This Is Baseball. You Can Swear. (Episode 8-5)

Despite watching it with my own eyes, my brain refuses to believe that the Paolos finished in first place on tonight’s episode of The Amazing Race. Every word that they speak to one another turns into a screaming match, and yet the Paolos finish first. I am stunned.

Teams left New Orleans for Panama for the first, and hopefully not only, destination outside of the U.S. The first plane departed nearly three hours before the second, but teams were quickly bunched together as they were forced to wait overnight before they could start on their next task. With as much criticism as the Family Edition has taken for not being a race around the world, I hope that teams aren’t regularly held up waiting for places to open. Nothing slows the momentum of TAR episodes as much as this bunching, and the slower paced Family Edition can’t afford to bore viewers. Not when there’s a chance that, over on ABC, Thelma might bolt from the White House and drive over a cliff.

Teams raced via boat to an island to look for a guy in a hammock. The nasally-voiced Godlewski sisters called out the guy’s name, Ricardo Diaz, as they ran, evoking memories of Gretchen’s infamous screams of “Chico Lolo” from The Amazing Race 7. Señor Diaz had both the Detour clue and the clue to the only Fast Forward on the entire race.

The Paolos and the Gaghans went for the Fast Forward, in which the team members would pair up for a couple of tandem bungee jumps. The Paolos arrived at the site first, so if they completed their jumps, the Gaghans would have to backtrack to one of the Detours. Brian and Tony leapt first, leaving D.J. and his mom, Marion, lashed together atop the platform. The show cut to a commercial as D.J. said, “I can’t do it.”

Anyone who’s watched even a season or two of TAR knows that when the producers cut to commercial as someone tries to back out of a challenge, it means that the person will inevitably complete the challenge. (I don’t remember any examples of someone actually backing out after returning from commercial, so please let me know if I’m wrong.) The Paolos headed for the Pit Stop, and the Gaghans were back in last place.

Meanwhile, the Weavers and Bransens went to a nature preserve to identify wooden birds stuck in trees. This sounds really stupid until you remember that real birds move around a lot, and that birding fanatics have an ungodly amount of patience. The Godlewskis, Linzes, and Gaghans searched the streets of Panama City looking for four instruments that they had to deliver to a jazz club. The Godlewskis teamed up with the Linzes in a brilliant scheme to make the burly Linz boys carry all the heavy stuff.

Buses took teams to a baseball stadium, where the Roadblock required one team member to get a hit off of a championship-caliber little league team. Rolly did the batting for the Weavers, mercifully limiting the number of times I had to watch Rebecca run in her spandex shorts tonight. Rolly was first to complete the task and the Weavers arrived at the Pit Stop in second place, followed by the Bransens and Linzes.

Sharon Godlewski had trouble making contact with the ball, causing sister Christine to inadvertently use the D-word. Michelle comforted Christine by saying, “This is baseball. You can swear.” Sharon’s trouble at the plate allowed Bill Gaghan to finish the task before her, and the Gaghans moved out of last place to finish fifth.

Knowing they trailed all the other teams, the Godlewski sisters prepared themselves for a possible non-elimination leg. This meant layering as many pieces of clothing over the clothes they were wearing so that Phil Keoghan couldn’t take them away along with their money and backpacks. Upon arriving at the mat, Phil asked them, “Do you know how ridiculous you look? Did you know that in Panama it’s illegal to wear underpants over underpants over your pants?” The sisters were promptly carted off to jail in handcuffs.