Last week, the six remaining teams traveled from the dusty plains of Africa to the lush green pastures of Denmark. The entire leg, was ultimately less about proficiency at performing tasks as it was about getting good directions from one place to another. Case in point, Amani and Marcus trailed the entire pack for nearly the whole leg, but were spared elimination because engaged couple Jeremy and Sandy got lost on the way to the Pit Stop. But they weren’t eliminated either: that dishonor went to father/son team Laurence and Zac, who had to perform both halves of a Detour and had every opportunity to remain in the race, but going from one place to another on land was evidently a lot more difficult than circumnavigating the globe on a yacht, and they were eliminated.
This is the first (and, presumably, only) leg of the season that will involve the racers being in three different countries all in the space of one leg.
Starting Line - The Havet ship, a sailing vessel that has been converted into a hotel (must be a pretty small one…) that is currently docked in Copenhagen, Denmark. The racers’ first clue told them to find the statue of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who many scholars believe to be “the most prolific fairy tale writer in history”, having penned such classics as The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina and The Ugly Duckling, just to name a few.
Clue #1 was this leg’s Roadblock. It involved one team member memorizing a poem that Andersen wrote (that is inscribed on the base of his statue), and then, following a map that is affixed to the front wheel of a funky-looking bicycle, must pedal their way to the Teatermuseet i Hofteatret (an elegant-looking theater), where they must then recite the four-line poem - verbatim to the theater critic that makes up their entire audience. And not only that, they must recite it with enough dramatic flair to impress the guy (who honestly looks like Scrooge, right down to the black cape and stovepipe hat).
This was a pretty cool challenge, actually. It’s tough to remember four lines under the best of conditions, but to try to remember them while pedaling through an unfamiliar city, and then having to deliver them dramatically while you’re out of breath? That’s tough. Anyway, after returning to their teammate, they opened the clue they were given, which told them to drive to the town of Billund, the birthplace of Legos, and find the original Legoland park (est. 1968), which is situated next to the original Lego factory. Once their, they must locate the Pirate Carousel ride and search for their next clue.
Clue #2 was a doozy (or a woozy, depending on how you look at it). The teams were given a box of Legos, and were told to assemble the pieces inside. The catch is, they had to do it while on the spinning teacup ride, and were only allowed to do assembling while the ride was in motion. The Legos were actually jigsaw-like pieces of a photograph, which was of their next destination: the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof train station in Hamburg, Germany. Clue #3, at the station, didn’t keep the teams in Germany for very long, as it instructed them to take the train to Brussels, Belgium and locate the European Parliament building.
As it turned out, the only train from Hamburg to Brussels was after midnight, which meant that everyone got to catch up, making everything that happened in the first thirty minutes of the episode completely redundant. Gaaaahh! I hate when that happens!
Clue #4 in Brussels led teams to the Concert Noble, where the racers had to strip down to their skin and don professional bodybuilders’ attire, cover themselves in “competition oil”, and strike a series of poses to the satisfaction of a set of judges. This was done in honor of “The Muscles From Brussels” himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, star of such hokey-yet-cool 80’s action flicks as Bloodsport, Nowhere to Run and Timecop. (Looking forward to seeing him in The Expendables 2.)
This is one of the most hysterical challenges I can remember. It’s worth noting that none of the remaining contestants are in bad shape physically, and if there was one team I expected to “rock the speedos”, it was Amani and Marcus, which they did. None of the rest of them have bad physiques, not even Bill and Cathi, though they did seem to be the most uncomfortable doing the challenge… which is not surprising, given their conservative natures. And honestly, those skimpy g-strings left NOTHING to the imagination.
The Pit Stop for Leg Nine was Parc Elisabeth, a royal park constructed in a symmetrical shape for King Leopold.
Anyway, it’s about here that I would announce the order that the teams finished in, but this leg was one of those extra-long ones where, I guess, there was just so much good stuff that they couldn’t cram it all into one hour. Only one team made it to the finish line before the episode ended, in fact. The reason? There was no waiting period whatsoever between legs. As soon as Amani and Marcus hit the mat, they were given their next clue by Phil and sent on their way.
