By Janell Sutherland
7:26 AM EST, November 12, 2012
This week on "The Amazing Race," Moscow will kill all of your dreams. You will find sadness and despair. You won't get engaged, you won't get invited to go clubbing, you won't be able to wear a bow tie in a swimming pool, it's just dreary.
Cold and gray, like Seattle, but it's Moscow, people. The capital of hopelessness. Don't forget your passport.
Before we dive into all that, though, remember last week when the Twins picked up Rock On's money and kept it? Phil Keoghan was getting all sorts of flak on Twitter for not mentioning it during their Pit Stop interview. He said that they shoot 12 episodes in 21 days, the crew is spread out thousands of miles in many countries, so it's not always easy for him to get all the information for mat interviews.
"I absolutely call teams out about their behavior when I have all the information," he said. Don't hate on Phil, okay?
As I mentioned before, the teams travel to Moscow. Did you know that Russia is the largest country in the world? And that Moscow has more millionaires and billionaires in it than any city in the world? Not your first thought when you think of Russia, is it?
Before leaving, we see an interview with Trey and Lexi, who are having a great time. Lexi says their relationship is better than ever, "Hopefully there'll be a ring on my finger pretty soon, but that's his call." Trey doesn't make that call right then.
Teams head to the airport. Twins and Texi stick together, and Boyfriend Ryan thinks they're babies for waiting for each other rather than finding their own way. The Twins think Abbie has crazy eyes. Status quo so far.
Worth the risk?
The teams find three different flight options. Chippendales and Rock On choose a flight that arrives at 2 a.m. Twins and Texi choose one that arrives at 4 a.m. I don't think they were told about the earlier flight.
The third option also arrives at 2, but it only has a one-hour layover in Frankfurt. Dominate chooses it, saying it's worth the risk. Goat Farmers can't decide, so they actually flip a coin. They end up traveling with Dominate.
That third flight out of Istanbul (not Constantinople)? It's delayed an hour. Goat Farmers and Dominate arrive in Frankfurt with only three minutes to catch their connection. It doesn't happen. They're stranded until the morning, and the next flight won't arrive until 3:10 p.m., half a day behind the other teams.
Where else is it cold and rainy?
Moscow is the coldest place the teams have been to so far. The twins interview interchangeably, "This is so Russia, dreary and dark. It's like Seattle. But it's Moscow." I personally live north of Seattle, and today was a cold and rainy day. It totally felt like Moscow.
Be good or Olga will shush you
One of the Detour options is called Alphabetized. They visit the library, which is huge. They get a list of books, and that list is written in Cyrillic, which is an alphabet very different from ours. Then they have to go to miles and miles of handwritten card catalogs to look up four books. Finally, they travel to by horse and pony cart to the secret dungeon of the library to pull the books off the shelves. When they present the books to Olga, the head librarian, she will give them their next clue.
Texi and Rock On choose this Detour. Team Texi are operating on fairy dust this leg, maybe because they're so in love. They actually figure out the system, kind of, and complete the task.
Rock On gives up and chooses the other Detour.
Be good or Coach will yell at you
The other Detour is called Synchronized. They go to a pool where the next generation of gold medal synchronized swimmers practice. They have to learn and perform a routine to the satisfaction of the coach.
By the way, Phil tried synchronized swimming back in the '90s for a show in New Zealand. "I performed like a brick," he said. But I bet he looked good doing it.
The Chippendales arrive at the pool first. They have to wear speedos and floral swim caps. Those rubber flowers are large and colorful, too. They try to class it up by wearing their Chippendales bow ties out of the changing room, but they have to take them off to perform.
The swim team has six members, and they perform over and over, to the same music. Phil calls it "Amazing Race" torture.
Jaymes and James thought the swimming would be easy, because they do choreography at work. But this has arm movements, and rolls, and spins. They fail over and over.
The Twins arrive at the pool and choose an instructor who doesn't speak English. They have trouble and decide to use the Express Pass because they only have two more legs where they can use it.
As the Twins get ready to leave, the Chippendales tell them not to waste the Express Pass because there are two other teams far behind. No one can say no to hot guys in floral swim caps, so the Twins jump back in the water. Both teams eventually pass.
Remember how Team Rock On switched Detours? They get dropped off at the wrong aquatic center. When they arrive at the correct one, the other teams are gone.
One of the best parts of the episode is the swim coach. When she sees Rock On come out of the locker room, she says (in Russian), "I'm already afraid." And who wouldn't be? She's just spent however long watching two Chippendales run around practically naked, and then she sees these guys who are definitely not Chippendales.
