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…