The Amazing Race Season 27 - Episode 4 Recap
Good Old Fashioned Spit in the Face
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
October 19, 2015

This seems to apply for some reason...

Previously on The Amazing Race, the worst team was eliminated, which means that we’re three-for-three on the season. You’d think it would usually turn out like this in a competition like this one, but this is actually a refreshing turn of events. Also, it means that if you’re an athlete who has previously worked as a cheerleader, this turn of events bodes ill for you.

We also learned that the other half of #TeamAlabama is a condescending control freak who doesn’t trust her son to do anything. We’ve decided that we’re going to eschew the standard CBS naming conventions and name them #TeamSkinner in honor of Agnes and Seymour of The Simpsons, a pop culture mother and son who have a similarly dysfunctional relationship. The strange part is that James Earl seems like a remarkably well adjusted, well-intended young man. How he developed this way in the face of such adversity should be the subject of a scientific study.

None of the teams we’ve discussed so far, however, appear likely to affect the outcome of the game. The same is not true of #TeamTexas. Their maddening obsession with Justin, half of #TheGreenTeam, appears certain to determine the results of the game, at least incidentally if not directly.

The funniest part is that Justin seems entirely oblivious to their feelings. He loves competition and is living his dream, and he thinks it’s awesome that a couple of alpha males have won a couple of legs. That guarantees a challenge rather than a cakewalk. He’s not one to want something handed to him – he seeks to earn it.

Meanwhile, #TeamTexas would shoot him in the back if the gun laws in the countries to which they are traveling were as generous as the gun laws in Texas. Tanner & Josh are not just feuding with a stranger – they’re doing so completely unknown to him. If the guys do lose this season, we’re confident we can trace the source of their doom to their fixation.

Today’s leg begins with – you guessed it - #TeamTexas plotting against #TheGreenTeam. Tanner & Josh actually finished in first place by a matter of moments, but you’d be hard-pressed to guess that based on their Machiavellian negotiations with the third-place Kelsey & Joey. #TeamTexas is reiterating for approximately the 73rd time that they’ll give their Express Pass to whichever team uses the upcoming U-Turn in this leg on Justin & Diana. As far as we can tell, this is the only conversation they’ve had with the reporters, and they’ve had it at least eight times. At this point, we have to wonder if the reports believe that #TeamTexas thinks they’re total morons.

Along with U-turning #TheGreenTeam, Tanner & Josh instruct #TheReporters that whoever else finishes ahead of Justin & Diana should U-Turn #TeamTexas so that Justin & Diana won’t be able to U-Turn another team. O-kay? The problem with this strategy is that it assumes Justin & Diana won’t finish first or second…which they have every leg so far except for one where they had monumentally bad luck (but still fought back to beat to teams in the face of steep odds). Based on the way the show is portraying the discussions, we feel confident that this little scheme is going to backfire.

It really doesn’t matter when the teams leave for this leg, because they’re all riding the same bus to the airport and then the two planes headed for Africa are only 15 minutes apart. They’ll be headed to Livingstone, Zambia, home of Victoria Falls, which will almost certainly play into the leg at some point. One more noteworthy point about Josh & Tanner is that Tanner is limping pretty severely due to the hamstring injury he suffered in a needless sprint to the Pit Stop mat during the second leg. We’ll see if it impacts them later in the Race.

While the teams are waiting for transportation, there’s some discussion amongst all the teams about the deal to U-Turn Justin & Diana. Well… all of the teams except for Justin & Diana, of course. It’s cute that teams like Tiffany & Krista think they’ll even have a chance to do that.

Once again, Tanner & Josh state that they will use their Express Pass now so that they can get to the U-Turn so they can burn their nemesis. It’s come up so many times now that we’re 100% certain that it’s not going the way they think it will.

When the teams arrive to pick up their first clue, there is a blessing ceremony at Mukuni Village, where a woman spits on them. You heard us. #TheReporters take it in stride and even find the entire event quite moving, but some other teams won’t react the same way.

