'The Amazing Race': 'This Is Wicked Strange'

In Detour B in Baku, Azerbaijan, Border Patrol Agents JJ (center) and Art must scrape and scrub the oil off a hairy man with a creepy expression. (CBS / March 26, 2012)

This week,"The Amazing Race"brings us hay, oil, apples, cheese and crackers. Plus a little bit of heartbreak. I’m fortified with lots of homemade peppermint cookies, though, so I can get through this.

Remember Bavaria? Land of Beards and Inquisitive Cows? That was so seven days ago. The remaining teams are sent to Baku, Azerbaijan. I know, you’re all, “I’m so tired of everyone always going to Azerbaijan, it’s like the Palm Springs of the Eurasian continent.” I’ll still give you a geography refresher, though. Azerbaijan is on the Caspian Sea, north of Iraq, and it is a former Soviet Republic. It’s rich in oil and natural gas, so it’s known as the Land of Fire.

Hoedown!

The seven teams bunch up at the Temple of Fire around 4 a.m. and wait for it to open at sunrise. Meanwhile, they are treated to musicians, dancers, swordfights, all sorts of Arabian/Middle Eastern entertainment. They even join in the dance around a fire, which is exactly how Bopper and Mark do things back in Kentucky.

Hay Girl

Still bunched up, the teams get the next clue, which includes a Fast Forward. Army Dave and Wife decide to try it, as do Joey “Fitness” and Danny, the Not Jersey Boys. Their task? Stack 150 bales of hay in a precise, 10x3x5 rectangle.

Army Dave and his square chin leap to the top of a hay truck and begin flinging bales down to Army Wife. Sure, she gets hay in her eyes, and she tells him to slow down, but he praises her Midwestern work ethic and calls her a “freakin’ workhorse,” so she stacks.

Not Jersey #1 throws hay down to Not Jersey #2, and they hope their muscles will intimidate the hay into the correct formation since they’re not being too particular. Plus, “New York boy pushing hay, when do we get to do some city stuff?”

It was close, but Army Dave, his chin, and his Wife finish first. Freakin’ workhorse.

Bopper in Love

The non-FF teams head to the site of the Roadblock. Mark gets friendly with his motion sickness bag in the backseat of a cab. Better that than navigate themselves, he says.

Azerbaijan’s No. 1 industry is oil, and a lot of locals commute to work via helicopter to offshore oil rigs. What do they do if the helicopter crashes into the sea? Why, they push out a window and escape. An escape simulation is the next Roadblock.

Bopper, Fed Jamie and BPA JJ are all in a fake helicopter cockpit in a pool together. On dry land, Mark takes the opportunity to tell Jamie’s partner that Bopper has a crush on Jamie. Apparently, back on the harp Detour, when Bopper was checking up on the Feds’ harp, he wasn’t just checking up on their harp, if you know what I mean. I hope we see this Bopper/Jamie thing some more, because if you could pick two contestants who totally fit together, Bopper and Jamie are not those two.

The Theme of This Season is Body Hair

The Detour is a choice between finding one special apple in a car full of a literal ton of apples, or cleaning off a man after he has bathed in oil. Because that’s what they do in Baku.

Art and JJ are the first to arrive at the oil spa. Man, I used to hate them, but JJ is cracking me up lately. Race producers found some very hairy men to bathe in oil. The teams first squeegee them off with a shoehorn, then wipe them off with sponges. JJ: “We’re about to scrub a homie down.” After he sees their client in the tub of oil, JJ continues, “This is wicked strange.” Finally, as they sponge him down, he laughs, “What the hell is going on in my life?”

By the way, the more body hair a man has, the more difficult it is to scrape oil off of his body. In the words of Mark, there’s “too much doggone hair.” Last week we had crazy beards. This week is body hair. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

The Other Theme of This Season Is Fruit

We had watermelon stacking, now we have apple sorting. The Feds and Ralph and Vanessa choose this task, and it takes time. Not 10 hours of time, though. Vanessa would like you to know that she doesn’t curse, because she exclaims “Cheese and crackers!” a lot. A lot. I don’t think she wanted to eat some with a ton of apples. She even had Ralph saying it, too. Cheese and crackers.

Dude, Just When I Was Starting to Like You!

Remember Not Jersey? They wore silly flirty monster hats. They had novelty sunglasses. They didn’t stack hay fast enough. The challenges this week didn’t allow for anyone to jump ahead or fall behind, really. And I hate that, especially with a Fast Forward in play, because they got booted to last place and couldn’t catch up. Joey “Fitness” and Danny were eliminated from the Race. They had fun, though. They got to see cows. They’ll be partying at a nightclub near you, so please tell them I said “What’s up?”

The Race takes a break next week, so check in two weeks from now, when stuff happens in Africa. And by “stuff,” I mean Vanessa and BB Rachel get feisty in each other’s faces, which could be fun.