"You just cost us the race, bro!" "I don't think you understand this is for a million dollars." "FASTER FASTER FASTER MY GOD CAN YOU UNDERSTAND MY HAND GESTURES?!?" Screaming at a foreign cab driver — an indelible part of The Amazing Race experience! And one that, more often than not, ultimately amounts to a minor hiccup en route to the episode's Pit Stop mat.
Except, like, last night, when faulty navigation* steered the otherwise well-ahead Brittany and Caitlin away from their destination and into ELIMINATION. It's hard, sometimes, to assess what leads to what: Is it slow driving that leads these teams to scream at the poor guys doing it? Or is whatever transportation predicament a pair might find themselves in some karmic rebalancing for previous complaining they may have done? Reality show science is of course not far enough along yet to study these independently, but we wait for the day when we'll know for sure. Until then: Bye Caitlin and Brittany! And hello the rest of this recap!
*By car and by foot. Indonesian cab drivers' sense of direction is only ever symptomatic of a larger problem.
Where last we left out racers, they had just checked into Surabaya, Indonesia — a bustling city of labyrinthine marketplaces and balloon animals. Abbie and Ryan had come in first with Gary and Will narrowly escaping elimination, many hours behind. Everyone else was, logically, in between. It turns out timing would make all the difference this leg, with the moment each team left the mat defining their ultimate place (and stress level). So we're going to do something a little different here, and follow independently the two tiers of teams who gave the Indonesian leg its bifurcated feel. And, to make this as easy as possible, we're calling them A-SQUAD and B-SQUAD.
—James and Jaymes
—Trey and Lexi
—Abbie and Ryan
—Josh and Brent
—James and Abba
By their own admittance, A-Squad had sort of a super-fun time both in Surabya and Bangil! And why wouldn't they? Each team navigated the Road Block — balancing and serving 20 plates of food — with ease, then made their way to the Surabaya Gubeng Station for a 7:55am train to their next destination. They chit-chatted. They agreed (though sans Rockers) to not U-Turn each other. What would be the point? These and other hypotheticals were lazily pondered during an A-Squad leg so relaxing the most dramatic moment came when Jaymes (talker?) and James (non-talker?) struggled to fit into their bicycle. One might argue that James and Abba are playing with fire by deliberately "doing their own thing," but that would be a silly argument. A-Squad is doing just fine!
Three hours behind them, however, B-Squad presented a much different picture. Natalie and Nadiya narrowly missed out on the first train, and were joined by Caitlin and Brittany, Gary and Will, and Rob and Kelley. Fully aware of the Double U-Turn ahead and the fact that being anywhere near the back meant probably getting U-Turned, teams were extra motivated to barrel through the Detour. Their first option: "Lion's Head," which required teammates to don 40-pound lion's head ceremonial masks while performing simple dances during a parade. OR "Egg Head," in which local cooks forced a lit coconut onto your head and used it to scramble some farm-fresh eggs. It's considered an art form in Indonesia, a fun fact I'll be sure to use when egging my neighbors' house on Mischief Night.
The bulk of the teams — A- or B-Squad (™) — went with Lion's Head, which actually turned out to be the faster task. Funny how that works out sometimes. Watching at home, you're convinced you know the "right" challenge a team should tackle. But often the one you considered a sure thing turns out to be anything but (I won't eat haggis! I WON'T!) and the perceived impossibility (I just stacked this pyramid of edible champagne flutes!) is easily overcome. Life is just wacky that way.
The U-Turn board was passed up and passed up until Rob and Kelley, those crazy-in-love Monster Truckers, stopped messing around and picked Substitute Teachers/Best Friends Gary and Will to U-Turn. Can those guys catch a break? The sad trombone following them all over Southeast Asia is getting exhausted, frankly. To their credit, they didn't freak out at the news of their U-Turn. Thousands of miles of WOMP WOMPS had actually made them almost Zen about their place in things. It's with that spirit that they set about tackling their second detour, Egg Head.
Meanwhile, in traditional Amazing Race cross-cutting fashion, we saw Caitlin and Brittany flailing about. First in the park where "Egg Head" was held, lost as they searched for the next clue box. Then in multiple forms of transportation, not one of which had a driver who seemed familiar with the terrain ("It's frustrating when a guy from this country cannot speak English," said Brittany). It started to become apparent, though, that this was maybe more than false editing — that the girls were struggling to the point that they might, even with the U-Turn buffer, be the ones heading home.
Gary and Will finished their eggs. Caitlin and Brittany got lost. Gary and Will found a cab. Caitlin and Brittany cursed the country of Indonesia. Gary and Will inched toward the Pit Stop. Caitlin and Brittany… snuck up behind Gary and Will, overtaking them by bicycle. Gary and Will paid their driver to speed up. Caitlin and Brittany found themselves taking a wrong turn. Gary and Will disembarked. Caitlin and Brittany launched fireballs out of their eyes. Gary and Will came in eighth place. Caitlin and Brittany exploded.
…No one actually exploded. Our eliminated team was cordial in defeat (if not their post-race talking heads!) while Phil, ever-feeling Phil, struggled to hold back his tears. Is Phil Keoghan perhaps the most empathetic person to have ever lived? One senses he carries the entirety of The Race in his heart, from Season 1 on. Like the Giver with an arched eyebrow. Eight teams remain and, with a non-elimination leg bound due any episode now, we're bound to start learning the subtle differences between our relatively boring front-runners. We have certainly spent enough time getting to know Gary and Will.
[Image Credit: CBS]