Robert Voets/CBS
Darren Franich
March 21, 2011 AT 06:05 AM EDT

“There’s like some kind of screws loose up here in our minds,” said Vyxsin, and who are we to argue? Team Mascara had one of the worst legs in Amazing Race history last week. Things had to improve at least a little bit for the Dating Goths, and sure enough, they got doubly lucky at the start of last night’s episode. First, their lost fanny pack was sitting pretty in the Gondola Lost & Found. Second, the other teams were instructed to hop a train back to Kunming — and the only train was leaving  at 7 PM, many hours after Margie and Luke showed up in first place at the train depot. With nothing to do but watch their lead fade away, the teams decided to stage an impromptu three-on-three basketball match, with Jet, Flight Time, and Kisha facing off against Cord, Jen, and Big Easy. (Team Cheerocracy cheered them all on from the sidelines. We didn’t see a final score, but I’m betting the Washington Generals lost.)

So the playing field was flattened. Almost. As Grandmaster Phil sent the Goths onto the train depot, he warned them that they had a 30-minute penalty waiting at the next Pit Stop. Kent decided to play dumb about the infraction, reasoning that “everybody would definitely be targeting us for the U-Turn if they knew we had a 30-minute penalty.” Ah, there was the rub: The second half of this marathon leg would feature a Double U-Turn.

I always enjoy the U-Turn legs of Race, because it’s one of the few times in a season that contestants are directly playing against each other. Generally, the gameplay on Race is similar to golf: Your only real competition is with yourself — the drama is within teams, not between them. (That’s a big reason, I think, why Race contestants tend to be so nice to each other: They’re not voting each other out of the game, or scoring points on each other in competitions.) The U-Turn lets teams take decisive action against each other — as if, to continue the fascinating golf metaphor, you were allowed to throw half your opponent’s clubs into a lake and hide their golf ball inside of a gopher hole.

So Kent and Vyxsin kept mum about their extra thirty minutes. (They also lied madly about their map trouble, with Kent explaining that their car “broke down on the highway.”) Kent insisted that the other contestants were acting like “sharks swimming around,” but I dunno — they mostly just seemed confused, possibly because Team Goth’s story made no sense whatsoever.

Team Zinger Zinger of the Night: The train to Kunming featured triple-decker beds, and Zev and Justin were imprisoned on the top bunk. Justin: “The good thing about being on the top bunk is…” Zev: “Less chance for murder. ” Justin: “Yeah, I feel like any murder would happen on the bottom bunk. Or the middle bunk.” I’m pretty sure Murder on the Middle Bunk was an Agatha Christie novella.

Once the teams hit Kunming early in the morning, they made for the Flower Market. Team Zinger followed Team Angry Dad — a canny move, since Christina and Ron had a measure of we-speak-Chinese home-court advantage. The Flower Market clue sent them along to the Golden Horse and Jade Cock Memorial Arches. (The Cowbros actually ended up stealing the last-place Globetrotters’ cab — kickstarting a long, difficult day for Flight Time and Big Easy.)

NEXT: What’s between the past and the future?

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