And we’re back! Last time, as Phil reminds us, everyone went through Armenia looking for the Express Pass, which went to Kurt and Brodie while Sheri and Cole avoided elimination only due to a conveniently timed double leg. We rejoin the action with them sprinting to catch up…which isn’t that hard, because everyone’s leaving on the same train for Georgia (the former Soviet Republic, not the home of Dragon*Con). I’m not entirely thrilled with a double leg that includes a huge bunch, but on the other hand we’re treated to Blair pretty much going straight to Kurt and Brodie’s compartment and hanging out there, possibly for the whole train ride. Could this romance, which started out like Romeo and Juliet, end in tragedy? Let’s find out!
Upon arriving in Georgia, everyone grabs taxis to Freedom Square to search for a statue of Saint George to get their next clue. The taxi scene in Georgia seems a little bit weak–Scott diagnoses his driver with impending death by COPD, while Cole tries to exhort his driver in Spanish. Because again, real life cartoon character. Everyone gets their clue, which takes them up a steep hill (one not all the taxis are able to make) to Narikala Fortress, where they get another clue that takes them down a gondola to start the Detour at Jvari Monastery. Because as with Armenia, this is the first time the Race has ever been here and they are going to show off the entire city house by fucking house if they have to.
After getting run around the city Dirty Harry-style for a while, Tyler and Korey are finally first to the Detour and get their choices, “Clean” and “String”. Clean involves cleaning out giant fermentation jugs used in wine making, which are buried underground and are about head height on most Racers. String involves threading hazelnuts onto…well, string…before dipping them into a sort of sweet wine-flavored goo to make a candy called churchkhela. Tyler and Korey choose String, as do second place team Kurt and Brodie. And if it seems boring that these two teams always seem to be in front, just wait for it, people.
Zach and Rachel, Burnie and Ashley, Dana and Matt, and Scott and Blair all choose String as well…which is significant, because only four teams can go at once. Meaning that someone’s about to be cooling their heels or changing tasks. Only Sheri and Cole decide to skip the traffic jam and go straight for jug cleaning.
Tyler/Korey and Kurt/Brodie get to the Detour and get to work. Pushing a hazelnut through a needle in early spring outdoors in Georgia turns out to be a little bit tricky, though, leading to this week’s alternate episode title, “I’m Just Afraid of Stabbing Myself.” (Delivered by Tyler, who seems a little along with Korey to be more snarky than sparkly this week. Killer Fatigue at work?) Brodie, the manly manly man, forces his needle through with ferocious grunts of effort, leading the sweet Georgian lady who does this for a living to giggle loudly and say, in handily subtitled Georgian, “My God, he’s doing it with such difficulty.” As always, watching the unmitigated mirth of the locals at the Racers’ inability to perform simple domestic tasks is a high point of the Race.
Zach and Rachel get to their station in third, and Burnie and Ashley arrive in fourth…which leaves Dana and Matt and Scott and Blair out in the cold. Both teams initially decide to leave (a decision rendered all the more permanent-seeming by a handy commercial break) but when Scott and Blair find out that the other option is a long taxi ride away, and that the dancers are on their way to it, they decide to wait for a station and use that time to watch the demo a little bit longer.
Meanwhile, Sheri and Cole begin mucking out the organic detritus left behind by wine fermentation, with Cole in the jug and Sheri carrying his grape bits. It’s boring, so we won’t see them much. The candy making, though, remains fascinatingly masochistic, with Zach delivering yet another pain-themed alternate title, “Babe, Don’t Poke Yourself, It Hurts Really Bad.” Tyler begins making both glaze and nut-based puns, while the B-roll cameraperson notices that there are adorable cats all over the place and kind of goes off on his own for a bit while everyone dips their nuts. (Yep, that’s the kind of humor Tyler can’t get enough of!)
Matt and Dana get fed up with their taxi driver and begin snapping at him in Tourist Georgian (which is basically English delivered loudly, slowly and condescendingly). They decide to turn around and go back. Everyone back at the candy station, though is finding out that the adorable Georgian woman is, like many judges on the Race, a total hardass when it comes to candy standards. Most people get only about one of their five strings of candy judged as good…
Except Zach and Rachel, who get out in first! They head to the Rustaveli Theater to get their next clue. Burnie and Ashley leave in second not long after. And Tyler and Korey leave in third…but not with a clue, they’re just giving up and changing tasks. This gives Blair and Scott some hope. It also gives Dana and Matt fits, as they get back to the candy station only to find another team telling them that they have abandoned the task in despair. They decide to make another try at finding the cleaning task, making an epic third drive back and forth between the two choices without ever actually doing any damn thing.
