I know I’ve raised this criticism before, but are they honestly trying to pick the blandest quotes to be episode titles for this season? I know that you’re not all that likely to get winning witticisms out of the likes of Dave & Connor, but come on: you’ve got Brendon & Rachel here, and the Afghanimals, and Flight Time & Big Easy, all of whom have proven track records of saying some pretty funny things. (Yes, yes, I know it was actually Flight Time who said “down and dirty” in this episode; my point is not that everything he says is solid gold, but that he must surely have said something better than THAT.) I miss the days when episodes were called things like “Let Them Drink Their Haterade”, “I Cannot Deal With Your Psycho Behavior”, “Do It For The Hood! Do It For The Suburbs!” and that sort of thing, and didn’t just sound like they were named after Atomic Kitten b-sides.
Anyway: this leg began with a superbunch as everyone headed off to the Dutch Museum in Colombo and had to wait for it to open, and I was pretty disappointed that this turned out to be one of those “grab your clue and run off again” locations, because I was pretty interested in the concept of a Dutch Museum in the middle of Sri Lanka, but apparently the show itself wasn’t. Instead, it was time for a surprisingly violent Roadblock where the teams had to competitively fuel up a load of tuk-tuks at a comparatively small petrol station. The trick was that each team would be assigned a colour and had to look for the same-coloured ticket inside the windscreen in order to complete the challenge properly, and everyone figured this out except Rachel, who was filling up tuk-tuks that were actually painted green rather than specifically looking for vehicles with a green ticket in the window. So she and Brendon should probably have been the first team away, but ended up being the last because she had to fuel twice as many vehicles as everyone else. Meanwhile, this challenge brought out Dave’s inner maniac as he spent the entire task yelling “NOT YOU! ME! I’M NEXT! MY TURN!” and forcibly shoving everyone out of his way. I mean, it’s not exactly gentlemanly behaviour, but I’d take that over “I hurt my foot the last time I was on this show” any day. There was a little bit of built-in tension here as once the task was over the racers had to sprint to a nearby station to catch the train to Alawwa, and it looked as though Brendon & Rachel might just miss the train – but then they caught it, and everything was fine.
After arriving in Alawwa, the tuktuk theme of the episode continued as everyone had to pile into one and drive to their next destination – and I take no great pride in being amused by cheap visual gags, but the sight of Big Easy trying to fit into a tuktuk was pretty funny. The Detour in Alawwa gave the racers the choice of tying chains around a log and getting an elephant (heffalants!) to transport six of them for you, or scooping up elephant dung and using it to make environmentally-friendly paper by mixing it with scrap paper and water. Unsurprisingly, the task that involved actual interaction with elephants (heffalants!) was the most popular and pretty much everyone wanted to do that one – but there were only four sets of chains available, so the other three teams were set for disappointment. Jet & Cord, Dave & Connor, Jessica & John and Leo & Jamal were the lucky four, and Jet & Cord’s general cowboying experience made them a natural fit for this one, while the other three teams struggled to various extents when it came to securing the chains tightly enough. However, they were always in an inherently strong position because it turned out that the paper task was more complicated and took longer, mostly because it took some time to properly finesse the process: all three teams who did this task took a while to work out that they needed to press down the paper to properly squeeze out all of the air bubbles, and that really slowed them down. Eventually Flight Time & Big Easy got out of the task first, with Brendon & Rachel behind them and Caroline & Jennifer were at the back of the pack.
This felt like it should have been the race to the Pit Stop, but there was a random extra element to the leg as the teams had to find a Wise Man and listen to him playing some music before receiving the clue that would actually direct them to the Pit Stop. This felt like a bit of padding and local colour rather than an actual race element, since there was absolutely zero opportunity for the order to get reshuffled here, but hey, sometimes it’s nice just to see a bit of the country that we’re visiting. I feel like I can’t gripe about spending time with the Wise Man when earlier I was moaning that we didn’t get to see the Dutch Museum, so you go, Wise Man. Between there and the Pit Stop, however, it all came down to who had the most mercenary taxi driver – which turned out to be Leo & Jamal, who overtook the Cowboys and ended up beating them in a footrace for first place. Shortly behind them were Jessica & John and Dave & Connor, who were also vying to see which of them would reach the mat first. Jessica & John edged ahead, which caused Dave to snap “THAT’S RIGHT, YOU BEAT AN OLD MAN!” That little outburst might have held some water if the old man in question hadn’t managed to win two legs on crutches in his last race. And you can’t tell me that Dave’s forgotten about that, because he talks about it ALL THE DAMN TIME.
All of that was largely academic anyway because none of this lot were ever in danger, so the real action was between the final three teams. Brendon & Rachel had some well-timed positive taxi karma and overtook the Globetrotters to finish fifth, while Flight Time & Big Easy almost got lost – but still managed to land on the Pit Stop in sixth place, leaving Caroline & Jennifer in last place. The good news for the country singers is that this was another non-elimination leg – although I suspect they may be losing their fire at this point, because their response to learning that they were still in the running was to assure Phil that they’d go down fighting, which suggests a certain fatalism that they’re probably screwed whatever happens, rather than any sort of belief that they can actually win from this point.
Next week: Italy. And panic!