Now this? This is pressure. Y’see, up until this point in what I laughably refer to as my summarizing career, I’ve only worked on shows that no one actually watched. I don’t have a resume’, I have a few cut-out bits of pasted newspaper lettering with delusions of grandeur. Celebrity Mole? Outback Jack? And to top it all off, The Casino? I could do absolutely anything I wanted to do within a summary because no one was ever going to see it, as I wound up proving about ten times. And somehow, the luck of the random draw brought me into the Race, a show with something I’ve never seen before. An actual audience. People who honestly care about how things work out and what gets said. More than five of them.
I have no safety margin. I have no empty abyss between myself and the 0.0001 Nielsen rating lurking in the dark. But, more than that, I really have no worries. Because no matter what I write, it’s still a non-elimination leg. No matter how bad things got when I lost the chance to use Charla & Mirna in the last episode, I’ve still got Colin, which is the equivalent of lighting up the Free Game light on every pinball machine in Times Square. And best of all, no matter how long this thing runs, no matter how many pages I wind up consuming – I’m in the same pool as Landru. I can’t write the longest summary of the season.
And besides, most of y’all stopped reading eighteen sentences ago anyway. Roll opening credits.
We rejoin the Racers in Tanzania – which, as Phil confessional-tells us, is ‘a place where the people still live harmoniously with the world’s most majestic and ferocious animals’, something which has already given Colin’s over-inflated ego a couple of extra pumps. (He keeps forgetting that said animals are A. locals. B. actually majestic and C. capable of making their own way across the land. Don’t worry: he’ll get a reminder pretty soon.) This beautiful country, which we’ll mainly be seeing through dark roads and airports, had the great misfortunate to host the seventh pit stop in a race around the world, and will now be spending every penny paid out for the honor to get rid of the mixed scents of flop sweat, Colin-induced panic, and the natural after-effects of eating way too much ostrich egg.
Can Chip & Kim maintain their lead over the younger, more athletic teams? (Translation: will this leg contain absolutely no bunch points or mechanical transports whatsoever, turning human speed into an actual factor?) Can Kami and Karli work together just long enough to pull themselves out of last place? (Translation: can anyone pick up the scent of ice crystals forming on brimstone?) Will anyone actually care, since I figured out this was a non-elimination leg a week before this episode aired? (Echo… echo… echo…) Probably not. Regardless, someone pass Team Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy their envelope so we can get to the first bunch point.
Chip & Kim rip open their envelope at 2:42 a.m. and find $200 US, a set of directions, and a business card from Lex’s favorite internal parasite doctor. The teams will have to take one of the provided taxis over a hundred miles through the African night to the Kilimanjaro airport, which has the beneficial side effect of hiding the landscape and keeping my rhapsodizing at the absolute minimum. There are three charter flights waiting to take them to Nairobi, Kenya, leaving an hour apart starting at 8:30 in the morning. Only two teams can take any given flight, and it’s first-come, first sign-up, first-listen-to-the-endless-complaints-of-whoever-team-number-five-is. Once they’re in Kenya, it’s any flight they can grab to get to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which means Linda & Karen already know the airport layout and Brandon really wishes he’d gotten a chance to steal the free map Charla snagged during the flight delay. (It’s not stealing if you do it during a race for a million dollars and remember to thank God on camera for the map which He generously made someone else pick up for you.) After they get to Dubai, they’ll have to find the Burj Al Arab hotel: their clue is waiting in a box across the street from it. Again. So we’re less than five minutes into the race and the twins are already walking dead.
Chip checks prices with the waiting taxi drivers, quickly working down from $150 to $100, thanks everyone he rejected for their time, then gets in the taxi and proceeds to introduce the driver to himself, his wife, his philosophy of life, and the plans for the self-help book he plans on publishing immediately after the race. Chip’s let a little bit of Wicca creep into his mindset, because he believes that all the good he does in life (and possibly on the Race) will come back to him. Not threefold, because he’s not a demanding man and he doesn’t want the universe to go through that much effort on his behalf, but even-up.
