The Amazing Race 8 : Episode 5
Now here's a shocker: I forgot to watch this episode on TV and didn't bother to check my TV schedule for the rerun times of this episode. I eventually managed to catch the episode on one of its weekend reruns. My week had been packed like crazy with unexpected things to do but I made time for other shows but somehow this show no longer factored in on my "must watch" list. After watching this episode, I am glad that they are leaving America but I'm still not feeling any excitement the way I used to when I watched this show in the past. I'll be very glad when the new season begins and the Powers That Be don't feel that they have to dumb down the clues, Roadblocks, and Detours anymore.
For some reason, this episode opens with Philo standing before the camera to talk about how sorry everyone is about what happened to New Orleans and how we all wish for the best for the people in New Orleans who are right now staying strong and trying to move on with life. While the sentiments are nice, this episode spends only a fraction of its duration in New Orleans. Odd, really.
Previously, the show brought the best of Louisiana and Mississippi to TV: trailer homes, a giant chair, and a riverboat. It's not that the show hadn't introduced such high culture moments to me before (remember water polo and spicy vomit soup being the best Bulgaria has to offer on this show two seasons ago?) but with the current lacklustre state of the show, every minute excitement counts and trailer homes aren't exactly high on the excitement meter if you ask me. Stassi Shroeper went crazy, the Whining Weevils went crazy when they had to step foot in Talladega, and it's crazy when the Shroepers melted down and got lost to the point that they were eliminated just a few streets away from their house. And with that, credits.
If the scenes of riverboats aren't telling enough, Philo steps out and explains that he is at New Orleans, "the Big Easy", and the home of Mardi Gras. He is standing before the Preservation Hall in the French Quarters, the Pit Stop for the previous leg of the Race, and wonders whether the Gagglehams will ever find their way out of coming in second-to-last and whether Mrs Weevil will keep finding strength to pull her Whining Weevil clan together. I love how this show doesn't even pretend that there is nothing wrong with the Whining Weevils. They are the designated freakshow attraction, cast to get people to gasp at what they will do next, and marvel at how such dysfunction can actually exist outside a bad TV show set in some fictitious smalltown controlled by some cult leader. Anyway, why prolong the agony? Let's get this over with. Let the Families loose!
12:40 am. The Blandsens are ready to leave. Their clue tells them to head on down to the airport and get a plane to Panama City, Panama. Woo-hoo, we're going out of the country, people! That's 2,000 miles in one go! In Panama City, Families must head over to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute 31 miles away and take a boat across the Panama Canal to an island. Some scientist with the most generic South American name ever, Ricardo Diaz, will hand them the clue once the Families manage to locate him. Don't worry, he won't be hiding in the bushes or wearing a gorilla outfit to make things even a little hard for the Families. We don't want the young ones to lose their sleep or get kidnapped by South American guerillas, after all. The responsible Bonghammer needs to wrap up shooting before the kids have to go back to school, don't you know? Mr Blandsen speaks to the camera again because his daughters are apparently not interesting enough for airtime unless they are baring their behinds to fratboys in some sort of bizarre ritual best left to South Floridan plastic Kens and Barbies to figure out. He talks about how he doesn't usually find himself on the same footing as his daughters and how they have to carry him because he is weak, old, dying, suffering from a dire case of asthma, and it was only in the episode last week his daughters had to carry him to the finishing mat because he coughed out his lungs and those bloody bits were dangling out of his mouth until courageous Philo found the strength to shove those bits down his throat. And he's alright now, thanks for asking, and he'll keep all of us updated on his health in the pre-Race babble of the next episode.
12:41 am. The Pablums. Mrs Pablum tells the camera that she has to take some "punches" as a mother. After seeing how her Family behaves on this show, I hope she's not being literal. She goes all teary-eyed as she talks about how she hopes that DJ would hug her at the end of the Race and tells her that he loves her. Maybe she will get her wish if she actually stops nagging DJ and pushing his buttons the same way that he pushes hers. It takes two to tango, after all, and I have a hunch that Brian was right last week in the sense that both Mrs Pablum and DJ do their equal share in creating all that toxic bickerings between them.
