You see that, Peter? (Episode 9-4)

Wanda & Desiree were eliminated on this week’s episode of The Amazing Race. It was sad to see an enjoyable team go. But it would have been sad to see any team go, as all of this season’s contestants have been entertaining, and most are likable. This week, even the villainous Lake was kind enough to give a drunk German a ride home.

Before teams could drive around Germany, they had to make it out of Russia…ALIVE! This episode picked up where last week’s left off, with Frat Guys Eric & Jeremy at the mat with Phil. Their clue instructed them to fly to Frankfurt, and then travel by train to Stuttgart.

Lake & Michelle arrived at the mat in second place, and Michelle muttered, “Oh, shoot,” when she realized they had to keep racing. Ray & Yolanda arrived shortly thereafter, and Yolanda also muttered, “Oh, shoot.” This foreshadowed the season’s big twist, in which we’ll discover that Yolanda and Michelle are long-lost sisters.

Hippies BJ & Tyler were more enthusiastic when they reached the mat. Upon receiving their clue, BJ handed Phil a dollar as a tip, which Tyler promptly reclaimed from Phil. BJ ran away yelling, “Don’t waste an opportunity, Phil,” a reference to Phil’s other TV show (and book) No Opportunity Wasted.

Fran & Barry finished searching nesting dolls for clues and landed on the mat before any of the teams that chose the trolley-washing Detour. Pink girls Dani & Danielle finished at the same time as Wanda & Desiree, followed by MoJo Monica & Joseph and Nerds David & Lori.

At the Moscow Airport, the Frats got tickets on a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, which was scheduled to leave at 7 p.m. But the flight was closed by the time Lake & Michelle arrived, just minutes after the Frats. Lake & Michelle got in a slow-moving Aeroflot line, and they were eventually able to book seats on a flight leaving at 9:15 p.m.

As other teams arrived, Lake & Michelle warned them about the slow lines. Eventually, the remaining seven teams clustered around two open ticket windows, only to be told the airline’s computers weren’t working.

The Hippies happened to be standing in front of a closed window, when an employee suddenly opened it for business. Of the remaining teams, they were the only other pair to receive tickets for the 9:15 flight. They joined Lake & Michelle on a mostly empty plane, while everyone else was forced to take a flight at 7 a.m. the next morning.

With a comfortable lead, the Frats were able to relax on the train to Stuttgart, asking a guy named Johan if German girls were pretty. Johan replied that German girls get prettier the more you drink. So in Germany, the girls are often very pretty.

The Frats arrived at the Mercedes-Benz test track in Stuttgart to discover that it didn’t open until 8:30 a.m. They spent the night in a hotel, as did Lake & Michelle and the Hippies.

The next morning, a driver sped them around the track at 170 km/hr, banking around “the wall of death,” a vertical wall that left Tyler slack-jawed with excitement. Teams then received their next clue, instructing them to drive their Mercedes to Ellbach Field in Bad Tolz, south of Munich.

Teams on the morning flight out of Moscow arrived in Stuttgart at 11:15 a.m. The teams stayed pretty even until leaving the Mercedes-Benz track for Ellbach. That’s when Wanda & Desiree’s problems began. First, Wanda persisted in asking for directions in English with an affected Spanish accent. Then, needing to head towards Munich on the Autobahn, she missed an exit, went the wrong direction, looped around, missed her exit again, and wound up facing the wrong way a second time.

Fortunately for Wanda & Desiree, they weren’t alone. The Pink team had equally poor senses of direction, so they followed Wanda & Desiree the whole time.

As the all-female teams struggled to get out of Stuttgart, the leaders were approaching Ellbach Field. Upon arriving at the field, teams were to select one member to undertake a Travelocity-sponsored Roadblock. One member had to look under an array of boots and oversized, pointy hats for Travelocity’s gnome mascot. A clue was attached to the gnome, who became an honorary third member of each team for the rest of the leg.

The Frats arrived at the field first, and Jeremy finished the task quickly. They immediately headed to their next destination, Bavaria Film Studio, near Munich.

Lake & Michelle asked for directions to the field from a guy named Hans, who was walking along the road. Hans informed them that he was too drunk to drive them to the field himself, but he would be happy to ride with them and give directions as he sobered up. Lake & Michelle found the field at about the same time as the hippies.

BJ found his gnome, but the Hippies stuck around, because Lake said Hans would give both teams directions to the studio once Lake had completed the task. Lake found his gnome, and both teams were off — after Lake & Michelle dropped Hans off at his house.

