The Amazing Race recap: 'Get Your Sheep Together'
The teams face off against two notable Amazing Race foes: barnyard animals and sprained ankles.
Oh me, oh my, how I do love an animal task on The Amazing Race. I’m sorry, make that two animal tasks, both of the particularly stubborn barnyard variety, and with the only alternative being MAKE VIKING FIRE, it’s a great set of detours tonight. I see what you’re doing here in Season 25, Phil, and I like it. It was about time for some burlier dealings with the likes of sheep and peat (and ponies) after last week’s emotional waterworks, and it’s always appreciated when TAR ups the ante for legs of the race in English-speaking countries… even if plenty of this season’s teams are finding directions in their native tongue to still be a little misleading.
Other than the opposite-side-of-the-road thing and hopping a few curbs, navigating Scotland in a Ford Focus seems straight-up delightful. Did you see those rolling green hills? I have to agree with Michael the Firefighter: “Jeez, the world is small. Go out and see it.”
But the Firefighters’ positive attitudes might be the only thing to admire about their specific approach to The Amazing Race, which over the last three weeks has proved to be a lot more about falling down, dropping pancakes and yelling inspirational statements about “havin’ yah backs against the wahl,” than anything else. Adding an ankle that looks like a Magic 8 Ball and some faulty directions to that mix were just one too many figurative walls for the firefighters with the hearts of gold, fingers of butter, and feet of lead, to overcome
Michael and Scott’s troubles began from the very start of the third leg of the rrrrace around the world: The teams had to take a train from Oxford, England to Aberdeen, Scotland where they’ll find a strategically placed fleet of Ford Focuses (and what an intimidating fleet that is) which they must take on a ferry to the Shetland Islands, where a puffin will be waiting with their next clue. So, excuse my remark from the top of the recap, there are three significant animals in this leg of the race, each more ridiculous than the next.
The teams head out to the train station in order of their arrival at last leg’s Pit Stop, beginning with Adam and Bethany at midnight; unfortunately for them, the first train out isn’t until 6 a.m. Amazing Race doesn’t employ psychological defeat in the same way its brother-in-network Survivor does, but I always get secondhand annoyance when the teams not only aren’t rewarded for their earlier finishes in the last leg, but also have to wait six hours in a train station when they could be sleeping in an uncomfortable bed somewhere. Alas, I’m a complainer, and these people have the hearts of lions and the boundless energy of sheep, and don’t give a what about a little train station chillin’ on the journey of their lives.
Kym and Alli the Cyclists even decide to take the extra time to explore Oxford nightlife a little bit and dance outside a pub while calling the other teams L-7-Squares. After an eight-hour ride through the beautiful countryside, the teams grab their cars in Aberdeen and board the ferry toward the Shetland Islands, or as Whitney of Nashville likes to call it… well, I’m sure you can guess how her accent tackles, “Shetland.” Scott provides some entertainment on the ferry by modeling his swollen ankle which looks like it has been whipped, burned, and dragged through a car wash that subbed out soap for ink. It’s bad. And considering how painful it looks, he really does not let it slow him down throughout the leg.
The aforementioned puffin awaits the teams in Shetland (It’s, like… majestic.” – Tim and/or Te Jay) and sends them toward Scalloway Castle for their first detour: Pony Up or Light My Fire.
This was a tough choice. Pony Up, where the teams must carve 50 blocks of peat from the land and cart it up a big ‘ol hill using Shetland ponies offers the likelihood of uncooperative animals and physical exertion, whereas the Light My Fire required passing through three stages of correctly building a Viking torch. I was keener on the quaintness of leading a pony through the hills of Scotland to a tiny house as opposed to testing the detail-oriented nature of Vikings, and this may be the one time quaintness is an indicator of picking the right challenge.
NEXT: The importance of naming your pony…
Misti and Jim arrive to Pony Up first, and are joined by Adam and Bethany, Amy and Maya, and Nici and Shelley. Jim makes sure to point out that his bodybuilding days come in handy on these physically demanding challenges, but the tiny scientists who have spent most of their life in labs (where I have to assume they’re also eating the candy they make) are like, “Yeah, once you get the hang of cutting this peat it’s super easy, not at all physically taxing, and taking this pony up the hill is basically like walking a golden retriever.” So, take it down a notch or two, Chomps.
The Shetland ponies are a little stubborn (though naming them “Cupcake” seems to help), but the teams that chose Light My Fire are definitely having a tougher time. Team Nashville seems shocked that the torches “basically have to be perfect,” because I guess they’ve never watched this show before and last week they got that cakewalk of a pancake-run. The Cyclists breeze through every step in one try though, and the Firefighters do pretty well, even giving the Vikings a solid tip on how to put out fires: “WATER!” Tim and Te Jay put their love of gift wrapping to good use while wrapping their torch and eventually get enough cement on the base for Viking approval.
