It's a battle of Fine Arts when the teams arrive in Italy, with a little bit of high-speed chase on the side.

By Jodi Walker
November 08, 2014 at 02:15 AM EST
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People, let me tell you ‘bout some best friends/ They’re two teams who want to break each other kneecaps, and will probably make it to the end/The Dentists and the Cyclists are (not) beeeeest friends.

That is a melodic stretch—I’m no Adam or Kym, improving Top 40 hits with the goat milk-churners of Morocco (I’m more Mr. Wrestler, imitating opera singers). But the lyrics hold up! As hard as they tried this episode, Team Teeth and Team Bike just can’t be best friends because they’re too busy battling it out for 1st and 2nd place ever week. Of course, Adam and Bethany dip their sun-kissed feet in the ring occasionally too, and if I know anything about inspirational sports movies, those sneaky nice guys are going to take it all. Actually, if this was an underdog narrative, I guess the ultimate winners would be Mr. and Mrs. Wrestler, who seem to have their own mini-comeback every episode. Like TNT, (and T&T), they know drama.

No, the Cyclists and the Dentists aren’t actually best friends, but they spent about the first quarter of tonight’s leg trying to be because, as the two teams in first, they deemed it easier to just travel together toward the first Road Block. In fact, tonight saw quite a bit of “task-specific cooperation” as it was aptly titled in the comments last week, and most of it successful. The teamwork between the Wrestlers and the Scientist might have just kept both teams in the race—wait, what’s that? It was a non-elimination leg, so it wouldn’t have mattered, anyway—Everyone is a winner!

Let me tell you something about my thoughts on non-elimination legs: they are directly correlated to how much I like the team that placed last, and as I still find T&T’s back-and-forth totally endearing, tonight the N-E-L worked out just fine. But those two are going to have to shape up or ship out if they want any chance of breaking into what is almost a cemented Final 3.

Tonight, those top three teams – the Dentists, Cyclists, and Surfers – set out in that order to book flights from Marrakesh to Palermo, Sicily.

At the start of the second half of the race, the teams take the time to reflect on how this journey has affected their relationships, and it’s positive vibes all around. Jim and Misti are having the most fun they’ve ever had in their nine year marriage, Adam and Bethany consider this to be a sort of newlywed bootcamp (slings for wrist sprains from horizontal painting sold separately), and Tim and Te Jay say they would “bicker more than this” if they were at home on their couch, so TAR is great for them. I’ll let the Wrestlers explain their growth to you for themselves:

Mr. Wrestler: While we’re in the race, our mind is on the race and we’re not really thinking about our Twitter or Facebook or Instagram…or eyebrow threading, or tanning or the gym

Mrs. Wrestler: I do miss having a gym.

Mr. Wrestler: [Longingly] I haven’t thought about tweeting today, or working out either. [More longingly] I wish we could work out.

Mrs. Wrestler: [With the deepest sympathies] Me too.

Mr. Wrestler: I’ve lost a half of an ab.

It’s gone to a good cause, my friend, to a good cause. At the travel agency, the Dentists and Cyclists get the first two flights at 8 p.m. the next night, while everyone else will take off 40 minutes behind them. When they get to Sicily—“Finally somewhere I haven’t been,” says Kym; “What?!” say I— where even the airports are scenic, the teams head to Teatro Di Verdura for their next clue.

NEXT: A rrrrrrace around the world (in go-carts)…

The next morning, they’re sent to Villa Costanza, and the Cyclists and Dentists continue to work together, which Jim assures us won’t keep happening in Leg 12, but in Leg 7, it serves them well in tracking down a taxi, as Palermo is no New York City. The rest of the teams struggle a lot more, especially the Wrestlers, who get nearly 40 minutes behind because they mostly wait in the same place for a taxi to come, while everyone else goes out on the chase.

At the Road Block the teams find On the Fast Track; they’ll be simulating a century-old famous car race up Mount Pellegrino, the Targa Florio. But they’ll be using go-karts, and it looks incredibly fun. Kym and Jim face off in the first heat and Kym figures out that she can accelerate faster on the straight stretches because she’s lighter, but my teeth are in pain just from listening to her clack-clack-clack on that bumpy road like a 4-year-old sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag.