Fran & Barry, Ray & Yolanda, MoJo, and the Nerds all found their gnomes without incident.

At the film studio, a Detour offered teams the choice: “Break It” or “Slap It.” In “Break It,” teams had to break prop wine bottles over each others heads, and then check if the bottle’s label had the German word for cheers, “prost,” written on the inside of it. However, teams were only allowed to break one bottle at a time, and only when the cuckoo of a nearby clock chimed, every five minutes or so.

“Slap It” required teams to don lederhosen and properly perform a traditional dance. The primary movement in the dance was the thigh slap — the Old World version of the hand jive.

The Frats chose “Break It,” fulfilling what was surely a longtime fantasy of breaking things over each others heads. For safety reasons, they were required to wear lederhosen and felt hats.

In between smashing bottles, Eric & Jeremy flirted with a blond woman in traditional garb who waited to give them their clue. When they finally found a correct label, she kissed each of them on the cheek.

The Hippies and Lake & Michelle also decided to “Break It.” Lake & Michelle found their clue quickly, after Lake’s attempt at gentleness failed and he banged Michelle in the forehead. She only got to break one bottle over his head, but looked like she wished she’d had a few more chances.

Tyler held his team up because he wasn’t wearing underwear and needed to find someplace private to change into his lederhosen. BJ & Tyler howled, “Ow!” with each blow to the head. After finding their clue, BJ spoke some German, telling the blond woman that he wanted to take her out dancing.

Fran & Barry were the next team to make it to the studio, and they fell back into their old habit of choosing the wrong Detour. They decided to dance, but the music’s fast tempo made it hard for them to keep up. After several attempts, the dance instructor decided their sloppy slaps were good enough and gave them their clue.

This last clue finally directed teams to the Pit Stop. In Munich, teams needed to find the Siegestor, a large arch at the city’s center. The Frats came in first, winning an adventure trip to Africa. Phil noticed lipstick on the guys’ cheeks and said they were the two biggest Casanovas in the history of the race. Jeremy said he hoped the Pink girls wouldn’t be eliminated, so he and Eric could spend some time at the Pit Stop “tongue wrestling” with them.

The Hippies went for a grand entrance, running backwards to the mat. As they approached, Phil turned to the German man next to him and said, “You see that, Peter? They’re running backwards.” BJ jumped on the mat, looked at the white-bearded Peter and exclaimed, “Santa!”

Lake & Michelle arrived in third place, after bickering in the car. Lake told Michelle to “zip the negativity,” and she responded with her best impression of Lake, mimicking his “C’mon, baby! Yeah!” delivery.

At Bavaria Film, MoJo, Ray & Yolanda, and the Nerds broke bottles. Only the Nerds were able to find one of the correct bottles quickly, so MoJo switched to the dancing Detour. When they succeeded on the first try, Ray & Yolanda swtiched too. It turned out that “Slap It” wasn’t necessarily the tougher detour; it was just the tougher detour for Fran & Barry.

It was dusk by the time Wanda & Desiree and the Pinks found Ellbach Field. When Danielle found her gnome, Desiree started to lose the will to fight. After keeping her mom from freaking out for most of the race thus far, she was running out of energy.

With Wanda’s encouragement, Desiree found a gnome, and they continued on. They arrived at the studio just as the Pinks were leaving. Wanda & Desiree did a great job dancing, but they were just barely too far behind to catch Dani & Danielle, who parked their car and got to the mat just before the mother-daughter team.

When Wanda & Desiree arrived at the mat, Phil told them they’d been eliminated. Desiree said, “These last four days have been hell.” But Wanda tried to stay upbeat, saying she appreciated the time they had together.

This was one of my favorite episodes in a long time. Teams are still working with each other, and no unnecessary inter-team rivalries have sprung up. There’s plenty of drama inherent in the format of the race, and manufactured negative drama has detracted from the show’s quality for the last few seasons.

That said, there was one thing that disappointed me in tonight’s episode. Bavaria Film is the studio where Das Boot and The Neverending Story were filmed. The studio’s tours showcase the full-scale puppet Falkor that was used in that film, and damnit, I wanted to see Falkor.

Next week, it looks like teams might be traveling to Italy, where they have to search lines of laundry for clues. And Lori has a meltdown during a Roadblock that looks like it involves mannequins. If only she could summon the spirit of Hollywood Montrose to help her.

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