#1. Amani and Marcus - Despite starting the leg in fourth place, Amani made up ground by locating the theater quicker than Cathi and Tommy. She also nailed the audition on the first performance. Marcus was ecstatic by have quickly she finished the Roadblock, saying that they “took the opening kickoff for a touchdown”. Their enthusiasm was dampened by the teacup ride, a type of entertainment that Amani particularly hates. Thankfully, they were able to complete the puzzle just before succumbing to nausea.
As I said earlier, if there was one team I expected to knock the bodybuilding challenge out of the park, it was Amani and Marcus. Like any complicated set of movements that must be memorized, be it dancing or whatever, there’s a certain amount of pressure, but the big cheesy grin that Marcus had when he started made that all go away. They got the required score of 12 on the first pass, and they were the first team to hit the mat. They won their second leg of the race, scoring themselves a trip to Panama. Nice.
Ernie and Cindy - Cindy, who revealed that she is a first-generation American born of Chinese parents, is convinced that Ernie is her soulmate, despite the fact that her folks wanted her to end up with a guy of Asian descent. Ah, old school parents. Have seen many of those. Anyway, having gained first place for the first time since the opening leg, Ernie and Cindy were determined to keep it. Cindy breezed through the recitation with flying colors, and they rocked out the Lego assembly in record time.
One interesting development: The train ride from Hamburg to Brussels involved purchasing two tickets, one from Hamburg to Cologne and from then on to Brussels. The camera caught the tickets for the second leg of the journey falling out of her backpack, and further searches for it proved fruitless. Moreover, they didn’t have enough cash to purchase a second set of tickets. Miraculously, they made the journey from Cologne to Brussels without ever once being asked to produce their tickets. That right there is having an angel on your shoulder. They were the second team to finish the bodybuilding challenge, and seemed to be right on Amani and Marcus’s tails.
Jeremy and Sandy - After eight legs, Jeremy is seriously missing his six-year-old son, and surreptitiously wishes that he had him there for the Lego challenge, which Sandy was not an enthusiast of. In fact, she complained the whole time, threatening to barf at every turn. The centrifugal force also played havoc with their puzzle assembly, and when they discovered that a piece was missing, she threatened to call it quits. (Seriously?)
Thankfully for them, the rest of the leg went quite well. They got rousing ovations at the bodybuilding challenge, and left the Concert Noble in a solid third place. After nine episodes, I’d like to say that they make a good couple, but I find them pretty blah as far as being interesting goes. I really don’t want them to win for that reason alone.
Bill and Cathi - Since surviving their first disastrous leg, the number of mistakes they’ve made can be counted on one hand. However, all streaks come to an end. Even with the wheel-map, Cathi still got a little lost, and then she muffed the first recital. And then, they got lost on the way to Legoland, not even arriving there until everyone else had gone. Whoops.
At the time the episode ended, only Bill and Cathi and Andy and Tommy were still trying to get their bodybuilding routines down. It was tough to say which one of them was more inept at it, though I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Bill is pretty ripped for a guy in his 60’s. We should all be in such good shape at that age.
Andy and Tommy - As funny as these guys are, it would appear that the snowboarders never did any acting… or, at least, Tommy never did, because he recited the poem much like a statue himself. He got the words right, but was dinged for his lack of drama, causing him to go back and start again. His second attempt wasn’t much better, basically a monotone with a few hand gestures thrown in, but it was enough. They were completely unfazed by the teacup ride (and being “Legomaniacs” since childhood), which doesn’t surprise me.
Seeing Andy mostly-naked was a gas. He’s really skinny, but watching him on stage trying to strike poses with that cheeky grin, moppish hair and bushy beard, may have just been the biggest laugh I got all season. Some of the poses were very difficult for him, however, given his previous snowboarding injuries, and I felt for him.
Because of the abrupt way the show ended, I am willing to bet that there will NOT be an elimination at the end of Leg Nine. With three episodes left and only two more eliminations, it seems clear that the second-to-last elimination will occur at the end of Leg Ten, which is next week.
Next week: the race through Belgium continues, and no, there’s nothing involving waffles. The teams do get to get their Lightning McQueen on, however.