On last week’s episode of The Amazing Race: Family Edition, it looked as thought the Paolo family (or at least DJ) was on the way to a murder trial. The Schroeders got eliminated after getting lost within an hour of their house and the Godlewski sisters did a little sisterly bonding (i.e. they had screaming match in the car). Will this week see the Team Paolo reduced by at least one member? Will the Godlewskis continue to fight and cry (and wear pink)? Will the Gaghans gain an advantage by their running prowess? (really, I just threw that last one in) It looks like the teams will finally be leaving the United States. Undoubtedly, we’ll now find out which country has the world’s biggest ball of tin foil or the largest knitting needles….
Okay, so here’s the deal….
- Teams must fly to Panama City, Panama (over 2,000 miles) and then travel another 31 miles to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. From there, they will travel by boat across the Panama Canal to a little island. On that island, they will search for a scientist named Ricardo Diaz, who will give them the next clue. Oddly the “scientist” is lying in a hammock ‘cause you know, that’s what scientists do.
- Detour: Teams must choose between “Rhythm” and “Coos.” In “Rhythm,” they must travel via Red Devil Bus (aka “Diablo Rojo”) to a neighborhood called Casco Viejo. They must then visit several locations to collect four different musical instruments: trumpet, trombone, saxophone and conga drum. Once they have all four instruments, they must go to a club called Take Five Jazz and Wine where the bandleader will give them their next clue. In “Coos.” The teams travel by Red Devil Bus to Parque Natural Metropolatano and use binoculars to search the rainforest canopy for replicas of 5 local birds. They must then circle their discoveries on an aviary chart and present it to a bird expert, who will give them the next clue. If they get any of the birds wrong, they have to keep trying until they get it right.
- Teams travel 2 miles to Estadio Juan Demostenes Arosemena, a baseball stadium. They will search the grounds outside the stadium for the clue box.
- Roadblock: Only one team member can perform this task. The team member must step to the plate and get a base hit or homerun against a championship little league pitcher. Each hitter will get a maximum of 3 pitches per turn at bat. If they don’t get a hit, they must go to the end of the line. Once they’re on base, the umpire will give them their next clue.
- Teams must travel 5 miles to Milaflores Locks, the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal and the Pit Stop for this leg of the race.
Bransen Family – depart 12:40 a.m.
Wally comments on how TAR is a very different situation for him: he’s on equal footing with his daughters here. He feels like the girls are carrying him, not vice versa. They find a taxi and head off to the airport. One of the girls (sorry – I still get them mixed up) borrows the cab driver’s cell phone and gets to work calling airlines for the earliest flight. The Bransens arrive at the airport and get in the ticket line at the Continental Airlines counter, which has the earliest flight to Panama City. It’s still too early for anyone to be working, so they will wait. They get on the earliest flight to Panama, which arrives at 6:40 p.m.
In Panama, the Bransens quickly find a cab and get on the road. They arrive at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and learn that the first boat doesn’t leave until 7:00 the next morning, which means that they’ll be sleeping there for the night. They find an open room near the boat docks and settle in for the night. The next morning, the Bransens hop into a boat and head to the island where they will find their next clue. They manage to pass the Linz sibs on the way across.
They arrive and begin wandering around, searching for Ricardo Diaz. Apparently, there are lots of guys just lying around in hammocks in this place. They find the Ricardo Diaz and get their clue. Wally’s still hanging in there as they run for the docks. They get on the water and get back to the dock and on the road. The bus driver is not sure of where they are going, so they pull over to get directions. They find a seemingly helpful woman, who suggests that she ride along with them. Great – ride-along tour guides are always helpful. They arrive at their destination and the woman gets off and bids them farewell. They are not at the Parque Natural Metropolatano: they have just given her a ride to work. No kidding. It’s a TAR first and I had to pause the tape because I was laughing so hard.
The Bransens finally get to the park and set off to go bird watching. The system is this: Wally calls out what he is seeing and the girls scan the aviary chart to find the bird. It works pretty well because they find all five birds and identify them correctly the first time. They’re quickly back on the road and headed to the baseball stadium. Once at the stadium, they get their clue and decide that Beth will perform the Roadblock. It takes her a few turns, but she finally gets a hit. They make their way to the Pit Stop…
Paolo Family – depart 12:41 a.m.
