The Amazing Race Season 30: Episode 7 Recap, Part 1
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
February 12, 2018
Hello and welcome to the most meaningless leg of this season of The Amazing Race! We know this because it’s a two-hour episode. During two-hour episodes, the first hour is almost always a non-elimination leg, generally as part of an extended leg. We’ll play along for now, but we know damn well that nobody’s going home during this recap.
The first leg of tonight, i.e. the non-elimination one, includes a flight to Harare, Zimbabwe. It’s a nearly 5,000-mile flight, meaning that everybody’s getting bunched. We won’t bother telling you the order since there’s no point. This is a 14-hour flight. The only thing that would be important is if one of the duos got in a fight on the plane. Because THAT would cause problems for days if not weeks to come.
Alas, no such drama occurs. Instead, contestants arrive at Harare and immediately head to a small town called Marondera. This place is home to the Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservancy. Think of it of Disney’s Animal Kingdom without the rides. Yes, Africa’s been here since the dawn of man, and we’re using a 20-year-old theme park as a point of reference. Deal with it.
This wildlife habitat is anti-poaching, trying to monetize the practice of protecting nature. Our host Phil doesn’t go into detail about how they plan to do that, as it’s a curious but wonderful business plan. In Marondera, the teams spend their taxi time debating which teams are the strongest competitors. Everyone gets the answer right, as Team Extreme is well ahead of the rest of the pack. They’re excellent in challenges and genuinely get along to boot.
The teams arrive at the conservancy at roughly the same time. The first challenge begins immediately. The duos have to pitch a tent (don’t make it dirty, pervs). All Phil says is that the order of completion matters and that the winning team will earn some later reward. Generally, that means you want to finish first or not last. Everything else is usually about the same.
The tent-pitching exercise breaks down almost exactly as you’d expect. Jessica from Team Big Brother doesn’t want to get her hands dirty. Her former-military fella, Cody, could pitch tents in his sleep (stop giggling, pervs!). The Ivy League tandem doesn’t spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. Indy 500 champion Alex is all about the work; Indy 500 also-ran Conor is all about watching Alex do all the work. Team Extreme and the Firefighters are worker bees. And lifeguard Brittany is all-too-happy to watch her new fiancé do some sexy bending and grunting. They’re going to use that tent when they’re down with it (NOW you can make it dirty).
Anyone who has ever watched a movie about basic training knows how this plays out. Cody pitches a tent faster than a 14-year-old touching a boob for the first time. He did it in deserts in the Middle East. A wildlife sanctuary is a calmer environment for him. Team Big Brother doesn’t learn what their advantage is, though. The rest of the order is: Team Ocean Rescue in second, Team Yale in third, Team Extreme in fourth (which is terrible by their standards), The Firefighters in fifth, and Team IndyCar in last. We’d say that the drivers should be worried, but it’s clearly a non-elimination leg, so…
At 4:00 a.m., Phil gleefully uses loud noises to awaken everyone in their tents. Hopefully, Brittany didn’t keep her man Lucas up all night doing some additional bending and grunting. If so, this is going to be a miserable leg for them. 4 a.m. is no joke, and we say this as we type at 3:24 a.m.
Phil informs all the contestants of the BIG TWIST during this leg. It’s called Partner Swap and gets a hashtag and everything. Our host explains the details by saying, “It’s as simple as it sounds.” Yes, all Amazing Race contestants are now required to swing. We’re…going to withdraw our application. We’re not judging you if you don’t, though. (Yes, we are, pervs.)
The reward that Team Big Brother earned is that they get to pick their playmates during the swap. Cody selects Team Extreme and has his eyes on Jen Hudak. Someone’s an X-Games fan! Phil asks them about the specific pairing, which is pretty obvious given Cody’s hungry eyes. Before his “girlfriend” can respond, he firmly states, “You take Kristi; I’ll take Jen.” Warning to Jessica: he means “take” her in the Biblical sense. Cody’s a man of few words and many pitched tents.
The lifeguards get second pick. Their situation is less clear since most of the other teams are meh. We think they may choose the Ivy League duo, but they have a stronger relationship with the drivers. So, the new partners are Alex & Brittany and Conor & Lucas. We’ll dutifully note that Brittany chose the teams. She seems to relish in this opportunity to act like she was forced to pair off with a champion race car driver. This is precisely why swapping is always a bad idea. The lucky person always winds up with the Alex, and the other partner gets stuck with the Conor.
PS: The final pairings are Henry & Eric and Evan & Daniel. We’re excited by this development, because the rest of this episode is the only time all season we’ll know which is which of Eric & Daniel.
The first challenge for the (obviously temporary) teams is to paddle boats out into the water where they will find their next clues. Awkward conversations ensue as strangers pretend like they’re comfortable working with each other in the middle of the water in the heart of Zimbabwe.