12:49 am. "We're leaving the country, girls!" says one of the himbo Lunz lugheads after they have read their clue. For a moment I wonder whether he is calling themselves girls, talking to the bevy of skanky buxom women that he imagines are watching this show and lusting after them, or to his hands which he names Pamela and Carmen for obvious reasons. If it's the second thing, I understand. I imagine that the people reading this right now are handsome and rich gentlemen who can't get enough of me and hope desperately to marry me. Megan says that she's the weakest in the team so she knows when to let her brothers carry her backpack for her. I hope her brothers don't catch on to that the next time she drags them with her while she goes on her shopping spree. One of the lugheads, the one that looks like a low-rent version of Justin Timberlake, says magnanimously that Megan does her best and that's all he can ask from her. Maybe if she starts cracking jokes about passing wind, he'll worship the ground she walks upon.
The Lunzes squeeze themselves into a normal cab after failing to find a van-shaped cab and head off to the airport. The same lughead talks about seeing hot underaged chicks in Panama City and his siblings point out that he's confusing the Florida version of Panama City with the Panama version. Then again, I don't blame him since he's obviously not smart enough to read (and therefore unable to understand the meaning of the phrase "statutory rape") and it's understandable that he'll start to believe that the Race will never leave the US. The Blandsens pack themselves into a cab soon after where Mr Blandsen borrows the cab driver's phone to enquire about flights to Panama City. He seems to know that he has to take either an American flight or a Continental one - I don't know how he comes to this information - so he's going to call up someone and find out which flight will get them to Panama City faster. He learns that the Continental flight will arrive in Panama City at 6:40 pm while the American flight lands only at 9:10 pm. The Pablums argue and squeeze themselves into a cab, where I assume that they will argue all the way there. The three Families show up at the airport in the same order that they find cabs to take them to the airport and they expectedly line up at the Continental ticket counter. Always in order, neat and tidy, nothing unexpected, just the way the Race designers love it. I'm still in shock that they didn't prepare charter flights leaving at some determined intervals to take these Families to Panama City.
1:39 am. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters are obviously suffering from some alpha hen disorder because just like Sharon in the previous episode, Christine now insists that she's the bossy one of the Sisters and she has to work (read: shriek) her butt (or is that "mouth") off to get the others to listen to her. Still, she insists that she knows best. So there. And then she bursts into tears and wails that the butterflies died so young so her life has no meaning anymore. Okay, I made that last one up. She and her bossy sisters get into a cab instead.
1:52 am. The Whining Weevil brats pause over the word "Panama" and look to Mrs Weevil in alarm that she reassures them that the Christian Spaniards coverted all those South American heathens to Jesus a couple of centuries ago. Or something. Rebecca, the spokesperson for home-schooled overachievers all over the world, announces that alliances on this Race is a stupid concept, which she no doubt believes to be so since every other Family seems to go out of their way to avoid the Whining Weevils. They get into a cab, no doubt disappointed that they never get to see the other four Great Lakes of New Orleans.
1:54 am. The Gagglehams leave. Mr Gaggleham says that this Family is just hoping to stay ahead of at least one other Family on the Race. Carissa says that it is better to be second-to-last than be eliminated. That's nice but... sigh. Never mind. I like this Family and it's best not to dwell too much on them always taking some wrong or stupid course of action on the Race or I will be an even more bitter person. They find a cab and leave. In the cab, the parents look at each other, amused by their children's exuberance at finally leaving the country. I share their exuberance. It's too bad that the episode is therefore still not up to par yet. When they reach the airport, Carissa runs along the airport with amazing energy considering that it's way before the time she usually gets up if she's back at home. The other Families are all lined up before the Continental counter, although common sense should tell them that it's very unlikely that all of them will get tickets. While waiting, Families pass the time doing this and that, with the Lunzes playing cards with the Pablums; probably doing the other Families a favor and distracting the Pablums from making too much noise and annoying everyone else, I suspect.
