Recap: The Amazing Race 18, Episode 5 – “I never played with dolls.”

Episode 18.05 – Don’t Ruin the Basketball Game

The Leg
The leg continues… or, it’s a new leg, but there’s no time for them to rest as the Race continues.

Kent & Vyxsin head back up the gondola and they find their fanny pack at the office.  They continue Racing onto the Detour and then to Phil who informs them of their penalty for taking a different flight (I don’t get it).  The 30 minute will be assessed at the next Mat.

Teams will all now take a train back to Kunming.  And with seven hours downtime before the train leaves from Lijiang, they decide to have fun and play some basketball, though really it’s just more time to feature the Cowboys and Globetrotters. 

Zev & Justin are relieved to see the teams sitting around on the basketball court, but even happier are Kent & Vyxsin who catch up as well.

The teams ask what happened to them and they decide not to tell them about the penalty for fear the other teams might target them with the upcoming Double U-Turn.

The teams arrive in Kunming at 5:30am and they head to Dounan Flower Market for their first clue.  Teams must now head to Golden Horse and Jade Cock Memorial Arch for their next clue.

Ron & Christina arrive at the arch first and find the Detour.
In Honor the Past, teams will dress up in a Tibetan outfit and watch a traditional Tibetan performance where they must remember the order of the performers on stage without taking any notes.  They will then go behind a curtain and put a series of 15 dolls dressed as the performers on stage in the correct order.
In Embrace the Future, teams head to a building where they will unload three large boxes and carry them up to the roof where they will unpack solar tubes and assemble a solar water heating system.

Ron & Chris choose Honor the Past and Zev & Justin, right behind, choose to follow whatever they’re doing.  They’re in China after all.

Meanwhile, as the clue mentions “the golden arches,” several teams run straight towards a nearby McDonalds before heading to the real Arch and the cluebox.  That allows Flight Time & Big Easy, last at the flower market to jump up to 5th.

Ron & Chris, Zev & Justin and Jen & Kisha are first at the theatre, while Margie & Luke are first at the solar tubes.

 Zev & Justin finish the Detour first and they get their next clue, a photo of the next location.  The teams don’t know the location is the Chinese Minority Heritage Center and it will be there they’ll find the Double U-Turn.

Jen & Kisha finish next, but both teams wait for Ron & Christina outside as their taxi drivers have no idea where to go.  The three teams drive off together, but the taxis take them to the wrong place.

This allows Margie & Luke to arrive at the U-Turn first and they decide not to use it.  Jaime & Cara and Kent & Vyxsin get to the U-Turn and the girls tell them to U-Turn the Globetrotters, but the Goths, from their own experience, decide to U-Turn Jaime & Cara as they are sure they are behind them and not make the same mistake they did back in TAR12.

Jaime & Cara in turn then U-Turn the Globetrotters.  They quickly complete the Honor Detour, as do the Globetrotters and all the teams head for the Stone Forest for their next clue.

There, outside Kunming, teams find the Road Block.  In this Road Block, teams will choose a dig site and collect scattered pieces to assemble a life-sized model of a Dilophosaurus.  A paleontologist will determine if the model is structurally safe and if completed correctly, will receive their next clue.

The teams arrive one after the other and with Zev & Justin and Gary & Mallory falling behind in Kunming, the U-Turned Jaime & Cara and Globetrotters arrive at the Road Block first.

When Gary & Mallory finally get there, they decide to use their Express Pass.  But Jet & Cord finish the Road Block and manage to leave Stone Forest before Gary & Mallory.  That lets them officially check in at the Pit Stop, Green Lake Park in Kunming, as Team #1 where they each win $5000.

Gary & Mallory check in 2nd.  Margie & Luke are next in 3rd.

Kent & Vyxsin arrive 4th at the Mat, but have to wait out their 30 minute penalty.  That lets Jen & Kisha officially check in as Team #4.  And just before Flight Time & Big Easy arrive, Phil calls Kent & Vyxsin over to check in 5th.  The Globetrotters settle for 6th.

Ron & Christina finish the Road Block and head off and with two teams left at Stone Forest, Zev & Justin finish first leaving Jaime & Cara in last.

A footrace to the Mat has Ron & Christina officially 7th with Zev & Justin 8th. 

Jaime has to disassemble her dinosaur all over again.  She’s exhausted and frustrated, but doesn’t quit.  She gets the okay from the paleontologist and they head to the Pit Stop where they are eliminated.

Episode Thoughts
It was a good episode.  Exciting because of all the placement changes, but that was thanks to the equalizer at the Lijiang Train Station.

I have to admit, at first I thought the Detour was incredibly difficult and impossible as a U-Turn Detour.  But it turned out to be all right.  Maybe it was the editing, but both sides were more straightforward and less difficult than I originally thought.

The Road Block definitely was nothing new as TAR has had assembling sculptures and the like before.  But the location made that task and it looked amazing in HD didn’t it? 

