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The Amazing Race Greeces The Wheels

It's a big fat Greek episode: weird meats! Plate-breaking! Bouzouki music! Guys shouting 'Opa!' ...Donkeys!

Get Them To The Greek

After a quick trip across the Ionian Sea via ferry, the Racers will self-drive to a wedding in the tiny village of Arahova, Greece. By 10:06, we've gotten a shot of an old man raising a glass and yelling "Opa!," just in case you were worried that the show wasn't going to establish ambience with the utmost cultural sensitivity.

Self-driving has been something of a sticking point for many of these teams, and indeed, several of them get lost on their way to Arahova, even though it's apparently located on the other side of a big-ass bridge that's kind of hard to miss.

Also, there's a double U-Turn coming up, because apparently this is an every-other-leg thing now. Scott and Brooke suggest that Michael and Liz would be a good team to target, since it's sure to knock them out of the running given that they've also got a Speed Bump coming up.

In Arahova, Greek folks in native garb dance in a circle and smash plates, because whoever designed this leg basically just googled "Greek stuff" and a movie about a wedding was the first thing that came up. If that's how we're designing things now, I really hope the Roadblock doesn't involve chugging beer from a funnel and hitting each other with paddles. Or anything else on the first page of Google results, depending on whether or not "safe search" was turned on.

Tara and Joey arrive and start seeking their clue, but they're so flummoxed by the ongoing festivities that Scott and Brooke manage to find the actual clue box first. True to their word, they U-Turn Liz and Michael. Tara and Joey, in turn, deploy the other half of the U-Turn against Team Fun, so that Mike and Liz "will have a fighting chance." This would probably have more impact if we'd ever actually seen any kind of strong friendship forming between Tara/Joey and Mike/Liz, but as it stands, U-Turning the only team that consistently brings genuine joy to the program just ends up looking like sort of a dick move.

Hauling Ass And Taking Names

It may be a while before we see this U-Turn pay off, since both Michael and Liz and Team Fun are still cruising around Greece in search of the giant bridge. So let's get to the Detour, which revolves around the wedding in progress: "for the bride" entails delivering milk, via donkey, to a cheesemonger. "For the groom" teams will run up some steps, or something. I don't know, it doesn't matter right now, everyone's going to pick the donkeys. The stairs-related half of the task only exists so that there can be a U-Turn.

Whenever animals are involved in this show, there's always the hope that one of them will go rogue and prove the old adage about show business, but these donkeys seem pretty well-trained, and everyone seems to complete the Detour with no trouble. More's the pity. We could have used another ten minutes of ass puns and fish-eye-lens shots of annoyed-looking donkey snouts.

After the Detour, it's on to the stadium used in the very first Olympic games, where everyone has to jog a lap around the track before they get their next clue. This is also the site of Mike and Liz's Speed Bump, and I swear to God if their Speed Bump is just "take a second lap around the track," I'm quitting this show.

But Mike and Liz still have a lot of Race to go before we get there. Rolling up to the U-Turn, they're furious to learn they've been U-Turned -- and by Brooke and Scott, no less, after they explicitly promised they wouldn't do any such thing. Team Fun's reaction to their own U-Turning a few minutes later is fairly blasé by comparison; basically, they note that this is kind of...not fun.

The Kids Are All Right

The front four teams -- who are basically safe unless something incredibly catastrophic happens -- begin to arrive at the Roadblock, which entails participating in a changing-of-the-guard ceremony. This is right up Tara's alley, she says, since she is an active-duty Army officer. She doesn't get it on the first try, but they've got enough of a lead on the other teams that she's able to try again and get it right before another one shows up.

Liz and Mike finish the donkey task (passing Team Fun, who are just getting started as Liz and Mike wrap up) and head for the stairs task. (To add insult to injury, the bride at the Detour wedding cheerfully reminds both U-Turned teams that they have to go back and do the other task.) Michael was almost undone by stairs back in Norway, the last time this team was saved by non-elimination, and it looks for a second like this particular set of stairs might finish him off. After an eternity, he reaches the summit, and surprise, this task also involves animals! He and Liz are given a goat to take back to the wedding. Unfortunately, it looks like they were supposed to bring two goats, not one, so Mike's date with the stairs isn't quite over yet.

March Madness

Mike gets his goat and completes the second half of the Detour. They're only a few minutes ahead of Team Fun by this point, whom they observe heading down the mountain with livestock of their own. (For some reason, instead of a goat, Floyd's been given a sheep; maybe they ran out of goats because they weren't expecting anyone else to do this half of the Detour.)

Redmond has forced Matt to do the Roadblock -- not, as you might have guessed, because it involves a lot of balancing on one leg and Redmond only has one leg, but because Redmond's done four Roadblocks already and Matt's only done two. Plus, says Redmond, "Matt's gonna look really cute in this outfit." Mastering the routine -- and looking cute in the outfit -- is not tough for anyone, really; even Brooke breezes through it with no trouble (although she does complain several times that she has to pee).

Joey and Tara reach the Pit Stop mat (located in the shadow of the Acropolis) in first place. It's dark by the time the rest of the teams start trickling in, apparently not in much of a hurry, since there's a U-Turn very much in play.

Nice To Meat You

And now back to the teams who might actually be in some danger.

Michael and Liz's Speed Bump involves wrapping intestines around meat, which I imagine Production thought the Racers would find gross, but Michael's a butcher by trade, so that was kind of a nonstarter. Fortunately, Liz is grossed-out enough for both of them.

Becca and Liz take the Roadblock, and it's neck and neck. Both Michael and Floyd are having genuinely emotional reactions to the prospect of being eliminated, but both still manage to put on a brave face and cheer on their partners. Becca's out of there first, and despite the fact that Team Fun has shown themselves to be Team Not Great At Navigating, they get where they need to go when it counts, meaning Michael and Liz are eliminated. They say their dynamic has been like that of a big brother and little sister, right down to the bickering, but that now they'll be family for life.

Verdict

You can probably skip most of the front half of this pack (and Logan and London, because seriously, half the time I forget they're still even there), but watching two of the more compelling teams of the season, with two of the best dynamics, battle it out to stay in the game is Amazing Race suspense at its finest. By the end, it's hard to remember that these teams were total strangers to each other when this whole thing kicked off.

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