The Amazing Race recap: 'Uganda be kidding me'
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but everything’s biggest in Dubai. The world’s tallest building, the world’s longest urban zipline, and the world’s largest dinosaur park all play a key role in Leg 5 of this rrrrace around the world, so it makes sense that it moves at a pulse-pounding pace from start to finish. And it’s a good thing — because we were forced to go without The Amazing Race last week, which meant this week, we were treated to a double episode and lots of tomfoolery as far as eliminations go. So let’s get right down to it:
The eight remaining teams are finally leaving Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to fly 3,500 miles northwest to Dubai, the biggest city in the United Arab Emirates. After all the teams arrive on the same flight, they race for cabs, many of which are driven by women, which seems like a rarity on TAR. Team Fun’s freestyle rap on the way to the super-car desert tailgate party that holds their next clue earns them “Regina-approval” from their driver, something I now desperately crave.
The clues are found inside $300,000 luxury cars owned by some very cute men of Dubai, as the Riley Sisters note, but that cute guys and expensive cars is where their luck ends. On the way to the Dubai Frame for their next clue, all the other teams zip right over on the UAE highways, while SisterSister’s driver gets extremely turned around. But it’s their mistake at the DETOUR: FALL vs. FIND that ultimately spells SisterSister’s doom.
Since some teams are about to get mega-played by this rrrace around the world, I’m going to quote Phil’s explanation of the first Detour directly here: “FALL requires teams to jump off the world’s highest building, the Burj Khalifa.” Spoiler alert: no, it super does not! When the teams arrive at Fall and choose their “skydiving jump master,” they’re escorted 828 meters into the sky, only to discover that they’re not jumping off the Burj Khalifa (I mean, duh, I guess), but doing a virtual reality simulation of jumping off the Burj Khalifa. Which, to be fair, does look fun…
Right up until they have to take a quiz at the end about various things they saw and heard throughout the simulation. That’s what SisterSister doesn’t know when they decide to switch from FIND, an extremely silly detour that I love, wherein teams have to put on giant inflatable dinosaur suits and run around the world’s largest dinosaur park collecting five glowing eggs and delivering them to a nest. It is literally a giant Easter egg hunt, but Rachel assesses how all the teams running behind have chosen it for the same reason — only two teams at a time can “jump off the Burj Khalifa” at once — and assumes that “jumping off the Burj Khalifa” will be faster since fewer teams ultimately chose it. Elissa pushes back, Rachel bulldozes her, and they race off toward their doom…
Working in their favor though, the Afghanimals do choke hard on the post-jump quiz and have to take it a number of times. So SisterSister are only just behind them as they head into the ROAD BLOCK: WHO CAN FEEL THE BEAT? This one seems simple, but is rather tricky in its randomness as one member of each team has to walk into a silent disco and find one of the handful of partiers that is dancing to the beat of the DJs music, and not the other beats playing throughout the headphones everyone is wearing. For a kind of dancing challenge, it actually does require quite a bit of standing and staring at people, which is frustrating for non-participating players like Chris, who says Brett is just choosing cute guys — but to be fair, that tactic does eventually work!
Luckily, both Leo and Rachel are two of the only people to pick the right dancer in one shot since they’re the ones who needed to make up time the most. However, SisterSister couldn’t quite bridge the gap on the way to the PIT STOP at DUBAI MARINA where the teams got to do an incredible zipline over the water to meet Phil at the mat:
1: TEAM FUN wins $5,000 each, and what I’m sure they consider the more valuable prize: an opportunity to freestyle with Phil
2: THE ODD COUPLE is finally getting the hang of this Amazing Race thing!
3: TEAM ZEN
4: TEAM TOREY
5: TEAM VICOLE
7: THE AFGHANIMALS
NOT ELIMINATED: SISTER SISTER
We at home could have guessed that this was a NEL because of the double-episode format, but there was no way for the Riley Sisters to know that, which means there is no way for Rachel to stop sobbing: not in the taxi to the Pit Stop when she knows they’re in last place…not on the zipline to the mat…not when her sister Elissa begs her to…not even when Phil tells SisterSister they are still in the race. Once their luck is revealed, Elissa joins in on the sobbing, and they float 2,000 miles on a sea of tears from Dubai, the city of gold…
To Uganda, the pearl of Africa! The other teams don’t look thrilled to see another team still in the race when they all arrive at the airport but Team Torey is struggling with something else: “The challenge today is to appreciate a culture that doesn’t quite appreciate us back as openly gay men,” Tyler says. Korey gets emotional in the airport thinking about how living openly and honestly is not a privilege that all people in all places are afforded. But once the guys make it to Uganda, they are able to appreciate the culture, and most especially, the people. And since they think a win here would feel especially good, they’re pushing as hard as they can for first place as the teams head into the ROAD BLOCK: WHO WANTS A ROLEX?
