July 11, 2011

Australia 1x07: Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

Previously on Desperately Seeking Clues-an: Dawson continued to be kind of a jerk, the Doctor whined about losing Rose some more, Clark saved perpetual damsel-in-distress Lois, and Krycek pashed Mulder again, but this time went straight for the lips. Oh, and I continued to very slowly morph into Daria Morgendorffer. Also: Seven teams ditched the warmth of South Africa and headed for cold, cold Amsterdam, where the task wasn't a Detour between hookers and pot (or between fishing and that blue-and-white pottery, which could just have easily had the tasks named Hookers and Pot), but was instead eating some deep-fried apples. (Don't worry, it'll seem positively enticing in a little while.) After finishing, they were immediately sent to Prague where a pair of "find the clue" tasks resulted in Hallmark feeling like it was a case of the father, the son, and the holey ghost. Tom became Luke's knight in shining armour, and while we didn't get to see his sword, Luke became a Helper Fairy to make up for it, giving Matt the spare arrows he needed to finish the Road Block. The two all-female teams chose a hugely physical option clearly designed for men, and unsurprisingly were the last two teams to arrive at the Pit Stop, but Alana redefined epic fail at the Road Block and she and Mel were eliminated. Six alpha teams are racing to beta each other, winning the gamma. Who will have to rho, rho, rho their way home... TONIGHT?

Credits. Wait, where was Liberty hiding that puppy? [GIVE A DOG A BOMP.]

Commercials. Okay, so I'm watching SBS's news, and either the newsreader's been in a fight, or he's allergic to his spray tan. Sigh. And he's so pretty, too.

Grand, sweeping music re-introduces us to Prague, as though we hadn't just completely ignored Amsterdam in the suspiciously short "previously on Bohemian Crapsody" segment instead focusing entirely on Melana getting booted and the Lucys having as much success getting help as Steve Fielding did at retaining his senate seat. Grant explains that Prague Castle is "the biggest castle complex in the world", which more than makes up for not having any other castle/fortress Pit Stops yet. Remember when the Pit Stops used to be at a fortress every other week, with random hotels and beaches filling in the blanks and freeing up the Amazing Landmarks for other times in the episode? I kind of miss that, because it seems like lately the only really kickass landmarks we see are the Pit Stops, while all the other clues are at train stations and roadside businesses and the like. They've really got to spread out the awesomeness some more -- I honestly wouldn't mind it if they started having boats and hotel rooftops and the like as Pit Stops again, if they were to start including more than one kickass landmark a season on the regular route again.

But I digress, and Wallace and Grommet are leaving first at 5:31am. Grommet stumbles his way through the jaw-droppingly difficult task of reading the words, "Make your way to the Dancing House in Prague", before Grant thankfully cuts him off to explain that it's a "lopsided building" and a local landmark. It kind of looks like it may have been hit by a few catapulted cannonballs in the construction phase, if last week's substandard theme is to be believed. Teams have to get to the building then search the nearby area for a car containing the clue. But because we're in eastern Europe and eastern Europe's a little slow at embracing capitalism and having Honda on hand to provide new cars for "subtle" product placement and whatnot, the cars just happen to be shitboxes. Grant explains that each car is "a 1982 Czech sedan", but... the Czech Republic wasn't a country in 1982, was it? Wouldn't the cars be Czechoslovakian, not Czech? I realise I'm overthinking this, but factual accuracy is important, guys. (It could be worse though -- Czechoslovakia wasn't formed until 1914, yet one of the Pit Stops from The Amazing Race Asia's visit to Prague was supposedly "built by the king of Czechoslovakia in the 14th century".) Leaving the mat, Grommet notes that since they've got to find a car, they've "gotta drive somewhere" (very astute), which he deems "frickin' interesting". I suspect he's the sort of guy who gets overwhelmed by Sudoku, though. Wallace tells us, "We've been at the front of the pack majority of the time [sic], so we have THE biggest targets on our back at the moment." Luckily, they're using the biggest backpacks in existence as a sort of shield at the moment. They head off in a taxi.

Chris & Bambi depart at a minute to six, narrowly avoiding having to watch the Czech version of Kochie and Mel waking them up. She claims, "There's no reason why we can't come first in this leg, you know, we're getting stronger and stronger as a team as the weeks progress." And we have our first Obviously-Scripted Confessional of the week. Why would she say "as the weeks progress" considering they've only been racing for, by my count, fifteen days at this point? Anyway, having trouble explaining "Dancing House" to a waiting cab driver, Bambi decides to go en pointe to try and mime it. Thank heavens for the ballet-esque music, otherwise this could have been really confusing. Except not. Chris tells us they've "exhausted all possibilities for arguing", and this is exactly how you know they're not one of those Fighting Dating Couples that the American version trots out with monotonous regularity: They eventually give up trying to find new minutiae to argue about.

At 6:12am, Hallmark leave, and the farmers follow a minute later. That's not like Tom to bring up the rear! Matt takes note of the forty bucks they're getting this week, before they all set off in search of the Dancing House. Luke calls the remaining teams "the best of the best", which would imply that the booted teams are "the worst of the best", and he's kind of kidding himself if he thinks Giggle and Cackle were the best at anything. Except maybe falling over. While Hallmark find a cab, the farmers decide to hoof it. Oh, dear. It's never a good sign when Tom and Luke get split up. They realise it's going to be a bit hard to find an English speaker in Prague at this time of the morning -- or at least, one who isn't incapacitated from the night before -- but manage to locate someone who tells them the Dancing House is a fifteen-minute walk away. Walking through an archway, Tom voices over that they've been lucky, but that they've deserved it. NOOOOOOOOO! Don't tempt fate! Matt comments on how the walk is at least good for helping them not feel the effects of the winter weather. You know what's also good? A heated taxi.

Like the one Wallace and Grommet are currently getting out of at the Dancing House. They find the cars instantly, or so the editors make it seem, and they've certainly got an easier job now with the whole group of them than the later teams are going to have with only one or two. Grommet laughs about the cars being from the "1940s" in a confessional, but... you know, he could be more entertaing if it wasn't so obvious he was reading from dummy boards. For one, he could at least have correctly pronounced the word "war". The clue tells teams to get into their chosen crapheap and drive to the Zimni hockey rink. When they get there, they'll have to suit up, slide their way onto the ice, and score a goal. It's hard enough to begin with, given Australia has... what, three ice rinks in the entire country? It's some ridiculously small number like that, last time I checked. So it's not likely anyone is going to have any experience on skates, but just in case they do, they'll have to score their goal against the Czech national goalkeeper. And unlike many of the locals teams have competed against on the American version of this show, this guy isn't going to go easy on them, so they'll have to be mighty lucky if they're going to succeed. As they leave, Wallace asks Grommet if he knows which side he's supposed to be driving on, and Grommet tries to blame his lack of knowledge about Czech road rules on the car being old. Well, of course.

Hallmark have found their way to the Dancing House, as have Chris and Bambi. They decide to team up, and soon find the cars. Hallmark feel the need to explain in a confessional that the cars were Škodas, just in case you thought the show's sponsorship deal meant they were only going to treat Honda with respect. No, they're also going to throw other car companies with fairly decent reputations under the bus. Luke explains that the Škoda "resembles nothing of any sort of car I've ever seen before". I don't know, they kind of look like your basic early-1990s hatchbacks. The only real difference -- as the teams are currently demonstrating -- is that the engines are in the back and the boot is in the front, so it's a bit like a Volkswagen Beetle and a Hyundai Excel had a lovechild and then put it up for adoption. They drive off.

