And we’re back! This time, the Race opens with a reminder that Logan and Chris can’t stop hating each other, Justin and Diana can’t stop winning, and Denise and James Earl will be meeting us next week at the finish line. On to this week’s episode!
We open with this week’s requisite social awkwardness, as Justin and Diana clumsily try to pretend that U-Turning Chris and Logan was no big deal and they’re already over it so Chris and Logan should be too, and Chris and Logan pretty much just freeze them out while narrating in voiceover that they now hate the Green Team more than they hate anyone else on the face of the planet including each other. They all then get their clue and find out they’re going to Hong Kong! Presumably most of the challenges will involve battling the Eaters of the Lotus, a cult of sorcerous eunuchs from the year 69 AD who have traveled into the future and use Hong Kong as their base of operations in their attempt to conquer history.
…um, this is the point where I admit that most of my mental associations with Hong Kong come from the ‘Feng Shui’ role-playing game and try to move on.
Everyone gets onto the same flight, heading to Hong Kong (fun fact–because of the proximity of the airport to all the skyscrapers, landing a plane in Hong Kong is terrifying) and this time, the Cheerleaders get out in the first Rolls Royce. Oh yeah, they’re traveling in style this time, a fact that does not go unremarked upon. The Reporters get the second, Justin and Diana get an uncharacteristic third, and Chris and Logan once again bring up the rear. They all go to the Peninsula Hotel to pick up their clue, which leads to this week’s Detour.
The first option, “Sam’s”, involves going to one of Hong Kong’s famous all-night tailors to cut out fabric for a suit. They then deliver a Blue Peter version that was made earlier to the shop, and get the clue. The other option, “Cells”, is a needle-in-a-haystack challenge where the Racers have to find one working phone in a vast pile of non-functional electronics. For some reason beyond human comprehension, Justin, Race superfan who has almost certainly seen multiple teams crash and burn straight to elimination on needle-in-a-haystack challenges that are ludicrously luck-dependent, chooses “Cells”. Everyone else goes to cut fabric.
The Cheerleaders get there first, but bleed a little time in the mistaken belief that they actually need to make a suit rather than just cut fabric. (Which would frankly have been a cooler challenge, but probably not more telegenic.) That gives the other teams a chance to catch up a bit. Meanwhile, Justin and Diana start checking phones, apparently only now realizing that it could take some time. And so begins the theme of this week’s episode, “Normally Competent Racers Justin and Diana Make Every Single Obvious Mistake a Team Could Make, Despite Supposedly Preparing for This By Watching All Previous Seasons, and Proceed to Melt Down Like Toddlers Over It”. It’s going to be fun times.
All three teams at Sam’s workshop are cutting fabric. In a shocking reversal of every previous episode, Chris comes up with the entirely sensible idea of cutting the identical pieces of fabric in half the time by folding over the fabric and cutting through two layers at once, and Logan shuts him down on the logic of “Oh God Shut Up Chris You’re Wrong About Everything” rather than listen. Have I mentioned what a delight it is to welcome these two into my living room week after week?
Justin and Diana keep looking through phones, and I feel a sudden surge of sympathy for the production assistants who had to go out, find and test phone after phone after phone to make sure that none of them could accidentally work and send the Racers off on a red herring, and then assemble them into crates. It sounds like way more work than Justin and Diana put into things, and they didn’t even get a million bucks out of it. While I’m pondering the hard work that goes into the Race, Justin and Diana get a stroke of luck by finding the correct phone and calling the number stored in its Contacts list, which tells them to go to another address to pick up their clue. They then make their next huge mistake, hopping directly into a taxi without asking for directions and demanding to be taken to the address in question.
About which. Okay, there are two things that could have happened here. One, they could have picked a very incompetent taxi driver who speaks no English, has no idea where he is, has no idea where anything else is, and in general just suffered a severe blow to the head and is driving aimlessly in circles. Or two, they could have gotten a taxi driver who gets asked to drive what amounts to half a block and says to himself, “If these people are dumb enough to get a taxi to go half a block, I wonder what else they’re dumb enough to do?” I have my suspicions as to which it is. Either way, it doesn’t excuse Justin and Diana’s own bad decision to hop into a taxi without doing any checking on their next destination and then sit there bickering pointlessly to each other for a half-hour instead of stopping for directions.
