This week on The Amazing Race, the teams head to the Arctic Circle, where a dangerous mountain sleigh ride offers the season’s first real challenge — and first real drama. As for the rest of the episode? Yeah, it still kinda sucks.
This lame season makes the puppy sad.
We open this week with the teams helping paint the school house where most of them were schooled in geography during the last leg. The teams all gush — and sing, GRRR — about how meaningful it is to give something back, and it’s nice and all but this is not why we’re watching this show. On with it!
“I love helping the little African baaaaaaybies!”
With that do-gooder nonsense out of the way, Team Gleek is first to learn that they’re headed for the Arctic Circle — specifically, Kiruna, Sweden. All the teams are given equalizer flight tickets, but have the option of procuring separate tickets if they can find them. Once there, the teams have to go to the Ice Hotel — currently held in storage as it’s summer — to get their next clue. The Gleeks note that their college graduation will take place over this leg, and the emphasis on this makes my “Last Place” radar go off immediately. Not going to lie — I would enjoy that. The teams all head out, with Nick of Team Tats at first instructing their cabbie to drive to the Arctic Circle, which might put them slightly behind the rest of the pack. Team YouTube is the only team to think of asking to use their driver’s cell phone, and they find out there’s a flight from Germany (their connecting city) to Sweden leaving two hours earlier than the preassigned tickets. At the airport, they share this with Team Kentucky, and Mallory shocks me by not shrieking this information loud enough that everyone else in Africa can hear it.
YouTube and Kentucky persuade an airline worker to book the earlier flight for them, as an attempt to avoid attracting the other teams’ attention. However, Team Gleek notes that no teams can be as happy as they seem without singing, and realizes that there must be an earlier flight. Meanwhile, the Hot Docs and Team HSN find an Internet Cafe, and they work together and book the same earlier flight. By the time the Gleeks — and the VolleyBarbies — get around to trying to book the earlier flight it’s sold out, leaving them and the remaining three oblivious teams on the original flights. The three oblivious teams are the three couples, leading me to believe they were competing for who would win the title of Worst Boyfriend/Biggest Doormat of Ghana instead of thinking about looking into an earlier flight.
All the teams arrive in Germany, and the four on the earlier flight have one hour to make their connection. Despite some dramatic editing, all four teams make the earlier flight, giving them a two hour advantage over the remaining five. Once they arrive, they grab cars and drive themselves to the Ice Hotel. Gary (right? that’s his name?) of Team Kentucky misses the turn off that Mallory points out, leading her to brattily chant “told you, told you, told you!” from the backseat. She is way worse than Brook in my book. Don’t worry, Mallory, Team YouTube has decided to idiotically follow you instead of the two teams that correctly made the turn off. It doesn’t matter though, as all four teams arrive within minutes of each other to grab the giant blocks of ice in which the next clue is etched in Swedish. Once deciphered, that clue will lead them to their next destination.
“HI, I’m Brook! I’m frigid! At least that’s what my fiance says, haha. He’s such a kidder, right, Claire? Claire? CLAIRE! STOP TRYING TO EAT THAT, IT ISN’T A SNOW CONE!“
But wait! It’s Speed Bump time for Team YouTube. As these historically have been, it’s super easy and presents no real challenge other than to hold the team up for a minimal amount of time. In this case, they have to sit on ice furniture for ten minutes. The fact that Kevin is stupidly wearing shorts in the Arctic Circle makes this a tad more difficult, but I can’t believe that there’s a team out there that could not do this on the first try, even in swim suits. Your ass would go numb soon enough. So basically, this is a ten minute pause for them and nothing else. Blah.
Not only do the guys finish the Speed Bump with no issues other than some whining, but it’s such a minor delay that they reach the cluebox first when the other three teams encounter navigational issues. It’s a Road Block, in which the team member has to ride a summer training dog sleigh down a paved path, grabbing five flags danging over his/her head as the sleigh progresses. If you wind up with less than five flags at the end, you do a penalty lap for each missing flag. Seems rather simple but the dogs are adorable so I’ll give this one a pass.
As minimal physical exertion is required, Michael volunteers to do the Road Block. He picks out his team of dogs, and makes his way onto the course. On the way, he encounters a bear that distracts him for a moment, but he manages to get all five flags and collect a bundle of pelts as his reward. Help me out, people — was that bear real?? I’m watching online and the iffy picture quality made it impossible to tell. Sure as hell LOOKED real to me!
“You dogs go fast and I not eat you for dinner! ROR!”
Meanwhile, the other three teams have arrived and it’s Mallory, Claire and Kat doing the Road Block. Mallory spends too much time shrieking and not enough time strategizing, and she misses her first flag due to not standing up tall enough. Despite one penalty lap, she still finishes before Kat (the weak link of Team Hot Docs), putting her team in third place behind YouTube and HSN, after Claire bestows her team’s kiss number six on a random person. I keep waiting for someone from a truly different culture to freak out when these chicks grab faces and lunge in for the kill. Claire’s already taken a watermelon to the face — why not a backhand? The clue they all receive directs them to drive along the countryside to train station to find their next clue.
The other five teams have just landed in Sweden, and they all make it to the Ice Hotel without incident. Four of the five of them make it to the Road Block easily as well, but Jill and Thomas arrive a few minutes behind and take off in the wrong direction at Thomas’ insistence. Jill meekly questions the direction at first, but quickly caves to the infinite wisdom that a Notre Dame graduate like Thomas possesses. Connor, Nick, Katie (the VolleyBarbies have names! Who knew?), and Stephanie jump on the sleds, as Jill and Thomas continue running into the wilderness like idiots. As Team HSN said earlier, this is where you become the victims in a slasher film. However, they turn around shortly thereafter thanks to the miracle of commercials, and Jill starts the task.
