The Amazing Race recap: 'The Claws Are Out'
A beloved team faces the dreaded Double U-Turn
NOOOOO! If you don’t like to know who loses until the end of the recap, look away, because I’m about to go full-on, dramatic, trophy-spouse-at-the-funeral-of-my-deceased-millionaire-style mourning over our most recently eliminated team.
Perhaps an Amazing Race recapper shouldn’t play favorites, but I’m human aren’t I? I could hear WellStrung being hilarious; I see them being totally gorgeous specimens; I know that they are classically-trained musicians who also appreciate some playful phallic wordplay. Alas, one of my favorite teams was eliminated in one of my very favorite cities — and on a Double U-Turn, of all things. Trevor and Chris may be happy that their exit was because of something they couldn’t control, but I’m not. Someone mentioned in the comments last week that when you think about it, the U-Turn is actually more unfair than the Head-to-Head — we’re just used to it.
The Head-to-Head is at least still a competitive event; U-Turns are strategy, and we don’t come to The Amazing Race for strategy. We come to The Amazing Race for language barriers, and trouble with directions, and carrying weird stuff through markets, and PUNS! But at least WellStrung went out showing that they are jacked geniuses, beasting their way through both a brainy challenge and a brawny challenge at top speed. I will miss them, but luckily, there’s quite a variety of teams to love in season 30.
I have long been admirers of Team Xtreme, who revealed tonight that in addition to being monster athletes, they’re also sensitive poets (which we’ll get to later). Team Yale is somehow more endearing when they’re arguing, I guess because their arguing is basically them stating rational facts to each other and then Henry saying “okay” a bunch of times. And the Twins — don’t even get me started on the twins golly-gee-whizzing themselves right through a quiz challenge because of their fireman work ethic and family-guy positivity. That’s not to say the remaining teams don’t have lovable qualities as well, but this week those qualities are bypassed to showcase their more competitive and/or argumentative sides. This is a rrrrrace around the world, after all!
The teams are flying from Nice, France, to Prague, Czech Republic, and booking their own flights, which means we get to hear lots of great things about the Travelocity app. But to me it doesn’t seem like the best advertising that half of the teams have to be booked on a later flight than what they want. Team Xtreme, the Twins, the Lifesavers, and Yale all take off on a 10 a.m. flight and Big Brother, WellStrung, and the Indy Boys fly out an hour later at 11. It’s a differential that’s ultimately difficult for the later teams to overcome.
Once they’ve landed, the teams race to Prague’s Rudolfinum building for the clue to their DETOUR: THIS vs. THAT. Has a Detour name ever been so vague?! Was there ultimately a reason for it?! This was basically a brains vs. brawn scenario, so sure, call it whatever you want, Phil — your turtleneck looks skvělý, as they say in Praha. Oh, and also at Rudolfinum…
THE DOUBLE U-TURN! The first flight teams declined to U-Turn anyone because, as Evan said, “the risk calculus was such that it made more sense [not to].” Oh Yale, never change. The risk calculus for the second crew of teams was little different, however, and though the Indy Boys got there first and declined to U-Turn, one of these days Big Brother was simply going to have to Big Brother, and boy did they ever Big Brother this season. For their first trick, they U-Turned WellStrung, who were just behind them, destining them to have to perform both detours.
In THIS, the teams must head to The Staropramen Brewery to restack a big ol’ pile of empty beer kegs, find the single full keg, tap it, and pour the perfect beer. There’s a photo example of the perfect beer pour (two fingers of foam!) that sets a few teams back when they don’t notice it at first, but the toughest part of this challenge is that after the beer is approved, the teams have to transport a keg to the riverbank and deliver it to a party boat named “Fidelio.” As is the theme this season, bodies of water continue to be particularly elusive to these teams, especially the Lifesavers, who search for well over an hour. I hope fussing and then remembering that they love each other was the way they were hoping to start their engagement! (Recap continues on page 2)
THAT was a slightly more interesting affair, thought it didn’t look it from the outside. Basically…it was school. The teams had to listen to two astronomical professors give lectures: one stating that the world was round and one stating that the world was flat. The Lifesavers went in, started listening, and quickly determined that as they were “straight-C students,” this was not the Detour for them. And then came the Twins, who I just knew were going to be preciously pug-tilting their heads until they decided to switch. But! But! They just trucked through it with absolutely zero complaints, like they always do. The Twins certainly did not ace their exam, but this was more of a Pass/Fail situation, and after about as many tries as there were questions, they got that Pass.
