|Episode 15.08 – This is the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done in My Life
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It’s still light out, though it’s already 9:33pm as Sam & Dan get their first clue of the 8th leg at the Mat. Teams will now fly to Stockholm, Sweden and once there must take a train and a ferry to amusement park, Tivoli Gröna Lund where they will find their next clue at the Fritt Fall ride.
The teams leave the Pit Stop one by one. Sam & Dan have 21 years of sibling rivalry, Meghan & Cheyne have done well in the Race, which is of course a sign of good compatibility for marriage, It’s Flight Time’s birthday and he wants to get first place for his gift, Gary wants to keep up with the youngins, and Brian wants to show Ericka’s mom that her marrying a white guy is okay.
KLM ticketing opens at 5:30am, so the teams spend a few hours in the airport. When they get to the counter in the morning, Sam & Dan, Meghan & Cheyne, and Flight Time & Big Easy manage to get on the 6:55am flight. Gary & Matt and Brian & Ericka get the bad news that the flight is booked and have to instead get on a 9:25am flight.
The first flight touches down at Stockholm-Arlanda and the teams run for the train. Flight Time & Big Easy get left behind at the platform. Sam & Dan and Meghan & Cheyne get to the ferry and arrive at the cluebox in the park. One team member must ride the Fritt Fall and while on it, look for an arrow on a rooftop in the park pointing them in the direction of their next clue.
Cheyne and Sam go up and then down fast and they head to the next clue. Now teams will have to play Roaming Gnome Ring Toss. When they’ve landed a ring on one of the giant hats covering a Roaming Gnome, the attendant will hand it to them and will find their next clue underneath. And as always, they must keep the Travelocity Roaming Gnome until they reach the Pit Stop.
They get the Gnome and find the Detour.
In this Detour, teams will have to choose between two of Sweden’s most notable historic figures.
In Nobel Dynamite, teams will fill sandbags to create a protective bunker in a rock quarry. Once they’re protected, they’ll set off “an enormous explosion” that will unearth a box containing their next clue.
In Viking Alphabet teams will decode a secret message using the Viking alphabet. The message tells them to “Find the Strong Viking” who will give them their next clue.
Both teams choose Nobel Dynamite and head off as the Globetrotters arrive at the amusement park. No one taller than 6’4″ can ride the ride, so Big Easy is out. Flight Time goes up to search for the arrow. They get to the Gnomes and decide on Nobel Dynamite as well.
And as they finish, Gary & Matt and Brian & Ericka arrive in Sweden. Brian & Ericka get their tickets and get on the train, but Gary & Matt just miss it and are left behind. 15 minutes until the next one.
The Globetrotters want to name their Gnome. Flight Time suggests “Sweet Pea” (“Naaww, that’s dunb.”). Big Easy says “Louisiana Shorty” (“That’s gettho!”). Then he says “Harlem Gnome” (“Harlem Gnome!?!?!”)
Brian & Ericka get to the park and find the clue. Brian is scared of heights so it’s up to Ericka to find the arrow. She has fun and they head to the Gnomes. Ericka gets it on first try. Gary & Matt get to the park and Matt goes up, even though Gary wanted to have fun too. They get the Gnome and all the teams are now on their way to the Dynamite.
The first three teams all meet up and start the Detour. Sam & Dan use their hands to fill the sandbags which was faster. Meanwhile, Meghan suggests she and Cheyne work together by having one person hold the bag open and another shoveling in the dirt. He won’t have it. (“Cheyne! Encourage me please, help me!”)
Still on their way, Brian & Ericka hire a taxi to lead them while Gary & Matt are confusing themselves with Swedish street names.
Sam & Dan finish their bunker and blow s—t up. They find the clue, telling them to drive themselves to Bögs Gård Farm, the site of one of the most infamous and daunting challenges in Amazing Race history (I just got chills). There teams will find their next clue.
The Globetrotters are next and Meghan & Cheyne finish last of the three. Meghan is frustrated Cheyne didn’t listen and was so uncooperative with her.
Brian & Ericka arrive at the dynamite. Gary & Matt get pointed in the right direction. The Globetrotters get lost and Sam & Dan arrive near the farm. Meghan & Cheyne are right behind and it’s a 0.2km jog to the farm.
Sam & Dan get to the cluebox and *dun*dun*dun*, it’s a Road Block.
Phil reminds us that nine seasons ago, this was the site of one of the most unforgettable Road Blocks in Amazing Race history. Simple enough, Phil says (yeah sure). We get a flashback to Lena & Kristy’s unlucky afternoon turned night. Lena, almost 10 hours unrolling hay bales and she found not one clue. Now, in an “Amazing Race Switchback,” teams will face the same challenge. This time teams will have to search 186 bales of hay for 1 of only 7 Race flags. Also, the farm is the Pit Stop for this leg, so teams will have to work even harder to avoid possible elimination.
Sam decides to do the Road Block. At the start, Dan starts yelling which Sam is not liking. Frustration already starting and they don’t even know the half of what this Road Block can be. Meghan & Cheyne arrive. Meghan asks Cheyne which one of them should do it. He is silent… and silent… until Meghan says she’ll do it. Hmm…
The Globetrotters arrive. Big Easy gets out into the field. Dan continues yelling at Sam. Sam continues yelling back at him to shut up. Meghan wants encouragement.
