Back again! I know, we’re settling into a schedule of recapping last week’s Race about two days before this week’s Race, but on the other hand you’re not just getting hammered with 12 straight posts of TAR content, so hopefully it evens out. Last week, of course, we had a lot of running around through France that ended with everyone except for budding Southern Gothic Denise and James Earl being told they were still racing and heading for Rotterdam. Which, given that this is the second of back-to-back double legs, means that the Racers are getting tired…
To be honest, dealing with that kind of grinding exhaustion is the biggest difference between winners and losers in the Race. There’s very little you can do to prepare for what Miss Alli called “Killer Fatigue”, although having a job with irregular hours probably helps. Nobody except for the Racers have to deal with that combination of constant time zone shifts, random and exhausting physical tasks, and mental challenges, and it starts really wearing on everyone by this point. I mention this in advance primarily because people are going to make some really catastrophic errors in this episode, and it helps to understand that they’re not dumb–they’re just operating on limited sleep, nasty jet-lag and killer fatigue.
We start with Justin and Diana, who get their Rotterdam clue and find out that there’s a scheduled train to Rotterdam that everyone is already booked on at 7:22 PM…but that Racers can take an earlier train if they can find one. That’s something they did last season, and it’s a very important caveat, because it means that this isn’t just another bunch. It’s an opportunity for smart Racers to extend their lead. Justin and Diana are smart Racers, and they get on a 4:19 PM train.
Meanwhile, having dangled for a whole week the possibility that Denise and James Earl will be dashed to pieces by the beast that is rap music like Ahab, they immediately nail the next attempt we see–Number 18–and head out. By then, the Reporters have already gotten on a 4:53 train, so they’re still down in the back of the pack, but they’re not bleeding time anymore.
As opposed to Josh and Tanner, who decide that since there’s nothing to do until their train leaves at 7:22, they’re going to do some sightseeing. While I do strongly feel that if there’s any team whose cultural backdrop needs expanding, it’s probably Josh and Tanner, this was not a wise decision on their part. Twenty-seven Races and counting, and there are still teams that screw up the whole “Read the Clue” thing despite the fact that it’s an outright catchphrase of the show. This is Killer Fatigue at work, although Josh and Tanner’s behavior in the previous six episodes suggest that may not be the only factor at work.
Meanwhile, Cindy and Rick get on a 5:16 train to Rotterdam. In a very impressive show of either Killer Fatigue or pompous and pretentious know-it-all-ism, Rick takes the opportunity to explain to his wife that “Rotterdam” is the French name for Amsterdam. (According to the much more reliable Google, “Rotterdam” is actually the Dutch name for Rotterdam.) They’re on the same train as Tiffany and Krista, but unfortunately they are not sharing their ancient aliens city-naming theory around.
Logan and Chris bicker about the Rotterdam/Amsterdam Conundrum as well, but that’s primarily because they’re looking for any excuse to continue their blood feud. Meanwhile, Denise and James Earl finally get their clue and go to the train station. Their sense of urgency is diminished slightly for the viewer, though, when Justin and Diana get to Rotterdam and find out that they’ll be spending the night on a boat in Rotterdam and leaving the next morning. It’s not a total Hours of Operation bunch, because the teams are once again taking a number and leaving in fifteen-minute intervals, but it is a chance to remedy the severe placement inequity.
(I’m actually really okay with this, by the way. Race bunching is necessary to keep things competitive, as the very first Race showed, but I like that they’re keeping at least some sort of reward in place for teams who hustle from leg to leg instead of just erecting timegates for everyone to slam into every few legs. A fifteen minute head start on the second place team after all the traveling is done for the leg is worthwhile, and I’m glad they’re giving it out. Even if Justin is about to do a lot to make you feel like they don’t deserve anything they get.)
Josh and Tanner finally show up at the train station and are more than a little surprised to find out that absolutely none of the other teams are waiting there for the 7:22 train. Their surprise turns to worry when the two back-of-the-pack teams from last episode, Denise and James Earl and the Paparazzi, race in looking frantic. They comment on their own decision to lounge around in gay Paree with, “That was stupid.” Yes. Yes it was.
Luckily, they’re not alone. Rick and Cindy decide to stay on the train despite staring directly at a big sign that says, “Rotterdam Centraal”. That’s not a metaphor, or hyperbole for the sake of comic exaggeration. There is a lovely shot over Cindy’s shoulder as she stares directly at the sign saying, “Rotterdam Centraal”, then it cuts to Tiffany and Krista sensibly getting out, then it cuts back to Cindy watching the sign slowly slide out of view as they pull out and Rick says, “On to Amsterdam!” Never play poker against an Amazing Race cameraperson, that’s my new motto.
