Welcome back, TAR fans. The drama of last week’s left-behind backpacks and Mark and Michael’s little rule-breaking selves pales in comparison to this week’s mat meltdown, which Phil promised us earlier in the season. This will be “The most memorable Pit Stop EVAH,” says the Eyebrowed One. What started it, you may ask? Did somebody tamper with things at a Detour and put other teams behind? Did another sports bra get pushed to its doom off a ledge? Nope. It all started over a cluebox, and escalated from there. Who needs animal tasks when the humans provide so much silliness?
Margie and Luke are the first to come on down at 9:36am, tearing open their clue to find the next destination: Guilin, China. There, they will travel by taxi to a hair salon where they will receive further instruction. I’ll bet you dinner that Mark and Michael won’t be breaking any rules this week. Not that it would help much, because they leave about three days behind the others. Well, only six and a half hours, but it may as well be a couple weeks. We don’t see much of our mischievous munchkins this episode, which never bodes well.
Already, Jaime is eye-rolling at the thought of traveling to heavily populated, non-English speaking China. I don’t know how many countries this woman has to travel to before she realizes that the entire world does not speak English. Cara admits that she’s not always pleased with Jaime’s bad attitude, but stops short of actually doing anything about it, thinking it would just make her worse. Is that even possible?
Tammy is delighted to be going to the mother land, having been there for spring break once and speaking the language quite well, thank you. I hope she at least got to go to the beach on that trip. Luke jokes that he wants to go to a country where everyone is deaf so he can have the advantage for once.
The teams get split up on different flights: Margie and Luke on plane #1, Tammy/Victor and Jaime/Cara on plane #2, and Kisha/Jen on flight #3. Mark and Michael end up on a plane, too. Sometime later. Way later. It doesn’t really matter when, does it?
Somehow the teams on the second flight catch up to Margie and Luke and they all get stuck with a delayed connecting flight, letting Kisha and Jen pass them all up. Their lead doesn’t last long, as they can’t find the hair salon when they land and the redheads pass them by as they wander around. Tammy and Vic are right behind them.
Crash Into Me
I must have blinked when I was taking notes, because all of a sudden Kisha/Jen and Margie/Luke arrive at the salon together. The clearly marked freaking cluebox is standing right there, plain as day, but they all bumble around it, wondering where it is. I wait for one of them to actually lean on the damn thing. Finally, both Luke and Jen spot it - and rush toward it at the same time.
And here’s where all the commotion starts. Luke gets there a second before Jen does, but she comes up behind him and puts her arms on his back and tries to reach around to grab a clue - and he throws his elbow up, almost whacking her in the face. She takes offense and calls him a bitch. Luke says that she pushed him (which, honestly, I saw no pushing) and Jen says it was a bitch move, hence the name calling.
Off they go to the Roadblock, which consists of some old fashioned fishing using specially trained birds, cormorants. Fling a fish in the water, the bird goes in after it and brings it back to the boat. Well, they’re supposed to, anyway. Teams need to bring back ten fish to get the next clue.
That is, if they can stop the shoving matches at the clueboxes. Luke and Jen get into it again, this time with Jen plowing into the box first and Luke flying up behind her, unable to stop. She puts her arm up to push him away and he puts his hands up like he may not have meant to run into her (that’s my take on it, anyway), but this just makes the both of them that more ill with each other. Margie yells “Cut it out!” at Jen while Kisha claims that Luke pushed her.
And the editors just eat it up, switching back and forth between their two cabs to catch bits of the griping: Margie fills Luke in on the “bitch” stuff and he says that “Calling the deaf guy a bitch isn’t nice.” Luke, dude - you can’t say you don’t want special treatment and then play the deaf card. Just sayin’.
Ugh. Enough of Bitchfest 2009. Back to the Roadblock! Everyone takes their turn playing fetch with the birds, flinging the dead fish into the water and pulling them out of the birds’ mouths when they bring it back. Except for poor Tammy, whose birds decide to fly the coop and take off into the sunset. I think Victor told her something about speaking Chinese to them, but, yeah - the birds aren’t having any of it. The others pass them by as Tammy floats on her little raft, trying to get the birds back. They eventually do.
