Amazing Race

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ter all. This Road Block would have been a bitch in the dark, man.

Jill and Thomas have found "Ali Baba," who is wearing old-school robes, a friendly smile, and a scimitar at his waist in case the forty thieves show up. He hands them a clue sending them to the next Pit Stop (finally), which is Al Alam Palace. Phi tells us, "This stately palace is the Pit Stop for this leg of the race .The last team to check in here may be eliminated." Jill and Thomas are on their way, with many thank yous. Chad and Stephanie also find Ali Baba and get their clue. Outside, Thomas is saying and miming to a cab driver, "You drive, we follow, I pay." You might almost miss the "fail" noise dropped in there if you're not listening to it. Chad and Stephanie jump in their car and head out on their own, without any such negotiation.

Nat and Kat get their truck full, in what is becoming increasingly indirect sunlight, another sign that the day might end before the leg does. In the cab, Nat tells the driver, "Asalaam alaikum," or peace be unto you, and then she and Kat laugh unpeacefully.

Jill and Thomas follow the cabbie to Al Alam Palace and run onto the grounds in the rapidly fading daylight, happy and smiling and feeling good about their impending third win. At the mat, the short, bearded guy next to Phil welcomes them to Oman. Phil tells them they're the first team to arrive, and they celebrate without noticing his unusual phrasing or his serious tone. They sure notice when he interrupts them with a stern, "However," though. "The rules categorically state that you cannot pay a taxi driver to lead you to a location," he says, meaning they've earned themselves a thirty-minute penalty. Is that a rule all the time now? Because I'm pretty sure I vaguely remember people doing it in the past. Anyway, Phil tells them they'll need to wait out a thirty-minute penalty. They stand there flummoxed for so long that Phil finally has to tell them where to go sit down. "That was a mistake, that was my fault," Thomas says, like Phil can check in just Jill. They go sit down, talking about what a stupid mistake that was. I actually feel a little bad for them; I don't think I was aware of that rule myself. But then, I'm not on the race, I just make fun of it.

It does get dark quickly in the desert. Here come Chad and Stephanie, and Thomas mutters to Jill, "We just lost first place." The newly engaged couple steps onto the mat, and Phil remarks, "Quite an emotional day, right?" They agree, and Phil says, "I want to end with some joy, because you are team number one!" They certainly are joyful about winning their first leg, as Phil tells them they also won a trip to Belize. Stephanie interviews that the day couldn't have gotten any better: "I got engaged, I was traveling around with my fiancé, and then I won a trip to Belize. Yeah, it was pretty much a perfect day." Good because it's all downhill from here.

Phil calls Jill and Thomas over to make them team number two. They shrug sheepishly, having been made an effective example of.

By now, it's almost fully dark. Team QVC is in search of Muttrah Souq, driving down a narrow street that Brook belatedly realizes is one-way as they run into a line of oncoming traffic coming around a curve. And one of those oncoming vehicles is a police car, with sirens and flashers going loud enough to make all the honking in this country seem reticent. "Yeah, the po-po came," Brook interviews. They don't seem to suffer any consequences other than getting yelled and honked at, though, as they cause a giant traffic jam. While trying to turn around, Brook asks Claire if she understands how to get there at all. "No, not at all," Claire says. From the navigator's seat.

Nick and Vicki, however, have already arrived at the Souq, where a local guides them to the right store for the frankincense. As before, the guy at the shop tells them, "Take this to Ali Baba in the souq," but they think he said "Ali Baba in a suit," so that's who they're looking for. I guess we should be glad they didn't think he said "Ali Baba in the soup" and start looking for either a very large bowl or an Arab version of Joel McHale.

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Amazing Race

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