Even so, they rectify their mistake with the help of some locals, and take the third-place departure ticket (after Tiffany and Krista take second). The Reporters take fourth, and banter a bit with the cheerleaders…during the course of which we discover that they thought they’d gone to Germany, and now have no actual idea which country they’re in and don’t much care so long as it’s the next stop. Killer Fatigue may not actually be their problem here. The remaining teams finally show up, and grab the tickets in Douchebro/Paparazzi/Southern Gothic order.
The next morning, Justin and Diana get out early and are given their next clue. (Rick is given a nasty bug bite that swells up his lip to triple size.) The clue hints strongly that it would be a good idea to walk everywhere, but does not prohibit taxi driving. Justin wants to ignore it, but Diana insists on wandering. This will be the beginning of a nasty, simmering feud because Tiffany and Krista overtake them and Justin can’t let it go. This is a big mistake, and a violation of one of my cardinal rules of the Race: Learn how to get over your partner’s mistakes. Because you’re both going to make them at some point, and if you can’t get past it, you’re going to spend the whole damn time fighting.
That said, Tiffany and Krista do overtake them, getting a small head start on the Roadblock. This is pretty straightforward–they’re shown a copy of van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and have to go to another building to play the “One of These Things Is Not Like the Others” game with a whole bunch of copies. It’s a pretty straightforward memory challenge, complicated only slightly by the fact that it’s a good long run from the original to the copies so you really do have to rely solely on your memory.
Krista takes it for her team, followed by Rick and Diana. That’s not good for Diana, because Justin is in a pissy mood and is looking for an excuse to find fault with something Diana’s doing, and so every time she brings back the wrong painting he shit-talks her under his breath. This may be a manifestation of Killer Fatigue as well–Lord knows I get crotchety when I’m tired–but it does make him look like a huge asshole on national television. Screaming and whining, alternately, at your romantic partner, looks bad no matter how out-of-character it is for you.
Joey gets there in fourth, but leaves in first because he gets it right the first time. This gives him a chance to do a little FitBit related math (nothing complicated, they just subtract their current heart rate from their heart rate while on adrenaline-boosting tasks last leg and make a bouquet of tulips for a local with the same number of flowers) for the next clue. Rick gets the right painting in second, and Krista responds to finding out she’s in third with several ear-splitting screams of triumph roughly akin to what normal people let out when their local sports team wins a national championship. All this to the audience of the Race judge and one very unimpressed looking goat.
Justin takes this about how you’d expect, by moaning out, “Caaahmaaaaaan!” like John McEnroe used to when he didn’t get a line call. Tanner takes the Roadblock in fifth, and starts making mistakes right away, and Logan takes it in sixth just as the Reporters are handing off their flowers and getting to the Detour. Along the way, they comment on how happy they are to finally get an edge over the Green Team, and you start to see that they (along with the Chacs) are more than a little intimidated by the way Justin and Diana have been racing. It feels a bit like they’re psyched out by all those strong finishes, and the luck they had in avoiding the U-Turn.
And they’re still racing strong–Diana gets the clue on her third try and is off to make a bouquet. Right around then, Denise takes the Roadblock in last, leaving three teams at the Roadblock…but that goes down to two, as Tanner finally gets his clue. They have to then solve a math problem of 152-128…and get 32. Then 26. Then get out a pen and paper. Again, I’m going to be super charitable and assume that Killer Fatigue is playing a part here. (But they do count it out on their fingers at one point.)
Joey and Kelsey, meanwhile, get to the Detour and have to chose between “Ship” and “Skip”. “Ship” is a giant video game, where the teams pilot a boat in a boat simulator and must dock with another ship, then find a sinking ship and rescue the passengers in under five minutes. “Skip” is some good old-fashioned double-dutch jump rope action, with choreographed clapping and hopping. The Reporters take “Ship”, the Cheerleaders “Skip”. The Chacs take “Ship”…and promptly get lost on the way to the tram. Cindy suggests taking a taxi to get back on track, but Rick is convinced that waiting for a bus to the tram will take the same amount of time as waiting for a taxi, and counsels that they sit down and relax a spell. Apparently he’s unfamiliar with the basic concept of “racing”, which rarely involves voluntary rest breaks.
Denise gets her painting right and leaves in sixth. Justin and Diana head to the Detour in fourth. Logan and Chris head out of the Roadblock in last, while Josh and Tanner head to the Detour in fifth. The train is traveling twenty-seven miles an hour, and makes no stops in Chicago. Which monkey has the most bananas?
…sorry, word-problem lock for a moment. There is more position-switching involved, as Justin and Diana catch a tram that the Cheerleaders narrowly miss putting them into a dead heat with the Douchebros, while Cindy and Rick sit around at a bus stop like they’re rehearsing for an avant-garde production of ‘Waiting for Godot’ with neon-blue matching outfits. Rick takes the opportunity to explain that the reason he shut Cindy down and went with his terrible plan is that he “comes from a traditional Asian household”. Because of course it is.
