Category Archives: Racing

Amazing Race 22 – Ep 3 – Return To Middle Earth

So, this “leg” of the Amazing Race taught me one thing – it seems that you can continue to run the Amazing Race even if you get injured and require assistance. I did not realize that was an option. This is one aspect where the show differs from Survivor – the Amazing Race will give you medical treatment, just as long as you do it while on the course.

Last week’s injury suffered by Daddy Ribbon is the focus of this episode, as it turns out I owe him an apology. After they leave the Pit Stop, he hobbles along with a wrapped up ankle and crutches most likely provided by the show. He is told to see a specialist – not The Specialist (and I have officially made that joke in two columns) – once they land in Tahiti, on the way to New Zealand. That is basically the challenge for injured Racers – if it is serious enough, they have to get it checked out in the local hospitals and they have to do it during Race time. You have to get lucky, should you get hurt, that it happens on a leg with a lot of down time. Daddy Ribbon got hurt right before a major travel leg – he got lots of airplane down time, and enough of a layover on flights in Tahiti to get checked out.

Oh, it’s a rupture. This ain’t getting better without serious medical attention – likely surgery. That would take them out of the Race. For now, they have chosen to go as long as Daddy can handle. I do think that they can go pretty far based solely on the fact that Daddy Ribbon can move faster on crutches than some can on their own feet. It’s rather impressive – he moves like a half-man, half-giant metal insect.

One thing came to a close – the Saga of the Second Express Pass. The Dudes saw an opportunity to play their card in a way that benefits them the most. Upon learning of Daddy Ribbon’s injury, they agree to honor the Fight Club Alliance and give the hobbled team the agreed upon Express Pass. The reason they chose to accept the deal? Ribbon probably ain’t long for the game, so this Pass won’t come back to bite them later on. Plus they keep their word. I think they needed to accept the terms in the first place, but in the end, this was the best case for them. Not to mention – Ribbon used it right away. And why not, if they are unsure how long they can make it, just use it ASAP before Daddy’s leg gives out.

One side effect from this transaction, and from other developments…The Fight Club Alliance is over. However, the less cool sequel – Fight Club 2: Tyler Durden’s Revenge – has begun. The Dudes have now teamed up with YouTube, Derby Moms and the Newlyweds in an effort to knock out Slap Shot. I understand the desire to be Racing without the large male professional athletes against you, but I have said this before, and will say it again – Run your Race. Don’t worry about anyone else.

So we lost the Express Pass drama, only to replace it with some anti-hockey drama.

The other development was the fact that this was an early Race Super Leg. As Ribbon hit the mat, they won a nice father-son trip to Bangkok – and I hope they have not watched The Hangover: Part Two. For many reasons. However, Phil surprised them with the news that this leg was still going. While Ribbon got lucky in this leg early on with the travel, doctors, Express Pass, etc. to help Daddy rest the leg, they got very unlucky to have gotten hurt just in time to essentially be Racing for three or four days straight.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Hockey Alliance earned some early success as the Newlyweds managed to get themselves and Slap Shot very lost. That’s the danger of following another team on the road – if they messed up, you’ve messed up. The Newlyweds drove very far the wrong way, but managed to take the following boys with them. The two teams arrived very late to the Roadblock and were lagging in eighth and ninth place when the episode ended mid-leg.

The Leg began with teams being told to leave Bora Bora and get to Phil’s hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand. I am sure the native Maori were not the ones to name that town. Slap Shot left at 8:54 am, and we learn that the first six teams finished the last leg separated by 12 minutes. Underwood leaves almost two hours after Slap Shot, the Newlyweds about 20 minutes after the singers, and Pam/Winnie take off about three hours after the first team. However, we have airport bunching coming up.

Upon landing at the transfer, the last become first as Pam and Winnie hustle and get on the first plane, earning a 30-minute lead. Slap Shot is tardy and winds up on the third plane heading out, but Mullet has managed to bungle the flights and has booked one about 90 minutes behind the others. They wander around the airport wondering aloud, “so where’s everybody at?” When you are asking that question on the Amazing Race, you most likely have done something very wrong.

Lucky for them, we have a double bunching – they eventually catch up at the Detour, and later on Chuck’s prowess with hillbilly tasks translated perfectly to the bizarre New Zealand obstacle course.

But first, the teams have to pick departure times at Buckleberry Ferry …er…at the Jet Boat Tours in Christchurch. You see, YouTube, if you’re going to make Lord of the Rings jokes, try and make them creative. Don’t just fall back on a “where’s Frodo” cop out. The teams start to file in with Ribbon amazingly arriving first. Followed by – Dudes, YouTube, Newlyweds, Pam/Winnie, Derby Moms, Underwood, Slap Shot, and Mullets at the rear.

After the boat ride – complete with yet another James Bond reference, and a more creative Miami Vice reference – we get the DetourRev it up or Reel it in. Basically, both tasks require driving an ATV to the location. Rev has them drive a vintage car through a coned course and the two drivers must combine to complete it in 83 seconds or less. In Reel, they have to fish in a pond and catch a fish at least one foot long. New Amazing Race stars Flash and Dirk are on site to hand out the clues.

Ribbon can’t drive the cars, so they have to bail. Connor offers to give the fishing five minutes of attempt – because there is one thing about fishing that we all know…you usually catch one instantly every time. Sigh. It is here where they choose to use the X-Pass and move on to the Roadblock. Dude Jessica is worried about her driving skills, but Dude John is the one who starts off with the parking brake on. YouTube Joey giggles his way though comparing it to a video game. Newlywed Katie just learned stick, and them proceeds to school her husband on how to drive. Max’s fourth try comes hysterically with him running over virtually every cone. TURN!!! PIVOT!!!

Roadblock – They have to go to Mt. Hutt Station and try to free Han Solo from the carbonite. Actually, while there they have to complete a wild obstacle course, I think created by very drunk hillbillies. Let me see if I get this right. They have to put on boots and a burlap sack and collect a dozen eggs from obstacles. They crawl through a molasses laden tunnel in The Box. Then through The Tube full of chicken feathers. Then the Season Six Lena Memorial hay bales. Then over a bunch of tires. Then down a big slip and slide on one of the tires, ending in a gross manure pond. Then they have to do at least one more time to get all of the eggs along the way. It is called the shemozzle. Which I thought was part of the Laverne and Shirley song.

Newlyweds and Slap Shot get lost along the way. Connor rocks it before most of the others arrive – including a rather impressive flip into the crap pool. Not sure how he managed to hold those eggs intact. Jennifer’s Beverly Hills upbringing becomes an issue – Grandpa John Wayne (really) would be ashamed at how little cowboy made it two generations.

