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The Amazing Race: Being blonde is the ultimate express pass

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Sometimes when you have a special power, the biggest problem is overthinking when to use it.

That's what happened in this edition of The Race to the dating couple with the Express Pass, which gave them the right to jump ahead at anytime without doing any tasks.

Before leaving Ghana, the teams helped renovate a school in Ghana. There was talk of realizing 'how good we have it', and those dang a cappella singers harmonized as they worked.

Then the singers were the first to leave for the Arctic Circle or Kiruna, Sweden, where they were to head to the Ice Hotel, which is exactly that, proving that extreme cold makes you crazy.

Sweden proved to be a popular destination; that's where blondes are from, and as we know, blondes rule the earth. Indeed, the blonde doctor called Swedes 'her people', and one of the volleyballers is half Swedish, although she doesn't speak the language. She can, however, say 'dumb boy', 'dumb girl', and 'dumb monkey' in Romanian. But not 'dumb blonde'?

Because there are limited flights to Sweden from Ghana (presumably because no Equator-dwelling Ghanian in their right mind would go to the Arctic Circle), all the teams get a ticket on the same flight, although they are under no obligation to use it.

That of course means, there are alternative flights and the father & son are smart enough to figure that out. They use their cabbie's phone and find out there's a flight that leaves two hours earlier and they can book it when they get to the airport.

The home shopping hosts reveal that they were bummed about coming in sixth to Ghana, so they looked in their suitcases and found clothes reflective of their true selves. And if you don't think pink zebra shorts will make you perform better, I don't know what YOUR problem is.

The a cappella singers reveal that their class would be graduating during this leg of the Race, and that the fact that they are on the Race instead shows their devotion to the Race. Which seems the same thing as saying that they value the Race more than the celebration, most likely with parents, of the culmination of four years of a pricey Ivy League education.

At the airport, the father & son decide to share with father & daughter the news of the earlier flight because well, they both have fathers, and that means they understand each other. Meanwhile, the doctors hit an Internet cafe and find the earlier flight. The home shopping hosts look for the doctors, figuring that they must be strategizing and they want a piece of that action. When they find the doctors, the doctors share the news of the other flight because, well they are women too, and that means they understand each other. No one seems to understand, however, that this is a competition.

But, it's actually a good thing that father & son tell father & daughter because daughter uses her blonde super powers to get an employee to book the flight. (Father & son had no idea how they were going to get the flight booked.) Dazzled by her hair and smile, the worker only wants to please daughter. He books the flight pronto. Daughter declares her supremacy, "I'm so glad I've got blonde hair."

All the teams are on the flight to Frankfurt, but at the connecting flight to Sweden, father & son, father & daughter, home shopping hosts and doctors make a run for the earlier flight. There's some fake drama that makes it look like father & son, who really need to make it since they came in last and have a speed bump to complete, won't make it. But they do.

At the Ice Hotel, they get that speed bump. They must sit on the Ice Hotel furniture, which is made of blocks of ice, for 10 minutes. Son is in shorts so it's especially painful for him. Father uses the booty shift technique and proclaims it not so bad.

A good sense of direction moves father & son in first place; at the clue box, the road block involves a team member using a summer sled driven by dogs (summer in Kiruna seems pretty cold, by the way). As they go down the path, they must grab five flags. If they get all five, they get a pile of pelts to trade for the clue. If they miss a flag, they have to do a penalty lap.

Dad does the task and it's great to see him have fun. Plus he gets all the flags. They must head to a train station for the next clue.

In last place is the dating couple who won the Express Pass. They run in the wrong direction for the sled, and the guy is getting mean, yelling at his girlfriend as he rushes her down the path to nowhere. But he says, he doesn't want to use the Express Pass. There's no need to panic yet, he says, from last place.

The next task is a detour. Sleds involves going to the top of a mountain and using a fancy kind of sled to go down the course in less than 1:58. If you don't beat the time, you do it again. Beds involves building a traditional encampment using traditional materials. An elder of the indigenous tribe will inspect and give the next clue if the tent looks good.

Father & son go for Beds because son doesn't think father can handle the sled. It seems crazy until you watch the doctors go down the sled course and the Asian doctor crashes into the barrier meant to protect the teams and then gets tangled in said barrier.

But the doctor gets it right the second time and the next clue sends them to the pit stop. They are first and win a trip to Belize. The doctors proclaim themselves to be a 'team to be reckoned with' which is mind-numbing because, until this leg, if I'd seen them coming toward me in a hospital I'd have taken the nearest gurney out of there.

The dating couple with the Express Pass is still last and still talking about whether they should use it as they struggle. At this point if they used it they could be in fourth place. But they just keep talking about it.

It's time for the dating couple with the sometimes mean guy to go down the sled course and she's terrified. She falls all over the course. He thinks he can yell her out of it. He believes her terror is contributing to her poor performance and he's probably right, but he's not making things better.

The other dating couple with the Express Pass is struggling too. Finally they decide to just use the dang pass. What they don't know is that the girl in the dating couple with the sometimes mean guy has given up and that they are changing tasks and heading for Beds, which would put them behind.

And they don't know that one of the a cappella singers can't do the sled course either. At all. And they don't see one of the volleyballers send her sled down the course all by itself.

Oh well.

Tattoo couple does the sled course easily. She tells us that they are more of a physical couple than a mental one, a fact that was confirmed earlier in Ghana when they jumped in the cab and tattoo guy asked the driver to take them to the Arctic Circle and she had to tell him that was the destination and that they actually needed to go the airport.

As it turns out, the guy in the dating couple with the sometimes mean guy was a boy scout, so they put up the tent quickly. They are back in business.

That leaves the volleyballers and the a cappella singers to do battle to avoid last place. "It's not over yet," say the singers as they leave the camp site last.

But it is. They know it too, and walk toward Phil and the mat doing their version of "Pomp & Circumstance." One messes it up, which is apropos since they've messed up at the Race, although they look at it as graduating from the Race just as they would have graduated from Princeton, if graduating from Princeton was as important as being on a reality show.

They throw up their baseball caps in a way they mean to be like throwing up a mortarboard but instead seems very Mary Tyler Moore, and sing us off, also skipping and jumping in the air in tandem.

Princeton alums around the world wince.

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About the blogger

Adrienne Johnson Martin would like to have her life turned into an animated cartoon. E-mail Adrienne.
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