After the spitting, teams receive a clue that directs them to the Batoka Aerodrome. As the teams depart from the blessing ceremony, the top team order is #TheReporters followed by Tanner & Josh and then #TheGreenTeam. Soon after the three of them leave, #TheTrackStars arrive for their blessing spit. Meanwhile, the second set of teams has just landed in Africa and is on their way.

Today’s Road Block is called “Rise Above,” and it celebrates the beauty of Victoria Falls by taking one lucky(?) person from each team on a ride in an open-air cockpit of something called a microlight. As Phil describes it, the contraption is basically a motorbike with wings. Neither of us would ride the thing, that’s for damned sure. It looks like an unwieldy flying machine straight out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

As if it’s not difficult enough to be terrified up in the air, the Racer must find their next clue while they’re flying. It’s located on a bridge, and once they’ve completed the task, they must join their teammate and find a ride to that location to retrieve their next instructions.

By now Tanner & Josh have announced their intention to use their Express Pass about 947 times, but the moment has finally arrived. They note, “it’s going to be a fast Roadblock, but a scary one!” Although we agree, we’re not sure that using the Express Pass on something so quick is the best idea, even if Tanner is afraid of heights (Josh can do Roadblocks, too!). We suppose it gets them a good head start on their next task.

Diana and Kelsey will do the Roadblock for #TheGreenTeam and #TheReporters, respectively. Justin notes that if #TeamTexas uses the U-Turn too early, it’s going to come back to bite them.

Tanner is almost hyperventilating with excitement as he turns in the Express Pass, which directs them cross the border from Zambia to Zimbabwe, where they’ll head to the town of Victoria Falls. Once there, they will have to find Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge for their next clue. Josh is fretting about possibly using the Express Pass on a task that was too easy, but we all know Tanner’s obsession with Justin is driving this bus. They note that the U-Turn is usually at the Detour, so they’re hoping to fulfill their lifelong dream of beating Justin in just a few moments.

“In the history of The Amazing Race, when you U-Turn a team that’s right behind you up at the top, it never works out,” says Justin. As a student of the Race, we’re sure he’s right (and logically, it makes sense as well). But there’s no logic involved in Tanner’s seething hatred for Justin.

While Joey and Justin wait for their counterparts, Justin asks the news anchor how he would feel about allying. Joey says sure, why not, but tells the audience in confessional that he’s just playing both sides. And really, there’s no reason to antagonize Justin since you have no idea what’s going to happen even if they do get U-Turned. If they’re not eliminated, you’ve needlessly created an enemy.

At this point, we’re reminded that there are some other teams in the race other than the top three, as #TheTrackStars arrive for the Roadblock and the other teams are pulling in to the blessing ceremony. When the “blesser” spits in Denise’s face, well, let’s just say that you can see an undercurrent of rage pass through her. We’re very close to seeing her devil face here.

The editing makes it seem like it might be hard to find the clue flag during the horrifying flying motorbike flight, but none of the teams struggle. Kelsey is first to land, and as she and Joey are making their way to the suspension bridge, he points out some monkeys or baboons. Apparently, Kelsey is no fonder of primates than she is of dogs, and she basically tells Joey to shut up. We hope her news anchor job never requires her to do any cute adopt-an-animal segments.

As the lagging teams start to arrive at the Roadblock, they question the wisdom of Tanner & Josh using the Express Pass so soon. Rick is going up in the air while Jazmine is returning. Logan is yelling at Chris about something or other as she prepares for her microlight ride, and Denise is taking the challenge for #TeamAlabama. Krista is the last one in the air, and Tiffany worries that she might forget to look for the clue.

When the teams go to the Victoria Falls suspension bridge, they all get soaking wet, but enjoy the amazing view. Just as we already learned from Tanner & Josh, they’ll now be proceeding to Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge.

