Previously in the Race: Phil sums up two hours of racing in under a minute with, “Everyone ran around Africa for two straight legs and Steve and Aly couldn’t get out of last.” Would that I could have done the same.
Before we go anywhere, we get our first good old-fashioned Eat/Sleep/Mingle since…what, TAR 5? That’s crazy. Most of it is taken up with a quick recap of Blair and Hayley’s Prescription for Destruction and a little bit of “So…um…we’re cool now, right?” between Matt and Ashley and the team they U-Turned, but it’s still kind of neat to remember the good old days when the show thought we really wanted to see these people sitting around and talking instead of racing. Oh, and Laura and Tyler look at their vacation in a scene that’s really confusing because it makes it sound like their next destination is in Queenstown, New Zealand for a moment.
Then we officially dispense with our two-hour Namibiathon, as everyone’s told to get back on the plane and head to Amsterdam. There is some grumbling that traveling around the world by going from Germany to Namibia to Amsterdam might involve a Gnome who is not just Roaming but actively Drunken, but they all decide to get on the plane before the Race decides to actually route them back through New Zealand. Matt spends the cab ride to the airport talking about his gradually-lengthening playoff beard, while Hayley and Blair (unsurprisingly) bicker. It’s mildly surprising, though, in that it appears to be playful and good-humored. Everyone makes it to the plane and Laura says…true story. My wife was working from home when this first aired, and she came up to take a little Race break before watching it properly once she got off. She said to me during this scene, “I so wanted to get just a little space away from work to reset my head.” I replied, “I so wanted a meteor to hit Laura for actually saying, ‘Peace out, Namibia!'”
Mainly, I just wanted to get across the idea that I’m a deeply horrible person who roots for people to be killed by falling rocks.
Everyone lands in Amsterdam and heads for a local cobbler’s shop for this episode’s Roadblock, where they have to locate a wooden shoe that exactly resembles the display shoe. There’s hundreds of the shoes, and although it seems pretty clear that there aren’t only five correct choices, they aren’t allowed to take notes or pictures or take the display shoe with them to compare directly. Oh, and they have to dress up in a traditional Dutch outfit. Oh, and the cobbler who’s judging them appears to be Rowan Atkinson in age makeup. Tyler, Jenny, Matt, Rochelle and Blair take the task, in that order.
Jenny gets out first, and she and Jelani get instructions to go for a bike ride to a nearby ferry stop. “There are more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are people!” Phil tells us, without elaborating that this is a natural consequence of cheap, legal weed. He explains that they’ll take the ferry across the river, then head into Amsterdam looking for
cheap, legal weed a clock tower called the Muntroren.
Tyler gets the right shoe second, and heads out with Laura after the lawyers. Matt doesn’t seem to understand that the shoes are actually different, and is just wandering around grabbing random shoes. Hayley seems to think that repeating, “Come on Blair Come on Blair we gotta catch up come on Blair come on Blair!” like a deranged parrot is helpful. Blair seems to be desperately wishing for little babies to distract her, but he nonetheless finds his shoes and comes out in third. They bike to the ferry, bickering so ferociously about the weather and the difficulty of the bike ride that it almost seems like they’re doing a bit. (You know the song, “I Remember It Well”? Picture that, but with people talking about how awful the weather is and how unpleasant it is to ride a bike in it.)
Rochelle comes out of the Roadblock in fourth. Matt is literally like a deer in the headlights, grabbing random shoes and putting them back without really looking at them. At one point he actually grabs the right shoe, only to discard it and move on. Ashley tells him to close his eyes and take a deep breath; it’s not clear whether she wants him to refocus, or whether she’s just coming round to the idea that he couldn’t do materially worse right now by searching with his eyes shut.
Laura and Tyler get to the Munttoren first, and get the Detour choice: “Soak” or “Shuffle”. “Soak” is a trip down a river in Amsterdam in a boat that’s also a hot tub, because sometimes cheap legal weed leads to FREAKING BRILLIANCE, combined with a rebus. “Shuffle” is a game of shuffleboard, except that it’s on a very small board and you slide the pucks with your hand and the scoring is completely different. So really it’s not much like shuffleboard at all. The team has to score a combined 51 points in their individual attempts or else start over. As you can tell, there’s a very clear easy option here. So naturally Mike and Rochelle are going to go for “Shuffle”.
Blair and Hayley, meanwhile, bickercycle through the streets of Amsterdam, providing an inadvertently perfect picture of why theirs is a relationship in free-fall. On the one hand, Hayley is getting ludicrously frustrated at the fact that Blair is biking ten feet ahead of her instead of alongside her, saying things like, “Be a teammate!” interspersed with several hundred repetitions of the word, “Blair!” On the other hand, Blair’s post-leg explanation is, “I was trying to be nice and a gentleman and set the pace, but it was interpreted as me being a jerk and going too fast.” Which, look. If there is a single douchier, more obnoxious, more passive-aggressive thing that’s ever been said on television, I’d like to see Joel McHale talk about it on ‘The Soup’. He’s clearly aware at the time that it’s bugging Hayley to be struggling to keep up and constantly ten feet behind him. How could he not be? She’s telling him every thirty seconds with the approximate volume of a foghorn. And he then tries to play his deliberate refusal to slow down as “nice” and “gentlemanly”. If there’s ever any doubt as to why I feel no sympathy at all for Blair, despite the fact that Hayley is really irritating, this episode dispels it.
Meanwhile, the cobbler has fallen completely asleep. This isn’t me being all funny-hyperbolic doing Race recap jokes–they actually show the dude snoring. (That isn’t to say he isn’t being funny-hyperbolic…) Matt is still freaking out, and shows no sign of even knowing what he’s doing wrong. This is an absolutely textbook Killer Fatigue meltdown–he’s utterly fried. You gotta feel sorry for the guy, because you just know this was a Roadblock he could have done a few legs ago no problem.