Joey and Kelsey submit their first attempt to the judge, only to find out that they had their fabric inside out and everything was cut backwards. Oh, and they also realize that they could cut doubled up, like Chris wanted to do. Chris points out that they just heard someone out-and-out tell them to do things the way he wanted to all along, and Logan responds by saying, in essence, “Shut up.” Dammit, Logan! It is way too late for you to make Chris sympathetic by being an asshole to him for no good reason! The Cheerleaders, who did it right all along, turn in their fabric and get their suit.
Now everyone heads to what should be a huge bunch–they go to a ferry on Hong Kong Island that will take them to Macau, which should make all the Detouring utterly meaningless because the set departure times group people together. Certainly it makes the tailor drama pointless–the Cheerleaders, the Reporters and the Paparazzi all wind up on the same ferry. HOWEVER.
Justin and Diana, who manage to embarrass even their crooked/inept taxi driver with a seemingly endless bicker-rant over whether it’s rude of Justin to berate someone in a language they don’t understand (it is) and whether it’s rude of Diana to try to rein in Justin when he’s being a shit to everyone within earshot (it isn’t, and this is one of the things everyone hates about Justin–he’s boisterous to the point of arrogance when he’s in front, but he takes losing with all the grace of a cranky toddler), make yet another gigantic, obvious mistake when they finally do get their next clue. They ask someone for directions to the ferry terminal on Hong Kong Island, which is where the clue tells them to go, and that person points out that there’s another terminal in Kowloon that’s much closer.
And what does Justin, the Race superfan who knows the Race better than anyone else and who knows all the mistakes Racers make in the Race, do? He says, “Oh! Well, closer is better!” Diana asks if he’s sure, but he’s pretty much crushed her spirit with his constant verbal assaults any time she questions any of his decisions, so she doesn’t press the issue when he snaps out, “I’m sure.” Even when they get to the Kowloon terminal and the ticket class the clue tells them to purchase doesn’t exist, and the counter-person out and out tells them, “That’s only available on the Hong Kong side,” they still press on. After ten legs, they’re suddenly running like a team that’s never seen a single episode.
But there’s still a Roadblock! The teams go to the “City of Dreams” casino, and one member of each team has to dress up like a member of the “House of Dancing Water” show and jump off a thirty-foot platform into the water, then swim around looking for a fake fish that’s tethered to the base of the pool. They have twenty minutes to find the fish, and if they fail they have to wait for the show to restart and do the jump again.
Kelsey, Logan and Krista take it for their respective teams. They get made up, with Kelsey reveling in the fact that someone else is doing her make-up for a change, and Logan simply reveling in the chance to be away from Chris for a few minutes. (That’s not exaggeration, by the way. She actually says that.) They get ready to head into the water, and Logan asks Krista if she’s worried about it. Krista replies, “No, I’m not scared at all, I just want to get it done. I just hope there’s more to it than grabbing the fish so that other people get in trouble.” The sinister genie with magical powers shouts, “DONE!” then vanishes in a puff of smoke.
(Note: Your copy may not have that last bit. But it totally happened.)
Justin and Diana get to Macau, still confident in their ability to make up time and apparently oblivious to their mistake. The three women start their water show, complete with ominous music, smoke on the water (no fire in the sky), and a pirate ship for them to jump off of. The other dancers climb up, then jump off the ship, which is their cue to jump in the water and start searching to the tune of what I like to think of as “Ominous Searching Music”.
Logan and Kelsey find their clue just as Justin berates Diana for not running fast enough to the water show. I like to think that moments like this don’t make character, they reveal it, and Justin clearly is only supportive and caring when things are easy. When his partner is having problems, he’s more likely to be upset with them for failing than to encourage them to keep trying. Contrast this with, say, Tiffany, who responds to Krista’s failure to find the fish on the first try with a hearty and supportive, “You’ve got this, Krista!”
The two teams that finished head to Nam Van Lake, and the next Pit Stop. Phil handily informs us that “The last team to check in will be eliminated.” Just to let us know that he is Officially No Longer Fucking Around, here. Diana heads in to get changed just as Logan is leaving, asking how it was in the split-second before she remembers that Logan wouldn’t piss on her if she was on fire.
