Da Da Da, 'The Amazing Race' Goes to Russia
Da Da Da, 'The Amazing Race' Goes to Russia
Last week was fun and exciting (and perplexing for Nick and Vicki) but I agree with what one of you said in the comments, it wasn't very fair. Katie and Rachel weren't given much of a chance to catch up, with their late start and only two of the teams switching their order. Regardless, here we are in Narvik, Norway, en route to St. Petersburg, Russia. Have you heard, there's a rumor in St. Petersburg! (Yes, the movie Anastasia provides pretty much all of my bastardized knowledge of St. Petersburg). 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
To tie things up, it looks like everyone will be on the same train to Stockholm, where they will have an opportunity to bond and enjoy each others' company. In Stockholm, it's time for cab drivers to determine the order for the race; and Chad and Stephanie are already in an argument because they couldn't get a taxi. When are you going to pop the question, Chad? Not now? The flight to St. Petersburg evens everything out yet again, so Chad didn't need to get so angry.

Okay, did anyone else catch the Amazing Race version of the Anastasia song about St. Petersburg?! I'm not such an idiot. Welcome to Russia, teams! Michael tells Kevin that this city is full of history and culture but Kevin doesn't care. Get your head in the game, Michael! It's time for the first Detour: Classical Music or Classic Cinema. 

Fine Arts Frustration
For Classical Music, teams will go to a palace, find a guy with three gramophones and listen to three compositions, then match those to someone playing them live on three of many pianos. How delightful, a room full of pianos!
AR pianoroom.png
For Classic Cinema, teams will go to a soundstage and find a strip of film that matches the movie playing on the screen. I would do Classical Music, Classic Cinema seems really hard. The teams are pretty evenly split on this, so it should make for an interesting Detour. The teams who chose Classic Cinema weren't prepared for how many strips of film there would be. Brook and Claire are lost (their cab driver is lost) on their way to Lenfilm studios.

Chad and Stephanie are the first to the room(s) full of pianos, followed by Nat and Kat, Gary and Mallory, and Nick and Vicki. Brook and Claire are still stuck with a clueless cabbie. That room full of pianos would make my brain ache, but so would all that film strip. Jill and Thomas are the first to match up a strip of film and they leave as Brook and Claire arrive. 

Vicki describes all the pianos playing at the same time as "like a bad dream," and we'll all have to see if we have nightmares tonight. Mallory described it like this:
AR PianoNightmare.jpg
Nat and Kat say it only got more frustrating and confusing as time went on. What a rough detour! Brook and Claire find a matching strip next, followed shortly by Michael and Kevin. I was wrong about Classical Music being easier, it seems.

Gary and Mallory choose to switch Detours, as do Nat and Kat and Nick and Vicki. They choose to leave and make it look like they got it right to freak Chad and Stephanie out. Jill and Thomas, Brook and Claire, and Michael and Kevin are on their way to "the Neighborhood Store," for their next clue. As the other teams arrive at the film detour, Chad and Stephanie are at each others' throats. 

You Go, Babushka!
At the Neighborhood Store, teams will face a Roadblock where they must become Babushkas and plant 50 potatoes and fertilize them with cow manure. Guess who loves this challenge: Brook! And I like watching her, especially because she didn't know the challenge would involve poo. Kevin decides to take this Roadblock, because he handles everything for their team. 

In the piano palace, Chad deduces that they are "done." He doesn't want to stay but he doesn't want to leave--not exactly his finest problem solving. Stephanie decides they shouldn't quit and with new resolve, they descend slowly back into their own personal hell. Finally, because of Stephanie, they get it and Chad learns to trust Stephanie. They're in love again!

As Nat and Kat find the correct film strip, Jill and Thomas finally find the Neighborhood Store, and Kevin receives encouragement from his new Babushka girlfriend. Gary and Mallory finally find a good strip of film, leaving Nick and Vicki, who decide to go back to the pianos. Wow, this could finally be the end of them.

Jill will take on the Roadblock, because Thomas went to Notre Dame and there's no way he's going to besmirch his alma mater by wearing a dress or doing manual labor. Kevin finishes first and receives his clue to head to St. Isaac's Cathedral for the Pit Stop. Brook finishes second as Jill impresses the Babushkas ("these skinny girls can do everything"). Thomas is very proud of Jill for once as they rush toward St. Isaac's. Brook and Claire, with the same useless cab driver from before, have to stop as he gets gas. Damn it, stripey shirt cab driver!

Nick and Vicki return to the pianos and decide to focus on one song at a time, which is a good strategy and would have been an even better initial strategy. Nick admirably learned his lesson in Ghana and promised he would never blow up like that again. The calmly complete the challenge and I'm genuinely happy for them.

Last One to the Cathedral's a Rotten Potato
Jill and Thomas hustle to check in first and win a trip to Sao Paulo. Brook and Claire sprint to check in second, and Michael and Kevin check in third. Meanwhile, Mallory and Stephanie have trouble finding the wheelbarrows as Nat plants and fertilizes potatoes with a series of "da"s. At least Mallory made some new friends. In a totally evil move, Stephanie tosses the shovel way into the manure pile and she only feels a little bad about it. Fortunately for all us Gary and Mallory fans, Stephanie isn't very good at planting potatoes and Nick and Vicki are still behind. On their way to St. Isaac's behind Chad and Stephanie, Mallory offers that she would chew all her nails off with the cow poop under them just to not get eliminated.

Nick and Vicki, again, mis-understand the clue and a confused Nick puts on his Babushka outfit. Planting potatoes, Nick says, "if I put the girl's dress on I might as well keep going." After all this time, I've actually started to really like Nick and Vicki. As the sun sets over the cathedral, Nick and Vicki check in to the Pit Stop. They accept the fact that they're going home but then Phil tells them it's a non-elimination round! Nick and Vicki will stay for at least one more leg of the race! So no one is going home!

Which Detour would you choose? Are you glad it was a non-elimination round? What was your favorite part?

(image courtesy of CBS)