a time penalty, which Ron doesn't care much for. Gary and Mallory are the last team to arrive to the Roadblock and see everyone else making the dinosaur, they opt to use their Express Pass and skip the task. They head straight to the Pit Stop at Green Lake Park back in Kun Ming, but the Cowboys are right on their tail since they finish the dinosaur task first. The Cowboys are team #1 and win $5,000 cash each.

The other teams tumble around, attempting to get their dinosaur together. Kent/Vxysin know that they don't just have to finish, but have to finish 30 minutes before other teams. They arrive as #4, but have to wait their 30 minute penalty to check in; they come in as team #5. The final 2 teams with the puzzle are Zev/Justin and Jaime/Cara, who you may recall are my pick to win this season. Zev/Justin finish the task, while Jaime is physically unsure if she can handle taking apart the dinosaur again. Jaime finishes the dinosaur and they head to the Pit Stop and are eliminated from the race. Yet again I pick the wrong team to win.

The Biggest Loser - The losers enter the gym for yet another twist: gone are the 2 teams, now there are 4. Lift a weight, find your new team color. The teams are: Green (Cara) - Austin, Ken, Kaylee; Red (Brett)- Justin, Jen, Courtney; Black (Jillian) - Rulon, Hannah; Blue (Bob) - Moses, Irene, Olivia. In case you did the math, the teams aren't even. That's because god forbid this show just eliminate people and end in a timely fashion, the show maintains its usual twist of bringing back an eliminated loser. Hannah and Rulon get to select one more person to re-enter the game after being eliminated. It is a decision between Arthur and Jay, but who do they choose? Well we have to wait until a montage of Bob remembering the good ol' days at Crunch Fitness.

Hannah and Rulon get the honor of going to Jillian's house, which is a beautiful place on the beach where of course they work-out and have their emotional bonding session with Jillian. Nevermind the fun stuff. Brett makes his team run up a mountain and silently think with Mother Nature, sort of like dear old Uncle Tony. Cara takes her team boxing, of course. And Bob they never show, so let's assume they napped for an entire day.

The losers head to their challenge where we'll learn Hannah and Rulon's choice: Jay, who is Jen's dad (she is on the Red team), and he's lost 111 lbs since the first week and he's immune this week. The challenge is to hold on to a weight that is the equivalent of how much weight the team lost; let go, the weight falls and smashes a fishtank. It's empty, don't worry. The winning teams get video chats from home. Green, since their family is still on campus, drops out around 30 minutes. The Black team then drops, though it doesn't sound like they were motivated by the "our loved ones are still in the game." At the 45 minute mark they have to downgrade to one-hand only, so the real challenge begins. Red is hanging just above the tank and seem like goners, but it's blue that drops; Red wins the video chats, but gives it to the blue team instead. I then fast forward since I don't care about this stuff. Call me heartless; I call it time efficiency.

Weigh-in: all 4 teams weigh-in, team with the lowest weight loss is up for elimination, but the other 3 teams decide who goes home. Now that's a good twist. I could recap the whole weigh-in team by team, but that's boring. The big moment is that Courtney reaches a big milestone, with 200lbs lost since she began a weight-loss quest at home. Green seems like the sure shot to go home when loses no weight, but is happy to go, but Jay loses 7lbs which is enough to keep his team safe. Turns out Kaylee had a plan to get eliminated and threw it, but Jay didn't like the plan and took the game into his hands. Samantha Gene Brady gets pretty pissed at Jay for saying the only way to leave is through their votes, which she responds "this isn't a prison!" Kaylee has the choice to leave the game because no one is stopping her, but someone is still getting voted off the red team. Kaylee decides to stay in the game, pretty much sealing Justin's fate.

Justin accepts that it's his time to go, they all cry about how good he is, and Courtney tries to offer herself up instead but Justin says no. So the losers respect his wishes and send Justin home. Must suck to get eliminated the week after players return.

Survivor: Redemption Island - Krista and Matt bond at Redemption Island, especially when her luxury item of a bible arrives. The fun and prayers don't last long and the competition begins. The duel is to navigate a ball through a table maze. Krista takes an early lead with retrieving ball sacks (har har), but Matt maneuvers the puzzle to victory. Krista gives Matt her bible to give him strength.

At Zapatera, Steve is upset Stephanie voted for him and Sarita is a drama queen who got bacteria in her mouth from brushing her teeth with sticks or whatever. David is over Sarita so begins to bond with Stephanie to maybe get her into the mix. Stephanie pouts around a little to get herself to make nice with everyone, which she does by also putting the word out that she'd like Sarita gone. At Ometepe camp, Natalie and Ashley trim each other's armpit and leg hair and call it a "spa day." I call it gross. They at least do everyone else's hair, though Phillip isn't having it and wants them to check the fire. He thinks they should help, but they don't like being dictated to, they'd prefer a polite asking. It comes to a head and Phillip and Ashley argue; Rob plays peace keeper and asks Phillip to chill out.