Ribbon impressively arrives at the Pit Stop – wins their Bangkok trip and are told to keep going. Let’s assume that this is a non-elimination leg, because I doubt the show would have two eliminations in the same leg – that has been very rare in 21 previous Races. To be continued…

Route Markers
• I do not think YouTube actually speaks English. They are speaking some sort of made-up twin language or something. I need captions on these guys – it’s almost as bad as some of the foreign born Top Chef stars that I have to try to translate.
• Something has to be done about Dude John’s hair. He is getting close to resembling vintage Vanilla Ice. Word to your mother.
• Underwood thinks sleeping on cardboard lain on the airport floor is “Ghetto Fabulous.” Coincidentally, the name of the band that played at my prom.
• Anyone catch the evil looks exchanged between the Derby Moms in the Detour car? Just me? Well, watch for these two – I think mischief may follow them around. The fact that they nailed it on the first try may indicate some hard-core adventures in their past.
• Stunned. Stunned to see Mullet do the fishing task. Stunned.
• Newlyweds are a “warm-blooded Italian and a cold German” – which coincidentally was the special at the deli when I got my lunch yesterday.

Detour Rev – Just about everyone. Reel – just the Mullets. Express Pass – Ribbon

Roadblock – Shemozzle. Connor, John, Winnie, Chuck, Jennifer, Megan, Beth, Katie, and I think Anthony.

Order of Finish – Ribbon is first, the rest are on the course.

Next Week – Ribbon’s health is again an issue. We go to Bali and find monkeys. Caroline breaks down. And it appears we have the Season 14 Luke Memorial Surfboard challenge.

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Amazing Race 22 – Ep 2 – Where Do They Find These Teams?

Sometimes I wonder about this – same with Survivor – where do the producers find some of these contestants. I know some apply from all around the country. I know some are found by casting directors – S4 Dave/Jeff were found hanging out on the beach – and cast for their looks and perhaps personality. I just wonder about one thing primarily – how do they continually seem to find Racers who it seems have no idea what they are getting themselves into?

If you are cast on a reality show – not including the fans that actually apply, make a video, the whole nine yards – wouldn’t you do even a smattering of research about what it is you are agreeing to do? It’s like “The Bachelor” men and women being surprised at the vapidity of the show and the emotional connections formed and broken. Or Survivor contestants who refuse to help at camp, or bitch about hunger. Or Top Chef cooks who fail to make dishes in the allotted time. The list goes on. For the Race – its people who fail to learn basic skills before stepping to the Starting Line.

There are lots of offenders – primarily it’s those who fail to learn to drive stick, learn basic map reading skills, or don’t practice on bicycles. Secondary to that, those who fail to read their clues properly. Another subsection is those with massive phobias. I can grant some slack to those afraid of spiders, bees, snakes, etc. since it is not that common for the show to delve into those tasks (even if it is not unprecedented). However, fears of heights, tight spaces and water have little excuse. Every season features some aspect of these maladies – if you are going on the show, you need to be ready to do it.

I am someone who would love to Race someday. If that opportunity ever presented itself, I would instantly take standard transmission driving lessons. I would learn to ride a bike – I know, I know, trust me; I’ve heard all the teasing already. I would do some laps in the pool to get my swimming skills boned up. I would hit the gym and work on cardio and upper body strength. And, I would go into the Race knowing that I may have to dive out of a plane, rappel down a mountain, or worst of all for me, climb out on the outside of a building. And I would have to suck it up and do it. Because I CHOSE to go on a show that may make me do it.

But that’s me. Clearly, Team Uterus disagrees with this mindset.

Doctor, Doctor had an epically bad leg. The Twins went from being a founding member of the Fight Club Alliance to getting passed on a leg with no bunching by two teams who took four-hour penalties last week. Think about that. I’d have to say that kind of downfall is unprecedented in 21 previous seasons. And it all came down to the fact that the two of them failed to learn how to swim well.

The swim task wasn’t even that hard. It was mainly a treading water task – and these two are not out of shape. The task that nailed them had teams dive down to a not-so-deep level in the ocean and untie ropes holding a series of oysters. Even with the worst luck, chances are we are talking about only a handful of dives to find the correct mollusks. Smart teams even took the ropes back to the boat and opened them on the deck, enabling a bit of rest. Team YouTube was even smarter – keeping one team member on board to shuck them at a faster pace.

The Doctors almost quit the task before it even began!! And the funniest part – they considered taking the penalty for skipping a Detour before they even started. At least they realized the extreme folly of that task later on – not even the time penalty part – but the fact that there was ANOTHER TASK OPTION TO DO!!! The two of them stubbornly continued doing a task they were failing miserably at rather than flip and head over to the other one. Seriously, if you failed to get the skills needed to do this simple dive, at least try and see if the other one was easier! And guess what…it was! The only issue with the other one was that it took a fairly set amount of time to do – the oysters could have been done very quickly with some luck.

They were so bad at this that they kept dropping oysters off the rope on the way to the surface – how many of the dropped oysters were containing the required pearls they had to find? It was probably in the Top 5 of horribly run legs of the Amazing Race as you will find. And it all stems from two grown men failing to work on basic skills, or be willing to overcome fears.

In other Race news, The Fight Club Alliance is starting to fall apart. That was fast. First Team Uterus implodes and is ousted. Then Dude Jeff (I say him because Dudette Jess seemed pretty quiet on it) essentially backs out of the Fight Club agreement unless the First Rule of Fight Club is honored. No talking about Fight Club. That means they are holding onto the Second Express Pass – the Project Mayhem of this season. And I’m not going to link to every Fight Club reference I make this season because if the alliance lasts it will become tiresome. Just watch the movie. It’s a good one.

Needless to say, our cancer surviving dad and son are not pleased with this decision because, you know, they think the Express Pass is theirs due to the agreement. Team Ribbon walks away from the Dudes disgruntled and we get a lot of chatter from folks who won’t kiss up to the Dudes for the Express Pass. And I applaud them for that – it’s just an Express Pass! Just run your Race and let the Dudes do what they want. My question – do they even need to hand it out? Because what’s in it for them? Unless they want to save a weak team and possibly knock out a contender, it has no real value to them. And in that case, it has no value except in the heat of a challenge. Meh. I’m done with Express Pass drama.

Amazing Race 22 – Ep 1 – The Sandcastles Full of Quitters

The 22nd running of the Amazing Race kicked off this past Sunday, and it did something I have always wondered why it has basically avoided over all of these years – it went to the South Pacific. There are tons of islands all over the Pacific and with the exception of Australia and New Zealand (and Hawaii too), the Amazing Race has spent very little time exploring Oceania at all. Just stay off of this flight.
Gorgeous beaches and waters, hot weather, it seems like locations perfect for the show – and this premiere proved that to be true. Maybe we will have some visits to Samoa, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and all of the other island nations in the future.

