Finally, the madness is over! Both of the March variety, which kept us from new Amazing Race episodes for three weeks, and the madness of all these nicer-than-nice season 28 teams helping each other out at every turn. Of course, this is still a cast made up entirely of ENFPs, so they couldn’t resist helping each other a little bit here and there; but as soon as each team learned there was an Express Pass up for grabs, there was a noticeable shift in the winds: “An Express Pass…this late in the game?” everyone asked while visions of a million dollars (and probably a million new followers/subscribers/users) danced in their heads.
The added pressure to place first and grab the Express Pass that can be used through the ninth leg of the race — plus a shake-up of this season’s frontrunners — made the sixth leg of this rrrrace around the world an extra suspenseful one and a great follow-up to last week’s top-notch episode. Last week, I fell in love with the beautiful (extraordinary, incredible, mind-boggling) scenery of the French Alps, but this week, I fell in love with the people of Armenia, who frankly, seem like a real hoot.
Speaking of love, Phil “Chris Harrison” Keoghan wants to talk about it… in a flashback we see Brodie and Blair cuddling in planes, trains, and grimy airport floors, but the time for cuddles is simply over. The seven remaining teams are flying from France to Yerevan, Armenia, where their first challenge is to scour the Yerevan Opera Theater for the next clue while famous Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance” is performed for added stress. And it truly must have gotten in their heads, because it took forever for anyone to notice the conspicuous man vacuuming the floor the entire time they searched, and somehow each time a new team finally figured that they should ask him if he was holding any important information, the rest of the teams wouldn’t notice. And for the first time in season 28, none of the teams gave the remaining teams a heads up about what they’d found. Those Express Passes, man — they change everything.
The Frisbee Boys were the first to make it out of the theater to head toward the DETOUR: THREAD vs. BREAD as per usual, but in a twist, Team Torey was the second-to-last team to chat up the janitor, and headed into the Detour tied for last with Juicystar07 (whose placement was less surprising…they might just ride second-to-last all the way to the Final Mat). The majority of the teams chose Thread, where they had to weave a row of 200 stitches on an Armenian carpet that normally takes nine months to complete. Watching the weavers bust out what seemed to be 60 stitches per minute was incredible…and, all told, the teams didn’t do so badly themselves, with Team Alabama heading out in second place overall and Juicystar07 and Team Torey both bypassing the Dancers.
There was a good amount of artistry in Bread as well, where the Gamers and Team Frisbee signed up to successfully make 12 pieces of Armenian bread, Lavash, which requires rolling/slinging out the dough super thin, slapping it onto the side of a brick oven hard enough to make it stick, then peeling it off with a thin rod without letting it fall into the fire below. Not so simple, but it sure looked cool. Not to mention, this Detour was overseen by Maretta, the coolest baker in all the land. She shouts, “No, no, no!” She shouts, “Okay, okay, okay!” She dances! She dances some more! She hugs the teams and tells them she loves them when they complete their 12 pieces. She’s the best!
NEXT: A change of oil and order…[pagebreak]
From the Detour, the teams head to Republic Square to take the No. 13 bus to the ROAD BLOCK: READY FOR A CHANGE. I don’t know if the No. 13 bus is for some reason a party bus (Cole would have liked to take it to his prom), or if Armenian people are just always down to party, even on public transit, but the teams’ rides to the Road Block are all full of hugging and singing, even for Teams Torey and Juicystar07 who are neck-and-neck for a last place finish. But they’ve still got a little hope…
You see, Sheri may know how to accidentally rock the hell out of a pair of coveralls, but she is no mechanic. At Ready For a Change, the teams have to change the oil of a car at a roadside mechanic station — drain the oil, change the filter, and refill it with four liters of fresh oil. There can only be two cars on the ramp at one time, and along with Kurt, Sheri is one of the first two cars to make it on the ramp… she’s also one of the last two to make it off. She starts off doing really well, but when it comes to getting the dirty oil filter out of the car, she just can’t do it. While Burnie waits for his car to be get on the ramp, he tries to help Sheri out, but he can’t get it either, so it really must have been her luck of the draw on cars.
But Sheri’s bad luck was Tyler’s good luck. As Alabama stalled out, Tyler started helping the other teams that were cycling through the one open car space so that he could hopefully get up there before Sheri figured out her issues. It was a good strategy, and pretty much Team Torey’s only hope of not making it to the Pit Stop last—but Tyler probably wasn’t accounting for helping Scott speed through his oil change, only to have Scott turn right around and help Sheri when he was done. You can’t really blame the guy — Sheri’s hopelessness at her inability to move past the filter was quite dismaying. Scott had actually already helped Sheri once by giving her the tool she needed to get a better grip on the filter, but upon realizing she had actually been tightening it instead of loosening it, he swung by one more time to help her on the way out.
I imagine I groaned as much as Tyler did when I saw that go down, not because I wanted Team Alabama to be out, but just because it seemed like it was going to be such a huge move for Team Torey to overcome last place…so imagine my surprise when that still happened! Using Scott’s tip, Sheri successfully removed the filter — about the halfway point of changing the oil — at the exact same time as Tyler’s car was finally brought onto the ramp, and he still somehow managed to change the oil and get out of there a few moments before Sheri did. Then, in addition to leaving at almost the exact same time, the Alabama and Torey taxis headed in opposite directions on their way to the PIT STOP at the Temple of Garni. In the last five minutes of the episode, I would say the tables turned over 100 times, making the final mat order a real nail-biter:
1: THE FRISBEE BOYS, the proud new owners of an Express Pass and newly enlarged target on their backs.
3: THE KINGS
6: TEAM TOREY — “It has been a day, Phil.” It was indeed, but Tyler and Korey are hoping that the silver lining of their new position at the bottom might be that it makes them seem — seem — like less of a threat
NOT ELIMINATED: TEAM ALABAMA Oh, with the Express Pass, and the weeping (and the fact that it seemed like last week would be a NEL, and then it wasn’t) you just knew this would be a non-elimination leg — surprisingly, that did not make this episode any less stressful, and finding out that they were still in the race didn’t seem to make Sheri and Cole any less overwhelmed. But they are still in the game, and they promise they’re going to give it their all.
Were you surprised by the team’s finishing order in this leg? Do you expect Team Torey to make it back on top after singing so low? And most importantly: With all this target talk, how do you see a U-Turn panning out in season 28’s future? Sound off in the comments, and next week: CHOREOGRAPHY!