When last we left our intrepid Racers, they were in Zimbabwe. Josh and Tanner continued their poor habit of underestimating the abilities of everyone who isn’t them, Logan and Chris amped up their long-simmering feud with each other, and Jazmine and Danielle went to the Pit Stop twice without having finished the leg and were eliminated as a consequence. On to the next episode!
As we prepare for the next leg, Denise tackle-hugs Josh in gratitude for giving them the Express Pass. Josh tries to play it as a friendly gesture to a team they’ve gotten along with, rather than a calculated attempt to ditch the Express Pass onto someone who wouldn’t get out in front of them. At that point, they all leave at various times for an Hours of Operation bunch that leads directly into a Roadblock. It’s more bungee jumping! In one of the more amusing bits of product placement in Race history, the bungee jumpers must take notes on what it did to their heart rate, as measured on their FitBit.
Denise does her jump in first. Diana takes hers in second after asking for one last kiss from Justin, which about the last time we’ll see them getting along this episode. Tanner takes his in third, finally unable to avoid at least one attempt by the Race to fling him off a tall object. Then comes Joey, Krista, Rick, Chris…basically, it doesn’t affect their placement overmuch and they’re all getting on the same plane to Paris, but it does mean that those players have already done a Roadblock for this leg.
After everyone talks about their expectations for the leg (I’m going to be generous and assume Josh and Tanner are kidding about “getting French fries”), they deplane. Justin and Diana get through the airport in a hurry and get a twenty minute head start by catching an earlier train, heading out to an airfield where the Racer who didn’t bungee jump has to take a flight in a vintage biplane and look for three signs on the ground with the motto of the French Republic: “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite!” (The Race signs don’t have the accents either. This may be the cause of some of the catastrophes later.)
Justin takes the flight (complete with a loop de loop for each Racer) and tells the airfield staffer, “Liberty, Eagle Latte, Fratter Nattay!” With magnificent resolve, she refrains from slapping him so hard she leaves handprints, and instead gives him the next clue. “But wait!” you say. “Shouldn’t pronunciation count for something in a race around the world to foreign lands with their many beautiful native language?”
Patience, my pretties. Patience.
By this point, other teams have started to arrive. Chris tries to say something warm and inspirational to Logan, but she shuts that shit down. Justin records his heart rate and they head to Square Louis-Michel to search for Le Phantom Blanc, who will provide their next clue. This turns out to be the cause of much contention, as they argue about what route to take, who to ask for directions and when, and in general whether or not Justin is willing to listen to Diana. Some commenters have mentioned that Justin has been doing all the talking and making decisions pretty unilaterally–this is where she finally starts getting sick of it. Him immediately starting in with, “You have to ditch that attitude,” doesn’t help.
Josh mangles out, “Liberty, Eagletti, Fraternity,” and I goddamn don’t want to think about the mental image he must have of the French Republic as one giant fraternity. With eagles. The airfield staffer chooses not to speak through any of this, quite possibly because she is holding back a torrent of blistering rage that will consume the entire world if it escapes her mouth, but she gives him the clue.
Tiffany follows with, “Liberty, Eagle-ite, Fratner-nite.” I assume the last two are the space-age polymers used to make Tupperware back in the 50s, before they found out they were toxic and radioactive. She gets a clue, though.
Logan gets “Liberte” and “Egalite”, and actually pronounces both of them correctly…but she didn’t see the third sign and doesn’t know enough about French history to pick it up from context. She also doesn’t know that given how lenient they are on pronunciation, she could probably have finished with “Hufflepuff” and gotten a pass on it. She goes to the back of the line to wait for everyone else to take their plane ride.
At the train station, Justin confuses “telling Diana to do things” with “giving Diana a voice in decisions”. They bicker angrily, but are far enough in front that it doesn’t matter. They get to the train well before it leaves, and catch another train-based head start.
James Earl also uses the “Eagle-ite” and “Frater-nite” pronunciations, although he at least doesn’t add in his own special blend of consonants. The airfield staffer gives him the clue with a clear “Get the fuck out of my face” expression. Cindy does the same–again, I don’t want to sound too smug about this, because the Race banners didn’t have the accent aigu that would give you the correct pronunciation if you hadn’t already taken French in school. But seriously, “Eagle-ite”? Is that what someone uses to depower Hawkman?
Kelsey gives “Eagle-itay” and “Frater-nite”, just to be inconsistent, closing off the original group of Racers. Logan goes for her second ride, but everyone else is already at the train station getting bunched. (In a literal and figurative sense–after multiple legs of being in tight contention, everyone’s very tense about having no separation from anyone.) They’re a little cheered when Logan and Chris, despite getting it on the second try, miss the train and wind up an hour behind everyone else.
Justin and Diana get to the square and find the Phantom pretty easily. He’s the one that looks like the entire audience of a Cruxshadows concert threw up on him. They get the Detour, which is “Drops Mic” or “Bust a Crab”. And I’m not gonna lie–there are no good options here. “Drops Mic” is rapping in French, and the Racers are judged on pronunciation, rhythm and performative energy. This is like a trifecta of classically difficult elements in a challenge. “Bust a Crab” involves assembling an elaborate multi-tiered seafood platter to match a model. And what have we all learned about “do a task to match a model”? That’s right. It sucks. If this was a leg with a U-Turn, I’d say someone would never see daylight.