Finally, the ticket counter opens and the Lunzes get their tickets. Meanwhile, some Families like the Godawfulshrieky Sisters and the Gagglehams are worried that there won't be any tickets left for them and make plans to dash for the American counter the moment they hear that the tickets are sold out. At this point it's apparent that the Families know about the American and Continental flights because it must be stated on their clue. Well, we don't want the young ones to end up in some scary country in South America and absorb some unwanted foreign culture now, do we? Meanwhile, DJ and Mrs Pablum are actually arguing over who should get the tickets, believe it or not, and this argument has DJ announcing that he, unlike his mother, is at least not retarded. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters tell the Pablums to take the bickering elsewhere. DJ manages to win the battle and get their tickets. Sharon, behind DJ, scolds that man for being so nasty to his mother and tells Mrs Pablum that DJ is being very cruel to her. This is one instance where being a little busybody isn't such a bad thing. The Lunzes get their tickets, so do the Blandsens, and the Pablums as well. However, the Whining Weevils realize, when it's their turn in the queue, that there are no more seats available. So they, the Godawfulshrieky Sisters, and the Gagglehams have to settle for the American flight.
Hello, Panama! It's already dark when the Continental flight arrives in Panama City. The Lunzes find a cab. The Pablums also get a cab, with DJ and Mrs Pablum start fighting over the privilege of addressing the cab driver. These folks are unbelievable, I tell you. I have a hunch that if we lock the Pablums in an empty windowless room for a week, they'd still find some things to argue about non-stop. The Blandsens also locate a cab. Back at the Lunzes, Megan is happy that the goo-goo eyed lughead can speak Spanish, but it turns out that his Spanish is very elementary and is best used to impress silly sorority girls who still think that Ricky Martin is cool. The Pablums' cab overtakes the Lunzes' and then it's time for DJ to talk about him not expecting to visit Panama with his mother. Eh, what is this, some attempt to make me believe that he and his mother are best friends? It doesn't matter that the Pablums reach the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute first over the Lunzes and the Blandsens because the boats aren't going to take them anywhere until 7:00 am in the morning. The Pablums and the Lunzes lament about the loss of their lead. The Blandsens show up and everyone settle down to wait for 7:00 am to arrive. At about 9:10 pm, the second flight arrives. There's nothing much to say about this because everyone will be bunched up waiting for the boats to take them to the island of Dr Diaz, but somehow the Whining Weevil kids think that it's funny to say things like "Burrito! Conquistador! El speedo!" to the cab driver when he admits to speaking only a little English. The joke's on them though, really, because they must be thinking that they are so funny when they come off as hopelessly gauche. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters show up first and they catch up with the others in some shelter. The Gagglehams and the Whining Weevils show up after them and everyone agrees to go to the boats in the order they arrive.
At 7:00 am, therefore, the Families get onto their respective boats in the same order that they arrived the night before. Mr Blandsen tries to be funny by acting as if his lifevest is trying to strangle him. He's not funny but I appreciate the attempt to introduce some comedy into this so-far pretty boring episode. However, the Lunzes soon realize that their boat is slower than the others and they are overtaken by pretty much every Family but the Gagglehams, who fare worse when their driver announces that he is going to pick up some folks along the way first before dropping them off. Mrs Gaggleham cries that they are in a Race. I don't know what the Race designers are thinking when they hire the likes of the Gagglehams' boat driver and not tell these drivers to take the Families straight to the island in question. I mean, the Race people have been spoonfeeding the Families every step of the way so far, after all! Eventually the driver agrees to take the Gagglehams to the island after the Gagglehams plead with him repeatedly to drop them at the island first. They have the good manners to thank this driver when I have a hunch that many people in their shoes would wave a fist at the driver and yell good riddance when they get off the boat.
A truly exciting thing happens at the island when the Pablums, currently in the lead, locates the wrong guy. I know, I scream like a silly biddy when that happens. This show shouldn't shock me like that! The Families start showing up one by one to look for Ricardo Diaz in their own way. The Whining Weevils of course start praying to the Lord for divine intervention. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters eventually meets one guy who does turn out to be Ricardo Diaz. The bossy Christine grabs the clue and walks away before Ricardo Diaz can even finish whatever he is saying to them. She tosses aside the Fast Forward because she announces that the Sisters don't need such a silly thing as they are in the lead. Ooh, remember this scene, people, because this episode becomes a little bit enjoyable when you remember it and laugh when Christine's cocky confidence bites the Family in the behind big time. Anyway, it's time for a Detour. In "Rhythm", Families must take their designated charter bus to Casco Viejo and collect musical instruments from four determined location. They will deliver the instruments to the Take Five Jazz and Wine Club where they will receive their next clue. In "Coos" - Rhythm and Coos, get it? - Families must head over to a local "rainforest" park nearby, the Parque Natural Metropolitano, and locate five wooden figurines of local birds. They will circle the birds they spot in a chart that they are given and if they get the five birds right they will receive their next clue. The Sisters decide that bird-watching can take too long so they're off to carry musical instruments.
