Last week on the Race, as Phil reminds us from the get-go, it proved to be an extremely dumb idea to take selfies next to a moving train. (Although not as dumb as taking them in front of one.) Team Broken Compass was eliminated, but they saved the obnoxious “peace out” gesture for this episode just to make sure we didn’t miss them!
This week, everyone gets put up in a nice hotel with separate rooms, just in case the blind dates haven’t gone that well. For the most part, they haven’t, although Jeff and Jackie seem perfectly happy to get an early start on living in sin. (I kid, I kid. Honestly, if they did do anything, good for them. It’s nice to have that level of immediate intimacy with another person, and if it happens, I encourage people to act on it.)
Once they wake up, everyone heads to the airport to go to Phuket, Thailand. Nobody mispronounces it, which is disappointing, but I guess you can’t have that kind of instant hilarity twice. They get there when the airport is still closed, which leads to some boring “wait for the airport to open” footage that’s only livened up by an adorable toddler photobombing the camera as her mother attempts to corral her. There’s a bit of couple-y stuff going on during this period, as Kurt and Bergen confess that they both have a type, it’s the same type, and they’re not they’re own or each other’s type. There’s also a lot of airport drama, as one team (the New Kids) misses all the flights and winds up far enough behind that even some epic Hours of Operation bunching doesn’t get them to Thailand before everyone else gets started on the Detour.
And after some shots of partying in Phuket’s nightlife scene and some snoozing in the latest in wacky accommodations (in this case, teams need to share rooms), they proceed to get their clue from the Upside Down House (a tourist attraction that well, you get the idea) and do exactly that! The two Detour options, in keeping with the Race’s minimalist naming trends, are “Ski” and “Tree”. “Ski” involves doing a full lap of a waterskiing course without wiping out (you’re dragged from an overhead wire instead of a boat), while “Tree” involves…look, there’s no other way to describe this. It’s zipline waitstaffing. You take the plates of food and go by zipline to the table, and you have to not spill or drop anything.
The New Kids finally show up, although you have to suspect some Amazing Editing as you will not see them in the same shot as any other team for the rest of the episode. Jelani and Jenny forget half their stuff on their first trip down the zipline, and Blair tells Hayley to do exactly what they did so they have the same problem. Hayley, who may be a little sick at this point of Blair treating her like a developmentally-disabled toddler, proceeds to blast her teammate for a solid hour for the mistake. It may be entirely deserved, but one of the rules of the Race is that you really have to be able to blow off your teammate’s mistakes pretty quickly if you want to survive. Their bicker/fail gives Matt and Rochelle the chance to leave the Detour in first.
Hayley and Blair manage the zipline without spilling the second time, getting out of there in second (although Hayley doesn’t miss a chance to let Blair know that his blind arrogance cost them the lead!) and Laura and Tyler come out in third. Meanwhile, everyone at the waterskiing park is beating the water senseless with their face. The Olympians and Jeff/Jackie ditch out to the other leg of the Detour.
Mike and Rochelle get on to the next challenge, which is doing a drag show at “My Way Cabaret” in full costume. Which is where things get awkward. I’m not saying the Race shouldn’t have chosen this particular challenge. I don’t know enough about the drag scene in Thailand to know if this is genuinely offensive to trans women. But the sequences that follow involve a little too much in the way of gay panic jokes, inadvertent (and probably some advertent) transphobia, and more than a few times when I wanted to punch the hell out of Tyler in particular for being a jackass. Mike and Rochelle come off pretty well; most of their giggles came out of the incongruity of his beard, and nerves over having to do another dance challenge only a couple legs after FUBARing things in Tokyo. But Tyler’s jokes about “hey ladyboys, you’re about to see a ladyMAN…” Um, dude. Please just don’t talk again until we leave Thailand, okay?
Meanwhile, Jelani and Jenny make it out in fourth. The remaining teams are starting to get a little nervous as their food proceeds to provide several meals for the local wildlife, even though they still haven’t seen the New Kids and have no reason to believe they ever left Japan. One team even gets desperate enough to momentarily contemplate scooping some soup into the champagne glass after a spill, though he backs down from actually trying to serve someone champagne with chives in it.
Hayley and Blair continue to bicker as they put their make-up on. Tyler continues to make the “ladyman” joke that wasn’t funny the first time. Kurt and Bergen get out of the Detour in fifth and get the “Date Night” prize for the week, while the Olympians take fifth. Matt and Ashley finally get out of there in 7th, and Jeff and Jackie are in 8th. Again, despite the fact that the New Kids supposedly landed at the same time as everyone else starting the Detour, they haven’t even shown up yet.
Mike and Rochelle still suck at dancing, but they don’t have to wait in line between attempts like last time so they just just keep doing it until they pass. They’re then told to head to the Pit Stop. Tyler makes a joke about having to get gender reassignment surgery before he dances. I’m just going to assume the giant “FAIL” superimposed on him refers to his understanding of gender politics as well as dancing. (Again, I don’t blame the Race or Phil for this. Phil, in particular, was pretty generally respectful in his description of the challenge. But some of the things said in this episode were simply Not Cool.)
Hayley and Blair make it out in second, and Jelani and Jenny in third. By that point, Mike and Rochelle are already at the Pit Stop, though. They win a trip to Prague, and apparently validation of their true love. Matt and Ashley leave next, followed by the Olympians, followed by Laura and Tyler…then Matt and Ashley realize they forgot their fanny pack back at the task. This is pretty much Number One on the list of Things You Cannot Do on the Race, so they go back for it. It is notable that they don’t even try to intersperse this with shots of the New Kids closing in on them.
The long and short of it is that every single team is out of the dancing challenge before the New Kids show up, and they all arrive at the Pit Stop pretty much in a bunch. The exact order, for the curious, is Hayley and Blair, Jelani and Jenny, Laura and Tyler, Aly and Steve, Matt and Ashley, Bergen and Kurt, and Jeff and Jackie. However, it may have been less close than it appeared, as Matt takes the opportunity to propose to Ashley (with a pretty sweet proposal, to be honest, one of the better Race proposals we’ve seen) so they may have asked people to stick around for a few minutes to see the ring.
And finally, long after the proposal and quite possibly after the wedding, the New Kids arrive. Luckily, this is a non-elimination leg, so their airport disaster doesn’t knock them out of the Race…this does, however, mean we’ve had two anti-climactic finishes in a row. Hopefully next week, which seems to feature All the Bickering, will at least be a bit more exciting.