Welcome back to the Race! Phil fills us in by reminding us of Josh and Tanner’s devious, brilliant perfect strategy to knock the Green Team out of the Race, which was marred only slightly by its complete and total failure on every level imaginable. We return to the Race, already in progress, as Josh and Tanner are forced to give up their Express Pass…
…to Denise and James Earl. Again, I will have to give the boys some credit for this choice. They didn’t want to pass it on to one of the teams who’s been at the front of the pack (the Green Team and the Reporters), because that’s basically conceding the leg and they’ve already shot themselves in the foot enough for the moment. Again, though, they seem a little quick to come to a conclusion and congratulate themselves for it; Denise and James Earl have been a little behind, but they haven’t been racing that badly, whereas both the Cheerleaders and the Track Stars have been finishing around eighth place. Giving it to one of them would probably have meant certain elimination for the other, but the Douchebros seem to think that if one of them got it, they’d leapfrog too far ahead. (Um, not to spoil, but the boys do seem very quick to underestimate their opposition.)
The teams now proceed to Lookout Cafe, presumably named for the view and not because its patrons are in constant danger, and get another Roadblock. Along the way, Justin and Diana congratulate themselves for not U-Turning the Texans, and the Texans admit grudging admiration for the Green Team for not U-Turning them. This is portrayed by both teams as a blow for integrity in Race-based sports, Which is all very well and good, except that the main reason Justin and Diana didn’t U-Turn anyone is that it would have been pointless and stupid, not because they were taking an ethical stand. The only reason to U-Turn at that point is spite, and Justin and Diana are too smart for that.
Meanwhile, we catch up with our giraffe painters, in a sort of perfunctory “goddammit why didn’t you choose the easy task” montage. Cindy and Rick get out in fifth, Logan and Chris leave in sixth, Jazmine and Danielle finish up in seventh, and the cheerleaders bring up the rear. They all head out just as Denise and James Earl get to the orphanage…at which point I’d like to correct an earlier mistake I made. The teams were not required to donate all their money, as I stated last week. Phil asks each team how much they want to donate–it’s purely optional. Which puts the donations of the first two teams into a much more impressive light, because they are sacrificing a real advantage on the Race without any guarantee that other teams will do the same, out of pure altruism and sympathy for those who have less. Kudos to the Texans and the Green Team…and to Denise and James Earl, who do so as well. It’s money they were given, of course, but it’s a real sacrifice and I admire them for it.
Denise and James Earl find out they’re still racing, and they also find out they’re racing with their very own Express Pass in third. They head out as the Reporters pull in, and Denise does a little dance in the seat of her taxi as they make their way to Lookout Cafe that has to be the whitest thing I’ve ever seen. And I’ve watched Weird Al Yankovic in concert.
The Green Team gets to the cafe, where they find out that they will be replaying one of the very first challenges in Race history–they will be bungee-jumping into Batoka Gorge. Except that it’s not just a bungee-jump; it’s a bungee jump that leads into a zipline, so your downward momentum is converted so smoothly into forward momentum that there’s never a specific point where you stop feeling like you’re going to plummet to your death. Justin takes it, presumably thinking that it’s going to be an eating challenge (the clue says, “Who wants to gorge yourself?”) but seems very excited by the prospect. Josh seems less excited–remember that these guys skipped the Roadblock rather than fly–but they’re out of Express Passes.
Justin’s entire fall is captured on helmet cam, and I gotta admit, this is why you watch the Race. You can actually see his face transition seamlessly from utter pants-wetting terror to sheer, wild exhilaration as the jump turns into a swing, and he comes back up so high on adrenaline that his blood is probably a controlled substance. Meanwhile, Josh is checking his heart rate on his FitBit in what has to be the best product placement on the Race ever, and asking Tanner to slap him for reasons that are probably only understood by Texan fratboys.
The Green Team then heads to the Detour, which is a choice between “Crocs” and “Canoes”. “Crocs” is one of the most amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences ever–you get into a croc cage, which is like a shark cage only yellow, and feed river crocodiles through the bars up close and personal. “Canoes” is paddling a canoe across a river. (You can tell where my sympathies lie here.) Justin and Diana choose “Canoes”, which seems strange given how easy it should be to give meat to hungry crocodiles, but maybe you have to travel farther to get to the zoo they live at or something.