As James and Abba flounder in the water over and over, the Coach looks like she is reevaluating her agreement to judge this strange American television show. She wishes she could fire somebody. When they finally pass, Coach is even happier than they are to see them leave.
The romance of Moscow
The Roadblock takes place on a bridge. The bridge has trees made of padlocks symbolizing eternal love and they are called, oddly enough, Trees of Love. The Roadblocker must choose a tree and a ring of keys, then unlock a series of locks that are attached to a ribbon. Once they unlock the ribbon they'll find the next clue.
This bridge with the trees is a big spot for wedding pictures, there are at least four different wedding parties milling around. It's a pretty big bridge.
Trey takes the Roadblock for Texi and James takes it for the Chipps.
Jaymes leans back on some stairs and eats a protein bar. Later, he sees a woman in a hot pink party dress walk past, and he asks her what club she's going to. She ignores him, and he turns to the camera. "That's Moscow: club gear at 3 in the afternoon."
Spoiler: Trey still doesn't propose
Trey finishes the Roadblock first and they go to the Pit Stop at the Bolshoi Theater. Phil is waiting with an awesome accordion player. Trey and Lexi take first place for the second leg in a row, and he awards them a vacation to Maui. (Phil on Twitter: "You wanted me to say the word SPA this episode, well there you have it.") Then he asks how in love they are on a scale of 1 to 10. Lexi shouts out, "A thousand!!!"
Fight like a married couple, make up like little kids
The Twins have trouble at the Roadblock. They seem to argue a lot. They kind of sound like they always do, but since there are no other teams around to irritate, they just bother each other. When it's over, Twin One says, "I swear you wasted an hour complaining." They both call each other the worst part of the Roadblock.
They arrive at the Pit Stop in third place, after the Chippendales. They aren't happy and tell Phil that they were horrible today. But they aren't arguing. They say they fight like a married couple and make up like little kids, which is better than fighting like little kids and making up like a married couple.
What will Abba lose next, his mind? Too late.
After their relative success at the pool, Rock On heads to the Trees of Love. They tell their cab driver to wait because they think they'll grab a clue and leave. But they don't. After an unspecified amount of time, they decide to release their cab driver and get their stuff. But the cab is gone. Oops.
Abba wonders if they should just give up, but James tells him to work on the locks in case the cab driver is just looping around. James advises the camera, "Don't leave your bags in cabs, kids."
When they finish the Roadblock, the cab still has not appeared. They don't have their passports. (Phil Tweets two rules of the Race: read the clue and hold on to your passport.) They head for the Pit Stop anyway.
In the new cab, Abba moans about the driver. "Where's he going to take us? To a back alley to slit our throats and kill us? That'd be a fitting end to today." Somebody is a Debbie Downer, right?
They are the fourth team to arrive at the Pit Stop, but Phil says they need passports. He gets all stern teacher on them: "You must produce your passports to stay in the Race." They go sit on a fountain and think of how much they hate Moscow.
The rest of the story
Remember Dominate and Goat Farmers? Stranded at the airport? Knowing they're the last two teams, they make a pact to run the leg together as one unit. Is that the sweetest thing you've ever seen? It's like all the evil from last week with the stolen money has been turned around into good. How can anybody hate Abbie and Her Boyfriend?
If you're wondering what will happen if they arrive at the mat together, Phil tweets that they have it covered with video to determine the winner.
Abbie and the Boys get to Moscow, finally. When they read the Detour clue, they want to do Alphabetize because they can work on it all together. Unfortunately the library is already closed, so they have to do Synchronized.
Abbie is ready for choreography because she's a dance teacher. Ryan says that, regardless of the lack of sleep, lack of food, and the emotional distress, adrenaline kicked in. They both have fun and they finish the task.
Brent, unfortunately, has no background in swimming, and he's been hoping to avoid a water task. He doesn't think he can tread water and do movements. Josh tries to help him practice rolls in the pool.
When they perform, the Coach yells at him to "Swim! Swim!" She tells the camera, "He wasn't even swimming, he's like a buoy."
Brent tells Josh that he panics when he swallows water and he can't remember the moves. Coach tells him to swim again.
Abbie and Her Boyfriend sit at the edge of the pool and wait, because they made a deal to run the leg together, and they are awesome.
And then? To Be Continued ...
This is the most mixed-up ending of any episode ever, I think. There are three teams battling for last place and two of them seem hopeless. Will Brent ever survive the swimming? Will Rock On miraculously find their passports? Will Abbie and Boyfriend Ryan wait forever? Nobody knows!
That's so Moscow, you guys.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun