We join the sixth leg of The Amazing Race's European Vacation, but even the Griswolds would kick any of these sorry teams' asses.
The Amazing Race 12 Episode 6
The Cherry On Top of the Sundae...
By Reagen Sulewski
December 17, 2007
Before heading out the next morning from the Lithuanian countryside, TK & Rachel stop to give a totally spontaneous thank you to a certain travel company that just happens to be one of the show's sponsors. What are the odds?
Leaving at 1 a.m., they're told to head to Dubrovnik, Croatia, where they'll find their next clue at the base of a fort in the coastal city. In their side interview, TK extols the virtue of being mellow about the race and basically embraces his dudeness so much, I half expect him to change into a bathrobe and start drinking White Russians.
Kynt & Vyxsin pop out the pink cowboy hats for today's leg, but after last leg's festival, they look downright normal. That could just be the fatigue of the race not letting them be their gothy best.
Right after Christina comments in an interview about how much better she and her father are getting along, we cut to Ronald chewing her out for suggesting the idea of a taxi to take them somewhere to look for flights, right after he made the 547th comment about his hernia. In fairness, he didn't call her a disappointment and a failure, so we're making progress.
Azaria & Hendekea seem to have nothing too interesting to say this morning, though Azaria's emerging ego looks a bit like foreshadowing. I suppose that's not totally true, as Hendekea reveals that she knows one phrase in Croatian/Bosnian, "there's a party in my pants". Hey, that could come in handy.
They're followed out by everyone's favorite advocates for celibacy, Nathan & Jennifer, the latter of which squeals with delight over their destination, which Nathan pronounces as ‘Doovronik'. I live by few hard and fast rules, but one of them is that you're not allowed to be excited about going somewhere you can't pronounce. It just seems natural.
Jennifer is still under the impression that the rest of the race will be a test of if they can remain together as a couple, but I will offer the same advice to her as I do to all other teams that come on the race for this purpose; if you have to test your relationship on a nationally televised game show, you already have your answer.
Although they haven't officially booked them yet, Ronald & Christina are first to pin down a flight to Dubrovnik, taking them via Warsaw and arriving at 11:20 a.m. that day. Several of the other teams have arrived at the airport and have potentially located a flight, but end up camping out in front of an Czech airline office. Meanwhile, Nicolas & Donald are finally out of the gate, and last in line at the airport.
What ensues is some airport drama that's actually, well... dramatic and has ramifications for the race. I know, I'm as shocked as you are. After Christina gives Azaria & Hendekea a heads-up about their flight through Poland, they bail on the line. Kynt & Vyxsin then manage to find an open ticket agent, and generally rattle most of the other teams.
Nathan & Jennifer then bail on the line to follow the Goths, while Ronald tries to pump them for info in a belligerent and incompetent fashion, leaving Christina to haul him away before he embarrasses himself (more). All this is harshing TK's mellow, man, and he and Rachel and Nicolas & Donald just stay put.
After failing in their attempt to connect with the Polish airline via phone, Azaria & Hendekea start to lose their cool. It's apparently Azaria's turn to be the jerk this episode and he turns very ugly very quickly, using what I could only call "scary abusive dad tone" to talk to her. I don't even really have any jokes here, because it's a profoundly uncomfortable moment.
Meanwhile, the original ticket agent has finally opened, and ticket booking begins in earnest. While several other teams try to go through Prague, Kynt & Vyxsin get a ticket going through Warsaw, which crucially leaves later, giving them more time to get to the gate. Nathan & Jennifer are shut out of the Prague flight, and scramble for an alternative, finally discovering the Warsaw flight, which Azaria & Hendekea and Ronald & Christina have now booked themselves on.
All seems well for the teams to get out of Vilnius, until Azaria & Hendekea make a disturbing discovery – the tickets they've booked are for first class, which as long time race watchers now, is strictly verboten by the rules. It's full on panic mode for these two as they attempt to rebook in economy and get back on the plane. Unfortunately for them, there are zero flights available, and they are shut out and essentially screwed.
But! They find a flight via Frankfurt and are told by the agent that the flight into Prague was delayed. They still have a chance as TK & Rachel and Nicolas & Donald's connection to Dubrovnik has already gone by the time they land. We get some real country hopping, as TK & Rachel have to connect through yet another city, Vienna, while Nicolas & Donald connect through Zagreb. This is the kind of travel wackiness that I've waited 12 seasons for to see on the race.
This all shakes out with a three team lead pack of Nathan & Jennifer, Kynt & Vyxsin and Ronald & Christina on the ground in Dubrovnik. Christina, it should be noticed, is one of the best travelers in the history of the race for learning local languages, as I've yet to see her not learn at least a few basic words in all of the languages of the countries they've visited so far.
Ronald & Christina gain a crucial edge as both of the other two leading teams head to what they think is the first clue box, but is actually (what we'll learn later) is a check point for later in the leg. Father and daughter claim the first Roadblock clue, which has them matching a stone to a wall from a big pile of rubble. As this involves heavy lifting, naturally the guy with the hernia does it.
Thankfully he's got some time to spare as the other teams are still running around Dubrovnik trying to find the clue box, since he keeps putting odd shaped stones into the obviously rectangular spot on the wall. Finally he solves the puzzle and gets the next clue where they're directed to a tower across the bay from where they are, where they'll ride a zip line to the next clue.
