Just in time for everyone to finally figure out where Rotterdam is, Phil asked the six remaining teams to kindly escort themselves to Kraków, Poland, booking their own flights on the Travelocity cell phone app. While this was clearly a blatant bit of product placement, I’m actually not opposed to the update, even if it didn’t actually make for a very interesting twist. Five out of the six teams ended up on the same flight; which brings me to…
Justin and Diana. Because Phil won’t shut up about them, and after three straight first-place finishes, the time has come to address something: Is the Green Team really that good or are the other teams just that bad? A few of the players said it themselves this episode, everyone else is basically just in a race for second—or rather, a race not to be last—because Justin and Diana can do no wrong. Or, once again, is it that the other teams do so much wrong? In Leg 8, I’ll let you be the judge.
The Green Team are the first to be able to schedule their flights to Kraków, so they get the last spot on a flight arriving at 11:20, while the other five teams get on one arriving at 12:40. That time difference ultimately means that Justin and Diana make it to the Pit Stop mat before any other team has even hit the Road Block.
The first clues are at the bottom of a pool and everyone inexplicably jumps in with their tennis shoes still on. I get that the bottom five were neck-and-neck, but there is no world where an early 10-second lead is worth five hours of squishy socks. Everyone fishes out the DETOUR: MINE vs. MUSIC—they’re much more original in conceit than in name. In Mine, teams must take a mine shaft elevator into a 700-year-old salt mine, carry a wooden beam down a long tunnel, then fill up a train of carts with hundreds of pounds of salt, and push one of the carts filled with salt back down the tunnel to receive their first clue. This is a fairly standard “physical” challenge. I don’t even know what to call the next one…
In Music, the teams have to learn a piano accompaniment to a violin street performance, roll their piano to the town square, and perform their piece while trying to earn 100 złoty from passing locals. That is a lot of variables! At first I think I would never choose this Detour because of the musical aspect, but that ends up being the simplest part. The much more difficult components are the pushing of the rickety piano over cobblestones and then asking passersby for money.
For the level-headed and personable Reporters, pushing the piano and getting people to give them the equivalent of about $25 USD is no problem. The Cheerleaders, however, nearly break their entire piano getting to the Town Square, and are feeling so broken down by the time they get to their spot that they’ve decided to go the “pleading” route of raising money rather than the “winning people over” route, which should really be in their wheelhouse because they’re, uh, Cheerleaders. It’s only once they’ve truly embraced their pathetic state—Krista starts crying while asking for money and Tiffany sells cheek kisses —that they earn the majority of their cash. They leave Music last, putting them just in front of…
NEXT: Do the right thing, do it all the time…[pagebreak]
The Texans, who do one wrong thing after another this leg. And whereas their former Enemy #1, the Green Team, has only risen since the first episode, Texas has only fallen. Remember when they were the frontrunners and plotting U-Turns?! Now they’re yelling in exasperation about taxis, botching directions, and pulling into challenges dead last.
As they will tell you as often as possible though, they still have their athleticism (and a seemingly bottomless suitcase of sleeveless Under Armour tees), so even though they arrive to Mine as the Reporters are leaving (the Green Team finished approximately 17 hours ago), they book it through the salt shoveling and find Chris still working on the ROAD BLOCK: SERVE IT UP. Here, one member of each team must correctly identify seven traditional Jewish dishes and use a provided dinner order to deliver the correct number of each dish to the Klezmer-Hois, down the way from the food station.
Most teams use a combination of context clues (basically, knowing what a latke is) and asking nearby locals what the dishes look like—a method that gets the first three teams through on their first try. The latter three teams don’t fare so well. The Paparazzi argue about who should do the Road Block because Logan was a waitress, but Chris is concerned that if she does this one she won’t be able to do something he’s bad at down the road. Since they’re both so equally rude to each other, you don’t even have to feel sorry for anyone!
Except for maybe the Cheerleaders and the Texans, who are put into a sorry state once they realize they’re battling each other for last place. Thinking they still stand a chance to beat the Paparazzi, Tiffany, who already carried two failed trays to the restaurant, asks Josh if he wants to team up as soon as the Texans get there in last place. Josh considers this a testament to her character since she didn’t have to help him—which might be true—but I think it last-ditch effort to not come in last. Tiffany had thought they could still beat Chris, but once he successfully hands over his tray, it’s just down to the Texans and Cheerleaders, standing in front of the judge, ready to hand over identical orders.
Tiffany is exhausted from her multiple trips and it would have been no problem for Josh to smoke her on the walk to Klezmer-Hois, but he says she was in front of him before they started working together, so of course he’s going to let her turn her tray over first. What he doesn’t realize is that the Pit Stop is just over the threshold of the restaurant, so the Texans have to watch as the Cheerleaders walk in, have a moment of happiness as they realize they’re not last on the mat, and then immediately start weeping when they realize they’ve just eliminated their BRFs (Best Race Friends).
And, sure, this one had Non-Elimination Leg written all over it from the moment the opening title sequence flashed onto the screen, but it was still a little touching to see the Cheerleaders so torn up about eliminating their friends… and equally exciting to watch the cheers all around as they learned that the Texans are still in the race:
The Texans will have to complete a Speed Bump next leg, plus there’s a U-Turn coming up. The Texans think there’s no chance it will be them since they’re in last, and the Green Team thinks no one can catch them, so… who do you think it’s going to be? And what did you think of this NEL, Josh’s generosity, and the Cheerleaders’ speedy decline into despair? Sound off in the comments!