The Amazing Race Season 30: Episode 3 Recap
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
January 24, 2018

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Previously on The Amazing Race, one team lost over and over again. They were not, however, the last team to arrive at the finish line. Team Yale won the first head-to-head race that ever mattered on the show, eventually winning a battle to stave off elimination. Passive aggressive yoga goat herders April & Sarah went home instead, which is a huge win for all television viewers. On the downside, the contestants will depart from gorgeous Belgium this week, making this the last opportunity we have this season to recommend that you watch In Bruges.

The first team to depart on this leg is Team Big Brother, Cody & Jessica, the surprise winners last week. While we’ve never watched Big Brother and are extremely proud of that fact, we must admit that this duo is better than past Big Brother tandems, at least thus far. Also, they seem to like one another, a rarity for a reality showmance.
The leg starts with airport bunching, but let’s give you a quick reminder of the order. Cedric & Shawn, Team Slam Dunk, are in second place followed by Team Extreme (Kristi & Jen), Team Well Strung (Trevor & Chris), Team IndyCar (Alex & Conor), Team Ocean Rescue (Lucas & Brittany), Team Chomp (Joey & Tim), the previously discussed Team Yale, and one other group.

Let’s set the Firefighters apart for now to point out something about them. They’ve quietly struggled so far. Their BEST finish is eighth place out of 11. Last week, they were the final team to arrive for the head-to-head competition. They were lucky enough to have innate abilities at carrying giant potato sacks, keeping them along for at least one more episode. Thus far, they seem like the weakest link of the season, though. It’ll take a lot of fortune for them simply to survive this episode. Aren’t twins supposed to have a special bond that makes them the best imaginable team?

Even with airport bunching, this episode starts with some drama. The brothers barely catch the flight out of Belgium. When the other duos realize which team was eliminated, the news hits home for Team Extreme. Kristi & Jen know the history of The Amazing Race, which has only seen only three all-female teams win over 29 seasons. Now, two of the three all-female teams this year are already out of the competition. It’s Team Extreme or bust now!

The new destination is Morocco! Teams fly into Ibn Battouta Airport in Tangier. A wonderful moment happens next. As Team Well Strung tries to figure out how to get in the same cab, Team Big Brother provides another demonstration of competence. When their taxi driver states that he doesn’t speak English well, Cody steps in. He speaks to the gentleman in Arabic, pleasantly surprising his driver.

At this point, we learn that Cody is a big damn hero. He didn’t just spend six years in the Air Force. He also joined the Marines, too! He was on the front lines as a sniper, and he picked up several languages during his tenure. He’s not the only one who speaks Arabic, either. Ferocious Evan of Team Yale also communicates with her driver in his native tongue. She apparently had high school classes in Marrakesh. This is a skilled group of players with a lot of impressive life skills. Also, the hot dog eaters are there.

The first challenge today requires the proper placement of some dead fish in a basket. One of the women doesn’t even want to touch them. Meanwhile, massive Cedric cannot deal with the smell. He vomits an impressive amount. And he’s not the only one struggling. Team Extreme’s taxi ride isn’t as communicative. They apparently speak French, Spanish, or English, but they wind up reduced to mimicking the action of fishing in hopes that he’ll know to take them to the water. Maybe there is no water. Maybe they were misinformed.

The funniest part of the fish handling segment is an observer. Well, several observers. You know who loves the smell of fish? Clearly, the answer isn’t Cedric Ceballos, but it is a bunch of cats. These outdoor creatures know where the good food is. They hang out and mewl in hopes that the kind humans will toss them a bite. Apparently, this is not a cast full of cat lovers, though. Jerks.

The trick to the first challenge is, in the words of Evan, “have all of the heads facing in the correct direction.” The problem is that the dead fish are slimy, causing them to slide the wrong way. You could feasibly line them up right only to find that some of them had turned by the time you showed your pile to the judge.

Once again, Team Big Brother is the first to finish the challenge. They’re on a hot streak. The second challenge today is at Kisariate Jbala Souk, where they must introduce themselves to a merchant with a traditional greeting. At this point, the teams will receive one of those infernal Travelocity Gnomes to lug around the rest of the challenge. Based on past history, we can say with confidence that someone will lose their gnome during this leg. It’s inevitable.

Hey, the firefighters finish second! That’s a huge morale boost for them after several challenges worth of failure. The NBA All-Stars, Team Yale, and Team Chomp are right behind them, though. Perhaps the most impressive performance comes from Team Extreme. They show up at the challenge and absolutely crush it, leaving the IndyCar drivers in their dust. Skiing >>> Driving!

Most of the contestants struggle to find the merchant. The streets look similar and have plenty of turns. The teams get turned around easily. Team Yale again demonstrates their intellectual savvy by beating the two teams ahead of them in the race for the gnome. They’re very impressive.

The Roadblock is at the same place where parts of The Bourne Trilogy were filmed. The challenge is to zipline over the narrow rooftops to a specified destination. Presuming that the editing is correct, the difference between first and last place is trivial. Team Chomp winds up in last due to a few wrong turns and a narrow miss while jaywalking in front of a moving car. Still, we’re talking a few minutes at most.

