'That Ain't Good'
(That's how one Racer correctly describes Phil's visit to the airport.)
Just when I was wondering if I was going to Rip van Winkle my way through this whole season, along comes this offering, which is tense and funny with all the right elements -- particularly lots and lots of airport intrigue, a good amount of actual Race strategy, and a guy in a Magellan costume who is not having it. Goes to show that when this show is good, caring about any of the teams isn't strictly necessary (although it never hurts), nor does the identity of the last team need to be in doubt.
It's a long segment that holds attention from start to finish thanks to the welcome combination of a lot of teams, a long distance to go, and no help from the show. To wit: bound for Lisbon, Chester and Ephraim are used to other people booking their travel, the "O RLY" chyron is almost visible. Nicole and Travis think the race isn't as stressful as the ER, which their patients surely appreciate. The travel agency people (some teams go straight for the airport) are told of a flight that arrives at 7 AM via Sao Paolo, but the NFLers get completely screwed by their agent putting in the wrong date, which results in Nicole and Travis alone getting on the good option. They admit that they'd be pissed were the situation reversed, so now the NFLers are getting in at noon, as are the Beards. The NFLers opt for a theoretically better itinerary via Buenos Aires and Madrid, which is big risk given that it entails two connections. Leo/Jamal and A(sh)(l/le)y tell Tim and Danny about their (later, but available) flight to try to dilute their risk, but Danny cottons on to the play and resolves to U-Turn Leo and Jamal should he and Tim get the chance. Please! Nicky/Kim also get on a flight arriving at noon via Sao Paolo, but Tim/Danny swing a 10 AM arrival via Madrid, and Brandon/Adam get the same itinerary via a phone call from the lady who twice, as it happens, fucked Chester/Ephraim, so not everything she touches turns to mud. Lots of people are on the flight to Sao Paolo, and Nicole and Travis hope no one else gets on the good second flight they scored. Chester and Ephraim's flight to Madrid gets delayed, so they scramble to find something else. In Sao Paolo, the non-Nicole/Travis teams try to improve their lot as well, but with the ticket counters closed, only Nicky/Kim figure out to go to a lounge and get their names on a standby list, which hilariously screws Tim/Marie when Jason/Amy manage to get on as well. In desperation, Chester and Ephraim get on a flight to Sao Paolo, only to be delayed again. Marie says it's on w/r/t the Baseball Wives, who probably don't hear her given how far ahead they are.
Things To Do In Sao Paolo When You're Dead
Tim/Marie think they're last, but Chester/Ephraim barely miss getting on that flight, which they suspect fatally screws them. The three lead teams, followed by the Beards and Tim/Danny, arrive in Lisbon; Leo and Jamal and A(sh)(l/le)y are just getting to London. The lead teams receive a painting from which they have to figure out to go to the National Coach Museum, a horse-and-carriage dealie. Detour: Tiles or Miles. Tiles: Assemble a life-size puzzle of fragile ceramic pieces. Miles: Use a giant "navigation instrument" to determine how many miles Magellan sailed to ten different destinations; their total needs to be within 500. Nicole/Travis and Jason/Amy, forming an alliance on the fly (the only kind that works on his particular show), choose Miles and work together on the task, which always seems cheap but is especially so here, since having two people to move the heavy instruments (especially with all the people amusingly milling about, since the map is part of the floor of a public outdoor area) and two people to check each other's math makes the efforts much easier. The excitement remains high as teams keep arriving in Lisbon, producing a bunch of interesting little mini-Races, and the lead teams reach a Roadblock in which they have to dress up in knight's armor and use a giant ballista to hit a shield with an arrow from 150 feet. Jason and Travis take it and look ridiculous, which is great, especially with the extras dressed as medieval courtiers oohing and aahing from the sidelines. Jason kicks ass and nails it on the first try, which sends him and Amy to the Pit Stop, a gorgeous ninth-century castle overlooking a beautiful city; the scenery is on par with everything else in this episode. Nicky and Kim somehow hilariously don't see the dude standing right next to them once they finish (great editing and shot composition here), but he eventually gives them the clue. Jason and Amy are flummoxed by the apparently confusing signs and aren't sure how to get to the castle, while Nicole tells Travis not to get frazzled, but despite her using a voice high on the Frazzle-O-Meter, he gets it done to the delight of the courtiers, and they head out only a few minutes behind Jason/Amy with the determination to win a leg.