Kelsey takes the Roadblock for the Reporters, and James Earl takes it for the Bates Family. Josh says he just hopes he doesn’t scream like a girl, and…um…no comment, okay? Let’s just move on.
The Chacs get to the mat at last, and choose not to U-Turn. So do the Paparazzi, at which point it’s made eminently and abundantly clear that the donations are voluntary when Chris drops a twenty in the box and acts like his veins run with the milk of human kindness. You know what it’s like when you’re with a very rich relative, and they tip five percent on a huge bill and act like they’re bestowing a huge gift for which the server should grovel in thanks? Yeah, it’s like that. Luckily, Phil is on hand to name and shame them into giving the rest of their cash to the orphanage as well, and sends them on their way.
Then we get to a fateful moment–and no, I’m not talking about Logan and Chris’ explanation that they constantly bicker and make stupid decisions in their home life, too. Jazmine and Danielle get to the mat in seventh…and choose not to U-turn anyone, because they know they’re ahead of the Cheerleaders and don’t know it’s a double leg. Since they can see Phil right in front of them, they figure they don’t need the insurance of the U-Turn, and they are quite unpleasantly surprised when they find out they could have stolen a march on the only other team behind them and didn’t. (Again, not to spoil, but this will be significant later.)
This, by the by, means that the U-Turn which was so heavily strategized last week wound up not being used to any meaningful degree. Tiffany and Krista use it on the Green Team, in a confused sort of way that suggests that Josh and Tanner extracted promises from everyone to U-Turn the Green Team no matter what, but obviously that wasn’t worth a damn. Not to say that people were over-emphasizing its importance in the previous episode, but…yeah, there’s no real way to finish that sentence.
Kelsey does her drop like a boss; her facial expression barely even changes as she jumps. She and Joey go for the Crocs. James Earl also handles it with pretty remarkable aplomb. Meanwhile, the Green Team and the Texans head across the river, realizing along the way that there are just as many crocodiles here if not more, as well as elephants and hippos, and that they’re probably in much more danger here than they are in the croc cage. Still, they’ve probably got production assistants with tranquilizer guns or something, so both teams head out. Unsurprisingly, Josh and Tanner are convinced that they can overtake the Green Team with their manly manly man muscles which will let them row across the river at heroically macho speeds. Unsurprisingly, neither one of them knows how to row and they wind up paddling in half-circles as Justin and Diana pull away. The line, “Why are we not catching them?” is the Douchebros’ race in microcosm.
Meanwhile, Rick and Cindy get to the gorge just inches ahead of the Paparazzi, in what has to be one of the more hilarious mistakes in the Race. Both teams get their clues, read, “Go to the Zambezi River…” and immediately sprint back to their taxis and hop in, while ignoring the signs pointing directly to their challenge. They demand the taxi drivers take them to the Zambezi River, and the looks on the drivers’ faces are just incredible. You can actually see the wheels turning in their heads as they ask themselves, “Do they not know where we are right now? Am I supposed to drive to where we already are now? Is this some sort of Zen koan? Goddammit, why can’t I ever get any of the sane foreigners?” One of them actually says that they’re driving away from the challenge, but he doesn’t speak English, so it’s a wasted effort at sanity. Both taxis peel out, with their respective teams exhorting them to drive drive DRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!1!
The Track Stars and Cheerleaders go to the cafe as well, not realizing that they just jumped two spaces in the line, just as the taxi drivers finally manage to get across to their passengers that it is literally impossible to get any closer to the gorge than they already were. Logan, naturally, blames Chris for this. Chris, naturally, decides that it’s pointless to continue because this failure has doomed them and the only thing left to do is to commit ritual seppuku. This despite the fact that they are literally less than ten feet behind the next-place team. They are not yet at Hayley and Blair levels, but they are rising.
Jazmine and Danielle leave their challenge in fifth, just as the Reporters get to the crocs. They’re absolutely magnificent, in that big slow lazy way of giant reptiles. They’re as slow as they want to be and as fast as they need to be, and the Reporters are clearly a little nervous. (They don’t need to be.)
