No point in beating around the bush: This episode was just no fun at all. Momentum-killing bottlenecks, random taxi disasters, unpleasant meltdowns, and weapons-grade stupidity all combined in particularly toxic fashion this week. I only wish it could have been a triple-elimination episode.
We begin in the science-fictional city of Shanghai, China, but we won’t be staying long. Teams must fly to Surabaya, Indonesia, where the Express Pass will await the winner of the leg. The monster truckers book an 8:20 a.m. flight, either not realizing or not caring that it has a four-hour layover in Hong Kong. Everyone else is on a 10:05 a.m. flight via Jakarta, scheduled to arrive earlier despite its later departure time. That’s how it works sometimes, but don’t try telling Rob that. “We’re running our own race,” he confides smugly. “We like to be the last team,” he later adds. I’m not sure this guy understands how a race works.
When one team makes such a dumb decision without even bothering to check on when the plane carrying every other team is scheduled to arrive, it would be satisfying to see that team get its comeuppance. It would also sap all the suspense out of the remaining 50 minutes of the show, so of course, there’s a bunching point awaiting in Indonesia. The park hosting the next task doesn’t open until the following morning, by which point the monster truckers have caught up to the pack. Sure, they have to perform the task last, but they’re not hours behind as they deserve to be. (In addition, the rockers—or “Long Hair, Don’t Care” as the Chippendales have dubbed them—get almost no advantage for being proactive enough to find an earlier connecting flight.)
The task is terrible. The teams are supposedly racing bulls, but that’s not really what’s happening. Instead, each team member rides on the back of motorbike that’s actually being driven by someone else, so they aren’t even really participants in the task. And it’s not a race, because they don’t have to beat the cart that’s being pulled by bulls. This is just... nothing. “We’re racing bulls!” No. No, you are not.
Fear not, because the Roadblock sounds promising: “Who likes to party?” I bet White Lion likes to party! In this case, however, partying means making balloon animals for children while pedaling some sort of amusement contraption. It would have been another dull task if not for Will’s incredibly panicky efforts to complete it. This was actually uncomfortable to watch, made even more so by the fact that “David and Goliath” appear to be one of the most humorless duos to ever run the race.
The twins certainly are shrill and annoying, but at least they’re having fun. They’re also the only team to choose the fish-stacking option at the Detour, which surprisingly works out in their favor, as they are the first team to arrive on the mat and, thus, the recipients of the Express Pass. They’ve also formed an alliance of sorts with the Longhorns, who seem mostly unobjectionable so far. That’s about as much praise as I can muster for any of these teams at this point.
A bad episode wouldn’t be complete without a terrible ending, and that’s what we get when several teams end up with cab drivers who can’t find the Detour location, Wajiya Motors. (The problem seems to be that half the businesses in Surabaya are named “Wajiya.”) Despite their trouble at the balloon task, Gary and Will live to race another day, as do the monster truckers who so richly deserved to be eliminated. Instead, Amy and Daniel get the axe, mainly due to sheer bad taxi luck. Phil doesn’t seem too happy about this turn of events, but that’s what you get when your producers design a leg that rewards bad racing and punishes the viewer.
- I did get one laugh out of the episode: A shot of Jaymes pumping up his balloon until it exploded looked like something he should add to his Chippendales act.
- “Thank you for sharing your smell with me.” OK, so I got two laughs.
- Next week: The dreaded Double U-Turn returns.