But that matters less than you might think, because as Zach and Rachel find out, the Roadblock is a choreography challenge! Zach takes it for his team, and you can watch him despair in real time as he watches the routine he’s expected to perform. It’s one of the Race’s nastier, faster, more precision-based dancing challenges, and it is going to be a big equalizer here.
Kurt and Brodie get done with their candy in third, and head out to the theater. Everyone else finally gets to the winery, which cheers Sheri and Cole right the fuck up because it’s the first time they’ve seen another team in ages and they see them right about the time they’re finishing up in fourth. Burnie and Ashley, meanwhile, give the Roadblock to Ashley, who seems pretty confident about it right up until she sees the damn thing. At which point she goes deer in the headlights in record time.
There’s more cleaning, but Scott and Blair are already out in fifth. The B-roll cameraman finds an adorable dog rolling on his back and forgets about the Race entirely for a few seconds, because let’s face it, in the head-to-head match up between “adorable dog” and “scrubbing out a vase”, we all know who wins. Dana and Matt get their clue in sixth while nobody’s paying attention, leaving Tyler and Korey at the back of the pack as we go to commercial.
And as they get back, they get the clue. Surprised? Back at the theater, Kurt takes the Roadblock in third (Kurt is now 5 of seven on Roadblocks, which could be trouble down the line), while Ashley fails her first attempt at the Roadblock. Luckily, since nobody else is ready yet, she gets a second try and gets it right this time. They get a clue leading them to the Bridge of Peace in Rike Park and the Pit Stop.
Scott and Blair, heading to the Roadblock, deliver the best alternate episode title yet: “We Celebrate Mediocrity Because It Turns Out Pretty Well For Us in the End, Usually.” How is this man not working for the Successories people? They have to stop for gas, which puts them pretty far behind.
Sheri takes the Roadblock in fourth as Zach and Kurt both fail. Dana takes the Roadblock in fifth, thrilled to finally get something that doesn’t irritate the living hell out of her for once. Korey takes the Roadblock in sixth. Everyone practices, with Zach out of breath just from the endless draining instruction. It’s clearly a very nasty challenge.
Burnie and Ashley are dropped off at Vake Park instead of Rike Park, which just plain sucks and gives Zach (who finishes the Roadblock in second) and Rachel a chance to catch up. Not far behind him is Kurt, who gets his clue in third. Meanwhile, Blair reads the clue and immediately suggests that this is something her elderly father would be better at. Which a) buh-wha? And b) gives us yet another chance to hear Supportive Blair squawk “DADEEE!”
Oh, and she gives us another great, if someone long, alternate episode title: “I Don’t Think He’s Ever Taken Any Sort of Dancing Classes, But I’ve Seen Him Dance at Weddings, and, Like, He Can Groove.” I have rooted harder for the elimination of a team, but not in this season.
Dana, unsurprisingly, crushes it in fourth. By then, Zach and Rachel have already checked in to the mat in first, to their total astonishment, and won a tropical vacation. I wouldn’t mind seeing them in the Final Three, to be honest; they’re nice, if a bit quiet. Rooster Teeth take second, with Brodie and Kurt fast behind in third and Dana and Matt not long after in fourth. She’s a completely different person when she talks about dancing, honestly; all the frustration melts away and she’s downright bubbly. You can see how she’s a social media star doing this.
Korey is clearly frustrated, both by fatigue and the difficulties of the day. Sheri goes out and nails it, because she is awesome! Seriously, she deserves to have a good leg after last week, dangit. She and Cole get to the Pit Stop in fifth with no real challenges. That just leaves Korey and Scott, neither of whom are setting it on fire. Scott finally gets it on his sixth attempt, and Blair grabs his bag along with her own in anticipation of their need to sprint for it to beat Team Squee.
Unfortunately, despite Blair saying, “I got your bag, Daddy,” Scott goes and grabs what he thinks is his bag as Korey is dancing through his successful eighth try. Which means that they have to take it back to avoid a time penalty for interference, which means that they have no lead at all coming out of the Roadblock, so it’s down to taxi luck and a footrace. And Scott and Blair are not going to win that. They come in last and are eliminated, by mere seconds, which both teams take with good grace. (I’ll also take a moment to point out the good grace with which Scott apologizes for grabbing Tyler’s bag, and with which Tyler accepts Scott’s apology despite the frustration he must have felt at that moment.)
And next time, we get camel racing and the trapdoor from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ and apparently Sheri and Cole wander into the desert never to return. See you then!