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The Amazing Race Goes With The Flo

A classic task from the show's early days makes a reappearance, and this time it's apparently out for blood.

Might As Well Jump

As teams embark on Leg 9, Joey reflects that he's pretty pissed off at Scott and Brooke for U-Turning Michael and Liz, a move he proclaims "not really being competitive, in my book," because apparently using game advantages supplied by Production is not sporting. Now that Floyd and Becca have survived a U-Turn, they report that they've gone from Team Fun to Team Funstoppable. Redmond and Matt, who are just enjoying getting to know each other, make that old "we finish each other's sandwiches" joke, which Redmond reacts to as if it is the first time he's ever heard it, or indeed, any joke ever.

It's Roadblock time, and Scott observes that because he and Brooke need to have done the same number of Roadblocks, he's pretty much compelled to do this one. This may come as a shock to you, since Brooke's main contribution to the team thus far seems to be proclaiming tasks impossible, while Scott has somehow managed to get roped into confronting his crippling fear of heights over and over again. But it's true -- she's done four so far to his three, so whatever's on the docket today, it's all him. "Please let it not be bungee jumping," he says. Naturally, that's exactly what it is -- specifically, it's the same bungee jump Racers had to do in Season 9, the last time the show visited Greece.

After performing the task with lots of obligatory "woo"s, Matt observes that he wishes he could be there when Scott finds out he has to take it. Scott can barely even look at the bridge when he arrives at the task. He notes that while two of the three Roadblocks he's done already have been heights-related, bungee jumping is pretty much his worst-case scenario. After much chatter about being unable to do it, he gets suited up and walks up to the ledge, and of course we cut to commercial on "I can't do this...."

Everyone Gets Hanoi'ed

...only to find that actually, he can after all, with the help of pep talks from Brooke and the bungee jump staff. "That was horrible," he says. "I will never do that again in my life. Ever." A short time later, Logan doesn't scream when he does the jump. He doesn't even "woo." He just sort of chuckles, which is weird.

After everyone's knocked out the Roadblock, it's off to Hanoi, Vietnam, where it's about a million degrees and very humid. The Detour forces teams to choose between "bamboo climb" (climb a bamboo ladder to retrieve a birdcage) and "window design" (dress mannequins in a store window). Those things do not rhyme, Phil. Stop trying to make them rhyme.

Team Fun, arriving in first place, picks Bamboo Climb; Team The Boys, Logan/London, and Brooke/Scott all want to Climb as well. Unfortunately, there are only two ladders available to these three teams, and Brooke nearly knocks London over in an attempt to grab the last ladder. While London/Logan and Brooke/Scott are squabbling, The Boys grab Ladder #3, and eventually, Brooke and Scott are left ladder-less and forced to take the other Roadblock. As much as Brooke has the reputation for being the whiny one on this team, it's Scott who has to be talked down after being thwarted.

Mannequin Two: On The Move

Them's the breaks, say London and Logan as they march off with their spoils. Scott spends what feels like another twenty minutes griping about the fact that Brooke didn't grab the ladder quickly enough, their fractured alliance with LoLo, and the unfairness of life in general. They may or may not be on their way to the other task while this is happening; frankly, it's hard to tell.

Once they arrive at the window-dressing task, Brooke and Scott continue bickering about the best method to transport their mannequins. Brooke gets strangely insistent on removing all of the mannequin arms and wrapping them in a scarf, which is really just a manifestation of her frustration at not being able to do the ladder task -- a fact which becomes apparent as she really starts to come unglued as they march along the crowded sidewalks of downtown Hanoi with their arms full of body parts. Eventually, Scott also snaps: "You need to tell me what you need!" "I needed you to hold the ladder!" she shrieks. "Shut up about the damn ladder already," he snarls back.

Scott and Brooke spend so much time screaming at each other that Joey and Tara manage to pass them and start working on the window task. They pick up two mannequins, but when they arrive at their destination, they realize that the task calls for three, so they're going to have to go back. Apart from Joey accidentally getting really fresh with the female mannequin a few times, their quest is far less interesting than what's happening with Scott and Brooke.

Over at the ladder task, teams have some trouble getting their very long ladders up very narrow stairs and...you know what? You don't care about this part either.

Nothing's Gonna Funstop Us Now

Floyd and Becca make quick work of their ladders and land on the mat in first place, thus proving their funstoppability. Matt and Redmond are close behind, prompting Becca to dub them "un-boy-lievable."

While Tara and Joey are getting their third mannequin, Brooke and Scott manage to finish the task, but their taxi is incredibly slow, and it looks like their driver might have taken them to the wrong place (which, of course, does wonders for Brooke's attitude). Joey and Tara, by contrast, are stoic in the face of potential elimination.

