'The Amazing Race' recap: Episode 5, 'Uglier Than a Mud Rail Fence'

In Detour B, Army couple Rachel and Dave (center) must style the beard to meet the approval of the World Champion Beard Meister to get the next clue.
In Detour B, Army couple Rachel and Dave (center) must style the beard to meet the approval of the World Champion Beard Meister to get the next clue. (CBS)

This week, "The Amazing" Race brings us whimsy. Are you ready for whimsy? Then you are ready for Bavaria. Plus, later on, Phil gets meta. I think. Let's go!

All teams get the heck out of Italy and travel to Austria via trains. Bopper and Mark started nine hours behind Art and JJ, the Border Patrol Agents. Luckily, with the train schedule and the opening time for their first Route Marker, the teams are almost bunched together.

Mental Preparation

Let's check in with everybody's heads first and see where they're at. Art and JJ, after two first-place finishes, are glad to be friends and coworkers, not bogged down by romantic entanglements. "Art's an idiot most of the time," says JJ lovingly.

Joey Fitness and Danny have acquired novelty hats for the cold weather, a monster hat and a panda hat. "I think the panda hat is flirty," says one. "I don't know who he's trying to flirt with," says the other. (No, sorry, I haven't figured out who's who; it's enough that I have to write Joey Fitness.)

The Southern Cousins inform us, "When we have on our hot pink lips, we're ready to go."

And finally, Team Big Brother. They weren't doing so well last leg, but they realized that they really want money. So Rachel says, "I have to remember that Brendon's my little bookie bear and not my enemy."
Beards and Gingerbread in Bavaria, Oh My!

Bavaria apparently has two things going for it: fairy tales and champion beard styling. While elaborate beard styling is quirky, I think I still give the Peruvian Bottle Dance the edge in the Quirky How-Did-They-Invent-That Cultural Traditions battle.

For the fairy tale Detour, the teams pick up gingerbread pieces from a trail and build them onto a gingerbread house. For the beard Detour, they style a man's champion beard into a champion beard style (curled, spiked, horizontal, what have you).
I gotta say, those bearded men must have some champion facial hair follicles to withstand all the combing, teasing, curling and spraying that happens to them. My face hurt to watch, and I don't even have a beard. BB Rachel, by the way, spouts off that she doesn't know what a beard is, so that's why they're doing gingerbread.
Some People Don't Know Their Disney Movies Very Well
After the Detour, teams are sent to find the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty. It's called Neuschwanstein Castle, and it has lots of spires and turrets and castle-y things. The Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disney World is modeled after it, and it's similar to the castle logo before their movies.
There's also another castle in the area, a low, squatty castle with no spires. It doesn't look like Sleeping Beauty's castle at all. Sadly, four teams hike up to the wrong castle. Including Team Bopper. I know! Bopper finishes the castle in last place because there are so many stairs he nearly has a heart attack.
Best Camera Shot of the Week #1
You know how, at some point during the Race, the teams have to drag along a traveling gnome? This is that time. The Roadblock requires one team member to slide the gnome across an ice rink to stop in the center of a bulls-eye target. It's exactly like curling, except without the brooms. Which is what curling should be, really, because those brooms are just silly. Talk about Quirky How-Did-They-Invent-That Cultural Traditions, am I right, Canada?
The Amazing Camera Crew attached a camera to a gnome so that we can see him spinning around and around the ice. Yay, go spinning gnome!
Best Camera Shot of the Week #2
The Pit Stop is a 200-year-old working farm, and the mat is inside a cow barn. How much did Phil love hanging out with cows all day? The best camera shot is opening the doors into the barn, 20 cows turn their heads simultaneously, all, "Why you gotta keep opening our barn door?" I don't know if there was more than one cow-head-turn shot or the same one, but I laughed each time.
Rankings? You want rankings?
The challenges this week weren't terrible, and nobody completely lost their cool. I bet the biggest spread happened when some teams found the right castle on the first try. The Roadblock shook the order up, too, because the Feds spun their gnome down the ice over 180 times and left in last place.
Art and JJ maintained their lead. How? "That's one of my abilities: I can craft a man's beard real nice." Not bad, gentlemen. When they reached the mat in first place for the third time in a row, Phil asks them to withdraw from the Race to give other teams a chance. Hah! I believe that is a reference to the Race winning so many Emmys for Best Reality Show, because I read some grumblings that maybe they should withdraw from the contest. Oh, Phil, I love you. And your eyebrow. And your tolerance of cows.
The Roadblock was down to the Federal Agents and the Southern Cousins. SoCuz finished first, but perhaps not by much. When the Feds finished, they mentioned that they didn't have trouble navigating so they could probably catch up. How right they were. Last week SoCuz nearly navigated themselves out of the Race. This week they navigated into the back of the pack. Even after they got directions to the Pit Stop they managed to navigate into last place. Sorry, ladies, you and your hot pink lips have been eliminated from the Race.

See you next week, for fire and water and hosing down strangers in a shower!