It's now 6:45am, and that can mean only one thing: Dave & Kelly are now leaving. Unlike the other teams, they are advised to take a tram. Oh, dear. This could never end well. (Disclaimer: I am making assumptions about this based on how completely incompetent and slow Melbourne's tram services are.) Dave claims, "We're not the strongest team in the game, but we persevere." Well, he's half-right, at least. Need I remind him of all the times something hasn't gone his way and he's threatened to quit? Even Flo didn't threaten to quit until towards the end of the race. They point out how their age is a hindrance when he's the same age as both farmers combined at 52, and older than the surfers (50), the Lucys (45), and Chris & Bambi (44). Still, he's eight years younger than SuperDad, who is currently kicking their asses, so... it's not their age that's an issue. It's his whininess and inability to cope that's dooming them, not their age. Let me ask you this: Aside from the Road Blocks, when was the last time Dave played a bigger role in their success in a challenge than Kelly? And even then, three of the four Road Blocks he's done to this point have had him treated as ballast, pretty much, with only the archery last week requiring actual skill. He explains that they're "going through a lot of Deep Heat and a lot of Tiger Balm". Elsewhere in the world, the makers of Icy Hot are shopping around for a new advertising agency.

Also elsewhere, though probably in a different elsewhere, the farmers are still walking around. Matt over-enunciates the word "vehicle" as the Music of Supposedly-Wacky Adventures kicks into high gear. They explain that nobody seemed to know exactly how far the Dancing House was, and continue walking, Tom briefly coming to his senses and commenting, "Maybe the walking option wasn't such a great idea." Is walking ever a good idea?

The surfers have arrived at the hockey rink... only to learn that it's closed until 7:30am. Normally, that'd be a sure sign everyone was going to bunch up, but with two teams having less than an hour to get to their cars and drive to the rink, and with the farmers currently walking halfway to Azerbaijan, I don't think that's going to happen somehow.

At 6:57am, the Lucys round out this week's departures, and some time-lapse clouds suddenly take us to after sunrise, where they're still waiting for a cab. They explain that they're now feeling the pressure of being the final all-female team remaining, though Renae can't keep a straight face as she reads the cue cards. Is it just me, or are they making the scripted confessionals really obvious this season? It's almost as bad as The Biggest Loser, though with fewer mentions of the words "myself", "journey", and "thunderthighs". Renae celebrates the closure of their cab's boot with their luggage inside, so either she's very easily amused or she really is feeling the pressure. I suspect it's the latter, since Sam's already giving Grommet a bone, and they can't both be easily amused and have made it this far.

The farmers have found their car and, after Matt reads the clue sounding like he's already lost a few teeth in an ice hockey brawl, immediately decide to name their car Bindi. Why? Well, it's khaki brown, of course. As Ms. Irwin herself would say, it's a "fantazzo-wazzo-tip-top-terrific" idea. (Is it worse that she would actually say that, or that I actually bothered to track down that exact quote from last year's Logies?) Matt comments that they "can't find the boot in this heap of shit", and wonders whether Bindi is even roadworthy, but those are going to be the least of their problems today. (SPOILER!)

Hallmark have reached the rink, and noticing the surfers still outside prompts SuperDad to ask whether the rink is open yet. No, SuperDad, they've been and gone and are now waiting for the valet to bring their car around. OF COURSE IT'S CLOSED. Grommet points out they've "only got ten minutes to wait", and hopes that nobody else is going to get there in time. Cue Chris and Bambi, getting honked all over Prague. He shows a remarkable amount of restraint in not shaking his fist out the window, but probably is only managing to resist based on the cold breeze he'll get when he opens the window. He says something in Greek which isn't subtitled in Greek and therefore means that either it's a string of coarse language or the font they're using for the subtitles (which really needs to be bolded, it's too thin and blending into the image at the moment) doesn't have Greek character support. In any event, they arrive right before the rink opens, and all three teams are let in together. Conveniently, they're just in time to witness someone get completely spontaneously shoved into the plastic wall they have to protect the crowds from angry Canadians. Or perhaps to protect the players themselves from the angry Canadians.

They suit up and they're not even on the ice before Wallace is complaining about how tight his helmet is. It's cutting off all the circulation to that thing on his head. As the Fast Teams take their first skid onto the ice, SuperDad explains, "I had heart tremors. Trying to get balance and move and not fall over and hit a very small black, uh, puck with a stick into a space that is way too small and the goalie should have been much smaller. Uh, yeah, it was pretty rubbish actually." In other words? We've finally found something they suck at. SuperDad gets out into the middle fairly easily, but still becomes the first person to fall over. I have this sneaking suspicion he will not be the last. Meanwhile, Bambi is inching her way out by using her hockey... stick (do those things have actual names?) a bit like an oar. Well, whatever floats your frozen boat. Doesn't stop her from falling, though. You know, just like the real Bambi. Grommet, on the other hand, is skating with confidence and misses, while Wallace gets close enough that the goalie can trip him over by sweeping his thing. It's probably not the first time he's been flat on his back.

The Lucys are at the Dancing House, still looking for their car. Sam complains about being last, but she apparently doesn't know that Dave & Kelly are also still looking. Except not for long. Kelly feels the need to finger-quote when describing the "vee-hick-le". We see them walking down the stairs when there's still three cars left, so apparently the producers sprang for an extra car to make it a easier for the last teams. Good idea, but it doesn't atone for some of the other bad ones we've seen throughout the season. Getting into the car, Dave lives up to the cliche by turning on the wipers instead of the engine. Well, he does love the classics. The Lucys also eventually find their car, after Sam gets justification to be That Person Who Says "I Told You So" To Their Partner. For this episode, at least.

Back at the hockey rink, Grommet takes a shot but instead faceplants. Watching people fall over is going to get old very quickly. And this is coming from someone who has watched more than one episode of Wipeout in its entirety. In fact, it already is. Still, at least the laughing locals are actually relevant this time, even if they sound like squealing pigs. Wallace explains that the basic way to finish the task was to trick the goalie so you could get it past him. Gee, thanks for the heads-up. I don't think I would have gotten that otherwise. I mean, how effective could it possibly be to hit the puck straight at a big guy standing in front of a very narrow goal while he's wearing a large amount of padding and holding a stick he can use to deflect the pucks?

Someone does the Worm to try and get up off the ice, but between the helmet, everybody wearing the same jerseys, and the fact that I don't really care enough to try and figure it out, I can't tell who it is.

SuperDad explains that he "found the ice skating quite challenging", and Luke laughs like it's the understatement of the century. Which it totally is. One point, Luke. (Current total: Hmm, I've lost count. Shall we just say he and Tom are both on sixty-nine and leave it at that?) SuperDad continues, "I thought I actually ruptured my liver at one point." I'm impressed that he can tell his liver apart from all his other internal organs. Or did he pick one at random under the belief that it sounded the funniest? If that's the case, all I have to say is: spleen. After his latest fall, Luke tries to get him to stay still and pass him the puck while he's still skating. It would be a good idea, if only Luke could skate any better. While they're busy recovering, Chris gives Bambi a quick peck on the cheeks and skates on over to take a shot, and manages to remain upright despite Karma doing everything in its power to push him over. But you know who does fall over? Bambi. Again and again. And again. The editors show three shots of her falling over in fairly quick succession, punctuated only by a confessional in which she and Chris banter about whether she's the world's worst skater or just "not the best", which I suppose makes her a triple klutz.

The farmers and Bindi are stalled on the side of the road, wipers akimbo. Tom points out that being stuck "on a main street in a foreign country, and not knowing what side of the road we were supposed to be on to start with" isn't the sort of situation they desired when they woke up this morning. What a shame they didn't spend any time travelling on or within eyesight of Czech roads in the previous leg.

Oh, wait.

Matt explains that the only way they could get Bindi moving, without ducking into a local supermarket to buy some red cordial, was to push her "down the hill into the oncoming traffic". Oh, if only. (I didn't just say that. Say what? Exactly.)

The Lucys are at least aware enough to pay attention to what happened in the last leg, and comment on how "weird" it is to drive on the other side of the road. Really? That's her definition of weird? It's not like they're eating spleen or anything gross like that. They also get the Prague Philhornmonic Orchescar honking them around, right before Sam notices from the backseat that they're driving on the tram tracks. It's good to know somebody will be picking up the slack in Melana's absence. On the other hand, their windscreen is so fogged up at this point that I have no idea how exactly either of them can tell.

The farmers also fail to notice they're on the tracks, even as two trams hurtle towards them in a vain attempt to crush Bindi. And that would be a shame. They wonder if they're supposed to be driving on the tracks, and hear police sirens. Well, I guess that's the answer to that. As they pull over, the cop storms over, yanks Bindi's door open, and demands Tom to get out.

Commercials. It seems the recap of the season finale is going to be my 50th overall, assuming I actually reach the end of the season at this slow pace. Hooray for convenient milestones!

So, basically, the Pre-Commercial Crisis ends up becoming a Pre-Commercial Crisis That Wasn't. (I really need a shortcut for that.) The cop even ends up leading them to the rink, but that doesn't stop Tom from imitating his accent in Bindi.

But before we get to continue with their story, we have to see what time it is on the rocket clock. Apparently, it's still time to watch people falling over. Oh, goody. Wallace complains, "My bum's that wet" after falling over yet again, so either Grommet forgot to dry after his last shower, or Luke's latest attempt at ruining the other teams' chances is to make sure he'll be shitting lube until he sees you at the finish line next Tuesday. Anyway, there are more failed shots, until Grommet scores the first goal of the day. Chris tries immediately afterwards and gets a goal as well, which pretty much means the Czech Republic has no chance of winning the next world championships. Anyway, the clue says to drive to the St. Nicholas Cathedral, where they'll have to photograph "a flagged person of interest". Grant and some ridiculous Bond-theme-esque music add that they'll have to climb up to "this former Soviet spy post" to grab the camera they'll need, then look out one of the windows in the tower to take their photo. Oh, and there are two people waving flags on the streets below -- one in a stereotypical "spy" outfit waving the proper race flag like a spinster aunt waving a feather boa, the other in a suit of armour waving the same eagle flag that was flying at last week's Road Block. Grant adds that they'll only be given the next clue if they photograph the right person. So, you know, try not to photograph the person who's not only out of place but also in the wrong time period. I'm thinking Chris and Bambi might be good at this. (But even more important than all of this? Grant manages to correctly pronounce the word "Soviet". I can't even remember the last time that happened on television. And considering Allan Wu mispronounces place names on the Asian version even after greeters have given him the correct pronunciation to copy from, it's doubly impressive.)

They leave right as Dave and Kelly arrive. Suiting up, they don't even appear to be able to get onto the ice without losing their balance. Resume the falling montage! In other news that's less repetitive, Luke finally manages to score. With the goalie, I mean. AT THE HOCKEY THING. (Wow, you all have filthy minds.) They leave, Luke telling us they've convinced a guy waiting around to lead them to the cathedral. Probably a good move, considering how well everyone else's navigational ability is going to help them in this episode.

The farmers, Bindi, and their tinkly music arrive at the rink, suddenly without their police escort. They feel the need to recap their adventures so far, just in case the editors decided to cut it all out and instead show another five minutes of clips of everyone going splat on the ice. Tom points out that neither of them has ever skated before, because cow-tipping is harder when you can't even stand up on your own, but they seem to be skating with a remarkable degree of skill. And by "remarkable", I mean "any". Matt still falls over when taking his shot, though.

Kelly also lands on her back, as does Dave. You know, in case you haven't been paying attention to their previous inability to cope with the mix of pointy blades and slick surfaces. Dave appears to hurt himself somehow, and hurls his stick off in frustration. Someone squeals in mild terror, but the editors don't let us see who it is. And just to make it that tiny bit worse? The goalie lunges forward and slaps the puck away when he takes too long setting up a goal. Heh. Can we have this goalie come with us for the rest of the season? He won't take up much room. Another blocked attempt later, Dave threatens to "smack this bastard in the face with a stick".

Commercials. Has anybody in recorded history ever eaten pepperoni without it being a topping on a pizza?

You know what's an exciting way to welcome viewers back from ads for Sick Sad World (sorry, "Today Tonight") and detergent? Stock footage. It brings us to the cathedral, where Hallmark are now arriving. Oh, thank God. You know how sometimes there's a task that really isn't that much fun but the editors spend far too much time on it anyway? That's the ice hockey. I was actually desperate enough to see whether it was genuinely taking so much time or whether it just felt like it, and let's put it this way: If you take out the "previously on" clip, the opening credits, and the preview for next week, this episode comes to exactly 40 minutes. Now, Wallace and Grommet got the clue for the hockey task a touch under three minutes into the episode itself. Though it hasn't happened yet in the recap, the last team will leave the rink 23 minutes and 56 seconds into the episode. In other words, over half of a 40-minute episode will be spent watching people falling over and getting laughed at by a local Rent-A-Crowd, and considering there are not one but three commercial breaks in that time it's even longer. Sure, you've got other clips in that time as well, such as the one I'm supposed to be recapping right now. Sure, there is precedent for spreading the teams out with the editing. But all those times happened when teams were genuinely severely spread out. Here, there was less than an hour and a half separating teams as they left the Pit Stop, and the first three teams were bunched at the rink anyway, making the gap even smaller. There's no excuse here, really. And that's exactly why I'm not covering it any more.


So Hallmark are still the first to arrive at the tower. SuperDad re-explains the task for those of you who were busy waiting for Masterchef's regularly-scheduled late finish, and adds that they only had thirty seconds to take their photo once they got to the top of the tower. Or else what? The "Soviet" "guard" (and isn't it lucky one's been stuck in this spy tower all these years?) will call them capitalist pigs until they finish? I thought the foolhardy pursuit of happiness in the form of money was the reason for this show's enduring success. SuperDad decides the best way to see more of the Prague skyline would be to stick half his body through the window of the tall tower, as you do, but it's Luke who has the camera and takes the photo... of the wrong guy. Luckily for the company who has clearly not paid enough for this piece of shameless product placement, considering their brand name is not mentioned once in this entire segment, the lotto numbers distract us from a shot of their delightfully blurry screen as the "guard" tells them "Nyet! You failed.", before giving them a clue anyway. Huh? Luke explains in a confessional that perhaps the guy's name was Mark, but it definitely wasn't a marked flag. It seems fitting that the embarrassing Dad Joke is coming from him instead of SuperDad, somehow. The clue once again confirms that they didn't do the challenge right, and must now face a penalty. Of course. It wouldn't be a Michael McKay race without meaningless stupid penalties. This time, however, the penalty is an actual task instead of just sitting around, which makes it marginally better. They've got to walk back down to the base of the tower, then climb up to the top again, correctly counting the number of stairs to the top. If they get the right answer (304), they'll also get the next clue. If they fail... well, presumably the penalty tasks get stupider and stupider until we're left with walking around Prague in suits of... oh, never mind.