Brooke and Scott are indeed Team #4, but Joey and Tara are right on their heels. When Scott brings it in for a conciliatory hug, Joey slumps over and nearly knocks them both to the ground. Brooke, alarmed, asks if he's okay. "Now she wants to know if we're okay?" asks Tara. Brooke attempts to explain that, yes, there's a difference between wanting to defeat people in a game and caring about them on a human level, but Tara's really not in the mood to hear it.

It does slightly lift the mood when Phil announces that this is a non-elimination leg, meaning Tara and Joey will live to fight another leg. If, that is, the heatstroke doesn't kill them first.

Psyched For Bikes

Before kicking off the next leg, Scott and Brooke mend fences with London and Logan over the ladder thing. The alliance is still on, they say. Logan is disappointed to learn that Joey and Tara aren't out of the race, since Joey and Tara are strong competitors who are not in the alliance.

Teams are now boarding buses for the limestone mountains of Ninh Binh; The Boys and Team Fun wind up on a bus leaving half an hour before the next one. Once they've arrived, they pick up product placement gnomes and bike to a Roadblock, which asks them, "Who's feeling trapped?" This Roadblock requires racers to ride a bicycle laden with wicker shrimp traps. "For some people," intones Phil, "balancing could be a nightmare." In smeary, sepia-toned flashback-cam, we catch a glimpse of Season 3, and of Flo, whom longtime fans regard as synonymous with insane Amazing Race meltdowns after her memorable breakdown over a task involving these exact bikes. Behind the scenes, Production salivates at the prospect of potentially dethroning Flo if Brooke somehow winds up taking this Roadblock.

For that, sadly, we'll have to wait until after the break, but in the meantime, Floyd and Matt are having enough trouble that you just know this task is going to be great television in less capable hands.

Feets Don't Fail Me Now

While Tara and Joey knock out their Speed Bump (collecting duck eggs from a local farm), Matt finishes the Roadblock. Floyd, on the other hand, has dropped a few of his baskets enroute to the checkpoint and has to go back and collect them. Becca's not worried -- they're still in second place. She starts to get a little more worried when teams from the next bus begin showing up.

Matt and Redmond arrive at the next task, which entails rowing a boat with their feet. Obviously, Matt, as the team member with two legs, is going to be doing this, and he vows to figure out what the trick is. (Other, later teams have a little trouble with it, but Matt apparently never skips leg day.)

We are then deprived of what would have undoubtedly been the greatest moment in Amazing Race history when Brooke and Scott arrive at the Roadblock and Scott takes it. On the other hand, had Brooke taken this Roadblock, the show might have been forced to end then and there, since there's no way they could ever have topped themselves after that.

Team Funsafe

Floyd makes his second attempt at the Roadblock alongside London, making her first attempt. Floyd's getting the hang of it, but London starts to panic when the baskets tip over onto her, so they decide to do the task together. Somewhere along the way, Floyd drops yet more baskets, and London is in tears when she passes the task and has to leave him behind.

Phil's waiting for teams at the Pit Stop, located atop a long climb up several hundred stairs. When Matt and Redmond come into sight, panting and sweating their way up the mountain, he calls down to them with good news: they're Team #1! They still have to make it up to the top to make it official, of course. "Tell us about the leg," says Phil. "Well, it's made of carbon fiber," says Redmond, and miraculously, nobody shoves him off the mountain.

Becca resets the fun-meter back to negative numbers as Floyd takes his third shot at the Roadblock, well after everyone else has left the task. After what feels like an eternity, he finishes it, and Becca cheers him on as they mount up and start pedaling. If they hustle, she says, they might still catch up. Unfortunately, giving 110% to bicycling in 120-degree heat right after one team member has spent more than an hour pedaling his ass off is not so much a recipe for catching up as it is a recipe for passing out from heatstroke, and indeed, that's what Floyd does as we cut to commercial.

The Funmeter Breaks For Good

With a little water and a checkup from a medic, Floyd is eventually pronounced okay, but it takes a while, and in the meantime, they slip further and further behind. There's no way Floyd can keep going, which isn't the way either of them wanted to go out, but nobody wants to see Floyd climb all those stairs in his state. Phil comes out to deliver the bad news: Team Funstoppable has been Funstopped. They're as gracious and positive as you would expect them to be on their way out; they perform the dorkiest rap ever as their swan song.

Verdict

Floyd's frightening brush with death aside, this is a pretty solidly entertaining piece of television, with something for everyone: old-school fans will love all of the references to seasons past; drama llamas will love Brooke and Scott's breakdown; and anyone who loves competition will love the constantly switching order and tasks that require a fair amount of strength and skill.

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