Photo: CBS

Shine Your Shoes, Guvnah?

One egregious blunder is one thing, but two in the same leg proves tough to overcome.

Start

The Pit Stop city from last week is renowned for its neo-classical architecture, of which we see about five seconds. Tim and Marie depart at 2:52 AM for the deck of a shipboard museum, and we see recycled footage of their "arguments," which were so compelling the first time around. Tim thinks can they screw with the other teams by casting out their second Express Pass on a fishing line and then reeling it back, which even beyond the obvious interpersonal downsides is dumb because (a) they'll have to give it away eventually and (b) the longer they wait, the more likely it's going to go to a strong team. Nicole thinks they need to put the blunder from last time out of their heads, which seems like a necessary philosophy for an ER surgeon. Rowan and Shane are self-dubbed "Survivors and Thrivers," which no.

The teams get their first middle-of-the-night bunch, but Adam for sure speaks some Spanish (Brandon may as well), and the Beards head off to some salt flats with an early lead. Ally (I think; whichever's the horsier of the two) tries to laugh like Janice from Friends, but she, sir, is no Janice from Friends. To start the Detour, they have to ride bikes, which is boring, and then choose between Mining and Brining. Brining: Add enough salt to a pool of water so you both can comfortably float and read a newspaper (?). Mining: Break open boulders of salt until you find one that contains a clue. Rowan and Shane pull off for directions, and Rowan berates Shane for taking the time to thank their helpers; I assume the editors are trusting us to make the bad karma leap ourselves.

Speaking of which, Leo and Jamal have apparently dubbed (I first typed "dummed," which seems to fit) Ally and Ashley (with happy approval from them) their "Race Wives," which manages to be gross, disturbing, and Smurfy all at the same time. Nicole has trouble figuring out which gear to put her bike in and eventually hits the deck, and if you're relying on that for a suspenseful commercial break, you can see why this piece isn't necessary to your life.

The Devil Is In The Details

Travis doesn't have to perform emergency field surgery (I'm disappointed too), as Nicole gets up and they switch bikes. The Brining seems like it would be easier on paper, but teams have to carry an awful lot of salt over to the pools; it's heavy and the water is cold. At Mining, the NFL guys physically beat the salt within an inch of its life, but the other teams use provided hammers and tongs, like nice job, wusses. The Beards see out the Mining and get rewarded with a 1000-mile, 24-hour bus ride to Santiago, which seems like a human-rights violation? Marie proves far stronger than the other women with the bags of salt, so at least the promo shots of her working out are grounded in reality as well as protein supplements.

All the initial Miners finish before all the Briners. The first five teams make the 1:30 bus, but that sells it out, so Tim/Danny, Ashley/Ally, Tim/Marie, and Nicky/Kim get on a 2:00 option. What they do not realize, however, is that this bus makes many more stops and actually takes 28 hours, so Rowan/Shane surreptitiously get a bus that leaves later but, they understand, will get them in two hours earlier than Bus #2 -- except thanks to a language misunderstanding, that bus actually will get in four hours later. It's a double twist involving solid race strategy, derailed by poor communication borne of premature self-congratulation, which is always a favorite.

Leo And Jamal Win The Leg…Wait, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Rowan and Shane damage-control their way onto a bus that will get them in only one or two hours behind where they would have been if they'd stuck with the other teams, and they try to be philosophical about it, but all their talk about being risk-takers doesn't really acknowledge that they screwed up a simple bit of communication. In Santiago, the Roadblock entails shining shoes, assembling a complicated shine cart, and wheeling it six blocks. Kim realizes that Tim once played minor-league baseball with her husband, and this seems to put them in best contention for the spare Express Pass. Most teams pack the cart incorrectly to start, send it tumbling to the ground, or both, but the editors are unusually restrained in their choice of accompanying music cues, which ruins a lot of the fun.

The Pit Stop is the Cascada de Las Animas Nature Reserve, and Rowan and Shane continue to try to turn a practical defeat into a philosophical victory as they talk about taking chances and whatever. Leo and Jamal arrive first but have a snafu settling their cab bill, and when Phil sends them back to make it right, it allows Chester and Ephraim to win the leg, and any typos from here on out will be due to my convulsive shakes of laughter. (Also, thank GOD the world didn't have to deal with Leo and Jamal getting a VIP trip to Turks and Caicos. EW.) They bicker on the mat and Phil actually scolds them, which again rules. The first-bus teams all finish the leg before the second bus even arrives, and it's funny, if quite logical, that many of the teams have strong opinions as to who's the better packer.

Rowan and Shane catch up in time to make a race of it, which is unexpected, while Nicole's awesome shoeshine guy keeps telling her that her job isn't up to par with hilariously unhelpful "No"s.

Sashay Away

Rowan fucks up yet again, interrupting an actual shoeshine guy rather than getting one of the Race-provided carts, and he ends up commandeering the guy's cart and taking it to the check-in, like, after a twenty-four hour bus ride to contemplate being more careful this feels pretty inexcusable, but maybe this is another example of "risk-taking"? Carts collapse all over the place, and people leave their shoeshine rugs behind. Rowan, having dragged his shoeshine guy to the place he's supposed to get his cart evaluated, actually gets on his knees and begs him to wait, and you don't see situations like this often but I hope the producers made it up to him somehow. Marie can't believe Rowan told the shoeshine guy she's the devil, but Tim demonstrates some slight comic timing in agreeing with the assessment.

It comes down to Nicky having left her rug behind and Rowan having to do the task all over again, and the editors don't really even try to conceal the fact that Rowan and Shane are going to be eliminated; their teary goodbye is intercut with them wearing those highly useful yet extremely silly-looking miners' forehead flashlights.

Verdict

The couple moments of schadenfreude and interesting reversals aren't enough to overcome tepid tasks and even more boring and tiresome teams; there are basically no really funny lines, even unintentional howlers. I'll wake you if something good happens, I promise.

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