How dare you call Heidi a ho!
However disappointing a season of The Amazing Race might be (and make no mistakes, this season has been disappointing), a UK-based leg can go a surprisingly long way toward winning back my goodwill. The teams begin by taking a train from Seville to Madrid, then taking another flight from there to London and then driving in a FORD FOCUS WOO to Liverpool. This seemed at first to be an absurdly convoluted route, but a) I guess they’ve got to get dat product placement money somehow and b) I did a bit of cursory research and it seems that it is a lot easier to fly from Madrid to London than it is to Liverpool, so even with the 3.5ish hour drive from Heathrow to Anfield, it’s probably still quicker that way. So yes, the teams are heading to Anfield, where they get to don their own personally branded Liverpool kit (jealous!) and have to take penalty kicks against goalkeepers from what appears to be the junior squad. Because of traffic snafus, Leo & Jamal get to Anfield way ahead of everybody else, but despite talking a big (football) game, they turn out to be a bit rubbish when it comes to actually connecting ball with back-of-net. Also, the overwhelming theme of this episode seems to be “nobody in England or Wales has any clue where anything is and even if they do, they certainly don’t want to give directions to American tourists with camera crews, so just go away”.
Despite having endured a 210 mile drive with no boys to follow, Caroline & Jennifer somehow make it to Anfield second. They are dreadful at football, and openly admit it. They jokingly accuse their goalie of being “mean” for stopping them scoring, but to be honest the existence of a goalie is the least of their problems. Brendon & Rachel get there third, and Dave & Connor arrive in last place, just as Leo & Jamal finally finish the task and are setting off again. Brendon & Rachel are both pretty good at football (also Brendon is left-footed, apparently) and get through the task with minimal incident, but Dave & Connor are another weak team when it comes to the beautiful game: Dave manages to score twice but Connor flat-out sucks. Eventually the goalies take pity on both Caroline & Jennifer and Dave & Connor, and pretty much stop trying to catch the balls so that they can get on with the rest of the leg.
The next objective for the teams is to drive to Wales, specifically to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (and if you think that sounds hard to pronounce, you should hear Phil try it). This is the Roadblock for this leg, where one member of each team must spend the journey across the bridge in a narrowboat with a Welsh speaker who teaches them the Welsh poem Y Sipsi!, which they must be able to recite to a Welsh linguist by the time they get to the other side. Brendon, Caroline, Jamal and Connor volunteer for the task, and nobody gets it right on the first attempt, but Brendon and Caroline both nail it on the second. (Also, Brendon delivers it with truly adorable gusto. I bet you never thought one of the highlights of this season would be Brendon speaking Welsh, but there you go.) Leo and Connor, however, both struggle to get it right and then it starts raining because WALES and that just throws them both off their game even more. Eventually, however, they both get through it, leaving Leo in third place and Connor in fourth. The linguist says “congratulations” in Welsh, and the look on Connor’s face after everything he’s just been through is absolutely priceless.
Next, everyone has to drive to the Bolesworth Estate in Tattenhall for the Detour, where the options are Boot It or Shoot It. Boot It requires them to take part in welly wangling (amazing), and Shoot It is clay pigeons, obviously. Also, everyone is required to dress up like Brian or Jennifer Aldridge for the task, which adds an extra layer of deliciousness. (Although most of them seem to think they look like they’re in Downton Abbey, which suggests that none of them are watching their Masterpiece Theatre all that closely.) Brendon & Rachel get their first and opt for Boot It, with Rachel’s reasoning being that it’s quite windy and that throws too many variables into the art of clay pigeon shooting, which seems like solid enough reasoning to me. Unfortunately Rachel’s clear head deserts her at this point, because the instructions for Boot It tell the teams to select a matching pair of size 9 or 11 boots, and Rachel misreads it and picks size 10s. Elsewhere, Caroline proves disturbingly good at clay pigeon shooting (and the Country Singers get yet another chance to remind us that they’re descended from Daniel Boone and John Wayne again, some more) and they end up finishing the Detour first, which leads us to the strange and unsettling caption “Caroline & Jennifer: Currently in 1st place”. Unfortunately, having done so well with their navigation all leg, Caroline & Jen make the wrong decision when faced with a left/right decision at the end of the drive and end up losing out on first place to Dave & Connor.
Meanwhile, Brendon & Rachel are enjoying the task until they get to the end and learn of their mistake, and Rachel is DISTRAUGHT to find out that she picked the wrong boots. She sobs and sobs and sobs as they go back to the beginning to find the right ones and repeat the task, and Brendon yells at her to stop crying. It’s not a particularly nice scene to watch, but I don’t think there’s much else he could’ve done there – Rachel is easily distracted by her own emotions and they can’t afford to bleed any more time here, so shouting at her is probably the quickest way of making it clear that they don’t have time for drama right now. Rightly or wrongly, it works, Rachel snaps out of it, they pick up the right boots and start again. While all this is going on, Leo & Jamal, who got majorly lost on the way (and struck by the aforementioned unwillingness of English/Welsh people to offer assistance), finally arrive and pick Shoot It. Brendon & Rachel finish the Boot It task for the second time, thoroughly wiped out, and make their way tearfully (Rachel obviously, not Brendon) to the Pit Stop, and just manage to beat out Leo & Jamal. Rachel says that her failure to read the clue correctly cost them the race last time, so she won’t make that mistake again in teh final. Leo & Jamal finish last and, for the second season in a row, get sent home in fourth place. They take it well, and figure they’ve left a lasting impression on the show, which is hard to argue against. I still preferred them when they were the antagonists, though. I don’t care if you’re nice guys REALLY, this is reality television. I PAID FOR BLOOD.
So our top three are Dave & Connor, Caroline & Jennifer and Brendon & Rachel. If Dave & Connor win, they’ll be the first parent-and-child team to win, and Dave will also be the oldest individual winner. And frankly, given how much the show’s been reminding us of that over the last couple of episodes, they probably will win. Still: team Brenchel, for better or worse.