The Lucys arrive at the hockey as Seven's ticker reminds us that there's a much more entertaining tennis match currently underway on their digital channel. I realise they probably wouldn't have anticipated an Aussie making it into the second week of a major tennis tournament based on our recent history in the sport (and why DO the media keep acting like we still care about Lleyton Hewitt?), but couldn't they have at least waited until the commercial break to pimp their coverage? I mean, it's not like Seven spent much money making this show and therefore don't expect decent ratings for it or anything.

There is skating, and Tom also scores with the goalie. (SETTLE DOWN, TOM.) Meanwhile, Hallmark have correctly counted the stairs and get the clue, despite making fun of the "guard" in a confessional. It's this week's Detour, though the usual "two tasks, each with its own pros and cons" have apparently been replaced with "two tasks, one with pros and one with cons" for this week. The choice is between Stack Up and Stack In, and it's almost as if the task designers are deliberately trying to outdo their own wit/stupidity with these task titles every week. Teams picking Stack Up have to drive to the Pilsner Brewery, head to the packaging area, and grab enough slabs of beer from a production line to stack two wooden pallets. But because Pilsner is expensive even when it isn't imported, they'll be contaminating the production line by using slabs of Gambrinus beer instead. Teams choosing Stack In (is that even a real term? Or did the task designers spend too much time getting free taste tests on the factory tour?) also have to drive themselves to the Pilsner brewery, but must instead find the Formanka restaurant. There, they'll have to eat eighteen "traditional Czech sausages made from pig's head, tongue, heart, and liver" (but no spleen) while the organs themselves are plated on the other side of the table just to really hammer home exactly what's going down the hatch. So, basically, it's a Reckless/Chicken choice where the usual fear of heights is replaced by a fear of throwing up. Except that unlike in most other Reckless/Chicken tasks, the Reckless one is the deliberately slow one as well. In layman's terms, it's pretty much just a test to see who's dumb enough to take the sucker bet option. It's kind of like how they used to have the bungy jumps and skydives as Detour options while the other task was always something mundane like hiking or... hiking. I actually sort of miss that a little bit, mainly because it makes the choice of who does which Road Blocks less important when they don't test actual skills. The good news is this is only one of a handful of times the gross-food task has been a Detour option, and the first time an eating Detour has actually involved a gross food since The Amazing Race 4 (as opposed to fondue or cake), which gives teams a chance to avoid it. The bad news is that it's the third eating task in five weeks, after the fortune cookies and the appelbollen, which... meh. And is it weird that the only one of these three food items I haven't eaten myself is the fortune cookies? Because... I have a Dutch background and one of my exes was Czech. So I know exactly what this week's suckers are going to have to go through, and let me just say this: I have never had any issue with any of this show's previous eating challenges. Starfish? Live octopus? Sheep ass fat? I could do it. These sausages? I never want to be in the same building as them again. Ever. And I wasn't even staring at pig organs when I ate them. These sausages are the reason this recap is so late -- and they don't even appear in the episode that much.

Not surprisingly, Hallmark pick Stack Up. Leaving, SuperDad comments multiple times that they "nailed it". Aside from that bit where they fucked up and had to do an entire extra task, obviously. As they leave, the surfers and Chris & Bambi arrive in unison. They pull numbers for the task from a sign, which basically implies that this entire section where they appear to be climbing the tower at the same time is edited out of order. Well, it IS a sequence starring Chris and Bambi. Reaching the top of the tower, Grommet has to point out to Wallace there's more than one tiny window for them to look out of. Which is really going to help, considering Grommet appears to be looking at all those men with flags in the middle of the sky right now. Despite Wallace going to look out one of the other windows, which the editors try and convince us is the one where they can see the right guy, it's Grommet who takes the picture. The exact same clip of the guard holding a camera with his thin fingers that we got with Hallmark is seen again as he tells them, "NYET!" and sends them to count the stairs. As they leave the spy post it looks like they pass a stationary Chris on the stairs, so it seems the numbers are solely because only one team can be in the belfry at a time. Good move, producers. And not just because the outpost is so small with all the assorted paraphernalia that it seems crowded with just one team there. With the guard, two teams, and their crews as well? There wouldn't be room to swing a sickle.

While the surfers start counting, Bambi also photographs the wrong guy. NYET! It's hard to tell, but I think part of the reason everybody so far has found the wrong guy may be because he's standing in kind of a courtyard or something (and is thus easier to see), while the right guy is just randomly on the roadside somewhere. Oh, and the flag is almost twice the size. And actually being waved instead of just being kind of dangled. On the other hand, though, the task is one of those filler-y ones where we're just kind of watching things happen instead of the task actually being very interesting. It's basically just "Team Climbs Up, Team Takes Photo, Team Gets Clue/Penalty Task". Scintillating television. I mean, I'm sure the product placement played a role in its inclusion (even though we never hear the camera brand mentioned by name in the episode itself), but it still needs to be either interesting or closely related to the local culture, ideally both, and it kind of isn't either. Sure, there were Soviet spies in Prague, but... you know, what major city didn't have Soviet spies at some point? Hell, even Hobart probably had at least one. On their way down, they fail to realise that the guy they photographed wasn't the guy they were supposed to photograph, instead blaming the fact that they apparently didn't zoom in far enough. But how are they supposed to zoom in on something halfway across town when they can't even notice their own massive personality flaws?

Wallace and Grommet are still counting the stairs. Wallace explains, "We got halfway up counting the stairs and then we sorta looked down at where we were and we were like, 'Wait, is that one hundred and one or is THAT one hundred and one?'" Well, that depends. Which one was one hundred? Apparently this little confusion is enough for them to get it wrong, guessing 303 instead of 304. The guard rebukes them, "Nyet! Where did you learn to count? Down, run again." Grommet doesn't believe him, apparently under the impression that Soviet guards locked in spy towers for more than two decades have finely-tuned senses of humour. Wallace confessionals, "I felt like wringing his neck." Good luck getting past the thick scarf. It's their own fault, but I can understand the frustration: This isn't the sort of task anybody would want to have to repeat. 304 stairs is about the same as a twenty-storey building, and this is about to be their third time climbing it. Add in that it's harder to go down than it is to go up because the strain is on the thin muscles in the front of one's legs instead of the bigger ones at the back (blame the lack of factual description on my nursing-student sister thinking hamstrings were vegetables), and it's really quite a difficult challenge, even without fucking the count up and having to start again.

Chris & Bambi are counting aloud as they go, and make it to the top with the right total. The "guard" drops his fake Soviet accent like a Tetris piece as he hands over their Detour clue. For whatever stupid reason, Chris decides that the surefire way to finish quickly is to do the challenge that will no doubt require vomiting up large amounts of food even without taking into account the taste of pig spleen rather than the task that amounts to "carry this over there, piece by piece", and even the editors' Snare Drum of Destiny feels the need to mock the decision. But because he's The Man In The Relationship, Bambi agrees with him. Clearly, he knows more about her sausage-eating abilities than we do. Returning to their cab, Bambi begins second-guessing herself. I think we may have finally found a situation where not going with your, um, gut instinct is a good thing.

There is more hockey. Long story short, the Lucys are both at home on their skates, but Dave falls over awkwardly yet AGAIN, and he and Kelly both seem to decide the best thing to do would be to quit and take a penalty.