But not before one of the birds nips Luke on his hand, drawing a little blood. He complains about his boo-boo to mom Margie while Jen snickers and says it was karma.
Meanwhile, Mark and Michael have actually landed in China and tackle their Speedbump, which consists of washing and drying two little old ladies hair in front of the salon. They go at it with gusto, using more shampoo than I would use in a week and trying not to get suds in grandma’s eyes. One of the guys seems to think “massagi” is Chinese for massage and keeps on repeating it, asking if they like their “massagi.” I want to pop him with one of those wet towels.
Off to Ancient South Gate the teams go, where the Detour awaits. They can choose either Calligraphy or Choreography. Everyone picks Calligraphy except for Cara and Jaime because, as you know, they were cheerleaders and dancing is their thang. Or so they think.
The others head off to Calligraphy, where they must copy a series of Chinese characters correctly before getting directions to the next station. They have to do this four times. Tammy laughs that she and Vic didn’t pay much attention in Chinese school, as their calligraphy sucks. Their Mandarin does not, however, and they try their best to get special treatment from the natives. ''We are foreign-born Chinese from America. If we don't win, our parents will cry themselves to death!” says Victor.
It doesn’t really help, as Margie, Luke, Kisha and Jen smartly stay stuck like glue to Tammy and Victor. The others know that the brother and sister can speak the language and have a huge advantage over them, and come hell or high water, they’re not going to let them out of their sight. And they don’t. Everyone finishes at basically the same time, getting the picture clue to the Pit Stop and running off in a group. At least Luke and Jen refrain from smashing into each other.
Oh, look - here’s Mark and Michael arriving at the Roadblock, talking all optimistically. Yeah, they’re so screwed.
Jaime and Cara have received their dance training (some kind of waltz?) and proceed to get failed by the judge. The other dancers smile. Or laugh, depending on how you look at it. The girls try a second time, and fail once again. Jaime asks what they’re doing wrong, but - you guessed it - nobody speaks English and Jaime is left clueless. They run back, about to give up, when one of them wonders aloud if they were stopping too soon. *ding* They go back and dance until the music actually stops, and finally get passed.
Fast and Furious
One furious footrace to the finish later, Kisha and Jen step onto the mat in first place. This probably didn’t help Margie and Luke’s mood, and Phil’s prompting set them off again. Margie claimed that Jen bashed into Luke, Kisha says it didn’t happen like that, and Luke stomps off in a snit. Phil doesn’t look too pleased as I wonder why there is an older Chinese couple sitting at a table on the mat, calmly eating their food as the Americans rant and rave.
I now have a strange craving for Kung Pao chicken and spring rolls.
Anyway, after calling Jen a bitch, Luke storms back to the mat, furiously signing. The sisters stand there and smile, which causes Margie to flip out, yelling “He’s signing and they’re laughing at him! He’s lived with this his whole life and he doesn’t need it from people like you - you should understand because you’re black and you’ve lived with it!” Luke chimes in with “My whole life, hearing people put deaf people down.”
Well then. By now, Phil’s looking really uncomfortable. Tammy and Victor stand there quietly, doing their best to stay out of the line of fire.
Kisha says that she always smiles in tense situations and apologizes if they took it wrong, but Margie isn’t buying it. Even Phil tells Margie that he doesn’t think the girls were laughing at Luke, but Margie is in full-on mother hen mode and thinks Kisha and Jen got away with being ugly.
The couple is still eating. And here’s how they ended up:
1st - Kisha and Jen, winning a trip to Barbados.
2nd - Tammy and Victor
3rd - Margie and Luke
4th - Jaime and Cara
Philiminated, no shocker - Mark and Michael
The M&M’s are out of the Race, never coming close to making up all those crazy penalties they incurred. They speak kindly of each other and the fun times they had on the Race, but their boot is overshadowed by the meltdown on the mat. The steam that came from Margie’s ears can still be seen lingering behind the brothers, hours later.
Next week: the teams get foot massages from hell, Jen’s afraid of the water, and Luke and Jen both get restraining orders against each other.