A few weeks back on The Amazing Race, Brian and Ericka adopted a tactic that, considering the cut-throat nature of the entire competition, seemed unlikely: be nice to others. Karma, Brian believed, will pay them back. So they played nice and helped the other teams just as they buckled under all sorts of pressure, and they finished second in Dubai--their best finish yet.
Well, they weren't really lucky afterwards, and they started falling down the rankings. Still, they were strong believers in the golden rule, and continued to play nice (to other teams, at least--their fighting, or better yet Ericka's nagging, is something else entirely). I initially attributed their luck to karma, but it seems it's worn off in recent legs, and they've been pretty close to elimination a few times, too.
Still, they believed, although perhaps they learned a lesson by not calling it karma. "We'll play nice while the others fight," Brian said in the taxi on the way to the airport at Tallinn, "and then we'll sneak past them." Or something like it; I can't recall the exact quote. But you get the idea. Anyway, they still lagged in last place for most of the race--a bad gamble upon arrival was followed by a stolen taxi--and it seems being competitive actually works wonders.
I'm not saying that Brian and Ericka are timid. But look at the competition. Flight Time and Big Easy were, for the most part, playing nice too, except perhaps for the situation in Dubai where they trash-talked Mika into not taking the water slide leading to the pit spot. They had their own share of run-ins with the other teams, but for the most part they haven't been so annoyingly aggressive. And then Meghan and Cheyne accuse Flight Time of deliberately slowing them down so they leave the Detour later than they should--it's stupid, because even if there's a small delay, they should've considered that Big Easy wasn't done and thus the Globetrotters couldn't leave yet! Seems Flight Time had enough, though, so he deliberately slowed down. Competition? Yes.
Meghan and Cheyne have also played nice for the most part, probably because they've held a comfortable lead over the other teams for the past few legs or so. Yet they're pretty capable of springing a tantrum-inducing surprise, too: an alliance of sorts with the Globetrotters fizzled out when Cheyne found a taxi and pulled Meghan to it, so they can play first. I understand the point, but your word is your word, still; might as well work alone if you can't keep your connections friendly. Competition? Yes.
And then there's Sam and Dan, who've hustled the Globetrotters out of everything in the past couple of legs, the details of which I've discussed in the past weeks. (Or, I just don't want to talk about it.) Perhaps the most devious move of this entire race has to be their stealing of Brian and Ericka's cab. You could say they're taking advantage of the situation, just like everybody else, but you should've kept your own taxi instead. I guess they were just frustrated with seeing their arch-nemeses, the Globetrotters, get ahead of them, not to mention the numerous fails in the kayak. Still, it worked to their advantage, and they deflated Brian and Ericka's spirits a bit. Competition? Yes.
The idea is to make sure that you're ahead of everybody else, keeping other teams as small a threat as possible, and making your racing experience as smooth as possible. Obviously this particular race hasn't been so nice to the racers; teams may have been consistent, but standings haven't been. I understand the desperation, and I understand why we all expected Brian and Ericka to finish last (a long time ago, actually) and go home. Instead, we get an unprecedented third non-elimination leg; the once-called "Team Zebra" is still alive, albeit with a Speed Bump; and the race to the final three is still on. And that, my friends, is a primer on the laws of karma.