But before teams flew to the tiny island of Bora Bora, part of the French Polynesian islands, they had to depart from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles – iconic site best known for its part in the James Dean classic, “Rebel Without A Cause.” Our new teams are (nicknames subject to change over time):

1 – Chuck/Wynona – The Mullets. Granted, it’s just his, but boy, what a mullet. It’s like a bald man had extra shag carpet from 1975 lying around and used it on his head – with a little bit of extra for good measure. Oh, he’s also a taxidermist who has a super creepy wall of dead animals staring back at him waiting for the zombie apocalypse to exact their revenge.
2 – Bates/Anthony – Team Slap Shot – The Battallia boys are pro hockey players, well, for Bates, was a pro hockey player. They have dental issues.
3 – Mona/Beth – Team Derby Moms – They are typical Colorado moms. Typical if you think that playing roller derby is typical. Boy, those kids better not get on her bad side.
4 – Max/Katie – Team Honeymoon – They are newlyweds from Buffalo. They must be cold. Seriously, though, they were married three weeks before the Race. And might I add…Max married up.
5 – Dave/Connor – Team Ribbon – They are a Utah dad and son, who are best friends. Oh, and both have beaten cancer. Dad tends to tear up a lot – and I have nothing snarky for that. I have mad respect for these two. Connor is a pro cyclist to boot – let’s hope through the Race he brings an iota of respect back to that sport.
6 – Jessica/John – Team Dude – There are longtime dating surfer dude and dudette. They are going to be a real physical threat.
7 – Idiris/Jamil – Team Uterus – They are twin brothers who both became OBGYN doctors. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, more power to them, but there is also something…really weird about that. I will never be able to tell them apart – I’m terrible telling twins apart.
8 – Pam/Winnie – Team, um…I have nothing that isn’t offensive. They are best friends. They are Asian women. I have no nicknames that work without being racist, sexist or completely unfunny. They like trapeze it seems, and one of them wants to tape a million bucks to her body like she’s Geena Davis in “Quick Change.”
9 – Joey/Megan – Team YouTube – They are YouTube hosts and have about a half million subscribers. From what I see, their web shows are probably completely insufferable.
10 – Matt/Daniel – Team Dead Meat – They are South Carolina firefighters. Their intro package is pathetic as it appears they are doing a fake call in the firehouse.
11 – Carole/Jennifer – Team Underwood – They are blonde female country singers. They are very pretty, as are basically all female country singers. They are willing to flirt – of course they are, because they are a stereotype. At least so far.

We learn from Phil that the winner of this leg will get two Express Passes, which is a cool idea since they can only keep one of them. The other one must be given to another team before the end of Leg 4. This adds a bit of strategy to the Race – which often lacks all semblance of strategy. However, it has manifested itself in something that isn’t really that big of a deal. Now it is true, the Express Pass is nice to have – especially later in the Race. But it is NOT worth the kind of drama the Show wants it to have.

What we have happen this leg is that the Show, as is tradition, provides a couple of flights for the Racers, separated by an ample block of time. The five teams on the first flight – Dudes, Mullets, Uterus, Ribbon and Pam/Winnie – cut a deal. Whoever wins the leg will give it to the team from their group that comes in second. All agree. And judging by the previews for the next ep…that agreement means nothing.

There was another somewhat unexpected moment of strategy this week. At the second of two Roadblocks, teams had a hardcore “needle in the haystack” challenge to overcome. A clue was buried under 11 one-pail sandcastles among 400 sandcastles along a fairly abandoned beach. The twist – once you bust one and it does not have a clue, you have to rebuild it. Nice. It is crazy Bora Bora hot and some teams spend hours on the task. Others, like Slap Shot and YouTube find it right away.

However, the final three teams on the beach have had enough. Underwood, Dead Meat and Honeymoon are all still there and facing more time under the hot sun seeking the clue. Katie comes up with the plan – they all quit simultaneously and take the four-hour penalty together. The next task was to construct an outrigger and paddle a mile to the Mat. Essentially, survival in the Race depends on completing this task.

Dead Meat agrees right away, and does so with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. How could two strapping firefighter men lose a canoe race to a married couple from Buffalo and a couple of female country singers? Impossible. What I suspect happened is they rushed through the assembly and did it badly, because, they flip over in the water. They helplessly watch the other two pass them and put them out of the Race. They will forever question the decision to give up on that Roadblock. That sandcastle next to Daniel’s last attempt could have been the one with the clue. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but one of them, is not sandcastles.

The other task was a ton of fun – if you are not petrified of heights like I am. Tandem skydive out of a helicopter. Wow. One thing…boy, that’s some beautiful camera work on those jumps. Emmy-worthy. Another thing – how can Mona be so thick and sign on the wrong line of the signup sheet?!? It was numbered and ranked. If not for the luck of the sandcastles, that could have really hurt their chances of surviving this leg.

It was a typical Amazing Race premiere episode – there are a lot of teams to follow, so it is hard to get a real feel for them. What we learned is that Team Dudes can be pretty sneaky, sis. Team Honeymoon imagines themselves to be a budding Romber wannabe team. Team Uterus is either going to be insufferable or hysterical, I can’t tell yet. The Mullets are going to be this season’s pandering to the rural fanbase. Past teams like David/Mary, Bopper, and the Cowboys have filled that role – and have been rather popular. They have also been walking stereotypes – and to varying degrees been the butt of jokes. I sense the Mullets to be next.

Early on, I kind of like Ribbon and the Asian ladies. I took an instant dislike to YouTube – but I am willing to accept that it was just some early Race enthusiasm that annoyed, but they will eventually calm down. I think Slap Shot is the early favorite to win – the athletic guys usually do a very good job on the Race. If they don’t win it, I think they will at least go very far.

Route Markers
• Within seconds, we have cheap Mullet humor as Chuck took a facesplat at the Starting Line.
• Of course Slap Shot and Underwood are getting together. The real Underwood got together with a hockey player.
• In the airport, we learn Papa Ribbon is afraid of heights and a Uterus Twin is afraid of water. I am sure that will not come into play later on…
• They may be working the villain angle, but I found it pretty funny to see Honeymooner Katie put on her “fake face and fake girl voice.” It is just so painful to actually talk to people, right?
• I think Surfer John may have compared their agreement to Fight Club. I am wondering if he’s really Tyler Durden.
• I enjoyed Connor’s jump, “I LOVE YOU MOM!” Well, she isn’t here, so she needs at least one shout-out.
• As I said earlier, the hoedown music for the Mullets just shows how much the Show respects their rural, Southern teams.
• The positive attitude Team Uterus had in the first half of the leg slowly devolved as Idires struggled with the sandcastles. If they hadn’t found the clue, he would have gone feral before it was over.
• Of course Wynona drinks vodka and 7-up. And of course her name is Wynona.
• Thank you cameraman for the gratuitous Carolina cleavage shot during the sandcastles. Thank you.
• What’s with the random dogs wandering during the challenge? I was hoping one would be Champion, the Three-Legged Dog.

