Always hold on to your passport, your frogs, and your camel udders
Well, we’re just cruising through season 30 of The Amazing Race at double time, aren’t we? Super group of competitors equals super speed, I guess. I don’t hate it! I’m sad that it means next week is already the finale of a truly great season, but it’s made for some incredible, breathless, exhausting, and — in this week’s case — very crunch legs. (Yes, that was an intentional pun in memory of the Twins.)
Heading into the finale, we are left with an absolutely stacked foursome. We’ve got the Class Clowns, who also happen to be world-class athletes, the Indy Boys; the Brainiacs who have also never met a physical challenge they couldn’t handle and occasionally get their teeth knocked out doing it, Team Yale; the Cutest Couple who regularly go beast-mode and, considering they came from the very frightening lands of Big Brother, are exceptionally kind and patient with each other, Team Big Brother; and Class Favorites, Team Xtreme, who are skilled in all areas, and everything the light touches is their queendom.
You might notice that list does not include Most Improved, a.k.a., the Lifesavers, and that is because I’m going to tell you right from the jump that Lucas somehow lost his passport between Zimbabwe and Dubai, so they’re majorly delayed in starting the ninth leg of the race. Like, majorly. I totally appreciate the positive attitude they kept the whole time, and respect the hustle they put into getting Lucas a rushed passport at the U.S. embassy, but there was no way they were making it back into this race without a Non-Elimination gift from the TAR gods. I spent all leg wondering if that would happen, and it didn’t — and I absolutely made a noise I’m not proud of when Lucas suddenly sobbed about letting Brittany down at the mat — so I won’t leave you wondering. As for the rest of the rollicking two hours…
The five remaining teams must travel from Zimbabwe to Manama, Bahrain (a TAR first!), and once again, they’re all on the same flight. Except, of course, Lucas and Brittany, who are having their dreams dashed at the Dubai airport on their layover. When the other four teams land in Bahrain, they’re to drive themselves to Dhow Shipyard to…lug 300 pounds of lumber to a scale. The Indy Boys carry the heaviest pieces possible between themselves, while Team Xtreme roll their eyes and each drag the heaviest pieces possible on their own, basically doubling their time. But the craziest thing about the Bahrain leg is that it really doesn’t matter what order you leave the tasks in, because all of the teams’ time is lost and gained in navigating the roads. Every wrong turn takes 15 minutes to correct, so the order is changing constantly…
And there are a lot of little tasks, as opposed to a simple Detour-Road Block punch as usual. After lugging the logs, teams have to drive to Showaiter Sweets and sample the candy (halwa!) of Bahrain — it proves delicious, but more difficult to find than anticipated. Even though Big Brother was last to leave the candy stop, they’re the first to arrive at Delmon Pottery Industry for the next task, which seems like a stone-cold (or perhaps hot-stone is more appropriate?) nightmare. Each team must memorize 10 tiny items, then search through approximately a gazillion clay pots until they find each of their items’ matches. There are only tiny differences separating many of the figurines in the pots from the figurines the teams have to match, and it is all outdoors in the sweaty heat, so there’s nothing to do but grit your teeth and bear this one.
The Indy Boys are close to last leaving the pottery challenge, but first to arrive at Getting Over the Hump, perhaps because Alex has been to Bahrain “like 10 times” for Formula 1 racing. Of course he has! Getting Over the Hump is, of course, milking a camel, the first of many animal-themed tasks in this episode. One person pets and coos at the camel, and the other…milks. Or as Phil describes it, teams “fill this cup up the old fashioned way,” which was a phrase I really did not care for. In Conor’s case that involves plenty of one-liners like “These hands were made for milking,” and how he didn’t plan to spend his day “hunkered under a large animal of the desert, squeezing its nipples.” Conor is a lunatic. I love it.
For the record, Jessica had Cody do the milking because she was pretty sure their camel had testicles behind its udders. And with that…
1: The Indy Boys won $5,000 on their first win, and now $7,500 on their second win. That’s a lot of money with which to bro out.
2: Team Xtreme
3: Team Yale
4: Big Brother: It has nothing to do with their finish, but at one point Jessica described Cody as “built Tonka tough like a cyborg,” which I thought was hilarious and, per both of these legs, incredibly accurate.
