We find our teams departing in search for their first destination of this leg of the race – a martial arts academy. Some take metro, others take taxi. Still others (like our fearless Cowboys) run who knows where for 50 minutes straight. By the time each team reaches the academy and gets their foreheads stamped by the martial arts instructor (the stamp bears the name of their next destination), their positions get reshuffled quite a bit. Getting ahead of myself, I would say that this was the most exciting part of the whole episode – it’s all downhill from here. Even despite two little twists ahead.
Everybody eventually finds their way to a toy land or kids’ amusement park – whatever that place was it was full of kids and toys. The Roadblock here was to build a toy car using instructions written in Chinese. Instructions provided pictures, so everybody manages ok, more or less. Except the blondes (who probably paid someone to get on the show or else they wouldn’t be even near the All Stars). The blondes apparently think that they need to read Chinese in order to complete the task at hand (but no surprise there – these are the same blondes who couldn’t tell Berlin Wall from the Great Wall of China). While one of them (isn’t it funny how you still can’t tell them apart?) just stares blankly at Chinese hieroglyphs, the other is begging one of the Cowboys for an Express Pass. The Cowboys pretty much let us know in the beginning of the episode that the second Express Pass was “burning their hands”, so I knew they would try to get rid of it sooner rather than later. And here was a perfect opportunity – a completely non-threatening and quite inept team who would be advantageous to keep. Our brothers understood this well and produced the Express Pass for the blondes. Of course the blondes were absolutely sure they got the Express Pass on the merit of their charms alone. Well, blondes will be blondes. At least these ones.
On to the second “twist” of the episode. Mark (of team “Kentucky” Mark and Mallory) finishes the Roadblock in no time – well ahead of all other teams. Now they have to deliver the assembled toy car to the children somewhere at the cultural center. In all the commotion and excitement, however, Mark and Mallory forget a backpack behind. Unfortunately they realize it too late – after they get their next clue. Here is a dilemma now – keep racing while they are still a little ahead? or make a detour to pick up the backpack and then continue on with the race? If there were passports in the pack – it would be a no-brainer: you cannot travel without your passports. But what if it’s only full of clothes? Mallory proposes to forget the pack and keep racing because the other teams are on their heels. She has Mark’s passport and medications with her, so she thinks losing a bag of clothes is no big deal compared with the possible consequences of losing time. “So what if you lose your clothes? – begs Mallory – We could lose the Race! If it was my bag, I would forget about it and race in the same clothes!” But Mark doesn’t want to race in the same clothes. He says he can’t really afford to lose them. And his backpack was borrowed anyway. “I’ll buy you a new one!” -“No! we just don’t understand each other!“…And on that I have to agree with Mark – that is what happens when two people who don’t know each other are put together by the circumstances beyond their control.
While Mark and Mallory go back and forth about the backpack , the rest of the teams catch up and surge ahead. The Detour is a choice between two tasks “Feather Ball” or “China Cup“. In Feather Ball you have to score a certain number of points playing Feather Ball with a group of Chinese people. The caveat is – you have to use the body parts other than hands or arms to hit the ball. In China Cup you have to experience an ancient form of Chinese alternative medicine – cupping therapy. It supposedly detoxifies your body and increases the flow of blood, but it involves glass suction cups placed on your body with the help of fire. Even though it looks like a form of a medieval torture, it’s actually not that bad – in the past I used to be both the giver and the recipient of this therapy, so I do know. But I am sure most of the teams did not know, so everybody chose the Feather Ball Detour.
And from now on everybody is pretty much together , neck in neck. I have no idea why anyone can find this exciting. I certainly don’t. The whole cast arrives as a single group to the Pit Stop with barely seconds separating the teams. Poor Phil even lost track of who is in what place. Not exciting at all…Mallory and Mark – who went to retrieve the forgotten backpack – are the last team to arrive, even though they are just several minutes behind the team before them. Makes you wonder – what if they disregarded the forgotten backpack and kept racing instead? They would definitely still be in the race. Chance for a million dollars or a bag of clothes? I wonder if Mark regrets his choice. I know Mallory does.
Other than that – what can I say about the teams? The stars seem pretty dim so far. Even my favorite Globetrotters are not their usual funny selves. The Afghanimals (my other favorites) – disappoint me by recycling their old jokes (“my wife is pregnant! let us through! we need to go to the hospital!“). The Cowboys (neither favorite nor unfavorite) also keep recycling their “oh my gravy!” *Yawn*…
Surprisingly (and I know I might get some personal enemies by writing this) I find team Brenchel quite appealing. To me it’s obvious that it is Rachel who drives that team. Like her or hate her – you cannot deny she has certain tenacity and fire in her. And whatever she is – she is not boring. You sort of want to watch her, not just glaze over her (like you glaze over, say, Dave and Connor or John and Jessica). And for that I do appreciate her. So I said it – go ahead, hate me for that 🙂
Now, before I say “until the next episode“, here is a little poll. If you were part of team Kentucky (Mark and Mallory) – would you return to pick up the backpack full of clothes? Or would you keep racing, even if it meant racing in the same clothes?
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