Roadblock 1 – The skydive. Connor, Winnie, John, Chuck, Jamil, Caroline, Anthony, Matt, Max, Mona, Meghan.

Roadblock 2 – The sandcastles. Jessica, Idires, Wynona, Bates, Beth, Katie, Dave, Pam. Joey, Daniel, Jennifer

Order of Finish – Dudes (Two Express Passes), Slap Shot, Ribbon, Pam/Winnie, Derby Moms, YouTube, Mullet, Uterus, Honeymooners, Underwood and Dead Meat (ELIMINATED).

Next Week – The Fight Club Alliance is falling apart. And Dave thinks he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Uh oh.

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The Amazing Race, Feb. 17 – Looking for a Vodka-7 But Finding a Clue

Really? The next season of The Amazing Race is starting up already? It seems like it was just a few days ago that the Beekman Boys won the Race. How are we looking at another new crop of teams already? And it’s really season 22? All this from a show that was on its way to cancellation before hitting season 5.

The eleven teams will be starting from Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory to be exact. The teams are:

Chuck and Wynona, married 15 years, Alabama. He says they’re a cross between redneck and country. He has a mullet, yet has no idea what it is. He loves taxidermy and calls it an obsession along with hunting. For him there’s nothing like killing an animal, eating it, and keeping it on your wall forever. Alrighty.

Bates and Anthony, brothers and professional hockey players, North Carolina. Bates has played for fifteen years, and his ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but this is a new goal for him. Anthony is missing his front teeth, probably thanks to a puck.

Mona and Beth, working moms, Colorado. They refer to themselves as stereotypical soccer moms and mothers of three and are also roller derby girls. They think they’ll kick some ass on the Race.

Max and Katie, newlyweds, Buffalo. They were married for just three weeks before leaving on the Race and are considering this their honeymoon. She will knock out anyone who gets in their way, and he refers to her as his bulldog.

Dave and Connor, father and son, Salt Lake City. They are best friends and share nearly everything including having cancer. Dad had prostate cancer; son had testicular cancer. But for Dad, the news that his son had cancer was the hardest news he has ever gotten. Fortunately, they’re both cancer-free, and Connor is now a professional cyclist. Every day is a gift, and that’s how they will look at the Race.

Jessica and John, dating, Southern California. They’ve been dating for four years and have thought about marriage, but don’t want to rush into it. Clearly, though, she wouldn’t mind it a bit. They’re both surfers too.

Idries and Jamil, twin doctors, Chicago. They’re both OB/GYNs and spend their time together 24/7, figuring it’s like having a clone. Yet one of them, I can’t tell them apart, says he will be the leader and his brother the follower. From hereon out, they’ll be “The Twins” or “The OB/GYNs.” I will never be able to tell them apart or who is doing which task.

Pam and Winnie, best friends, Los Angeles. They realize they don’t look like tough girls but say they aren’t afraid of anything. They aren’t looking for love unless you have a million dollars taped to your body. If they win the Race, Phil Keoghan needs to be careful presenting them with that big check.

Joey and Meghan, YouTube sensations, Los Angeles. They figure they’ll dominate the Race. Combined, they have over half a million subscribers on their YouTube channel. They’re cute, yeah, but he says they’re also competitive.

Matt and Daniel, best friends and firefighters from South Carolina. They’ve been best friends since they were five years old and have spent the past six years at the same station, same shift, and same truck. They have each other’s backs and are confident they can win this.

Caroline and Jennifer, country singers, Nashville. They are two members of the band Stealing Angels. They’ve been on tour for the last four or five years and promise to flirt if they have to to win. They’ve both looking for love and possibly husbands, but figure they’ve been doing it in the wrong places.

Amazing Race 21 – Finale – You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

The Finale this season is basically two episodes – just as I suspected last week. And boy, I can also see why they chose to structure the season the way they did. It was compelling to see the Hairs deal with their passport problems in Russia and it deserved attention. Now we see why it was especially important to focus so deeply on the descent into travel hell experienced by the Goats and Apprentice. It was to set up this stunning finale. And, seriously Race fans, this was a stunning finale, and one of the best ones. And it ended with one of my favorite final tasks in Show history.

And how many sentences can I begin with “and”? Shrunk and White are going to come find me and conk me on the head with a flagpole, just like Lexi. I’m sorry, Lexi, that just doesn’t get old.

Before we talk about what happened and who won, let’s talk a bit about that final task, and in fact, the series of final tasks in the New York leg of the Race. Because I felt that it was old school racing – tough, but simple tasks that featured local customs and icons. Perfect.

Task 1 – Go to Coney Island. Except they only had a postcard of Coney Island to figure it out. This wouldn’t be too tough to do, especially on a plane full of New Yorkers returning from Paris. The teams piled into cabs and made their way to Coney Island. Just a moment, though, to talk about how the Show continues to figure out ways to send teams to places just before they are hit by massive natural disasters – New Orleans, Sri Lanka, etc. Hang in there, Coney Island.

The clue was cleverly hidden. A series of billboards are lined up outside the park. One has in huge letters across the top – “The Amazing” – with “Houdini” on the bottom. Below the top lettering is a small sign saying to “Race to the Brooklyn Navy Yards.” Nice touch. The Amazing + Race. The teams had many troubles trying to figure that one out.

At the Navy Yards, we had Roadblock #1 where one member had to recreate a Houdini move – dangle upside down and try to remove a straight jacket. I assume the jacket was not really tied tightly or else the method of containment seems rather flawed. It was fun watching them do this one and end with a sudden bungee drop. From here, they had to find the “first pizza place in America.” Any good New Yorker will tell you automatically “Lombardi’s” in Manhattan. These teams had to first get an IPhone to look it up before crossing the river.

Here the Race threw me off – I expected an eating challenge a la the pizza in Chicago during the final leg of Season 6. Instead, teams had to deliver 10 pizzas in three groups to three addresses in Little Italy. This sounds daunting to some, but in reality, Little Italy has been reduced to just a few blocks now as Chinatown has essentially grown exponentially it has replaced it. It couldn’t have been too hard to find those addresses. Now, mixing up the pizzas? That’s another story altogether. In fact, I thought that error was going to be the deciding moment of the Race, as what often happens in the final leg where one error leads to a lead which can never be surmounted.

However, that was not the case. Teams were given a swath of cloth with the UN logo and told nothing else. Instantly, I knew it was the UN logo. However, unlike most of the finalists I can actually name more than half of the countries in the world. No surprise the logo escaped them. Once at the iconic building, teams had the traditional memory challenge to wrap up the season. And they saw it coming too, except this time the show had a simple and diabolical twist.