And then, there were the Wrestlers… oh, the Wrestlers. I don’t want them to win or anything, but I’m kind of enjoying watching them be generally bad at everything but still somehow continue to make it to the mat before at last two teams in each leg. First, they say they “accidentally” chose the Light My Fire challenge because I guess their Ford Focus managed to autonomously stumble upon the torch-making kit before they could make it to the pony detour; and then it took them about twice as long as any other team to make their torch because they couldn’t figure out how to bend a nail. Like, asked-another-team, came-up-with-three-different-approaches kind of couldn’t figure it out. That backyard $1 million backyard wrestling ring is looking further and further away.
But they finally set the Viking ship ablaze, get their next clue and head toward Berry Farms to the titular final detour: Get Your Sheep Together. Oh my gosh—those sheep! It’s like they’re on springs!
The teams have to corral a group of sheep down the center of a pasture into their pen, and watching the method that each team chooses to incorporate is simply fascinating. Jim and Misti use a 1-2-punch fairly indicative of their relationship, combining encouragement (“C’mon honey, get in there with your family.” – Misti) and physicality (“I’ll tackle them before I let them out.” – Jim), and get their final clue to the Pit Stop first. It’s a pin/brooch that somewhat resembles the Hand of the Kind pin from Game of Thrones—minus, y’know, the hand—along with the tip, “You must go where this was found.”
Shelley and Nici, who arrive at the detour and state, “This is going to be easy and fun!” like a couple of people who have never heard of foreshadowing, seen a scary movie, or perhaps even heard of sheep before. Their tactic—getting into the sheep’s psyche by luring them into a false sense of security—is neither easy nor fun, but it does work well enough. The Scientists just kind of rationally let the sheep know that they need them to get in the pen, and the sheep seem to get on their level about it. “We freaking herded those sheep!” Whitney proves to be a Robert Redford-esque sheep whisperer, and other teams end up literally whispering to the sheep to keep them from scattering everywhere.
NEXT: When in doubt, “BAH” it out…
But the best has to be Tim and Te Jay, who realize quickly that their normal tendency to scream nice, polite statements over their shoulders will not work as well with sheep as it does with people… so they just make sheep noises instead. As in, “bahhhh” at the sheep until get they annoyed, in which case it becomes more, “Bah, bah—NO! Bah! Bah—no, STOP BAAAAH!” When the Wrestlers cruise in and finish before them, they fashion a “clothes barrier” that is ridiculously unhelpful, but they don’t let it get them down for long (“Te Jay, you’re getting so defeated, it’s disgusting!”), and finally get the sheep into the pen.
And now, it’s just the Firefighters. Oh, the Firefighters. After trying for what appears to be a pretty short time, Scott starts screaming about taking the 4-hour penalty again because of his “broken paw.” Michael convinces him that is a very bad idea, because when in doubt, he always has an inspirational saying up his sleeve: “We live as a team, we die as a team.”
And they did… die as a team, that is. Most of the teams headed straight for the Scalloway Museum to find out where their final clue “was found,” but the Firefighters asked some locals in a pub. It turns out the brooch was a replica of a piece of 8th century Viking treasure found at St. Ninian’s Isle; unfortunately, the Firefighters first headed toward Weisdale, before figuring out the correct location.
1: Dentists, Misti and Jim won a trip for two to Dubai, and yet more praise of their (frighteningly) dazzling smiles from Phil, the greatest prize of all.
2: Surfers, Adam and Bethany: “You can go swimming, but according to the puffin, it’s a little chilly.” – Phil, that stinker
3: Team Nashville, Keith and Whitney, who get quizzed about their snippy behavior toward each other during detours, but they say they don’t care what anyone thinks of them.
4: Mom and Daughter, Shelley and Nici
5: Scientist, Amy and Maya also took some bad pedestrian advice on the origin of the final clue, but didn’t suffer too much for it.
6: Wrestlers, Brook and Robbie, who upped their placement in their third consecutive foot race to beat…
7: Cyclists, Kym and Alli
8: College Sweethearts, Tim and Te Jay
ELIMINATED: Firefighters, Michael and Rob
What did you think of the Firefighters’ race? Would you have liked them to stick around longer, or do teams who are all about having fun and “not taking things so seriously” stand a chance to beat teams like the Dentists who said, “the most successful people in life fail forward,” after finishing second place last week? I welcome any and all thoughts on the Wrestlers’ continued struggle with, uh, every detour?
And as you are proving yourself to be a particularly knowledgeable bunch of Amazing Race historians, I think it’s only fair to shout out a few of the best T(hrowback)AR Moments from the comments last week:
–Of course, Nici’s boat side pants-on bathroom break brought back the stressful memory of Jen and Keisha basically losing $1 million to Jen not being able to hold it in Season 14 (thank goodness for “second chances”).
–There was also mention of the Beekman Boys who I just… miss in my life.
–And in a surprising but appreciated discussion of what constitutes a vowel—Texas public school also instructed me, “a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y”—there was mention of last season when the teams had to memorize Welsh poetry. Herding sheep is pretty much eating cotton candy while taking a relaxing bath compared to that mess.
Keep ’em coming!