The second show starts. Diana didn’t make it in time, so Krista is searching alone. That’s a full twenty minute head start on the Green Team, but Krista can’t take advantage–it’s hard to be sure what she’s doing wrong, but it looks like she’s not diving deep enough to spot the fish. (She may have a problem with, um…buoyancy, not to put too fine a point on it. I did try not to ogle, but she was definitely straining the swimsuit in certain places.)
Justin spends the entire time whinging about how Diana won’t possibly be able to do this, and how he would be perfect for this Roadblock, and how she has panic attacks and can’t breathe and he can hold his breath for two whole minutes, and how he’s totally the best at everything and this is all about him, and him him him him him him him! There is literally no part of this footage that doesn’t make you want to slap him and slap him hard. It’s narcissistic, chauvinistic bullshit, an endless rambling rant about how little faith he has in his partner made all the worse by the honest fact that Diana has done every single task with absolutely no drama the whole Race long because she’s the kind of badass partner he should be down on his knees in gratitude for.
Basically, this is the point at which I became convinced that Justin and Diana were going to be eliminated solely because the Race seemed to be determined to make me happy with it when it happened.
Oh yeah, and in the least dramatic part, Chris and Logan get to the mat in first and Joey and Kelsey come in second. Apart from exiling them to Peru for a little while, it doesn’t matter much.
Krista’s Attempt #3 and Diana’s Attempt #1 commences, with Justin shouting what he thinks is encouragement. And which is, in the same way that Bobby Knight choking his players is encouragement. He mostly screams about what she’s doing wrong, with a few “Go baby go!”s in there for a change. Diana pretty much shuts him right the fuck out and finds her fish. Krista is once again left behind as the Ominous Searching Music stops. (It’s weird, by the way, having diagetic music in the show. Every time it cuts out, I find myself checking to see if I muted the TV by accident.)
Justin and Diana drive to the mat with Justin apologizing for being a jackass the whole day, which is certainly better than not apologizing. If I were him, though, I’d be groveling a little. Krista goes on her fourth attempt, with Tiffany cheering her on the whole way, but the music cuts out without a fish. Krista literally covers her head with a towel so the camera can’t see her crying as she admits she can’t do it a fifth time. You would have to be a Replicant not to feel for her.
And Tiffany does what a true friend and a true teammate would do. She tells Krista that she’s proud of her, that she knows Krista can keep going, that she’s not mad at Krista for putting them behind because she knows that Krista is trying her hardest, and that she’s sure that Krista will get it because she’s an amazing person who deserves to be here. And this, this right here, is what I mean by adversity revealing character. The Cheerleaders haven’t been the strongest Racers, but this scene shows that they’re two of the strongest people in the Race. They deserve to be proud of each other and of themselves. This is why the Race is like no other reality show–because it has moments like this.
Justin and Diana get to the mat, and are told that they arrived third…and then get the dreaded “HOWEVER” from Phil. They have a thirty minute time penalty for failing to read the clue, and a further twenty-five minute penalty to make up the time they gained by taking a closer ferry. The undisguised delight on the faces of all the other Racers present is a magnificent thing to behold. As is Phil’s comment, “Bet you didn’t see that coming,” which may or may not be said within earshot of the Green Team.
And now we get a countdown. Fifty-five minutes, the margin that Krista has to find her fish. Justin does the math, realizing that they need her to fail twice for them to have a chance at surviving their mistakes. Cut to Krista, on her fifth attempt…and she finds it! She gets changed, and she and Tiffany head to the Pit Stop!
Only to have their taxi driver drop them off at the wrong destination. FUCK. They manage to get a new taxi and get headed back in the right direction, but it’s the margin between victory and defeat. Possibly by only a few minutes, although it’s difficult to be sure because of Amazing Editing, but it was definitely close. Justin and Diana get checked in, and despite having everything in the world to be proud of, this leg is Tiffany and Krista’s last. They take it with astonishing grace and pride in their achievements.
And then there were three. The Green Team, the Paparazzi and the Reporters, only one of which I can unequivocally root for. And next week, in New York City, we’re going to find out which one of them wins the Amazing Race! See you then!