The Amazing Race Does Some Seoul-Searching
In South Korea, teams learn a thing or two from the indoor kids when they stack cups and play a few rounds of Street Fighter.
I've Got A Ticket For The Long Way Round
Matt and Redmond spend some quality time with the sponsor of their first-place prize before departing for South Korea. Once teams land, everyone but #TheBoys head for cabs, because #TheBoys were told by locals that the subway will be much faster in the midst of rush hour. From the backs of cabs, the other three teams observe that this is utter foolishness, but obviously it's a race, and at this late stage, nobody wants to throw a bone to a strong team and risk blowing up their own spot.
Energetic K-pop music (and a big "Gangnam Style" sign, because while the song is under copyright, the phrase is not) welcomes teams to their first clue, appropriately located in the Gangnam District. They're directed to proceed to a local college gym.
Brooke is uncharacteristically excited to volunteer for the Roadblock, which involves competitive cup-stacking: each Roadblocker has to complete a stacking sequence in under seven seconds. It's not difficult, but there's definitely a learning curve. Meanwhile, as they're learning the task, a bunch of ten-year-old cup-stacking champs absolutely school them at it over and over. Brooke has a young cousin who is a cup-stacking enthusiast not unlike these kids, so the cups pose little challenge for her. She and Scott depart the task in first place, but Joey and Tara are not far behind them.
In some other time and place, Matt and Redmond have apparently abandoned the subway in favor of a cab, but the driver they've selected is one of the ones the people on their flight warned them about: he's taken them to some other competitive cup-stacking gym, apparently. (There's also the fact that they keep referring to Hanyoung University as "Annyong University," and maybe the driver just thinks they're big fans of Arrested Development.)
Good Cabbage, Bad Cab-age
Brooke is again delighted by the next task, which entails making kimchi, and for a second I wonder if she was somehow recast between the last leg and now, but the old Brooke makes a reappearance in short order when she begins to get bogged down by details. She's not sure Scott has followed the recipe exactly, and she's worried they're going to get dinged for something small and dumb -- a worry that's compounded when she sees the gathered locals pointing and laughing. While she frets, Tara/Joey and London/Logan manage to complete the task and leave them in the dust.
There's a team called London and Logan on this season, apparently, and they turn out to be somewhat entertaining during the kimchi-making task, particularly when the task judge feeds them each a piece of kimchi at the end and London's eyes bug out in surprise at the taste.
Back at the cups, Redmond finds the task fairly easy, so they hope they've either made up a lot of time or someone else got an even worse cab driver. Unfortunately for them, everyone else's drivers are pretty good, or so the show's editors must think, because we're now treated to roughly ten minutes of this cab passing that cab and that cab passing another cab and all the racers cheering when their cab passes someone else's.
A second Roadblock, located at an e-sports arena, asks, "Who's ready to take control?" For this one, each Racer has to win a round of Street Fighter 5 against a professional gamer. Tara and London didn't spend any significant portion of their childhoods playing videogames, and they're not even aware of the classic strategy of "mash all the buttons as hard and fast as you can until something happens," which is a surprisingly solid Street Fighter tactic. But even Scott, who spent a chunk of his childhood in front of a gaming console, is hopeless against the pro. Fortunately, every 20 rounds, the pros will handicap themselves, making the pursuit a little less fruitless over time.
On a large screen behind the Roadblockers, their progress can be observed. (Scott has opted to play as Chun Li, because he's a fan of the classics.) Three quadrants of the screen are taken up by videogames in progress; the fourth, representing the absent Redmond and Matt, displays nothing but a static Amazing Race logo.
The pros are now playing with one hand tied behind their backs, and they're still winning repeatedly. This would be about as exciting as watching your friends play videogames in your own basement, except that Scott is unleashing a torrent of endlessly entertaining trash talk in which he calls his fourteen-year-old opponent a bitch a whole bunch of times.
Matt and Redmond arrive at the kimchi task and notice that all of the other teams have already been and gone.
London finally perfects her button-mashing technique, and beats the pro, but Scott is not far behind. Tara, on the other hand, is stuck. She tries mixing it up a little bit, switching up characters and attempting a few button combos, but even once the pro dons a blindfold, she's still getting pwned over and over. Meanwhile, Joey's ire has begun to simmer. Grumbling at a kid who's just doing the job he was given, predictably, does nothing to either improve Tara's skills or slow the progress of Matt and Redmond, who've now arrived at the task, and it's a safe bet that the twentysomething professional snowboarder has probably played a videogame or two in his day.
Just Because You Are A Bad Guy, Does Not Mean You Are Bad Guy
London and Logan, and Scott and Brooke, hop in cabs and head to the pit stop. Who will it be in first place? It's Scott and Brooke! They've won the right to race in the final leg for a million dollars. "Everyone is surprised to see us here," says Scott. "Except us," adds Brooke. Logan and London are just a minute or two behind, so the four celebrate together.
Videogaming is way less interesting without Scott's Jesse Pinkman-esque running commentary, although Matt, at least, is having a blast playing the game. (He attempts to get an onlooker to give him tips, and his opponent shuts that down with a quickness, saying with a grin that Matt's too good to be getting help.) While Tara struggles, Joey continues to complain about the fact that the professional gamer whose job it is to put up a good fight is not putting up a less good fight. Eventually, though, she's able to get past her one-handed, blindfolded opponent, and she vows never to touch another video game for the rest of her life.
Matt and Redmond keep on hustling to the end, hoping that the penultimate leg will be a non-elimination one, but it's not to be. They're out of the race. They've had fun, though, and they wouldn't have wanted to run the race with anyone else.
Attention now turns to the three finalists. Scott and Brooke feel like they've found a good groove, despite (or maybe even because of) their propensity for bickering. Joey and Tara have come back from the brink of elimination and kept their cool the whole time. "We don't complain. We don't fight," says Joey, over a shot of the two of them complaining and fighting. London and Logan are also a team competing in this race, and they, too, would like a million dollars.
On its face, cup-stacking, cabbage, and videogames sounds more like a quiet Saturday night in than an action-packed leg of an Emmy-winning TV show. And while it's much more entertaining than it sounds -- there are some genuinely adorable moments this week -- in the end, it's still cup-stacking, cabbage, and videogames.