A few things were obvious from last week’s The Amazing Race. One, Meghan and Cheyne will forever be first. Two, Brian and Ericka will forever be lucky. Three, the other two teams–Sam and Dan, and Flight Time and Big Easy–will forever be in each others nerves. It goes without saying that not much has changed, only it’s much more critical this time. After all, we’re in the second to the last leg, and on our way to the final three. Something’s gotta give.

The teams will still be racing in Prague, in the Czech Republic. Meghan and Cheyne start first, and are headed to the Spanish Synagogue, the oldest Jewish house of prayer in that neck of the woods. They’re pretty confident they’ll win the race, and as Cheyne puts it, the numbers never lie: they’ve been in first place more than anybody else. It’s another clue box when they get there: they now have to head to the Ekotechnicke Museum.

Over there is a Roadblock, one inspired by the works of Franz Kafka. There’s this room with hundreds of ringing telephones, but only five of them have someone on the other end. Each correct phone will supply one of five letters. Once they complete the five, they have to head to the supervisor’s office and figure out what word those letters form: that word is “Franz”.

Meghan breezed through the first part of the challenge, but the hard part’s in figuring it out. There’s this form with all these questions that don’t really make sense, designed to throw them off. She fails on her first try, and the supervisor stamps the entire form with three huge red X’s. She gets it anyway. They have to head to the Kryocentrum next.

Sam and Dan were the second to leave, closely followed by Flight Time and Big Easy. How ironic, these two will never leave each others’ backs. There was some foreshadowing–yeah, there goes that term again, and this time it involves the brothers not caring if they’re tagged as the villains after last week’s taxi situation–and that came in handy when, by some twist of fate, Dan and Big Easy ended up solving the puzzle together. There’s this uneasy alliance, the two helping each other out to figure that word. They both get it wrong a few times, both not sure if it’s a Czech or English word, and then Dan gets it right. And, as expected, no, he wouldn’t help Big Easy. That freaking, freaking…

…well, to his credit, he did help. “It starts with an F,” he goes, “that’s all I’m saying.” Big Time’s frustrated because he kept his side of the bargain, but the orange brother cannot be swayed. Worse for him, Brian and Ericka caught up pretty quickly–their Speed Bump, which they did at a bar near the Spanish Synagogue, merely had them drink a shot of absinthe, or what Ericka described as “the worst drink I ever had”–and Brian breezed through the Roadblock. Big Time had no choice but to give up the Roadblock and take a four-hour penalty.

That makes the results of this leg pretty obvious, doesn’t it?

While the Globetrotters keep optimistic that one of the other three teams fail, the race continues. Meghan and Cheyne arrive at the Kryocentrum first, which is apparently this heath center which harnesses the healing powers of the cold. Teams have to go inside a cryo-chamber, wearing only the bare essentials, plus gloves, socks and what Sam called “SARS masks”, and stay there for two minutes. Oh, and the temperatures were at -180 degrees Celsius. Really, really, really, really, really cold. Imagine getting into a room and your ankles freeze immediately. That cold.

The three teams breeze through that task, and the next clue leads them to the Charles Bridge, where the Detour is. Choose Legend, and teams have to build a golem–a part of Jewish folklore–by putting clay around a hay skeleton and dragging the completed thing to another synagogue, where the rabbi will inspect it and give the next clue if he likes how it’s done. Choose Lager, and teams head to a brewery, where they’ll pick up 30 glasses of lager and hand-deliver it to a bar chock-full of football hooligans. Err, soccer fans. Last I heard “hooligan” has a negative connotation, but I don’t really know. Err, rowdy and drunk soccer fans.

Only Brian and Ericka work on the beer, and it’s actually an amusing bit of television. Sure, Ericka starts complaining when she drops her tray and sends all her pints of lager to the sidewalk, but once she regains her composure, it’s oddly funny to see how the hooligans act around the presence of beer. A couple see them and go “hooray!” upon seeing the couple with trays of lager. One girl even went up to Brian and went “is this for me?” before grabbing a pint–almost, at least, before Brian fought the girl off. (“That’s some very American behavior,” bystanders commented on a clearly annoyed Ericka. I can’t blame her.)

The other two teams work on the golems, which look easy until you have to drag it to the synagogue. Of course, anything made of clay is heavy. Cheyne was a bit stressed and tired, but that team always manages to rise above stressful situations, so it’s no surprise they finished the task first. Sam and Dan, on the other hand, were arguing again, and I am reacquainted to their pitchy “Shut! Up!” lines from the hay bale challenge a few weeks back. Still, they finished the task, and the leg, in second place.

Then again, their bickering means they don’t get to win a 52-inch LCD television each. That goes to Meghan and Cheyne, who arrived at the pit stop–the Strelecky Ostrov–first, and are very confident that they’ll win this race.

Flight Time and Big Easy finished their four-hour penalty just as the sun came up, and they’re still optimistic that they’ll still be in the race. There was some sort of fake-out, since Brian and Ericka took all night finishing their Detour, helped no less by all those drunk locals. But they finished by sunrise, too, and as they got a clue from the bartender–who’s sleeping on the sidewalk, possibly drunk–it was pretty much confirmed that the Globetrotters are eliminated. They don’t mind, though. “We’ve been traveling around the world,” Flight Time went, “but we’ve never done anything that we’ve done in this race, and that’s what we’ll cherish.” Classy finish.

Next week, it’s the final leg, and it’s Meghan and Cheyne, versus Sam and Dan, versus Brian and Ericka, for the million dollars. But, first, a trip to Las Vegas, and all the usual things over there: casino chips, Cirque du Soleil, and Elvis Presley.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Henrik Batallones

Staff Writer, BuddyTV