Amazing Race

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Oh, Snapple!

Jen and Kisha are leaving in a distant fourth, at 3:43 PM. "We are not out of China!" Jen says in the cab, through gritted teeth. She's only half kidding, if that.

Kent and Vyxsin are leaving at 3:52, his pink zebra-print hoodie only slightly less distracting than how much of Vyxsin's girls are out on display. Then Flight Time and Big Easy take off at 3:59, in sixth place. "Still in China?" Big Easy says wearily. At the tea shop, Margie and Luke are drinking their tea, after the Cowboys and their hats are long gone.

Ron and Christina are leaving in seventh place, at 4:09 PM. Zev and Justin are right behind them, leaving at 4:10 and saying, "More China?" And... what is Zev wearing? Justin explains, "We're leaving in last place, and we needed a little pick-me-up and I think the silver pajamas are just that." They certainly are eye-catching. Zev looks like a Bond villain. Luckily the outfit doesn't seem to preclude them from getting a cab.

Kisha and Jen are seen drinking the tea, then the Goths, then the Globetrotters. We're only seeing one team in there at a time. "Delicious," Flight Time says heartily. Remember that flavor, dude. When it's Ron and Christina's turn, she asks the proprietor in Mandarin what kind of tea it is. "Papaya Mango," he responds readily, to Ron's surprise. "I never thought this kind of tea existed," he marvels, while the camera focuses on a shelf of papayas and mangoes in the shop that he must have thought were for decoration. Then it's Zev and Justin's turn. "I have no clue what that tastes like," Zev says in what will prove to be ominous foreshadowing. A different, female barista presents them with their clue and tea brick. As they leave, Zev critiques, "That was... pointless." That's what I thought, too. Both of us will be proven wrong. Then, without further delay or even much editing, it's off to the airport, and next thing we know, an Amazing Red Line indicates the progress of all teams from Kunming to Kolkata. I always think of both of those places being so far away that it's a bit startling to see they're less than a thousand miles apart. I guess all the farthest places are actually pretty close to each other. Profound, I know.

Cut to that night, and the sixteen remaining re-racers charging out of the Kolkata Airport in a hollering mob. And Phil wasn't kidding about how populous this town is; indeed, the crowd begins right outside the door, like the re-racers are the Beatles arriving at JFK, if their fans had been relatively quiet and unmoving Indian people. "I already love India!" Mallory hollers. The crowds complicate the usual scramble for cabs, but the Globetrotters seem to get underway first, with Gary and Mallory right behind them, both teams exhorting their drivers to get there first. Zev dubs the city "Cal-crazy." Jen marvels, "That place was packed, and it's one in the morning." Ron is also amazed. "I didn't realize there were that many people for a midnight flight," he says. "Welcome to India," Christina says. Maybe Kolkata has just gotten so crowded that there's literally nowhere but outside the airport left for anyone to stand.

So now that they're on the highways (where I'm glad to say the crowds have thinned out), it's a cab race. The Cowboys pass Gary and Mallory, and then the Globetrotters, whom Cord identifies because he almost can't see them, the way their height forces them to hunch over in their cabs. And it soon becomes apparent that the drivers are even more invested in the race than the re-racers themselves, as Luke thinks their driver is driving on train tracks, Justin tells his driver to "take it easy" right before they run a red light and crowd another taxi, and the Cowboys' driver squeezes through a rapidly shrinking gap between a truck and a highway divider at high speed. In Ron and Christina's cab, squealing tires are heard, and their camera spins around in the front seat to get a shot of the giant truck that almost just T-boned them in an intersection. They're on that line between exhilarated and terrified, but right now I'm thinking about the cameraman watching this at home with his family, saying, "Look, honey, there's the truck that almost pancaked me! You can even count the bugs in the grille. Isn't HD amazing?"

