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Amazing Race Recap: Even Ground



Remember, kids: If you sign up for some sort of lesson, GO TO IT.

By Kerri Fleming

After the flight disaster from Istanbul to Moscow several legs ago, it seems like each episode of the Amazing Race has been made up of three or four mini-episodes, such were the massive differences between the top, middle, and bottom teams. When the most recent leg kicked off, it was a foregone conclusion that, unless there was some major equalizer along the way, the fabulous Beekman boys would be gone without much drama.

So thank goodness for the bizarre once-every-24-hours ferry from Barcelona to the Isle of Mallorca because the game is officially back on. The teams departed from their pitstop in Moscow for Barcelona, where they'd then have to take a ferry to Mallorca before finding some demon/devil impersonators (I hope) to get their next clue. They were still so divided that nobody knew how many teams were left and who had been eliminated the previous round, and they all wound up on different, scattered flights to Barcelona.

First-place Nadiya and Natalie began playing the waiting game when they arrived at the ferry station an hour before it opened, giving Jaymes and James enough time to catch up. Rather than being irked that they just lost their lead, the girls were psyched to see their buddies, and everyone was even MORE psyched when Trey and Lexi showed up. It was hard to tell whether I was watching the Amazing Race or MTV's newest reality show THE MOST AWESOME SPRING BREAK EVA, or Twinnies Take Mallorca. When the group found out that the ferry wouldn't leave until 11 that night, aka 13 hours later, they embraced a fun-filled day at the beach, forgetting (or not caring) that this was going to give fresh life to a team that had been on life support for the past several days. The only thing that could make them happier would be to find out that this remaining bottom-dwelling team were the weak and sweet Josh and Brent and not the strong and snarky Ryan and Abbie. And guess what? Huzzah! Screams, high fives and splash fights for all!

When the ferry finally arrived in Mallorca the next morning, it looked like things were going to fall into their natural places: Josh and Brent quickly fell behind the rest of the teams when they asked for directions rather than just jumping into a taxi. Being in the running was fun while it lasted, eh, guys? But then, like the tortoise overcoming the hare, Josh and Brent's preparation and life experience started coming in handy against some of the other teams. Namely, their foresight to learn how to drive a stick.

After the teams got their clue from the head devil in a devil dance that part hilarious and part kind of creepy, they had to drive themselves around Mallorca. Originally together, the top three teams opt to drive together to the next location - a local sports center - but Nadiya and Natalie fall behind, thanks to Nadiya's skipping out on her stick-shift lessons after one time. Oh those wacky twins. Nadiya's driving abilities are so bad that they actually allow Josh and Brent - who have been waiting eagerly for a chance to show off their driving/navigation skills - to pass them.

At the sports center, one person from each team has to make like Mallorca's own Rafael Nadal and return 20 shots from a tennis serving machine. This is the part where we learn that, in addition to having bulging biceps, Trey is also a secret tennis pro. That headband that you thought was just for style is actually how he channels the spirit of Andre Agassi (and yes, I realize Andre Agassi is very much alive, but his relevancy in the world of tennis is very much RIP). Homeboy ran through that challenge like Jaymes having to raise money $1 at a time from sex-starved ladies. James, who had to complete the challenge at the same time, just stood by dumbfounded while he failed his first attempt. He bounced back in time to finish before anyone else arrived.

While Josh and Brent showed a lot of foresight by practicing their stick driving and navigation skills, they didn't show a ton of common sense when they decided that the right person to perform a road block at a sports center is the guy who twisted his ankle running through a field in the previous leg. Somehow, Josh was tasked with returning serves from a machine on a clay court, and predictably, had some issues. After his second failed attempt, the twins caught up and Nadiya joined him on the court.

Luckily for Josh, the twins took their childhood tennis lessons about as seriously as they did their pre-race driving lessons, purposely swimming before going to the court so they'd be turned away for being wet. Which is how American lost the opportunity of seeing the Sri Lankan Williams sisters (or, more accurately, Bryan brothers). Josh took a breather, pumped himself up, and finished his set, although by the time he did, Nadiya was not far behind.

From there, teams had to head to a local cave and follow their ears to a couple of dudes jamming amongst the stalactites to get their next clue. The detour had teams choose between dressing up like a bull and running through a matador gauntlet or repairing the blades on a 400-year-old windmill.

Still working together, the Texas couple and the Chippendales both decided to go for the bull challenge, but James and Jaymes got lost along the way, found the windmills first, and figured they'd give it a shot while they were there. Good call, because putting a couple of blades on a windmill was pretty straightforward, and they already came with experience dressing up in construction worker outfits. Styrofoam hammer anyone?

Trey and Lexi did not fare so well with the matadors. The two-person bull costume was constructed so the person in the front was blindly driving and the person in the back could see and had to navigate. Teamwork! Trey started off in the back and did a fine job, right up until he had Lexi run head-first into the wooden frame holding up the final target. Lexi, clutching her injured finger (complete with blue fingernail!), demoted Trey from front to back, opting to serve as the navigator herself, and they finished on their next try.

Much like driving a stick, the Beekmans were just waiting for the chance to repair windmills. I mean, they're used to repairing farm equipment; they have their own wind turbine; and the only thing that jacks them up more than important figures in Russian history is Don Quixote. They blew through that windmill (get it?! BLEW THROUGH THE WINDMILL???) in no time, while the twins fell further and further behind.

At Castell de Bellver - part castle, part prison, all fancy views - Trey and Lexi were greeted by Phil and what looked like a headless little person (with no explanation whatsoever) as the winners, which I'm sure served as balm for Lexi's disfigured finger. Coming in last place, the twins benefited from the nonelimination leg and live to fight another week.

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