Oh me, oh my, how I do love an animal task on The Amazing Race. I’m sorry, make that two animal tasks, both of the particularly stubborn barnyard variety, and with the only alternative being MAKE VIKING FIRE, it’s a great set of detours tonight. I see what you’re doing here in Season 25, Phil, and I like it. It was about time for some burlier dealings with the likes of sheep and peat (and ponies) after last week’s emotional waterworks, and it’s always appreciated when TAR ups the ante for legs of the race in English-speaking countries… even if plenty of this season’s teams are finding directions in their native tongue to still be a little misleading.
Other than the opposite-side-of-the-road thing and hopping a few curbs, navigating Scotland in a Ford Focus seems straight-up delightful. Did you see those rolling green hills? I have to agree with Michael the Firefighter: “Jeez, the world is small. Go out and see it.”
But the Firefighters’ positive attitudes might be the only thing to admire about their specific approach to The Amazing Race, which over the last three weeks has proved to be a lot more about falling down, dropping pancakes and yelling inspirational statements about “havin’ yah backs against the wahl,” than anything else. Adding an ankle that looks like a Magic 8 Ball and some faulty directions to that mix were just one too many figurative walls for the firefighters with the hearts of gold, fingers of butter, and feet of lead, to overcome
Michael and Scott’s troubles began from the very start of the third leg of the rrrrace around the world: The teams had to take a train from Oxford, England to Aberdeen, Scotland where they’ll find a strategically placed fleet of Ford Focuses (and what an intimidating fleet that is) which they must take on a ferry to the Shetland Islands, where a puffin will be waiting with their next clue. So, excuse my remark from the top of the recap, there are three significant animals in this leg of the race, each more ridiculous than the next.
The teams head out to the train station in order of their arrival at last leg’s Pit Stop, beginning with Adam and Bethany at midnight; unfortunately for them, the first train out isn’t until 6 a.m. Amazing Race doesn’t employ psychological defeat in the same way its brother-in-network Survivor does, but I always get secondhand annoyance when the teams not only aren’t rewarded for their earlier finishes in the last leg, but also have to wait six hours in a train station when they could be sleeping in an uncomfortable bed somewhere. Alas, I’m a complainer, and these people have the hearts of lions and the boundless energy of sheep, and don’t give a what about a little train station chillin’ on the journey of their lives.
Kym and Alli the Cyclists even decide to take the extra time to explore Oxford nightlife a little bit and dance outside a pub while calling the other teams L-7-Squares. After an eight-hour ride through the beautiful countryside, the teams grab their cars in Aberdeen and board the ferry toward the Shetland Islands, or as Whitney of Nashville likes to call it… well, I’m sure you can guess how her accent tackles, “Shetland.” Scott provides some entertainment on the ferry by modeling his swollen ankle which looks like it has been whipped, burned, and dragged through a car wash that subbed out soap for ink. It’s bad. And considering how painful it looks, he really does not let it slow him down throughout the leg.
The aforementioned puffin awaits the teams in Shetland (It’s, like… majestic.” – Tim and/or Te Jay) and sends them toward Scalloway Castle for their first detour: Pony Up or Light My Fire.
This was a tough choice. Pony Up, where the teams must carve 50 blocks of peat from the land and cart it up a big ‘ol hill using Shetland ponies offers the likelihood of uncooperative animals and physical exertion, whereas the Light My Fire required passing through three stages of correctly building a Viking torch. I was keener on the quaintness of leading a pony through the hills of Scotland to a tiny house as opposed to testing the detail-oriented nature of Vikings, and this may be the one time quaintness is an indicator of picking the right challenge.
NEXT: The importance of naming your pony…