Joseph Brannigan Lynch
March 19, 2012 AT 08:11 AM EDT

Last night the remaining eight teams of The Amazing Race 20 headed to Bavaria, the oldest state in Germany and certainly one of its most historic. For the entire hour, it looked as if the contestants had been dropped into a Grimm’s fairy tale, only with more Travelocity Gnomes and a narrator from New Zealand.

Art and J.J., victors of the last two legs, got an early morning start on the trip to Bavaria. Once there, they had to wait for a Middle Earth-lookin’ inn to open so they could grab the Travelocity Roaming Gnome that held their next clue.

By the time the inn cracked open its doors at 8:30 a.m., Dave and Rachel and Danny and Joey “Fitness” has already caught up to Team Border Patrol. But before addressing the next challenge choices, I’d like to make some important observations.

–Does Art always have a bandanna or cap on his head?

–Ralph has been divorced three times at age 36. That’s almost something to brag about.

–Danny said the tongue sticking out of his panda hat is “kind of flirty.” Only if you’re trying to pick up ladies at an arts ‘n’ crafts fair.

–Mark opined that “We need the money worse than any team out there.” That’s probably true, which makes me sad because there’s no way they’re gonna win this. Although I love them.

Speaking of Bopper and Mark, they had a speed bump thrown their way since they came in last on the non-elimination round. The challenge: Yodel a tune to the satisfaction of a professional yodeler. The producers couldn’t have picked a team better suited to this challenge.

The way these two pals tackled their penalty exemplified exactly why they’re worth rooting for. Most teams would have approached the speed bump with exasperation or a sense of grim determination, but they just threw themselves into the yodeling task like it was a reward.

“We didn’t have no choice but to have a ball,” Mark said, and indeed they looked like they enjoyed yodeling as much as the pros. The expert didn’t hold them to terribly strict standards, so before long they were on their way.

The first challenge was a choice between Fairy Tale or Champion Male. I’m kinda shocked it wasn’t called “Fairy Tale or Hairy Male” given that the male champs were Bavarian beard-growers. I imagine being a pro in that discipline puts you at a level of respect between “fireman” and “Nobel Prize winner” in certain parts of Bavaria.

In Fairy Tale, teams had to follow a gingerbread trail to a woman in a witch costume standing in the freezing cold. She would judge the gingerbread house roofs they constructed using the bits they collected on the trail. Champion Male was indoors (meaning it was the better choice) and it required the teams to sculpt a champion beard-grower’s whiskers into a ridiculous, ahem, I mean “award-winning,” pattern.

The leading teams all went the hairier route. Rachel of Team Army took control while Dave explained why they picked that particular snowy white-haired dude: “We chose this gentleman because he looks like a jovial gentleman, he looks like Santa Claus.” While its true that the Deutschlander in question did look affable, I’m guessing that had less to do with the Christmas spirit and more to do with the fact that all of these guys were drinking beer at nine in the morning while Americans toyed with their beards. Why wouldn’t they be jovial?

NEXT: Castle confusion and gnomes slip slidin’ away

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