Another solid episode of The Amazing Race. I gotta admit: about forty-five minutes into this latest installment, I had a sneaking, nay nagging, suspicion about how everything was going to wind up, and yet, despite that, I still found myself on the edge of my seat. How do they do this to us? Am I just a sucker for fast editing and suspenseful music? I guess I am. I’m the type of person who likes to get caught up in the drama, even if I know where it’ll inevitably take me. It all about the journey, not the destination, right? Okay, I’ll shut up now. I gotta remember: must… keep… recaps… brief…
Anyway, this week’s episode began with glorious news: goodbye Third World, hello Europe! That’s right, Kimberly and Rob would no longer be plagued by the fumes of developing nations. Teams were flying to scenic Helsinki, Finland where they’d have to find a coffeehouse, log onto AOL.com (that’s the thud of blatant product placement) and receive a very special surprise. Let me guess: a video of Phil in a banana hammock? You gotta admit, it would be a surprise. Well, since flights out of Madagascar aren’t always a dime a dozen, the producers arranged for each team to have a set of tix that would take them to Paris, France. Once there, they would then have to make their own arrangements to get to Helsinki. Just when I was gonna get down in the dumps about what appeared to be a reduction of airport intrigue, Phil then alerted us that teams were under no obligation whatsoever to use the tickets previously provided for them. Excellent…
The first team out of the gate this week were the Beauty Queens, Dustin and Kandice. I suppose I could call them the Blondies, but it seems like every season the resident blonde team gets labeled “The Blondies.” Have some originality, people! Anyway, they headed off to the airport brimming with excitement over the prospect of encountering some unique footwear. “Don’t they wear wooden shoes?” Dustin asked, regarding the Finns. Technically, I suppose they could wear wooden shoes, but I’m pretty sure that’s a Dutch/Swedish tradition. Gosh, Dustin. KNOW YOUR CLOGGING FACTS!
Next to leave were the junkie models, and as they headed towards the airport, Tyler explained to us that yeah, he’s sometimes a dick to James, but surely his buddy understood it came from “a loving place.” Cut to six months from now as Tyler whips James with a belt, yelling, “I TOLD YOU! I WANTED POT ROAST FOR DINNER! And what did you make me? MEAT LOAF!!! I [whip crack] DON’T [whip crack] LIKE [whip crack] MEATLOAF!!! [double whip crack, followed by James whimpering] Oh, I’m so sorry baby. I didn’t mean to yell and beat you. I love you. I love you so much. This all comes from a loving place. I’m so sorry baby.”
“Hey, um, James. Could you stop sitting on my leg now?”
Speaking of high strung, we then caught up with our old friends, Rob and Kimberly, who seemed ready for another leg of bickering and idiocy. Rob told us, “Every night, Kimberly and I are looking at what do we need to do to get to this Pit Stop fastest as possible.” Here’s an idea: how about you be SILENT.
The Cho Brothers emerged from the Pit Stop next, and they were all full of morose determination. “We really miss David and Mary, and we want to run this leg in the memory of them,” Godwin said. Whoa, it’s not like they died or anything. Luckily, Erwin echoed my thoughts. “It makes them sound like they’re under the grave,” he laughed, at which point Godwin perked up and said, “Wait, they’re alive? I thought every team that was eliminated was shot in the head! Oh my gosh. Soooo much less stress now.”
Over at the airport, the Miss Americas had arrived and were looking for tickets not to Helsinki, but to the lesser known city of “Helinsky.” I think it’s in Poland or something. Anyway, the models soon caught up with them and told us that they had an uneasy alliance with the girls, especially because they didn’t know who would stab who first. Of course, it all depended on what they’d be stabbing with. If it were a syringe full of heroin…
Meanwhile, at the ticketing desk, Rob saw that a flight was leaving for Johannesburg right at that moment. He was convinced that if they all wound up on the plane, it would be better than waiting around until 9 PM (it was 5 AM presently) for the flight to Paris. For once, he was right. From Johannesburg, they could take a series of flights that would place them in Helsinki at 10:20 AM, and so all the teams (including Win/Win, who were also at the airport) booked tix to Johannesburg. Ah, but what about ‘Bama? Would they get to the airport in time?
Well, yes and no. The single-moms arrived at the airport before the flight took off, but the ground crew wouldn’t let them on the plane. Why? “We have to add meals,” they insisted. GOOD GOD! THE PEOPLE MUST BE FED, LADIES!!! Luckily, Karlyn was sporting David’s baseball cap, and whatever good mojo came with that (and/or the CBS camera crews) softened the airport workers, and they allowed the two women on the flight after all, much to the chagrin of everyone but the Cho brothers.