Commercials. You know, Seven, it's bad enough when you spoil the major twists and the eliminations in this show before they air. It's even worse when you spoil the show WHEN IT'S AIRING.

Dave and Kelly don't take the penalty. Crisis averted. And in news that will surprise nobody who saw Dave's ability to stay upright, it's Kelly who scores the goal pretty much instantaneously. Sam also manages to beat him within seconds, so either the guy was basically told to just spread his legs and let them do their thing (Luke and/or Tom: "Why didn't I think of that?") They're all but tied for last place as they leave the rink, and as I begin to recap the episode properly again. For the record? Wallace, Grommet, SuperDad, Luke, Bambi, Matt, Dave, and Kelly all fell over at least once; Chris, Tom, and the Lucys did not. There's an argument that could be made about the contestants with richer/more urbane backgrounds doing better, but I think Tom's balance and Wallace and Grommet's frequent arse-over-teakettle-falling would prove that to be a crock of shit.

Dave & Kelly appear to have left their Amazing Currency Colostomy Bag on the roof of their car as they get it, but it mysteriously moves to inside the vehicle as they drive off. Damn. Dave whines, "I've done my shoulder, I've done both hips, and my calf is completely destroyed... so, yeah. Great. That was really well... well and truly worth it to be in last place." Good Lord, I don't think we've had a contestant whine this much since Flo. And even then, she seemed like someone who would be kind of fun outside the high-stress environs of the race. Here, Dave just seems like a douche.

Wallace and Grommet are "finally right", in the words of the guard, who doesn't even wait for Grommet to finish writing the answer on the board to share the good news with him. They also pick Stack Up. As they leave, Wallace wishes the incoming farmers "good luck". Matt comments that he likes the stone spiral staircase on the way up, but still confessionals about how much he hated the climb as the farmers reach the guard. It's quite impressive that the editors can now do that "glass is half-full/glass is half-empty" thing without even requiring a second person. Perhaps he can blame it on bonking his head on the wooden frame representing the "window" he'll be looking through. Tom snarks about the search being "just like 'Where's Wally?'". Of course, making this link would help suggest that the guy in with the black and gold flag is the wrong guy, not that it stops them from taking his picture. NYET!

Hallmark are arriving at the brewery for the Detour, still in first place and still in their hockey jerseys. Unlike back in South Africa when they'd both had experience as tradies and still didn't pick the building challenge, this time they've picked Stack Up because of Luke's having worked at a bottle shop. They enter the packaging area tastefully covered in loose-fitting body condoms, and for some reason one of the guys working there puts their first crate on its pallet. They then continue on their own, successfully coming up with the idea to stack the slabs in layers instead of putting them all on top of each other. It sure is lucky Luke knows his way around beer, because I don't know how they would have figured that out otherwise. Luke tells us their plan is to "do everything slowly and methodically, and not make any mistakes", which would make them the tortoises to FBA's hares. Giggle and Cackle would be so proud. SuperDad confessionals, "We haven't won a leg yet. Now's the time for us to win one."

Tower. Matt and Tom finish counting and get it right. Matt says he "would have thrown [the guard] out the window if [he] said no". You mean the window you couldn't even fit your head out of before, Matt? And wouldn't he have said "NYET!", being a "Soviet" and all? Tom dumbs the Detour decision down to "eighteen sausages or a pallet of piss", and now might be a good time to inform non-Australian viewers that "piss" is local slang for "beer". Matt lets him make the choice, and if there was any doubt Tom would pick the one that involved him getting his mouth on some nice meaty sausages, it's gone now. On their way back down the stairs, they pass the incoming Lucys, and Tom tells them, "Don't take a photo of the guy with the big flag". You know, for future reference and shit. (Oddly, Sam is holding the clue envelope for the Detour as she climbs up, but they shouldn't have it yet, having not finished this task. And it can't be edited in from later on because they didn't need to walk back up the stairs after they got it. Que?) Matt adds, "I like to think of myself as a good person. Damsels in distress, that's my weak point." As opposed to all those people who like to think of themselves as genocidal maniacs, presumably. In a confessional, Tom exposits that they didn't think about the situation enough to realise that THEIR Guy With A Flag wasn't THE Guy With A Flag. And as luck would have it, the Lucys find the the right Guy With A Flag, so now the farmers come across as Lying Liars Who Lie. (I need to stop Randomly Capitalising Words, don't I?) Sam explains in a confessional that "it was all very sexy", and the next word we hear is the guard's "Da!" And I've officially forgiven the editors for how long they spent on the hockey. Despite the Lucys bitching about how the farmers "lied" and "tried to screw [them] over", they still maintain enough intelligence to pick Stack Up. Outside, Matt calls it their "Good Samaritan deed for the day", and if my life has taught me anything, it is that nothing brings out the Good Samaritans like a stalled car. But since my life has taught me nothing, the farmers are left to their own devices to push start Bindi. The Lucys have much less trouble starting Rhonda Burchmore, but unfortunately the chip on Sam's shoulder is starting to attract seagulls. Renae says in response, "There's no alliances left in the game anymore, so I think it's just game on." Yes, because when I think about the alliances we've had so far this season, the one that comes to mind is the one between the farmers and the Lucys. Not between the Lucys and Wallace and Grommet, not between the Lucys and Dave and Kelly, not between Momos and Giggle and Cackle, certainly not the one between Tom and Luke.

Dave & Kelly are finally at the cathedral. They spend a lot of time looking over each other's shoulders and failing to see "a flagged interesting person" (though Prague IS known for its flagged boring people), but still manage to find the guy and get the clue.

We splitscreen to Chris and Bambi, still second-guessing themselves about their choice to chow down. Or at least half the team is still second-guessing themselves, while half the team is continuing to demand to find out once and for all whether he's the biggest weiner in the Czech Republic. It doesn't help that Chris's biggest concern is whether it's "rhetorical" to wonder whether they have the "guts" to eat "six sausages". How is he dividing eighteen sausages by two people and getting six? Is he thinking the sound guy is going to help them finish? They arrive at the brewery, and he immediately begins walking bowlegged in order to make it less obvious later on when he has to walk around with sausages stuffed down his pants. The editors include a Metal Hiss of Doom with a zoom in on the restaurant's sign, which can never be a good omen. Bambi re-explains about all of the awful offal in the snags, although the clip we see right as she mentions intestines is the same one we saw when Grant mentioned tongues in the explanation, so... you know. Tasty either way. While Bambi sits expectantly and compares it to "just a souvlaki", no doubt waiting for someone to cut her sausages and forcefeed her (here comes the aero-bleeeeeurgh!), Chris takes a bite and immediately decides that while it might work for Tom and Luke, sausage isn't for him today (Gay/Bisexual/MSM Community: "Wow, we dodged a bullet"), saying "As soon as it went down, I knew, like, I half-handled it. No way she could handle it." I know the obvious assumption to make is that he's saying it with an air of misogyny, but... I don't think that's the reason here. To me at least, it seems likely that Bambi isn't a particularly adventurous eater -- especially with how she was trying to get him to switch before they arrived -- and that she would genuinely be the less capable half of the team with this challenge. Bambi is actually LAUGHING at how bad the sausages could be as they leave, Chris telling her, "You'll taste the intestine and you'll be out of here." And except for her not having to eat anything, he's right. In a confessional, Chris explains that the reason for their switching is that his stomach went "NYET!" Hee.

