The Amazing Race, bane of travel agents worldwide, provides us with yet another never-before-seen air travel route as we leave Africa and return to Europe for this leg.
The Amazing Race 12 Episode 5
We've Burned Some Bridges For Sure
By Reagen Sulewski
December 5, 2007
Our leaders from the last leg, Azaria & Hendekea, open their clue to find they are being sent from Ouagadougou to Vilnius, Lithuania, two cities that have probably never been spoken in the same sentence before unless it ended with "...are two cities most Americans have never heard of." Once they get there, they'll have to find a church in the middle of the city for the next clue.
They have to get there first, of course. Nathan & Jennifer want to kill them and eat their brains to gain their knowledge, or something, judging by a really intense sideline interview with Jennifer. That'll teach them to win some off-road vehicles! The teams proceed to official ticket agents, as they're not able to book flights from the airport.
Various amounts of taxi wrangling ensue, as teams try to figure out a) where the hell they're going and b) how to get out of where they are. As it turns out, the battle will be for the best connection, as all the teams will easily make the same flight to Paris. Ronald & Christina, Nicolas & Donald and Kynt & Vyxsin have all reached the airport at this point and are researching frantically.
Shana & Jennifer are starting to show some internal strife, as Jennifer is really unsettled about using the U-Turn last leg. Shana has no such compunction, which apparently means she scores high on serial killer profiling tests. Repeat after me folks – it's in the rules of the game! They and TK & Rachel bring up the rear at the start, but it's all going to be about who can catch the fastest connection.
After leaving to go find an agency in town, Ronald & Christina are first to actually book a flight, going through Prague and arriving late the next day's evening. Christina is content to hold that and try and book a better one once they reach Paris, but Ronald flips out and starts to haranguing her about that decision. He has a point, but he never seems to be able to quit while he's ahead, and lays on the jerk sauce pretty heavily. Eventually they find one that arrives at 2:10 the next day, while at the same time, Nicolas & Donald have located a 1:25 p.m. arrival.
Booking the flight is another story. Nicolas attempts to be a super spy, not sharing information and encouraging their agent to give everyone else later flights – when has this ever worked? – but fails to notice that teams are standing right behind them, and only fostering ill-will towards themselves. Azaria & Hendekea manage to get on that same flight, which somehow locks out Nicolas & Donald in a rather swift swing of race justice.
I'm guessing the agent just didn't like Nicolas's face, as Nathan & Jennifer and Shana & Jennifer both get booked on the 1:25 arrival flight. TK & Rachel aren't able to get on that flight, but manage one ten minutes later, which Kynt & Vyxsin and eventually, Nic & Don grab.
More pettiness occurs at the airport, when Shana & Jennifer treat what seat they're going to get on the plane like a national secret. This might have made some sense if they weren't all changing planes in Paris, but as it stands, it's Nixon-level paranoia. Normally I hate the airport drama with a passion, but it actually leads to an interesting map as the teams are scattered all across Europe for their connections.
Once the teams arrive in Vilnius, it's a big scramble to find the next clue box. A few teams seem to head off in random directions, though some bother to ask for directions. Kynt, strangely, develops a Maddona-esque British accent. The stumbling around leads to a reshuffle of all the top six teams, although Ronald & Christina aren't that far behind. Christina displays the only level head of all the teams by hiring a taxi to lead them – a classic strategy that wows Ronald, although to be fair, is beyond every other team as well, apparently.
Nicolas & Donald are first to the clue box, which gives them the Roadblock. It has them taking a message from a peasant woman to a local in a town square, who will give them a second message to deliver to a second location. Nicolas gets the call for his team and runs off in search of his first target.
As other teams find their way to the church, we nearly have our first casualty of the race, as Shana & Jennifer are almost plowed over by a bus. With their incessant in-fighting over which of them is more bitchy, it would almost be a welcome development.
More bickering occurs with Nathan & Jennifer as they attempt to find the church, but end up having to run for about 20 minutes to do so. Nathan tells Jennifer that he hates what she's become and that she's the ugliest person he's ever known. I don't disagree in spirit, but holy crap, you expect to salvage a relationship after a comment like that?
Meanwhile, Kynt has cruised through the Roadblock, getting the next clue which sends them out into the Lithuanian countryside to a cultural museum. I don't really have any snark here; that's just a weird sentence all around.
TK and Ronald have the best luck with the Roadblock, with TK's hippy looks almost certainly helping him out by landing him a helpful and similar looking guide. Nicolas and Hendekea struggle the most of the initial teams, they slide all the way back to fifth and sixth spot, though luckily for both teams, Shana & Jennifer have only just arrived at the Roadblock.
Kynt & Vyxsin hit the next clue box, which turns out to be the first product placement task of the season, the old standby Travelocity Roaming Gnome hunt. They find one, among about 100 other similar looking gnomes and head off to find the Detour clue box. It gives them a choice between two activities from Lithuanian summer festivals – walking on stilts and counting fence posts. Those Lithuanians know how to party.
They try their hand at the stilt task, which is apparently held on the set of The Wicker Man. These are possibly the lowest-set stilts ever, acting more like clogs with big sticks attached, but it gives them enough trouble that they decide to switch tasks.
TK & Rachel prove most adept at the stilt task, and are first to finish the Detour. They're directed to a nearby windmill, where the Pit Stop is. Kynt and Vyxsin are close behind after using a systematic approach to the counting Detour, but they shed just enough time for TK & Rachel to win the leg. It's an extremely solid showing from them this week, as they moved up from last to first. They're rewarded with a ten-day trip to Japan, which is probably one of the better prizes ever awarded for a leg.
The remaining teams out on the course seem to be in a contest as to who can screw up their Detour the most. Ronald & Christina for some reason have picked the stilt task even as Ronald continues to complain about his hernia, while Nathan & Jennifer find a way to make counting something to fight about. Jennifer also seems to think that 100 follows 89, but I doubt this counting system is going to catch on. Considering she's operating as a team of one, this could present a problem.
Ronald stumbles across the finish line of the stilts, even as it looks like he's about to have a heart attack, this gets them in for third place. Hendekea & Azaria are the second team to give up on the stilts and start counting. Teamwork, strangely enough, gets them through pretty quickly, and they are able to take fourth spot at the Pit Stop.
After switching up tasks for their own sanity, Nathan & Jennifer are finally able to finish in fifth place, but their complete adversarial attitude towards each other seems like it may doom them, with the weaker teams being eliminated.
Finally it's down to Nicolas & Donald versus Shana & Jennifer in a counting contest. Nicolas appears to have made a big mistake by counting posts he wasn't supposed to, but he crucially keeps his cool and realizes his error. Contrast this with their opposition, who seem to be competing as to who gets the blame when they lose.
It's a pretty self-fulfilling prophecy, as it takes them three tries to get the count right, and Nicolas & Donald easily beat them to the mat. Surprisingly, their strategy of looking pretty and blonde didn't really work out on the race.