The Amazing Race Season 26 - Episode 8
Moment of Truth
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
April 21, 2015

Strong but not strong enough.

We continue this “very special” two-hour edition of The Amazing Race in Africa, where Steve & Aly have just been given a reprieve after having a Very Bad Leg. I mean, they even let Mike & Rochelle get ahead of them, which at this point is like saying that the Golden State Warriors allowed the Lakers to catch up with them. It’s perhaps not quite that extreme, but it’s pretty close.

After checking in with Phil, the teams are camping out in tents right behind the Pitstop area. A meerkat watches Matt & Ashley as they unpack their supplies. All the teams are actually excited to see Steve & Aly still in the game, and the entire group takes a moment to simply soak in their gorgeous surroundings. Even with the Hayley moments and Aly’s bad temper in the last leg, this cast is one of the most likable they’ve had in a long time. There are no Ugly American moments, no snarkiness to other teams. It’s refreshing.

The next morning (at 6:47 a.m.!), Matt & Ashley rip into their clue and are instructed to go to Swakopmund. Once there, they’ll need to pick up a newspaper and scour the German text for their next clue (the city is a former German colony, and a large part of its population still speaks the language today). The first clue also cautions that there is a U-Turn ahead, which kind of sucks in a leg that also contains a Speed Bump for one of the teams.

Then again, Matt & Ashley want to U-Turn Jenny & Jelani rather than Steve & Aly. I mentioned a general lack of snarkiness, but that doesn’t mean that some competitive things have happened during the course of the Race. In a previous leg, worried that they might finish in last, Jenny wouldn’t tell Matt & Ashley where they needed to go. Again, it’s a Race and you’re competing. Take it in stride, guys. But all’s fair in love and The Amazing Race, so if you want to U-Turn someone as a revenge move, more power to you.

Remember, too, that Jenny & Jelani have the Express Pass, so U-Turning them might not even mean anything. They haven’t been obnoxious about having the pass, so it’s easy to forget they have it, but it’s going to factor in because we’re closing in on the end of the Race now.

In fact, Jenny is fully aware of this possibility, so they’re prepared to use the pass if needed. She even knows which team is likely to U-Turn them, so it’s obvious there’s no love lost between the two. At least they’re not sniping at each other constantly.

Steve & Aly are an hour and a half behind first place, but only 20 minutes behind Mike & Rochelle. They definitely need to make up some ground, but they’ve been a strong team throughout the race and have a great chance at recovering during this leg. Maybe there will be another ice skating challenge.

Having retrieved their newspaper, Tyler & Laura locate their clue easily. Matt & Ashley just do what they do (and Matt & Ashley wonder if they’re going back to Germany), but before long they’re asking locals for help in translating the clue. Hayley & Blair find a nice gentleman to give them aid as well. They’re all being sent to a skydiving place, which leads to a lot of excitement amongst the Racers. Once they arrive at the “facility” (it’s just a bunch of sheds and outbuildings in a dessert), they pull their clues, which indicate it’s time for a Roadblock. The question is, “Who has always wanted a skybox?”

Turns out that they’ve been psyched out. Rather than jump from a plane, one person from each team will have to watch the plane they are assigned. From that plane, a yellow suitcase will be dropped. Once it lands, they’ll have to sprint to grab it. Laura and Ashley take the task for their teams, and Laura is frustrated because it’s essentially one of those “find a needle in a haystack” challenges. As they’re driving to the airfield, Hayley & Blair realize that it’s not a person coming from the plane, but a suitcase, and they agree that if that’s their clue, this Roadblock is going to suck.

The guys are all pretty funny here, because they say that they gave this Roadblock to the girls because they were all so excited about skydiving, but now they’ve had a dirty trick played on them.

Jenny & Jelani have a nail in their tire, so they pull over to a service station to get some assistance. “Please just help us really quickly,” Jenny implores the gentlemen who are helping them.

Laura has finally found her suitcase, and Ashley has hers as well. They pick up their gnome from the top of the hill and are headed back over to their teammates. Hayley isn’t far behind, as she has also found her suitcase. Their next clue sends them to Snake Bend Pan.

With Tyler & Laura and Matt & Ashley appearing to be working together to get to that next location, Blair is understandably concerned that he and Hayley may become the target of the U-Turn. He believes everyone has an understanding that it will be used on Jenny & Jelani to smoke out the Express Pass, but you never know. When Hayley returns with her gnome, Blair kisses it (not her).

The two of them pass Mike & Rochelle on the road, and are shocked to see that the dating couple have somehow gotten ahead of Jenny & Jelani. They debate using the Express Pass right then and there, but eventually decide they should do the Roadblock and use it at the next location.

Jelani and Mike are handling the task for their teams, and Mike is tired out pretty quickly. Even worse, he’s turned around and gets frustrated when Jelani finds his suitcase quickly. Mike has to bend over and wheeze as he climbs the mountain for the gnome.

With Steve & Aly’s arrival on the scene, it’s time for their Speed Bump. They have to make a little toy airplane from repurposed soda cans. Some kids are standing around, probably to judge their work. Seems like a pretty manageable task, really. They both get a lot of help from the children, and Steve’s is finished in short order.

Jenny cheers as Jelani returns to her with the suitcase and the gnome.

It’s actually a race to the next clue box, because apparently Matt & Ashley and Tyler & Laura have differing opinions on how to use the U-Turn. We know the hairstylists hate Jenny & Jelani (or more specifically, Jenny), but Tyler & Laura want to use it on a strong, competitive team.

In the end, Matt & Ashley arrive first and receive their clue for the Detour. They’ll choose between “Work” or “Play.” For “Work,” they’ll have to help smooth out a desert road. Since it’s not paved and is only made of sand, the roads tend to develop corrugated ridges. To remove the bumps in the road, they’ll ride in a truck and drag five enormous tires behind them to even things out. Once completed (in a way that their foreman deems worthy), they’ll receive their next clue.