#TheTrackStars get a little bit lost when they look for the suspension bridge, but it’s really all just faux drama because there will be bunching at the Detour. Each team will pick up a time – two at 8 a.m., and then two more every 10 minutes until they all go. Obviously, this is terrible (though unsurprising) news for Tanner & Josh, who were expecting to build a big lead here. “We just basically wasted our express pass,” says Josh. Ah, the perils of fixation are always hazardous in The Amazing Race.

It gets worse, though, because Justin & Diana get the other 8 a.m. start time. #TheReporters mumble about Tanner & Josh under their breath, and it may be worse for #TeamTexas than they had imagined, because now a whole bunch of other teams are annoyed with them for botching the plan.

As the new day begins and the teams prepare for the Detour portion of the leg, Justin approaches Tanner & Josh and tells them he has no intention of U-Turning them this leg. And why would he? You save that for a time when you need it. Again, fostering enmity unnecessarily is no way to play the Race. It only comes back to bite you later. Justin also jokingly says that #TeamTexas should give him and Diana their Express Pass. The guys fake laugh, and then we go to confessional with Tanner, who insists that his plan to U-Turn Justin is still on. Sigh.

The Detour gives the teams their choice between Co-Op or Croquet. For Co-Op, they have to stain and polish a large wooden giraffe. Croquet requires teams to play - you guessed it - croquet. They’ll have to score five points against professional players in order to get their next clue. The giraffe task seems painstakingly time consuming, so we’d definitely choose croquet. It’s not even a close call.

Obviously, #TeamTexas, #TheGreenTeam and #TheReporters agree, because they all go to the Victoria Falls Hotel for a rousing round of croquet. Cindy & Rick, on the other hand, don’t even know what “croquet” is, so they’re going with Co-Op.

For the back four teams, #TeamAlabama chooses Croquet, but the other three have elected to stain some giraffes. Do these people not know how easy croquet is? And since we’re now seeing that the giraffes will be stained with something that looks a lot like a toothbrush, there’s just no contest here. Croquet is the far superior task.

Then again, “We were hoping for a toothbrush challenge,” says Rick, presumably because Cindy is a dentist.

Justin & Diana get off to a slight lead in the Croquet challenge, though #TeamTexas is pretty close behind them. It’s not long, though, before #TheGreenTeam accumulates five points and is headed for the Pit Stop, which is at the Rose Charity Orphanage. The people here care for kids from six months to 16 years. If you’d like to consider a donation, you can find their GoFundMe page here.

With Tanner & Josh right behind them, it’s coming down to taxis to see who will be the first team to arrive at the Pit Stop. Justin & Diana get the first one, so it’s going to be a race to the finish line again.

The giraffe staining is moving about as slowly as you might expect, with no teams passing muster on the first try. And that’s just the staining portion! They have to get the dark stain just right before they can even begin with polish.

Denise & James Earl actually finish their croquet match before #TheReporters can get it figured out.

Some adorable kids are singing to welcome our contestants to the Pit Stop, and there is a quick edit to the U-Turn board before we’re shown the first team to arrive. And it is…

…#TheGreenTeam, who chooses not to U-Turn anyone. Justin & Diana donate all their money to the orphanage, and Phil tells them that they are… still racing! So although the U-Turn doesn’t come into play for the top few teams despite the hype, there’s a strong chance that some team near the bottom of the pack takes advantage of it in an effort to stay in the game.

Of course, Tanner & Josh don’t U-Turn anyone either. Although Josh says that he really respects Justin for his gameplay, Josh continues with his insistence that if they have the opportunity, they will U-Turn #TheGreenTeam in a later leg. He gets… a look on his face whenever he hears Justin mentioned.

Now that #TeamTexas has donated their cash to the orphanage, Phil informs them that not only is the race continuing here, but they’ll also have to decide right this second who to give their Express Pass to. It’s a tough call for them, and they decide to award it to…

We’ll find out next week. You’d think they’ll hold strong to their promise to #TheReporters even though that team wasn’t able to hold up their end of the bargain through no fault of their own. Instead, we think it will go to a lower-tier team, because the guys would rather keep a non-threatening duo in the game.

Tune in next week to find out!