The Amazing Race Season 26 - Episode 10
Fruits of Our Labor
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
May 4, 2015

Muscles don't win The Amazing Race. I mean, they can, but not this time.

Previously on The Amazing Race, it was a non-elimination leg. Nothing that happened mattered. After choosing not to save Jackie & Jeff a few legs ago, The Amazing Race provided a second opportunity to Matt & Ashley via standard show nonsense. Hey TAR producers, how about casting three more teams each season and doing away with this garbage?

Don’t get us wrong. We like Matt & Ashley. We actually like all the remaining teams (although Hayley does make us reach for the mute button from time to time), but we suspect they want to keep dating couples in the game since they’ve thrown a save to Steve & Aly and now the hairstylists. Despite our early predictions, the blind date teams have absolutely crushed it on the Race. There’s something to be said for the driving urge to impress your partner rather than the comfortable rut of long-term partners.

The hairstylists do have their work cut out for them, because so far, teams that have gotten the advantage of non-elimination all got eliminated immediately afterward. It’s like the governor calling and saying, “You’re not going to be executed today! It’ll be Monday instead!” At least you get a second last meal out of it, though. Our point is that Matt & Ashley are roughly 18 times more likely to be eliminated today than any other team.

Tonight’s episode begins with a reminder that Hayley loves the sound of her own voice. We receive a few of her Greatest Hits including favorites such as, “YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!!!,” “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!,” and Pet Sounds. As usual, the leg begins with Blair promising that he’ll try to do better while Hayley downplays any communication issues between them. This entire season has functioned as a Groundhog Day re-imagining for the duo. We look forward to all of this happening again in the next leg.

The first team to depart is the winner of the previous heat, Laura & Tyler, who have evolved into our favorite duo this season. They work remarkably well together and while they claim there is nothing going on, the entirety of North America recognizes their unmistakable chemistry. The instant they got home, we’re guessing they started texting 300 times a day.

The gap from first place to fourth place is less than an hour. The hair stylists have a bit more of a gap, 47 minutes behind fourth place. Fortunately, this leg features airport bunching. No, wait. There’s an earlier flight. Uh-oh. The destination is Peru, with Laura & Tyler’s travel agent informing them that they’ll arrive at 9 a.m. the following morning.

Hayley & Blair enter the same office, meet with the same man, and ask him to check again. He suddenly notices a 10:40 p.m. arrival, which means that 20 minutes into the leg, Laura & Tyler are already screwed. Cruel editing shows them explaining why they didn’t choose to team up with Hayley & Blair, whom Laura describes as The Bickersons. Her reasonable evaluation of them and the reason they’re not fun to hang out with may cost her the entire competition. Amusingly, the travel agent throws them under the bus for the mistake rather than accept any culpability for what was entirely his fault. He must find Hayley more attractive than Laura, which only makes sense if Hayley isn’t talking…which is never.

Jelani & Jenny enter the same travel agency, and they learn of the earlier flight. As Laura & Tyler’s hopes of victory dissipate, even crueler editing shows the tandem in a bar…celebrating Laura’s 30th birthday. It really IS all downhill from here, Laura! You were an unstoppable Amazing Race force when you were 29. As the couple enters the airport, Tyler re-reads the clue and notices that they could have found more advantageous flights. As the flight departs, they recognize that only two other teams are with them, meaning that they will finish third at best. Always read the clue carefully, people, even if it’s your birthday!

After 22 brutal hours of travel, the first two teams to put their boots on the ground in Peru race to the next destination. Jelani & Jenny are first to arrive, and they learn they can complete their next challenge at 7 a.m. The first two teams will have an advantage of approximately three hours over the rest, meaning that we can safely predict either Jelani & jenny or Hayley & Blair will win this leg. If it’s the former team, Blair will NEVER hear the end of it.

Amusingly, none of the cab drivers has any idea where the next destination is. They all agree it’s too dangerous to walk, however, which means they know how to bleed expensive fare out of tourists. Smart. While Hayley complains, Blair impresses us yet again by conversing in Spanish with his driver. Basically, he’s doing the best job imaginable in this situation, and Hayley still whines the whole time.

