Episode 6 of the All-Star season showed us a tightly run leg in Sri Lanka, where teams raced by train, taxi and tuk-tuk in and around the capital city of Colombo.
It turned out to be a non-elimination leg, which was a pretty satisfying conclusion to the episode. Otherwise it would have been curtains for the Country Singers, who really didn't deserve to go. Like they said, they ran a clean, mistake-free race.
They just took a tiny bit longer performing their Detour option -- making environmentally friendly paper out of elephant dung -- than the other two teams stuck with this task.
This was the second non-elimination leg in three weeks. Apartment 81 wondered if the producers know in advance which legs will be non-elimination, or if they make it up as they go along.
We're still not sure. But our hunch about Margie and Luke not having to actually perform their tasks on Leg 5 because they were so far behind the other teams was right. Margie said as much in her post-episode, online interview.
This was one of those episodes where the teams stayed together the whole time. That's fun, because you get to see more interaction between the teams. Rachel seem particularly excited stating "Brenchel is not in the back, we're part of the pack!" And they were, for most of the episode!
The episode began with a trip from the Leg 5 Pit Stop to pick up a clue at the Dutch Museum, where everyone had to cool their heels until the museum opened. Finding the clue was simple, and everyone boarded the same train from Colombo to Alawwa.
These teams sure love traveling by train in Sri Lanka. It's so pretty and windy. As viewers we enjoy the momentary break to enjoy the scenery too. We like to imagine ourselves on the race and part of the lure is the travel to exotic locals. Like Dave said, "It's a magnificent country."
This week's Roadblock, in which one member of each team had to grapple with the chaos a tuk-tuk fueling station, looked like madness.
"This is insane," John, of John and Jessica, said a bunch of times. "Insane tasks bring out the insanity."
He was referring to Dave, the dad half of Dave and Connor, who showed the super hyper and aggressive side to his personality.
It wasn't quite a mistake-free leg.
Rachel, of Team Brenchel, managed to massively mis-interpret the rules of the Roadbock, which required teams to find, move and refuel four specially marked tuk-tuks. Only Rachel missed the point of the special colors -- it wasn't green tuk-tuks she was supposed to be looking for, but green-colored panels displayed in the windshield.
Bad mistake, that should have cost her team something. But it didn't. Somehow, and it wasn't clear how, there was enough time for her to re-do the whole task and for her team to still make the same train out of Alawwa that the other six teams were on.
They didn't seem thrilled to see Rachel and Brendon.
Everyone arrived at the same time, more or less, at the Detour location, at the Millenium (I wrote down Memorial Elephant Foundation - not sure to be honest though) Elephant Foundation.
The four teams that retrieved their clue first -- The Cowboys, The Afghanimals, John and Jessica and Dave and Connor -- all chose the Detour's Trunk option, which involved working in teams with elephants to help load logs on a truck.
That left the more tedious, time-consuming Sheets option for Brendon and Rachel, The Country Singers and The Globetrotters. Sheets involved mixing elephant dung with strips of paper and water to form a putty/paste like material used to make paper. Brendon got so into it at one point that he declared himself the "poop master." That's a title we're more than willing to let you keep Brendon!
You can't really say that Jessica and Caroline screwed this task up. They didn’t get frustrated, and they weren't disorganized. It just took them a little longer to get the hang of it. They were the last team to leave the Detour and the last one to arrive at the Pit Stop.
The episode’s highlight was a wild taxi race through the streets of Ambepussa and Mount Lavinia and a dead-heat footrace to the Pit Stop between The Afghanimals and The Cowboys, who looked weighted down by their heavy clothes.
The Afghanimals, we noted earlier this season, look like they're in peak condition. That doesn't always matter on the "Amazing Race," but it doesn’t hurt.
"It's Cowboys versus Indians," Jamaal yelled when the Afganimals finished first just steps ahead of Jet and Cord. They're reward was a trip to Berlin and a 10 second head start in the next leg of the race. Let's hope it's as exciting as this week was!
Here’s who’s looking the strongest:
The Cowboys -- They just missed out on another first-place finish, which would have made three this season. They still have an Express Pass in their pocket, too. They made the Trunk task look so easy.
Leo and Jamal -- They finally finished ahead of The Cowboys, and boy were they happy. That should give them a lot of confidence coming into the home stretch.
Dave and Connor -- They have reached the Pit Stop in 3rd, 4th, 1st and 2nd place, and it doesn't seem likely they'll do any worse than that. They seem headed for the finale.
John and Jessica -- Has the sleeper team finally woke up? They're getting better every week, and this was their best finish yet.
Here’s who has us worried:
The Country Singers -- Like they themselves said, the competition is tough this season. Running a clean race is not enough. They have a Speed Bump coming up in Episode 7.
The Globetrotters -- They still haven't finished a leg higher than 6th. There are only seven teams left. You do the math.
Brendon and Rachel -- At least they're finally out of the basement, and, yes, they're survivors. But they're going to need more than luck and confidence to win this season.