On this season of The Amazing Race, it seems that a Non-Elimination Leg mostly amounts to a one-leg extension. But that’s nothing against the quality of the teams who have been eliminated thus far or who haven’t been able to recover from being at the back of the pack… this has been a particularly hard group to pin down. For instance, I was surprised to realize that the Team Formerly Known as Attractive—aka Team SoCal—had never come in first before when they’ve been the closest to a frontrunner Season 26 has had. And then teams like Truck Stop and Medical, who you just keep thinking couldn’t possibly make it another leg… well, they just keep making it.
Begrudgingly, it was Hayley who best summed up the unforeseeable nature of the TAR experience: “It’s always nice when we’re back in business due to someone else’s errors.” You can only account for yourself, but when other teams have an effect on every single thing you do in the race, there’s no predicting where you’re going to end up. You just have to commit to the ride.
And what a crazy ride that is when the episode is two hours, set in Africa and it’s bring-your-pet-to-Pit-Stop day. The scenery in Namibia was outstanding and Hayley kept her passive aggressive comments to at a medium level (and her aggressive comments to a hushed roar), so other than watching a good team put themselves in a losing situation two different times, this was a very pleasant seventh and eighth leg of The Amazing Race. Well, you know, other than that small Double U-Turn issue, but we’ll get there.
The six remaining teams start out racing from Monaco to Windhoek, Namibia where they then have to take a bush plane to the desert. All of the teams are booked on the same flight, so the race really begins when they’re exiting the plane to race for spots on the departing bush planes. Team Medical end up last because “somebody wanted to be comfortable on the plane.” I imagine Blair sleeping in fetal position, rocking back and forth for the entire 20 hour flight to center himself for the second half of the race, and I do not blame him at all. I think I’m mostly rooting for Team Medical to win at this point because I’m so terrified for Blair of what Hayley will say to him if they’re ever eliminated. Hopefully there will be a hot pilot on hand to appease her then, as well.
Once the planes have dropped them, the teams grab a Ford utility vehicle and have to get themselves to a bushman village for the ROAD BLOCK: STICK AROUND. Along the way, they’re to pick up a salt lick—basically a brick of salt—and take it with them to the next destination. The Olympians arrive to the Road Block first and Aly decides to step up since they’ve been alternating road blocks, only to find that this is building challenge. It involves digging holes and assembling a traditional stick and straw hut, none of which Aly feels she’s particularly skilled in, and she doesn’t stop reminding Steve that he should have done this Road Block until the Road Block is done. And then a few more times after that.
Both Team Medical and Team SoCal didn’t see the salt licks along the way so they have to drive back and get them after arriving at the Road Block. But because Tyler apparently has a knack for hut building, they’re still the first to leave, driving toward the Ranger Headquarters to turn in their salt lick and receive the next clue for their DETOUR: TRACK or PACK. The first three teams to arrive—Team SoCal, the Hairdressers and the Lawyers—choose pack, where they have to carve up enough of a wildebeest to go and feed wild dogs. I really can’t see how this would be preferable to Track, where teams use telemetric trackers to track down a specific elephant, but it does seem to go faster. Also the wild puppies are very cute.
NEXT: Who knew elephants were this big?