Recap: The Amazing Race 17, Episode 7 – “I hope I get to wear a leotard!”

Episode 17.07 – I Want to Be In the Circus, That’s Where I Belong

The leg quickly starts as all teams head to Avtovo Circus where an Hours of Operation bunches the teams together.  The fake bear Michael sees in Norway makes a return appearance (hmmmm!!!!) before the teams get the earliest Detour ever on a leg in The Amazing Race.

In this Detour, teams will choose between two acts in a Russian circus, Circus Band or Circus Clown.
In Circus Band, teams will choose an accordion player who will teach them a Russian folk song.  They will then have to play that song on the accordion with the circus band and if they get it right, they’ll get their next clue.
In Circus Clown, teams head inside the big top and have to perform an act involving spinning plates.  If they can have ten plates spinning simultaneously for at least ten seconds, they’ll get their next clue.

Nat & Kat and Gary & Mallory do Circus Band and have a pretty easy time with it while the rest of the teams have to take a while to get the hang of the spinning plates inside.  Brook & Claire finish the Detour first and get the next clue, which is a mystery, telling teams to look for a canal bridge guarded by four creatures with golden wings which was Bank Bridge.  Nat & Kat are right behind. 

They arrive at the bridge and the clue tells them to find a historic building, 1 Vladimirskiy Prospekt Tower.  They must travel on foot and can ask locals for help, but can not pay a taxi driver to lead them.  Once there, only two people at time will make their way up the tower and figure out their next clue is a figurine on the ledge, a replica of the Church on Spilled Blood that can be seen from the tower.  They’ll make their way there on foot for their next clue.

Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire set off on foot.
Nick & Vicki, Michael & Kevin, and Gary & Mallory arrive at the bridge next, but the father and son make a critical error.  They let their taxi lead the way.

Chad & Stephanie finish the Detour after switching to the band and leave Jill & Thomas who have to switch back to their original choice of Circus Clowns.

Nick & Vicki team up with Nat & Kat and get to the tower first.  Nick and Kat head up, but can’t see the figurine.  Meanwhile, Michael & Kevin arrive thanks to their taxi.  Brook & Claire notice the taxi waiting outside and Kevin notices they have their backpacks with them.  B&C tell him they were supposed to leave their backpacks and walk.  No reaction from Kevin.

Nick and Kat see something painted on a wall saying “DS13” (with a really good scribble of “The Scream”) and think that’s it until Nick realizes the figurine and the church in the distance.  They head back down and decide to lie to the other teams. 

Kevin and Claire are next up the tower and Kevin suggests they just go to DS13 because Nick would never lie to them “because he’s awesome,” but Claire says no, no.  They have to find it themselves.  When they do, they head back down and both teams jump into a taxi.  Strike 2 for Michael & Kevin. 

Jill & Thomas meet up Gary & Mallory and they decide to work together while Chad & Stephanie are in last.

Nat & Kat and Nick & Vicki get to the church and find the next riddle, “Peter the Great is buried inside me.”  Teams will now head to the gorodki courts Peter and Paul Fortress for the next clue.  Michael & Kevin and Brook & Claire catch up to them and Kevin tells Nick that he lied to them, but Nick denies it.  “Are they fibbing to us again?” Brook asks.  But Nick sees they took a taxi and Kat knows they’ll get penalized.

They see that it doesn’t anything about not taking a taxi in the latest clue, so Nick & Vicki go find a taxi while Nat & Kat run all the way back to the bridge to get their old taxi with their bags in it.

On the way to the fortress, Brook & Claire realize their mistake and tell their taxi driver to take them back to the tower where they were supposed to walk from, knowing they would get penalized.  Michael & Kevin have no idea where B&C went. 

Nat & Kat get to the courts first and find the Road Block.
In this Road Block, teams will play a Russian version of bowling called gorodki.  Using a wooden stick, they must knock three different formations of pins completely off the marked court in two chances.  Otherwise it will be reset.

