How are we on the ninth leg already? It feels like it was just yesterday when I was complaining about Team-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and mocking the random alliances. In spirit of the close competition, the Checking in with the Teams segment is no longer necessary.
The final five must make their way to Dresden, Germany, to visit the Ministry of ... well, apologies. I stopped paying attention after that because I thought about Harry Potter.
Anyway, early in the episode, we get some intimate talking head moments with Bates and Anthony and Caroline and Jennifer about their special alliance. The Country Singers want to go to the final four with their race boyfriends, but are worried about the alliance and the race. The foresight these producers hold is astounding. But hold up! The Roller Derby Moms -- I have no idea who is who -- have some talking head moments! I don't what about, but they talk. I'm calling it early -- these folks will be eliminated.
Because of the departure time, everyone takes the same train. As everyone sleeps, Bates awakes to find his bag stolen. But luckily, he has his passport in his fanny pack. I'm sure he'll never mock them again, but I'll do enough mocking for the both of us. Poor Bates, the funniest contestant this season. (Joey is great too, but is known to grate.)
After arriving, the teams get a clue to use features in the brand new Ford Fusion. Product placement alert! (It's sort of hilarious to me that there is a challenge featuring American cars in a country renowned for their beautiful cars.) And then the teams use the Ford Fusion panel to answer questions about ... the Cold War. Ultimate burn!
Funnily, Max and Katie get the first question really wrong. The answer was President Reagan. Max should just hand in his Republican voting card now and promise never to impersonate his idol, Rush Limbaugh, again as his penance. Joey and Meghan look flabbergasted at this US history, probably because the YouTubers are Millennials. I confess to being a little younger than these two and I know all of the answers.
After using such blatant product placement, teams must travel to the Brandenburg Gate -- where Reagan gave his famous speech -- for the next clue.
The Hockey Players and the Country Singers travel together to find the Brandenburg Gate. But together the girls lose the boys on the way to the Brandenburg race. The girls are a little peeved at how easily the guys move on. I suppose they are just learning that some boyfriends don't always let their pretty girlfriends win -- especially your Amazing Race boyfriends.
What's With All the Falling This Season?
"If we can make it through the race and not kill each other, we can make it through pretty much anything," says one of the Newlyweds. My dad, married for nearly 30 years, actually snorted at that.
Teams travel to the Park Inn Hotel, a really pretty building, to base dive off the side of it. My mind, of course, goes straight to Mission: Impossible, but alas, it's just another form of bungee jumping/skydiving hysterics the producers want to make the contestants do this season. When Meghan screams loudly, Joey's face is absolutely priceless.
After base diving, which everybody does (even an injured Dave and Connor -- I kid), teams must choose a challenge in one of Berlin's many museums, aka Roadblock. Train Trials: travel to this cool train museum and set up train tracks for a complete circuit. Or Font Follies: choose a giant, flashing letter to carry through the streets and to its museum (in a mall) without breaking the letter.
I'm not sure which I would have done. Carrying these giant letters in the middle of Berlin is physical and embarrassing, while the train task involves patience, of which I have none. Nearly everyone chooses to carry the letters. As the only alliance stops to ask for directions, Bates' letter falls and breaks. Thus the challenge requires Bates and Anthony to go back and grab a new letter or switch challenges. The girls feel conflicted, but are strong enough to carry on without them -- literally and figuratively.
Meanwhile, Joey and Meghan trade in their Millennial gadgets for the train tracks. Seven attempts later, they finish. Bates and Anthony, nine attempts later, move to the next leg.
Berlin's Hippest, Highest Salon
After completing the Roadblock, teams must travel to a Berlin Salon, the remnants of the trippy end of the Communist Era. A direct quote from our host Phil Keoghan: "Berlin is arguably the hippest city in the world and boasts an extreme array of nightlife." Who wrote this? No one hip. I swear, these producers are going to kill me.
At the door, contestants must tell the doorman which person famously said, "I am a jelly doughnut." (It was JFK, and in case you were wondering, more Germans knew that than our North American contestants.) After guessing correctly, they can enter the labyrinth. There is some serious David Lynch stuff going on in there.
After finishing the fun house of horror, teams travel to 5th Avenue of Berlin, where the last team to arrive may be eliminated. A side note: I really get a bad feeling every time Phil says "may be eliminated" because then that means I may have wasted my time.
Speaking of time, we see the Roller Derby Moms again, after disappearing for not only most of this episode but most of the season. That must mean they have only become relevant now that they are lost in Germany. In a giant circle, literally.
Elsewhere, Max and Katie arrive first and win Ford Fusions. (Surprise!) Joey and Meghan arrive in second, after barely escaping defeat last week. Caroline and Jennifer arrive in third, proud of themselves for being in the top three, but also unaware that they are really smack in the middle of the pack.
Anthony and one of the Roller Derby Moms find the maze and complete it together. And it really becomes neck and neck here. The Hockey Players play it smart, honestly. All they have to do is follow the Roller Derby Moms and outrun them. Though both are athletes, the Hockey Players are professional athletes.
Their plan works. They outrun the girls and beat them by a few seconds, maybe. But alas, no one is getting eliminated. Yes, that suspicious "may be eliminated" gag from earlier pays off tonight as this is another non-elimination leg. Every time there's a non-elimination leg, I almost cry. Seriously, why are the Roller Derby Moms sticking around another week? I don't even know which one is Mona and which one is Beth.
At least this episode was engaging. Although, as I've mentioned before, this season seems to have a particular emphasis on physical challenges. The maze in the salon only required getting through it. Base diving is literally falling with a harness, and after sky diving how scared can you be? The train tracks took patience, the letter took muscle. Where's the memory? I really hope the finale is one giant mental task.
So what did you think of tonight's episode? Would you base dive, sky dive or bungee jump? None of the above? Do you hate non-elimination legs or are you just as defeated with them as I am? Should there be more mental challenges? And who do you want to see in the finals?
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(Image courtesy of CBS)