Anyway, this all led to a funky little airport diagram as the teams traveled from Madagascar to Johannesburg to Addis Ababa to Frankfurt to Helsinki. I’m exhausted just thinking about that trip. On the upside, they probably feasted on the Toblerone!
Once teams eventually arrived in Helsinki, it was another race to the taxis. Somehow, Kimberob wound up in last place, and as a result, Rob was all the more testy as he spoke to his cabbie. “Very fast please. PLEASE,” he barked in his usual inconsiderate way. “Okay, stop repeating it,” Kimberly carped, causing Rob to snap back, “I’ll do what I want!” HE WILL REPEAT WHATEVER HE WISHES! WHATEVER HE WISHES! WHATEVER HE WISHES!
Meanwhile, Dustin and Kandice snagged the first cab, causing Lyn to complain that they always come out of the airport with their boobs hanging out and whatnot, and that’s why they get taxis. Well, hey, it’s better than that constant scowl you’ve got on your faces. Oh, I’m sorry ‘Bama. I still love you guys. But seriously, try to lighten up a little.
Well, at the internet cafe, teams logged on and found… messages from home! Yes, friends, relatives, pets all said hello to the racers and instructed them to get a clue from the owner of the cafe. I particularly liked James’s artsy sister, who seemed like she was caught en route from a gallery opening to a PJ Harvey concert. I also enjoyed the further blatant product placement for AOL as the beauty queens said, “America Online, thank you very much!” Well done, girls! You’ll be receiving an extra ten annoying startup discs from AOL in the mail, as opposed to the usual nine.
Anyway, the girls learned that they’d now have to travel 125 miles by train and taxi to a school where they’d have to search the ground for the next clue. As they headed off, Win/Win checked in, and we saw Erwin’s girlfriend (va-va-vavoom!) and the brothers’ mom and sister too (double va-va-vavoom!). Of course, when Lyn and Karlyn arrived and saw their children on AOL, they understandably turned into total blubbering messes, tears streaming down their faces like miniature versions of Niagara Falls. My favorite part of all this, however, was seeing Rob and Kimberly’s moms. Both of them could easily take the cake for dowdiest mother in America. Who would have thought that such homely women would have spawned the double-headed monster that is Kimberob? I guess Satan knew, but that’s neither here nor there.
“I enjoy plain yogurt.”
“I prefer saltines.”
Later on, despite some mild navigational confusion from the Cho brothers, everyone wound up on the same train where the single-moms were still crying and Tyler was applying moisturizer to his face. “I like my face, and I care to keep it for a year or two,” he said quite primly, adding, “Because once my face is gone, let’s be honest, I have no prospects in life.”
Eventually, the train arrived at its destination, and the first to nab cabs were — you guessed it — the beauty queens and the models. Unfortunately for everyone else, the two teams grabbed the only two cabs, which meant everyone else had to wait around. Kimberob managed to find one relatively quickly, but then, out of nowhere, a large “queue” suddenly formed, which meant that ‘Bama and the Chos would have to wait several minutes before getting their own taxis. Never ones to be denied, Lyn/Lyn quickly marched to the front of the line and stole a cab from a prickly old man, leaving their “allies” in the dust. Poor Cho Brothers. Their proper upbringing prohibited them from cutting the line, and so they were left to stand around and grumble, “Being polite sucks sometimes.” Tell me about it. Nothing’s more gauche than upsetting a dozen strangers in the middle of Scandinavia!
“Excuse me! You can’t take my cab. I’m late for a milquetoast convention!”
After the commercial break, Dustin and Kandice arrived at the school where they encountered this week’s Detour: Swamp This or Swamp That. This led to possibly one of the best ever PhilCameos™ as we found him literally waist deep in a puddle of PhilMud™. Now don’t worry. This mucky mess wasn’t about to drag him down into a boggy PhilDeath™. He was safe and sound in, you guessed it, his PhilWaders™. Best of all, some random Finnish dude with no respect for Phil’s cleanliness or private space suddenly jumped down into the mud beside Phil, causing a major PhilCringe™ from our intrepid and muddy host.
“Oh great. Idiot incoming.”
“You’ll do well to announce your presence next time. Commoner.”
Nevertheless, in Swamp This, teams had to trudge through mud on cross country skis — a task that required skill and finesse, according to Phil. In Swamp That, teams had to slog through an obstacle course, also through the mud. Either way, teams were bound to get stuck and muddy — much like Phil who wound up with dirt in his eye as another feckless mud dweller rampaged by him.