Maya, even tinier than Kym, looks like she is going to fly right off that mountain, but is the only one who has to redo the race because she didn’t make it under the 4:15 mark on the heat she races by herself. Having a team to compete against seems to really help, and in the next round, when everyone else has made it to Mount Pellegrino, Maya, Te Jay, Adam, and Brooke all make it through in time.

And it’s on to the Detour: Painters or Posers. Only four teams can compete in Painters, which works out in the favor of the last-arriving teams, the Wrestlers and Scientist, who have to default to Posers. Painters requires the other four teams restore a cherubic painting on the ceiling of a chapel, which sounds easy enough, but they have to do it on top of a scaffold that puts them about two feet from the ceiling—not an ideal crafting environment. It’s also apparently quite steamy up there. Everyone is sweating all over the place, except Misti, who Jim says doesn’t sweat that much, and that’s too bad because I had liked Misti pretty well up until this point, but I simply cannot trust someone who doesn’t sweat. Where does it all go?!

“I don’t sparkle—I sweat.” – Kym

The Dentists and Cyclists are about halfway done by the time the Surfers and T&T arrive (after beating out the Scientists for the fourth spot in a footrace), and the painting is proving as physically demanding as it is artistically. Paintbrushes get real heavy when you have to hold them at a 90-degree angle for an hour while most of your ponytail is dipped in a bucket of paint, apparently.

NEXT: It’s all about the outfit, darling…

The teams over at Posers realize once they arrive that this challenge should be a little easier than it seemed on paper: The teams must listen to 10 opera singers perform a bit from 10 of the world’s most famous operas and then write down each opera from memory in the order they were sung by identifying the costume the singer was wearing. What they realize when they get there, is that after watching the performance, they’ll get to go to a room that has all of the costumes displayed, along with the characters and opera titles that they belong to.

Even still, the Scientists and Wrestlers got started way after the other teams after getting behind in transit, so after the Wrestlers have been there for a little while, and then when the Scientists get there, they decide to combine their knowledge and get this thing done.

That’s not an option at Painters, and when the Dentists and Cyclists’ paintings are deemed completed, things get dire for the Surfers and T&T who are all officially sweaters and struggling to paint the delicate lines necessary for approval. I love T&T’s insistence at how great their painting looks every time the judge comes over—“He’s handsome!” “Wait, ours is beautiful!” “Oh my god, so cute!”—unfortunately their inception doesn’t quite work, and they head out to the Pit Stop at Villa Niscemi right after after the Surfers.

1: The Dentists bring it in first on the official 300th leg of the race and win a trip to Jamaica. Make sure to check out EW’s 300th Episode “Where Are They Now” slideshow to check in on 14 of the most talked about teams from the last 24 seasons!

2: The Cyclists “The Dentists won this leg fair and square, but it comes down to it, only one team can win the million dollars…now we just have to figure out a way to break their kneecaps.”

3: The Scientists

4: The Wrestlers

5: The Surfers

NOT ELIMINATED: T&T, with just the saddest faces when they arrive last, and the happiest screams when they hear they’re not eliminated. Phil tells reminds them that they’ll have to get through a Speed Bump next leg, but Te Jay is feeling pretty confident: “If the dentists, we can do it.”

And a few Q’s:

–There’s nothing I like better than an extended metaphor: “T&T—our dynamite may have had a short fuse, but we’re ready to explode and rock on.” But is it true… do you think there’s more room for T&T in this race?

–“We’re both dentists; we work in a world where a half a millimeter is the difference between success or failure.” That is so, so true, and I totally respect and am grateful for the work that dentists do, but the intensity with which Jim says this, makes you think he’s about to say “the difference between life and death,” and then you realize he’s talking about drilling teeth. Are you coming around to the Dentists and their less aggressive attitudes like I am? They’re running a good race, and Jim even smiled when they came in first this week!

–What did you think of the Scientists bolting out before the Wrestlers could got their clue after they agreed to work together? I think it was a heat of the moment thing, but still, they did agree to work together, and the Wrestlers were there before them.

See you next week for the 301st episode of The Amazing Race, and please chime in with the best bits that I missed!

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.
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