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The Amazing Race Is Far From Slo-Mo In Lake Como

In Italy, Racers ascend an actual cliff, but does the episode pack any other kind of cliffhanger?

The Pasta And The Furious

At the end of the previous leg, Phil told racers that this wasn't actually the end of the leg; everyone's still racing. Now, they're off to Milan, with a little help from a cell phone with a special product-placement-furnished app (but not that much help, apparently, since they're all on the same flight). Italy is shaped like a boot, adds Phil helpfully.

Liz and Michael, whose nonstop sniping at each other was partially responsible for pushing them to the back of the pack, are preparing to leave Norway, but they definitely haven't left their squabble behind. "I'm sorry," says Liz in the most un-sorry tone of voice possible. "Are YOU sorry?" Michael is not sorry, he says, because he doesn't feel he did anything wrong. Eventually, though, they hug it out, albeit grudgingly. Via confessional, they report that they still wouldn't want anyone else for a partner, because, well, look at the rest of these bozos.

With a U-Turn coming up, there's a little potential for interteam conflict, but it's actually a pretty drama-free decision on the part of most teams: everyone pretty unanimously wants Vanck and Ashton out of the Race for reasons that go fairly unexplained. Perhaps their EXTREME DIFFERENCES are making them a force to be reckoned with; perhaps their nonstop bickering is just really annoying; perhaps they're just nerds and there aren't any lockers around to stuff them into.

On the ground in Milan, a Roadblock directs racers to a restaurant built into a streetcar, where they'll have to spot words on road signs while they polish off a meal. Each car can only accommodate four racers at a time: Michael and Tara grab the first one; Vanck, Floyd, Scott, and Redmond grab the second; Logan's left out in the cold until the next one comes.

A Streetcar Named Perspire

The food's delicious, the scenery spectacular, but the words are proving a little harder to find. Michael and Tara team up and make quick work of the task, but on the second and third tram, it's every man for themselves, and everyone gets it wrong and has to go back for seconds. Scott makes a pretty big show out of not wanting to help Vanck, who sort of guilelessly bumbles around between tram trips looking for friends and finding no purchase, and you can't help feeling sorry for the guy. Sure, he chose a partner who doesn't always play well with others, but all he's done, personally, is be sort of dweeby. Unless the show's choosing not to show him throwing some epic smack talk at the competition, there's no good reason for putting him on the outs like this.

It would be incredibly fun if someone got stuck in a negative feedback loop whereby they had to keep stuffing their face and fruitlessly seeking the clues until they went full Mr. Creosote; unfortunately, everyone does get the correct answer the second time around.

Everyone's now off to Lake Como, where they'll spend the night on a luxury steamboat with a pretty fancy food spread (and again, the lingering camera pans across the delicious-looking meal would have been far more entertaining if one or more teams had just put away six plates of tram food). Logan and London are the last team to show up to the boat, but since they have to pick up a departure time for the next morning, they only wind up about five minutes behind everyone else. While the teams wine, dine, and snooze, their boat crosses the lake, and they resume racing on the other side the next morning.

Aaaaand here's the U-Turn, yet again misplaced before anyone's had the chance to complete a Detour.

You're Only As Mold As You Feel

This week's Detour options are: "make a mold" (create a ghost statue using a traditional papier-mâché-esque method) or "grab a hold" (one racer belays while their partner climbs a whopping "ninety feet in the air!" chirps Phil, as if that's supposed to impress us; it seems like they've climbed many higher, more dangerous things in the past).

As agreed upon by pretty much every team, Liz and Michael U-Turn Vanck and Ashton, and when Floyd and Becca arrive at the U-Turn board next, the plan is for them to U-turn Liz and Michael, effectively turning the double U-Turn into a single one so that Vanck and Ashton can't use it. And, well, that's pretty much the end of the episode right there, unless someone really messes up. And since Vanck and Ashton kick off their morning by getting seriously lost, it's really not looking good for them.

Becca's pretty jazzed to rock-climb, since that's what she does for a living, but she's not half as jazzed as everyone else as they all learn that Vanck and Ashton have been U-Turned. It's basically a nonstop party as the teams enjoy their arts and crafts and/or rock-climbing time with little fear of being eliminated. (Well, everyone is enjoying themselves except Brooke, who's having a rock-climbing-related meltdown. She's not scared of heights, she says, she's scared she won't be able to do the task.)

Honestly, every other team piling on Vanck and Ashton is really uncomfortable to watch. I mean, I'm sure there's probably a pretty good reason for such unanimous contempt, but since we haven't been shown that reason per se, it comes off as pretty unsporting. It does have the unintended side effect of bringing them together as a united front, though, and there's a sweet moment where Ashton squeezes Vanck's hand and they try to enjoy the scenery.

Becca makes quick work of the rock-climbing task, of course, but so does Redmond, so it's a heated race for first place between Team Fun and Team The Boys.

Rocks And Docks

The two frontrunner teams race via speedboat to the park where Phil awaits. They both spot him at the same time, but it's Floyd and Becca who figure out how to get to him from the boat docks, and they claim the first-place prize.

Brooke's meltdown continues as she searches for handholds on the cliff face and complains about pain in her knee. ("It's just like pushing a baby out!" shouts Scott by way of encouragement.) Once she's back on the ground, her delight at the fact that she accomplished the climb almost mitigates the tantrum she threw along the way: "I was all the way up there!" she shrieks as she high-fives her partner.

The "make a mold" task appears to be a little more time-consuming than rock-climbing, but as a bonus, the team member inside the mold looks like E.T., which is kind of endearing. London/Logan and Tara/Joey both complete this half of the Detour, but Vanck and Ashton must have been pretty far behind at this point, because they're long gone by the time the U-Turn becomes a factor.

Vanck and Ashton -- who are, of course, eliminated from the race -- learned the expected lesson: racers with nothing in common can find common ground in their love of racing. Something tells me they won't be taking vacations together on their own, though.

Verdict

While those of you who come to The Amazing Race purely for adrenaline tasks and travel porn might be irritated by the sheer amount of petty racer conflict in this episode, those of you who live for interteam (and intrateam) drama will have a buon viaggio this week. And while we lose one of the stranger teams of this stranger-themed season, and the elimination wasn’t exactly a surprise, we had some intense moments on the front half of the competition, and the stage is set for some heated competition in future legs.

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