The Double U-Turn this week also made it clear that the first U-Turned team is allowed to U-Turn another team even though that didn’t help Jaime & Cara at all.

Very interesting to consider how both U-Turned teams managed to get to the next clue before other teams.  Either they were far ahead and made up some ground or Gary & Mallory and Zev & Justin were just completely lost for a long time.

And Kent & Vyxsin’s penalty is interesting.  Usually, when flights are limited to a destination, teams are given tickets at the start of the leg to a flight but are not required to use to them.  This time, teams were apparently absolutely required to take the flight given to them.  That is actually a little odd and a precedent I hope TAR never brings up again.

Making teams take a mandatory flight pretty much equals a TAR-induced Hours of Operation.  An equalizer like none we’ve ever seen before.  Sure, I’m fine with trains and buses leaving on a schedule that allows other teams to catch up, and TAR has since eased up on the HOOs that were so obvious and egregious in early seasons, but to make teams all take the same flight is strange.  And giving Kent & Vyxsin a penalty for missing a flight?  I’m not so sure about that penalty.  

Leg Five Itinerary
Wangu Pavilion, Lion Hill
Lijiang, China

Kunming, China

Dounan Flower Market
Kunming, China

Golden Horse and Jade Cock Memorial Archway
Kunming, China

Yunnan Province Cultural Center
Kunming, China

China Great Wall Assets Management Company
Kunming, China

Stone Forest
Shilin Yi Autonomous County, China

Green Lake Park
Kunming, China

Departure Times

Wangu Pavilion, Lion Hill
Lijiang, China

Teams left as they arrived at the Pit Stop of Leg 4
Margie & Luke
Jet & Cord
Gary & Mallory
Ron & Christina
Flight Time & Big Easy
Jaime & Cara
Zev & Justin
Kent & Vyxsin

Who Did the Detour?
In order of completion



*Jaime & Cara and Flight Time & Big Easy were U-Turned.

Road Block Count
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did this week’s Road Block

Who’s ready for a task 65 million years in the making?
2 Gary Mallory 2
2 Jet Cord 2
2 Margie Luke 2
2 Kisha Jen 2
2 Kent Vyxsin 2
2 Flight Time Big Easy 2
1 Ron Christina 3
1 Zev Justin 3
2 Jaime Cara 2

1 Mel Mike 1
1 Amanda Kris 0

Order of Finish
1st Jet & Cord (+1)
2nd Gary & Mallory (+1)
3rd Margie & Luke -2)
4th Kisha & Jen (+1)
5th Kent & Vyxsin (+4)
6th Flight Time & Big Easy (=)
7th Ron & Christina (-3)
8th Zev & Justin (=)
Eliminated Jaime & Cara (-2)

My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 5

Ron & Christina Ron & Christina – Well, they didn’t fly through the leg as one would expect, but it was a very close leg.  I wish Christina had done better at the Road Block.  But Ron at least gave a great kabuki metaphor to give us all our Real Truth Flavor fix for the week.  Hopefully they pick it up next week. 
Gary & Mallory Gary & Mallory – It was a taxi leg and they couldn’t recover until the Road Block with the Express Pass and they still didn’t get first.  It’s these kinds of legs that they don’t do well in.  If they start the leg in the front of the pack, they can maintain it to the Pit Stop.  But if they fall behind at any point, they have trouble recovering, as seen best in their disastrous Oman leg last season.  Hope they get back on their feet.
Kisha & Jen Kisha & Jen – They’re proving to be a quiet, but strong team.  They’re doing very well and could easily go all the way.   They might just be the last TAR14 team standing.  
Kent & Vyxsin Kent & Vyxsin – A total 180 from their horrible leg last week.  They got some help, but they calmed down (mostly) and soldiered on to finish well this week.  They are by no means out of the Race yet.
Jaime & Cara Jaime & Cara –  I don’t hate them or even love to hate them like many TAR fans do.  I actually like them and appreciate their fiery, determined spirit.  Also, major props to Jaime for not quitting the Road Block no matter how frustrating it must have been.  Apparently, they were 90 minutes behind at the Pit Stop.  Jaime and Cara may be many things, but they aren’t quitters and they have great respect for the Race and that deserves respect itself.
Zev & Justin Zev & Justin –  Well, they aren’t the fun loving, chill guys they were back then.  Justin’s been unraveled the last couple of legs.  I guess it comes with being at the back of the pack.  But that won’t help them when they need to step it up. 
Margie & Luke Margie & Luke – Back to the shadows for them.  Even when they were in front, they were pretty quiet this week.  But that will apparently change next week when Luke is Luke once again.  
Jet & Cord Jet & Cord –  Again, being bunched up helped them out at the Road Block, but kudos to being able to get ahead.  Still, that pick-up game… ugh.  Give me a break.
Herb & Nathaniel Flight Time & Big Easy – The teams said it, they are loud.  Very loud.  Too loud.  Good for them in overcoming the U-Turn, but seriously, tone it down.  
Quotes from Episode 18.05
Ron: “I never played with dolls.”

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