If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Check. That. Fitbit. Okay, I’ve never said that, and I assumed tonight’s Fitbit data collection stopped at mere tulip counting, but every single one of those steps mattered in a big way for Justina and Diana.
On that note, one thing I’ve definitely been avoiding saying: It might be near impossible to beat the Green Team. Hate him or tolerate him, Justin and his waning-in-patience partner Diana haven’t dropped out of the top 2 since the first leg, and they won their fourth leg tonight. No matter how far back they drop with a missed tram or a difficult task, they always seem to make their way back to Phil first.
Many commenters have said that they’re having trouble finding a team to root for in season 27, but you guys, I have found mine: They’ve got positive attitudes for days, look great in a high ponytails, and have the piercing screams of banshees on helium. The Cheerleaders aren’t merely athletic, they’re incredibly physically competent, and as they grow more confident in their ability to race and be their own leaders, they’re heading into my very favorite storyline: Unexpected Underdogs. Yeah, they think Rotterdam is in Germany — I get it. But I just love watching those two conquer each new obstacle they’re faced with.
First obstacle in leg 7: Figure out where Rotterdam is. Following last week’s To Be Continued, Team Alabama finally completed their French rap and narrowly avoided elimination at the continuing leg from Paris, as we all assumed they would. They’re in last place heading to the train station where all seven remaining teams will travel to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and have reservations on a 7:22 p.m. train. But the first teams start trickling into the station around 4 p.m., so of course they look for earlier flights… well, all except the Texans, who just assume everyone will take the 7:22 p.m. and decide to see some sights and eat some crepes with their extra time. That little cultural distraction puts them in the back of the pack with the Paparazzi and Alabama.
When the teams arrive at the big red ship in Rotterdam, they’re assigned time slots for the next morning, increasing in 15 minute intervals for each team. Chac Attack is lucky they only fall back one place when they become convinced that Rotterdam is what the French call Amsterdam and miss their train stop. In a physically grueling leg, figuring out where they are at any given time seems to be the toughest challenge many of the teams face tonight.
Why do I love them??? Bless their hearts.
The teams head out the next morning toward Kop Van Zuid to catch water taxis to their next clue, with Justin and Diana in the lead. They talk about how they communicate after each leg to avoid arguing and making the same mistakes, and then immediately start having a very similar argument to the one they had last week. The Cheerleaders and Chac Attack are thrilled to finally be out in front of the Green Team for the ROAD BLOCK: STATE OF THE ART.
One person from each team must look at Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflower” painting, then run around a bunch of windmills, where recreations of the painting are set up, and find the exact replica. Seemingly the challenge would be that the pictures all look very similar, but the larger challenge is that the recreations are very far away from both the original and the judge that they have to bring the replica painting to, so everyone ends up running a lot. After Krista, Rick, and Diane have given it a few tries, Joey waltzes in and impressively selects the correct painting on his first attempt. The rest follow suit fairly quickly and then have to calculate the difference between their current heart rate and their highest heart rate from the last leg, collect that many tulips, and deliver them a ways down the road to receive their next clue. It’s worth noting that the tulip woman is absolutely delightful, and Rotterdam seems like a lovely place.
NEXT: Tulips for heartbeats, dollars for steps…[pagebreak]
After their tulip delivery, the teams head to Nolet Distillery, home of Ketel One vodka, for the DETOUR: SHIP vs. SKIP. It’s fairly obvious that Skip, where teams must perform a clapping routine while double-Dutch jump roping, would be extremely challenging for some teams to master, but Ship is no walk in the park either. Still, six of the seven teams try their luck at using a training simulator to maneuver a ship through a storm to make one fake delivery and respond to one fake distress call, all in under five minutes. But let’s quickly talk about the one team that takes on Skip: The Cheerleaders, with complete confidence in their abilities, hop right into the double ropes, start clapping, and nail their 45 consecutive seconds of jump roping in only two attempts. The local coaches and judge are impressed, which is how I know I should be too.
Most teams get the hang of Ship after two or three tries, but it is time-consuming waiting on the other teams to complete their five-minute sessions in the simulation room, which comes back to bite Chac Attack when they spend way too long waiting on a bus to take them to Millennium Towers rather than finding an alternate mode of transportation. They finish just minutes after Team Alabama, and as they wait for the same train to the PIT STOP at the PEACE PALACE, they make the good decision to hop on the train with two stops, while Alabama waits for the express, which ends up getting delayed an additional 10 minutes. But then they make the bad decision of getting on the wrong tram to the Peace Palace. This constantly rotating group of teams in season 27 has proven more than ever that you’re not out until you’re out… unless you’re the Green Team, in which case, you’re pretty much always first.
1: GREEN TEAM: They’re excited about their fourth win, but they’re much more excited when he tells them to add up their total steps from this leg — 31,873 — and tells them that Fitbit is matching every step in dollars. “That means we’re paying for a wedding, Phil!”
2: REPORTERS: Phil asks what it’s going to take for someone to beat Justin and Diana: “It’s going to take the two of us.” Ayyyyy, get it, get it, get it, Reporters!
3: CHEERLEADERS: Phil awards them the most improved team this season.
4: TEXANS: “Are we still in the Netherlands?” Can one ever really know that, Tanner?
5: PAPARAZZI: Not fighting.
6: ALABAMA: Phil is all, “You know exactly what I’m going to say,” and James Earl, not knowing about Chac’s tram trouble, is totally ready: “We’re the last team to arrive and we’ve been eliminated from the race.” But Phil, that scoundrel, was just messing with them! They’re still in the race. Which means…
ELIMINATED: CHAC ATTACK
They were a nice pair, and now they’re headed back with a new confidence in their partnership to start a new chapter in their lives: a family. Aww.
What did you think of this leg? Are you latching onto the Cheerleaders like I am? Can anyone take the Green Team out of first place? Have the Texans lost their frontrunner status altogether? Can you understand anything Denise says anymore? Sound off in the comments!