The teams bike it out and heat it up in Amsterdam.
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There’s a lot to like about the Hairdressers. As Rochelle stated tonight, everybody loves an underdog, and as I’ve stated here on many occasions, I’m more invested in Hayley and Blair’s love/hate life than I am in my own. But there’s also something to be said for the slow burn team. For all their New Yorkness, and all their tightly compacted energy, it took a while to get to know Ashley and Matt. (I can confidently tell you that I called them Hairdresser Man and Hairdresser Woman in my notes well past Week 4.) Around the time they got engaged at the Pit Stop mat, and became the only more-than-just-dating couple on the show, Matt and Ashley started to make their mark as two people who are totally freaking out all the time, but never at each other. They’re incredibly supportive of one another, and they’re now one of two non-blind-date teams left standing, along with the couple who met at a truck stop and surely has set a TAR record for placing second to last each leg. This is such a weird season.

After losing the Olympians last week, the majority officially tipped back in favor of a blind date team, and Teams SoCal, Medical, and Lawyer are both rising to the occasion and feeling the pressure. And you know what pressure means… screaming Hayley is back and she’s as scream-y as ever! You see, Hayley is angry because Blair doesn’t know that he’s wrong everytime that he’s wrong, so she needs to make sure to inform that he’s wrong as loudly and often as possible. It’s a public service, really—the people of Amsterdam should be paying her taxes.

In leg nine of the rrrrrace around the world, the teams are headed back to Europe, flying all the way from Namibia to the capital of Norway. They must have all been booked on the same flight because all five teams arrive in Amsterdam at the same time, but the Lawyers and Team SoCal get an early lead toward Jagershuis, where they’ll find their ROAD BLOCK, and boy is it a doozy. In IF THE SHOE FITS, one person from each team must dress up like a cobbler and wade through piles and piles, and rooms and rooms of wooden shoes—klompen—to find the match for one very specific klomp. It’s very specific in that the singled out shoe’s intricate design looks almost exactly like the other thousands of shoes in the shop, with only a few subtle differences. Subtlety is not every team’s strong point.

Jenny finds the shoe’s match almost immediately putting their team in first, and Tyler gets it after a few tries and lots of klompin’ around. Blair manages to move quickly through the nearly identical shoes even with Hayley screaming “words of encouragement” demanding that he memorize the design faster, and Rochelle stays calm even with Matt running around the shop with her like a chicken with his head cut off and two left klompen on.

Despite Ashley’s earlier assertion that Matt “pays real good attention to detail” though, those parts of Matt’s brain seem to shut right off when the pressure of possibly losing a million dollars starts to weigh on him. Matt runs around the shop, throwing shoes around, thinking they all look exactly the same, and presenting the cobbler with dozens of shoes that he really has no idea if they are matches or not. He seems to not even take a second look at the shoe he’s to be matching until his 35th attempt, and only right before his 42nd attempt, does Matt notice the three little lines that make the main shoe different from almost all the other shoes; and then, because I have to imagine he’s thrown every shoe in there at least 12 different times, he finds the match right away.

But the Hairdressers are way behind at this point. All of the other teams have already biked along the Amstel River and taken a ferry to get them to the Muntorren in downtown Amsterdam. Everyone marveled at the natural beauty of Amsterdam and the thrill of getting to ride a bike, except Hayley who complained about being cold and a poop smell. Team SoCal finds a path that’s shorter than just following the river the whole way once they get off the ferry and get ahead of the Lawyers again to arrive first to the DETOUR: SOAK or SHUFFLE.

Soak involves one of the very best things I’ve ever heard of (originally shown to me on one of the very worst seasons of The Bachelorette—Des’—on the very worst date all season, the two-on-one), a hot tug. A hot tug is a tug boat that also functions as a hot tub, so you can float down the Amstel river in 30 degree weather while staying warm and not wearing pants. Well, some people wear pants, but not Tyler or Hayley; Jenny appeared to go in the water in a full-length terrycloth robe. While the teams operate the hot tug, they have to spot three clues along the way that will come together to form a message that they must present at the end of their ride to get the next clue.

The first clue is five capital Is; the second is skis minus the “is” plus the square root of 64; and the third is a ringing phone plus an ink blot. It all equals out to be “Ice Skating Rink” but the five Is especially gives each of the teams a lot of trouble. Teams SoCal and Medical figure the first clue out with the context of the second and third clues, but after only being able to come up with “Roman Skating Rink,” the Lawyers have to take another hot tug ride around the river. When Team Medical sees the Lawyers turning around as they’re making their way toward the finish line, they realize they need to play dumb about already having figured out the puzzle. Hayley, who has been practicing turning other people away for the entire race, gets to work right away, but Blair doesn’t understand what she’s doing because Jenny and Jelani are still so far away: “That was a practice round and you failed.” Never change, Hayley. Please keep surviving, Blair.Hayley, while biking down a street that Blair had previously thought to be incorrect: “I’M ALWAYS RIGHT AND YOU NEVER LISTEN!!!”Hayley later, upon reflection, perhaps realizing that Blair doesn’t intentionally try to be very occasionally wrong even though she acts like it’s a personal attack: “But the thing is, I was right.”Blair: “Who cares.”Me: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas, Blair!

Coincidentally, the two teams in last place both choose Shuffle, where they must play the Dutch game, Schulen. It’s much like shuffleboard, but there are four narrow slots for the pucks to slide into on the opposite side of the board, each worth one, two, three, or four points. Each team must get 51 points in one round before getting the next clue. It takes Team Truck Stop 14 attempts to score a 51-point game, but the Hairdressers got so far behind at the Road Block that Mike and Rochelle are already long finished with their 14 games of Schulen by the time they arrive.

Those Hairdressers though, they’ve got as much heart as they do accent! First of all, they hauled Amsterdam ass on that bike ride, then they almost got the 51 points in their first try at Schulen, but had to play one more game to get it right. The lawyers eventually figure out the clues over at Soak, and Team Truck Stop is briefly shown going the wrong way while heading toward the Pit Stop, but the Hairdressers were pretty much doomed from the moment Matt reached his third dozen attempts to find the right wooden shoe. Or were they…

1: Team SoCal gets a second win in a row and a trip for two to Seoul, South Korea. They also get Phil’s awkward forced romantic comment of the day: “If I wasn’t mistaken, I would assume that you guys are in love right now.” Tyler tells him they’re in love with race. Will Phil ever get to officiate the TAR wedding he’s been dreaming of?

2: Team Medical: “It’s clear to me at this point that we might have different ways of dealing with stress.” –Blair, ever the diplomat

3: Lawyers who declare that a blind date couple will be the winner of this race.

4: Team Truck Stop—Mike says they’ve slowly been fighting their way up, but it’s probably time to speed it up a little.

NOT ELIMINATED: The Hairdressers!

Matt and Ashley try so hard and are so passionate about the game that I was glad to be surprised by the timing of this non-elimination leg. They might not be the most detail-oriented team, but they do work hard. We’ll have to see if the N-E-L curse hits them next week.

Were you glad to see what’s likely to be the last non-elimination leg used on the Hairdressers? Do you believe that Hayley is always right about everything and that Blair just doesn’t listen? Are the Lawyers going to strike back at Matt and Ashley next week?

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The Amazing Race

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