The Pablums locate Ricardo next and they want to try taking the Fast Forward. Philo steps out to explain that this is the only Fast Forward in the whole Race. So why shouldn't anyone take it? Maybe the Race designers have an answer because I certainly don't. Then again, nothing on the Race this season makes any sense so far. The Pablums will have to head over to a location where they will have to bungee-jump in pairs from a crane. Wheee! In the meantime, the Whining Weevils meet Ricardo and want to look for birds, the Blandsens will do the same, the Lunzes want to collect musical instruments, and, trailing last, the Gagglehams decide to go for the Fast Forward even when they should have realized that there is no reason why any Family ahead of them aren't already on their way to get it. Maybe it's because Carissa announces that she wants to bungee-jump, I suppose, and the Gagglehams aren't concerned about winning as much as they just want to have some great experiences together as a family? Whatever the reason is, they're going for it.
The Godawfulshrieky Sisters ask a passer-by for directions to a bus station and the guy somewhat incredulously informs them that they are on an island. One of them starts shrieking that the man can't be trusted. He's a spy! Sharon, the only one so far who hasn't get on my nerves by crying or acting like a loon, reminds them that they are indeed on an island accessible only by boat - they came on a boat, after all. The Sisters sheepishly realize that they have to get a bus at the mainland. The Families all pile into boats, where for some reason Mrs Weevil decides to yell at the Lunzes' boat to go slower, causing the Lunzes to reveal that they don't like those creepy weird Whining Weevils very much. "That lady needs to take her crazy pills!" is the charming verdict of the Lunzes. Eventually every Family makes it back to the mainland in an order that is determined solely by chance: the Pablums are in the lead and the Whining Weevils are at the back. The Pablums take a bus that will take them to the Fast Forward site, the Gagglehams take the next bus that is heading in the same direction, the bird-watching Families take their buses (Rolly Weevil calls his bus a "pimp bus" although there is nothing in the bus that is out of ordinary, but at this point it is a given that the Whining Weevils are weirdos who are on the Race to be mocked mercilessly by the audience, so yeah, whatever, Rolly - he'll mostly end up shotgun-wedded by 19 and living in some trailer home, er, pimp trailer home so let's just leave him to his little moments of excitement), and the Lunzes and the Godawfulshrieky Sisters decide to help each other (read: the himbo lugheads will carry the instruments for the Sisters) after bonding over their mutual dislike of the Whining Weevils. The Pablums find their bus ride so inspiring that they start saying that the bus ride is better than garbage collecting, with Brian telling the camera that he is so proud of his father because Mr Pablum is a hard worker. Yes, yes, I know, but what does he think about his mother? That is what interests me. The Gagglehams look forward to bungee-jumping. Hope, after all, springs eternal. The Blandsens manage to persuade some local lady to show them where the park is after the bus ride ends. The Whining Weevils manage to find a guy who will do the same as well. He is so spending eternity with Mrs Weevil in heaven, I tell you. Oh, and the Godawfulshrieky Sisters hire a cab to show the way to their bus driver, and the Lunzes are happy to tag along, especially when they don't seem to be required to chip in on the cab fare.
As the Pablums approach the Fast Forward site, DJ announces to the camera that he has a fear of heights. The Gagglehams' bus pulls up next and they might have actually beaten the Pablums to the Fast Forward if Mrs Gaggleham hasn't tripped and smashed her head really hard against the back of the Pablums' bus. She actually gets up and keep running like the trooper she is, but aww, the Pablums reach there first and it's a first-come first-serve Fast Forward thingie. After all, we don't want another truly horrible and boring repeat of something like the MillieChuck and the Barrs fighting to complete the crane Roadblock in order to stay in the Race during Season Four. A stand-in-line event is so much more exciting, and it teaches the kids to stand in line and mind the queue as well, so it's a win-win situation across the board! The show tries to create some suspense with DJ whining that he can't jump but there's no way he's not going to jump, not when he knows that the Gagglehams are stupidly waiting down there for him to chicken out. Besides, I'm sure he's living for a chance to push his mother off a great height so there's no way he's going to chicken out of this one. The Pablums jump, making the Gagglehams realize that they've been dummy doofuses for waiting so long and it's time to run to whatever Detour site that they want to go. The Pablums are told that they can now head straight to the Pit Stop of this leg of the Race, the Miraflores Locks, which Philo explains is the place where the Panama Canal meets the Pacific Ocean.
