What a turn of events! It’s easy to get caught up in all the challenge-related excitement of The Amazing Race, what with the python scarves, and giant kites, and the various 2,000-foot plunges. But as much as TAR is about just fighting your way through every leg — you only need one first-place finish, after all — there’s also a big-picture game to be played during this race. And I love when we get to witness it.
Enter subtle frontrunners, Burnie and Ashley. Physicality might grab teams more Travelocity-trips-for-two versus simply a permanent pat on the head from Phil for a middling finish, but long-term strategy is what can set teams apart when the Final Mat comes into the picture. Sure, TAR isn’t exactly Survivor when it comes to mapping out your game plan, but there are a few things teams can do throughout the Race to put themselves in the best position to win. One of those is not leaning too heavily on one player to complete Road Blocks, because eventually, the other teammate will have to balance that out. The Gamers noted tonight that they’ve been purposefully keeping a balance between which one of them completes each Road Block, so that here in the final stretch, they would have plenty of wiggle room to lean on their individual strengths when the right (or wrong) Road Blocks come their way. They also helpfully pointed out…
That the Frisbee Boys have very much not been doing that. Without me even noticing, Kurt has apparently completed almost every Road Block, meaning that going into the ninth leg, Brodie will have to compete all but one remaining Road Block. And as Ashley said, “Kurt seems to be the stronger Road Block participant on that team,” which is what we call in the business, a little foreshadowing of trouble to come.
In Leg 9, the six remaining teams (including Cole and Sheri who survived thanks to a Non-Elimination Leg last week) are racing from Dubai to Bali, Indonesia. The Frisbee Boys are still out in front thanks to using their Express Pass last week, but everyone ends up on the same flight to Bali, so it’s back to an even playing field once they land. Still, the Frisbee Bros arrive at Tanah Lot Temple first, meaning they get a 15-minute head start on two teams in the morning, and a 30-minute head start on the last two teams. Sheri and Cole grab the other first-heat spot, which is huge for them considering they have a Speed Bump to complete this leg. The Kings and the Dancers come in last place, and it’s perhaps worth noting that their responses to being the last to leave in the morning are, “Okay, great — cool” and “That’s killer, we’re dead,” respectively.
In the morning, the teams have to deliver two Traditional Balinese offerings. The first is a sort of fruit basket to Pura Enjung Galuh Temple; and the second goes to Tanah Lot…a.k.a. the snake temple. So, you guessed it, after dropping off the fruit, Brodie, Kurt, Sheri, and Cole have to strap huge snakes around their necks and sport them a good little distance to Tanah Lot. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that the first temple is right by the starting point and have to retread a lot of ground, losing their lead on the Gamers and Team Torey.
Everyone makes it through the snake challenge no problem, serving “I’m a Slave 4 U’ realness,” as Tyler says, and heads to their ROAD BLOCK: SALT OF THE EARTH. The people of Bali have apparently been making highly sought-after salt for thousands of years, to which I say, Why have I not had this salt??? In this Road Block, one member of each team must strap on a shoulder harness with buckets on each end — you know the type — and head out to the sea to get enough loads of water to soak their roped-off section of volcanic sand, and once it is entirely covered, they move on to a hollowed-out coconut tree where the salt has crystallized, scrape it all out, and then fill four bags with the harvested salt. It is a surprisingly physical challenge, all the way from carrying the sea water to tying the tiny knots on the salt bags.
NEXT: Double the Road Blocks, double the fun…[pagebreak]
Presumably, both Kurt and Brodie are physically strong (though I have spotted Brodie’s knee brace), but they choose to have Kurt use his very last available Road Block here, meaning it’s Brodie and Brodie only from here on out, puzzle skills be damned. All of the rest of the teams send out their available male player, except for the Kings, who don’t check out the challenge beforehand and choose Rachel to utilize every bit of upper body strength she has. You have to feel for her every time she nearly collapses from the weight of the buckets, but to her credit, she pounds through until she gets it done. And by the time she makes it to the salt-baggin’, there’s room to make up some time! All the bros and their big bro hands have trouble tying the tiny knots, you see. But Tyler gets it perfectly on his first attempt, and Burnie beasts the bucket portion, which puts the Gamers and Team Torey out in front.
Cole also beasts the ocean portion of the Road Block, but that’s important time to make up since he and Sheri had to fulfill their Speed Bump and sell 10 breakfasts to locals back near the temple. They also had to eat one themselves, which they (mostly playfully) put a fuss up about, but that was insane, because that food looked super good. From the salt Road Block the teams head to Pantai Mandasari for…another ROAD BLOCK: GO FLY A KITE — and these giant kites can be 30 feet wide and 1,000 feet long. One member of each team has to construct a kite following an example, and though they aren’t quite that big, they are impressive once they take flight.
Whichever member of each team didn’t complete the last Road Block has to complete Go Fly A Kite, which means Brodie finally has to step up to the plate and… he does a good bit of complaining about it. It’s mostly said in a jovial scream, so I don’t think it was genuine complaining, but he seems flabbergast that they have to follow an example as opposed to being given step-by-step instructions. That means he does a good bit of peeking at Ashley’s kite, but she doesn’t seem to care too much, because along with Korey, she’s killin’ it. She says, “I’m never going to be satisfied with normal kites now,” which is perhaps the only downside of this Road Block, because once Korey gets his in the air for the first take-off, it’s a pretty incredible sight.
Sheri says she likes to put things together, and Dana seems a little hesitant about her kite-building skills, but both end up doing really well. Everyone knows that this is a perfect challenge for Zach, master of puzzle magic, but he has a good bit of time to make up. Luckily, he’s battling it out for last with Brodie, who got in a hurry and didn’t get his knots right on the first go-round, and has to do them all over again. He gets his kite up just before Zach, but there is barely a minute separating the two teams as they head toward the PIT STOP where Phil is waiting with a Phinisi boat that the teams have to paddle an outrigger canoe to. It comes down to a paddle race for both first and last place…
1: TEAM TOREY — Back in the No. 1 spot they took a break from for a while and winning $5,000 each! Also: “We’re a coupl’a pirates here for your booty, Phil.” Korey and Tyler would be worth having around if solely for how frequently they make Phil blush.
2: GAMERS — In their fourth second-place finish in a row.
5: FRISBEE BOYS
ELIMINATED: THE KINGS were so close to making up the time that they lost, coming in just moments behind Kurt and Brodie, but they had a good run, and they were sweet as
salt sugar the whole way through.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Can the Frisbee Boys get back out in front with Kurt sidelined for the rest of the Road Blocks? Have you come to enjoy Burnie and Ashley as much as I have, and are they just biding their time in second until that all-important final first place? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on Bali and the final five teams!