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The Amazing Race Enjoys Dutch Treats

In Rotterdam, racers tilt at windmills and steer virtual cargo ships...and a shockingly small minority of them can actually tell us where Rotterdam even is.

Dam, Son

So you know how last week's episode ended on a shot of James Earl and Denise hopelessly stuck on the hip-hop Detour, likely doomed to spit French-ish gibberish until the end of time itself? Yeah, they passed the task two minutes into this week's episode; thus, they will live to see another day, and they'll be off to Rotterdam, along with the other racers, in a semi-timely fashion.

Everyone starts the leg with production-arranged reservations on the same train, departing Paris at 7:22, but Justin and Diana are well aware that they can -- and should -- try to do better, because they have seen an episode or twelve of this series before. They snag standing-room tickets for a train leaving at 4:19. Meanwhile, Team Texas is blithely taking in the sights of Paris since they don't believe they have anything better to do until that 7:22 train, enabling the cheerleaders, Chacs, and paparazzi also to find better trains and overtake them.

Rotterdam, by the way, is a city in the Netherlands, not in Germany, as the cheerleaders guess. ("You're being funny, right?" asks Kelsey. "Wait, where do you think you are?" asks Joey. "We don't know," replies Krista.) In fact, it is the second-largest city in the Netherlands, making it wholly distinct from the first-largest city, Amsterdam, contrary to the Chacs' theory that "Rotterdam" is just French for "Amsterdam." They're so sure of this, in fact, that they miss their stop in Rotterdam and end up all the way at Schipol Airport before someone clues them into the fact that it's entirely possible for a country to have two different city names ending with the same three-letter suffix.

Not that it particularly matters in the end; the first stop in Rotterdam is a board filled with departure times for the next morning, and the Chacs arrive there in third place anyway.

Van Gogh For The Gold

Sometime during the night, Rick was bitten by what he thinks was a mosquito but may actually have been some kind of six-legged eldritch horror borrowed from Survivor, if his grotesquely swollen lips are any indication.

"Every step counts! The more you take, the higher the stakes!" trumpets the morning's first clue. Justin and Diana, who have a few minutes' lead on the other teams, debate the meaning of this obviously product-placed-fitness-tracker-related directive; Diana thinks maybe it means they should run to the water taxi that will take them to the Roadblock. This causes them to get lapped by both the Chacs and the cheerleaders.

The Roadblock takes place at a field of windmills at Kinderdijk, pronounced "kinder-dike" and not the considerably less savory way Chris pronounces it. Racers have to search the grounds to find a copy of one of Van Gogh's famous sunflower paintings among a lot of fakes that are missing a few key details. It's like someone on the production team looked up the Netherlands on Wikipedia and tried to cram as many references as they could into one task.

With a sharp eye and a methodical approach, Joey manages to overtake three other teams, and the newscasters depart in first place. Other racers don't fare as well, including Diana, who berates herself for blowing what amounted to a 45-minute lead; the green team eventually leaves in fourth place.

After completing the Roadblock, there's a little bit of pen-and-paper math involving numbers recorded from everyone's product-placed fitness trackers, followed by delivering some tulips to a giant wooden shoe (just because the producers want you to know they got all the way to the end of that Wikipedia article). This stymies Tanner and Josh, who didn't know there was going to be a quiz, and it takes them a fair amount of time to figure out what 152 minus 128 is.

Cargo For The Gold

The Detour, "Ship" or "Skip," involves either working with a cargo-ship rescue simulator (commemorating Rotterdam's status as Europe's largest port) or completing a double Dutch jump-rope routine (because hey, that's got "Dutch" in the name, so it counts, right?). Only Krista and Tiffany are brave enough to try the jump rope, and it's probable that they're the only team of this bunch who'd have a prayer of completing it.

Everyone else heads for the ship simulator via public transportation, and some take a more direct route than others. That's the polite way of saying that #ChacAttack totally screws the pooch here. Rick is under the impression that they need to take a particular bus to a tram, which means that's what they're going to do, no arguments. This leaves them stuck at a deserted bus station for what could be several minutes or several hours -- long enough for Cindy to nurse a serious grudge, at any rate.

While the ship simulator looks like it's probably a lot of fun if you've got your hands on the controls, watching the racers attempt it is a lot like watching your friends play videogames. Justin and Diana pass the task first, with Kelsey and Joey right behind them. The Pit Stop is another half-hour away by train at The Hague (or, as Joey pronounces it, "The Hagoo"). By the time the green team and the newscasters get to the train station, the cheerleaders are done with their Detour, so it's a three-way race for first place.

A Hague Sense Of Foreboding

Joey eventually figures out out that the spot on the map that says "Den Haag" is actually how the Dutch write "Hagoo," but the newscasters are overtaken at the last minute by Justin and Diana, who rack up their fourth first-place finish as well as a dollar for every step they took on this leg. It's a pretty sweet prize, but Phil's not done! He also asks for their current heart rate and awards them a massage for that many minutes.

Naturally, second-place finishers Kelsey and Joey are irritated to be bested by Justin and Diana yet again, but the good news is that they get some pretty blatant foreshadowing in the form of a soundbite proclaiming their intent to try and steal victory out from under the clear frontrunners. And where some teams are disappointed by second place, others, like the cheerleaders, are delighted by third place; Phil dubs them "most improved."

Tanner and Josh and Logan and Chris are the next two teams to check in, leaving Rick and Cindy versus James Earl and Denise for last place. It looks like it will come down to which team completes the simulator first, since only one team can go for it at a time. On James Earl and Denise’s second turn, they nail it, so they, too, are on their way to The Hague.

But wait! It's not over yet! Rick and Cindy manage to catch up again at the train station, which means they could sprint it out at the end...or they could choose an entirely different train that makes local stops, instead of waiting with James Earl and Denise for an express one. And then James Earl and Denise's train is delayed! And then Rick and Cindy get on the wrong tram! Who will reach Phil first?

James Earl and Denise, who are absolutely certain they're out until Phil disabuses them of that notion, are pronounced officially safe for one more leg. Rick and Cindy arrive just seconds later to take their Philimination in surprisingly good spirits, considering the bickering, bug bites, and myriad navigational errors. Now that they've completed this adventure, they say, it's onto the next one: starting a family. I mean, hey, it worked out for Brenchel.

Verdict

The final sprint to the mat, on both the front end and the back end, is pretty epic this week, but it comes on the heels of some pretty mediocre tasks and a country that we've not only been to before, we went to it just last season. Take a few minutes to bask in the moral superiority of being able to find Rotterdam on a map, unlike some of these bozos, then catch the last five minutes, and you'll be good to go.

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