February 07, 2018 at 11:00 PM EST

The Amazing Race

TV Show
Reality TV
run date
Phil Keoghan
Jerry Bruckheimer
Current Status
In Season

This season feels breathless, doesn’t it? The deck is simultaneously stacked and constantly shuffling. Even had TAR not decided to go Jokers wild and just throw in a #PartnerSwap or a Head-to-Head every once in a while in season 30, this still would have been a completely unpredictable season. This week there was a fully executed double U-Turn, and both delayed teams managed to make it through two physically draining Detours and an anxiety-inducing Road Block and land on the mat in front of last place, one team getting to stand beside the team that U-Turned them in the first place.

And a personal wakeup call from Phil — what fresh heaven is this?!

Shocking even myself, I actually thought the partner swap was kind of fun. I likely would have hated it if it had gotten a team eliminated or even set them back, but it was really just like one big Road Block and your challenge was working with someone you only know casually (and y’know, have probably slept on the ground with a handful of times at this point). Really, I think it just showed what strengths and weaknesses the OG pairs bring out in each other, in addition to shoring up a few alliances…and maybe one rivalry, which we’ll get to.

In a leg — oh wait, two legs — full of entertainment, surely nothing was better than seeing bunch of people known for their competitive aptitude having to sing and dance for their spot on the mat, and hating every minute of it. I loved that every team had been fearing a singing/dancing challenge the whole race; being highly competitive in nature isn’t exactly something that lends itself to the arts, I guess (though competitiveness surely doesn’t exclude one from the arts or vice versa). These are a bunch of jocks and brainiacs who were briefly asked to be theater kids, and by golly, they did it, and we’re the lucky ones that got to laugh at and/or with them.

Heading into the episode, the teams have a pretty grueling first leg of travel, flying from Prague to Harare, Zimbabwe, then taking a diesel train to Marondera, totaling about 20 hours, per Jen and Kristi. Once at the Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservancy, the teams must successfully pitch a tent — fastest gets a reward, and that reward is not a bed. As Phil informs the six remaining teams when he bangs on a metal pot to wake them up at 4 a.m. the next morning, they’ll be participating in #PartnerSwap — or as I like to call it, #TARSwingers — until “further notice.” The teams who built their tents fastest the day before get to choose which team they’ll be partner-swapping with, so Big Brother chooses Team Xtreme, and the Lifesavers choose the Indy Boys, which leaves Yale and the Twins together.

And since these are a bunch of competitors, everyone just does just fine, and surprisingly, the only new team that has trouble have been two of the strongest racers thus far. First, the newly formed teams have to paddle a makeshift bush raft out onto Imire Lake and spot a clue hanging from a canteen. That clue takes them to their DETOUR: RHINO TRACK vs. BUSH WACK. Brittany and Alex sail in first because Brittany is a national rowing champion and Alex is a fast learner. They further apply their surprisingly dynamic duo powers to Rhino Track, where teams must ride horseback through the bush, looking for evidence of human poachers (campsites, fires, matches, etc.), collecting eight along the way. Once they’ve completed the trail, they find out that they have to place the items on a map, according to where they found them. (Recap continues on page 2)

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