We’re ready to say that Hayley’s parents coddled her too much, while Blair will surely marry the next woman he dates, because she’ll seem like the greatest conversationalist in the world after he’s spent a month traveling with Hayley. Hilariously, Hayley’s panicked decision to drop everything and turn backward is the correct call, causing her to spend another several minutes berating him for the taxi driver’s mistake.

The next clue, we kid you not, directs the contestants to travel to Santo Domingo and then Fundo San Fernando, at which point they will have their first challenge. While the earlier teams to arrive have had a bit of downtime, the final three duos will basically travel over a full day consecutively by the time they reach the initial competition for this leg. That’s asking a lot of anybody, and we expect it to impact their performance.

This episode’s Road Block involves a machete. Say something bad about Blair now, Hayley! We dare you! Alternately, grab the machete for yourself, and we’re sure he’ll listen. Jokes about chainsaws and hockey masks aside, the challenge requires contestants to hack down a small area of sugar cane. Jenny, the first person to attempt it, notes that she’s too clumsy to wield a machete. This makes us nervous, and that goes double when a cute puppy starts following her around. Jenny & Jelani also win Date Night, which should have all the romance of stomach flu.

Laura’s Worst. Birthday. Ever. continues as she and her blind date fail to discover the clue box quickly. After looking around the correct area for too long, they even get back in their taxi and head to a different location. While stuck in traffic, Laura gloats about seeing the Speed Bump but not mentioning anything to Matt and Ashley. Tyler sits up straight, recognizing the obvious fact she missed. That’s where the cluebox is. So, he tells the taxi driver that they’re getting out and heading back where they just came from. They’re having a terrible leg.

Matt & Ashley are doing exactly the same thing, and they too have the epiphany that they were just in the wrong place. A couple of those enterprising cab drivers got a lot fewer American dollars than they anticipated.

“Her with a machete, like, scares me.” – Blair, watching Hayley

“I’m never a person that yells ever, so it talks a lot to make me mad.” Hayley, lying through her teeth.

Folks, we’re just going to say it. The moment Blair & Hayley finally wind up in bed, their adrenaline-fueled hate sex will prove so combustible that it could cause spontaneous orgasms across the country.

The lamest Speed Bump in recent memory requires the hair stylists to employ an old-fashioned typewriter (ask your parents what these are, kids) to type out a loan application for a llama. Dear TAR producers: you phoned that one in and you know it.

Ashley two-finger types her way to victory while Matt Can’t. Do. Anything. He asks for help after virtually every keystroke. Dude must never use a computer. Hey, that means we can say anything we want about him since he’ll never read it. For a hair stylist, Matt has surprisingly bad hair. Also, we think his accent is fake.

The two teams way out ahead of the pack finish at roughly the same time. Jenny is as clumsy as she indicated and also doesn’t seem to have much skill as a worker bee. Hayley goes faster, presumably by envisioning that each stalk is Blair’s face. Both teams are directed to Parque Ramon Castilla, 10,000 feet above sea level in The Andes.

They also have to do some stuff involving a crass Fitbit tie-in, which we find shameless, and we say that as people whose friends consider us Fitbit evangelists. Along those lines, Hayley’s Fitbit only says she has 7,528 steps. What a wuss. We aim for 11,000 every day, and we’re not aiming a machete at Sugar-Blair.

The men handle the machetes for the bottom three teams. Mike, Tyler and Matt all get to chopping, with Mike having a huge lead over Tyler that dissipates quickly. Tyler’s better physical shape allows him to catch Mike and finish first. The two teams are virtually tied after they finish the Fitbit busy work and depart. The hairstylists are nowhere to be seen. Barring something unforeseen, they’re going home tonight.

Jelani & Jenny reach their next destination, only to discover that there is further Fitbit nonsense. It involves math, so the lawyers need only a moment to complete it. Seconds later, Hayley shows up and claps happily that she gets to show off her dope math skillz. A little bit of Hayley goes a long way, and we always get a LOT more than a little bit.

