Well, that was amazing. I mean, I have not seen that many unbelievable, awesome twists and turns in a long while. It was funny, it was exciting, it had a great finish that left me wanting more, and the fight scenes! Wow, just the fight between Skye and the redheads alone was…
Wait, sorry. I was thinking of the season finale of “Agents of SHIELD”. But yeah, the Race was pretty good too. Spoilers after the cut…
We start, of course, with a reminder that potatoes (“Nature’s Bouncing Betty”) are the mortal enemies of all Racers, while Matt and Ashley were doomed by…well, killer fatigue and their own mistake, but also by potatoes. Following that, we kick off this leg…with more recaps of Tyler and Laura whining about the potatoes. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that Laura always seems to be looking just a little bit off-camera while talking, which makes her look like Michelle Bachmann in that one creepy video. Everyone then heads off to another part of Peru that isn’t so oxygen-starved.
Hayley and Blair (“Prescription for Disaster”) have a brief conversation before they go, and Hayley tries to find a diplomatic way to say how incredible it is that they’ve gotten this far despite the fact that they only thing they have in common is their utter violent disdain for one another, and Blair once again shows his charm by mentioning in the middle of a conversation about their strengths that one of Hayley’s strengths is her “whispering”. Amazingly, though, Hayley spun the roulette wheel and came up with “playful humor” today, and takes the joke in stride.
They get to their first destination and get the clue to their next task from a clown (a literal clown–I’m not being pejorative here), which is to search through the world’s largest mural for a clue the size of a single tile (which looks to be about the size of a grown person’s thumbnail). Amazingly, Hayley seems to find it within minutes, which seems hellaciously impressive until you find out from the next team (Jelani and Jenni) that they have a picture of the section the clue is on. Even so, Hayley’s eye is pretty damn sharp. The clown does a hideously unfunny bit with the clue before handing it back to them.
This leads us to the Detour. The two options are “Shake Your Hips”, which is your standard “memorize a local dance and perform it to the satisfaction of some judges”, and “Make Some Bricks”, which involves making bricks out of wet clay and then carrying dry bricks along a huge, seemingly endless path to the site where they’ll be used. They’re both pretty tough, but I’d take the bricks any day, because we’ve already had two dancing challenges this Race and they’ve both been time-sinks for the people who took them.
Mike and Rochelle get into their taxi, only to find that it doesn’t start. Instead of springing out immediately and looking for a better taxi, they wait for the guy to get it going because things can only get better from there, right?
Hayley and Blair get to the Bricks, and undergo a tutorial on brick-making. As expected, it’s much harder than it looks, and their bricks come out looking more like shapeless lumps than actual bricks. They persist, and astonishingly enough they listen to each other and discuss what the possible flaws of their technique might be, instead of hurling mud at each other in epic fury. One can only assume that either or both contestants were replaced by alien pod people.
Mike and Rochelle, meanwhile, head down the mountains with the driver yanking on the handbrake in a way that suggests the squealing noise they heard was something extremely vital to their survival giving out on the way down the winding mountain roads. Eventually, the driver pulls to a shuddering halt at the side of the road with the brakes gently smouldering as they get out.
Meanwhile, in what would probably have been the worst mistake of the episode had Mike and Rochelle not been…um, existing this week…Jelani and Jenny take the dancing challenge. Jenny insists, in defiance of all common sense and everything encountered by everyone in the history of the Race, “That’s not too bad. We can do this.”
Laura continues her weird camera allergy as she and Tyler pass the broken down taxi of Mike and Rochelle, and she admits that she was praying for someone to have a breakdown. I will give her a pass on this because she probably didn’t specify to He Who Is Called I Am that she wanted a brake failure on a steep and winding road, and because nobody actually got hurt. They go cruising past towards the Detour, while admitting they feel bad about not stopping. (Talk to Boston Rob. He’ll help you get over it.)
Meanwhile, the foreman at the brick-making site stamps nine of Blair and Hayley’s twelve bricks into oblivion, in what is clearly the most cinematically badass moment of his life and one he’s determined to make the most of. Blair and Hayley…um, bounce back, pay more attention to the demonstration, and calmly encourage each other to do better? (DON’T SLEEP, PHIL. THEY GET YOU WHEN YOU SLEEP.)
