Salami-tasting, rappelling, decapitated statues, a car named “Tin Lizzie”… last night’s episode of The Amazing Race was the most action-stuffed of season 20, and surprisingly, one of the most heartwarming in recent memory (but we’ll get to the emotionally uplifting ending later).
First-place finishers from last week Art and J.J. got a head start on this leg of the Race, which found the remaining eight teams headed to Turin, Italy. But as the first flight didn’t leave until the next morning, every other team had time to catch up to them.
Now, just because every team reasonably should have caught up with them didn’t mean that every team actually managed to do so. Bopper and Mark were so excited to be Italy-bound (“We is going somewhere tropical!” Bopper exclaimed, which is a comment so ludicrous I have nothing to say about it) that they couldn’t even think straight. They headed directly to the airport without stopping by the travel agency for tickets.
Team Border Patrol — already waiting at the airport — tipped them off, but by the time Team Kentucky got to a travel agent, all the tickets for the 10:35 arrival in Italy were gone.
They didn’t realize their misfortune until they compared tickets to the other teams waiting at the terminal and discovered they would be arriving a full hour and fifteen minutes after everyone else. Which pretty much meant that barring a catastrophic accident befalling someone else, they were guaranteed a last-place finish — all because of an easily avoidable error. Understandably, their boisterous personalities were more muted than usual.
After seven teams hit the ground in Turin — a gorgeous city in northern Italy surrounded by the Alps — they raced to the top of the Lingotto Building, a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque complex with a car test track on the roof (it used to be a Fiat factory). Team Border Patrol got a Fast Forward card, which allowed them to skip the other challenges if they successfully completed a helicopter landing.
They were both stoked for the challenge until they realized it involved not an actual helicopter (you do need a license for that), but rather a remote control one. Even worse, whoever wasn’t flying the toy had to sit still with a silly replica of the Lingotto building on their head. The task took a lot longer than they had expected, but of course they finished it eventually and skipped ahead to another first place victory. The reward this time was $5,000 cash apiece, which is a pretty slick reward for landing a toy helicopter on your friend’s head.
The rest of the teams rappelled inside the Lingotto building to grab a Race card dangling at the end of a rope. There was a two-minute time limit, after which they had to rappel to the ground, run back to the top and try it again.
Dave and Rachel — who I used to like — are clearly starting to fracture as a couple. Dave kept cutting down his wife while maintaining an eerily stony exterior, employing a curt tone better suited for soldiers than your soul mate. In spite of that, Rachel aced the challenged immediately while Team Feds and Team Dating Divorcees struggled.
The next challenge sent the teams to the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile, where they had to track down the “Tin Lizzie” (a 1916 Ford Model T) for the next clue. This portion allowed the producers to squeeze in what was essentially an in-episode ad for the automatic parking feature on the new Ford Focus. (It totally worked, BTW — I just bought two of them.)
Much like last week, Brendon and Rachel had a meltdown even though they were one of the leading teams and had every reason to rejoice (or at least be normal). “It’s not even worth a million dollars,” Rachel shouted at Brendon outside the museum. “I will stop right now, I will get last place, you have no right to talk to me like that.” Random observation: Although Rachel is constantly crying and dabbing at her eyes, I can’t seem to recall actual tears on her face. Suspicious…
NEXT: Team Kentucky struggles to regain lost time and Brenchel tackles the “mystery” of the Italian two-cent piece