Laura and Tyler get to soak and commence soaking. (For the record, it’s 37 degrees Fahrenheit in Amsterdam.) They improvise swimwear as best they can and set off down the river. Blair and Hayley get some vague directions and a selfie of a map from a local (hey, the selfie cameras are good for something after all!) and set off, looking for “a street with an H in it.” They stop at what Hayley points out is a street with an H in it, only to be told by Blair that this is not the street.
Mike and Rochelle choose “Shuffle”, secure in the knowledge that they could probably do both legs before Matt got out of the Roadblock. Matt, meanwhile, finally snaps out of his fugue and finds the right shoe on the 43rd attempt. He and Ashley finally make a run for the bikes.
The rebus, for those of you playing along at home, is five capital letter I’s, followed by a picture of skis minus “is”, then the square root of 64, then a ringing phone minus the letter “r”, then the letter “R” plus an ink splotch. Laura and Tyler quickly figure out “skating” and “rink” (despite Laura’s brief confusion over the square root of 64 being 6), and puzzle out “ice” not long after.
Blair explains that they’ve gone too far and they need to turn around. This sets off Hayley pretty hard, to the point where she actually does the, “And you’re all like, ‘Durr, look for the street with the H, durr’,” thing that you do when you’re twelve and you’re making fun of someone who’s ten. Which is why Hayley’s getting so much crap on the various TV watching forums about her part in all this–her frustration is loud, obnoxious, and expressed in the vernacular of a child. But it’s key that Blair, who actually led them down the completely wrong route while dismissing everything she said and refusing to confirm their information when she asked him to, responds with, “Hayley, you’re not thinking, you’re just screaming.”
No. She’s not just screaming. She is screaming that you completely dismissed her input and opinions and led them down a completely wrong trail for a long period of time, and are now dismissing her frustration the same way you dismissed her opinions and are heading off in a completely new direction without listening to her. And lo and behold, the turn they need to make? It’s right at the street that she stopped at and said, “I think this is where we need to turn.” You know, the one where he just shook his head and kept going? And his response to her entirely valid complaint that he completely blew her off and went in the wrong direction for God knows how long, before treating her like some kind of mental defective for being upset with him over it? “Oh my GAWD.” Seriously, dude. If you ever wanted to know why you’re still single, this is Exhibit Fucking A.
They finally get turned around, although we do get a post-leg cut of the post-leg bicker where Blair says, “So I got a street name wrong–let’s figure it out, stay calm, and move forward.” Followed by Hayley saying, “But the thing is, I was right.” Followed by Blair saying, “Who cares?” If there is anyone, anyone in the world, anyone in this universe or in a dozen parallel realities who thinks that Blair would ever let it go if he was right and Hayley was wrong, just say it. No? Okay. Moving on.
Mike and Rochelle get to “Shuffle” and get a tutorial from some Renaissance men (in that they’re dressed like they’re from the Renaissance). Rochelle gets her 34 points, leaving 17 for Mike, but he only comes away with three on his first try. So it’s back to the shuffling board!
Jelani and Jenny hop into their hot tubs just as Laura and Tyler return with their answer. It is, indeed, “ice skating rink”, and it leads them to the Pit Stop–an ice skating rink called Museumplein. They head out as the lawyers start down the river and Mike and Rochelle come up 1 point short on their fourth try. It is amazing indeed how far Mike and Rochelle have come by doing everything wrong.
Laura and Tyler come in first, patronize the hell out of the local greeter, deftly avoid Phil’s questions about their relationship and are rewarded with a trip to South Korea. (For coming in first, that is. Not for patronizing the hell out of the local greeter or avoiding Phil’s questions about their relationship.) Blair and Hayley finally get to the hot tubs, and start their journey. Jelani and Jenny, though, are having trouble with the first part of the rebus, having locked their brains into the idea that it’s a collection of Roman numerals and not letters. They take a second loop of the river.
Hayley and Blair figure it out…well, more Hayley than Blair, but he at least doesn’t try to explain to her that she’s being irrational and it’s clearly “The Eyes of Skistating Rsplat”. They play dumb to the lawyers, and head out with the clue in second. Matt and Ashley, meanwhile, finally get to the Detour and make the very bad decision of trying “Shuffle”. Luckily, Mike and Rochelle get their 51 on the eleventh attempt and head for the Pit Stop in fourth.
There is a bit of tension at this point, albeit probably Amazing Editing-assisted, as Matt and Ashley seem to get the hang of “Shuffle” with superhuman speed (he gets a 42 on his attempt, leaving just 9 for Ashley) while the lawyers are still trying to figure out what a Roman skating rink could be. Desperately, they look for a local with access to the Internet, hoping to pick up some tips on afiveyearoldcouldsolveit.com.
But alas, it is all for naught; the friendly local quickly points out that “I’s” and “ice” sound a lot alike, and Ashley fails to score 9 points on her first try. Even Mike and Rochelle’s customary navigational confusion can’t mix up the order, and the teams come in Hayley and Blair in second, Jelani and Jenny in third, Mike and Rochelle in fourth, and Matt and Ashley in last.
But wait! It’s a non-elimination leg! Matt and Ashley are saved, and I can’t say I mind overmuch; along with Mike and Rochelle, they’re the most sympathetic remaining team and I’d just as soon not see them eliminated just yet. I’m okay with them getting one more chance to bump Laura and Tyler or Prescription for Violence out.
Next time, we head to Peru to cut sugar cane, and everyone “accidentally” knocks over a bin full of potatoes. See you then!