You say goodbye, and I say hello. Slyly, all season long, the greeters at each Pit Stop has said hello to arriving Racers as they hit the mat, and goodbye as they left. Phil has pointed out to each of them that this is how you say hello and goodbye in the native languages. Well, that throwaway bit of info decided the big prize – teams had to raise flags with the hello and goodbyes from each country, in that order, underneath each flag. No one was prepared for this task. They battled until it became dark before one team was able to figure it out and make their way to the Finish Line at Gotham Hall on 36th Street in Manhattan.

Spoiler after the jump…

The Amazing Race, Dec. 9 – “You Just Can’t Quit”

The timeframe between the final four teams on The Amazing Race seems pretty tight, meaning it can literally be anyone's race to win tonight on the finale. With a two-hour episode, there will be at least one flight, if not two, meaning everyone stands the chance of being completely caught up with each other.

The smart choice for winners would be either Trey and Lexi or Chippendale dancers Jaymes and James, but depending on the final challenges, I wouldn't be shocked seeing The Beekman Boys Brent and Josh or Sisters Natalie and Nadiya taking it, even though the twins will need to get through a Speed Bump on the way.

The first team to leave Mallorca, Spain, are Trey and Lexi at 9:32 AM. Their clue tells them to make their way to Barcelona, then make their way to Loire Valley in France to get their next clue sitting on a Ford Escape. Trey mentions their alliance with sisters Natalie and Nadiya, yet says they're racing for a million dollars, so will do whatever it takes to get to the final three.

Jaymes and James leave at 9:46 AM. They admit they struggled throughout the Race, but they have been hungry all along. They had a reason to win this Race. Jaymes' father has cancer, and he needs to save the day for him. James' mom has spent her life taking care of special needs kids, and he thinks ti's time for someone to take care of her.

The Beekmans leave at 10:27. Josh thinks if they make it to the final three, it will blow their minds just as much as everyone else's, as they've been hanging on by the edge of their teeth since the beginning.

The Sisters are the last to leave at 11:14 AM. They think it's amazing to be in the final four with their two favorite teams since the beginning, that being the Chippendales and James2. They think they can rely on them to help them through this leg of the Race to get through their Speed Bump. They think the Beekmans have hung around for a reason, but they're about to take a spot out.

All four teams fly to Barcelona, then hop on a train to France. The Sisters think they want this more than the Beekmans, and they have a “secret pow wow” with the other two teams, creating a “Dream Team” designed to knock the goat farmers out of the Race on this final elimination. The team grows silent once they realize the Beekmans are sitting behind them and listening.

Josh mentions they have reached a mental decision point once they realized there really was an official alliance against them. These people that they thought were so nice were actually working against them. It reminds the two of them of being in high school again. They believe it's hard for some people to keep their perspective of needing to run the Race for themselves, and either they can be demoralized by that, or let it motivate them.

The four teams reach France and take off to look for the Escapes. The clue tells them to pick up eight empty crates from a cafe, use the hands-free liftgate on the Escape to kick it open to load the crates, then kick it again to close it. Apparently we're selling Escapes tonight. They'll drive to Chateau de Villandry to look for a stone dog and their next clue.

James2 are working to figure out what it means to kick the liftgate open on the Escape. It seems you just have to kick anywhere on the bumper to get it to work. It's a pretty cool feature, although I think I would get more use out of the cars with the parallel-parking aid that they featured last season. Brent has decided he wants one of these if they win the million dollars.

While the Dream Team work together to find directions, the Beekmans just sit tight and wait to follow the leader. Of course we know the Monster Truckers would have chosen to go their own way, even if it meant getting eliminated. Trey and Lexi end up leading the pack. Like Brent, James is in the new-car mode, but instead of buying one, he is hoping to win one if they come in first, as he wants to give it to his mom, as she's needed one for awhile and walks to work. He thinks she should have that convenience at her age.

The Sisters mention the Beekmans sneaking up from behind, while Brent is finding this new attention on them kind of flattering. All this time they were thinking the others didn't see them as a threat. They're just going to let the others stir in their nerves. The Sisters mention that all this time they “thought the gays weren't a threat,” but now they're just riding their coat tails. They can't believe everything could be compromised by them.

The first three teams stop to coordinate their directions, and the Sisters yell out that they need to lose the Beekmans. It doesn't work, as all four teams reach the Chateau to start searching for the Stone Dog. Not speaking French, the three girls are yelling “woof, woof, woof” at the people behind a chained-off area, and pantomiming dog paws with their hands.

Josh walks up and knows how to speak in French. Suddenly James2 are scared to be in France and know the team they're trying to lose speaks French. James calls it another card up their sleeves. Suddenly Josh is running as fast as them, too. Jaymes thought Josh was hurt, but now he seems to have a bionic ankle as he runs through the gardens to reach the stone dog and the clue.

Amazing Race 21 – Episode 10 – To Dream The Impossible Dream

For those who don’t get the title – Man of La Mancha. Don Quixote. Oh, you’ll see.

I probably should have realized once I saw that the season finale this Sunday was two hours long that this week was going to be a non-elimination. But, I wasn’t paying attention, and so I was actually surprised when this leg led to a reprieve. It’s a bit different than recent seasons, and I am assuming they did it this way because of the passport episode and the desire to leave a cliffhanger mid-leg. Whatever, all it really did is leave me confused. So, next week we will likely have our final elimination at around 9 pm (or likely about 9:37 pm after the football game runs long and pushes the old men, old women and that one 20something woman from 60 Minutes back into the 8 pm hour), and then the Final Leg.

So, non-elimination. Meh. That renders the tasks mainly moot – but we do have some things to talk about.

First – I’ve given the Twins some crap about the “Twinnie” and about the puzzling feud with Team Apprentice, but I have continually given them props for being strong competitors and good Racers. That’s why I was STUNNED when they got in the car and couldn’t drive a friggin’ stick shift. Now, I am not walking into that glass house – I cannot drive a stick either. Never had to. My parents’ cars were all standard, and it was never taught. I tried to learn from an ex-girlfriend – although calling her a girlfriend is really stretching the truth, that was not a very healthy relationship – but she never finished the lessons by the time we were finished.

However, I would learn how to drive if I was going on the Race! And make sure I knew how to drive it well enough to complete a task or a bit of travel. This could have been it for the Twins and they would have only had themselves to blame. They came in last because they couldn’t drive that car. There was no other reason.

And while I’m at it…what’s with Episode 10 being the first one requiring teams to drive themselves? That used to be a staple of the show – climb into the product placement car and navigate your ass around Morocco, or something. I know the show likes the randomness of the taxi, but how about the conflict that comes with teams driving aimlessly? Or how about perhaps getting a Season 1 Paul/Amie driving around the desert for about a week, lost beyond belief, and beginning to scare the other teams? Episode 10? Shame, Show. Season 22 better fix this problem.