The farmers and Bindi are stuck and need another push-start. Surely it must be time to call for the replacement vehicle by now. They can call it Bob. A few seconds of Television Time later (so who knows how long it actually was), the "Khaki Warrior" gets pulled over again by a group of cops. Tom deems Bindi "a likely target for the local popo". No, she's too old for him. And female. Oh, you mean the car. Never mind. (I'M SORRY, BUDDHISTS WHO WANT EQUAL MOCKERY.) As Matt wonders how often one team can get pulled over, the cop wants to see the car's documentation. Probably to check it wasn't illegally imported from Slovenia or some shit.

Commercials. It seems the only thing anyone involed in the carbon tax debate can agree on is that there just isn't enough Television Time devoted to bloated windbags. Now, if only we could turn all that gas into energy somehow.

It's another Pre-Commercial Crisis That Wasn't, with the cop basically doing nothing after realising they were just lost tourists, and even giving them freakin' directions. Rather hilariously, the next shot is of Matt pushing Bindi past what the interwebs tells me is a Czech mechanic.

Wallace posits, "I think the eating one's gonna be faster." Only insofar as the sausages would be expelled from his body quicker, even if they were allowed to crack a tinnie. While Grommet says he'll be fine as long as he doesn't have to eat a ridiculous amount, Wallace undercuts his own argument by stating, "I'm not the fastest eater, you know that, and I'll try my best, but that's all I can do". Grommet counters, "Well, we can you can just throw up if we have to, man [sic]. I'll eat it and just throw it all back up." I assure you, the barfing is not voluntary. (Possibly True Fact: Ipecac comes from pig spleen.)

Okay, switching over to Wimbledon actually DOES seem more enticing right now than watching people eat these things.

The local brass band playing the Sucker Symphony welcomes them to the Feast of Failure, where the biggest distraction of the Pig Part Plates is trying to figure out what the assorted organs actually are. Surprisingly, it's not Wallace but Grommet who has trouble downing the sausage. (Wait, maybe that's not so surprising.) Grommet overtakes SuperDad's ice hockey commentary as the new understatement of the century by claiming, "This ain't sausage." (Yes, I know. Ain't ain't a word.) He continues in a talking head, "I thought I had strong guts. [...] I could eat anything, and I tasted this, mate, and I was like, I nearly started dry-retching. It was disgusting." While I marvel at how his stomach is strong enough to only dry-retch, and while the Slovaks prepare a tickertape parade in his honour, he spits out his food and gets up to leave without even consulting Wallace. Awww, somebody needs walkies!

Back at the packaging area, Hallmark are almost done as Chris and Bambi stroll up. The latter pair immediately start arguing about whether having Chris wait for Bambi to finish is really the best strategy for the task. Wallace and Grommet soon join them, and it soon becomes apparent this task is another Watching People Do Stuff task, with the only real interesting moment being Bambi showing she's not nearly as meek as she's been the last few episodes. But we already kind of knew that from The Argument That Continuity Forgot. Still, at least this time it seems like the idea itself was a decent one -- a physical challenge that isn't catered to suit men in the way the Public Herniation task last week was -- but the problem here is that there doesn't seem like there's much of a chance for anybody to gain or lose time unless we get a sprained ankle or something. Regardless of the task, it's always far more interesting if it's at least theoretically possible for the order to change. That doesn't necessarily mean the tasks have to be complex to understand, nor does it mean that the order actually DOES have to change, but if it's not filler there should either be a learning curve involved in the task or a way to "break" the challenge and make it easier and faster to complete, like Melana did by dragging their poor girl across Prague last week. (This is kind of my problem with the overdosing on penalty-based tasks that happened in the most recent season of The Amazing Race Asia, too -- people can't make up time if they're just sitting around.)

The best example so far this season is the first Detour back in Lombok -- both had learning curves (in how to balance the baskets, and in how to schmooze the locals) and both had alternate methods that made them much easier but were perfectly within the rules of the task (Matt's hat, selling multiple bowls at the same time). Sometimes, the task can be completely innocuous and still be brilliant. When the American version went to Hamburg, the final task of the leg before walking across the red-light district to the Pit Stop was to "share" a boot of beer. Simple, right? With the clue for the task displayed as a plaque above the boot-shaped jugs, it's easy to confirm that there was specifically no instruction forcing them to DRINK the beer themselves, and yet team after team (including Those Other Cowboys, who normally don't drink, and a contestant who wasn't old enough at the time to legally be served beer in the United States) wasted their time and sobriety chugging it down instead of doing the obvious thing and giving free refills to the other customers in the bar, or sharing it with the gutter outside. Then again, it's not so surprising considering that girl who tried to blame American stupidity on "The Iraq" and "Everywhere, Like, Such As" finished third in the season.

Anyway, with little to no chance of the order changing at the task, Hallmark are indeed the first to finish. The clue they get tells them they'll now need to drive to Kutná Hora, then find the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist. Grant repeats the information in case Hallmark bores you to sleep, while the graphics shorten the church's long name to "Church At Kutna Hora" just so it fits. Fair enough, but as we'll see it's far from being the only church in town, so... you know. I'm glad the contestants get more information than the viewers do, because otherwise ALL of us would have been mildly confused. Leaving the brewery, SuperDad makes like an 1850s gunslinger, telling Luke to "just gun that engine, boy". It's nice to know it's not just Indonesian cab drivers he calls "boy". They mention that the turn-off to Kutná Hora is "before Prague", and... see, this is why we need to start being told distances between locations again.

The other two teams already at the Detour continue stacking. It's worth noting for later that Chris passes a slab to Bambi then grabs another for himself, and that Wallace and Grommet retrieve slabs from two different areas in quick succession, so there's clearly no rule forcing players to retrieve their slabs one at a time from the same area. Chris and Bambi are soon done, and after getting the clue Chris brags, "We're getting first today. [...] We've earnt it. We've earnt it, I can feel it." Really? I don't want to burst your bubble and all, but with a bit over eight minutes left in the episode and no sign of either a Pit Stop or even of the Road Block, I can feel something entirely different about to happen. Wallace and Grommet get their clue just Television Seconds later.

The farmers arrive and even Bindi squeaks her disapproval of their choosing the sausage task. The wacky music kicks in even before they get to the band at the restaurant, so you know this is going to be good. As Matt informs us, "At home we, uh, make our own sausages when we kill them, and we thought eating eighteen sausages wouldn't be too hard. Uh, but when we got there they were a funky green colour." As opposed to all those wild sausages they kill back home, which are a nice deep burgundy. It does need to be asked, though: Given all the organs shown are either white (the tongue/intestine/spleen/whatever) or somewhere in the "red" family, how come the sausages are green? They both take a bite, finishing each other's sentences in a confessional to call the taste and smell "shocking" and "horrible" respectively, before switching tasks. Leaving, Matt surmises, "If anyone can eat those, they're doing good [sic]." I agree with the sentiment, if not with the grammar.

Meanwhile, Dave and Kelly have arrived, accompanied by more serious music. You know, since they've chosen the smart task and all. While Kelly grapples with the extremely difficult concept of "take them over there", Dave bitches in a confessional about how he "couldn't get a beer at a brewery", calling it "a bloody sad day". I may not be the best person to consult on this, considering two of my three known allergies are hops and grapes (which basically means no beer AND no wine), but... it is kind of a tease. On the other hand, if he wanted free nourishment the option IS available. The Lucys also park and manage to get to the packaging area before the farmers, which I suppose is good because it means the complete inanity of the other task at least serves a purpose. Renae explains that they "got quite competitive", while Kelly whines that Renae was able to start "pluckin' em up like they were nothin'" with her mannish hands.