For “Play,” teams will ski down a desert slalom slope. They’ll receive a crash course in the sport of speed sand skiing from an expert in the field, and then follow the path up and around the hill. Once they reach the top, they’ll sled down to the bottom to receive their next clue. It seems like ski is the fun choice, and maybe the better one since the trucks in Africa seem to be prone to flat tires.

Matt & Ashley choose to ski, while Tyler & Laura are going to “Work.” Hayley hates to ski, so she and Blair head off to perform the road smoothing duties. The skiing seems fun, while the tires really are huge, so it is difficult work that relies on the strength of the guy, primarily.

Then again, Ashley falls down while skiing and struggles to get up, so maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

At last, Mike has found his gnome and his suitcase, and says that this is the hardest thing he’s had to do in the race so far. He bends over and coughs until he can breathe again.

Steve & Aly are finishing their Speed Bump, and Aly says that the kids have improved her mood significantly. They get the thumbs up from their kid coaches, and Steve is taking the task for their team. Aly instantly realizes that he went the wrong way, and he makes it even worse when he runs even further in the bad direction. They seem doomed, but maybe the U-Turn will save them.

So far, the “Work” task seems easier than “Play,” so I was definitely wrong. Ashley is struggling, but Matt encourages her until she is able to get back up and they are making their way to the top of the hill.

Steve is finally going the right way, and they are at last on their way to the next task. Aly realizes that they are deep in a hole, but says they’re competitors and it’s game time.

Hayley is back to her Hayley ways, and as they pass them, Laura asks if Tyler thinks Hayley is getting on Blair. “I hope so,” says Tyler. It seems impossible for Hayley not to pick at everything Blair does, so it was a pretty good guess on their part.

Matt & Ashley are ready to sled back down, and it is incredibly fast. “I have sand all up in my grill,” says Ashley. They have their clue, so they’re probably going to have first shot at the U-Turn. Looks like it’s actually a double U-Turn, so if Steve & Aly are left untouched, they really may have some hope. We’ll see.

Next on their way to the U-Turn area are Tyler & Laura, so it will be interesting to see who they think is the most competitive team to U-Turn – or if they will U-Turn anyone at all. If they’re smart, they’ll pick Steve & Aly here, though I wouldn’t rule out Hayley & Blair, either. Both are pretty strong in the Race, with only Mike & Rochelle being the real “non-threats,” especially if you can take them to the Final Three.

At the Detour, Jenny & Jelani are choosing “Play” and they’re going to use their Express Pass. They are now making their way to the U-Turn area.

Matt & Ashley do in fact U-Turn Jenny & Jelani, so the two of them will be doing the “Work” task. They’re off to the Pitstop.

Indeed, Tyler & Laura’s choice comes down to either Hayley & Blair or Steve & Aly. Suffice to say that Steve & Aly are screwed.

The Pitstop is located at Goanikontes Oasis, and once again, we should have a real race to the finish between Matt & Ashley and Tyler & Laura. Just for fun, the teams can pick an exotic animal to bring with them to the Pitstop – a donkey (exotic?), an Oryx (better), a camel or a zebra. (This seems like a phenomenally bad idea – if you’re in a footrace, why would you opt to bring a stubborn, possibly grumpy animal with you?)

Hayley & Blair are thrilled not to be U-Turned, and now they’re also headed over to the Pitstop. Mike & Rochelle are doing the “Work” task at the same time as Jenny & Jelani.

Both teams do take an animal with them so maybe it’s not as “just for fun” as described. Tyler & Laura pick a zebra, and at first he’s well behaved, but then he gets a little crazy and starts running. Fortunately, Tyler can keep up, although he does get a little kick from the zebra for his trouble. Still, thanks to Matt & Ashley initially forgetting their gnome, Tyler & Laura land on the mat in first place (for the very first time!). They win a trip for two to Queenstown, New Zealand, which looks lovely. It even includes skydiving, so Laura will be able to experience that after all.

A camel accompanies Hayley & Blair to the Pitstop, and they are checked in as team number three. Even though she picked at him, it was a pretty good leg for this Blind Date duo.

Back at the road-smoothing task, both Mike & Rochelle and Jenny & Jelani have completed the task and are headed to the Pitstop. The Olympians likely won’t even have to complete both of their Detour challenges, because they’re eliminated and seem to be really far behind at this point. On the plus side, they really appreciate the skiing, since that’s the task they choose initially (before realizing they’ll have to do the other one).

Jenny & Jelani choose David the camel, who is really gentle for the most part. They’re checked in as team number four. Mike & Rochelle make the mistake of choosing the zebra, who is already all riled up after his walk with Tyler, and Mike gets kicked in the groin. Needless to say, they switch off to the donkey. He’s also difficult, but at least he’s not kicky. J&J are fourth, and Mike & Rochelle survive another day in fifth. It’s amazing how they can consistently do just enough to stay in the Race (though to be fair, this time there was no question that they were going to beat Steve & Aly by a lot).

Surprisingly, Steve & Aly do wind up performing the “Work” task, but it’s all with a great attitude. If there’s an upcoming All-Stars edition of the Race, they’d be an excellent team to participate. Phil tells them that they are eliminated, and it’s obvious they had already resigned themselves to their fate.

“We just made it so much easier for all of them. You’re welcome,” says Aly. It’s true, because their exit from the race is purely due to their own errors and bad luck.

We’re down to just five teams and headed toward the end of the Race. We figure there’s probably still two more non-elimination legs to go since there are four episodes left (unless there’s a “to be continued” sort of thing, which is equally annoying.