Second – We, the viewer, don’t really notice this because we are only viewing a tiny fraction of the Racers’ experience, but man, the Goats were far behind. The other teams really had no idea what was going on with the stragglers. They have been leaving multiple hours ahead of the Goats/Apprentice/Hairs in recent legs. Those back teams have had adventures the others are probably just learning about. The Goats were over seven hours behind the Twins, and three hours out of third place. They were so far back they couldn’t even get bunched at the airport in Holland. They needed a bunching at the ferry to catch up, and the others finally learned who was still with them. And that reaction of glee in seeing the Goats was not because of how nice the boys are, it was pleasure in seeing Apprentice out. It was at that moment I began to root hard for the Goats and hope they manage to pull this whole thing off.

Oh, and about that ferry. What awful ferry has that huge of a gap between services? The Twins left Amsterdam on a 6 am flight for Spain. The ferry to Mallorca opened at 10 and the first ferry they could book left at 11 pm?!? Does that mean that nobody went to Mallorca at all that day? Were the ferries all booked ahead of time? Was there a bar mitzvah on the ferry and it was rented out? Is that how you run a ferry business? Or was it planned this way to enable the Goats to catch up and avoid the poor Guidos in Season 1 racing by themselves for the last few legs? Hmmm.

And one more – task selection. Sometimes you don’t know what the Roadblock is going to be, I get that. The little clue is rather cryptic at times. And I know that sometimes you will assume a task and get something totally different – a la the family bike task during the Family Edition’s trip to the Talladega Speedway. But if you have a team member nursing a sore ankle and you roll into a tennis center, perhaps it is worth playing it safe and assuming a physical tennis challenge. If you are wrong, and it turns out you are searching 5000 balls for one with Race colors, then so be it. But for some reason, the Goats didn’t agree. Josh hurt his ankle in the Switchback last week and was hobbling. I don’t care if Brent has never even watched the U.S. Open on TV, he should have been doing that task. Strange, strange choice from the Goats.

Task 1 – Find the devils. – Part of me wanted a bunch of dudes in face paint yelling about hockey, but instead teams had to find some Mallorcan Devil Dance and endure a bunch of dudes dressed up like an Evil Cats production (Now and Forever) prancing around, playing with fire and getting up in the Racers’ grills. There seemed to be no real way of determining which devil had the clue either – just wait for him to reveal himself. Whatever.

Roadblock – Who Wants To Get Slammed? – No, that’s not an NC-17 game show. That’s the clue at the tennis center – yeah, good call Goats. The Show goes to Rafael Nadal’s hometown and has them play tennis where he learned to become the King of Clay. All you had to do was return 20 balls from a bucket that a machine will be spitting out at you from across the net. I’d rock this challenge – in my youth I was a decent tennis player. The trick here is to just stay calm and focus on every other ball hit to you. Just make contact and send it over – you aren’t trying to win a point, just put it in bounds.

Trey is apparently all-American or something, but he’s the only one who aces it (see what I did there?). James does ok, but Josh and Nad struggle. Nad doesn’t even know how to hold the racquet. She holds it like a cricket bat. There is really no drama here – other than the Goats and Twins finishing almost simultaneously.

Detour – Spin It or Bull itSpin has them repair windmill blades. Wait, didn’t we just leave Amsterdam? All they have to do is attach two big blades – it sounds bad on paper, but they seemed light and easy to mirror how the other blades were attached. In Bull, you enter the matador’s arena and get in some weird training bull suit, with one in the front of the “bull” – blind and playing the role of the horns. The other team member is in the back, with their head sticking out, barking directions. You slalom through the arena, having to go through eight capes and hit a bulls eye in two minutes.

To be honest, both tasks seemed ridiculously simple. And in fact, no one really struggled much. Texas underestimated the difficulty of the course at first, and overestimated Trey’s ability to speak. Once Lexi got in the back, they moved efficiently. The Twins had some assembly problems, but really didn’t struggle that much.

In the end, the Twins fell behind from bad driving and still were only a little bit behind the Goats. They have a Speed Bump in the next leg, but we all know how simple it will be. It’s anyone’s ballgame, even if it would really take a small miracle for the Goats to win anything.

The Amazing Race, Dec. 2 – Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

I don't know how they do it, but the Fabulous Beekman Boys, Josh and Brent, just keep hanging on week after week. They survived a non-elimination, and somehow have always been second to last or just a little before since the beginning of this season of The Amazing Race. I think they're due to come in first on a leg.

The first team to leave Amsterdam are sisters Natalie and Nadiya at 2:55 AM. Their clue tells them to fly to Barcelona, Spain. When they touch down, they'll need to make their way to the Port of Barcelona and catch an overnight ferry to the Island of Mallorca. There they'll watch a Devils and Demons exhibition and get a clue from one of the devils.

The sisters mention that they think they deserve to be in the top three since they have such a huge lead on everyone. Their original goal was just to not be eliminated first. They board a 6:00 AM flight out of Amsterdam, the only team to catch the flight, because of their huge lead.

Chippendale dancers James and Jaymes leave at 5:57 AM and discuss U-turning their friends Ryan and Abbie. They don't even know if they ended up going home and have no idea who the fourth team is, not knowing that it's Josh and Brent. Trey and Lexi leave at 6:38 AM, and he mentions they're feeling great at this point in the Race. They know they can count on each other. James2 grab a 7:20 AM flight to Barcelona. Trey and Lexi grab a flight leaving at 7:55 AM.

The sisters are the first team to land in Barcelona at 9 AM. They look to get tickets on the overnight ferry and find it doesn't open until 10 AM.

Josh and Brent are the last to depart at 9:38 AM and discuss playing catchup for three legs. They've had good luck, bad luck, and dumb luck, but they must be doing something right. They mention the difficulty in not seeing anyone else racing. Josh had an ankle injury on the last leg, and Brent encourages him to do some Lamaze breathing. They realize they're the team that is on each season that you have no idea how they make it to the end. They catch a flight out of Amsterdam and are headed to Barcelona.

James2 get to the port and run into the sisters with giant hugs all around. They go book tickets and find the first boat out is at 11 PM. Jaymes is a bit incredulous. As they leave they run into Trey and Lexi, and they all catch up regarding the U-Turn, then hit the beach while they wait for their 11 PM boat. They have no idea who the fourth team is and scream and yell when they see the Beekmans with more hugs all around. James is happy it all worked out right that they sent the stronger team home.

The boat leaves at 11 PM with all four teams aboard. They reach Palma de Mallorca the next morning and all catch cabs. The Beekmans are the first team to reach what they think is the site of the Devils and Demons expedition, the Dalt Murada, but it seems to be the wrong place. A worker shows them another similarly-named place.