The Blandsens realize, to their dismay and to my amusement, that the lady they believe will help them with the bird-watching (read: do all the work for them) has just told the bus driver to drive to her workplace where she then takes her leave. The Blandsens will have to locate the Park and do the bird-watching on their own, awww. The Whining Weevils reach the Park first and they quickly locate the bird figurines and circle their chart accordingly. They hand it over to the task supervisor only to be told that they don't have all five birds identified correctly. The Blandsens show up next and they too circle their charts accordingly. It's a disgustingly easy task, this one, like a "spot the bird" assignment one would give to three year-olds, where these kiddies will look at the figurines in the scene displayed before them and circle the corresponding image on the figure of that scene replicated in the chart. It's like the Race designers anticipate this family edition of the Race to be populated by Families of one adult and three pre-school toddlers. Elsewhere, the Lunzes and the Godawfulshrieky Sisters arrive at Casco Viejo and start hunting for their musical instruments.
The Pablums show up at Miraflores Locks and Philo, under the watchful eyes of the VIP dude, announces that they are in first place and they have won a trip to Panama. It looks like the poor folks of Panama would be seeing the Pablums a little more for a little longer. DJ talks about how special it is to jump off a high place with his mother. I know. I'm sure there are some people that are disappointed that a bungee cord has to spoil that charming scene.
The Whining Weevils roll off a cliff and are never seen again. No, not really, they get the circles in all the correct places in their chart this time around so they get their clue. They have to head over to a nearby baseball stadium. Buses are thoughtfully provided because we don't want impressional young kids to be tainted by undesirable contact with foreign people or culture. The Blandsens take off too, woo! And it gets better, I tell you, so get the pom-poms ready because things can't be anything more exciting when the Lunzes and Godawfulshrieky Sisters collect their instruments. Give me a B! An L! An O! A W! B-L-O-W my trumpet, woooooo! The Gagglehams show up later and they have decided to collect instruments too. Alright! T! A! M! B! O! R! I! N! E! Go, go, tamborine! The Sisters promise that Tricia will make out with one of the Lunz himbos in return for the Lunz himbos' good behavior. Wooo! The goo-goo eye lughead and Tricia will make beautiful babies together at the backseat of some cheap Datsun chair during prom night, I tell you. Those two Families finish up and get the clue telling them to go to the baseball stadium. Eventually the Gagglehams finish up their Detour as well.
The Whining Weevils are now at the baseball stadium where they realize that it's time for a Roadblock. It's time to play ball! Philo explains that a member of the Family must either get a home run or a base hit when playing against a Little League pitcher, whom Philo promises will be as professional as those Hungarian water polo players in the sixth season. It's a first-come first-serve Roadblock again, with the person who misses all three pitches having to go back to the line and wait for his turn to try again. Rolly Weevil takes up the baseball bat for the Whining Weevils and woosh! He misses all three swings. The Blandsens have shown up too and are waiting for their turn during Rolly's golden baseball adventure. Now one of the Blandsen daughters pick up the baseball bat. First she forgets to swing the bat. Then she misses the next two, causing one of her sisters to say that they may have to remain here for a long time. Here come the Lunzes and the Godawfulshrieky Sisters. But first, Rolly takes the bat again. The Lunz himbos predictably launch into some good-natured heckling that anyone who isn't living isolated and provincially like a stereotype of a redneck xenophobe will recognize. Naturally, the Whining Weevils immediately assume that the Lunz himbo lugheads are being mean and nasty. Mrs Weevil yells at them to shut up and then tells her daughters that those Lunzes are "so rude". Who is it again that told the Lunzes' boat driver to slow down early on? Who was it again that was all about the Golden Burrito of the Conquistador in a pair of L-sized Speedo to a cab driver? "We're encouraging everybody!" says Mrs Weevil as if that makes the Weevils superior because they are Doing The Right Thing. She doesn't do any follow-up to this and she certainly doesn't encourage "everybody", so I don't know what she is trying to get across with that statement. At this point Rolly is given a mercy reprieve when the Junior Leaguer "forgets" to catch the ball that flopped to the ground after Rolly's limp swing and the Whining Weevils take off to the Pit Stop which is five miles away from the stadium. Along the way in their bus (of course they are being transported to the Pit Stop - those foreigners are dangerous to the children!), Mrs Weevil talks about how rude "those people" are and how magnanimous and amazing she is as a person because she is always "encouraging" her children. They are so obnoxious and oblivious to their own behavior that I must admit that they are rather entertaining to watch. At least, they are the only Family on the show that are actually a fun kind of trainwreck to watch and make fun of, unlike the Pablums who are too toxic to be this entertaining. Er, go Mrs Weevil?
