And we’re back! Phil helpfully reminds us about the events of a couple of weeks ago, where Erin and Joslyn failed to sprint through knee-deep snow fast enough to literally take flight. Oh, and Tyler and Korey took first again as part of their “First Place Exchange Program” with Brodie and Kurt. On to the Race!
We start off back in the Alps, with a flashback to Phil reprising his Jewish grandmother routine from TAR 26 and asking about Brodie’s apparent relationship with Blair. Brodie explains that while Blair is a sweet girl, they don’t have a relationship; it’s just been two people hanging out during the Eat/Sleep/Mingle periods that they don’t bother showing us anymore. The Amazing Editors, cackling madly, do a split-screen to some of that previously unshown footage, which basically shows Blair using Brodie like a human pillow for much of their downtime. Brodie, not knowing that the Race is exposing his deceit for all the world to see, explains that he has no time for romance–he’s got a Race to win! (It is clear from the look on Kurt’s face that even his own partner doesn’t buy it.)
All teams now head to Armenia, where the next clue awaits them at the Yerevan Opera Theater. (Because they’re heading specifically to Yerevan, Armenia, which is not so much mentioned.) We get a quick check-in with the teams, where Tyler and Korey mention how very very well they’ve been doing, Scott mentions how Blair is totally his equal and he’s proud of her, and Sheri and Cole mention how they’re very sure they’re going to come in first this time out. Given how this leg turns out, I think that the production team is trying to tell us something about Scott and Blair.
The teams get their clue, which mentions an Express Pass for the winner that has to be used in the next three legs, which leads them to the box office. Which is closed until 8 AM. So a flight bunch and an hours of operation bunch pretty much means everyone is on a very very very equal footing. The teams collect their clue and go in to search the theater for their next clue while the Sabre Dance plays over…and over…and over…and over…
Having seen the Race, everyone assumes that the clue is hidden under the seats like a needle in a haystack. Because it usually is. But as always, the Race loves to dick with people, so the clues are actually in the pocket of a janitor vacuuming the theater and waiting with infinite patience for people to finally notice him. Kurt and Brodie do, and pick up their clue without everyone else noticing despite the fact that Kurt is shouting, “Brodie! Brodie! Brodie!” and waving him over to the spot with the janitor, then picking up the clue in clear view of what looks to be about five other teams. This makes me feel less bad about what follows.
Kurt and Brodie are then directed to run up a flight of 500 steps called the Yerevan Cascade, because apparently the Armenian Tourism Board wants to get every dime of their money’s worth out of this episode. (Also, according to a later team, the clue calls it the “Hashtag Cascade”, which makes it sound like some sort of amazing stellar formation named by social media pioneers in the 23rd century.) Burnie and Ashley and Team Bravo spot the clue handoff, and also partake of clues from the janitor, but the remaining four teams remain oblivious.
Dana and Matt then find the clue, and manage to do so without screaming and shouting and pointing. They just slip out the back and get to the Cascade not far behind everyone else, heading up just as Sheri heads down with Alternate Episode Title of the Week, “Lotta bouncing on the boobs.” They’re given the Detour choices, “Thread” and “Bread”. Thread involves stitching a row on an Armenian carpet, while Bread involves making an Armenian flatbread called lavash. Brodie and Kurt choose Bread, while Sheri and Cole choose Thread.
The remaining three teams are starting to flail. Blair, in particular, manages to mangle her metaphors by shouting, “This is just like Willy Wonka looking for the golden ticket!” But eventually they all piece it together, and leave in Magic/Squee/DADDEEEE! order, after a short commercial break to heighten the sense of false desperation. By then, Burnie and Ashley are already following Brodie and Kurt to the Bread and the dancers are already following Sheri and Cole to the Thread.
The bread making process involves rolling out the dough super flat, then using a paddle to slap it onto the side of an open fire pit. Where, apparently, it comes loose and falls into the fire, burning to uselessness. (Not that I would have done much better, I’m sure.) The teams need to make fifteen pieces to the satisfaction of the judges, and it turns out the judges are pretty picky old coots. Meanwhile, the final three teams head for Thread, with taxi jockeying playing a small part in order changes but not much.