The other three teams reach the expedition and fight their way through to get the clues. Eventually they find the right demon or devil to get the clue. The clue tells them to drive themselves to Centro de Alto Rendimiento. They all decide to follow each other in the Ford Focuses. The Beekmans arrive just after and approach everyone it seems before they get the clue.

Lexi mentions that they have lost the sisters. They were right with them, but have disappeared, so she wonders if they got turned around. James2 are wondering the same thing. The sisters are trying to figure out how to drive the car with the stick shift. They had discussed before the Race that Nadiya would be in charge of learning to drive stick, and it's not going well. She asks what's wrong with the car, and Natalie asks what's wrong with her. She eventually gets moving.

Josh is feeling really good about their place in the Race now that they're driving, as they haven't been in a position to drive and read a map so far on the race, but Josh feels it's giving them a big confidence boost. This part is easy to them.

James2 and Trey and Lexi reach Centro de Alto Rendimiento and find a Roadblock. One person from each team will text their skills on the clay tennis courts of a pro. They will need to successfully return twenty balls inbounds before their basket of balls is empty. Trey and James will be doing this one.

Trey plays tennis, so feels this is a great shot for him and Lexi. He gets the balls across like he's firing them off. Jaymes looks at him and figures if you have the Andre Agassi headband, you're going to play like Andre Agassi. James isn't having the same luck with the machine shooting the balls out, saying they're low fastballs, knuckballs, curveballs, etc., and he's not even close. Trey gets his twenty across the court very quickly, and he and Lexi get their next clue to drive to the town of Coves de Campanet where they will need to follow the music that will lead them to the next clue.

James only has six balls in and runs out of balls in his basket, so he has to start over. Josh thinks his ankle is feeling much better and that having it elevated all night on the ferry was helpful. Brent wants him to know he shouldn't use it as an excuse. Nadiya and Natalie are still fighting the stick shift. James finally completes the Roadblock, and he and Jaymes get the next clue.

The Beekmans arrive and ask James2 where they are supposed to go. After they take off, Jaymes asks James when the last time was that he played tennis, and he believes it was probably when he was in fifth grade.

Josh decides he'll do this challenge. Neither he nor Brent have planed tennis in the past twenty-five years or so. He forgot that his ankle was so bad, and the first time he plants his foot on the court, it rolls to remind him how bad it is. Brent jokes that he looks like Monica Seles on the court. They have talked about Josh needing to get his anxiety level under control, but Brent thinks if he hasn't done it so far in his 42 years of life, he probably won't accomplish it on the Race. He gets just four balls out of his first basket.

Trey and Lexi stop and ask for directions and believe they'll to the nest stop soon. Brent tells Josh he's hitting all the balls out of bounds, and they need to get it done before the sisters get there. He only gets 10 balls out of his second basket and sits down to take a break.

Amazing Race 21 – Episode 9 – Do We Really Have To Talk About The U-Turn Again?

Ah, crap.

We have to talk about the U-Turn again. Seriously. I expect to hear “I Got You Babe” playing on the clock radio. And having to address this one more time is taking me away from being pissed about Team Apprentice’s removal from the Race – and connected to that elimination – the inexplicable dislike shown to this team by some of the other teams. The dynamic of this season continues to be incredibly strange.

But first, the U-Turn. For those who continue to think poorly of teams that use it – and how it “speaks volumes about” the other team (looking right at you Abbie and Ryan – you know I love you guys, but come on) – let me ask you a question. Do you hold the “Draw Four” card in Uno? Do you boo when your team blocks a field goal? Do you cry foul when someone kings a checker? No. Because these are rules of the games you have agreed to play. The minute you start running when Phil’s eyebrow tells you to, you have agreed to Race according to the rules provided. Parts of those rules include the existence of the U-Turn.

Just as you are entitled to build hotels in Monopoly, you are entitled to use a U-Turn. And just like with Monopoly, if you care to win, you should make sure you use it.

I have zero problem with Magic Mike using the U-Turn this week. None. It was actually the correct play. They were not in danger of elimination, so no need to U-Turn someone close to them in time. Why not U-Turn a team definitely behind you if it could guarantee their elimination? And given the opportunity, why not take out a serious threat to your chance of winning the Race? They debated it, and I think they were clearly disturbed about the motivations of the other teams who hatched a rather good plan to eliminate Team Apprentice. However, they reached their decision with the correct motivation – Team Apprentice has a better shot at threatening their win than the Goats. Take them out. Smart play by Magic Mike, and I respect it. And I think, out of the moment, Team Apprentice respects it too.

Now, as for the Twins and Texas. Shame, shame, know your name. I give the Twins full and mad props for devising a rather ingenious strategy to the Double U-Turn. The first team to arrive at the station would U-Turn Apprentice. The second team would U-Turn the first team, thus taking away Apprentice’s only play – U-Turning the Goats. Brilliant. What I do not like is their motivation for doing so – directly from the mouth of the Twins – Apprentice is “annoying” and due to win $2 million if the won. The hell. I would applaud them if they said to the camera – “We want to take out Abbie and Ryan because they are a serious threat to win the Race if we don’t take them out. We are using the U-Turn to better our chances to win.” Instead, they used it like 15-year-olds pissed off about what their besties said about them in homeroom.

First, the “annoying” crack. I have watched every second of every episode of the Amazing Race dating back to the first run (or with Kevin/Drew, walk) from the very first starting line in New York City. I have seen annoying teams. Oh, my. Annoying teams galore. In fact, I am watching one team right now who won’t stop screaming everything they say, and won’t stop repeating the exact same thing over and over and over again. And it ain’t Abbie and Ryan. I’m looking at you, Twinnies. Pot. Kettle.

If anything, again, Abbie and Ryan have come across as a rather genial team. Sure, they started the Race off with a lot of cockiness and with a laughable goal of beating the record of leg wins. Sure, Ryan has a tendency to say too much and be a bit full of himself. I get that. However, one thing we have watched with these two is absolutely no intrateam squabbles. Remember Jonathan and Victoria? Remember Brendon and Rachel? Remember Mika and Canaan? Remember Terence and Sarah? Remember Nathan and Jennifer? Oh, the list of annoying couples just goes on and on. None of that from Apprentice.

In fact, we have seen them and the Goats develop the strangest alliance in Show history. Granted, it is an alliance forged two episodes ago out of a horrible airport obstacle. They were forced to race many hours behind the other teams. Even an airport bunching this week couldn’t make up that difference. However, they didn’t have to Race together. They could have shook hands at the airport and got balls to the wall against each other – something which has been the norm in past seasons in identical situations. I recall Steve/Dave and David/Jeff in Season 4 stuck at an airport in France doing the same thing. Instead, the Goats and Apprentice (Apprengoat?) said to hell with the Race and did it together. The same situation presented itself this week and they did the same thing.

