It sounds like a lost Encyclopedia Brown novel , but for me, in what was one of my favorite episodes in a while, the biggest thing I am taking from it is…
What happened to the Tattoo Two’s Speed Bump?
If you recall, last week after struggling through Detour switching, the Tattoo Two fell far behind and came in seventh. However, by the grace of Phil, they were spared elimination. And as part of that deal, they should have to do a Speed Bump on the next leg to hinder their attempts to dig out of last. Right?
Well, where was it?
I have two theories – based primarily on Race watching experience and some of the rumors I have read online. The first is that the Speed Bump was so utterly boring and was totally inconsequential to the outcome, that they producers simply deleted it in editing. The show has done this before. There have been Detours where only one choice was selected by all teams and they sliced out the other option in editing. Entire tasks have also been deleted – the ostrich egg in the first episode ever, and the cliff diving task from the final episode of All-Stars come to mind – so perhaps that happened here.
Another theory is that there was a show-related error that took place that slowed down the Tattoo Two and led to their demise. As a result, they were spared elimination by an impromptu non-elimination leg. I have long suspected that the extra non-elimination leg in the Family Edition was as a result of the many tech problems that seemed to hamper that season, although each non-elimination resulted in the loss of all their stuff and money. Is it possible that happened here and the show decided not to punish the Tattoo Two at all and just held a retro non-elimination that had no consequences? Heck, there was even an Hours of Operation bunching to start the leg!
I wonder if we will get this mystery solved. Perhaps we need Encyclopedia Brown to step in. Or maybe dial up the Mystery Machine!
But despite the mystery, I really dug this episode. A huge part of it was the travelogue. Half of the locations were places I visited when I went to St. Petersburg. The Church on Spilled Blood is gorgeous, with unbelievable mosaic art throughout. The church itself was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III to serve as basically a shrine to his murdered father, Tsar Alexander II. That popular Tsar of reform was assassinated and the church erected on the very site. In fact, the original cobblestones from the street the day of the murder are blocked off in the middle of the church. Unbelievable place for any student of history to see.
Also, the Peter and Paul Fortress is iconic, it looms over the city on the banks of the Neva River. It is here that Peter the Great is buried, along with many other past Tsars, including the remains of the ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II, the last tsar. The grounds are gorgeous and again, the history is overwhelming. I was even in the neighborhood of the Bank Bridge with the griffons used for a Route Marker this week. In fact, I was really excited that the Dostoyevsky tour – his neighborhood, and the actual streets path of Roskolnikov in Crime and Punishment – was going to be a task this week. Alas.