The immunity challenge is to launch balls with a slingshot and catch them in nets. Sounds boring except it's a full-on contact sport, which mostly just involves everyone falling on their own accord. The winning team will also win a picnic lunch at a scenic overlook. Mike keeps pulling at Grant's shirt, so he treats us viewers to some shirtlessness- oww oww. Natalie and Grant have excellent communication which is a large factor leading to Ometepe's victory. Their picnic is so amazing- lobster tail? For real?? Send me! While everyone is gabbing about watermelon, Rob spots the immunity clue under the lobster tails, but decides to let someone else find it. Grant gets it, hides it under the table, and sneaks off with Rob to read it. Phillip interrupts, but he's cool with it because he's named their alliance of 3 "Stealth R Us." Worst alliance name ever. In fact, that's not an alliance name, that's an Apprentice team name.

Zapatera heads back to camp to whine about losing. Sarita knows Stephanie and Dave are going to make a play for her elimination, but she refuses to beg because she's a loyal person. So the choice is Sarita's loyalty or Stephanie's strength. The strategizing lasts maybe 3 minutes and we're already at Tribal Council. Jeff of course brings up that this losing streak started when they eliminated his beloved Russell. Sarita knows she's sucky in challenges and was fine to sit out this week, which the others perceive to mean she thinks she gets a pass this week for not being the reason for losing. David is really pushing for Stephanie and urges them to put the best 6 forward, not the 6 most trustworthy. The votes are cast and STIFINIE, I mean Stephanie, is heading to Redemption Island.

Top Chef All-Stars - Wolfgang Puck joins Padma for the Quickfire, which is to assign a classic Top Chef Quickfire challenge to one of their competitors. Mike assigns Antonia the canned goods challenge. Antonia assigns Richard hot dogs. Richard assigns Mike the one pot challenge. Just as the chefs hit their groove, Padma re-enters the kitchen to tell them they get to assign a classic Top Chef twist to another competitor. One handed, no utensils, and the double-apron (like a 3 legged race). Mike gets no utensils and hand tools, Richard gets one hand, and Antonia takes the double apron with... CARLA!! OMG, be still my heart. HOOTIE HOO!! Antonia makes a curry coconut soup, Richard curry-wurst aka hot dogs with curry ketchup, and Mike pork shoulder braised to be like pork and beans. The winner is Mike. F me, f us viewers. He gets $5,000.

Wolfgang Puck, Michelle Berstein, and Iron Chef Morimoto are waiting at the beach club for the cheftestants for the Elimination challenge: prepare their last supper. One of my favorite challenges ever. Padma also teases there's a twist coming in the form of an envelope (cook paper?), but we'll learn about that later. Mike chooses to cook for Michelle, and assigns Morimoto to Antonia and Wolfgang Puck to Richard. Wow, Mike- trying hard to torture Antonia? Wolfgang Puck wants apple strudel. Michelle wants fried chicken, biscuits and gravy. Morimoto requests miso soup and some sort of sashsimi- a bento box. Antonia realizes how much Mike is f'ing her over, he claims he isn't, but he wants to go head-to-head with Richard, who he considers the best. I hope Antonia rakes them over the coals.

Antonia prepares tuna sashimi, rice, pickled daikon and mushroom, and miso soup. Antonia had to swap her fish to tuna because the other seems rancid. Mike puts a twist with fried chicken, pea puree, and an empanada with egg yolk instead of a biscuit. Richard serves up beef goulash with spaetzle and an apple struedel. Of all 3, Richard's seems to be the biggest slam dunk. But instead of going to the judges' table, the dining table is the judging table and happens right away. Mike's chicken wasn't juicy and the breading was falling off. Some thought it was a little too out of the box. Wolfgang praises Richard's flavorful goulash, but the spaetzle was tough. Morimoto thought it was different than what he expected and the miso soup was salty. Richard is given a pass right away to the finals. Antonia and Mike face judgment except it's not so easy: Padma is holding the twist envelope she mentioned during the Elimination Challenge.

In the envelope, which Antonia reads, is the announcement of one more challenge: 45 minutes to make the judges one-bite and the winner of that heads to the finale. Keep hope alive, people! Antonia makes a seared group over curried lobster brother. Mike makes a tempura lobster tail over beef tar tar. The judges are at a 4-3 split between the two distance cousins. Antonia is told to pack her knives, sending shithead Mike to the finale. I'm used to it. Contestants no one likes seem to have won the past few seasons.

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