At the rock quarry, Brian & Ericka are finishing up their bunker, scooping the sand with the hands when Gary & Matt arrive. They put on one last row, Ericka goes to protect their gnome and the blast the cluebox out of the ground. They leave for the farm with Gary & Matt not too far behind.
Dan continues yelling at Sam. Sam flips him the bird. Meghan says “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life” a 2nd time. Flight Time tells Big Easy to find that flag first for his birthday. “Screw you!” Sam yells after Dan criticizes his hay rolling technique.
Brian & Ericka and Gary & Matt are running towards the field as Big Easy finally finds a flag. Sam proclaims the Globetrotters as “the luckiest team ever on the Race” as the two friends run towards Phil and the Mat. They claim 1st and win a trip to Turks and Caicos.
Sam says he hates Big Easy. Brian & Ericka and Gary & Matt arrive at the field and all teams are now at the Road Block. After some hesitation, Brian & Ericka decide Brian will do it and Gary chooses to do it for his team. Meghan is in tears, she’s been there for TWO HOURS! (Oh my goodness! Go cry to Lena and Kristy). Sam is going to kills his brother.
Another WTF are you doing? to Sam prompts Brian to tell Dan, hey man, it’s harder than it looks. Dan finally shuts up. Sam says they’ve only been doing this for an hour and a half!Matt says it’s a little easier for them and Brian & Ericka since the other teams have already rolled out a lot of the bales.
Meghan finally finds a flag and wants to surprise Cheyne. She pretends she’s giving up, but FAIL! she trips and falls in a hole. Ericka points and laughs, and Cheyne slaps Meghan’s ass and they run off to the Mat to claim 2nd.
Three teams left. Ericka praying Brian finds it next. He does. He flips over a bale and they run to the Mat to the finish 3rd.
Dan now starts encouraging Sam, sympathizing with him. Matt says his dad’s worked with hay all his life, he can do this. Finally, Sam finds a flag. They head to the Mat and claim 4th. Phil says… almost forced, “Wow… that was like a… replay of season 6.” (No Phil… it was not.) Dan puts on the waterworks, though really he’s only got one tear running down his face. Phil doesn’t look impressed (haha).
An hour and 56 minutes have passed… Two hours and 45 minutes… finally Gary finds a flag. He didn’t want to give up and it paid off. They run to the Mat and Phil tells them, he’s sorry to tell them… next leg will be a tough one. This is a non-elimination leg. Speed Bump next week.
It was a great leg. First of all, why didn’t the Roaming Gnome have his own safety gear? I loved last season’s Gnome leg when he got his own costumes and stuff throughout the leg.
And the Switchback. While many TAR fans were speculating/reporting that the Switchback was some U-Turn/Yield type of power, it was basically just TAR recreating a past task.
And what a task to go back to. I admit, my eyes began to water seeing TAR6’s Aaron and Jon rolling those hay bales and then I really started tearing up seeing Lena & Kristy and Lena powering through those hay bales for 8 hours+.
Showing Lena’s toughness from TAR6 (5 years ago! Can you believe it?) and comparing it to the big babies from this week’s leg… wow. Though Sam’s frustration was aggravated by Dan’s unhelpful yells, he and Meghan’s Woe is me after just an hour or two? Come on! TAR6’s Don could roll those hay bales faster than them.
But going around the TAR message boards got me thinking too about how much the Race has changed since then. Has it gotten easier? Harder? Honestly though, I must agree with some fans saying teams these days probably couldn’t handle some of the things they’ve done in the past. The TAR6 Senegal salt Road Block comes to mind. The women powered through that one, while Adam, the only guy to do the Road Block struggled! And Mary Jean, so awesome in the Road Block, it brought husband Don to tears.
Which reminds me… about how the placement of the clueboxes right next to the Road Block defeats the purpose. The Road Block is (was?) supposed to throw the teams for a loop, that’s why they are only given a cryptic one-line clue as to what the task is before they find out what they’re actually supposed to do. But lately, the clueboxes are placed right next to the task which allows the teams to choose based on what they see and in most cases seeing other teams already doing the task. TAR6’s Senegal salt Road Block was perfect because the cluebox was hidden behind a huge mountain of salt and the teams had no idea what the clue meant, automatically assuming it was something female-geared.
The Switchback… well, it’s cool and fun especially for TAR fans who’ve been there from the beginning to see some of the most classic Detours and Road Blocks recreated. But like this week showed, it just paled in comparison and the teams seem so weak now! especially when you look at these teams going at it for not even 2 hours and crying, Lena did it for 8 hours+ and would’ve kept going had Phil not come out to them. Of course, future Switchbacks could produce some unforgettable moments as well, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Well, there’s a lot of things we can dissect and change about TAR and hopefully for TAR16, Bertram and Co. can make some fresh changes, but for now, TAR15 is getting into gear and hopefully gets even more exciting now that we’re in the final stretch.