The Paolos aren’t even to the car yet and DJ is snapping at Marion over the clue. Marion tells us that being a mom means that she has to take the punches…. but not literally, Marion. Her biggest wish is for DJ to put his arms around her and say, “I love you, Ma.” This makes me want to smack DJ even more. The Paolos just can’t find a cab and start getting crabby (okay, even more crabby). Once they find a cab, they bicker on the way to the airport and Marion really looks like she’s on the verge of tears….as usual. The bitching continues in the airport, as DJ talks down to Marion. One of the Godlewskis asks them to step out of line if they’re going to argue. She tells Marion that DJ is just cruel to her and gives DJ a smack and asks him what he thinks he’s doing talking to his mother like that. The Paolos get on the earlier flight to Panama.
In Panama, the Paolos hail and cab and, as soon as Marion begins giving directions to the cab driver, DJ informs her, “Okay, from now on, I do the talking.” ‘Cause he’s so skilled in the art of diplomacy. Marion tells DJ that from now on, he should just mind his own business. Anyone smell a Dr. Phil special in the Paolos’ future? The Paolos see the Linzes ahead of them and tell the cabbie to pass them – which in Spanish sounds something like “Passo! Passo!” See: TAR is both fun and educational, folks. They arrive at the institute and settle in for the night along with the other teams. The next morning, the Paolos grab a boat and head off to the island. Once they arrive at the island, they proceed to wander around the island and fruitlessly ask many guys in hammocks if they’re Ricardo Diaz. It takes forever, but they finally find him. They get their clue and decide to do the Fast Forward.
To complete the Fast Forward, the Paolos must travel to the Pacific side of the Panama Canal and find a crane on Pier 14. The teams will divide into pairs and each pair will perform a tandem bungee jump from a height of 140 feet. Show of hands: Who wishes that this Fast Forward involved head shaving? Note to TAR producers: Every Fast Forward needs to involve head shaving. It’s good television. The Paolos hop into their boat and head back to the docks. On the way to the Fast Forward, DJ asks Tony if this beats picking up garbage. Tony says that this is a lot easier. Brain tells us that he is proud to say his dad’s a garbage man because his father has worked hard all of his life.
The closer they get to the Fast Forward, the more DJ begins to fall apart. He realizes that they will be bungee jumping and he is afraid of heights. Marion ribs him about how much he’s been bragging about being The Man. DJ says he feels like he’s going to pass out. They arrive at the pier and get the Fast Forward ticket first. Now inexplicably dressed like construction workers in hardhats and safety orange vests, the Paolos take an elevator up to the platform. DJ really does look like he might pass out. It’s a nice moment. Tony and Brian are up first. Brian cheekily asks is anyone has died doing this. DJ looks like he’s going to keel over. The rest of the family seems to be enjoying this moment. Tony and Brian jump. They scream and yell and laugh and Tony kisses Brian on the forehead and tells him that he loves him as they are pulled back in.
It’s time for DJ and Marion to jump and DJ can hardly move. He and Marion stand on the platform ready to jump. Will they jump? Won’t they? After a suspenseful commercial break [/sarcasm] they do indeed jump and NO DJ does not wet his pants or pass out – he actually enjoys it. Marion enjoys it too as DJ actually hugs and kisses her. The jubilant Paolos receive their clue and head off to the Pit Stop…
Linz Family – depart 12:49 a.m.
Megan admits that she isn’t as strong as her brothers and she feels that her physical fitness is her weakness. Instead of waiting for a bus taxi, the Linzes cram into a regular-sized taxi. Tommy gleefully rubs his hands together and talks about how he loooooves Spring Break and hopes they can check out some 16-year old girl (ew). Megan informs him that she thinks that’s a different Panama City. At home, my mouth hangs open: I thought sure that it would be Linda Weaver making that little geographical mistake. The cab driver, who has clearly seen his sort of thing before simply says, “Not Florida.” The sibs arrive at the airport (no thanks to Tommy) and get in line to wait at the ticket desk for Continental Airlines on advice from the Bransens. When the ticket counter opens, they get on the earlier flight to Panama City, Panama.
The Linz sibs arrive in Panama and quickly hail a cab. Megan tells Nick (or it could have been Tommy or Alex… these Linz cyborgs all look alike) that she’s really glad he speaks Spanish. After a quick exchange between Nick and the cab driver, Megan asks what the cabbie said. Nick replies, “I can’t tell.” High school Spanish fails again. When will textbook authors learn that “Pedro’s pencil is on the table” is not a helpful phrase in the real world? They arrive at the boat dock and get their sleeping bags rolled out. The next morning, they get to the island– after being passed on the water by the Bransens, the Weavers and the Godlewskis – and grab their clue. They decide to team up with the Godlewski sisters in the “Rhythm” detour. Both teams agree that they want Team Weaver out of the race.