And Apprentice released the Goats from their word to Race together once the U-turning happened. At the second Detour, we also got one of the more endearing moments in Race history. In the rain, Abbie had to beg for Euros as Ryan cranked the organ in the streets of Amsterdam. And one woman elected to dance with Abbie. A lot. A whole lot. She then gave them several Euros to enable them to finish the task, and Abbie gave her a hug. And then Ryan did. And then Abbie again. And boy, what a hug, coupled with tears. It was one of those reality moments in reality programming which is far too rare. I call that kind of hug a “mom hug” – one that is reminiscent of when you were a kid and crying over whatever life threw out at you and your mom just enveloped you with an embrace. And all was good. I recall getting a mom hug from my aunt when my mom died which I can still recall, and do so at times of despair. Mom hugs. Good for what ails you.

Now, about the $2 million thing. Twinnies. Nat and Nad. And Texas. Lexi and dude who rarely talks. I really need to ask you this – why do you give a shit how much money Abbie and Ryan would win? It’s not your money. It’s CBS’ money. Just shut up and try to win your own million. And in the alternate universe where Apprentice did win the $2 mil, just suck it up and try harder to win the first leg when you come back for Unfinished Business 2. Seriously teams on the Race – stop U-Turning teams for revenge, jealousy or other stupid reasons.

So, it is official now – with Team Apprentice out, my allegiances fall squarely on the Goats and Magic Mike. I love the way Y is running this Race – he is clearly having fun, like in moments where he talks to ducks swimming on Amsterdam canals. His cause is a good one – I wish I could have given my parents hundreds of thousands of dollars to help them beat cancer. And the Goats just seem like good guys and have the Abbie and Ryan stamp of approval. I don’t think the Goats can win the whole thing – they have barely hung on for just about the entire Race – but stranger things have happened. Danielle won a share of the title against a roster of All-Stars – ANYTHING can happen.

The Amazing Race, Nov. 25 – Friendship vs. Playing the Game

This season of The Amazing Race is starting to shape up. Only the strongest of racers are left, and they're all on an equal playing ground after twins Natalie and Nadiya used their Express Pass. Some might say goat farmers Josh and Brent aren't strong racers, but they find a way to keep moving through no matter what. And making it an even more tense leg of the Race, there will be a Double U-Turn. Who will get stuck?

The first team to leave Moscow are Chippendale dancers Jaymes and James at 7:32 PM. Their clue is a flag. They need to figure this is the flag for Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and once there, must travel by rail to the Central Train Station to search for their next clue. James2 say people are relying on them that they need to take care of with their possible winning. Jaymes father is dealing with cancer while working fifty to sixty hours a week, so he wants to tell him he doesn't have to worry about paying bills anymore and just needs to get better. James2 determine they are going to Holland.

Trey and Lexie (does her name have an E on the end or no? I swear the show displays it differently each week) are the next team to leave at 7:49 PM. They discuss working alongside James2, and that it's great to have another team you're friends with and enjoy competing with, and the same can be said for the sisters. They ask their cabdriver what country the flag represents, and he tells them it's France. Lexie is excited to go to Paris while Trey says the only French he knows is “oui.” The two teams meet up at the airport, and James2 tell them they are going to Holland and not France.

The sisters leave next almost an hour-and-a-half later. They, too, think they're going to France. They are hoping for a U-Turn to be able to turn Abbie and Ryan around. For one, they're racing for two million dollars and not just one, and for another because they're just annoying. The sisters find they are going to the Netherlands and not France.

The other two teams are looking for flights to Amsterdam and are told it's too late and that there will be no flights out tonight. There is one leaving the next day at 10:45 AM and arriving at 12:15, but there are only three seats left. There's also a Cypress Airlines flight connecting in Larnaca and arriving at 1 PM. James2 stays with that earlier flight, while Trey and Lexi head to Cypress.

The sisters arrive at the airport and find a flight connecting in Rome and arriving in Amsterdam at 11:30. They are told the one-hour layover is not enough time to connect and reply that it's on them if they don't make the flight on time. The airline personnel disagrees. James2 are getting that first flight and happy that it's direct with no connecting flight. Trey and Lexi get the Cypress Airlines flight. The sisters call themselves the best and badass and refuse to give up. They convince the personnel to give them the 11:30 flight.

Abbie and Ryan leave the next morning at 5:28 AM. He says they want to win, and if someone's going down, it's not going to be them. They have a few more legs to catch up and hope the U-Turn isn't on the other side of the flight. They know the sisters and Trey and Lexi will U-turn them, but don't think James2 will. They think they still have a four-hour lead on “The Beekmans,” Josh and Brent, and despite racing with them the last leg, Abbie and Ryan plan to keep sending the sheep to slaughter. At least they know their flags, and know that the flag right-side up is Amsterdam, and upside down France.

The other three teams are waiting at the airport and discussing the U-Turn. They know Abbie and Ryan will use it. Jaymes is worried it will be used on them, but the sisters tell them they are sure it will be them because Abbie and Ryan hate them. The plan is whoever gets to the U-Turn first will use it on Abbie and Ryan, and whoever gets there second will U-Turn the first team that has already passed since they are already safe. That's actually pretty smart. One of the sisters determines “Brown James” is in charge of this, because “Blonde Jaymes” is too nice. He doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings and doesn't want to lose a friend if he doesn't need to.

Abbie and Ryan are searching for flights and find one that passes through Frankfurt which is what killed them before when they lost a day and ended up in the back of the pack with the Beekmans. But if they don't take it, they won't get in until 6 PM. They decide just to book it as they will get to Frankfurt at 10:30. They are being smarter and booking multiple connecting flights, which i didn't know was allowed.

The Beekmans are the last to leave at 8:11 AM. They think everyone is going to want to keep them in the race because they think they are the weakest, and they're okay with that. If they get carried into the final three by another team, they'll take it.

The sisters are connecting in Rome and due to arrive at 11:30 AM, James2 are flying direct and arriving at 12:15 PM, Trey and Lexi are connecting in Larnaca and due to arrive at 1:05 PM, and Abbie and Ryan have booked two connecting flights in Frankfurt which will get them there at either 12:45 or 2:05 PM. The Beekmans take a flight that is connecting in Oslo.

The first team to arrive in Amsterdam is indeed the sisters, who obviously made their connecting flight. They board the train to the next clue. The Beekmans are boarding their plane and due to arrive at 4:35. The sisters find the cluebox, a Fast Forward. For this, they will need to find a marked bus at the Van Gogh Cafe. They look for locals to help them and get on a rickshaw. James2 arrive and board the train. The sisters reach the cafe and find the bus. They sit right in the front and take off.