We have an Express Pass at play, folks! Who knows what would have happened if Brodie and Kurt hadn’t earned that all important yellow card in the last leg — could it have been that the most dominant team of the last seven legs would have been eliminated from the race thanks to a “puzzle” that basically amounted to one of those little handheld water games with two buttons, a few rings, and some bubbles?
Well, no, probably not… because it would have been almost literally impossible for the Frisbee Boys to get as confused as Team Alabama who are always kind of racing on a scream and a prayer; or to melt down in quite the spectacular fashion that the Dancers did. Because that was… well, we’ll get to it. There are about two yards of gold Lycra — divvied up between 12 people, of course — and 20 kilometers of camel steps between now and then, so let’s get right to it…
The six remaining teams are racing from Tbilisi, Georgia — where we experienced fun dancing candy-makers and intense Georgian choreography — to Dubai, UAE… where we go to a water park. I kid, I kid — all of the camel stuff was fun, even if TAR has spent a good bit of time in Dubai over the years; I’ll probably never tire of adults being scared of a slide (though this particular set of adults showed little to no slide-fear). All six teams end up on the same flight heading into the eighth leg of the race. After they land in Dubai, each team has to track down a marked car and drive out to the middle of the desert for their next clue. And just as choreography is the great TAR equalizer, driving — and perhaps more so, navigating — is the great maker and breaker of this rrrrace around the world. For example, Sheri and Cole immediately miss their exit and sink into a last place slot that they never really recover from.
At the clue location, the teams are taught the traditional local greeting — a gentle nose-to-nose touch, (with eyes wide open, as Tyler points out) — and also pick up their
product placement Travelocity Roaming Gnome to take to the DETOUR: RACES vs. OASIS. In Races, the teams take part in the tradition of camel racing by, well, racing the camels, which can run up to 40 m.p.h. The human racers get to be on bikes for the two kilometer stretch, but still… those camels are FAST. However, if they don’t manage to beat the camels on the first try, they get a head start on the second try, which seems a little early to start handing out cheat codes, but to be fair, there was exactly one team in this season that was physically capable of beating the camels in the full-length race…
And the Frisbee Boys have to get their car out of the sand before they can even make it to the Detour, a process which brings out a stream of curses like you have never heard before: “Alright, flip it!” “Frick!” Flippin-A, dude!” “Mother of pearl!” It was like a church league basketball court out there, but Brodie and Kurt finally arrived at Races to find that the Gamers and Team Torey have already tried and failed once. Ashley is struggling so much after their first attempt that Burnie makes the executive decision to switch tasks, which is probably for the best, because she does some pretty serious dry heaving back in the car.
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They head to Oasis, where the teams must lead two camels for a mile through the desert to an “oasis” where the racers get to eat Regag bread and drink camel milk. Dana thinks walking through all that sand is pretty exhausting, but once Burnie and Ashley arrive, they think it’s a walk in the desert-park compared to Races, where everyone is currently dying. The Frisbee boys actually do beat the camels on the first try, but they about pass out and/or bust a quadriceps in the process. Team Torey make it through on their second try, and though Rachel tried to tell Zach that biking at high speeds wasn’t really her thing (girl — me either), he wasn’t totally hearing her, so they switch Detours after one try. And Cole and Sheri… well, they make it to Races eventually… and they finish eventually… and eventually…
NEXT: Swimmin’ with the (big) fishes…[pagebreak]
They make it to the ROAD BLOCK: SWIMMING WITH THE SHARKS at Aquaventure Waterpark. It’s the very same location of Mika and Canaan’s season 15 meltdown, where Mika’s inability to go down the Leap of Faith water slide (even with arm floaties!) got them eliminated. And this time, the teams will be sliding down Aquaventures’s newest slide that’s twice as long, Poseidon’s Revenge, which kind of sounds like something you’d find on Urban Dictionary.
Before Poseidon gets his revenge though, one member of each team has to swim with sharks to retrieve the puzzle portion of their Road Block, and that means suiting up in the tiniest gold swimsuits CBS could find without involving pixilation in the process. In fact, both team members have to wear the itty bitty bathing suits, but only one has to take their minimally clothed self down into a tank with nothing but a scuba helmet separating them from numerous variations of the animal that Discovery Channel devotes an entire week to every year.
The “puzzle” is a large cylindrical tube with some sort of viscous liquid inside; there’s a flat board that runs through the center with the word “RACE” indented in block letters, and the competing team member must line the letters floating around in the tube up with the appropriate space. Brodie and Kurt have a big head start on everyone thanks to their quick camel racing, but Brodie is struggling mightily with that four-piece puzzle and doesn’t want this to be the thing that gets them eliminated, so they go ahead and cash in that Express Pass and move onto to the slide, which elicits a, “Holy shoot!” upon sight.
Burnie and Zach cruise though the puzzle pretty easily, Korey struggles a bit, and Dana struggles even more, which is where things start to go downhill for the Dancers. And they really go downhill when Dana and Matt get back into the car — Dana reads the directions to Matt, and as the person reading them, she doesn’t understand them, but then she gets furious at Matt, the driver, for asking for clarification. Honestly, none of what she’s screaming at him makes sense, and I think she knew it at the time. And she definitely knows it in hindsight. But still — she was calling him psychotic, telling him she’d quit if he asked directions, but then not giving him any kind of direction herself. For all I know, Matt’s communication style could be just as detrimental to their relationship but… Dana’s is definitely louder… and more aggressive… and scarier.
And in the meantime, while Dana is saying she’s quitting, thumbing through her digicam (???), and saying, “Sometimes you just need to know when to tap out,” Sheri and Cole are catching up. Cole speeds through the water puzzle, and they only get lost six to seven more times on the way to the PIT STOP at Old Souq Station. But Dana must have eventually decided to tap back in, because…
1: FRISBEE BOYS — That Express Pass got them a narrow first place finish, and their Travelocity Gnome handed over a trip for two to Helsinki. “I think I’m taking that one,” Brodie said with Blair-shaped stars in his eyes.
4: THE KINGS
5: THE DANCERS — Oof. This was a rough one. The only thing worse than being disappointed in your own behavior, is having Phil give you disapproving eyes and say, “You are a team — if you are going to win this as a team, you’ve got to do it together.” Dana does at least say that she doesn’t want to treat Matt that way, and that there’s no excuse for it, so let’s just hope it never happens again.
6: ALABAMA — And that leaves Sheri and Cole in last place… BUT STILL NOT ELIMINATED! The mother-son pair got their second second chance as tonight turned out to be a Non-Elimination Leg.
So what is it about these two? Is Team Alabama just this lucky? And, at this point, are the Frisbee Boys an unstoppable force for first? Or was tonight the first sign that they might just be placeholders until someone else finally sweeps in at just the right time? Sound off in the comments!