But first, the teams have to head to a masque and count the 272 steps up the minaret there to receive their next clue directing them to the Road Block at Owino Market. This only presents a real problem for SisterSister who have to climb the steps three times before they just barely squeak out the right answer. And that’s before they have to complete their laundry-based SPEED BUMP: WASH N’ GO which goes along with the Big Mom Energy they’ve been touting all season. But even those two setbacks could not compare to what happens to Janelle at the Road Block.
See, it is a tricky one. First of all, Owino Market is huge; it’s the size of 20 football fields, and as Nicole points out that there are more people in the market than in the town where she’s from. Second, one member of each team has to make a “Rolex Sandwich,” which is a play on the term “rolled eggs,” as Victor eventually figures out. But I’ve noticed the BBBlondes aren’t the best with details, and the name somehow convinces Janelle that she has to roam around this market looking for an actual Rolex. At one point she actually finds a watch vendor and asks him for a Rolex, to which this man’s eyes respond: Does an outdoor market SEEM like somewhere you could find a Rolex, ma’am?
The most frustrating part abou this is that it’s a really easy challenge! All the other teams just shop for their ingredients, make their flatbreads, roll their eggs, and present their sandwich to the very easy going judge. SisterSister has already overcome all of their hurdles and Elissa has successfully gathered her ingredients by the time Janelle finally spots the word “Rolex” on the sandwich cart.
Finally, it’s off the DETOUR: SALTY ROLL vs MOVE THE POLE. Interestingly, all of the first six teams choose Move the Pole, wherein they have to transport enough firewood by bike to a not-too-faraway location and then stack it up in a Lincoln-Logs-style tower to reach a certain height. I think when a challenge is just straight up manual labor over skill, the contestants feel like at least they have some control over how they perform in said challenge. That also stands to reason why the two last place teams would risk it with SALTY ROLL because there’s no way they could overcome the other teams in something as straightforward as moving logs, but maybe they’ll be surprisingly adept at rolling salty fish.
But what they don’t know, is that there was an opportunity to even the scales waiting for them all along because Leg 6 marks season 31’s very first HEAD-TO-HEAD challenge…
Now, I don’t love the head-to-head because I dislike the idea that anyone who didn’t technically hit the Pit Stop last could still end up eliminated. But you know what I do love? PUZZLES! This Head-to-Head does require speed as one member of each team races around to de-jumble four stacks of multi-colored baskets into four stacks of color-sorted baskets while only keeping one basket in motion at a time — but it mostly requires brain power. Doing any puzzle once will give you a leg-up on the next time you try it, which means even losing teams got the hang of it by their second go, so there’s not a lot of major dropping in the final mat order.
And that means the final showdown between Rachel vs. Britney is do or die…
1: TEAM TOREY: Wowee, that was an emotional first place finish for Tyler and Korey, as they express to Phil and the Ugandan representative at the mat that every person they met during the leg was helpful and welcoming. “Just because the government has a certain policy,” Korey says, “doesn’t mean the locals necessarily agree with it.” And ain’t that just the truth.
2: TEAM ZEN
3: TEAM VICOLE
4: THE ODD COUPLE
5: TEAM FUN
6: THE AFGHANIMALS
ELIMIANTED: BBBLONDES The final two teams had bonded throughout the last few legs over being moms, and it was sweet to see them hit the mat hand-in-hand even though SisterSister had just personally taken the BBBlondes out of the race. Britney shares that her oldest daughter is a survivor of childhood cancer, so, “this is devastating, but it’s not nearly the worst day of my life.” Janelle and Britney wanted to be an example to their daughters that women can work together and have each other’s’ backs, and by golly, they did it.
Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.