They open up their lead even further and pick up the Detour clue, which, in keeping with the military history of the city, has them attempt to invade the city with a choice of two pairs of tasks. Ooh, I bet the city fathers loved this idea when it was pitched to them, being about ten years removed from a civil war and all. They'll either rappel down the side of a fort and then scale a wall using a rope ladder, which will leave them far away from the next clue box, or take another zip line down to the water and then row around back to the harbor.
Nathan & Jennifer and Kynt & Vyxsin have finally found the Detour and begin the process of trying to make up their lost time. Best out of context line from this: "Just put it in every hole, Nate!" Apparently he's pretty experienced at this, as he gets out of the Roadblock in second place, and they end up choosing the same Detour option as Ronald & Christina.
These two teams offer some of the most pathetic rowing ever, with Ronald not able to get the handle on rowing while facing forward, and Nathan not understanding the whole "oars go in the water" bit. This leads to some highly productive sniping between himself and Jennifer, which I'm ultimately surprised doesn't lead to one of them drowning each other. Compare and contrast this with Ronald & Christina, who are finally getting along and co-operating, will wonders never cease.
Kynt & Vyxsin choose the rappel and ladder Detour, based on the fact that, in one of the least surprising revelations of the race, Vyxsin has a military father. She performs quite strongly in these tasks, though it's a miracle she doesn't pop out of her shirt on the way down.
Ronald & Christina are essentially tied with Nathan & Jennifer when reaching the next clue box, which has them head to a giant stone cross on a hill overlooking the city, which they must get to by taxi. Nathan & Jennifer get refused by a taxi driver for being wet from the boat, though Ronald & Christina get right into the same cab, much to Jennifer's consternation.
We're into a full on meltdown for her, because she really wants to finish first and she's blonde and pretty and she deserves it and Nate sucks and she wants to go home and this is the worst thing that's happened to anyone anywhere!
Surprisingly, Nathan doesn't just leave her right there in a sobbing mess, but I suppose it's irresponsible to leave a minor alone like that. He flags down a random car and asks the driver to take them up, which calms her down but sets the stage for a nasty surprise later on.
Ronald & Christina stumble up the steps to the Pit Stop, although they're nearly dropped back by artillery fire from the Serbs... oh, wait, it's a greeter. But hey, a live fire exercise would spice things up a bit. Can we look into that?
Phil greets them with the news that they're in first place, and responding to Ronald's attempt at a catchphrase says, "Who's your daddy now?" Can we please clue everyone on this show in to what that actually means? It's really creepy otherwise. Their prize for the leg is a 12.5 foot catamaran, which is really practical for these two, seeing how well they did in the row boat.
That nasty surprise I was talking about for Nathan & Jennifer comes when they hit the mat and are told that they've arrived second, but, in the show's carefully read legalese, means they haven't actually checked in. They are told to go back down the hill and get into a taxi and come back. Jen apparently thinks better of throwing another fit right in front of Phil, and she and Nathan both head back down. This opens the door for Kynt & Vyxsin, who read their clue correctly and get up the hill for second spot on the leg.
Finally, another team has landed in Dubrovnik, that being TK & Rachel. Rachel takes the roadblock on for them, which she handles with ease. Then they proceed on to the rappel and ladder Detour after TK defers to what Rachel is most comfortable doing. Amazing how well that strategy of being supportive and actually liking your teammate works.
Nathan & Jennifer get back up the hill legally, though Jen seems ready to quit on the spot. They're officially third on the leg, and exchange the first-ever sarcastic handshake. Jen, never one for self awareness, declares that she still thinks the possibility of she and Nathan being together after the race is up in the air. It's all the ups and downs, you see. Interesting... I just have one question – WHAT UPS ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, DEVIL WOMAN?
Nicolas & Donald's flight has now arrived, leaving them in fifth, but with no real idea of where they are relative to other teams. They'd better hurry because Azaria & Hendekea are now just behind them, finally recovering from their ticketing snafu.
TK & Rachel cruise through their Detour, while Donald dawdles through the Roadblock (seriously, why isn't Nicolas doing any of these, especially the ones that involve heavy lifting?), giving TK & Rachel an easy fourth place finish. This means it's down to our last two teams for this leg.. Nicolas suggests that they take the boating Detour so Donald can rest, but what's the first thing we see when they're in the boat? Donald rowing. What the hell, Nicolas?
Azaria makes pretty quick work of the Roadblock, meaning they still have a chance against Pokey Joe and his grandson, although they choose the same Detour as Nicolas & Donald. I understand the decision on one level if you think you can outrow the other team, but you're immediately handicapping yourself. In this situation, you should probably always choose the other Detour unless you think there's no way you can do it.
Nicolas & Donald throw them a bone by promptly getting lost on the streets of Dubrovnik looking for a taxi, but ultimately it's not enough. Their only real chance is if the gunshot greeter gives Donald a heart attack. No such luck, I'm afraid, and Nicolas & Donald come in for fifth. They really need to pick up the pace to stay alive.
The only question remaining is if the rumours about the non-elimination legs being done away with is accurate, and unfortunately for Azaria & Hendekea, it appears to be true. What should have been an easy final three team is knocked out, essentially by a careless mistake in the airport.