Elsewhere, young Billy Gaggleham dances his way out of the Club after his Family has dropped off the last of the instruments. Back at the Stadium of Bloody Rude People Who Are So Mean To The Poor Whining Weevils, Beth gets a limp hit but the Little Leaguer overlooks that as well because the poor kid wants to go home and have dinner before the day becomes too late. The middle Lunz lughead, who is by default the most likeable lughead because he isn't a pathetic try-hard wannabe like the youngest one and his eyes are normal unlike the scary oldest lughead, whacks the ball and he too gets to move on. The Lunzes in their bus wonder what Mrs Weevil is up to, yelling at them like that. Well, the Whining Weevils are probably one of those people who don't like to mingle around much, preferring to stick to themselves while living in a house that is isolated from everyone else, and I suspect that the death of Mr Weevil only drove them deeper into themselves and from the outside world. That's my take on them anyway, and I'd rather think that they are like that instead of them being crazy the moment they are out of the starting line. The Gagglehams show up at the stadium finally just as bossy Sharon misses all three swings on behalf of the Godawfulshrieky Sisters. Mr Gaggleham takes the baseball bat and - kapow! Home run, baby! Mr Gaggleham is so hot. The son Billy looks to the camera and says proudly, "That's what I'm talking about!" Yeah, although I'm sure that little Billy and me are thinking about two very different things about his father. Oh dear, I'm so ashamed. What will Mrs Weevil and her Jesus think of me? Finally, the Little Leaguer really wants to go home so Sharon finally gets to hit the ball in a swing that very few people could have missed unless they have five thumbs on each hand.
The Whining Weevils come in second and the Blandsens third. The Gagglehams are stuck - there is a giant Pepsi machine that is blocking the road. They don't get off the bus and help move the machine out of the way like the Robfather would have done, instead preferring to wait and mope, sigh. The Godawfulshrieky Sisters predict that this would be a non-elimination round so they start putting on what seems like a hundred pairs of underwear and swimsuits over the clothes they are wearing. Therefore, if Philo takes everything else they have, they can always Race wearing their bikinis, I suppose. The Blandsens come in fourth, the Lunzes fifth. Finally the Gagglehams manage to get pass the Pepsi roadblock while the camera zooms in on the Godawfulshrieky Sister Tricia's backside where I don't even have to squint to notice that she is wearing a yellow thong, a zebra thong, and a skimpy polka-dotted green bikini bottom over her pants. Maybe I'm from an older generation but I have no idea why a woman would bring thongs over practical underwear on a Race where one can rightfully assume that there would be plenty of running, jumping, and skipping around. Anyway, it's not much of a surprise that the Gagglehams come in second-to-last again and Philo then takes away everything from last place finishers Godawfulshrieky Sisters except from the lingerie catalogue that they are wearing over their clothes. "Did you know it was illegal in Panama to wear underpants on top of underpants on top of your pants?" Philo tells them. I don't know about that, but I think it should be illegal to wear thongs on the Race if only because that is a stupid thing to do. Oh, and the Sisters say that they hope that the Panama folks out there will be really nice to them when they start begging at the start of the next leg. Zebra thongs can't go wrong, I'm sure.
Is it just me? Am I the only one disappointed that this is a non-elimination leg and therefore this season isn't one episode shorter after this? It's just five weeks into the season and I'm already worried that the season will never end.
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