The farmers enter the packaging centre, and though it looks like the two teams already there are only about halfway through their first pallet, we saw a shot just before they arrived that made it seem like they were halfway through their second. Sigh. The editors are very good at at least maintaining the general continuity of the show, but once the teams are actually at the tasks it seems all bets are off. I don't know what it is -- even though I probably should be able to figure it out by virtue of being a past and future film student -- but part of the issue with this task at least may be the staging of it. With the pallets set up as close together as they are, the usual standard rule of shooting only from within a 180-degree area isn't working. The footage from the production line area itself is perfectly fine, but what they really needed to do here was to shoot the pallet-stacking from the far side, with the production line in the back of the image. Instead, we've got some shots that make it seem like it's behind the pallets and some that make it seem like it's off to the left, which doesn't jibe well with the constant closeups. Here, it's making it look as though the full pallets the earlier teams stacked are these teams' completed first pallets, and that makes it much harder to see who's at what stage of the task. And, remember: If your viewers can't understand what's going on, they'll switch over and watch Neighbours. At least people know that shit's not supposed to make sense. (While I'm sidetracked: Why would they go to all of the trouble of breaking stereotypes with the rest of the Token Gay Kid storyline, then ruin it all by making his first love interest a male nurse?)

Anyway, Matt unloads three in a row, giving two to Tom. Naturally, because the Lucys aren't actually playing the game at all and because Dave objects to anyone who isn't him trying to play the game, this pisses everyone else off. I can't see why none of these people would move around them and grab the slabs from earlier in the production line, seeing as it looks like he's grabbing them at the last available chance anyway. I suspect it's just because neither of these two teams has been doing very well for a while now, and they need a scapegoat. Or, rather, a scape-farmer. (Oh, I'm sorry, "scape-cowboy".) Kelly confessionals, "We were all congested getting in each other's way and it was getting a bit nasty and snaky and pushy," and Dave adds, "It was, wasn't it?" I'm not sure it's a good idea for them to talk about the anger like it was the other teams' fault. I mean, it's certainly not because of the team who was at the FRONT of the queue. Just saying. I'm beginning to think Dave's head is so far up his own ass he can eat his spleen.

Renae also bitches some more about how she got to the production line behind Matt one time and he passed a slab to his own teammate instead of to her. HOW DARE THEY TRY AND FINISH THE TASK QUICKER! And speaking of finsihing quicker? This recap's already a week late. Let's skip past the next minute or so of hypocritical whining and violent threats to the bit where everybody's gotten their clue and the Detour is over. Despite the alleged "cheating", the Lucys finish first in this bunch and the farmers finish last, which means it's all just a big bunch of nothing anyway. But to do so, we also skip over this week's last set of...

Commercials. Dear People of the World, I don't mean to sound slutty, but please use me whenever you want. Sincerely, Grammar.

Hi-ho, Bindi... away!

Dave and Kelly pull into a petrol station to get directions. Dave joins her in going in (probably because the Czech have laws against noise pollution or something), and they both quickly learn that while the map might be written in Czech, that doesn't necessarily mean the poor lady working behind the counter can understand it. Hmmm. Firstly, it's place names written in a language that uses the same Hindu-Arabic characters as English, not freaking Nineteen Eighty-Four written in Cantonese, so it doesn't really matter that much that the map is in Czech. Hence she really just has to show where you are and where you're going. Who knows, perhaps she's just pissed Dave was bitching about how the map was "all written in Czechoslovakian". Back in their car, Dave angrily grinds the generic soft-drink can he's using as a gearstick while whining about how they've just lost some time. Back before the season, Grant spent a fair bit of time in his publicity junket trying to pimp two teams over all others. Obviously, Giggle and Cackle were one. The other? Dave and Kelly, under the justification that every Aussie knows someone like Dave. Unfortunately, not many Aussies actually LIKE the person like Dave they know.

Meanwhile, Bindi needs a firm kick up the spleen. (And the car, too!) Matt manages to muster a trio of locals to help him push it back into the realm of "moving" again, before getting back in and vowing, "I'm gonna burn it when we finish with it." Yeah, but driving it to Athens or Vancouver so it doesn't look out of place is going to use quite a lot of petrol. And time.

Hallmark (remember them?) are now arriving at a church, and begin looking for the clue. Unfortunately, the only thing they actually manage to come across is a locked door. It's nice to know churches are just as welcoming as they always were. Meanwhile, Chris and Bambi have also arrived at a church, and run down a flight of steps to reach the cluebox, hidden in plain sight. With three minutes and twenty seconds left before we find out what happens next week (assuming you didn't get spoiled while setting your set-top box because of the varying episode lengths), it's a Road Block. And, as it turns out, kind of a U-Turn. From inside the church, a choir sings hymns in praise of the show's approach to recycling tasks, while Grant thinks "Let's see you do THIS, Phil!" but instead explains that the task (which only one team member can perform right now, but which the other team member may have performed earlier in the race) is for the chosen team member to climb to the church's attic, then abseil down in the most deliberate display of blasphemy since the Detour in Vietnam had teams coveting each others' oxen. (Oops, "carabao".)

Bambi takes it, and rings the bell to summon the Benedictine monks or whatever. What a load. While she waits patiently for a guy holding a candle to limp down the aisle to her, Chris tries to peek through a hole in the wooden door, then moves away noting, "All right. We're not getting married, so it's not a false alarm. It's all good." Well, that's a relief. Probably not so much for the heterosexual women watching this, but definitely for the rest of us. And wouldn't that have been awkward if the task actually WAS "Marry your teammate"? Especially considering (1) Dave & Kelly already are, (2) Grommet would not have been invited on the Lucys' wedding night spleenanigans, and (3) despite gay marriage being legal in a decreasingly small portion of the world, marrying your own son is still illegal everywhere, even if you're SuperDad.

Back inside, the guy finally reaches Bambi and she follows him back across the church, now at a much faster pace for some reason. She explains that he led her "up these windy stairs, round and round and round, and I'm still not sure what's going to happen next". It's kind of interesting to note that she doesn't know what the task is. I wonder what was actually written in the clue. "Ring the bell"? Seems oddly simple. (Also? Chris is ROCKING the blue tee look in this confessional.) (What? It's totally worth pointing out.) While the choir is singing about the seraphim, our very own little nephilim is let into the church to watch. He's forced to wait in a little rope area, probably so Bambi can't swing her way out just to kick him in the face. Bambi continues narrating, "As soon as we got up there, all of a sudden the ceiling opens up and I had to go through it. I just couldn't believe my eyes that I had to abseil down this, you know, incredible church." Well, that's her. For me, wearing a safety helmet and being attached to a big long rope would have been a little bit of a giveaway. She begins her descent, the choir adding an enviable amount of tackiness to proceedings, and unfortunately her arms are too busy keeping her alive to replicate the statue of Jesus on the crucifix we are shown. When she lands without a splat, Chris calls her "an angel" (let's not go overboard with the religious theme), and the clue the priest gives her tells them to walk to the Pit Stop at the Bone Church (so much for that idea). Most hilariously, while she reads the clue the abseiling rope (which was lowered with Bambi instead of just dangling like every other abseiling rope the show has ever used) just sort of swings around in the non-existent breeze behind her.