Brook & Claire correct their mistake and arrive at the Road Block 3rd after Michael & Kevin.  Kat finishes quickly but Michael struggles.  Nat & Kat get the clue telling them to head inside Peter and Paul Fortress and find the Pit Stop.  The doctors run in and claim another 1st place win and $5000 each.  Brook & Claire are right behind them and finish 2nd.

All the other teams catch up to Michael & Kevin at the Road Block.  Kevin starts getting frustrated, but Michael soldiers on.  Nick gets through his quick and he and Vicki finish 3rd.

Jill & Thomas are finished, but have to pay their taxi.  That allows Gary & Mallory to run past them to claim 4th.  After finally getting the first one, Michael quickly takes care of the second and third formations and they run off to pay their taxi as well. 

But neither Jill & Thomas nor Michael & Kevin have enough (or won’t give enough) to pay and the drivers try to hold them, literally, until they pay up.  Stephanie meanwhile is still at the Road Block and Chad is starting to get frustrated. 

Jill & Thomas settle the taxi and run in to officially check in 5th.  Chad & Stephanie finish the Road Block just as Michael & Kevin cough up US$40.  Chad & Stephanie decide to leave their bags in the taxi and just run, especially when they see Michael & Kevin running, thinking they can beat them in a footrace.

Chad & Stephanie get to the Mat first but Phil tells them they must pay their cab before they can check in.  Michael & Kevin step in, but Phil drops the bomb.  They broke two rules, having a taxi lead them and then taking a taxi when the clues specifically said against both.  That’s 30 minutes each for a total of a one hour penalty.  They sit and wait. 

Chad & Stephanie make their way back but they too have a penalty.  But only one.  Which still puts them ahead of Michael & Kevin.   The dating couple officially check in 6th and Team Jumba end up eliminated. 

Episode Thoughts
So this was an absolutely crazy leg!  In good and horribly bad ways.

First off, the most egregious oversight has to be TAR feeling no need to explain away the lack of a Speed Bump.  There’s talk that Nick posted on his Facebook that there was a judging error at the piano Detour last week where they had already showed the correct three pieces but were told it was incorrect.  So apparently, TAR waived the Speed Bump for them to make up for the production error.

Okay, fine.  But why absolutely no mention of it on the episode?  For TAR fans, that’s a pretty jarring omission.  They could’ve at least found a creative way of explaining the absence of a Speed Bump even without saying they made a stupid boo-boo.

The other possibility is the Speed Bump was so boring and/or it didn’t affect Nick & Vicki’s placement so it was edited out, which is done from time to time on TAR.  But because this is a Speed Bump, no matter how dumb or boring (and most of them have been dumb and boring), they still have to show it since it is a penalty.

Some are saying last week may never have been a non-elimination and was only so to keep Nick & Vicki in the Race and not get eliminated due to production.  Still, they could have come up with a quick Speed Bump in that case.

I honestly think it was horrible for TAR not to even mention it.  I did notice them either editing out the Speed Bump tag last week or Phil never even mentioned it to Nick & Vicki at all.  It was odd and awkward.  TAR shouldn’t be making these kinds of stupid mistakes after 17!! seasons and they shouldn’t be slighting fans by thinking no one would notice.

Now the good parts of the leg.  It seems like it was designed specifically to mess with the teams and that is a good thing.  Having them run all over the city is something we haven’t seen in a while.  And Heavegate from TAR3 has forever engrained the importance to reading  and re-reading your clue especially when it talks about walking.  The riddles and non-straightforward clue were a refreshing change as well.  There need to be more of those sprinkled throughout the Race.

Phil getting knocked off the block?  Hilarious and shows just how awesome Phil is.

And the fake bear!?  Is he going to play a part in the final memory task?  Or is he just a cute little easter egg for TAR fans? 

So overall, a strange but exciting episode.

We’re not stupid TAR!

