The teams stop by England on their race around the world to try punting, "something that was designed by the devil to punish the English,” and maybe flip a pancake or two.

By Jodi Walker
Updated October 04, 2014 at 01:20 AM EDT
Heather Wines/CBS

The Amazing Race

S25 E2
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Every mother remembers the point in their life when she looked at her daughter urinating over the side of a boat on the River Cherwell and thought, “Maybe I put a little too much emphasis on the importance of one day competing in this reality show competition.”

I take that back; that was probably the proudest Shelley has ever been of Nici. The 3-hour long weeping session that took place later may have sounded a few alarm bells, but hey, there’s $1 million and a lot of CBS pride at stake here. I’m not going to judge Nici for her passion. I’d like to think each and every one of us would pee in front of a bunch of strangers, sobbingly inquire the birthplace of Winston Churchill from a whole different group of strangers, and almost cause Phil and Fake Winston Churchill to lose their hearing when we heard we weren’t eliminated if it meant advancing one more leg in the rrrrr-race around the world.

Because we’re super fans. And as super fans, you know I made an egregious error in not explaining in full detail what “the most powerful prize ever given away on The Amazing Race” (settle down, Phil) was revealed to be in last week’s premiere—so sorry! In The Amazing Race’s Silver Jubilee, we’ve been introduced to The Save, awarded to the winner of the Race’s first leg (Misti, Jim, and both sets of gleaming chompers claimed it as their own last week); if Misti and Jim face elimination at any time, they can fork over their Save to be, you know, saved up through the ninth leg of the game. That’s one more leg than usually included in the Express Pass, which I assumed The Save might be taking the place of this season, but au contraire, that little treat is up for grabs tonight.

Misti and Jim the Dentists are first in line to race toward it, leaving the U.S. Virgin Islands to hop a flight to London, where they’ll travel by taxi to the Tower Bridge. There are six spots on the first flight, which of course go to the six teams who finished first on the last leg: Misti and Jim; Tim and Te Jay, the College Sweethearts who say, “we’re petite but we pack a punch,” and that punch is that they keep smoking all the meatheads who could pack actual punches; Kym and Alli the Cyclists, whose delightful attitudes are the only reason I don’t get annoyed that I switch the vowels in their names every time I type them; Brooke and Robbie the Wrestlers who want to use the $1 million to put a wrestling ring in their yard; Adam and Bethany the Surfers who are so cool and nice that Amy and Maya straight up gave Bethany their extra tennis shoes because she lost one of hers last leg.

Everyone has a grand old time waiting to get their tickets, knowing that they’ll be an hour and 20 minutes ahead of the other four teams on the second flight: Shelley and Nici, the Mother/Daughter team who have probably been trying to get on this show since Nici turned 18; Dennis and Isabelle, the Dating Couple whose names I keep forgetting; Keith and Whitney, the Nashville couple who sound like maybe only one of them is from Nashville; and Michael and Scott, the Firefighters who really came out of their shells tonight in terms of their Boston accents, Boston pride, and their torsos getting perhaps even more muscular than they were last week.

When the teams land in London, they’re off on the left side of the road toward the Tower Bridge where a Pearly King and Queen are waiting to give them their next clue. I am enjoying just about everything that comes out of Tim and Te Jay’s mouths; they talk so much and so fast that I can never see who’s saying what, but one of them greeted their clue bearers, “Hi Mr. Pearly King and Queen!” (much like the “Hiiiii Mr. Phil!” from last week…so polite), and one of them offered this in parting: “I love your outfits!” If you didn’t watch, rest assured that the Pearly outfits were spectacular, and make sure that you’re reading those Tim and Te Jay lines totally breathless and like you’re running in one direction with your head turned in the opposite direction.

NEXT: When given the choice between breakfast foods and military training…

The teams’ first detour is About Face or Pancake Race. About Face consists of joining the Queen’s Guard, learning a series of intricate steps and commands and performing them perfectly for a couple of very mean Guardsmen; Pancake Race is a Parliamentary tradition wherein the teams must make a perfect pancake and run a lap in a minute and 15 seconds while continuously flipping the pancake.

Clearly the Queen’s Guard thing seems cooler, but seriously, which would you choose? The one where you have to imitate something that men spend years training for and where those very same men will yell at you until you get it right? Or the one where a chef gingerly teaches you how to make a pancake and then you just… run with it? It seems that the allure of trying to make one of those guards crack a smile was too much for the Dentists, Tim and Te Jay (College Sweethearts is not sticking), the Scientist, the Cyclists, Nici and Shelley, and the Wrestlers, and everyone else was like, “Oh yeah, I’mma do that pancake thing, that sounds super easy.”

Adam and Bethany float into the Pancake Race quad, make the perfect pancake in one try, probably give the chef some life advice that will inspire him to follow his true dream of becoming a soul dancer, complete the lap in 1:15, almost make me cry when Bethany talks about how she had to relearn so many daily tasks when she lost her arm and now frequently thinks of herself as “more capable than the average person,” and are off to their next detour. That’s all before Jim and Misti have even found their own detour or had time for their seventh daily floss. But when they get there, Misti is at least pleased with the Queen’s Guard outfit (or “kit,” as they say across the pond) because the red reminds her of her pageant days—who’s shocked?—but Amy the Scientist is reminded more of her band days. Same question. You’d think Shelley and Nici’s military training would come in handy, but they get yelled at as much as everyone else… maybe more. A few things the head guard in charge threw out as helpful critiques:

– “Shocking, absolutely disgusting, get them out of my sight.”