Before they leave the docks, they hear Linda Weaver telling their driver to go slow. Nice. The Linzes seem to be doing well ...until the boat driver passes the right dock and keeps on going. They finally get going in the right direction, find the correct dock and head off for the Detour. Once they’re in the right neighborhood, they (along with the Godlewskis) set off to find all of the musical instruments. Megan just looks happy to finally have some female interaction. They work well together and collect all of the instruments quickly and arrive at the jazz club. They have to place the instruments into their cases before they can receive their next clue. They head off for the stadium where they decide that Nick will be their batter. He goes up to bat and gets a homerun. They run off to the Pit Stop wishing the Godlewskis good luck…
Godlewski Family – depart 1:39 a.m.
Miracle of miracles, the Godlewskis are not wearing pink. Christine immediately sets about herding her sisters. She tells us that she may be bossy, but her ideas are the best. They are able to quickly flag down a cab and get headed to the airport. At the Continental Airlines ticket counter, the Godlewskis learn that the earlier flight is now full. They make a run for the American Airlines counter and get on a flight that arrives in Panama at 9:10 a.m.
The Godlewskis arrive in Panama and make their way to the institute. They find everyone already tucked in for the night. We learn that they have all agreed that they will leave in the morning in the same order in which they arrived. In the morning, the Godlewskis hop on a boat and make their way to the island. They find Ricardo Diaz, grab their clue (and I mean grab – Ricardo doesn’t get half of his prepared dialogue out before the sisters are gone and on their way). They see that this leg of the race features the only Fast Forward for the entire race. They wisely decide (<---- more sarcasm) that, since they’re in first place, they don’t need to do the Fast Forward. They choose to do the “Rhythm” detour and team up with the Linzes. One of the sisters asks some men where the buses are. They reply, “It’s an island” and Christine doesn’t believe them. Finally they reason out that they took a boat there and it is surrounded by water, therefore: it is an island. I want to chalk it up to exhaustion but, really, that was alarming.
On the boat, headed back to the docks, they actually bribe the driver to go faster and he does – so fast that he bypasses the correct dock and keeps going. They finally get turned around and to the right dock and, with the Linzes, go off to complete the “Rhythm” Detour. On the way, the sisters decide to hire a taxi that the bus driver can follow so they don’t get lost. Working with the Linzes, the Detour is a snap and they arrive at the baseball stadium in no time. They decide that, since Sharon has played before, she will be their batter. Sharon gets lots of batting practice. She swings and misses. A lot. Teams come and go and Sharon still hasn’t gotten a hit. She tells her sisters that she’s exhausted, but finally hits a ball. The Godlewskis are sure they’re in last place and, just in case it’s a non-elimination leg, they decide to put on as much clothing as possible. On the bus, they put on multiple pairs of underwear and bras over and under t-shirts, pants, shorts, etc. until they can hardly sit down. They arrive at the Miraflores Locks and run (as well as they can run in all that padding) for the Pit Stop…
Weaver Family – depart 1:52 a.m.
Rebecca Weaver tells us that, while other teams may form alliances, her family is just there for themselves and they think alliances are stupid. Spoken just like someone with whom nobody will make an alliance. They catch a cab and head off to the airport. At the airport, they find that the earlier flight on Continental is full and have to run to the American Airlines counter to secure seats on the later flight.
The Weavers arrive in Panama and get to the institute, where they find a place on the floor and get to sleep. In the boats the next morning, the Weavers shout broken Spanish at the driver and he manages to pass both the Gaghans and the Linzes. They land on the island and Linda starts in with the praying. She asks God to help them find Ricardo Diaz. I’m sure God has more important things to do than play the Panamanian version of “Where’s Waldo?” Linda. They do find
WaldoRicardo and decide to go for the “Coos” detour option. Once they’re back in the boats, Linda tells the driver of the Linz boat to go slow. Keep this in mind for a little later in the recap, folks. Their driver too bypasses the correct dock, but eventually they get back to the bus and head off to watch birds. They arrive at the park, grab the aviary chart and binoculars and start looking. Linda says that she’s always wanted to be a bird watcher… like it’s a career, rather than just a hobby. They quickly find all five birds, but the expert checking their aviary chart tells them that it is wrong. The Weavers start over, looking at each bird and checking the chart. They finally realize their mistake and get everything corrected to receive their clue.
At the baseball stadium, Rolly is nominated to be the team batter. He has some trouble and needs a few at bats to get a hit. In the meantime, other teams have arrived and the Linz boys proceed to heckle Rolly (really, it’s like “Hey, batter batter!” – nothing major). Linda yells at them and says that they’re being rude, while her family is being supportive of everyone. Uh-huh. Rolly finally gets a hit and the Weavers make their way to the Pit Stop….
