Four teams entered this leg. Four teams left. That’s what happens when everyone likes each other and no one — from contestants on up to what seems like the entire production staff — is eager to send anyone home. This season is slated to end next week with a two-hour finale, but it’s not unthinkable that it might continue straight through to forever, none of the remaining teams ever being eliminated. There are just too many good feelings going around, man.
BARCELONA was the site of this week’s racing excitement, and from the drama club devils that greeted teams at the first clue to the chill bros strumming flamenco tunes in some cave, no biggie, the city offered an eclectic adventure. Tennis! Mock bullfighting! Don Quixote! There was something for everyone in a way you don’t get in, say, Stalingrad, and the episode never bored because of it. Plus beach time! Any episode that even hints at the possibility of Speedos is already doing right by me.
Practically an entire race in, the Beekman Boys finally caught up with the three lead teams. It’s a war of attrition, this thing, hardly a sprint, and that the guys have simply lasted to this point (aided little by injuries and generally less-than-strong challenge performance) is worthy of a slow clap. You did it! Exactly how far into next week’s episode they’ll get is almost beside the point. They’re winners already.
So was everybody else this leg, if you didn’t already pick up on it (or watch the episode). For the second time in the race, the last-place team was greeted to a non-elimination. Good news for Natalie and Nadiya, who, despite their shortcomings last night, didn’t deserve to go home just yet. It was the driving more than anything that set them back. Natalie, at the wheel of a stick-shift, couldn’t quite figure out the right procedure by which to operate the vehicle. And unless editing is blatantly lying to us (which I can’t imagine it would!), they drove pretty much start and stop all the way from the center of Mallorca to the tennis center Roadblock.
Last night’s Roadblock: Return 20 tennis balls. Didn’t these challenges used to be more complicated? We’ll say nothing of the difficulty here, as more than one team struggled to get through (even occasional tennis player/beefcake Trey needed a few rounds to complete the task), but on a description level… it’s regularly “verb + noun” simple. Return tennis balls. Eat fish. Jump over creek (the “over” complicates the formula!). What happened to those labyrinthine challenges that required a masters degree in urban planning to complete? Sigh. Bottom line is, no one won it or lost it here. Though Brent’s assessment of Josh’s strained play (“he sounds like Monica Seles out there”) may have won the whole night, and my heart.
From the tennis courts, everyone made their way to the Caves of Campanet. “I love caves,” offered Lexi, which did not strike this recapper as a surprising revelation. Teams were tasked with “following their ears to the music,” which led them to two dudes idly strumming their guitars. Detours: “Spin It,” in which teams needed to repair a few windmill blades before grabbing their next clue from a Don Quixote impersonator; and “Bull It,” where teams had two minutes to guide each other through a bullfighting obstacle course. Chippendales opted for the former, and based purely on the way Jaymes pronounced “Dahn Key-hoe-tay,” I must say they made the right decision. Oh, and they knocked it out in about 30 seconds.
Trey and Lexi, meanwhile, tried to keep their emotions in check after their first bull roleplaying round didn’t go as planned. Lexi managed to hurt her nail or something, which of course necessitated a very slow, very serious cut-to-commercial segue. But please don’t worry about them — it all turned out fine.
The Beekmans and the Twins opted for “Spin It” when they landed at the Detour. And there, for the first time in the race, Josh felt his first stabs at competitive fervor before WRECKING HOUSE on the windmill project. They’re finishers, what can we say! Nearby, Natalie and Nadiya just lacked that second gear, as well as a basic facility with tools and how they work. And that’s what it boiled down to (on this admittedly non-elimination leg) — one team being better than another team at a task, and not screwing up the final drive to this leg’s Pit Stop. It sucks sometimes — especially when a strong team does get eliminated, as has to happen sooner or later — but that’s the nature of this Race and, of course, life in general. Ways to live, people. And you thought you were just getting a reality competition about returning tennis balls!
Next Sunday: The Finish, maybe
[Image Credit: CBS]