“What are you DOING? You’re a cosmetologist, not someone who can read!”
Meanwhile, Team YouTube arrives at the train station and finds their next clue, which is the Detour. The choices are Sleds or Beds. In Sleds, the teams take a ski lift to the top of a mountain and sled down on these teeny tiny sleds that resemble unmotorized snow mobiles. They both must finish in less than 1:58, and it looks terrifying but totally awesome. In Beds, the team needs to assemble a teepee like structure and make it comfortable for sleeping for a camp of extras nomads. Definitely the more time consuming task, but very little fear of breaking a leg. YouTube picks Beds, with another comment out of Kevin’s mouth about how his father is such a sucky partner that he probably can’t do Sleds. Hate.
As Team YouTube struggles to pitch a tent (such a gimme), Teams Hot Docs, Kentucky and HSN all arrive at the train station and all three pick Sleds. The Hot Docs are up first, and the ski lift trip is absolutely gorgeous. And here I thought all that Sweden had to offer was looking like a penis on a map and Alexander Skarsgard. Nat finishes the course with at least 10 seconds to spare, but Katastrophe eats it big time and has to be assisted out of a tangle of safety nets. Needless to say, they have to go again, as does Team Kentucky when Mallory finishes one second too slow AT 1:58 instead of before 1:58. If that chick could just STFU and focus a bit more, her team would truly be a contender.
Katastrophe finishes on her second attempt, putting her team in first place and on its way to the Pit Stop at the Norwegian Border. Team HSN finishes on its first try, followed quickly behind by Team Kentucky on its second try. At this point, YouTube is decorating its tent, so they’ll be on their way to the Pit Stop soon, as well.
“Claire! Claire! CLAIRE! Look at me! This is what you look like when you try to ninja fart on set and you don’t think anyone is looking!”
Hot Docs check in first, winning a trip for two to Belize and finally demonstrating that they CAN be a strong team despite Katastrophe’s best effort to suck at challenges. Seriously, why is she so inept? First, lackluster selling of the sunglasses, then slow on the Road Block today, and then the major wipe out on the Detour. She’s going to need to pull it together if she wants to become half of my favorite team. Team Kentucky then finishes in second, with HSN in third and YouTube in fourth.
Teams Mad Chad/Stephanie, Tats and Gleek are now just arriving at the Detour, and they all choose Sleds. Just as I’m thinking that this might not be the best option for the surely athletically challenged Gleeks, we see them repeatedly crash into each and topple over like toddlers learning to walk. As the circus music tells us, it’s hilarious. Sing it together, people: You two suuuuuuck! Okay, who was off key? I bet it was itchy.
Stephanie is scared shitless, and has a reason to be as she first slips off the end of her sled and then goes briefly airborne around a turn. Mad Chad starts living up to his nickname again, as he yells at her that she’s not even trying or anything and fumes as she shakily explains that she’s too scared to try the course again and is afraid that she’s going to get hurt. They should include this footage during the tribute video at their wedding. As they fight, Jill and Thomas — alone at Beds — decide to use their Express Pass, and head off to the Pit Stop.
“Scared? Hurt? Are these the kinds of excuses you’re going to give me when I demand that we do anal?”
After the commercial, Mad Chad continues to berate Stephanie, who begins sniffling and crying, sounding like what I imagine those poor puppies do if they’re run over by a sled. As they move on to Beds and Jonathan continues to flail all over the mountain, Team Tats begins its first run at Sleds. Vicky slides dangerously up an embankment, but stays in calm control, allowing her team to finish on the first try and move into sixth place. They continue to fill the Captain Obvious role, as they tell us that their strength lies in the physical, not the mental. I’d like to see them and the dude who didn’t know what a candelabra was a season or two ago in a race to find their way out of a paper bag.
The VolleyBarbies are starting Sleds now, and they both wipe out quickly, with one of them losing her sled far off course and into some rocks. They quickly decide to switch to Beds just as Jonathan has another bad fall and makes his team switch as well. As Jill and Thomas check in as the fifth team (perhaps having unnecessarily used the Express Pass given that other teams are now just starting Beds), and Team Tats checks in as the sixth team, Mad Chad and Stephanie are just finishing up at Beds and are thrilled to see the VolleyBarbies and Gleeks arrive. To me, it’s a tossup which of these two teams is going to be more incompetent at doing this task.
Mad Chad and Stephanie finish and check in as team number seven (Stephanie still apologizing and MC now jovially insisting that she didn’t disappoint him despite his earlier temper tantrum), as the editors blow right through the construction phase of Beds and show us that both the VolleyBarbies and the Gleeks are racing to properly decorate their tents. The VolleyBarbies finish first, and we’re led to believe that the Gleeks are immediately behind, but the girls arrive on the mat calmly without any frantic footrace to indicate that it actually was that close. The Gleeks then arrive, singing the graduation march (it WAS foreshadowing!) and telling Phil that they graduated from the race. Um, no. You failed out, nerds. I’m sure you’re both super nice guys in real life, but…
Thank you, Jesus.
So what did you think? Are the Hot Docs becoming a true contender, or was this leg a fluke? Would you have shared as much information as some of these teams have shared so far? Should Jill and Thomas have used their Express Pass this early (I think it was a good idea because they were alone at Beds at the time and had no idea what was going on at Sleds)? And are you happy that the Gleeks are eliminated? You know how I feel — despite Connor looking kinda hot in that baseball hat. I hate myself for admitting that. See you next time!