Gaghan Family – depart 1:54 a.m.
Bill says they’re feeling pretty confident. Their strategy on the last leg was to get ahead of just one team and they did that. They catch a taxi and head to the airport. In the taxi, Billy and Carissa are both excited to finally be leaving the states. Once they arrive at the airport and get the lay of the land, Tammy tells the kids that they need to be ready to run to the American Airlines ticket counter if the Continental flight sells out. As soon as they hear that the earlier flight is full, they run like the wind to get seats on the American Airlines flight.
The Gaghans land in Panama and make their way to the institute where they settle in for the night. The next morning, happy to have caught up with the other teams, the Gaghans hop into a boat and head off to get their next clue. The driver, apparently, has other plans. See, he’s going to go pick someone else up first and then he’ll drop the Gaghans off. After a little coercion from Bill and Tammy (i.e. yelling), he agrees to take them to the island first. Although the driver has agreed to take them directly to the island, it seems that he doesn’t plan on doing it very quickly. Even though he seems to have the gas pedal floored, they’re still just putt putting along.
They finally land at the island, find Ricardo Diaz quickly and are back on the boat. They’re on the boat, but their driver is nowhere to be found. Man, what is it with the Gaghans this week? They can’t catch a break. Finally the driver shows up and they make it back to the dock without any further problems. The Gaghans decide to go for the Fast Forward, even though they know the Paolos are going after it as well. The thinking is this: if they stay with the Paolos on the road, they can beat them in a foot race once they arrive at the pier. On the bus, Billy the family high fives over bungee jumping, but Billy looks less than thrilled.
At the pier, the Gaghans hop out of the bus, hoping to beat the Paolos to the Fast Forward ticket. Then it all goes wrong, as Tammy trips and falls and slams into the back of a parked car. Tammy sure has taken a beating over the last few legs of the race. Luckily, she’s okay, but the Paolos get the Fast Forward first. Reasoning that one of the Paolos will probably chicken out, the Gaghans decide to stick around. In construction worker garb, the Gaghans ride the elevator up to the platform, where they watch every one of the Paolos bungee jump. They run back to the van and decide to try for the “Rhythm” Detour. The Gaghans do nothing so well as running and they gather up the instruments quickly. They are aware that they’re probably in last place, so they keep pushing as hard as they can. They receive their clue and head off to the baseball stadium.
On the way to the stadium, Bill thanks Carissa for running so hard during the Detour. When they arrive at the stadium, Carissa spots the clue box and Bill again praises her. Billy’s probably feeling like the redheaded stepchild right about now. Bill chooses to do the roadblock and needs only one pitch to hit it out of the park. It’s actually quite impressive and probably demoralizes poor Sharon Godlewski, who is still standing there, hitless. On the way to the Pit Stop, it looks like the Gaghans have finally caught a break…..not so fast! The bus stops and they all look up to see the road blocked. In the most annoying gratuitous product placement ever, someone is loading a Pepsi vending machine into a pickup truck. The Gaghans swear off all Pepsi products. The road finally clears and the Gaghans arrive at Miraflores Locks where they, yes, run for it….
- Paolo – No real suspense here. The Paolos look elated and Tony hugs Phil again. Phil tells them that, as the first team to arrive, they will win a trip for four to Panama, where they can hone their language skills. DJ tells Phil that he never thought he’d bungee jump with his mother – he doesn’t even like to go out to eat with his parents. DJ tells us that bungee jumping with his mother was really special. The Paolos all smile and hug… of course, next week they’ll be back to screaming and telling each other to shut up, but it’s still a nice moment.
- Godlewski – It’s hard to tell if Phil is amused or troubled by the sisters’ appearance. Luckily, although they are the last team to arrive at the Pit Stop, this is a non-elimination round, They must hand over all of their money and any belongings not on them. They’ll start out the race with no money. One of the girls says that they’ll be okay: They have wit and charm and beauty (and modesty) and they will rely on the kindness of Panamanians to help them through the next leg of the race. Let’s hope they don’t run into the Bransens’ “tourguide.”
Next week: The teams travel into the rainforest (*crosses fingers for a DJ Paolo-alligator smack-down*) and the Weavers get stuck in the mud… and will probably pray for God to come in a tow truck to save them.
Critical@fansofrealitytv.com has not been to Panama City. Florida OR Panama City, Panama, but she knows the difference.