I’m Gonna Punch You in the Mouth (Episode 9-3)

There was no relief in sight when teams ended the latest leg of The Amazing Race. Teams arrived on the mat behind St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square, only to have Phil tell them there was no Pit Stop and they had to continue racing.

Before heading to Russia, teams had to finish their business in Brazil. That included an early morning zipline ride, 300 feet over the countryside. Hippies BJ & Tyler were the first team to leave, at 4:48 a.m., but the zip line did not open until 7:00.

Frat Guys Jeremy & Eric were just minutes behind the Hippies, who waited on the side of the road to jump out and scare the Frats as they arrived at the zip line. Monica & Joseph (MoJo) and Nerds Lori & Dave also arrived before the ride opened.

These first four teams stand a very good chance of being the final four teams in the race. In addition to being capable racers, these teams all get along with each other. Season 9 is the most enjoyable since Season 5, largely because teams are willing to help each other. In Season 5, eventual winners Chip & Kim often helped the perpetually confused twins, Kami & Karli. It’s nice to see producers casting teams that you want to succeed, as was the norm in the show’s early seasons.

At the end of the zipline, teams received a clue instructing them to fly to Moscow, Russia. There they would have to travel by taxi to a large, outdoor swimming pool used to train Russian Olympians.

First, the couples needed to drive to the bus station in Brotas, Brazil. Three charter buses took them to the international airport in Sao Paolo. The Hippies, the Frats, MoJo, and the Nerds filled up the spots on the first bus at 9:15.

As the first bus left, some of the other teams were still finishing the zipline. Lake & Michelle had left the Pit Stop in seventh place, but they’d gotten lost. Michelle warned Lake he was going the wrong way, and he replied, “Shut up.” She later paid him back by threatening to punch him in the mouth. If only she’d followed through. After Lake finally admitted being lost, he parked their VW Bug in the middle of a cornfield and stood on top of the car to see where they were, denting the vehicle’s roof in the process.

Ray & Yolanda, Wanda & Desiree, Lake & Michelle, and The Pink Girls, Danielle & Dani, eventually made it to the bus station in time for the second charter bus, which left at 10:00. Oldsters Fran & Barry, who didn’t leave the Pit Stop until 8:45, were the only team on the 10:45 bus.

At the airport, all of the teams purchased tickets for the same Lufthansa flight to Moscow, via Frankfurt, Germany. Onboard, the Pink Girls learned Russian translations of useful phrases (e.g., “Go fast!”) from a fellow passenger. After disembarking, the Frat Guys sweet talked the girls into sharing a cab to the pool.

At the pool, teams encountered a Roadblock, which required one team member to jump off a 10-meter diving board and retrieve a clue underwater. BJ and Tyler arrived first, and Tyler elected to take the plunge, ensuring that–while we might have two Hippies on the race–we’d only have one unwashed Hippie. He stripped off his “T-Tow” t-shirt, which he explained was the power word that symbolized the “circle of the universe” for him and BJ.

Fran & Barry benefited from a fast cab, and Barry completed the task in second place. Ray & Yolanda arrived in third, and Yolanda chose to dive, despite her inability to swim. After a few uneasy minutes at top of the platform, other teams arrived and cheered for her. As she got out of the pool with their clue, a Russian woman told her, “Good girl.”

The task went smoothly for most of the teams, except Wanda & Desiree. Wanda had no problem making the jump off of the platform. But her fear of drowning sent her into hysterics, and she wasn’t able to retrieve their underwater clue. Desiree calmed her mother, and, with the encouragement of several Russian men who were watching, Wanda dove and got the clue.

Everyone else was already on their way to a monastery to find the next clue, and Wanda & Desiree feared the delay might have cost them the race. But, on their way to the monastery, Dani realized that she’d left her bag with the clues, passports, and money in the pool’s changing room. She and Danielle jumped out of the cab they were sharing with the Frats and got a ride back to the pool.

BJ & Tyler were first to the monastery’s cathedral, and they took a minute to admire the artwork before deciding which Detour to take. Their options were to “Scrub” a Moscow trolley inside and out, or “Scour” hundreds of Russian nesting dolls for a tiny clue.

The Hippies chose the first option, but their cab driver couldn’t find the trolley yard. Fran & Barry caught up to the Hippies, and both teams decided to do the other task instead.

Lake & Michelle and the Frat Guys both wanted to do the trolley task as well, but they couldn’t communicate with their cab drivers. As Ray & Yolanda left the monastery in their cab, the other two teams instructed their drivers to follow.

But Ray & Yolanda had elected to search the dolls. Lake & Michelle and the Frats were dismayed at first, but all three teams joked around as a band played and dancers swirled around them. The Frats and Lake & Michelle found their clues quickly and headed for their next destination: Red Square.

Fran & Barry arrived at the theater and started searching the dolls. Ray & Yolanda found their clue just as the Hippies arrived. The Hippies found their clue quickly, sending Fran & Barry into this week’s requisite panic.

The Pink Girls made it back to the pool just as Wanda & Desiree were leaving. Filled with hope, Wanda & Desiree found one of the few cabbies in Moscow who knew where the trolley depot was. The Pink Girls arrived at the depot shortly after, followed by MoJo and the Nerds, who eventually stumbled upon the location in their shared cab.

Lake & Michelle and the Frats found Red Square at nearly the same time, but Eric & Jeremy made it to the mat first. Phil told them that they weren’t finished racing. He then handed them their next clue, as the episode ended.

Next week, Fran & Barry dance in lederhosen, which means teams will be flying to either Germany or Pennsylvania.