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Amazing Race 21 – Episode 7 – Note To Racers: Stop Losing Your Passports

I just don’t understand it. Maybe it’s a Moscow thing – this makes two trips to the Russian capitol where a team has had a passport issue. If you recall, Toni/Dallas got ousted in the Final Four of Season 13 because of a lost passport. You cannot move on to the next country unless you have a passport. More so than your cash supply, you should keep your passports stapled to your body – you can always beg for money, you can’t beg for official American identification.

So, I’ll say it up front in the column – we had a To Be Continued episode this week. This is something the show has done before when something very dramatic happens and the traditional split for the episodes is not as interesting. The Hairs’ inability to hold onto their identification was the key event of the leg – especially when coupled with the airport drama surrounding Apprentice and the Goats. It made perfect sense to cut the episode where they did.

Well, at least it makes sense if you assume that both a) the next leg takes place in Russia as well, and b) Leg 7 is a scheduled non-elimination leg. I assume both are true. This would mean the Hairs would have a chance to overcome this huge mistake – something past passport losers were not given a chance to do. It also means that Apprentice and the Goats may have a very big surprise coming their way at the Mat. Although, I would have loved to have seen what the show would have done in an Elimination leg if the two teams stepped on the Mat at the exact same time. Who would go home? Perhaps they would have to wrestle right there on the spot with Phil officiating. If that happened, my money is on Abbie kicking the Goats’ ass.

But back to the Hairs. At the Roadblock at the tail end of the leg, the Hairs left their cab to get the clue. Abba started right in with the Roadblock as James started to realize that the cab was still there with their bags. When they went to find the cab, it was gone. My question – did they pay the guy? If not, and they spent a lot of time at the Roadblock, the cabbie might have thought they stiffed him and took off with their stuff out of spite. We see them tell the cabbie to wait, and he nods, but nothing is said about payment made. It is also possible that it was simply a misunderstanding and they were extremely unlucky.

So where are they at now? They need to track down this cab. And if it is in fact a non-elim leg, they have plenty of time to get it done, even if that may just delay the inevitable. They have a small cushion with Apprentice and Goats still on the course and not yet at the Roadblock, but still, the clock is ticking. But how do you track down one cab in a city the size of Moscow where you do not speak the language? Not easily. I think their only chance is to find a local to give them tons of help. Call every single cab company in the city and ask them to check in with cabbies driving blue cabs that recently carried two long-haired freaky people from America with huge backpacks and companions carrying a camera and boom mike. And hope you not only find him, but that you do so quickly. They may start Leg 8 very far behind, and with a Speed Bump, but they would still be alive.

But these are really, really big ifs.

The other big event of the leg was the airport drama. You know something significant is going to happen these days when the show lingers on the airport for a while. In the old days this was standard, but recent legs have swept quickly through the ticket wrangling unless there was in issue. This leg…there was an issue. And it was the same issue which often comes up on the show in the airports – teams pushed it when it comes to transfer times. Apprentice and the Goats decide to take a flight through Frankfurt which has a one hour transfer time. This means that they are really threading the needle – any setbacks along the way could really come back to haunt them. I’ve been there in less pressure filled moments where a sprint across an airport is needed to make a transfer (hello Minneapolis and Dallas airports!).

As it turns out, the Goats (who chose this flight thanks to a coin flip! A coin flip!) and Apprentice are stuck on the tarmac in Turkey for about an hour. They arrive in Frankfurt with about three minutes to sprint through the empty terminal. They fail to make it and are stuck hours behind the other teams. In fact, they got lucky they didn’t miss the hours of operation at the next task. They could have been woefully behind as Teri/Ian and the Guidos were in All-Stars or as how the end game of Season 1 shook out.

Again I am going to ask about the villainy of Apprentice – who if we are to believe in their villainy, has to be the absolute worst villains since Ahnold took on Batman armed with horrible makeup and cheesy one-liners. While Ryan talks some smack about the other teams a bit, they act in a different manner. Sure, Abbie stonewalled Texas and the Twins in the airport – but it’s not like the Twins have been all that friendly back to Apprentice. Right? Meanwhile, in a situation where they could have gone head-to-head with the Goats and gone all out to avoid elimination, they elected to run the leg together, knowing they had such a huge deficit to overcome. Now, it is possible the could reneg on this before the leg ends next week, but when presented with their first chance to abandon the Goats at the Detour, Ryan and Abbie elected to wait around for the Goats to finish the task. Some villains.

But to me, the hero of this leg was the super-awesome synchronized swimming task master who had such little patience for the mockery these Americans were showing to her…ahem…sport right before her eyes. Loved the big hugs she got from Magic Mike after she finally freed them from the challenge. Loved her muttering about “already being afraid” when the Hairs arrived for the task. Also loved the utter impatience she had for Brent for his horrible swimming skills. I mean, he was so bad at it, one could say he had the reverse of skills. He had slliks. But she was my hero and if synchronized swimming wasn’t so incredibly lame, I’d be on board with watching her team compete in Rio in 2016.

Detour – The choice was Alphabetize or Synchronized – The first entailed going to the library and finding four books while using the card catalog and exploring the labyrinth which seems to make up the Moscow library. Oh yeah, it’s all in Russian. Because, you know, Russian people go there. I’m looking at you, Lexi. It’s not in English because…you’re in friggin’ Russia.

The second option entails heading to the pool and learning a routine with the up and coming next Russian Olympic synchronized swimming team. This is the task the show wanted the teams to take, since the visuals of bathing suits and silly water dancing were much more interesting than searching a library. To me, the library task seemed much easier. Texas and the Hairs go to the library and are baffled by the Cyrillic alphabet. Now, as a Russophile, I have a working knowledge of the alphabet – as basic as it gets. However, my question to these teams is simple – didn’t you buy a guide at the airport? Don’t all teams do that? All of those guides have this information included.

That said, despite her whining about the language, Texas did a great job on this task. Meanwhile, the Hairs unexpectedly bailed on it and went to the swimming task. I wonder if the requirement to get undressed for the task led to their carelessness with the passports, but that’s something we’ll never know. Meanwhile, Apprentice and the Goats had no choice – they were so far behind the others they were unable to go to the library since it was closed by the time they got the clue.

Roadblock – At Luzhkov Most, there are a whole bunch of Trees of Love, where people place locks on the trees to show their everlasting love. It is a great callback – to some extent – to the classic lock opening Roadblock from China in Season 6. This one is less challenging – they have a string of 10 locks and a ring of keys. Open all the locks. The Season 6 one was needle in the haystack – this one was more just methodical repetition.

So, we leave things for the week with three teams checked in at the Pit Stop – Texas, Magic Mike and the Twins – all of whom had a solid leg. The Hairs have been turned away by Phil and are now facing the daunting task of finding their passports. Apprentice has completed the Detour and is now hanging out waiting for the Goats to finish – they each still have to do the Roadblock. Drama!!

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