Racers plunge into the Arctic in Svolvaer, Norway; Pink Hair and her punching bag face a tough decision
Amazing Race
Credit: CBS
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None of these people can BELIEVE they’re going to the Arctic Circle, even though most of them are well-prepared with super cute knit headbands for the chilly temps. “Is the Artcic Circle never not freezing?” wonder-bums Nicole. Toughen up, lady! There’s a rainbow there!

A middle-of-the-night start of the leg levels the playing field: Everyone’s on the same flight (for the first time this season) to Bodo, Norway, where “the sun never sunsets,” according to Ally. We all have a lot to learn from Ally.

Upon arrival in Norway, Brandon and Adam plan to fish off the group’s ferry during a three-hour ride. (Is this Survivor? Aren’t they getting fed?) Friends since junior high, the Beards like to become one with the land wherever they may be. No one asked what the beards are for, but self-proclaimed “man scout” Adam wants to clarify: “They’re great, they’re easy, they’re low maintenance — and who doesn’t want a mustache?” Good point. Everyone does want a mustache.

Pink Hair Terror spends the ferry ride naming everyone who won’t get the Express Pass she’s guarding in the safe in her stone-cold heart, namely the Afghanimals, who are a “bunch of jerks.” (Just two of them are a bunch. Makes sense; they’re pretty much constantly ululating at this point, as if they’re summoning an entire army of camera-mugging minions. But to be fair, Leo and Jamal aren’t that annoying during this ep.)

Svolvaer, Norway — DETOUR: Hang Your Heads or Hammer of the Cods. In Hang Your Heads, teams must string together six bundles comprised of 10 fish heads each, then transport them to enormous drying racks. But Hammer of the Cods could have been called Hang Your Heads as well, because poor Nicky’s neck is about to snap off (she claims) as she waits for Kim to ascend some sort of fish-drying jungle gym/horror show as they must collect 15 neck-destroyers of cod, then make a kilo of fish jerky.

Also, it’s 11 p.m. but the sun’s still out, disorienting the contestants. Of course there’s no taxis; they’re in, like, this serene, modernistic, supremely functional fantasy Norwegian neighborhood where no one ever needs anything. The teams fret over whether to jog to the challenge or find a taxi. The Beards surge ahead on foot, and oooooh, DAMN, this looks like one of the most gorgeous runs I’ve never taken. Vikings might come running down the mountain at any time?! How cool. I don’t know how anyone sleeps up there. (Travelocity.com face masks.)

NEXT: How to Bamboozle a Guy in Three Compliments Amy and Jason get a taxi and triumphantly announce, “We just passed the Ass-animals.” Clever. Nicole does an unconvincing…lion’s growl? to warn her competitors not to steal her never-gonna-happen taxi. Guys, just jog. You need the endorphins. Aw, crap, they get a taxi.

Marie murders the only local Norwegian who’s awake and steals his taxi. Not really. Marie and Tim get a taxi. When the Beards show up at the Fish Spikery, she delivers her first dismissive compliment of the night as she worries they’ll be way too good at this challenge. “They eat gross stuff and do gross stuff all the time!” Brandon and Adam would proudly agree.

Most teams choose to Hang Heads, some of which are smaller than others. “Spiking the baby heads was really depressing,” says Ashley. But screw the adult fish; they’d lived too long and were goners. Brandon and Adam prove their mechanical prowess once again: “We’re pretty good at slamming a head onto a rock.” Meanwhile, Amy keeps calling Jason, her baby, My Little Fisherman. I don’t notice a neon orange pony’s tail undulating from his backside; it must be visible only to her. After all, “Everything he does is really sexy.”

As Tim wheels the fish heads up the curvy road, Marie surges ahead on foot and spews a dazzling array of gems on her unique Condescending Compliment to Brutal Threat spectrum:

“Oh my God, you’re so good at wheelbarrowing!”

“Tim was made for pushing this wheelbarrow.”

“Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going.”

They lose time, though, as they can’t figure out they’re using an unmarked pole. This is Race 101; no matter which foreign country you’re in, the only flag that matters has the red and yellow stripes.

Jason/Amy and the Beards run ahead as Marie attempts to con Brandon into telling her what she’s doing wrong (EVERYTHING) as if she’ll hand over the Express Pass. “I’ll tell you where you can stick your Express Pass!” the Beards mutter as they flutter in the gentle arctic breeze.

Leo and Jamal’s wheelbarrow gets a flat. “It was definitely nice to see them struggle,” says Jason.