Kelsey and Joey start their Big Boat video game, and unsurprisingly they don’t nail it the first time. What follows is pretty much an extended montage of a scenario every videogamer is familiar with–you replay the same mission over and over again, failing each time but improving your skills so that you get a little further and a little further until you finally beat the boss. Not that there’s a boss here, although it would have been totally fucking awesome if they rescued the ship and all of a sudden a kraken surfaced with a flashing weak point right between its eyes.
Justin and Diana get in line behind the Reporters, although since there’s a strict turn rotation you’re going to see everyone make multiple goes at this and the main thing to keep track of isn’t who’s next, it’s who’s gotten furthest in their mission when time expires on each attempt. Or in the case of Rick and Cindy, who’s saying that they really feel like they’ve been sitting in a bus station in the middle of nowhere for a long time and they need to do something to avoid coming in last, and who’s saying that the other person is being “so negative” and “pessimistic” and clearly their preferred course of intensive ass-groove-creation is the correct one.
Their bus finally does arrive, though, somewhere around the time Logan and Chris head out to the Detour in sixth and the Cheerleaders arrive at their Detour. Skipping rope plays to their strengths as choreographers, and they feel pretty confident about the whole thing. The Reporters are feeling less confident, as they still haven’t defeated Bowser or Mecha-Bowser in the time provided. Nonetheless, both fail.
This gives Rick the chance to belittle his wife some more…er, that is, gives them the chance to catch up and start in on “Ship”. It also gives Tiffany and Krista the chance to succeed at their second attempt at rope jumping, and head out for the Hague’s Peace Palace, which is the Pit Stop for this leg of the Race. But Justin and Diana are right behind them, having successfully docked, rescued and stopped Sephiroth’s plan. They head out in a Race for first.
But Joey and Kelsey are right behind them, finishing the task and getting the clue. They read it, and decide to head out to the “Hagoo”. Presumably, from there we’ll see them head to the Czech Republic, where they can visit the lovely city of Pragoo. Unless, of course, it’s quarantined due to a case of the plagoo which has left many of its residents in the morgoo. We’ll see!
Everyone remaining is now at the Ship Detour, and they’re all just struggling to get better faster and beat Ganon. That’s always a recipe for a good finish, and there’s a good race for first as well because the three lead teams are all heading for the Pit Stop within minutes of each other and they have to catch both a train and a tram to get to the Peace Palace. (Oh, and Joey looks at the map and says, “The Hague is, written in English, what we call the Hagoo because we say it like idiots.” I confess to always being charmed by self-aware self-deprecation, so major points to Joey and Kelsey here.)
Justin and Diana come in first, and find out that Diana’s insistence on going taxi-free was a good idea after all as they get a cash prize equal to the 31,873 steps they ran. As Justin points out, that alone pays for their wedding even if they win nothing else. He and Diana reconcile, which does go a long way to suggesting that Killer Fatigue may have been the cause of their fight…but he was still a dickweed. The Reporters and the Cheerleaders come in second and third, not long after.
Everyone’s trying the Ship with varying degrees of competence. Josh and Tanner come in fourth and immediately teabag the sinking ship, but get their clue in fourth. Logan and Chris come out in fifth, and Denise and James Earl in sixth. Leaving Rick to suggest that it’s okay, there’s still a lot of racing to do, and there’s certainly nothing to make up for in terms of sitting on one’s ass telling the other person they’re doing just fine!
Even so, the train schedule gives them a chance to catch up again. Not with Josh and Tanner, who come to the Pit Stop in fourth, or Logan and Chris, who arrive in fifth, but they do get to the train station with Denise and James Earl still present. Worse, Denise and James Earl take what they think is a faster train that leaves slightly later, only to wind up on a faster train that leaves a lot later. Cindy and Rick get to the tram station and race to Tram #1, heading towards the Pit Stop!
Alert viewers will notice that Tram #1 does not seem to have a “#1″ on the front.
Denise and James Earl get to the tram station, sure that they’re in last. But right around then, Cindy and Rick learn that they’re on…”Tram Nine From Outer Space!” They have to get off, wait for a returning tram, go back to the tram station, then get onto Tram #1. This gives Southern Gothic the chance to narrowly escape elimination, and gives Cindy and Rick their exit. Killer Fatigue did them in at every step, turning their navigational challenges into utter disasters and sinking their chances despite pretty solid work on the tasks. They decide to go off and screw each other senseless. (Okay, they call it “start a family”, but they’re newlyweds going to Sequester-ville with nothing to do for a week. What do you think is going to happen?)
And next week, the Race goes to Krakow, where Logan and Chris apparently reclaim their title of “Worst Couple” from Diana and Justin! See you then!