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Amazing Race Recap: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Passports

So, this happened.

By Kerri Fleming
There are a lot of ways to essentially eliminate yourself in the Amazing Race. You could take an airport risk, eschewing the flight(s) everyone else is taking for one that MIGHT get in a little earlier IF you make your miniscule layover. You could rush yourself to such a point that you misplace something inconsequential, like your passport. Either way, you're pretty much screwing yourself, not losing to the greater pool of players but to your own risk-taking/bad luck/stupidity.

But what happens when multiple teams make these seemingly irrecoverable mistakes? If, say, two teams get stranded for several hours at an airport multiple countries away and then a THIRD team leaves a bag full of passports with a sticky-fingered cab driver. WHAT NOW? To be continued, that's what now, you tricky Amazing Race producers. Still, it was an eventful - albeit endless - episode this week.

Leaving from Istanbul, the teams now have to bust out their parkas and head to Moscow. We learn a little about the teams on the way - Trey and Lexi feel closer to each other during the race, rather than at each other's throats like we've seen with other couple-teams, and the whole thing is making Lexi crave a certain shiny ring. Abbie and Ryan's annoyance at the twins have extended to the twins' biggest allies - Trey and Lexi - and now the divorcees have added the adorable Texas couple to their crap list. Nadiya and Natalie charm yet another cab driver and start calling him Papa.

At the airport, things are confusing. So confusing that, after getting the shaft at multiple airline counters, Lexi stops at a counter she finally understands: Popeye's. Fully fueled on fried chicken, she and Trey return to the scrum, where the six remaining teams divide into three flights. The three Ja(y)meses and Abba all wind up on the first flight, arriving in Moscow at 2 a.m. The teams hated by Ryan and Abbie wind up on a flight that comes in two hours later. But Ryan and Abbie will outsmart them all, choosing a flight that, from what I can tell, wasn't really scheduled to land much earlier than the other two but which also came with a big caveat - a tiny, one-hour layover in Frankfurt. A huge risk with no real upside? Sign 'em up! And because Josh and Brent put their fate in the hands of a literal flip of the coin, the goat farmers wound up with Abbie and Ryan.

As so often happens, the ultimate destination for this portion of the leg didn't open until the morning, which would have allowed teams on any flight that night to catch up, including the rockers, the Chippendales, the twins and the Texas couple. But because of their dumb risk, the divorcees and the farmers missed their connection in Frankfurt and couldn't get a flight that came in earlier than 3:40 in the afternoon, a good half-day behind everyone else.

After bouncing around to a couple different destinations, the top four teams are faced with a detour: get a list of books in Cyrillic at the Moscow library, find them in a card catalog to get their classification code, and then find the books on the shelf OR learn a synchronized swimming routine and perform it in front of a judge. As a librarian in real life, and one that has spent time in the Westfield Athenaeum's Russian-language section, I was kind of bouncing off the couch on this one. Sure, it looked difficult since Cyrillic is not really related to English at all, and sure I haven't even seen an actual card catalog in 20 years, but my goodness. I could no more turn this away than Abbie turning down a challenge that involved choreography. Or needlework. Or exaggeratedly rolling your eyes.

Anyway, James and Abba and Lexi and Trey both opted for the library challenge, but the rockers almost immediately lost their trademark cool, getting flustered by the different letters and sequences. Trey and Lexi, meanwhile, stuck with it, showing Trey is more than a walking boatload of muscles and Lexi is more than a perky cheerleader.

Over in the pool, we got a much more entertaining show. At first, James and Jaymes figured they were made for this - getting half-naked, performing choreographed routines and getting bossed around by giggly ladies? Sounds like a typical Friday night! They even busted out their Chippendales bowties for the occasion. But then they realized performing the moves on the dry platform was very different from in the water, and their judge seemed to get more and more into failing them.

Nadiya and Natalie weren't any better and played with the idea of ditching the whole thing in favor of their Express Pass. At that point, something clicked with the boys and they finished, all the while convincing the twins to stick with it, since they knew two teams were obviously behind them, stranded at the Frankfurt airport. The twins relented, gave it another go, and wound up passing the test.

Then walked in James and Abba in their suggestive Speedos. The judge almost failed them just on that. They failed again and again, but eventually persevered through Abba's leg injury and everyone's embarrassment.

From there, the teams had to head to the Trees of Love, a bridge lined with metal trees where couples attach locks with their names on it to symbolize the strength of their love. Awwww. And it looks like a pretty regular stop for wedding parties in Moscow, as bride after bride passed Trey and Lexi along the way. If Lexi's bridal urges weren't going before (and they were), they were now, and on overdrive. Poor Trey.

The road block involves using a custodial-sized keyring to free 10 locks. It looked like the type of challenge that could get frustrating, but it was deceptively easy and Trey finished without much of an issue. This allowed he and his wannabe fiance to quickly get to the Bolshoi Theatre, the pitstop for this leg, and win a trip to Maui. A nice place for a honeymoon, amirite?

James from the Chippendales and Natalie also finish the challenge without much issue, taking second and third place.

The big drama came when James and Abba arrived at the challenge and left their bags in their still-unpaid-for cab. When they realized they had to complete a task that might take some time, they turn to pay off the cab and grab their bags. Except the cabbie is gone, with their clothes. And supplies. And passports. Without much of an option, Abba finishes the task, hoping the cabbie had just done a loop around the block to avoid double-parking. But alas, no cabbie - and therefore, no passports - when they returned.

You have to feel for the rockers at this point. Sure, you should be holding onto your bags, or at least your passports, like grim death throughout the race, but it's not crazy to think that a cab driver isn't going to drive away with your stuff. That's not really great for business. And this is a leg after the twins walked off with their cash. Either James and Abba need to start paying better attention or they need to start physically tying their possessions to their bodies.

Anyway, without their passports, Phil wouldn't let them check into the pitstop, which means they just have to locate one cab driver in a city of 11.5 million. No biggie.

At this point, Abbie and Ryan and Josh and Brent have arrived in Moscow, stressed but with new best friends in each other. They decide to run the leg together. At first, I thought this was sweet, especially since Ryan and Abbie have not shown their sweet side pretty much at all during this race. I figured they would find the places together but whoever finished a detour or road block first would go on without waiting. The foursome looks more interested in the library option (obviously!) but as the library was already closed, they were stuck with the synchronized swimming detour.

Abbie and Ryan could not have been happier. Choreography? Competitiveness? Noseplugs? YES PLEASE. They not only finished on their first try, but I'm pretty sure the judge offered them a spot on the team. Rio 2016! For Josh and Brent, not so much. Josh is not a swimmer or a performer or a happy person at this point, spending much of their performances trying not to drown, nevermind actually moving to the music. They're screwed.

This is the point I figured their alliance would break apart. I certainly wouldn't blame Abbie and Ryan for staying for one of Josh and Brent's performances, seeing them struggle, then wishing them good luck as they moved on. I mean, SOMEONE'S got to come in last place here. But to their credit, they popped a squat on a nearby bench and took in all of Josh and Brent's attempts.

And this is where we leave off. Will James and Abba find their theiving cabbie, or at the very least, their passports? Will Josh make it through one synchronized swimming routine without coughing up chlorine? Will Ryan and Abbie be able to maintain their honest-to-goodness real relationship with another team? Will Trey propose? Will Jaymes and James bust out the cuffs next? Tune into next week's episode: "Lost and Found" or "Synchronized Disaster."

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