Teams must sing in German before the Vienna Boys' Choir; tragedy ensues
Amazing Race 09
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“Me and this guy could really use a million bucks,” Danny, of Tim and Danny, reminds us AGAIN at the top of tonight’s episode. Sadly, the Oklahoma boys are eliminated from the Race after losing an unannounced grammar challenge as well as the leg’s established choir boy challenge.

Seven pairs remain. Everyone’s on the same train to Warsaw except a group of four termed “the Ice-ghanimals” by Marie: Afghanimals Leo and Jamal, plus Ice Road Truckers: Norway Edition stars Ally and Ashley. The Ice-ghanimals catch up to the group during a four-hour clown-saturated layover, so it’s an even playing field by the time they all arrive in Vienna at 6:40 a.m.

Leo and Jamal lie to everyone and say they didn’t U-Turn Brandon and Adam in the last leg. “It’s like, just be honest for once,” complained Amy. I’m not sure why they lied. “We wanted to stay in the Race ourselves” is a perfectly acceptable answer; any team would have done the same in that Double U-Turn situation.

The train approaches the station. Ululation abounds! Teams make their way to Vienna’s Opera House, where they’re greeted by Rigoletto, the titular hunch-backed court jester from Verdi’s operatic masterpiece. The contestants probably don’t know that, though, so to them it’s just a weird costumed dude who infuriatingly keeps changing direction and muttering “Something for you…you need it… me want one, too!” (That’s him muttering, right?) He may be a distant Austrian descendant of Cookie Monster.

Detour: Light Brigade or Masquerade? Much to my chagrin, no one chooses to properly assemble an elaborate crystal chandelier only to have it CRASH TO THE FLOOR when a chamberlain deems it inappropriate. So we follow teams to an elegant Viennese ball, where they must match their own intricately designed masks with the mask of a waltzing couple.

NEXT: All Austrian resources have been poured into a plot against Pinky as she can’t find a taxi

But teams also have the option to Fast-Forward straight to the Pit Stop at this point, by bungee jumping from the Donauturm — the highest structure in Vienna which also boasts the most attractive and gently apologetic strap-you-in employee in Vienna. This tall drink of bottled Alps water and his red elastic headband (it’s windy!) are a sight for sore eyes. But not to Jason and Amy, who arrive ready to jump and cannot because it’s really too windy. “I don’t want to give you false hopes,” says this beautiful Austrian creature.

Jason doesn’t wanna get all “geahhhhhhhed up” for the bungee jump if they can’t even do it, while Amy wants to wait it out for 10-15 more minutes at the tall drink of water’s suggestion. It’s a trap! Maybe. Only the unpredictable weather conditions know for sure. Finally they head back to the lowly ground-level Detour. Meanwhile, Nicole and Travis can tell Jason and Amy are ahead of them, so they too decide to attend the masquerade ball instead.

Danny twists his ankle on the way to the masquerade? On, like, a sewer? It’s never quite established. I’m reminded of how much I love practical German word combos like “Theatermuseum.”

After not too much BRUTAL YELLING by Pinky, Marie and Tim recognize “themselves” in the colorful masks, putting them temporarily first in line to reach the Philkeoghanpedestal later on.But first, Marie needs a taxi. “Taxi? No?” she wonders outside. “Is this a sick joke?” Yeah, lady, the entire public transportation system of a major European metropolis is a sick joke wrought upon only you. Nicky and Kim find a taxi before Marie and Tim. Ha.

Teams must now proceed to Wiener Sängerknaben a.k.a. the Vienna Boys’ Choir, which was established in freakin’ 1498. Wow. If you have time, follow the VBC down a YouTube wormhole for an hour or so. You will never feel less accomplished and talented in your own right. It’s fun!

NEXT: Welcome to Masterpieceofcraptheater

Roadblock: One team member must “join the choir” (read: train with a patient vocal instructor for hours) and learn how to sing Franz Schubert’s “Die Forelle.” They’ll be judged on pronunciation of the German lyrics and musicality. Read: Everyone’s screwed.

Ally loves performing, but is “actually extremely bad” at trying to speak other languages, while Nicky can pick up the language (she has a German-speaking, Czech dad) but, as partner Kim points out in a giggle fit, is like Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding — the hot girl who cannot sing. During Nicky’s practice session, the camera randomly zooms in on a shirtless guy mowing the lawns outside. No! Not the edelweiss! I’m disappointed when this fellow never reappears during the leg after this triumphant cameo.

“GET OUT OF THE CAR AND GET OUR BAGS,” yells Pinky, because their taxi was slowing down and what else was she gonna do — not berate her partner for a few seconds? Don’t be absurd.

This Roadblock is one of the funniest and most cringe-inducing I’ve ever witnessed on The Amazing Race. My favorite part is watching the very polite Austrian kids try, very unsuccessfully, to sustain their uproarious laughter at the plight of the these warbling buffoons. I’m partial to the perpetually side-eyeing boy with the hipster glasses, but I also love the one who looks like an even younger Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks. “Stop. Stop, please,” the director begs most first-triers. “That is…….. nicht gut.”

Overachieving ER doc Travis has the words and rhythm down, but his notes are too high, whereas Jamal’s performance value (pictured) is top-notch, but he needs to be on beat with the chorus and pianist. Ally just can’t form words at all. Okie Tim’s been down in the training pit a long time, and his instructor does NOT help by suggesting, “Try to imagine you are Justin Timberlake” and then — moments later! — “Sing like you’re an opera guy.” At some points, Tim is just lying flat on the ground in despair. (Sure, it’s a singing technique, but despair is more accurate.)

