After the third consecutive first-place victory from Team Border Patrol, it was clear that the other teams needed to step up their game or just acknowledge that anyone who wasn’t Art or J.J. would merely be competing for the disappointing honor of a second place finish on Amazing Race 20.
At the start of the sixth leg, Joey “Fitness” and Danny stated they were dead set on finally scoring a first place finish (necessitating Danny’s goofy orange “first place glasses.”) Nary and Jamie still believed their federal agents-disguised-as-school-teachers subterfuge would come in handy at some point. Unless finishing near-last is also part of their strategy, I think “underestimating” Team Feds is actually just accurately estimating them. As for Team Army, in spite of a couple less-than-stellar showings, Dave still felt he and Rachel were “the team to beat.” Army Strong! Katy Perry knows what that’s about.
Starting off from Bavaria — that wonderful land of castles, gingerbread and beards — Team Border Patrol got an early start on the trip to Baku. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, a former Soviet Republic rich with oil, located south of Russia and north of Iran. Once again, that head start didn’t yield much — all the teams caught the 6:20 flight on Turkish Airlines, and Team Army actually arrived at Ateshgah (the Temple of Fire, duh!) before they did.
While locals pounded drums in the black of night and dancers circled firepits in costumes that looked far too flammable for my comfort, Rachel and Dave zipped through the temple hoping that the next clue card wasn’t behind the door that didn’t open till sunrise. Which, of course, it was.
When all the teams had arrived hours before dawn, they were left with little else to do but grab hands with the Azerbaijani dance line and have an old-fashioned Zoroastrian hoedown. Bopper, of course, enjoyed it immensely.
Once they got the cards, Team Army and Team Jersey Stereotype opted to compete against each other for the Fast Forward on this leg.
The task: Head to a roadside hay market and unload 150 bales of hay into a formation as precise as the instructions Noah got for his Ark — 10 bales long, three wide, and five tall.
Whichever team finished making hay while the sun shone would skip ahead to the finish mat, while the losing team would be forced to start the regular challenges far behind the other teams.
Essentially, it was a gamble for first or last place. Even though Rachel and Dave began slightly before “Fitness” and Danny, the East Coast boys remained confident they could win, merely because “we’re not gonna let a girl beat us.” Well! Who can argue with logic like that? Apparently these guys didn’t grow up in Jersey, Long Island or New York — they hail from Andy Griffith’s Mayberry.
At first it looked dire for Team Army — Rachel struggled to get her bales perfectly lined up and Dave busted open about one out of every 10 bales he dropped down to her. “They’re killing us, babe,” Rachel puffed out just before a cliffhanger commercial break. “For the love of Jesus,” she shouted, “I can’t do this anymore!”
NEXT: Underwater escape and Bopper’s crush