We're at the height of the holy Amazing Race
empire, and not even Phil Keoghan can give a life-saving thumbs up to last-placing teams. Nearly everyone is neck and neck, and those who are showing signs of weaknesses have been getting their race throats slit by the dagger of stronger teams. Julius Casear ain't got nothing on the nefarious nature of these teams.
Just as Rome eventually ditched democracy for some hard-driving autocracy, some teams needed to be left behind. It was sad, but necessary, that the perennial nice team John and Jessica got buried underneath the boots of tougher battling teams. The great gladiators are long gone, but their spirit lives on in warriors named courageous Cowboys, admirable Afghanimals and brutal Brenchel.
"It's Like the Stock Market and Our Stock is Going Up"
Leo and Jamal kick off the seventh leg with instructions to fly to the "Eternal City." All the teams eventually figure out that this is a nickname for Rome, with only Brenchel confusing it for Ethiopia, Africa. But unlike the state of Ethiopia's desperate economic and cultural situation, all of the teams achieve race equality by getting onto the same flight out of town.
But as the plane lands, the Globetrotters, Cowboys and Dave and Connor are near the back of the aircraft, stuck in line while their competitors get a huge lead ahead. Maybe they should just pack carry-ons in the future.
Teams are instructed to head to the Roman Coliseum for their next Detour: Gladiator or Chariot. Both challenges are pretty much what'd you expect, with Gladiator requiring teams to put on a battle show for their aging empire audience, and Chariot being a difficult, miniature remote-controlled car race. Jessica and John arrive first and do Gladiator, but are quickly booed for poor performance. Brenchel decide to to go Ben-Hur style with the racing but quickly see their chariots don't have the fire to avoid crashing and burning.
Jessica and John, through multiple grunts and groans, finally channel their inner Russell Crowe and complete the challenge for a valuable first place. But nearly all of the teams except for the singers now are racing their little toy cars while wearing hilarious Roman-era clothing. Big Easy is dressed the silliest, looking like a gigantic athlete who was cast as the Scarecrow in the Roman version of The Wizard of Oz.
The Aghanimals become too frustrated by the cars and head to the Gladiator challenge, probably the single most enjoyable activity they've done on this race so far. Yet the duo can't channel their inner Spartacus and quickly fall behind all the other teams. Simultaneously, the singers have to face their Speed Bump challenge for placing last in the previous leg. It's pretty easy, with them just having to place a typewriter in front of the Pantheon building, and then they can indent themselves back into this race republic of action.
But the charioteers finally gain command over their insolvent horses with Brenchel, the cowboys, Dave and Connor, the Globetrotters and miraculously the singers finishing the challenge in order. The Afghanimals are officially dead last, but the mighty warriors finally finish the brutal challenge and swear their race revenge in this leg or the next.
Watch Your Step
Jessica and John have a huge lead over the other teams, and tell their taxi driver to take them to the Piazza de Spagna, or the Spanish steps. These steps are famous for being featured in the Hollywood classic Roman Holiday, featuring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Even though those stars had quite the chemistry on screen, our teams can't seem to get through this challenge without mathematically mixing up.
Whilst driving through the city, John and Jessica finally arrive at a strange apartment complex instead of the steps. The travel instructions were misread by the driver, specifically the part about "Via John Keats." And as they ditch their language-barrier-ed travel companion, John and Jessica suffer a poetically huge setback at the hand of John Keats' poorly-versed directions.
Brenchel do get to the steps first, with Brendon being very meticulous in his counting. Dave and Connor arrive next, but Rachel snidely refuses to tell them where the cluebox is. She feels so proud over "screwing" the other team, even though she's just deflated their chariot's wheel instead of completely destroying it. But in that slight act of misdirection, Brenchel made an unnecessary foe in the malicious Mormon warriors named Dave and Connor.
The singers show up third as Brenchel is finishing. The singers and Dave and Connor reminisce over their successful blonde-haired blue-eyed teamwork in the past, and they decide to duet with the father/son team to the finish line. Jet and Cord show up and quickly rope themselves to the finish line, coming in fourth with Brenchel in first, the singers in second and Dave and Connor in third.
The Globetrotters can't seem to get their race stats right with this numerically imposing staircase. The directions fly over Flight Time's head, with him counting only the number of steps, instead of adding that number to the year it was founded. And in that unfortunate foul move, the Afghanimals show up to the free throw line and utilize the nearby crowd to get a swish through the opposing steps' net. Jessica and John finally arrive, desperate and frustrated, and they battle alongside the Globetrotters to obtain the wisdom of the Afghanimals' mathematical philosophies.
But John forgets to grab the necessary postcard to write his answer down on, allowing the Globetrotters get a small but significant lead ahead. John runs downcourt to the bottom of the staircase, and Jessica encouragingly yells for her partner to sprint toward the finish. Even though they're only 30-40 meters behind the ball players, Jessica and John can't rebound ahead and come in last.
As Phil tries to aid the losing team with words of encouragement, Jessica is in disbelief, her eyes a delicate mix of sorrow, frustration and burning anger. If it weren't for that cruel cab driver who clearly has no concept of popular Roman tourist destinations, Jessica and John would have easily survived this race's battle. But for dropping their team shield against those villainous foes named traffic and misdirection, the race gods give John and Jessica a heartbreaking thumbs down.
The Amazing Race: All-Stars
airs Sundays at 8pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)