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'The Amazing Race' recap: Penultimate leg!

Bucky is here to report on tonight's Amazing Race, which I totally wasn't watching because, hello, Ravens-Steelers game! (Sigh.) Take it away, Bucky!

And so, we begin the penultimate leg of The Amazing Race, Season 17.  It is always my favorite leg, because it is the only time that I get to use the word "penultimate."
 
The initial drama, of course, is whether that abusive dope Nick & his sweet partner Vicki really have to serve a six-hour penalty.  The Docs, Nat & Kat, depart at 4:37 a.m., Jill & Thomas depart at 4:47 a.m., Brook & Clair at 5:26 a.m. and ... the editors show Nick & Vicki departing at ... dang, they say "Last to Depart" and don't show a time.  Very sneaky, CBS.   However, it looks dark to me.  I don't know if that reflects the six-hour penalty, or the just extended period of time they were behind when they quit the last leg, or both.
 
The first three teams catch a flight at 12:25 a.m. (they had to cool their jets at the airport all day and evening) and for a brief instant it appears that Nick & Vicki will catch the same flight ... but, no.  They just miss it and their flight will depart at 9:30 the next morning.  They will be nine hours behind everyone else, and will have a Speed Bump task to complete as well.

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Turn out the lights, the party’s o-verrrrrr ...

The teams, by the way, are flying to Seoul, South Korea, where they will have to drive (in Hyundai Kias, natch) to a bridge for their next clue.

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At the bridge, they find they have to raft down a river (no problem, because the racers get a team of river guides to do the real work) and then catch a ride in a Humvee to a nearby U.S. Army base.  The three leading teams stay close, with Jill & Thomas in the lead, Brook & Claire in second and the Docs in third.

At the base, we encounter tonight’s Road Block, which requires the competing team members to pick out a headband with some Korean writing on it, then run among a platoon (? ... I wasn’t in the military, so I’m not sure if it was a platoon, or a company, or what) of soldiers who are all practicing Taekwondo forms.  Phil makes it clear there is an element of danger here, because if the racer gets in the way, the soldier isn’t going to pull a punch or kick.

As the racers (Thomas, Brook & Kat, for their respective teams) run among the soldiers, they have to find the one wearing the headband matching theirs, to receive the next clue.

Nobody gets kicked or punched, and the teams finish in the same order they arrived.

(At this point Mrs. Bucky hopes aloud that when Nick & Vicki get to the Road Block, Nick does the challenge and gets kicked in the ... uh ... groin area.)

The next clue directs the teams to take a subway to the Seoul World Cup stadium, for further directions.  Brook & Claire are quick to the subway and almost catch Jill & Thomas ... but don’t.  As they wait for the next subway, the Docs catch up to them.

At the soccer stadium, the teams find the directions for tonight’s Detour.  The choices:

Full Throttle

– teams will have to make their way, on foot or by subway, to an ice arena, where they will don speed skating gear and complete a 24-lap relay race, or

Another one

– which nobody chooses, so to simplify things, I won’t even describe it (except to note that it involves yet another crowded marketplace, with which I’ve become very bored this season.)

At this point we see Nick & Vicki’s plane landing in Seoul and they set off for the bridge, led by a local taxi driver.

Brook & Claire find a very good, quick taxi driver and get to the ice arena in first, while Jill & Thomas make an efficient subway trip.  The Docs lose some time on the subway and arrive in third.

I’m impressed by the teams’ performance in the Detour.  While nobody would ever describe it as speed skating, they all do a credible job on the blades.  There are some falls, and a lot of “ice shuffling.”  Nobody breaks anything.  Nobody gets hit in the face with a watermelon.

We see Nick & Vicki, being led to the bridge by a local taxi driver, pull over at a gas station.  The taxi driver has to use the restroom.  It turns out Nick & Vicki do, too.  When they are ready to depart, the taxi driver offers Vicki what looks to be a little carton of milk and some Hostess Zingers, which I’m pretty sure means he is hot for her.  Nick confirms this, telling Vicki, “He wants you.”  Mrs. Bucky is cheering for the taxi driver to sweep Vicki off her feet and rescue her from Nick.  Alas ...

Back at the ice arena, the Jill & Thomas finish their relay first.  Brook & Claire overtake the Docs, due to the transportation advantage they enjoyed on the way to the arena.  These teams get the next clue, which directs them to an airplane sculpture in a park, which turns out to hold directions to this week’s Pit Stop.

Brook & Claire find the park and sculpture with no problem, but Jill & Thomas struggle, first with a taxi driver then locating the sculpture.  The Docs trail, in third.

Nick & Vicki arrive at the bridge.

Brook & Clair race to the finish mat, where Phil informs them that they are the first team to arrive but, because they took a taxi to the ice arena, when the directions said to go on foot or by subway, they will incur a 30-minute penalty.  This allows sufficient time for Jill & Thomas to officially capture first place on this leg, for which they win a trip for two to Iguazu Falls, in Argentina.

Brook & Claire claim second place and the Docs, third.

Interestingly, the production team doesn’t go fetch Nick & Vicki, who eventually finish the entire leg.  We see that their Speed Bump was to hose down a very muddy tank at the army base; we don’t see if Nick got kicked in the ... uh ... groin area; we also don’t see which Detour choice they made.  But they do finally show up at the Pit Stop and we get Nick’s usual blather about how he will be a better person, starting ... right ... now!  Which none of us believe, of course.

Distressingly, we hear Vicki say, “It can only get better from here.”  Oh, Vicki, Vicki, Vicki.

So, we have two all-female teams in the final; no all-female team has ever won The Amazing Race before.  Who are you rooting for, and why?

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