The challenge is visually hilarious. The gnome gets a zipline, too. One player from each team follows the gnome down the line. We half-expect the gnomes to become sentient and start talking in energy drink-speak.
Still, the Roadblock isn’t funny to Cedric Ceballos. Legitimately one of the largest people in the world, he’s struggling through the tight corridors and heavily slanted stairwells. He has to use attached ropes to pull himself up, exhausting the giant before he gets to the tough part of the challenge. It’s kind of tough to watch him struggling simply because he’s larger than everyone else.

The next step in the Roadblock is to head to the roof of the Kasbah Museum (no, we are NOT making a Clash/Combat Rock joke here). Finding the second rooftop is brutal in the tight space in this part of Tangier. Some of them run, which is a bit ridiculous since they don’t know where they’re going. They wind up going nowhere fast in a literal sense.

Meanwhile, we’re worried about Cedric’s health. He’s a 48-year-old man who probably weighs around 240 pounds. Morocco isn’t known for its cold spells, either. The blaring heat and the claustrophobic buildings are taking their toll on him. He’s reduced to crawling up the stairs at one point. Despite all of these issues, he’s the first person to retrieve his gnome and complete the Roadblock. It’s extremely impressive. Alas, he’s so worn out that he’ll struggle to recuperate the rest of the leg.

The next challenge again plays up the chaotic aspects of the city. Contestants must find a pay phone (ask your parents, kids) at a Tele Boutique. Here, they’ll receive a secret message. They must follow the directions of the message and reunite with their partner to reveal the next clue. This is where everything falls apart for Cedric. He gets lost and really just needs to sit down for a while. He might have done better if he had done that. As other teams reach the phone, he grows more and more lost.

Team Extreme and Team IndyCar find the phone first. Cedric sees them and follows the unaffiliated pair to the phone. What he misses is that Alex pulls out a coin from the gnome’s pouch. As he evaluates the situation, Team Yale passes him. At least six teams are in basically the same situation, though. Everyone’s trying to find the clue for the Detour.

Team Yale is the lucky team. They learn that they can either Drop It Off or Shake It Off. Drop It Off requires players to lug a cart full of merchandise through the narrow streets and deliver the items to paying customers. At this point, they’ll receive a stamp confirming delivery. Shake It Off is a belly-dancing challenge, so most people are going to pick it. Players must read three different words off the bellies of dancers. It’s rude to stare like that, but hey! Belly dancers are probably used to the ogling.

At the back of the pack are Team Big Brother, Team Ocean Rescue, and Team Chomp. Something questionable happens at this point. Brittany the lifeguard has her hands full. Either due to kindness or calculation, Jessica offers to hold Brittany’s gnome during the call. Moments later, Jessica places the gnome on the ground and leaves.
Brittany is too frenzied at the moment to recognize her mistake. She runs off without the gnome. Jessica provides a non-apology to the camera, noting that she feels bad but is in last place. As the show cuts to commercial, Brittany realizes what has happened and runs down the street, screaming Jessica’s name. When she retrieves the gnome from a local, she comments that Jessica took it on purpose. During her late monologue, she seems less sure.

Our opinion is that it’s likely Jessica did something nice at first but then adapted to turn the situation to her advantage. She could have saved Jessica a lot of time. She’s burned that bridge to increase her odds slightly today. That proves to be a mistake for two reasons. The first is that Cedric is so lost that he literally walks right past the area where his partner is sitting. Shawn Marion watches in disbelief as his teammate blithely walks away from the proper location. He cannot say anything, of course, because his team was previously penalized once for unauthorized assistance.

As Team Slam Dunk struggles, the race for first place concludes. We’ll save you a metric ton of lewd comments and innuendoes about belly dancing. Instead, we’ll skip to the end. The only two teams that picked delivery instead of belly dancing discover the obvious. It’s easy but slow. Everyone else tears through belly dancing like it’s all they watch on YouTube. Draw your own conclusions about whether that’s true or not.

Team Yale ends up as the winner, finishing moments ahead of Team IndyCar. The drivers experienced a reversal of fortune once they met their gnome. Clearly, it was a lucky charm as they went from second to last to second overall. Soon afterward, Team Extreme and Team Well Strung reach the finish line. All four teams are close enough in time that Phil talks to all of them. Then, there’s a gap for fifth place, which is where possibly duplicitous Team Big Brother finishes for the leg. Sixth goes to Team Chomp, and the firefighting twins are seventh.

The race for the final spot comes down to the lifeguards and the NBA All-Stars. In the end, Cedric Ceballos, the first person to retrieve the gnome, is the last to find his partner and reach the finish line. Not coincidentally, Team Slam Dunk was also the other team to pick delivery. It just wasn’t their day.

We really like them, which makes the last place finish infuriating, although Cedric could use the day off. At this point, he reveals that he’s had three heart attacks. And now we’re retroactively that much more scared about what he went through during the Roadblock. For that reason, it almost seems mean when Phil Keoghan informs the former NBA players that this is a non-elimination leg. Eek!

Tune in next week to find out whether Cedric Ceballos dies during the next episode of The Amazing Race. Spoilers: he doesn’t, but we’re still going to worry about it.