As you can tell by the double title, this is a double-length episode. The reasons they didn’t spread this out over two weeks will become increasingly clear as the episode goes on, but here’s a hint: It rhymes with “two granti-climactic jeppisodes in a row”. But before the airquote excitement starts, we get a reminder that Monaco was much harder than you’d imagine to navigate through for a country that’s only about one square mile, and Jeff and Jackie were eliminated as a result.
We start with another Laura/Tyler Date Night, which is straight out of ’50 Shades of Ecru’. Sparks slump, and then we glumly switch to everyone flying out of Monaco and into Namibia. No matter when everyone leaves the Pit Stop, they’re all on the same flight, so there’s no airplane drama. There is a moment where the Olympians talk about how little tension and disagreement there’s been in their relationship to date, which is one of those statements on a par with, “So long as the sea is clear of icebergs, this should be a pretty smooth ride.”
When they get off the plane, all six teams find out that oh, hey, they’re getting charter flights from here in the order they got off the plane. This stresses the tenuous detente between Hayley and Blair, since he apparently thought it wouldn’t be a big deal if they sat further back. Hayley lets him have it for this, which is entirely fair because it’s astonishingly stupid thing to do in the Race. She also flirts madly with their pilot, which is probably a bit tackier but it’s not like these two are hitting it off. Maybe Blair should stay with the plane and Hayley and Bush Pilot Dude should become a team?
Aly and Steve get off their charter flight first. This will be the last time they are first pretty much ever. They pick up a big block of salt and move on to the Roadblock, where Aly is selected by Steve (because they’ve been alternating Roadblocks, apparently) to help build a grass hut. This is apparently not the easiest of tasks, and Aly suggests that Steve would have been better suited to it. She then tells him that she hates him and that she’s picturing herself jabbing him in the face with the digging stick. Lesson of the Day: Aly is a bratty sub.
Jelani and Jenny grab their salt lick and get to the Roadblock in second, with Jelani taking the task. Matt takes it for his team in third, and Mike and Rochelle…can’t start their car because Mike is using the door key in the ignition. Ouch. By the time they get their car going, everyone else has passed them. As much as I like these guys, they do seem to make a lot of unforced errors for a team that’s still around by this stage.
Laura and Tyler get to the Roadblock in fourth, but they missed the salt lick and have to go back. So do Blair and Hayley which gives Rochelle a chance to catch up. Blair, Tyler and Rochelle do the Roadblock for their teams, while Hayley plays with the adorable little children in the village. Which is both totally understandable because they are freaking adorable, and also means that she and Blair aren’t communicating during the Roadblock. This is no bad thing.
Despite getting to the Roadblock in fourth, Tyler comes out of it in first. As much as I wouldn’t want to be stuck in an elevator with the guy, he definitely races hard here. He and Laura head out to the Detour, with Matt and Ashley and Jelani and Jenny not far behind. Aly and Steve are a not too distant fourth, but that’s a big drop here for reasons that are about to become apparent.
The Detour, in this case, is “Track” or “Pack”. “Track” involves using a radio tracking device to track an elephant in the wild, while “Pack” involves cutting up some meat and feeding it to a pack of African painted dogs. “Pack” is blatantly easier and less time-consuming than “Track”, and only three teams can do “Pack” at a time. (Presumably the same is true for “Track”, but there’s never a point where more than three teams are trying to do “Track”, so we don’t find out.)
The point is, by getting to the Detour in fourth, Aly and Steve are stuck with the much more time-consuming “Track”. I can’t stress how crucial this is; “Track” proves to be pretty much an anchor around the necks of every team that does it, and I have no doubt that if they’d gotten to the Detour in third instead of fourth, the entire placement of these legs would have come out completely differently. Of course, they don’t know that at this point, so they cheerfully get going.
Meanwhile, Blair and Hayley finish their Roadblock and leave Mike and Rochelle in the dust…but they wind up having to take “Track” as well. They get their radio antenna trackers and get moving. And by “moving” I mean “bickering”. (By the way, I’ve actually used one of the trackers they’re using, albeit one on a fixed mount–they have them at the local zoo so that you can find the tigers in the very large tiger enclosure. They’re pretty easy to use when you’re in a small area and they’re on a fixed mount, but I suspect I’d have the same issues as the Racers if I tried to use one freehand.)
Meanwhile, the first three teams go feed their dogs. The dogs are truly beautiful; they’re really gorgeous animals, and the camera crews are practically orgasmic at the footage they get of them playfully snapping at each other over the meat. Meanwhile, Aly is so utterly distracted by a herd of zebras crossing the road that she completely loses track of the task, saying, “I’m watching the zebras!” in a manner that suggests she is utterly unapologetic for doing so. I admit, I’d maybe have been more sheepish about it but I would have said the exact same damn thing.
