Photo: CBS

Off With Her Head

Well, maybe this Marie doesn't quite deserve that. But she still sucks!

Fish Heads, Fish Heads, Roly-Poly Fish Heads

After we learn the castle wall is considered a Miniature Great Wall Of China, Nicole/Travis depart at 11:08 PM for Svolvaer, Norway and the Arctic Circle. Nicole is from Brooklyn and says that as such she hustles her ass off; she doesn't add that she doesn't put up with a lot of shit, but we'll see that soon enough. Travis says Nicole's even tougher than he thought, and Nicole gives the camera an awesome "Ding!" smile. Jason and Amy feel mentored by Nicole and Travis, which is nice. An 8:55 AM flight to Bodo is the only option, which means a pure reset, and that alone means that this segment is unnecessary to your life so I won't even mention Tim/Marie's blathering about the Express Pass. However, Brandon and Adam are growing on me with the theatrical faces they give in their camera interview. Detour! Hang Your Heads: String together six bundles comprised of ten fish heads each, then transport them to drying racks and lay them out in the Arctic sun. Hammer Of The Cods (heeee): Collect fifteen pairs of cod from thirty-foot-high drying racks and pound them with a giant wooden hammer to make one kilo of fish jerky with the bones removed. Nicky/Kim (I really still don't know which is which): "What's a kilo?" There's a dearth of cabs given that it's the middle of the night, and the Beards waste no time in deciding to run a couple of kilometers (please don't ask what those are) for it, which I appreciate. Tim/Marie find a cab to Fish Heads. A propos of little, Marie announces that the "Beards eat gross stuff all the time," which is so dumb that I'm gleefully convinced they're editing her as horribly as they can. Everyone takes Fish Heads except Tim/Danny and Nicky/Kim. There's no receptacle for the cod once they get them off the racks, so Tim ends up hanging a bunch of them around his neck, which is surely gross for him but is an entertaining enough fashion statement. Nicky/Kim at least think being out of their comfort zone is good, although "comfort zone" is a word pairing that needs to be retired. The dark side of Fish Heads is a long wheelbarrow run to the drying grounds. Leo/Jamal get a flat wheelbarrow tire, and this being the dramatic moment that sends us to commercial says a lot about the skippability of this segment.

There Must Be Some Racers In The Atmosphere!

This is heavier on the "everyone hates Marie, and also she's an idiot" theme, which makes it worth of your consideration. To wit, Tim/Marie screw up in not picking a Race-marked drying pole, and the appropriate musical cue confirms it. Jason/Amy and the Beards do it correctly and get sent on a "high-speed ride" to the fishing village of Henningsvaer. Marie asks the other teams to tell her what they did differently, and the cameramen have fun pointing out the marked pole all "Duh." Presented without comment is Marie: "Why is this happening to me? I'm nice to everyone!" Brandon/Adam vault to the front of my line by hilariously imitating Marie talking about the Express Pass. The cod are apparently sharp and cut Tim/Danny, which makes this as good a time as any to point out how much this task sucks compared to the other. Jason/Amy awesomely tell Nicole/Travis what to look for while Tim/Marie continue to flail. Leo/Jamal (who?) fight. Marie finally figures out what's wrong, and they get the clue as do Nicole/Travis. Tim/Danny aren't sure of the difference between a kilometer and a kilogram, but they get to whacking. The Baseball Wives are grossed out by bugs from the fish getting on them, which is reasonable. Jason/Amy and the Beards get on the first boat, and the Beards' beards flap in the wind as promised by the episode title. Roadblock: "Who's the biggest swinger?" You swing off a rope from a bridge and then unclip yourself into the Arctic Ocean to swim to a buoy that holds the next clue, and Brandon and Jason take it. Adam yells, "That's my boy!," which I like; also, you get the best view here of how bright it is even though it's the middle of the night, which is fun. Now they have to hook up a truck to a sled loaded with a granite boulder and then pull it forward to reveal their next clue and a satchel of Viking coins, which will be needed for some later unspecified purpose. Jason gets stuck low on his rope and can't reach the thing to unclip it, which is probably more serious than it appears given that it's zero Kelvin out there.

Driving Stick: Learn It, Live It, Love It

At nearly 2 AM, Jason manages to pull himself up and drop into the water. Marie's not so confident in Tim's upper-body strength -- and then if the editing is to be believed, he gets it done in 0.81 seconds; whether the editing is helping out or not, she's wrong all the time, which I appreciate. Then she pats him on the head without even looking at him, which is kind of hilariously gross and makes me wonder if bulk-ordering "Free Tim" shirts could result in a profit. Nicole takes the Roadblock and makes short work of it, which just keeps her awesome stock rising. The Baseball Wives self-describe as Cod Queens, which is a pageant I might actually watch. Tim/Danny seem to turn in far more jerky than the task required, but maybe that's what happens when you've never heard of the metric system. The Beards are in their element with the truck, while Ally takes the Roadblock, as does Jamal. There's an obviously ADR-ed product placement bit I won't specify but might alone throw this segment into "Skip" territory (Jason having his arm twisted behind his back by a producer to laud the truck in a camera interview doesn't help either), but Brandon and Adam get sent to the Pit Stop, the Viking Longhouse, and the show at least hires a bunch of costumed extras to sing and drink and give the thing some authenticity. Jason has also worked with trucks before, and maybe it's the physical labor but suddenly Attleboro-raised Jason sounds like he's in Good Will Hunting; I am now rooting for him to ask Marie if she likes apples. Tim/Marie retrieve the coins but leave behind the scrap of cloth with the name of the Pit Stop on it, because God forbid they fuck up only once per leg. We get a shot of Nicky/Kim, in last place, opening a clue box with more than one clue in it, which we've all heard happens but the reminder is still nice. A(sh)(l/le)y are the official Stick Shift Morons of this Race, which should after this many seasons be an automatic penalty, and they act like it's their destiny to drive their truck into a ditch.

So What's It Gonna Be?

Tim/Danny give A(sh)(l/le)y help with putting their truck in reverse, which is a bit of aid that probably won't bite them and could be paid back; it's also worth noting A(sh)(l/le)y don't ask Leo/Jamal. A(sh)(l/le)y are "literally" putting their heads together; since their heads don't touch I assume by "literally" she means "figuratively" as most people do. Brandon/Adam deservedly win and seem like one of three teams to beat at this point; also, instead of a product-placed trip, they each collect five grand, which is nice. Also, there's no rest here; Phil gives them a new clue, although we don't hear what it is. Tim/Marie, driving aimlessly, are lucky enough to run into Nicole/Travis, and Nicole tells Marie straight up that directions to the Pit Stop will cost her the other Express Pass. It's a layup for Marie to give it to her for several reasons -- she's going to have to concede it soon anyway, it may be better to give it to a strong team who probably won't end up needing it, this move may save her from using her own Pass to avoid elimination here -- so of course she says no. Nicole and Travis then AWESOMELY drive off (although I'd bet they don't get far)...and that's the "TO BE CONTINUED" card.

Verdict

It's a fairly cheap and poorly-designed leg with none of the travel mishegoss that's so enjoyable, but the entire episode is worth watching for Nicole and Travis's entire "fuck her" segment at the end. Also -- and I swear on a stack of Bibles I wrote my first-segment subhead before I saw this -- a twangy version of "Fish Heads" with vocals that sound like they were drunkenly recorded in the Viking Longhouse plays over the closing credits, which HA!

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