Last night’s episode of The Amazing Race began with a brief prologue in which contestants worked on fixing up a schoolhouse in Ghana. It was kind of like NBC’s School Pride, except more inspiring and not awful.
From there, teams were directed to fly up to the Arctic Circle and visit the town of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Socioeconomically speaking, Sweden is a utopian paradise ruled by happy forest elves. Swedish citizens spend their days indulging in their three favorite hobbies: winning gold medals in the Winter Olympics, flying around on reindeer, and questioning the existence of God. The country is ranked number one on The Economist’s Democracy Index, which probably means it’s socialist, but since Sweden invented both ABBA and IKEA, maybe this socialism thing is worth another look, America! Also, everybody, they have a hotel made out of ice. Like you, I’ve always secretly dreamed about living in an ice palace (or at least an ice fortress), so when teams were instructed to head to ICEHOTEL, I practically applauded.
The teams were excited to leave the 100-degree weather behind them. “Thank you, Jesus, we’re going to ice!” proclaimed Mallory. One of the Volleyball players – let’s say it was Rachel, for the sake of argument – proudly noted her Swedish heritage. (Nat is Swedish, too. Seriously, people, there’s a lot of blonde going on this season.) Since all the teams were booked on the same flight (connecting through Frankfurt), I figured this leg of the race would even out the pack.
But surprise! Savvy Kevin called in and found an earlier flight leaving out of Frankfurt. Even savvier, Kevin and Michael decided to tell Gary and Mallory about the earlier flight. I always hesitate to throw the term “alliance” around on Race, but if you’re going to pair up with anybody, you might as well go with Captain America and his daughter, Heavily-Caffeinated-Shirley-Temple. Sure enough, Mallory instantly charmed a Lufthansa employee into getting them all booked on the earlier flight. “I’m so glad I got blonde hair!” said the cherubic beauty queen, who will not rest until she charms every single person on earth.
Meanwhile, Team QVC noticed that the Doctors were fussing around at the internet café. “They’re making a plan? That’s what we always want to do!” said Brook. Kat’s girl-power instincts led her to tell the home shopping hosts about the earlier flight. Team Princeton noticed that something was up, but Mr. Lufthansa seemed curiously immune to their musical charm. As a result, four of the most aggressive teams flew into Sweden two hours ahead of the rest of the pack.
Since it was the off-season, the teams didn’t go to the ice hotel itself. Instead, they went to the frozen storage unit where all the ice stuff is kept during the “warm” months. Ice-arches, ice-sofas, ice-sculptures…truly, this was heaven. Teams were met by a helpful Swedish lady dressed like the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
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