Somehow Team Asperger's and the Globetrotters make it to Town Hall alive, but the sign outside the wrought-iron gate says it doesn't open until 10 AM. Kolkata may be a busy city, but not much of a morning city, I guess. As they're getting settled down for the night, Jen and Kisha arrive, followed by the Goths (Vyxsin looks for a place on the sidewalk to sleep where there are not quite so many bugs), and then Ron/Christina, Gary/Mallory, and Margie/Luke. Mallory's looking for the clue box that isn't actually out here, and the Globetrotters start telling her, "Run! Run!" which is like winding up a small, excitable dog. All the other teams who have been there laugh hysterically as the later teams run around looking for a clue box that isn't there. When Mallory finally figures out she's been had, she humorously announces, "I hate y'all!" and dispenses playful smacks to everyone. "Oh my gosh, we're like a pack of dogs," says the alpha Chihuahua.

The next morning, as the sun rises, there's a lot of activity on the block, up to and including food preparation. Even if Town Hall isn't open to the public until ten, there's at least someone sweeping the sidewalk out front. "Last night, when we got here, people were asleep right where they're cooking this morning," Gary observes. Mallory remarks that the race is about living like the people live. "This is, I think a tough place to survive in, so I think we might have a tough leg," Mallory says. Yes, they're about to live the daily life of Kolkuta natives. It'll be uncanny.

At 10:00 AM, someone comes out to unlock the front gate, and the re-racers pour in as a running mob. Eight teams is still a lot of people in that form. Into the colonial-style building, where they follow Amazing Arrows set up in the front lobby up to the second floor, where a clue box is waiting patiently. It's a Road Block, with the question, "Who's ready to drink in the scenery?" RON. Oh, sorry, that was one of those symbolic clue questions. Never mind. Phil educates, "Kolkata has always been the point where Chinese tea came into India, and Indian tea left for China. Now in this place ["this place " being a long, columned hall dominated by a table almost as long, covered with literally hundreds of bowls of tea], where flavors have been traded for centuries, teams will face a Road Block that will push their powers of perception to the extreme." Phil says they'll be doing some tea-tasting. They'll start by collecting a papaya and a mango from one of the groaning tables of produce in the building. They'll bring those and their tea brick from China to the auctioneer seated at the front of the hall. Then the re-racers will have to search that giant table to find a bowl of the same tea they tasted in China, yesterday, nine hundred miles ago. After succeeding in this, assuming they do, they'll get a bottle of iced tea from the auctioneer. The bottles are unlabeled, but the familiar wide-mouthed vessels are instantly recognizable as Snapple, which is about as subtle as things are going to get here. Their next clue will be printed on the bottom of the bottle cap. So, you know, don't lose it.

Re-racers get started. Without the show having to waste any time on showing who's doing this, we can see that it's going to be Kent, Kisha, Mallory, Zev, Luke, Flight Time, Jet, and Ron. With their fruits in hand, they carry them into the hall, where there's a whole sitar band playing. Kent formally presents his offering, saying, "I bring you papaya, and I bring you mango." Flight Time, on the other hand, simply says, "Here you go, Homie." Disrespectful? Maybe, but it's worth it to take the piss out of Kent. Everyone takes a few seconds to stand overwhelmed at the tea table before beginning the tasting. Their partners call encouragement from behind a railing at the far end of the hall. Ron starts eliminating teas by color and smell, and soon finds one with mango. He brings a cup up to the auctioneer, who looks at the bottom of it and says it's right. Then he presents Ron with one of those tea bottles from an ice-filled cooler. Nice how Ron and Christina's home court advantage in China didn't really pay off until they were in India.

While Kent hands over his cup, Ron wonders how to find the clue. "Do I have to drink this stuff and it's inside there?" He soon finds it under the cap. The clue is sending them to the Jorashanko area, where they need to find the Tiwari Tea Stall to get their next clue. Leaving Town Hall, Christina gushes with praise for Ron, who says, "Let's keep the lead." He certainly did well, but that might be a little ambitious.

The other seven teams are still going at it, more from trial and error than anything else. Ron and Christina find a cab, and he charmingly says of the driver's claim to know where they're going, "He

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Amazing Race

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