A very astute TAR historian made the comment after last week’s oddly emotional leg that “India has a way of humbling even the strongest teams.” They were referencing the Green Team’s dominance, and its potential to lag in this ninth leg of the rrrrrrace around the world. And while the seemingly infallible Green Team did fumble a bit in a tuk-tuk, they still won the leg handily. I know I’m not the first to say it, but it’s kind of hard to pick a team to root for this season…
And just as hard to pick a team to root against! I think that’s because either these teams fluctuate drastically in personality from leg to leg, or because the editors have been choosing to show them in different lights each week. Now, that’s not true for every team—Denise’s breathless panic is steady as a drum, as is her vocal mantra: “James Earl! JAMES EARL. James Earl! JAMES EARL.” But teams like the Texans go from being cutthroat one week, to big hearted the next; the Cheerleaders are positive rays of light, then piles of emotional “fust-rated” goo in the next leg; the Green Team, humbly weeping at their first-place finish in one leg, and then cockily strutting in another. What’s a recapper to think?!
Am I sad that the Texans are gone? I’m not sure! Am I annoyed that the Green Team keeps winning? I guess, but I don’t really want another team to win more than them. It’s a weird one, but I know I still enjoy watching the show even if my personal stakes are pretty low for who makes it to that Final Mat first. I mean, they had one of the most physically grueling legs of the season so far tonight and it was doing laundry, so I’ll still count that as a win, I think.
To do that laundry, the six remaining teams travel from Kraków, Poland to New Delhi by plane. From there, they take a taxi to the New Delhi train station, and then a train to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. When the teams spot the always-ahead Green Team at the airport they’re all, “They do exist!” like they’re the Peanut M&M and Justin is a supremely hairless Santa Claus. I don’t totally understand what happened next, but basically, the Paparazzi are trying to convince the Green Team that they should agree to U-Turn the Texans at the end of this leg, and then Logan lets slip that the Cheerleaders U-Turned the Green Team the last time (even though it didn’t matter). So when the Green Team asks the Cheerleaders about it, they lie and say they didn’t do it, and then confront the Paparazzi about why they would have said such a thing (the truth).
And somehow this turns the Green Team and Paparazzi against each other even though the Cheerleaders are the team that both U-Turned the Green Team and then lied about it right in front of the Paparazzi. But everyone makes it to the Yamuna River without incident to find the clue to their ROAD BLOCK: COMING OUT IN THE WASH. The Texans also find out that the Road Block will serves as their Speed Bump, with Josh having to do it all over again once Tanner has finished. That’s not great news because this one turns out to be a toughie.
As India is home to the largest outdoor laundries in the world, one member from each team must grab a bicycle loaded down with dirty laundry, wheel it down a big ‘ol hill toward the river, wash all the clothes Indian-style, and then properly lay all the saris out to dry. “Indian-style” turns out to be a difficult-to-master process of folding the saris over three times and knotting them, dunking all the fabric in boiling water, stirring, and then carrying it by hand to the drying area. It’s much more physically taxing than your average sorting of brights and colors, and while Denise and Krista struggle to transfer their wet, heavy saris from place to place, Joey breezes through (even though his mom “likes” to do his laundry for him), with Diana shortly behind him. Tanner does fine, but frankly, this one really blows as a Speed Bump. Usually Speed Bumps are, like, puzzles and maybe a coloring book, but Josh having to complete the Road Block behind Tanner puts them almost a full challenge-length behind everyone else at the DETOUR: CANS vs. CANDY.
NEXT: Mmm, pumpkin tubes…[pagebreak]
In Cans, the teams must load a cargo bike up—and I mean up!—with 120 oil cans, then ride them through a busy bazaar to deliver them to the New Taj Oil company. I expected the navigating aspect of this Detour to be much more challenging, but once the Reporters and the Green Team have piled layers of 24 cans five stories high on the back of their bikes and tied them down with Boy Scout and Christmas tree farm training, respectively, they make it to the delivery point with little incident.
At Candy, the teams must make the Indian candy Petha by slicing up white pumpkins and then using a metal cylindrical cutter to press out tubes of pumpkin equaling approximately 90 pounds of “candy” (technically, when they’re done with it, it’s still just pumpkin tubes, I think). The Cheerleaders immediately decide to alternate slicing the pumpkin since it’s the most taxing job, and the Paparazzi immediately decide to yell at each other. I have to admit, I laughed pretty hard when Logan yelled, “Chris, just keep my name out of your mouth!”
By far though, the team with the best tactic is the Texans, who have managed to make it to Candy while the Cheerleaders are still slicing up pumpkin and Team Alabama is just leaving: “Get your watermelons, and it’s hard!” got another big laugh from me. The Texans quickly realize that if they cut their pumpkin in super thick slices, it’s less work to hollow out fewer tubes with the cylinder that will eventually equal up to 90 pounds. They blow through the challenge and don’t finish delivering their Petha that long after the Cheerleaders…
And since Team Alabama got very lost trying to make their way to the PIT STOP at the Taj Mahal’s MOONLIGHT GARDEN, of Texas had been able to just go straight to the Mat, they would probably still be in the race. But it’s always the quiet ones you have to look out for—because the Reporters, second to the final clue box, decided to U-Turn the Texans. And so, after doing the Road Block twice, the Texans also have to complete the other half of the Detour. And even after a 120-oil-can delivery, they still almost make it to the Mat before Alabama (or at least the break-neck editing makes it look that way); just think if they had been competing with this kind of speed and focus in the last few legs! Alas…
1: JUSTIN AND DIANA—Phil looks on at Justin and Diana’s sixth first-place finish with a combination of awe and annoyance (but that could just be his floral blouse). And some extra perks: a trip for two to Honolulu, and a free head shave for Justin from the local at the Mat who happens to… be giving shaves in the Moonlight Garden?
2: REPORTERS—They say their only way to beat the Green Team is to run a perfect leg, which they once again commit to doing, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
3: PAPARZZI—Justin and Diana rubbed them the wrong way with the whole U-Turn confrontation earlier that day and they declare, “[The Green Team] is not winning the million.” Them’s fightin’ words!
4: CHEERLEADERS—They do a little Bhangra dancing in celebration of somehow ending up in fourth place.
5: ALABAMA—Phil seems less than impressed: “You guys, you’ve looked better… I want to know what your heart rate is, you seem to be breathing very heavily.” Well, Denise did run 11 miles today, per her corporately mandated Fitbit!
ELIMINATED: Team Texas, who go out smiling and as handsome as ever. They tried their hardest in this last leg, but in the end, they’re able to admit that “[Justin and Diana] are just a stronger team than us.”
Just five teams left! I think I’ve decided I’d like a combination of James Earl and Diana to win—does that seem possible? Did you agree with the Reporter’s decision to U-Turn the Texans. Who are you rooting for heading into the Leg 10, and who are you ready to say goodbye to? Sound off in the comments!