“Greetings from the quagmire!”
Phil! Behind you! It’s a Finnish Bog Crawler!!!
Hey, is that Haywire from Prison Break?
“I say! You better get your big ol’ beeehind out of my way before I let Big Poppa know you been in these parts!”
By the way, “Swamp This” and “Swamp That” were really, really lame names for this competition. But I digress. As usual.
As beauty queens and the models got to work on the Detour (girls did skiing, guys did obstacle course), Kimberob tried to find the Detour. You see, their cabbie took them to a school — it just wasn’t the correct school. Oops! I’m shocked Rob didn’t take a student and ram him into a locker with frustration. Then again, in a fight between Rob and a middle schooler, my money would be on the middle schooler.
Anyway, we then cut back to the Detour where everyone (including ‘Bama, who had since arrived) was trudging through mud. So much for that moisturizer, right Ty-Ty? There were plenty of mucky hijinks, and I especially enjoyed watching poor, gentle James get stuck in the mud. Oh, this would certainly lead to a thrashing later tonight. All from a loving place, of course.
Later, after slathering around in the mud, James then hopped onto Tyler’s back and smacked him repeatedly like a race horse. Between the two of them, somebody’s fantasy came true that day.
“C’mon ride the train. Hey, ride it! Woo Woo! C’mon ride the train, it’s the choo choo…”
As you can imagine, the mud wasn’t easy for the rest of the teams either. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that ‘Bama + Mud = bad news. Same rule applied for Kimberob, who of course wound up bickering all through the course. At one point, the two had to jump off an obstacle and into the mud below. Kimberly took the plunge first, followed by Rob who happily decided to jump not so much into the mud as onto his girlfriend. “Damn, not on ME, BABE!” she yelled. Hey, lady, HE’LL DO WHAT HE WANTS!!! Don’t treat him like a protein deficient cretin with an undeveloped brain!
Anyway, the models completed the Detour first and learned that they’d now have to travel by train again, this time to a town named Turku, and from there, they’d have to drive 78 miles to a place called Lohja where they’d find the Tytyrin limestone mine. If only David and Mary were still around…
After reading this info, the models ran back to their taxi where they decided that cleanliness was more important than expedience. They put everything on hold to change into new, less muddy clothes, and as a result, Dustin and Kandice were able to not just catch up but pass them. Sure, it may have been a critical error, but dammit if they weren’t going to be pretty! I’m shocked the guys didn’t then make their cabbie wait another hour as they browsed through a Banana Republic.
As for Kimberly and Rob, they managed to breeze through the Detour without an insane amount of barking, and afterwards, Rob congratulated himself for being able to easily carry Kimberly through part of the course. “What, do you think I’m fat?” Kimberly asked, kind of joking, kind of not. To be fair, I don’t think Rob was saying that. I think he was merely pointing out how impressive it was he was able to carry anything, considering how incredibly weak he is.
Well, the teams all raced to the train station, and while the models and the beauty queens managed to catch the latest train, Kimberob just barely missed it. This of course led to another Rob tantrum, and when Kimberly tried to calm him down with an added heap of whining, he snapped back, “JUST LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT!” Seriously, woman! Have you no respect for Rob’s quiet time??? He is but a mere mortal! He needs ample time to digest the realization that he just missed a train!!!
“I want one moment in time! When I’m more than I thought I could be, dammit!”
Turns out the next train was an hour away, which meant Kimberob would be stuck with those totally uncool Cho brothers and single moms. EWWW! Of course, the hatred was mutual, and as Kimberob brushed past the teams at one point, Lyn/Lyn was sure to tell us that “Those are not our friends.” To be fair, poor, victimized Rob defended themselves by saying, “They judged us right from the getgo before they even got a chance to know us!” Yes, I’m sure. And even though it’s been Rob who’s made fun of all the other “uncool” teams, it really was Lyn/Lyn’s fault. They clearly didn’t give him his moment!
Well, the models reached the next destination first, followed by the beauty queens, and sure enough, the Roadblock awaited them. Phil appeared in a hardhat (in case an errant piece of debris fell from upon high and caused an untimely PhilDeath™) and explained that team members had to ride a bike down a steep incline, attach a chunk of limestone to the bike at the bottom, ride back up to the top, and use basic tools to break open the block and find a clue inside. Of course, riding a bike meant wearing a helmet, and Kandice couldn’t help but wonder — did the bike helmet go on top of her hard hat or not? Furthermore, would she be provided with wooden clogs???