The Detour options are Mamas and Papas. Mamas requires players to find the ingredients needed to create Mama’s moonshine. Papas forces teams to filter through a massive pile of potatoes and sort them by type. Then, they must transport the potatoes to a market, finally placing each type in the correct bin. Mamas sounds like the obvious choice here.

Jenny & Jelani pick Papas while Hayley & Blair pick Mamas. Our money is now on the latter duo to win, which would make it difficult for Hayley to complain for a while. As if anticipating the compliment, Hayley does the unexpected. She COMPLIMENTS Blair. You heard it here first, people.

To our shock, Jenny & Jelani quickly complete the first portion of the Papas challenge. Then, they show up and put the potatoes in the receptacles. Right when we think they’re about to win, the mean woman working at the outside stall dumps their entire potato collection on the floor. They must start over. Meanwhile, Hayley & Blair quickly finish their work and enjoy a frosty beverage. A beverage of Big Drunk. They both like it, Hayley more than Blair. Keep her drunk, Blair. It’ll make your life a lot easier.

As predicted less than two paragraphs ago, Hayley & Blair win the leg. With it, they are rewarded a Fitbit Fitness Kit, which they pretend to be excited about. It includes home fitness equipment or a year’s membership at a gym along with one of everything Fitbit makes plus a laptop and cellphone. The idea is to guarantee that they can always access their device. In reality, it’s a sickening marketing ploy disguised as a reward. Trips are better, TAR producers.

Anyway, the duo passive aggressively pretend to be BFFs (complete with hashtag!) before he states that he wishes she would shut up and she counters that she wishes he would listen. He wants her to talk less while she wants him to listen more. That seems like a Catch-22. At least they’ll always have Fitbit.

Jenny & Jelani finish a few minutes later, leaving the expected teams fighting to avoid last place. Laura & Tyler catch another bad break on her birthday when the cab driver takes them to the wrong location. So, they get stuck doing Papas as the virtually unseen Mike & Rochelle work on Mamas. Once again, Mamas proves faster, meaning that one of the two remaining previously dating teams easily wins third place.

The other remaining previously dating team seems screwed. At least they pick the correct challenge, Mamas. Any hope they have of finishing first evaporates due to their driver also taking them to Papas. Laura & Tyler kindly inform them of the issue, but they decide to continue this Detour, which is probably a fatal mistake.

Meanwhile, Laura deduces that pouring water on the potatoes identifies which one is which. Even after this clever insight, however, they run into issues. First, they run out of water, so they start using their spit to add to the local color. Since these potatoes will be eaten, they also add to the local flavor, something that the onlookers don’t appreciate very much. The evil woman in charge doesn’t either, so she seems to take special joy in failing them yet again by dropping their potatoes to the ground.

A frustrated Tyler throws his potato against the stall. The woman starts to laugh at this. We would have lost a bet on whether she was capable of smiling. Seriously, she’s the Stannis Baratheon of potato stall managers. Upon their next try, however, they get everything right. The woman grudgingly gives them the thumbs up but explicitly leaves Tyler hanging when he tries to give her a high-five. Peru is a fist bump culture, dude.

There is no remaining drama this week, as the inevitable comes true. Matt & Ashley fail on their first attempt at potato sorting, which creates a priceless moment, already available in GIF form, of Ashley looking on in surprise as their hard work is dumped to the floor. For just a moment, we expect Ashley to throw down Jersey Style with Evil Potato Woman.

Alas, that’s not the worst thing to happen to them. Moments later, they reach the finish line, only to discover what they’ve already deduced. They are the last team to arrive, confirming what we’ve known since the last episode. The highlight of their trip was one of the best ever on the show, as they got engaged on camera while millions watched. There will not be the storybook ending of them winning The Amazing Race, though. It’s a shame, since they’re such a nice couple. Have a great marriage, Hairstylists.