Kurt and Brodie enthusiastically dance their way over to the judge to turn in their fifteen lavash…and less enthusiastically head back having only gotten six of them approved. Rooster Teeth get eight, which is better, but still sends them back to the fire pits. (Not the fire pits of Apokalips. Just the regular kind.) Meanwhile, everyone is weaving. to the EXTREEEME!
Kurt and Brodie get their fifteen lavash, and head out with their clue to a collection of buses in Republic Square. The buses take them up to Mount Ararat, because again, the Armenian Tourism Board it tough in negotiation. There, they will be handling the Roadblock, although everyone acts like they’re not expecting there to be one, which is super confusing. Sheri and Cole finish their weaving and head out to the buses in second, and Burnie and Ashley take care of their bread in third. It doesn’t seem like either Detour choice really makes a difference this time, which is a bit surprising.
The Magic Couple finish in fourth, and head to the buses, and the remaining teams finish close enough to each other that there’s something of a taxi scrum. It’s resolved with the dancers heading to the buses in fifth, Daaaadeee in sixth, and Squee sitting in last and lamenting their earlier mentions to the camera of how great they’ve been doing. This is about the order they hit the Roadblock in, as well…
The Roadblock involves changing the oil on a fleet of ancient Soviet-era Lada automobiles. and only two vehicles can go up on the blocks at a time. Kurt and Sheri get to the Roadblock first, as per bus order, but Sheri has problems because apparently the Soviets thought “lefty loosey righty tighty” was a corrupt tool of the bourgeoisie. She’s stuck yanking as hard as she can trying to get the oil filter off and convinced that her failure is because she’s not strong enough. This allows Kurt to slip by her. And this is the leg where people finally figure out that there is a limit to how much cooperation is intelligent in an elimination-based competition.
Kurt and Brodie head to the Pit Stop, the Temple of Garni high on Mount Ararat, and get their Express Pass. (Or as Phil puts it, “the ALL-POWERFUL Express Pass!” Don’t encourage them, Phil.) Burnie takes the Roadblock for his team, and Zach takes the Roadblock for his team but has to wait for a spot to open up for his Lada. Matt takes the Roadblock for his team, Scott takes it for his team (because apparently Blair has previously had problems taking off the gas cap on her car…maybe ‘Big Brother’ was more her speed?), and Tyler is stuck in last.
But Sheri still is pulling the wrong direction. Burnie finishes, Zach finishes, and Tyler decides to help Matt on the grounds that anything that gets him onto the blocks quicker has to be a good thing. Sure enough, Sheri is still tugging away when Scott gets to hear, “I LOVE YOU DAAADEEE! YOU’RE SUCH A MECHANIC MAN!” I’ve never wanted an encouraging teammate less in my life.
Sheri breaks down and cries, in what is a) the most heartrending thing ever, and b) convinced me that this had to be a non-elimination leg because the Race only shows someone breaking down and sobbing when they can then show them sucking it up, working hard, and escaping elimination through the Power of Believing in Themselves. Not to spoil or anything. Cole tries to comfort his mom, but he’s so clearly out of his depth that you almost feel bad for him too–he’s never had to get his mom through a breakdown, and he doesn’t even know what to say. It’s a tough thing to watch.
Scott takes pity on Sheri, because who wouldn’t, and he shows her what she’s doing wrong just before he leaves. Which means that it’s now a real race to avoid last, with Tyler trying to play catch-up and Sheri trying desperately to hold onto her tiny fraction of a slim lead. It is to no avail, though, and Sheri leaves mere seconds behind Tyler. And they’re seconds that make all the difference.
Only they don’t, because Phil breaks the good news to Sheri and Cole that not only is this a non-elimination leg, but they’re still racing! It’s about here that you notice that they cut away from all the other teams very quickly in order to preserve this surprise moment, which was done pretty well, I gotta say.
And next time, we head to Georgia (not America’s Georgia, the country) and people stab their fingers and get exhausted by brutal dancing. See you then!