Justin and Zev started off in last place on the latest episode of Amazing Race. Team Zinger knew they needed to regain some momentum after a rough double-leg in China. “We need a pick-me-up,” said Justin, “and I think the silver pajamas are just that.” So there was Zev, modeling some glittery PJs that gave him the aspect of a future-spaceman version of Hugh Hefner. He looked incredible, and now I know what I want for Christmas.
The teams were surprised when the first clue didn’t tell them to hit the airport — instead, they had to head to the Jin Fu Yi Zhan Tea Shop, where they would participate in the thrilling first competition of the night: A game called “Drink the Tea!” (What do you win? More tea!) Grandmaster Phil teased us with a secret twist — the particular brand of papaya-mango-infused tea that teams were drinking would play a role in the evening’s upcoming Roadblock — but I still couldn’t stifle a giggle during the lengthy, anti-adrenalized sequence of players smiling and sipping tea. (“That was pointless,” deadpanned Zev.)
The tea-captain revealed the next clue: Teams had to fly to Kolkata, India, and visit the local Town Hall. (Fun fact: The city used to be known as “Calcutta,” but the government officially changed the English name to the more proper “Kolkata” in 2001. Take that, Imperialism!) We saw the teams race out of the Kolkata airport into the crowded city streets, but since Town Hall didn’t open until 10, everyone ended up waiting outside.
Which led to my favorite moment of the night. When Mallory and Gary arrived, Big Easy excitedly told them that there was a clue box further down the street, which made Mallory run into the night looking like an excitable chipmunk. When she realized she was being fooled, she playfully slapped the rest of the players: “Y’all! I hate y’all!” (Maybe it’s because they’re all returning players, or because they’re all just really happy that Team Ginger bit the dust last week, but I can’t remember a season of Race where everybody seemed to get along so well.)
The Roadblock was based on the Ancient Indian tradition of tea tasting. This was another frog-in-the-mud-pit challenge — players had to make their way through what looked like a few thousand cups of tea to find the papaya-mango flavor they had sampled in China. Ron proved that his bizarre obsession with randomly eating in the middle of the race might be a stealth strength: While most players were obsessing over the particular color of the tea (or, worse, were just dropping one tea after another down their gullet), Ron quietly sniffed a few dozen cups and found his ringer. “The wave of mango did come through,” said Ron.
If you wanted to define Ron as a particular Race archetype, I’d say that he’s a Connoisseur: The guy you call upon to find a whiff of mango in the midst of a few thousand cups of tea, which unfortunately also means that he has the sort of type-A personality that makes him distrust the abilities of everyone around him (including his superstar daughter). Conversely, the Cowboys are a vintage pair of holy fools: Witness how Jet accidentally stumbled into the same realization that brought Ron a victory. “I was picking them out by sight,” he said, “and after my sixth or seventh bowl, I thought, maybe I should smell them?” Good call, Jet! The Tea Auctioneer gave the Cowbros their bottle of Snapple, with a clue hidden written on the bottle cap.
NEXT: Kisha and Jen search for a Snapple factory. And search. And search…