Meanwhile, the teams in front get across the river, and need to hoist one another by pulley to a tree to get their clue. Josh’s manly manly man muscles prove to have a little difficulty lifting another manly manly man, which he covers with fat jokes. Justin hauls up Diana no problem and they’re on their way to their next stop, Lion Encounter.
Just as the Reporters are getting ready to make their croc dive, Denise and James Earl pull up, use the Express Pass, and leave in third. Gotta sting, especially given that Kelsey and Joey spent most of last week #PuppetMastering the lead teams in the hopes of getting ahead. Still, they feed the crocs and are on their way relatively quickly in fourth.
That just leaves Cindy and Chris to take the plunge, which they do (while Logan bitterly curses the stupidity of her and mostly her partner). They’re on their way in seventh and last, respectively.
At the Lion Encounter, Justin and Diana get a lecture about how to wander around a pride of actual freaking oh my god lions, literal living breathing wandering lions, they are walking around with real live lions and oh my god I would be so scared but it would be so far beyond awesome at the same time because they’re walking with lions! Denise and James Earl, who have caught up further, get a similar lecture. They start looking for their next clue while Josh and Tanner cool their heels with the Reporters.
At the crocs, Jazmine and Danielle feed their crocs and leave in fifth. Tiffany and Krista get lowered into the water in sixth, while Chris has a panic attack on seeing that there’s no way to make up any time here either. He convinces Logan to switch Detours on the grounds that driving off to an entirely different destination and doing something time-consuming and physically challenging is their only hope, then midway through changing out of their wetsuits becomes instantly convinced that they’re making a huge mistake and that they need to get back in there and get ready to feed the crocodiles. At this point, I have to say that I totally understand Logan’s desire to scream at him and call him a complete and total moron, although I’m really hoping they both get eliminated soon.
Meanwhile, lions lions lions lions lions! Oh, and Justin and Diana find their clue. (Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for felines of any kind. I’d never own a big cat–they are wild animals and are best appreciated in nature–but damn if I don’t go ga-ga over them.) They head to the Masuwe Private Game Reserve, the location of the Pit Stop, where all the teams must approach the mat while balancing fruit baskets on their heads. This will get awesomer and awesomer as the episode goes on.
Justin drops his fruit almost immediately. Luckily, you don’t have to go back to start or anything. Unluckily, Denise and James Earl are right behind them. This leads to the magnificently bizarre spectacle of two teams very slowly, very carefully walking with rigid precision towards the mat, occasionally stopping dead to pick up their fruit, in the slowest and weirdest race to the mat in Race history. It’s won by Denise and James Earl, who come in first aided primarily by the Express Pass that the Douchebros gave them. Justin and Diana come in close behind, to their great frustration, but take heart in the fact that there are no more Express Passes to be handed out.
Jazmine and Danielle get to the Lion Encounter…but go straight to the game lodge and put their fruit on. They have to go back, losing several places in the process and giving the Douchebros and the Reporters the chance to come in third and fourth, respectively.
Tiffany and Krista find their clue in fifth, while Jazmine and Danielle walk the entire Lion Encounter in sixth without actually looking for their next clue. They head back to the Pit Stop, only to find out that they need to do it all over again. That gives Rick and Cindy and the Paparazzi the chance to jump ahead as well, putting them at the very back of the pack. (Although that doesn’t stop Chris from moaning about them undoubtedly being seconds away from elimination.) One of the lions looks like he’s about to take matters into his own hands by eliminating the Chacs on a more permanent basis, but he gets a poke or two from a game warden that makes him reconsider.
Tiffany and Krista check into the Pit Stop in fifth. Logan and Chris bicker and shriek over who’s being more distracting during the fruit walk, leading to a relatively tight three-way race for last. Logan and Chris come in sixth, though, and the Chac family comes in seventh. That leaves Jazmine and Danielle with only hopes for a non-elimination leg to avert the consequences of their catastrophic mistakes, and they are not that lucky. They leave the Race, earning the eternal emnity of fans everywhere who were hoping to see the Paparazzi gone.
And next week on the Race, we get yet more Paparazzi meltdowns, airplane trips, epic rap battles, and someone finally throws Tanner off of something tall! See you then!