A replacement taxi arrives for Mike and Rochelle. It promptly explodes. Then they get another. That one burns down, falls over, then sinks into the swamp. But the fourth taxi gets them underway once again. Luckily for them, Jelani and Jenny still are not dancing like Peruvians, and are at least on their third televised attempt.
Laura and Tyler finally get to the mural, and Laura finally shows some sign of basic humanity by getting irritated with Tyler. Mike and Rochelle get to the city and promptly go up to a random clown and demand assistance. Because sometimes the virtue of a reality show is that you just can’t make this shit up. Laura and Tyler get the clue from their clown, and Tyler does the one thing I could see myself doing in the same situation by having absolutely no fucking patience for the clown’s hammy bullshit. He then gets back into form by making disparaging comments about the clown’s androgynous appearance, because it’s almost physically impossible for him to open his mouth without being a douchebag.
Blair and Hayley haul bricks. They take turns, work together, and spread their seed pods all over the desert to infect others. Jelani and Jenny fail attempt number four or five. Mike and Rochelle finally find the clown, the clue, and the clown again, but by then Laura and Tyler are at the Brick site.
Blair and Hayley get to the Roadblock, and Blair volunteers to do some “surfing” on a sort of handmade surfboard/kayak hybrid. They get underway without even once threatening to stab each other. (The “Ancient Aliens” guy is already polishing up his next special on them.)
Then Mike and Rochelle make their…next…huge mistake. They’re stressed–and for the first time, actually arguing a bit–and decide to switch Detours, on the grounds that they didn’t think they could catch up with Laura and Tyler given their head start. So of course, the plan to spend a long car ride going to another Detour that is not only harder in general, but is specifically tailored to one of their known and repeatedly demonstrated weaknesses! This can’t possibly be the dumbest plan ever!
No, really, it can’t. Not so long as we have Kurt and Bergen abandoning their car in a tow-away zone to hoof it through Munich.
Jelani and Jenny embark on what the captions say is their “3rd Attempt”, but that’s simply not possible given the number of times the judges gave them advice after previous failures. Nonetheless, they get it this time and get their clue. Blair, experienced Navy doctor, faceplants into the waves a half-dozen times or so right after talking about how confident he felt about this Roadblock, because karma knows how to pick its timing. Laura and Tyler prove Mike and Rochelle wrong (wronger?) by having trouble making bricks. Tyler decides to make up time by doing all the bricks in one trip…only to turn a corner and see a wonderfully-shot endless, brutal expanse of 95-degree heat and desert. It’s actually one of the best dramatic reveals I’ve seen, and it was on a reality show.
Jelani takes the Roadblock for their team, and after several spills, decides to very slowly paddle his way along while lying on the board. He does pretty good, but Blair has got the hang of his surfing and has gotten back with the clue, which is the trip to the Pit Stop. Mike and Rochelle are despairing at their Detour…but Laura breaks one of their bricks while unloading, so Tyler has to run the whole. Damn. Way. Back.
But Mike and Rochelle are still failing at the dance when Tyler retrieves his errant brick, and don’t show any signs of getting better. They’re still practicing steps when Hayley and Blair check in at the Pit Stop in first, celebrating their victory by pointing at Phil and letting out a piercing screech. They finally get their clue somewhere around the point where Jelani and Jenny come in second and Laura and Tyler (well, specifically Laura) hit the beach…but it’s around this time that it starts sounding a little weird that Phil is saying, “You will be one of the teams racing for a million” rather than “You will be one of the three teams racing for a million”.
Even so, it seems like Mike and Rochelle are getting the “at least you tried” fourth place elimination edit. We get a minor testimonial to Rochelle’s can-do spirit, we get a voiceover about how proud they are of each other…and yes, controversially, it looks like Rochelle gets a tiny push from someone, although it honestly looks to me like one of the lifeguards making sure she doesn’t get out into dangerous waters instead of some sort of fix. But surprisingly/unsurprisingly, we are once again going into the finale with four teams and a mid-leg elimination, and Mike and Rochelle live to fight another day despite having their worst leg at the worst moment. I don’t know that I want this to be an every-season thing, but I’ll admit, the final three we would have gotten would have been a worse final three than this final four, so I’ll take it this time.
And next time, it looks like we’re going back to Dallas, Texas, to see if anything could be worse than losing the Race! (Um, you might not get that without looking up “Austin Lounge Lizards Dallas” on YouTube.) See you then!