And we’re back! Phil helpfully reminds us that last week’s episode was mostly about the Double-U-Turn, plus a heaping helping of fetch-and-carry, and that it resulted in the final exit of the Frisbee Boys. We’re down to the Final Four now, and the nice times are over. Right?
Everyone now leaves Bali to go to Shenzhen, China, which Phil helpfully talks up as a miracle of modern progress and futuristic wonder. (Presumably, any ethnically Tibetan contestants would be replaced at this point by Tilda Swinton.) Tyler and Korey do a quick post-mortem on their decision to use the U-Turn to wipe out Brodie and Kurt, which they don’t regret, and chat briefly at the travel agency about its use with Burnie and Ashley, who don’t regret it either. Leading Tyler and Korey to jokingly suggest that it’s Team Rooster who’s the real monsters, here.
All teams get the same flight, and the clue is right there in the airport. Team Squee and the Dancers find the clue, which leads them to a theme park filled with miniature versions of the world’s great landmarks called “Window on the World”, and promptly hide it and pretend they haven’t found it. They go to change their currency and find Sheri and Cole, who decided to swap money first, and continue pretending they haven’t found it right up until Burnie shows up and says, “Oh, sure, it’s right up there and there’s only one clue left!” Awkward beyond belief, but at this stage there’s no real percentage in sharing information.
The four teams wind up on two separate buses and two separate trains heading to the theme park, and Team Squee takes the opportunity to cement a transitory and mutually beneficial alliance to bang out the Roadblock (taken by Tyler and Dana respectively, and taking the form of a combination trivia quiz and scavenger hunt) and hopefully leave the other two teams in the dust. Burnie gets to the Roadblock next and finds out that once again, nobody’s working with him and they’re giving him false information, which he doesn’t take totally well. He has a few mini-verbal meltdowns, calling the other two “stupid” and “a couple of jackasses”, and saying he’ll beat them anyway.
I don’t entirely blame him for this–it has to be frustrating, knowing that two of the other four teams are openly and actively jockeying to put you into the race for not-last, especially when you see yourself as a talented player. But on the other hand, someone who is a talented player would have spent more time playing the social game–at this point in the Race, if you can’t convince two other teams that Tyler and Korey are a bigger threat than you are after four first-place finishes, you’re doing something wrong. And I also don’t feel like Korey has anything to apologize for by lying. Burnie is blatantly fishing for information at a stage in the Race where he has no right to expect it. It’s rough, but it’s significantly less rough than some other Racers have been (anyone remember “It starts with an ‘F'”?) and Burnie knows it. On the other hand, most of his grumbles are delivered to himself, in what’s probably an attempt to psych himself up for a tough challenge. So I’ll give him a pass.
Sheri, meanwhile, takes the Roadblock in last and is immediately feeling the time crunch. Nonetheless, she begins looking for her monuments. There’s a nice little “searching montage” that follows, as everyone runs around looking for the Coliseum, Notre Dame, the Vatican, the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, and a Singaporean Merlion which is probably the one that would have thrown me hardest. Dana and Tyler finish first, and Tyler admits while they’re having their stamps checked that he needs to go to the bathroom pretty badly. Which leads to Alternate Episode Title #1: “Just Pee Your Pants”. (We don’t know for sure if he takes her advice or not, but there’s no damp patch in later scenes.) They get one wrong, though, and have to keep searching. (Together–presumably there’s something in the rules that prevents them from splitting up and grabbing stamps for each other.)
Burnie finishes up and gets all his right, putting them out into the lead and getting a clue that sends him to Lychee Park. But Dana and Tyler are right behind, and the gap isn’t long enough to prevent them from catching up with the Roosters at the train station. (Where Burnie gives Alternate Episode Title #2: “I Just Ran Around the World Eight Times.”) So now it’s three teams in a dead heat for first…and poor, poor Sheri and Cole in the back. Again.
Sheri finally gets help from some English-speaking visitors to the theme park, though, and is on her way. But the others are already at the Detour, which is “Commuter Cycle” or “Master of Arts”. Commuter Cycle is an awesome, but self-evidently terrifying challenge where teams must learn how to ride a motorized unicycle to the satisfaction of the tutor and then run an obstacle course of pedestrians and cars. Master of Arts involves picking up some canvases, taking them to a gallery, and hanging them in the correct pattern and spacing. Team Squee and the Dancers take Master of Arts, while Rooster Teeth decide to take the cycle.
