It’s not bickering. It’s “creative marital tension.”
I’m starting to revise my theory that having a team arguing with each other on “The Amazing Race” is automatically a bad thing. What’s turning me around is Madison’s Dave and Rachel Brown, who were back to the occasional sniping at each other in Sunday night’s episode. (“Don’t misconstrue my support for yelling,” Dave said memorably at the end of one back-and-forth on a bike ride.)
And yet, it doesn’t seem to hurt them at all in the actual competition, as they took their fourth win last night, and with it a free trip to Costa Rica. Could arguing actually be healthy for a couple?
As Dave summed it up, “Rachel and me, we’re so stubborn. We yell, we bitch, we complain. And yet somehow, we pull it out.”
I’ll let marital counselors puzzle that one out, but one big thing I noticed last night is that Rachel and Dave are able to shake it off immediately after they argue. There’s no lingering resentments or sore feelings between them – they just move on. But when the other couples on the show duke it out – Big Brother alums Brendon and Rachel and “dating divorcees” Vanessa and Ralph, there’s a lot of arms-folding, silent treatments, dirty looks. It’s counterproductive.
That was especially true last night, as Brendon-Rachel and Vanessa-Ralph escalated a bitter feud with some nasty insults flying back and forth. Very Big Brother-y. It kind of left a bad taste in everybody’s mouths (Phil Keoghan looked like he was addressing a death in the family in the finish-line interviews).
Which was too bad, because the fantastic Tanzania setting made for a strong episode, even giving the teams a little time to drink in the landscape and wild animals. On a challenge-light week, teams got to choose between jumping up and down for a minute or trying to hit a spinning clay rabbit with a native weapon. Enough teams chose the marksmanship option that I started to wonder if jumping up and down is secretly much harder than I thought. Try it yourself – it is not.
Dave and Rachel chose marksmanship, and I couldn't help but noticed that after Dave repeatedly criticized her for throwing the weapon sidearm instead of overhand, Rachel finally nailed it by throwing it -- sidearm. Team Madison was in fourth heading into the final challenge, but when the frontrunners took some wrong turns, leapt to a comfortable first place.
The final challenge involved building a lavish tent – including a working shower – from instructions, which Dave noted played into both his military training and his OCD. It offered more opportunities for sniping, but they powered through and won the challenge. "When the communication's flowing, we're unstoppable," said Dave.
The promos for next week’s episode show the goodwill between Rachel/Dave and border agents Art and JJ going up in flames. Not surprising that the two teams who are the clear frontrunners this season would stop playing nice.