The only other team to complete THAT — Big Brother walked into the wrong lecture hall and did a cartoon-like 180 when they saw the board covered in Czech writing — was WellStrung because they had to complete both Detours. And right until the very end, I truly thought they might be able to do the unbelievable and get ahead of someone even though they were doing twice the work in last place. Trevor and Chris sailed through the 10-question quiz, getting the first eight questions right on the first try (including the answer 3,391,000 miles correct), and completing it on the second try. Then they of course tossed those kegs around like they were floaties, and had no problems navigating their way to the river. So there was just one thing left to do…
A challenge specifically designed to be an oppressive nightmare in the ROAD BLOCK: HELLO? HELLO? HELLO? This is the challenge from season 15 that the Globe Trotters decided to take the penalty on, leaving Phil at the Pit Stop overnight waiting on them (he says, not all bitterly). Based on Prague native Franz Kafka’s signature writing style, one member must enter a scary room full of hundreds of ringing phones and listen to the receivers until they’ve heard the eight different words they need to unscramble an eight-word Kafka quote.
Team Xtreme is there first, and Jen methodically makes her way through, working out the quote on her own: The meaning of life is that it stops. Everyone else is all, Uggggh, that’s depressing, but Jen (figuratively) taps her spectacles to her mouth, looks out into the distance and explains, “Life has meaning and purpose because it’s finite. And our experience on this race is finite as well, whether or not we go home the next leg…” Kristi finishes for her because Kristi is also a well-rounded superhuman: “…We want to enjoy every moment.”
Okay, back to everyone else scrambling around in what is basically a room from the Saw franchise. Evan and Daniel help each other and make their way through the quote handily. Then Jessica, Brittany, and Alex all make their way through the phones at about the same time, and timidly start comparing the words they each have. Brittany reminds us that she’s still unsure if Jessica held onto her gnome specifically to get her to leave it a few weeks ago, and she’s not sure if she could be misleading her again now. Well, Brittany, I’m 98 percent sure Jessica didn’t plan to make you leave your gnome, but I’m 1,000 percent sure she’s misleading you now! Jessica feeds Brittany a few false words, then waits until she’s gotten all the right words and is leaving the Road Block to tell Brittany and Alex that one of the words she gave them was wrong. On The Amazing Race I tend to lean toward the “You don’t have to help, but don’t hinder” philosophy, and I think Jessica tends to lean toward the “I have a backpack full of banana peels and I’m not afraid to use them” philosophy.
Trevor waltzes into the Road Block, picks up the phones at the speed of light, gets a handful of words, and then guesses the quote from his knowledge of Kafka’s style…the TAR gods truly let a bad thing happen to good people this time.
1: TEAM XTREME: Kristi and Jen have finished in the top 3 six legs in a row and show no signs of stopping.
2: THE TWINS: What! A! Turnaround!
3: TEAM YALE
4: THE INDY BOYS
6: BIG BROTHER: After a tease where WellStrung took the underground and Big Brother had a bunch of taxi drama, it still wasn’t enough to make up for the extra detour that, for what it’s worth, Jessica and Cody were obviously wise to use. Because, otherwise, they’d be the ones…
ELIMINATED: WELLSTRUNG These two friends tried their absolute hardest, and I loved their final silly words for each other. “I hate this person,” Trevor says, grinning. “I hate him so much and I’m going to continue to hate him for so long,” Chris returns. Mmmhmm, I’m onto these two.
And I’m not even going to touch this big surprise that Phil kept touting at the mat — I’ll let the experts handle this curveball in the comments. Until next week, I hate you all!