Photo: Timothy Kuratek / CBS

It Takes Ten Teams To Tango On The Amazing Race

Amazing Racers head to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the city somehow gets them to handle a bunch of its sanitation labor en route to a drama-filled and injury-plagued Pit Stop.

Buenas Tardes, Buenos Aires

Because Justin and Diana won the chance to take an earlier flight than everyone else at the beginning of the last leg, they missed out on an opportunity for in-air bonding with the rest of the teams, and they're hoping that this leg will help them to play catch-up. They wander up the beach to say hi and introduce themselves before everyone departs Rio for Buenos Aires, Argentina, which Phil helpfully reminds us is the birthplace of Pope Francis. Once they land, they'll have to figure out the name of the church in which the pope was baptized, and then figure out how to get there.

Naturally, once teams sort out their flights, they consult everyone's favorite travel buddy: Google. Diana and Justin team up with mom/son James Earl and Denise and arrive at the answer with the help of a bystander's laptop. "We won't share it with anyone else," Justin assures James, but evidently neither James nor his mom made a reciprocal promise, because three seconds later, they're sharing the information with paparazzi couple Logan and Chris, and with Texan bros Tanner and Josh. This irks Justin a little, but most irked of all are Josh and Tanner, who report that Justin's outspokenness and intensity are already rubbing them the wrong way: "We know they're good and we're aiming to take out the green team."

Pro dancers Ernest and Jin perform an interpretive dance about boarding the flight, and then they're off. At the church, everyone's instructed to take a number and come back the next morning to receive their clue. Justin and Diana arrive in first place, and Justin is moved to tears by the beauty of the church's interior, thus establishing that Justin being moved to tears will be a recurring motif this season.

It's Not Easy Bein' Green

After visiting such a gorgeous church, one wonders what other scenic and cultural highlights of Buenos Aires will get a spotlight this leg. Will it be its parks? Its stunning nineteenth-century architecture? Leather? Steaks? Heladerias? Evita? No: for the Detour, we will celebrate Argentina's commitment to recycling and propensity for transporting statuary. "Cartonero" involves retrieving 100 kilograms of cardboard from recycling containers; "Fletero" involves disassembling a statue at a local antique shop, then finding a park across town where they'll reassemble it.

Everyone except newscaster team Kelsey and Joey elects to collect cardboard, though honestly, neither of these tasks is exactly a nail-biter. Some teams are a little bit quicker to snag their cardboard, but it's not as if anyone is having a meltdown at the daunting prospect of recycling. Also, some of these alleged pieces of trash sure do look uniform and pristine...almost as if they were not discarded but, in fact, placed by someone who wanted to be sure the bins contained a surplus of cardboard.

Track stars Jazmine and Danielle draw the short straw (or short taxi) and are the ninth team to roll up to the cardboard task, where only eight carts are available. After a little bit of fruitless wandering, they're able to snag a cart from Tanner and Josh, who've finished the task in second place, just behind Justin and Diana. Meanwhile, Alex and Adam are amusing themselves by shutting each other into the recycling bins, the cheerleaders keep finding bins other teams have cleaned out, and Ernest and Jin generate numerous entertaining soundbites about all of the interesting, fragrant, non-cardboard things they find in the bins.

Kelsey and Joey ride in a truck with statue parts, and then they assemble the parts to make a statue in a nearby park. I wouldn't have guessed that picking up trash would be the more action-packed half of the Detour here, but it definitely is.

A Task Drives Teams Up The Wall

This week's Roadblock asks the question, "Who wants to get sideways?," and pays tribute to Argentina's tradition of tango dancing, but with a twist: part of the routine the racers will learn involves doing a bit of Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding and dancing up the wall while suspended from pulleys "upside-sideways," as Justin puts it. And honestly, this is pretty fun to watch; it's definitely never been done on this show before, at any rate, and the rope aspect requires a little more core strength than the dance would on its own.

Diana isn't much of a dancer, says Justin, but he's hoping she can knock it out anyway since they've got a sizable lead over most of the other teams. Nobody gets it on their first try, in fact -- not even cheerleader Krista, who yelped in delight when she discovered that the task involved dancing. Most racers, including Diana, nail it by their second. When Justin lets out a celebratory whoop, Tanner -- the only racer requiring more than a handful of tries -- seethes: "I can't stand that guy. I want them out."

The pit stop for this leg is a vast polo complex, where a polo player joins Phil in congratulating Justin and Diana on their first-place finish. Logan and Chris, Denise and James Earl, and Tanner and Josh all leave the Roadblock within minutes of each other, meaning they all arrive at the Pit Stop at nearly the same time. (Denise, overcome with pride at James Earl's stellar tango performance, shrieks, "I made you! You came out of my belly!") Tanner and Josh, who can't stand the idea of anybody beating them and seemingly trying to ignore the fact that someone already did, drop their bags and start sprinting hard, practically mowing down Denise and James to land in second place. But there's a price to pay: during the sprint, Tanner pulls a hamstring, and he's a little concerned that it will slow him and Josh down for the rest of the race. Not to mention the ignominy of knowing that he achieved this injury trying to run over a fifty-one-year-old woman for the sake of a pyrrhic victory.

Don't Cry For Us, Argentina

Eventually, it's just the dancers, cousins, and track stars remaining at the Roadblock, and the dancers, being dancers, are the quickest of this bunch to pass the task. Alex and Adam recognize the futility of going up against collegiate track stars in a foot race, so they're relieved when Alex passes the task before Jazmine does. But they're not far behind, and they've certainly got some hustle left in them: Danielle doesn't even let Jazmine pause to put her shoes back on before they hop into a cab.

It's a close enough finish that a little bit of traffic and a wrong entrance shakes up the order entirely, and Jazmine and Danielle take eighth place (and perhaps Phil's meanest and most egregious mat fake-out ever: "I'm sorry to tell you...that you're in the back of the pack"). The cousins, who bring up the rear and are unceremoniously eliminated for their troubles, are heartbroken to have only made it two legs.

Verdict

While some inter-team conflict definitely greases the wheels, and the tango task at least looks kind of cool, this show has managed to make one of the world's most beautiful capital cities look downright boring, which is no small accomplishment. If you're seeking South American adventure and inspiration, you're far better off hitting up the Travel Channel. On the other hand, this episode did remind me to take a couple of empty cereal boxes down to the recycling bins in the basement, so maybe I'm selling that inspiration angle a little short.

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