Justin wants to rap. Diana says that languages aren’t her strong suit and wants to do the seafood. Justin pretty much just tells her to suck it up and do what he says because he’s always right. Diana stops just short of telling him to go fuck himself sideways, but you can tell it’s more because of CBS censors than a disagreement with the sentiment. Nonetheless, they head rapwards.
Everyone other than Chris and Logan get to the square, but they apparently have no clue what a “Phantom Blanc” is, because they walk right past the guy with the clue several times. Luckily, Logan and Chris are back at the train station feeling sorry for themselves. Justin and Diana, meanwhile, start learning their rap lyrics, and Justin admits that he’s having a lot of difficulty and wonders openly if they should switch. Diana initially agrees, but when Justin backs out, she passive-aggressively decides not to push. Really, I feel sympathy for her, but deciding to just say, “Well, I disagree with this and think we’re going to fail and I hate you, but I won’t challenge you because it’s pointless” is not a solution to anything. (Neither is their first attempt at rapping in French. Although it is amusing that the camera goes into “rap vision” mode when they start, graying out around the edges and putting random sparkles everywhere.)
Joey puts his baseball cap on sideways and goes to rap with Kelsey. He head bobs in a taxi dance that makes Denise’s taxi dance from last episode look like “Empire”. Tiffany and Krista also choose rap. Josh and Tanner get the crabs. And oysters, lobsters, shrimp and other shellfish. But Justin and Diana’s lead has already paid off, and they get a postcard of a bridge that serves as their next clue.
Denise and James Earl get lost. Badly lost. Badly enough that the Chacs get to the crab task before them, and badly enough that Logan and Chris get to the square and get their clue before Denise and James Earl find a Detour challenge. The Chacs start their challenge, and Rick comments that his knife skills should be pretty sound, since he practices them on people all the time. This was initially incredibly startling, because they’re all wearing tall chef hats and bending over and I thought at first that it was Josh saying that.
Justin and Diana get their clue at the bridge, and are directed to the Arc de Triomphe. The Cheerleaders and the Reporters race to learn the rap, with Joey and Kelsey getting there first and…okay, the only way I can describe this is to ask you to imagine (setting aside their politics for a moment and just thinking of them as people) Mitt Romney and Ann Coulter trying to rap. And I am so, so very sorry for putting that mental image into your head. Tiffany and Krista go next, and not only do they nail it in one take but Tiffany literally drops the mic at the end. Seriously, do not fucking question their mad hip-hop skillz.
Denise and James Earl give up on even finding the crab challenge, and head for the rap on the logic that at least they have an idea of where it is. Rick and Cindy nail their seafood platter on attempt one and head out of the Detour in third. The DoucheBros get it wrong, and have to go back and try again. They go back to the cutting board, just as Logan and Chris seem to be ominously approaching closer in their taxi. But is it real, or just more Amazing Editing?
Holy shit, it’s pretty much not! Logan and Chris get into the restaurant just as the Texans get it right on the second try. Chris assumes this means they’re doomed, but Logan points out that they’ve already made up an hour. Meanwhile, Joey and Kelsey get their rap right, albeit with a pose at the end that makes Vanilla Ice look like Snoop Lion. They make their escape, and Joey thankfully promises never ever ever to rap ever again.
At the Arc, Justin begins searching for the clue. Diana reminds him that the actual clue text said “search across from”, and once again lets him know, quite pointedly, that this macho “I’m in charge” bullshit is not going to fly. Meanwhile, the Cheerleaders get to the bridge and get their clue in second. The Chacs get to the bridge, but their taxi driver refuses to let them out, so they cruise right past it. That allows the Reporters to get their clue in third.
Denise and James Earl finally get to the epic rap battle, and fail their first attempt. There’s a lot of cross-cutting between them blowing it and the Paparazzi working on their seafood. There’s also a lot of footage that attempts to make it seem like the other teams are catching up to Justin and Diana as they look for the mat. It has some nice tension, especially when the Paparazzi make a mistake on their seafood platter and have to go back. But Denise and James Earl are already on Attempt #6 and climbing.
Logan and Chris get it right on their second try, after a little more self-abuse. (Um, in the sense of “beating themselves up”. Not the other kind.) Justin and Diana get to the Pit Stop at last…and Phil drops the next clue on them and tells them, “You are still racing.” AGAIN. Damn, if I didn’t actually gasp a little in surprise at that one. Two double legs in a row absolutely blew me away.
From here, we get a montage. Tiffany and Krista get to the mat in second, the Reporters in third. (Everyone is advised to keep their notes on their heart rate, which they’ve continued to take throughout the leg.) Tanner and Josh go out in fourth, Cindy and Rick in fifth. Logan and Chris escape with a narrow sixth place. And Denise and James Earl? We close with them still at the Detour. On Attempt #15. #16. #17. #18…
And next week, everyone heads to Rotterdam (which may be in Germany or Amsterdam, apparently) and deals with boating simulators and simmering relationship tension. And Denise and James Earl? #19, #20, #21…