Also – apropos of nothing – Brittany should note that Jen laughs waaaaaaay too much at Cody’s weak attempt at a joke. You’re in trouble, girl.
The clue reveals that the teams need to row to another tower where they’ll find another clue. Basically, someone at The Amazing Race thought it would be hysterical to pair everybody off on those infernal Swan Boats that you see at amusement parks. Now, they’re stretching the joke as much as they can. We won’t indulge them by telling you who struggles with the paddling…but it’s exactly the people you’d think.
Tonight’s Detour is a tough choice. It’s Rhino Track or Bushwhack. The former challenge requires contestants to walk a trail, discovering a series of eight clues. Each of these markers symbolizes one of the dangers that rhinos face due to the actions of poachers. The trick of this half of the Detour is that the clues are easy to miss. And once players have them all, they’ll have to fill out a map that displays where each clue was discovered at the conservancy.
Bushwhack is much more straightforward but also more arduous. Teams must drive off-road Jeeps through uneven terrain. Along the way, they’ll replenish supply stations for anti-poaching agents. If someone gets stuck, they must use a winch to pull their vehicle out of the mud pit. It seems like a region where the cars are likely to get stuck in the mud at least once if not more. Driving is faster than walking, but winching is grueling and messy. Still, we think it beats the Rhino Track, which seems depressing and potentially tricky.
We expect the former teams to stick together so that they can help one another, turning the event into a three-team competition. That…doesn’t happen. And some teams regret not thinking ahead on the subject.
Brittany & Alex are the first duo at the Detour. They choose driving because, well, you know. We presume that Conor’s team will as well, at least once they reach that point. They’re not good at paddling. The second and third teams are the new variations of Team Extreme and Team Big Brother.
Jessica & Kristi are (surprisingly) the first duo to arrive, and they quickly discover a problem. The Jeeps are stick shift, not automatic. Neither woman can drive stick, so they switch. Along the way, they see their partners and explain the situation. They also drop the hint that their partners should join them. After some discussion, Cody tells Jen that Jessica is good at puzzles, indicating that they’ll be fine. The fact that the editing shows this segment means that they won’t be fine. But it’s a non-elimination leg, so this doesn’t matter.
Both sides of the Detour play out predictably. On one side, people miss clues and struggle with the puzzle. On the other side, most of the teams get their vehicles in horrific positions in the mud. They must use the winches to escape their plight. The funniest part of this whole thing is that Conor stays in the car while Lucas does all the bending and grunting. Lucas is just a sex object in this episode.
As we predicted, Cody & Jen destroy their side of the challenge. He somehow becomes the only man to drive through the conservancy without getting stuck in the mud. Neither of the IndyCar drivers manages this feat, something we’re confident he brags about with his friends. Moments later, the duo tries to check in. Phil informs them that they can’t because…#PartnerSwap. All four players must stand at the Pit Stop mat to finish the leg.
Jessica & Kristi miss clues. Then, Jessica & Kristi cannot do the puzzle. It’s Kristi’s fault. They only miss two at first, and Jessica believes that they’re using the wrong marker as the start of the map/puzzle. Kristi either doesn’t listen or doesn’t understand, leading them to miss several more times. At one point, they have absolutely no answers correct after starting with only two out of eight that were wrong.
Meanwhile, Brittany & Alex are the second team to arrive. From the way Brittany giggles and smiles throughout this leg, we’re pretty sure that she DOES drive stick. She definitely got the best end of the #PartnerSwap. Well, Cody’s pretty happy as well right up until he realizes that while he was making googly eyes at Jen, his actual girlfriend vanished in a land overrun by armed poachers. Cody didn’t score a lot of Boyfriend Points today.
Evan & Daniel arrive at the puzzle long after Jessica & Kristi. Then, they depart long before Jessica & Kristi. Evan has no problem with the exacting details of this challenge. It’s basically her wheelhouse.
Around this time, Conor & Lucas arrive at the Pit Stop. Since Brittany & Alex are already there, these two teams can all check in. And in a huge. Shocking. TWIST!, the #PartnerSwap ends. Phil informs both teams that they’re still racing, meaning that Team IndyCar and Team Ocean Rescue are ready for the next leg of the race. And yes, that means the current episode is a – wait for it! – non-elimination leg!
Phil confirms this news when Eric & Henry arrive at the Pit Stop. They get their clues and rejoin their old partners. The last team to arrive is Jessica & Kristi, puzzle failures extraordinaire. They learn their fate and happily return to their former teams. These duos receive their next clues as they head into the second episode of the evening. The presumption is that one of these teams is most likely to go home in the next leg. They seem like they’ve spotted the other four teams a solid lead.
We’ll discuss the specifics in the next recap, which is unlikely to be a non-elimination leg! So, yay!