ANXIETY. That's both the thought dominating our brains and the feeling coursing through our stomachs in these later stages of The Amazing Race, where small mistakes have big repercussions. To wit: Abbie and Ryan and Josh and Brent both gambled on a risky Munich flight transfer and wound up about a half day behind the top four teams; James and Abba lost their backpacks (along with a passport) when the cab they'd asked to idle just took off. Everyone else? They're fine. But three teams struggled against the vagaries of fate this episode, SO MUCH SO that it's not even a full episode. For (what feels like?) the first time in Amazing Race history, the credits roll with a "TO BE CONTINUED…" I couldn't be more anxious.
Trey and Lexi, Jaymes and James, Natalie and Nadiya, and James and Abba all made their way from Istanbul to Moscow, Russia, without a hiccup. And that trend continued for the duration of the leg, where even some frustrations at one of the challenges were tempered by the knowledge that two teams were sooooo far behind that speed wasn't so much an issue. Obviously teams are familiar with "The Tortoise and the Hare" and its important lesson. But when you're attempting a complicated synchronized swimming routine in a less-than-flattering bathing cap, you give it the time it needs.
That was one of the Detour options — "Synchronized," in which teams worked with the Russian Olympic Synchronized Swim team (and their coach) to master a few straightforward routines. If you didn't know before, synchronized swimming is TOUGH. Moving gracefully through a pool presents enough of a challenge on its own; to do so with seven other swimmers in some harmonious rhythm? And, here, being evaluated by a RUSSIAN coach? Needless to say, every team went through 10-15 rehearsals before nailing the routine. Even the Chippendales, who a) spend every night performing choreographed dance moves, and b) look exceedingly comfortable in their Speedos, took a little while to get into the groove.
The other Detour, "Alphabetized," was in essence a library search. Four books were written down, which teams had to discover in the intricate filing system and then go pick up from the stacks. The challenge: Russian, with all its Cyrillic characters, is not exactly the easiest language to comprehend. Trey and Lexi (the only team to complete the challenge) realized early on that the only way through was treating it like a game of memory — noting symbols and patterns rather than making any big attempt to understand what you were looking for. And, embracing this, they flew through the challenge.
Much later on, Abbie and Ryan and Josh and Brent finally landed in Moscow. And from this vantage point (one that, I'll say, has still only seen "half" of this episode), it was sort of remarkable to watch what they did next. Knowing full well that they were the last two teams, they decided that rather than compete… they'd work together. Stay by each other's side. And so when the former finished their synchronized swimming first, they hung around to watch Josh and Brent finish themselves. How this plays out when one team eventually has to beat another team to keep racing I DON'T KNOW, but for now — very nice, guys!
The Roadblock here was a non-issue for the four teams we saw complete it. Ten locks at the "Tree of Love" needed to be unlocked using an assortment of keys. No sweat! Under tighter circumstances (i.e. two teams not 12 hours behind), this may have posed a more interesting challenge, but without that footrace quality to it…
Trey and Lexi ultimately touched the mat at the Bolshoi Theater first (winning their second leg in a row), but we remain with NO LOSERS so far for this leg. Check in next week when there will definitely be losers to talk about. Until then!
[Image Credit: CBS]