Anyway, James volunteered to do the Roadblock, and after a lot of huffing and puffing, he eventually finished and learned that the next stop was the Olympic Stadium! Whoohoo! What an exciting Pit Stop! But wait! Savvy viewers like we here at TVgasm noticed that Phil didn’t mention anything about a Pit Stop. Would this be one of those legs that was neither elimination nor non-elimination? A taboo gray area in The Race‘s Levi-Strauss world of binary opposition? The dreaded To Be Continued???
While we pondered these deep structuralist questions, Kandice was busy working on her limestone block. Luckily, she had the verbal assistance of Dustin, who encouraged her to “Grab a pokey thing.” Or as I like to call it, “a chisel.” Actually, I’m not sure if that specific tool was technically a chisel, but I’m pretty sure its formal name was not “pokey thing.”
Well, the girls were soon off and running to the Olympic Stadium, and in the meantime, the remaining three teams jockeyed for position as they raced to the mine. Kimberob had a lead, but they had a moment of panic (of course) and wound up making a wrong turn. Next thing we knew, they were literally driving into a mine shaft while the other two teams managed to park their cars and head down into the Roadblock. When Kimberob finally did come to the realization that maybe their shiny new Mercedes wasn’t meant for spelunking expeditions, they turned around and finally found the proper building, but guess what? They had to wait five or ten minutes for the tram to return (it was presently being used by the other teams). Upon hearing this news, Rob immediately scoffed, “SURE WE DO!!” — as if this were all some huge conspiracy to thwart his progress in the race. Just give him his moment, people. Just give him his moment.
The good news for Rob was that even though Karlyn and Godwin had a sizable lead on the Roadblock, they still were going pretty slowly. Rob certainly made up for lost time by riding down the mine shaft like a complete psycho, hooting and hollering the whole time. Things I wouldn’t do in a mine: YELL. But that’s just me, a non-IDIOT.
As for the junkie models, they arrived at the Olympic Stadium, but it seemed as if the moisturizer had clouded their minds. They naturally assumed that they had to actually enter the stadium, and so they galloped right by the marked door they were supposed to enter, opting to roam around the giant field instead. Back at the Roadblock, Rob managed to pass Karlyn on the trek back up the shaft, but even though this caused Lyn/Lyn to drop into last place, all three teams wound up on the same tram back up to the surface. Heh. Even better, Godwin then leaned over and said, “Karlyn, good job.” NOTHING FOR YOU, ROB! Poor guy. It’s not so fun when the nerds gang up on you, is it? To be fair, I just assumed Godwin was letting him have his moment.
Well, the teams soon hopped back in their Mercedes and drove off fervently to the stadium, with Rob surmising, “Honey, this is going to be a Pit Stop!” Oh no it wasn’t! There simply wasn’t enough time left for all the teams to check in. Or at least, so I assumed.
My suspicions grew stronger when the models finally reached the marked door and learned they’d have to perform one last task. Nothing too major. They just had to climb to the top of a tall tower and rappel down… FACE FIRST. Okay, this was definitely a To Be Continued.
We then cut back to the streets of Finland where the Cho Brothers and ‘Bama had conspired to lose Kimberob (who had been trailing them all along). Little did they realize what craziness lay ahead of them on the race. Back at the stadium, Tyler made quick work of the challenge, but James was another issue. He apparently was afraid of heights, and so this rappelling thing was a bit gnarly for him. He instinctually recoiled backwards, but all that did was cause him to hang in the air, receiving the ultimately wedgie I’m sure. “It hurts, bro!” James complained. Yeah, well, it hurts because you’re doing it completely wrong!
Meanwhile, all the other teams arrived at the stadium, and even though the Chos yelled “OVER HERE!!!” when they found the marked door, Kimberly and Rob still managed to get lost in the stadium. Okay, they are just total spazzes. I hope they stick around because they are just too hilarious. And despicable, so that sort of sucks too.
Anyway, James finally overcame his fears and completed the challenge. What could possibly happen next? Well, the models opened their next clue, which urgently said, “KEEP RACING!!!” That’s right, the leg wasn’t over, but the episode was. Sadly, there was a notable lack of complaining upon this revelation. In my mind, nothing compares to a year ago when Linda Weaver let out a giant moan on her To Be Continued leg. Ah, Linda. So awful. So wonderful.
“To be continued? WHAT!?!?!”
What did you think about this episode?