Okay, I may have jumped the gun last week. Because while the last leg made me a little huffy at how all over the place this season has been, this leg made me feel something more akin to invigorated by it (and I don’t think it was just all the bright colors and super cute kids):
1. With the elimination of the Texans last week, there’s no particularly physically dominant team, and for the first time in a long time (excluding last season because that was a little snowflake all its own), none of the remaining romantically linked teams are married… in combination with another U-Turn this week, it all feels a little unprecedented 2. The same commenter—hey, Samurai_Jack!—who said that India was the great equalizer before Leg 9 suggested that I be patient for Round 2 when last week didn’t turn out too crazy. And, boy was that right; as Alanis Morissette would say, “Thank you, India … thank you, thank you, thank yoooooou.” When I try to peg any kind of order to this season, on top of this insane nighttime-in-India leg, I realize that season 27 has the potential to turn from simply an odd one, to unpredictable chaos…
Because know what would be a little bit great in a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf kind of way? If the Paparazzi effing won this thing. The Green Team have been the one consistent of season 27, and also the one thing keeping the season from being a true mess… and messes can be kind of fun. Because, let me tell you what, if the [“next week on” spoilers ahead] foreboding previews are to be accepted at face value, and the Green Team goes out next week, with Chris and Logan standing an even stronger chance to win — we’ve got ourselves a race.
But, at this very moment, we’ve got ourselves a semblance of a race anyway: Leg 10 is staying put in Agra, India, and this time, it’s going from day to night. This leg was made more chaotic by adding an unprecedented third U-Turn right to this season, and even better because you could practically feel ol’ heart-eyes-Phil salivating at the chance for a marriage proposal with the wedding theme that purveyed the challenges. To Phil’s disappointment (and our great relief), it was nothing more than a theme, starting with the ROAD BLOCK: FULL OF HOT AIR, which gives the perfect opportunity for Justin — leading the pack as last leg’s first place finisher — to say, “‘Who’s full of hot air?’ Uh, that would be me.” At least he’s in on it, you guys!
Phil tells us that balloons are the universal party decoration, and in India, that extends to weddings. For the Road Block, one member of each team must fill up and tie off enough balloons to fill a huge net connected to a stick that then attaches to a bicycle to be ridden through the streets of Agra and to a delivery point. This Road Block presents a number of unique problems: Justin struggles with the watching eyes of the huge crowd that surrounds the Road Block; Joey struggles with knotting the balloons; Logan struggles with her boyfriend, Chris (“Why don’t you get as far away from me as possible?”); James Earl struggles with the fine netting; and Tiffany’s struggle is that she finally gets her net packed full of balloons, is navigating the crazy streets on a bike in the semi-dark, only to have a bunch of men repeatedly ride up beside her and grab at her net, throwing her off balance, and eventually tearing the net and releasing half of her balloons.
As an aside, I know many find the Cheerleaders whiny, and that is often accurate, but let me go on the record to say that I would have reacted in a similar fashion to Tiffany (perhaps at a slightly lower pitch) if some guy had felt it was his right to reach out and grab my bike while I was riding it. Because I feel certain that it wasn’t just the editing that made the physical interference look to be a more present issue for the Cheerleaders than for, say, Justin or Joey. Just as a man yelling at me on the streets of New York City for no reason evokes a warranted displeased response, I take no issue with Tiffany wanting those men to back up off her bike, and I was relieved to find that she didn’t have to go back for more balloons because someone broke her net.
NEXT: On this episode of Pushing Things in India…[pagebreak]
Now, all of the “I don’t know why he would dooooo that” (I KNOW WHY) was a lot to handle, but even with the setback, the Cheerleaders made it out of the Road Block second to last, with the Paparazzi out in front of them, and Team Alabama just behind. That means the Green Team and Reporters have kept their lead, but Kelsea and Joey still haven’t been able to catch up to Justin and Diana. It’s no matter though, because the Green Team didn’t have any plans to U-Turn them when the opportunity presented itself before the DETOUR: BRING THE GROOM vs. BRING THE FUN. But the Green Team was a little less Mr. Loud but Nice Guy for this U-Turn: They put up the Paparazzi because, “They’re a tough team and we want to help our friends.” And probably because, uh, they don’t like them.
Justin and Diana choose Bring the Fun where the teams have to push a portable carnival ride through the streets of Agra to a wedding to entertain the attending children and give the excited little nuggets a ride once they’re there. It’s strenuous, but not too tricky, much like Bring the Groom, where the teams take part in the traditional procession of a groom that involves one person pushing a generator that they’ve also had to crank to start, while the other carries a heavy light fixture that the generator is providing electricity to. Perhaps thinking it will be less physically demanding, most of the teams (other than Green) choose Bring the Groom, but the light proves mighty heavy for Krista and Logan, especially.
Of course, Logan is carrying the light after already having completed Bring the Fun because their U-Turn means they have to do both Detours. They arrive at Bring the Groom second to start trying to crank their generator just after the Cheerleaders have left, and realize they still have a chance. Team Alabama arrives just after them, and it’s officially a race to the finish (through the hectic streets of Agra while holding chandeliers and producing electricity) — a classic TAR tale if ever there was one.
Technically, not too much changed for the line-up in Leg 10, but as a setting, India certainly helped deliver a tension-filled episode this week, and the stage feels ripe for an upset. Until then…
1: GREEN TEAM — Still in first, still “loving every second of it, Phil.” And how could they not — they each won $5,000.
2: REPORTERS — Phil informs them it was a matter of minutes separating them from first, and rather than vowing once more to come in first next leg, they simply insist that if they keep up this momentum, second can turn into first by the Final Mat.
3: CHEERLEADERS — Krista and Tiffany were taught some traditional dance moves by the lovely Indian woman greeter at the Pit Stop.
4: PAPARAZZI — You have to hand it to these two: They made it through two Detours, two trips around the chaotic streets, carrying two sets of heavy wedding gear, screaming and sweating like two people who were just two seconds from killing each other the whole way — and I mean the WHOLE way — and still managed to make it in before…
ELIMINATED: Team Alabama, who certainly did have the sweetest little exit interview there ever was: “We’re here together and that’s something to smile about.” Denise and James “Spud” Earl came on TAR hoping to rebuild their relationship, and they were able to do that — “What more could you ask for?” I guess sometimes it’s about more than the million.
But speaking of that mil: Are you secretly starting to root for the potential of a dark and twisted Paparazzi shake-up? Or are the nice Reporters more your speed? Is there any chance the Green Team’s winning streak goes all the way through the finals? I don’t even know where to put the Cheerleaders anymore, but I will give them that they always keep on trucking, tears, whines, and balloons in the wind be damned… What say you?