ELIMINATED: The Lifesavers made it to Bahrain in the dark, but Phil met them at the shipyard and read them their fate. They had a good run, they got engaged, and now they can go back to Ocean Rescuing…or as Team Big Brother always said, Ocean Spraying. (Recap continues on page 2)
In the continuing 10th leg of the 30th rrrrrrace around the world, the four remaining teams travel 3,000 miles to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they’re to take the cheap transportation of choice, songthaews, to Royal Park Rajapruek for their next clue. Communicating with the drivers in the windowless songthaews is difficult, so once again, the teams are all over the board, completely depending on how confused they are while getting from point A to point B. Team Xtreme seemed to have the most trouble with their driver, which might be why Team Xtreme was the only team to figure out that you could sit in the front seat of the songthaew and communicate juuuust fine.
At the huge Royal Park Rajapruek gardens, teams had to locate elephants with flower wreaths on them, then deliver those wreaths to ladies strolling around the park with umbrellas. Again, harder than it sounds. Those women then gave them their next clue to the DETOUR: SEIZE IT vs. SIZE IT, which were, respectively, adorable and bonkers, and adorable and…also bonkers. In Seize It, the teams had to go into harvested rice fields and catch giant frogs with their bare hands. Making that wild prospect even better were the precious children frolicking around catching frogs like it was a simple live-action game of whack-a-frog.
After some travel confusion, Team Xtreme ended up at Seize It even though they wanted to go to Size It originally, and after not sighting any frogs for catchin’, immediately hightailed it over to Size It, where — and this cannot be emphasized enough — they got to play with elephants! Yes, they had to measure every part of those elephants’ bodies and then use a series of complicated equations to calculate the specifics, but still — there were baby elephants there. BABY ELEPHANTS!
It’s not surprising that Jen and Kristi would be good at numbers and math, because, collectively, they are good at everything, but it is surprising that they arrived before Yale, cruised through the Detour on their first try, and evacuated the premises — on elephants! — before Yale successfully completed it. Yale had the math part down but managed to take their elephant measurements incorrectly twice, before finally getting a passing grade on their third try.
Now, that wouldn’t have been so bad if Seize It had been as difficult as it originally seemed. The Indy Boys arrived first and waded around in those murky waters for a pretty long time without being able to hold on to a single slippery frog. But once Big Brother arrived and Cody started going full Tonka-tough-cyborg-Marine mode on amphibian-catching, Alex and Conor found their own Tonka-tough hidden depths. Or as Conor said, “All it took was figuring out where they hang out, and how to grab them.” Sure, just sidle up to the local frog pub! Did I mention they had to catch 20?
But catch they did, and the Indy Boys and Big Brother rolled out in second and first place to the ROAD BLOCK: THAI SOMETHING NEW. There is little I love more than the teammate not competing in the Road Block thinking they’re going to sit back, relax, and be supportive as their partner eats three scorpions and a surprise frog, only to find out that they will be covered in live scorpions for the duration of the Road Block. Conor is begging Alex to eat quickly, and Alex is crunch-crunch-crunching along, until Big Brother comes in, Jessica gets covered in scorpions, truly begs Cody to hurry, and homeboy starts choking down scorpions like they’re Oreos.
Likewise, Jen moves quickly through the edible exoskeletons, but probably my favorite moment was Henry saying in voiceover how much Evan dislikes bugs, only for it to be revealed that he’s the one with scorpions crawling all over his torso, cheering on his girlfriend who’s eating the dead ones. Truly, nothing fazes that guy. Let’s hope he can keep that calm through a Speed Bump next week because — that’s right — it’s an N! E! L! heading into the finals:
1: The Indy Boys clench their third first place finish at just the right time.
2: Big Brother: Jessica praises Cody for carrying their team through this entire camel-and-frog-and-arachnid-filled leg, and Cody says in return that she’s the foundation for all the strength he displays. Ugh, they’re cute.
3: Team Xtreme: It might be their first-ever time in the back of the pack, but nevertheless, “We beat Yale at math today.”
NOT ELIMINATED: YALE! The other three teams all mentioned at various points that they’re besties and would prefer an Indy/Xtreme/BB finish, but it’s hard to keep a Yale (wo)man down it seems, and Evan and Henry just keep fighting their way to the finish. They’ll have a Speed Bump to contend with in next week’s finale, but at this point, its anybody’s game. Sound off in the comments with your picks to win!