(At this point, the cab’s CB goes off and relays a query from the United States: apparently a woman named Adria wants to know if Carmen Electra is riding in the cab. After a series of exquisitely confused negatives, the ride continues.)
And if whatever you give out does come back to you, then it’s definitely time to check in with Team Future Landfill Site and see just how much toxic waste has been rammed back into Colin’s mouth. They’re leaving at 3:00 a.m, and the delicate perfume of Colin’s anger is still hanging in the air. (It’s all the hotel’s fault for his bad performance on the egg, y’know. If they’d spent money for more expensive skillets that would have conducted the heat better and cooked the egg more thoroughly, he would have checked into the pit stop at 1:55 p.m. the previous week.)
‘Colin and I most want to work on learning to trust each other,’ Christie c-ts us. ‘It’s hard when you have two decision-makers in the same group.’ (The screen flashes three times, and the words ‘This Is An Official Bruckheimer Foreshadowing Moment. Accept No Substitutes’ scroll across the bottom.) Christie, you already made the decision to accompany Herr Headcase on a race around the world, and if you can’t see that it’s the only one you’ll get to make…
With $100 tentatively established as the price that DAW Americans are willing to pay, C&C Stress Factory’s future cab driver opens negotiations at the C-note level. Protests ensue, with Christie offering fifty and Colin upping it to sixty, which is all the money he has in the world after subtracting out his future legal fees, but the cab driver stands firm. It’s a hundred dollars all the way, and Colin gets into the taxi grumbling about how he’d better get a fast ride for such a high price. The screen starts flashing again for no apparent reason.
Linda & Karen leave the pit stop at 3:06 a.m, carefully making their way around the industrial fans blowing the last of Colin’s residue from the air, and pick their hundred-dollar taxi. They feel that the Race isn’t just for the fast youngsters in it: anyone can win, and why couldn’t that be a couple of bowling moms? ‘The editing.’ Next question?
Team We Bought A Reality Show Indulgence Before We Left is next out at 3:10 a.m, also complaining about the $100 price tag (but with no real attempt to negotiate a lower fee). Nicole c-t feels that she and Brandon need to be more aggressive, since the teams with more inherent aggression keep finishing in front of them. Well, maybe if they weren’t putting all their energy into shredding those Commandments, they’d have something left over for the final sprint. (Note: Nicole thinks Chip is aggressive. That’s absolutely right. No one has it in for his food like Chip does. Attack!)
And last out at 3:12 a.m. are Team Two Half-Wits Equal One Quarter-Wit, with either Kami or Karli – no one cares enough to identify the speaker and it doesn’t really matter anyway – giving us this brilliant piece of c-t strategy. ‘We need to slow down.’ Yes, that’s absolutely right. In order to get out of last place, you need to slow down. In fact, if you stay right where you are, there’s a tiny-but-measurable chance that the other teams will come within a hundred feet of lapping you, at which point you can start running again and claim you were ahead of them all along.
And why do the Twins feel they have to slow down? Because ‘We are so spastic right now.’
(Pause. Make sacrifice to the head power in charge of providing lines that need no commentary whatsoever for summary writers. Press Play.)
The Twins feel the teams finishing ahead of them aren’t doing so on speed, but on reading comprehension: they stop, analyze the clue, work out their next move, and then go running off as if someone had just taken an axe to their chicken necks. And since they’re still having trouble with the ‘reading’ part, it’s probably time to slow down and pick up an ABC For Dummies primer. Fortunately, most of the biggest airports have bookstores. Of course, that means finding their way to an airport, and first they have to figure out what this whole ‘take a waiting taxi’ bit means… The producers, anxious to get everyone to the bunch point, provide a Twinglish translation, book the hundred-dollar taxi, bundle them in, and start filing the environmental impact statement on the group’s collective egg elimination escapades.