Leg Seven Itinerary
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Petersburg, Russia

Avtovo Circus
St. Petersburg, Russia

Avtovo Circus
St. Petersburg, Russia

Bank Bridge
St. Petersburg, Russia

1 Vladimirsky Prospekt Tower
St. Petersburg, Russia

Church of the Savior on Blood
St. Petersburg, Russia

Peter and Paul Fortress
St. Petersburg, Russia

Peter and Paul Fortress
St. Petersburg, Russia

Departure Times

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Petersburg, Russia

Jill & Thomas 8:30am
Brook & Claire  8:35am
Michael & Kevin 8:40am
Nat & Kat Not Shown
Chad & Stephanie Not Shown
Gary & Mallory Not Shown
Nick & Vicki Not Shown

Who Did the Detour?
In order of completion





<P ALIGN="CENTER"*Chad & Stephanie switched from Clown to Band.
^Jill & Thomas switched from Clown to Band and back to Clown.
Road Block Count
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did this week’s Road Block

Between the two of you, who’s the real player?
3 Nat Kat 3
4 Brook Claire 3
5 Nick Vicki 2
3 Jill Thomas 4
4 Gary Mallory 3
3 Michael Kevin 4
4 Chad Stephanie 3

3 Katie Rachel 2
4 Connor Jonathan 0
0 Andie Jenna 2
1 Ron Tony 0

Order of Finish
1st Nat & Kat (+3)
2nd Brook & Claire (=)
3rd Nick & Vicki (+4)
4th Gary & Mallory (+2)
5th Jill & Thomas (-4)
6th Chad & Stephanie (-1)
Eliminated Michael & Kevin (-4)

My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 7
Nat & Kat Nat & Kat – I am so excited for them.  Thank goodness their horrible first Ghanian leg was a fluke and that they really are a strong team.  They are dominating and working so well together.  They don’t give up when things are rough and they have performed very well the last few legs.  I can definitely see them winning.
Gary & Mallory Gary & Mallory – They may fall behind, but they get right back up and that’s a great quality to have on the Race.  They stay the course and while Mallory has her little moments, they usually amount to just Mallory being Mallory and they quickly find their way.  I still think they are one of the teams to beat.
Michael & Kevin Michael & Kevin – It seemed like a matter of time before they did themselves in.  Not one, but two critical errors that had them shooting themselves in the foot.  One of the unwritten cardinal rules on TAR is to read and re-read and re-read your clue, no matter how much of a rush you are in.  Kevin didn’t seem too positive at the Road Block either even though Michael kept his spirits up even when he wasn’t doing well at all.  It is too bad because when they were good, they were good.  But it’s all in the details and they missed the details..
Brook & Claire Brook & Claire – Still a very strong team and I wouldn’t mind seeing an all-female fight for the million.  The kiss count and dance breaks could ease up a little, but otherwise they are doing very well as long as they don’t makes mistakes.  
Chad & Stephanie Chad & Stephanie – Not much dysfunction this leg, but more evidence to show that they are far from being the typical bickering couple.  They’ve shown to get over their quarrels fast and then there’s Chad’s awkwardly hilarious squeals of joy.  They’re not Racing too well, but they are certainly interesting to watch.
Nick & Vicki Nick & Vicki – Looks like Nick forgot his promise to Vicki in Ghana.  Like Jill & Thomas, only less so, they’re only nice to each other when things are going their way and Nick takes his frustration out on Vicki when things aren’t.  Their survival is leg-to-leg and unless they’ve got tons of luck, they’re still in firing range.
Jill & Thomas Jill & Thomas – If Nick gets frustrated at Vicki when things get rough, then Thomas gets frustrated at Jill two-fold.  Horrible performance at the Detour and they are definitely living up to the stereotypical bickering couple archetype.  Really would not mind seeing them go sooner rather than later.
Quotes from Episode 17.07

Brook: “I hope I get to wear a leotard!”

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