Last week, six teams traveled from Turkey to Russia. Some teams had to master the Cyrillic alphabet in the mother of all library challenges, others joined the gold-medal-winning Russian synchronized swimming team for a routine that would look great on Swimming With the Stars, if such a thing existed. Team Texas took first place for the second straight leg, but when the episode ended three teams had yet to finish, including Team Rockstar, who left all of their belongings (including their money and passports) in the back of a cab whose driver apparently didn’t like their hair and took off. Six teams STILL remain. BOMP.
The episode started with Team Rockstar doing the only thing they could do: report their lost belongings to the police and hope that a miracle happened. Then we cut to the synchronized swimming venue, where Abbie & Ryan (I never came up with a nickname for them… guess it’s too late now!), who made a pact with Team Capricorn to not leave them behind, were regretting that move because Brent is a piss-poor swimmer and is dead-dog-tired on top of that. After numerous failed attempts, the team coach decided to give them the clue anyway, since the venue was presumably closing, but the freebie came with a four-hour penalty. Ouch. Anyway, the two teams proceeded from there to the “Trees of Love” Roadblock, and then checked into the Pit Stop in fourth and fifth, respectively.
James and Abba eventually checked into the Pit Stop in last place, but Phil told them that Leg Seven was a non-elimination leg, and lucky them, the next leg will not include crossing any international borders. So on top of the usual tasks, which included a Roadblock, a Detour and a Speed Bump, they had to hope that the wheels of bureaucracy could turn fast enough for them to get replacement passports by the time they hit them mat in fifth place or better in order for their race to continue to Leg Nine.
Starting Line - The Bolshoi theater in Moscow. The teams’ first clue told them to locate a chem lab inside a “study building” at Moscow’s Agricultural Academy, which I’m guessing is where Russia churns out the next generation of beet farmers. Once the doors opened, they were faced with this leg’s Roadblock. In it, one team member had to, using a map outlining Russia’s nine time zones, determine what time it was in five Russian cities assuming that it was 2:15 pm in Moscow. A simple feat of math and geography… but the catch was, they had only a few seconds to glance at the map and jot their answers down. Yeah, knew it couldn’t be that easy.
Immediately after finishing the Roadblock, the Agricultural Academy’s head professor handed teams the leg’s Detour, and the choices were Movers and Shakers. In the former, teams had to learn a classic Russian “soldier dance”, which you may know as the dance with the bent knees, leg kicks and folded arms. In the latter, teams had to identify seven noteworthy historical Russian leaders from a list of ten at a cocktail party where lookalikes come to meet, apparently. Several of the leaders included Stalin, Lenin, Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great and even Leonid Brezhnev. This is a hell of a lot easier on the knees, but bollocks if you have no clue what they looked like.
The Pit Stop for Leg Eight was the Veranda Tantsev – a small performance area – located within Sokolniki Park, which Phil described as “an expansive fairground”, and where I’m guessing the only Russian comedy ever written is performed.
Below is the order the contestants finished in, along with some of their more interesting moments.
#1. Jaymes and James - At long last, the moment I’ve been waiting for: Team Magic Mike wins a leg! With all the other teams so far behind, it figured to come down to them and Team Texas. James and Lexi were forced to team up to navigate the Roadblock, and James was so grateful that they helped Texas out when Texas’s horrible cabbie left them high and dry. I mean, wow, they are beyond awesome.
Unbelievably, they chose the Movers Detour option despite the fact that Jaymes apparently injured his ankle in Shanghai, and doing this routine made it progressively worse. But they powered through it, and they each won a trip to Costa Rica. Let’s hope that this injury doesn’t prove to be costly down the line.
#2. Trey & Lexi - If you ever get on this show, make it a point to never get into a cab with a driver that speaks precisely zero English, and if one isn’t available, find some way to translate your destination into the local language. Team Texas faced exactly this problem, and it was enough to knock them from the top spot this time out.
#3. Natalie and Nadiya - If you remember, Team Evil Twins won an Express Pass back on Leg Two, and apparently this was the last leg they were able to use it, so use it they did, choosing to forego the geography task. It probably only caught them up an hour in total time, and it wasn’t enough to overtake either of the lead teams. One awesome moment came during their preparation for the Movers task, when Natalie ripped her pants right up the back. And then her second pair. Fortunately, she was able to laugh it off without creating an incident, which is easily the most endearing thing either sister has done this entire race.
#4. Abbie & Ryan - There’s really not much to say about this team this week. They were so far behind the three lead teams, and so far ahead the other two, that fourth place was pretty much a foregone conclusion. I really admire them for sticking to Team Capricorn when they really didn’t have to, but I distinctly remember them stating, after winning Leg Three, that they wanted to break the record for most leg wins… and they haven’t won since. Three straight seconds, and now they are mired in fourth. They still have the $2 million to chase, though, and let’s hope the race equalizes again so they can pass the twins.
#5. Josh & Brent - It’s amazing how a team can last this long by the skin of their teeth. They’ve never finished higher than fourth, and came in last once, but Team Capricorn seems to always be the second-unluckiest team in every elimination leg. Brent was actually the only one to get the time-zone challenge right on the very first try, and they aced the Shakers task as well, so there’s hope for them yet. They definitely have an angel on their shoulders, but I would still be amazed if they made it all the way to the final leg.
The following team came in last and was eliminated:
James and Abba - I was so hoping that Team Rockstar could pull a rabbit out of their hat and somehow wangle a pair of replacement passports so that they could at least have a fighting chance, but it just wasn’t to be. As soon as they finished their Speed Bump, they were taken in a limo right to Sokolniki Park to be officially Phil-iminated. This team had a real roller coaster of a race, with dizzying highs and crushing lows, which included not only getting robbed twice in two legs, but also Abba’s knee injury and James’s father’s terrible health problems. That’s a lot of emotional stress to pack into one trip. I wish them well.
So this was a pretty boring leg, all things considered, as the final order was pretty much written before the leg even started save the top two spots. The highlight of the leg (besides Natalie’s pants ripping) was easily the Agriculture Academy professor, who probably saw this as his only opportunity to let out his inner game show host. He played the role as half-disciplinarian, half-playful, and it was awesome. Too bad we won’t be seeing him again!
Next week: It’s off to Holland, where Abbie & Ryan continue to struggle, and Team Magic Mike contemplate a major move at a U-Turn.