After A Swing And A (Swiss) Miss, The Amazing Race Winds Up Riding The Bench
Romance blooms -- or should we say 'trends'? -- for one pair of social media moguls; everyone else has a date with some Swiss army knives and a pop quiz about flags.
Love Is In The Airport
Some Amazing Race teams relish any advantage they can snag. But frisbee-playing dude-bros Brodie and Kurt, departing the mat in first place this week, haven't seen some of the teams since the starting line, and they almost wish for some bunching so that they can reconnect.
Well, okay, by "they" I really mean "Brodie," and by "some of the teams" I really mean "Blair and Scott," and by "Blair and Scott" I really mean "Blair," because Brodie's got it bad for her. Everyone is super-intrigued by the possibility for romance, so it's kind of like Brodie's got sixteen wingmen in his corner, not to mention a bunch of camera crews, Phil, and assorted other passersby. The lovebirds do indeed get their opportunity to catch up when all nine teams are booked on the same flight to Geneva, Switzerland.
Reactions to Switzerland are mixed. Some teams aren't sure what language you speak there, or what country it's in. Others know it's famous for mountains, chocolate, and yodeling, and after a couple of 90-degree Colombian days, everyone's excited for colder temperatures. In the airport, all of the teams are mobbed by young social media fans, and it's all very Beatles-at-Idlewild-circa-1963. I keep waiting for someone to comically hide in a phone booth or behind a newspaper at a shoeshine stand in order to avoid being torn to pieces by shrieking teenage girls.
It's nighttime by the time the plane touches down, and everyone heads to the famous Jet d'Eau in Lake Geneva for their first clue. Eventually, everyone's directed to pick a departure time for the next morning and bunk down together in the basement of a chocolate shop. Snuggling is optional, but in at least one case, it's highly encouraged. Korey is infinitely more excited about the prospect of a showmance than either one of the participants in said showmance, chirping to the camera that he totally saw them sharing a sleeping bag. He excitedly coins the hashtag #blodie to commemorate the new relationship.
"It was nice to...sit down and have a conversation," says Brodie, because I would imagine that sitting down and having a conversation is pretty much as far as you're going to take it when your new girlfriend's dad is sleeping ten feet away. (Twitter reports that Brodie's teammate, Kurt, actually spent a large portion of the evening bro-ing out with Scott in order to give #Blodie a little breathing room, which, if true, definitely qualifies him for Wingman Of The Year.)
Some Teams Can't Cut It
The morning brings with it a Detour: "Work Bench" or "Bench Work." "Work Bench" involves a trip to the Victorinox factory, where each team must use provided instructions and tools to assemble a Swiss army knife. In "Bench Work," teams visit a bench that is touted by the city of Geneva as the longest park bench in the world, and they'll need to estimate how many butts could fit on the bench if the entire thing were full of people. There's a very specific method for measuring the span of one butt, and it involves holding a newspaper and sitting next to your partner while you take turns getting up and moving over to your partner's other side.
Burnie and Ashley, departing first, pick the benches, and they're dismayed to learn that a small portion of the bench is already occupied by people who are using the bench for its intended purpose. They wonder what the best method for handling this would be -- do they ask the people to move, climb over them, or make an educated guess? A pair of locals playing chess on the bench are really not amused by any of this. You'd think a bunch of camera crews and frenetic Americans would be a deterrent, but the chess guys aren't budging. It's almost as if someone told them to bring a chess game to a particular park bench and refuse to move no matter what.
At the Swiss army knife factory, Zach and Rachel are surprised to discover that constructing a Swiss object involves a lot of detail and precision, while Tyler and Korey liken it to a big puzzle and are thrilled to dive in.
Jessica and Brittany can't find the factory, so they ultimately decide to switch to the bench, but they can't actually find anything at that point save for an equally-lost Sheri and Cole.
How Much Do You Bench, Bro?
The number of butts in one long bench appears to vary wildly according to (a) how tightly you're gripping your paper; (b) how much space you allow between newspapers; (c) how wide your own ass is; and (d) how you are dealing with the increasingly cranky chess players who continue to refuse to give up their choice spot on the bench despite the presence of hundreds of other benches within eyesight.
After their first guess is wrong, Burnie and Ashley begin comparing notes with the frisbee bros and the Clevver girls, only to find that almost everyone's come up with an insanely different number. Clearly, it's time to start teaming up, but even the definition of "team up" varies: it's anything from using four asses instead of two to measure distance to running interference with the chess guys to straight-up yelling the answer to your fellow competitors once you get it yourself.
Kurt and Brodie are the first ones out of the bench detour, while Tyler and Korey ace the knife one first. Blair and Scott aren't doing too badly at assembling their knife, but Zach and Rachel's first attempt falls short when it's pointed out to them that their knife is missing a part: the small blade, which is obviously a fairly integral part of any Swiss army knife.
Phil Keoghan Presents Fun With Flags
On to the Roadblock, which takes place on the front lawn of Geneva's United Nations headquarters. There's a board listing all of the various nations belonging to the UN, ten of which are highlighted; it's up to the racers to identify the flags of each of the ten nations, using the dozens of flagpoles lining the front lawn.
The first five Racers to get started on the Roadblock wind up teaming up since they're aware that none of them is in last place and it'll make things quicker for everyone. Korey and Matt form one team; Burnie, Cole, and Kurt work together as well. As awesome as it would be if someone just had every flag in the world memorized, they figure there has to be some sort of key or map that matches name to flag. It takes them way too long to figure out that the board itself is the map they're looking for.
As the guys figure out what they need to do, the final four Roadblockers -- Rachel, Blair, Joslyn, and Jessica -- roll up and get started. Blair, Joslyn, and Rachel immediately decide to collaborate, since THEY know they aren't in last place, either. The person in actual last place -- Jessica -- appears to spend more time whining that nobody will help her than she does actually working on the task. Don't these people understand how much easier it would be for Jessica if someone would just do the task FOR her?
A Photo Finish, And A Negative Outcome, For The Instagram Models
In the end, it comes down to transportation: the pit stop is located across the border in Chamonix, France, which is a convoluted train ride away. The first five teams -- Burnie/Ashley, Cole/Sheri, Kurt/Brodie, Tyler/Korey, and Matt/Dana -- have boarded the first train out of Geneva, but there are at least two connections they need to make before Chamonix, which enables Joslyn/Erin, Scott/Blair, and Zach/Rachel to catch up during one of the connections. Missing from this equation? Jessica and Brittany, who had to take yet a third train because nobody would help Jessica with the Roadblock. Even so, they almost catch up themselves, but are thwarted when their train rolls in with only one minute to spare before the connection they'd need takes off.
When the train pulls in, everyone takes off in a dead sprint to find Phil, and it's basically an eight-way tie for first place. But the only thing that actually matters is not being in last place, which is what the Instagram models are.
If you're half the avid Blodie shipper that Korey is, you definitely won't want to miss this episode. But despite an anticlimactic finish, there's probably plenty to digest for you non-romantics as well.