NEXT: Punching Bag Tim swells in perfect harmony with his flailing instructor Meanwhile, Punching Bag Tim is actually really good at this, just like he’s really good at most things. And Marie, in her way, is supportive from her perch at the center of the non-suffering non-singers. “I feel like you can do this because of your weird memory,” she urges her partner after a just-barely-failed attempt. “GO FIX IT NOW!” Agh, she ruined it.

After an ingenious in theory but horrifying in practice decision by Travis to start the song a full octave lower than recommended, Travis and Nicky (“That was………. pretty good.” and “It was…………………. acceptable,” respectively) win the reluctant approval of the director and proceed first to the garden maze at Schönbrunn Palace. Nicky and Kim become indirectly responsible for TaxiGate later on, as their need for a ride prompts Jason and Amy’s driver to remove their backpacks from his own car so he can accommodate the pretty girls. The Baseball Wive$ decide “not to even mess with that” and find their own taxi out on the mean streets of Vienna.

Jamal aces his second attempt with a flourish, then adorably lifts up the director and twirls him around, to the delight of his choir. Punching Bag Tim also succeeds thanks in large part, I think, to his awesomely enthusiastic instructor, whose wild bodily gestures were able to dictate the tone and pronunciation of each new word for him. She’s the MVP instructor for sure. She also LOVED Tim. Tim, look at how many grown women love you! Why must you remain tethered to a child?

Upon exiting Masterpieceofcraptheater, Pinky decides she and her punching bag should steal Jason and Amy’s cab. It’s okay to do this, because in her mind, it’s okay to do this. That’s all you need to know. Tim doesn’t get it. “The Afghanimals took their cab,” she explains to a dumbfounded Tim. Their worried driver doesn’t get it either. “No, it’s okay. We’re all blue,” Marie tells him, showing off their Race materials. THEY’RE ALL BLUE. So it’s fine!

“A million dollars…. Drinks with Jay and Amy after the show,” Marie weighs the options in her empty hands. I mean, when she puts it that way….

NEXT: ‘Providence Amy’ is out for blood Amy nails “Die Forelle,” perhaps thanks in part to the accompanying whooshing noises from her ridiculously short black ruffled skirt. (Isn’t everyone else wearing athletic “geahhhh”?) Amy and Jason pick up their lawn ornaments (sadly no partially nude backpack-finder in sight), find another taxi pretty easily, and then spot Marie and Tim’s bags in their former taxi when they arrive at Schönbrunn Palace. Jason describes this as “one of those moments when your heart just drops.” He’s such a sensitive dear.

But it was too late for sensitivity: As she’d threatened in their angry taxi ride over, “Providence Amy” had indeed come out to play. “I’m gonna kill them,” she states. We do not catch a glimpse of the murder in Scenesfromnextweek, but who knows? The Race is full of surprises. Amy and Jason’s tension-fueled face-off with Marie and Tim at the Pit Stop chilled me to the bone. Even parasol lady seemed to shiver under the hot summer sun.

It’s down to Ally vs. Okie Tim in front of the languishing choir. They’re both awful. Ally finally gets the clue after her fourth and possibly worst try. But poor Tim. He is so hopeless no one can even stand it. The children can’t even pretend to sing anymore. “Um. Pay attention on the beginning,” his instructor suggests. He’s run out of iconic American pop stars for Tim to imitate. Really he’s run out of anything to say at all.

Tim’s partner Danny approaches him with the best attitude imaginable. “It’s all right, buddy,” Danny says. “It’s hard. I couldn’t have done any better.” I somehow doubt that’s true, but what else is there to say? So Tim tries one last time. It’s perhaps less soul-sucking than the ones before.

“How do you feel?”

“Uh, bad.”



Yay! He “did it”!

We get a bit of a fakeout as Ally and Ashley decide to WALK from the labyrinth to the gloriette instead of jog, but Tim and Danny lagged too far behind them to catch up. They’re headed home. “You can let it out, it’s all right,” urges Phil’s cocked eyebrow. And Danny and Tim let Browsie have the platitudes Browsie deserves after a long leg of mostly relaxation with minimal grooming. “We had high expectations… For never even leaving the country we did get pretty far.. I got to travel with my best friend…. This is a blessing.” And the kicker: They will have memories that will last them a lifetime.

Cheers to Tim and Danny!


Winners: Nicole and Travis, who will get to relax in Anguilla with golfing CuisinArts

2nd place: Nicky and Kim

3rd: Leo and Jamal

4th: Tim and Marie

5th: Jason and Amy

6th: Ally and Ashley

Next week: Car racing in Abu Dhabi! Plus, voiceover of a lady contestant saying “This girl’s got serious mental problems” over footage of Marie freaking out over some sort of dried fruit platter.

Interestingly (or maybe I’m just really boring), season 4’s Vienna episode, in which a Fast-Forward involved searching the grounds around Schönbrunn Palace, was directly followed by a race car Roadblock in France. History’s somewhat repeating itself. I’d also forgotten about season 18’s “Deliver a psychoanalysis couch from Freud’s former home to his former workplace” challenge. It turns out I should have a ton of Vienna-related memories that do not involve The Sound of Music. Thank you, Wikipedia.

Are you upset about Tim and Danny’s elimination? How would you have handled TaxiGate? Should I have written some brief fan fiction in which Captain Von Trapp disciplines Marie?


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The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.

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