Hmm. Was that sexy?

NEXT: Tim needs those jewel-arms better appraised, stat Tim and Danny were genetically engineered to break their backs in the name of manual labor, so they have no problem collecting or hammering their cod. Nicky and Kim are another story, as Kim thinks she dropped the clue, then realizes after a hilarious amount of time that it’s in her mouth. I’m liking them more and more, especially because they know how to focus on what’s really important in the race. “Your arms look so strong right now,” Kim assures Nicky as her staggering friend threatens to face-plant into a frozen road.

And it’s cute when Nicky gets her hair caught in the cod for about a billion years, then finally emerges to tell the sleepy Norwegian codpiece, “That is…not normal.” There’s suddenly a shot of this sleepy gentle giant grinning head-on, clearly taken out of context, but I laugh, because my standards have been flattened to about the height of a kilo of cod jerky. Sleepy gentle giant gets a huge hug when Nicky and Kim finish, and that’s really what it’s all about.

How many times has Kim said something’s the hardest thing she’s ever done? This is at least three or four. Wait ’til she has to eat a baby animal’s ear.

Boats! “Let’s get some beards in the wind,” Brandon enthuses as they travel to the ROADBLOCK: Who’s the biggest swinger? One member of each team must swing from the end of an 80-foot rope, then plunge into the Arctic Ocean and swim to the next clue. Once again, the Beards are made for this. How amazing was Adam freaking out on the boat after Brandon plunged? “He can swim like a seal! Like a shark! Like a seal shark!” I love when the adrenaline rush transfers to the non-participating partner.

My Little Baby Fisherman (Jason) has trouble reaching the ball he needs to grab to let go (of his deepest darkest secrets?), which gives Pinky a great chance to doubt her punching bag’s ability to conquer the Roadblock himself. “Looks like you need upper body strength. I’m not too confident he’s strong enough to pull this off.” Um, bitch, have you ever SEEN your partner? His arms are like bulging sacks of jewels, and he should be re-appraised and treated as a rarity by someone far kinder than you. Anyway, Tim obviously finishes the Roadblock in an instant. Pinky pats him on the head.

Kim makes me laugh again: “You look like a bank robber!” she yells to her flailing partner after they’d sunk into last place. I almost choke up as she continues, “I don’t want to stop seeing the world.” Luckily I catch myself because we’re about to deal with MANLY TRUCKS.

NEXT: Which team is built AS TOUGH AS A FORD? Okay! Choose a “tough Ford Ranger” and pull a giant boulder far enough that you can find a sack of viking coins that was hidden beneath it. Seems easy enough… unless you can’t drive a stick. Ooh, mid-scene commercial time. “Pretty powerful rig, this Ford Truck,” rave the Beards. “Yeah, it was a good truck.” confirms Jason in a confessional. So that’s settled.

The Ice Princesses (sorry) are looking mighty adorable in their knit headbands. Neither Ally nor Ashley knows how to drive this incredible Ford truck. “We’re gonna go into the hole,” Ally rather chipperly announces. The constant sunlight must make even the doomiest fates seem not so awful. Plus, a huge tract of All-American land happened to be around to provide a driving tutorial. “Oklahoma was nice enough to show us how to reverse,” said Ally. It sure is one of the friendliest states. I wonder how it got all the way to Norway?

LEARN HOW TO DRIVE A STICK BEFORE DOING THE RACE, guys. This is so basic. It’s slightly easier than mastering the Spanish language or learning the colors Red and Yellow. Just go for it.

On their way to the Pit Stop at Viking Longhouse (where the missing townspeople had gathered to drink in costume and good-naturedly ignore any evidence of a TV production), Nicole and Travis encountered Tim and Marie, who had not picked up their Pit Stop clue back at the Hole of Ford Toughness. Nicole spends way too long describing the identical desperation in each of their faces.

“DO YOU WANT THE PIT STOP OR NOT?” Nicole yells, having demanded the Express Pass. Pinky knows they’re not in last place, so she just looks down and snorts fire into an ancient viking map. They don’t know where they’re going. This could be good!

“Okay, we’re leaving.” So no Express Pass for Nicole, whose supreme “WHATEVER” stinkface closes the episode.

Brandon and Adam win $5,000 each. Brandon will finish the house he’s been working on, and Adam will remain alive on the land another year. Skål!

The race continues!.… after the break.… which is an entire week.

Thoughts on episode 4? Sudden cravings for salted fish? Discuss!

Episode Recaps

The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.

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