Have Fun Storming The Castle!
Sure enough, Nicole and Travis take advantage of Jason and Amy's confusion to win the leg, and a trip to Costa Rica. Sorry, real ER victims of Atlanta! Jason and Amy seem fine with coming in second. Ally's grandfather was born in Portugal, so her enthusiasm for the country at least seems convincing (some of the "woo"-ing at the mere mention of Portugal seems possibly producer-encouraged). Despite having floated the idea of teaming up, the Beards choose Tiles while Tim/Danny take Miles; meanwhile Leo/Jamal and A(sh)(l/le)y get their clue and learn where to go, and Tim/Marie arrive and hope not to have to use their Express Pass. Chester and Ephraim get delayed yet again, and they express frustration about things being out of their control; even though they took an actual risk (unlike Rowan and Shane last week, who just fucked up), it's hard not to sympathize, even if it's just for the thought of bodies that size squeezed into economy seating for that long. A hilarious sequence ensues: Tim and Danny work as the supervisor, dressed in Magellan garb, gives them a hilariously suspicious side-eye; Danny then ribs Tim about not taking into account the fact that the Earth is round in making his calculations: "Most people know that these days." They get it wrong, and the dude rips up their guess in disgust. Hee. However, Tim quickly realizes he left off the zero at the end, and they get the next clue, but not without "Magellan's" yawn of disapproval (also, it looks like you could guess as many times as you want without even a delay). Brandon and Adam finish the Roadblock; Nicky and Kim finish the leg third. Leo/Jamal and A(sh)(l/le)y take Miles. Danny, saying he's Native American (has he actually practiced archery in some form, or is he relying on race memory?), takes the Roadblock. Marie's totally rude in asking for help if the editing is to be believed, AND IT IS. The supervisor looks at least as disapproving of the four people in front of him as he did with Tim/Danny, and Jamal asks if Magellan might have gone through the Panama Canal; the line is practically a cymbal crash itself, so the editors don't bother including an actual one. Magellan's Rip. Rip. is enough for A(sh)(l/le)y to head for Tiles, while Danny hits his mark and gets paid back for his earlier sarcasm from a random courtier: "Took you long enough; on the battlefield you would be dead." Hee. Adam seems to hit it quickly, and his beard does look hilarious under his medieval helmet. A(sh)(l/le)y get to work on Tiles, and Tim/Marie decide to go for it as well. Tim/Danny finish fourth. Leo and Jamal turn up at Tiles, and Ashley snaps that they should have listened to her, so Race marital bliss may be over for them; about time they caught up to the rest of us. Brandon/Adam are fifth. Tim/Marie turn up, and Leo/Jamal try to goad them into using their Express Pass; since they're terrible at the Tiles, Tim wants to take that advice. Could Leo/Jamal actually have done something good...?
Have Phil, Will Travel
...Nope! Marie thinks they're not desperate enough to use the Express Pass yet (it would have been SO satisfying if that decision came back to bite her), and she basically gets to work on the puzzle alone. She does a camera interview in which she says she's sure Tim will be good at some things in the future, only to add that she's only saying that so that people don't think she's a bitch, and she clearly thinks Tim's the butt of the joke and that the audience will think she's funny, but as often happens when people assess their own charm, she fails to realize the truth; she's also proven wrong when Tim hits the target on the first try. Now I'm saying it: free Tim! Ally and Jamal take the Roadblock, and Jamal hits the target first; Ally calls upon her grandfather's teachings, and she, too, finishes. Marie says there's a good chance that they could be last, but I'm not sure she believes it. Leo/Jamal are sixth; A(sh)(l/le)y are seventh. Phil at least screws with Marie: "You are the last team to arrive. Except for one." Hee. It's dark when Chester and Ephraim even arrive in Lisbon, which is always a bad sign, but as it happens, Phil's voice cuts through the airport -- he's shown up to eliminate them, which is COLD, especially since they were told the last team "may be eliminated" for the entirety of the leg. Even worse/funnier is Phil pointing out that at least they don't have far to go to catch a flight out of there, and the only way this episode could have been better, outside of the result, is if Phil had come to the airport for the elimination with Magellan in tow.
No qualifiers; watch.
What did you think?