On the one hand, the gallery task isn’t easy. The paintings have to be meticulously spaced, and arranged perfectly with just the right amount of gap (the width of the spirit level). On the other hand, the motorized unicycles are insanely difficult to ride and intimidating to learn (and the many many people in the square performing mad unicycling stunts do not help). Burnie and Ashley decide that there’s no way they can learn fast enough, and head back to hang paintings.
Korey is visibly frustrated, or at least as frustrated as anyone on Team Squee ever gets, but Tyler helps keep his dry sarcasm under control with some positive spirit even as they get their first thumbs down from the judge. Matt and Dana get the same, and either they take it well or their meltdown isn’t interesting. Sheri and Cole, meanwhile, decide to hit the unicycles, and their cheery optimism that they can knock it out in one try is just heartbreaking, especially because they don’t get there until after Burnie and Ashley have ditched and so they don’t see anyone fail first-hand.
Surprisingly (well, surprisingly to Cole at least) Sheri seems to get the hang of it best, but neither of them is managing much more than a straight line for a short distance before falling off. Meanwhile, Tyler and Korey realize they’re off by a smidgen–no, they literally say that. Tyler then explains the technical definition of “smidgen” (“a teeny, tiny little bit”) while Korey adjusts the painting slightly and delivers Alternate Episode Title #3: “Ta-Da! A Smidgen Is Born”. They get it right this time, and are sent off to the Pit Stop, the Shenzhen Library Terrace, where Phil tells us that “the last team to arrive WILL be eliminated.” So nope, no four-team finale this time out.
Dana and Matt get it right as well, and get out in second. Burnie and Ashley seem to be having a little bit of trouble finding the gallery, but Sheri and Cole can’t even ride in a straight line for more than about ten feet. They briefly discuss switching, but Cole points out the brutal-but-correct logic that switching tasks would only put them on the exact same track as all the other teams, only starting much later than them. They grimly persist at the crazy motorized unicycling, crashing several more times.
Burnie and Ashley finally find their gallery, and are so excited that they pretty much just start hanging random sections of canvas on the wall. It takes them a few minutes to realize that they’ve got a pattern on it. On the other hand, it’s now raining, which is making the unicycling grounds slick. (And this is one of the wonderful things about the Race–you never imagine you’re going to type the words “unicycling grounds” until you do it.) Team Squee, meanwhile, spends a good amount of time looking for Phil on the vast grounds of the Library Terrace, but still comes in first and is informed that they will be one of the three teams racing for a million bucks. Dana and Matt find it in second (thanks to Dana’s timely “I TOLD you this is where the library was!” in a voice somewhat similar to Mercedes McCambridge in ‘The Exorcist’).
Burnie and Ashley get their clue in third, just as Sheri and Cole begin their run at the actual obstacle course. Luckily, they don’t have to stay up the entire time; they just need to stay close to each other. This is good, because at one point Sheri falls off her unicycle and it goes a good fifteen feet on its own while she desperately chases it. The result is definitely not pretty, but they make it to the end and are given a combination to the briefcase they had to carry through the course, which contains the clue to the Pit Stop.
A montage of taxi riding follows, and Amazing Editing makes it look like it’s going to be significant that Burnie and Ashley get stuck in traffic, but we all know what’s going to happen. Both teams are searching for the Pit Stop, but they’re not at all in the same shot, so it’s clear that
HOLY LIVING FUCK SHERI AND COLE FOUND THE PIT STOP!
Seriously, this was one case where my familiarity with the Race actually made it harder for me to predict the outcome. The way the taxi sequence at the end was edited was identical to dozens of attempts to make a foregone conclusion look tense, and the fact that Burnie and Ashley left the Detour first and Sheri and Cole struggled so obviously made it seem like there was no way they could possibly catch up. So when they did, it was a jaw-dropper. Burnie and Ashley are eliminated, and although they’re not truly thrilled, the first thing Burnie says on seeing the three assembled teams is, “I love you,” to Ashley. He has nothing to feel bad about.
And next time, in the season finale, we get bungie jumping, rock climbing, and at least one jump off a building. See you then!