Grant and some macabre music inform us that there's "an estimated seventy thousand human skeletons" in the Bone Church, which makes it only about thirty-one percent as disturbing as the contents of Lady Gaga's closet. He adds that "the last team here may be eliminated", but since there's around about one hundred seconds left in the episode and five Road Block performances and six Pit Stop arrivals to squeeze in, with the last three teams seemingly much farther behind than the surfers and Hallmark? I doubt it. Though the start of the conversation appears to have been snipped (with these two? Never!), it seems Chris even has to question whether the Pit Stop is indeed next. He's got a point -- the clue Bambi read just says to walk to the Church, never calling it a Pit Stop.

Meanwhile, Wallace and Grommet arrive at the church, and Grommet decides to take it from the misleading clue. Where is the scaling? "Scale" means "climb", not "drop". Hallmark also arrive and Luke takes it, but he has to wait outside for a bit longer because Wallace and Grommet are currently inside. He tells us he's "really disappointed" about having lost their lead. Diddums. So, to recap: We spent over half of this episode playing hockey, and now we've got to fit a first-come, first-served Road Block plus the accompanying Pit Stop arrivals into eighty-something seconds? Not happening. And why is the final task of the leg a first-come, first-served task anyway? Isn't it better to have a tight finish? Between the time the task itself takes and the safety briefing that goes with it (probably lasting about fifteen minutes), there's no tension in this at all. I kind of feel like the entire point of the task here isn't for the religious imagery but instead to get teams to a point where they can be told to walk to the Pit Stop without it feeling forced. They certainly seem to be trying to get the teams to the Pit Stops in a variety of different forms -- cidomo in Lombok, army jeep in Hue, the gate-entry Road Block in Macau, self-driving in both South Africa legs, walking here, and through any means necessary last week -- and there hasn't been a single "take a taxi to the next Pit Stop" order yet (which I thoroughly approve of), but sometimes the familiar structure is better. I mean, I love it when they get told to walk (because it's easier for people to get lost and thus easier to create actual, non-fake tension with), and I absolutely ADORE that they haven't decided to randomly have a leg without a Detour or a leg without a Road Block, but what would probably have worked better here is if the hockey was the Road Block, possibly tweaked a little bit if necessary, then got to the current Road Block church to find a clue saying "Leave your car and any maps you have where they are and walk to the Pit Stop." It's the same basic leg, but the final few minutes aren't crowded enough to give away the ending.

I realise I'm overthinking this. You may have noticed it's kind of what I do.

Grommet descends, wiith more "dude!"s than present in the entire Ashton Kutcher oeuvre, and for some reason his rope is already in place, which both ruins the surprise element AND means it's kind of a different task for him than it was for Bambi. Grommet explains that he's "not religious" but still enjoyed the chance to help a church unwittingly blaspheme. Meanwhile, Wallace voices over completely randomly and without any reason that it's his "first time in a church". Really? Wow. I'm the sort of person who believes that if God existed, atheists wouldn't, and even I've been in a church. Unless he's, like, Jewish or something and has only ever been in a temple. Tom, Luke, you guys wanna check for us? They read a section of the clue that says "Grant Bowler awaits", which now officially means nobody except the new viewers are about to be surprised.

Both Wallace & Grommet and Chris & Bambi get directions to the Bone Church, and run in through the front gates in two separate shots, never in sight of each other. Not surprisingly for any longtime fans, Grant is waiting at the mat alone without a greeter (though wouldn't you have loved to see what costume they would have come up with for this Pit Stop?), as trumpets herald the arrival of... Chris & Bambi. Shocking, I know. The team with a large lead that wasn't shown getting lost on the way is still in front. Chris kisses the mat (ew, you don't know wh... actually, he knows exactly where that's been), right before Grant confirms -- with what I believe is his first smile of the season -- that they're Team Number One. "That's the good news," he intones. While Chris and Bambi wait expectantly to find out who will be giving them their five grand in vouchers this week, he continues, "The bad news is... it's not over yet." And we are officially To Be Continued, with Wallace and Grommet apparently on the Pit Stop grounds, Hallmark about to start the Road Block, and the three remaining teams driving there from the Detour. The oddest thing is that there's about a tenth of a second of other audio from a male voice (that sounds more like Grommet than Chris) right as Grant says "it's not over yet", which suggests to me that they actually edited that shot in out of continuity. Well, of course. It IS Chris and Bambi.

Next week: Wait, I have to keep recapping this leg? GOD DAMN IT.


  1. Great recap once again!
    This "Six alpha teams are racing to beta each other, winning the gamma. Who will have to rho, rho, rho their way home... TONIGHT?" made me laugh like Giggle and Cackle on helium.

    Those sausages looked feral. I'd be first in line at the beer stacking, me. Were they even cooked?
    I enjoyed the ice hockey, mainly because I can't balance on ice at all and would still be there if I were doing the race. :)

  2. You know how sometimes there's a task that really isn't that much fun but the editors spend far too much time on it anyway? That's the ice hockey.

    OK, I'll be honest - I loved the iceskating falling down scenes. I could watch people fail to balance all day, apparently. Especially at the point where the goalie decided to start screwing with Dave's mind. That I could have watched several times over.

    Australia has 22 iceskating rinks distributed across the ACT, NSW, Vic, WA, Tas, SA and Qld according to the rink finder for Ice Skate Australia. (Yes I am sad for looking this up.) Having said that, if you're not living in a fairly urban area you're not going to be near one (generally speaking). But that is what rollerblading and rollerskating are for, dammit!! And there's lots of rollerskating rinks! Actually I think that's partly why Wallace and Grommet were able to pick up the skating quickly, if they're from Bondi they've probably rollerbladed a bit (well you'd think so at least).

    Damn I wish that the Mo*s and Giggle and Cackle had lasted long enough to do that task. And Jenius, because seriously? I would have enjoyed watching them fall over. Almost as much as I enjoyed watching Dave do it.

    you know, what major city didn't have Soviet spies at some point? Hell, even Hobart probably had at least one.

    That's a novel definition of "major city" that I don't think I've encountered before... If they did bother with Hobart it was undoubtedly on a time-share basis with Adelaide or Geelong or something. And probably a punishment detail.

    He says something in Greek which isn't subtitled in Greek and therefore means that either it's a string of coarse language

    You're from Melbourne and you didn't understand at least one word out of that? Because... I did. And my Greek is limited to three words. All of which I've learned through driving on Melbourne roads. Very educational at times that can be. Helps if you choose your passengers carefully so they can yell back though. (And then refuse to translate, bastards.)

    Speaking of driving, OMG I cannot believe no one was killed or injured after driving on the tram tracks. Especially at times when there were trams coming and the contestants were on the wrong side of the road. Seriously, how do you manage that when there is other traffic to work off?

    it's place names written in a language that uses the same Hindu-Arabic characters as English, not freaking Nineteen Eighty-Four written in Cantonese, so it doesn't really matter that much that the map is in Czech.

    This was the point where I started wondering if Dave and Kelly had managed to buy a Russian-language map. Because that could explain a lot.

    ...wasted their time and sobriety chugging it down instead of doing the obvious thing and giving free refills to the other customers in the bar, or sharing it with the gutter outside.

    Firstly, I'd have been with the contestants, particularly Midwestern Jeff. Free beer? Score! And scull! Secondly I did wonder about the additional information on the task, particularly in teams where one person didn't drink.

    Grommet would not have been invited on the Lucys' wedding night spleenanigans

    You don't know that... heh.

    But yeah, Jeff and Luke would have been in an uncomfortable position.

    Also in agreement that I'd have been first in line at the beer stacking - when in doubt ignore the food option whereever possible. Ergh.