– “The next time you use your toe to pivot, I will shove my [I could not tell what he said here, closed captioning wasn’t working, and also, I don’t want to know] through your arse and ride you round here like a moped.”

– “”wing your arm shoulder high—if you do not, I will tear it off next time and beat you round with the soggy end.”

THE SOGGY END. The Wrestlers, who are particularly awful and don’t seem to be able to bend their knees like normal humans can, earn that final critique, and while everyone else completes the detour in two painstaking tries, they’re the last out, finally wearing the Guards down on their sixth attempt.

Things are much simpler, but still not exactly easy over at Pancake Race. Keith and Whitney, and Dennis and Isabelle both have to remake their pancakes and run the lap again because they didn’t finish in time on their first try. But whereas Dennis and Isabelle both go straight back to begin again, Keith takes the time to tell Whitney, “You gotta run faster,” even though he finished approximately one pancake’s length in front of her. Keith’s not particularly nice (he’s admitted it), so the image of him saying Dennis and Isabelle are “not gonna make it, no way,” while he’s flipping in a pancake in a ridiculous Swedish Chef outfit was particularly entertaining.

No one looked more ridiculous in those outfits, however, than the Firefighters, and no one took longer to figure out how to make a pancake. But they did made it to Paddington Station at the same time as the Wrestlers to head to Oxford, where everyone else was already learning the true hell of punting. Drop Back and Punt shows off the Oxford tradition of punting down the shallow River Cherwell in a flat-bottomed boat. The team member with the ore must steer from the Cambridge end, and the other member stands at the Oxford end with a British flag.

“Te Jay, your only job is to wave the flag and stand still!” Tim told Te Jay when he got so excited to see another team that he dropped the flag while waving.

NEXT: Everyone is just feeling a little emotional…

It’s frustrating that the Dentists and the Cyclists both get the positions flipped and have to start all the over after completing the detour, but Adam and Bethany finished, like, eight days ago at this point, so they weren’t going to get that Express Pass. And both Shelley and Nici and Dennis and Isabelle got so irrevocably turned around in the currents, their race for not-last was promised mid-way through. (Surprisingly — or not, considering the size of their arms— the Firefighter punt down that river like men who haven’t been flipping pancakes for three hours.) Unfortunately, we had to feel extra sad for both teams because both told the cameras how there were no bigger fans of the show than them. They’ve been waiting for this for 14 years. They love The Amazing Race, and this means everything to them. Ugggh, this is about to be sad.

Sure enough, the other eight teams arrive at Christ Church College of Oxford far before them, where they’re to “tip their bowlers” to find the next clue. That means that a man hands them a hat and umbrella, and some teams immediately look inside the hat to see “Churchill’s Birthplace” written inside, some teams like Kym and Alli politely tip their hat 16 times before they realize, and poor Shelley and Nici think they’re supposed to go to “the museum,” and I can tell you from the time that I studied abroad at Christ Church, the thing she’s barreling toward is the Dining Hall, and there are only a lot of portraits of dead people in there.

It’s particularly tough for them to figure out because about the time Shelley and Nici got off their punting boat, Nici had started sobbing—a tearless, wracking-breaths kind of sob that doesn’t slow her down, but is kind of terrifying, especially for the pedestrians she’s running toward. Isabelle is also having a tear duct issue, and by the time they make it in their respective cabs toward the Pit Stop at Blenheim Palace, everyone is a wreck. Dennis keeps saying that he feels like he let Isabelle down in that way that is supposed to prompt her to say he didn’t, but she’s always crying too hard to say anything, and one time I’m pretty sure she nods in agreement. But, like always, there’s no preparing or practicing for pancake races or slow cabs, so it’s mostly about fate on this leg:

1: Surfers, Bethany and Adam

2: Dentists, Misti and Jim

3: Cyclists, Kym and Alli

4: Nashville, Keith and Whitney

5: College Sweethearts, Tim and Te Jay

6: Firefighter, Michael and Scott

7: Wrestlers Brooke and Robbie get triumphant music for their sprint to beat…

8: Scientists, Amy and Maya

9: Shelley and Nici

ELIMINATED: Dennis and Isabelle, which is too bad, because as someone excellently pointed out in the comments, he 100 percent had an engagement ring stashed in his backpack for the final Pit Stop. Hey…there’s always Survivor!

Who are standing out as your favorites and most likely to take the Silver Crown in the 25th Season? Adam and Bethany are obviously angels sent to Earth whom even Phil can’t resist fawning over, and now have the Express Pass. But I think the Cyclists also have really good attitudes, the Dentists are very capable and have The Save, and hey, Tim and Te Jay are just the kind of underdogs this Race loves.

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The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.
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