Chuck Y Cheese
Start and Transportation
The teams head from Botswana to Switzerland, a 5,000-mile trip the producers know better than to milk for drama. Everyone's on the same flight; later, everyone's on the same trains climbing towards the Eiger.
A telling interview with Chuck and Wynona -- they talk about how they're "getting better at" the Race, and sniping at each other less -- would be of more foreshadowing interest if it weren't obvious already that they're the weakest of the remaining teams.
The continued flirtation between the Hockey Brothers and the Country Girls remains an irritant; the brothers do try to liven things up by talking about how cheese and romance go hand-in-hand, then making a poot noise in unison, but as much as I enjoy them, the segment is dullsville. Everyone's together pretty much the entire time, and the tasks -- catch trains; bring St. Bernards to handlers -- ask little of the contestants.
If only for the guy holding the clue, because he's having the time of his em-effing life. Do it, clue guy!
The task itself -- inch across a vertical drop to retrieve a Travelocity gnome with your next clue on it -- is missable, and furthermore, I don't wish to encourage this gnome gnonsense. But with various Racers clinging to a mountain face with a ten-thousand-foot drop, you get some pretty good quotes. In an attempt to get a smile out of the to-this-point dizzy and whiny Wynona, Chuck promises not to remarry "for the first month" if anything goes wrong, while Bates dryly notes, "I love the gnome. I can't wait 'til he's by my side." Max cracks that the gnome "didn't have much to say, but he's a good guy."
In case you'd forgotten this (as I had), the Switchback is a revival of a tough classic task from an earlier season. This one's the cheese-wheel transfer, in which Racers must load frail sleds with 50-pound cheese wheels and get them down a steep, snowy hill.
You can't always get the band back together, though; it was mildly amusing the first time, and not as funny as the oom-pah music cues want you to think this time. And a lot of time is spent on Katie and Wynona's difficulties getting up the hill in the first place (that Katie, at the top of the hill, has zero compunction about telling Max to hurry up is not exactly a dramatic turn either).
Now it gets interesting. A subtle shot of Chuck and Wynona's cheese sled as it went unused pays off in the race to the end, as it's clear they weren't supposed to just roll the cheese wheels down the hill; they had to use the sled. So, while the rest of the finish order is predictable -- Hockey pulls in first and wins a trip to Bora Bora, followed by the Roller Moms, the Newlyweds, and the Country Blondes -- it comes down to Team Mullet waiting out a thirty-minute didn't-read-the-instructions penalty, versus YouTube heading to the Pit Stop on foot (the other teams took taxis).
YouTube had a good episode, which is to say I barely noticed them and Joey only had one screech attack, and they rise in my esteem at the mat: Meghan, blaming herself for the decision to run it instead of taking a cab, is sobbing with disappointment, and Joey is incredibly sweet and positive about it. Prior to the episode, I could not wait for YouTube to go…but as the hour wore on, watching Wynona sliding down the wall she'd clearly hit days ago got more and more painful, and then Joey worked off weeks of Too Much with a solid-gold friend moment.
…And he did it within the half-hour window. Team Mullet is heading home.
You probably skipped it anyway, thanks to yet another fubaring of the Sunday-night lineup by CBS -- a small mitzvah, as nothing much really happens. It's worth catching the last segment; otherwise, delete.