The “Pack” teams get their clues and head to the Pit Stop, with Jenny stating that she wants to smear her face with wildebeest blood…for some reason…but she won’t…also for some reason. It could very well be the craziest damn thing anyone has ever said on the Race ever. Mike and Rochelle finally finish up their Roadblock and get to the Detour…and are able to do “Pack”, because the first three teams have left. They manage to finish up “Pack” before the “Track” teams can finish, meaning that the “Track” teams would literally have done better to just stand around waiting for the other option to open than they did by racing. I don’t love this. (Oh, and Aly and Steve continue their bicker. I wonder if something didn’t happen to her offscreen, an injury or illness that made her irritable, because she wasn’t acting like this in previous legs.)
Aly and Steve get out of the Detour in fifth…and lose the map in a strong breeze. It’s that kind of day for them. They get it back reasonably quickly…and then blow a tire. I know it’s Africa, but maybe that iceberg isn’t such a far-fetched thing after all? Hayley and Blair pass them while they’re putting on the spare. Aly recognizes that she’s being annoying, but at this point she just can’t stop herself–she’s in full-on Killer Fatigue mode here.
Meanwhile, everyone else is freaking out about directions. Laura and Tyler stop to check the map. Everyone else stops to find out why they’re stopping. There’s a three-car freeze as everyone stops to figure out why everyone else is stopped to figure things out. Then they all realize at once that none of them have any good reason to be stopped and scramble back into motion. Good times.
The Pit Stop is up on a beautiful mountain of solid granite known as Spitzkoppe, which looks like it was the inspiration for ‘The Lion King’ to the point where you half-expect the local greeter to hold Phil up in the air to an audience of kneeling antelopes. The teams race to get there, and then try to figure out a way to climb up the rocks to where Phil is waiting for them. Fortune favors the climb-y, and Matt and Ashley narrowly beat out Laura and Tyler to get to the Pit Stop first. Jelani and Jenny, meanwhile, try to flag down a car to get directions. (Either that, or she’s giving the Nazi salute. Hard to be sure.)
Hayley and Blair get to the mat in third, Jelani and Jenny in fourth, and Mike and Rochelle in fifth. Aly and Steve come in last place…but hey presto, it’s a non-elimination leg! Annnnnnnd scene. This will pretty much be the last moment of tension in the double-length episode.
Everyone stays the night in tents, and leaves in the same order they arrived in. They go to a small town named Swakopmund (if these names don’t sound particularly African, it’s because Namibia is a former German colony) to find their next clue in a newspaper. This clue leads them to a private airfield, where they get the Roadblock…and in Aly and Steve’s case, the Speed Bump. Nobody has any particular trouble finding the clue or the airfield.
At the airfield, the Roadblockers (taken by Laura, Ashley, Hayley, Mike, Jelani and Steve in that order) find out that they’re not doing skydiving, which is like finding a bunch of icky bugs on ‘Survivor’ and learning that you’re expected to race them. Instead, the Roaming Gnome (aided by someone with working limbs) drops a package out of a plane, and the racers have to track it down in an endless, featureless salt flat. They they go get their own Gnome, who apparently parachuted out and is waiting for them at the top of a hill (each team gets their own gnome…imagining the production assistant whose job this week is “gnome replacement” adds an extra layer of hilarity to the sequence), and open the package to get their next clue.
The Speed Bump, meanwhile, is another arts-and-crafts challenge, as the Olympians have to assemble toy planes out of pop cans for an audience of kids who clearly know how to do it better than they do. It’s a time-consuming little pain in the butt, which hurts them bad because there’s no bunching at all on this one to help them make up their initial time deficit, let alone the time they lose with this. By the time they get started on the Roadblock, everyone’s gone…and Steve loses track of the package and heads off in the wrong direction.
The teams leave the Roadblock in pretty much the exact same order they got there (with the exception of Jelani and Jenny, who gain a march on Mike and Rochelle), and head to the Detour. Phil explains that both Detour options, “Work” and “Play”, involve a substance Namibia has “in no short supply…” He digs out a double fistful of the desert and flings it into the air… “Sand.” You know, for those of you who thought it might have been Orange Crush, or powdered Ovaltine. Work, in this case, is hitching up some giant tires to the back of a truck and using them to smooth out a dirt road, while Play is cross-country skiing and sledding along the dunes. Matt and Ashley take Play, while Laura and Tyler join Hayley and Blair at Work.
From this point, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion. Aly and Steve are so far behind the other five teams that the only thing that can save them is the Double U-Turn that’s in play…and one of the two teams U-Turned is Jelani and Jenny, who use their Express Pass to opt out of half of it, and the other one is Aly and Steve. So instead of catching up, they get put further behind. They come in dead last, which was pretty much never in doubt, and this time there’s no non-elimination leg to save him. Which sucks, because we’re running out of cool teams faster than we’re running out of teams, but on the other hand they spent the whole double episode in a state of permanent meltdown so maybe it’s all for the best.
Next time, we go hot-tubbing in Amsterdam and Hayley and Blair rediscover the magic of bickering! See you then!