AMAZING RACE 14: Ep. 3 Recap

This week’s opening recap of last week’s show ends with a warning from Phil that last week’s number 1 team, sibling Harvard lawyers Victor and Tammy, will “begin to unravel in Romania.” Victor and Tammy, who look half if not full Japanese to me, are tightly wound over-achievers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. On the clips running with Phil’s warning we see a bit of the meltdown. The final clip shows 35 year old Victor looking almost beaten and little sister Tammy, 26, looking on like she is ready to squash his tightly wound, over-achieving Japanese male ego like an eggo under her sensible heel. Nice start.

We begin at last week’s pit stop, the Schloss Hellbrunn estate in Salzburg, Austria. Tammy and Victor head out at 10: 13 a.m. They have to catch a train to Munich, then fly to Bucharest. Romania. Once they land they will take a taxi to the gymnastics hall (I gather they’re as common as bowling alleys in Bettendorf) where Nadia Comăneci trained.

Tammy addresses the camera. Stockholm syndrome is starting to set in. She tells us that her brother “is super-smart. He’s able to think things and analyze and process things quicker than other people.” Her eyes are blank and soulless as she recites, and when she finishes she gives a little shrug of the shoulders and a nod, which could mean anything from, “so how can you not hate him?” to, “so in a way, I am very blessed.” Victor has them stop at a travel agency on the way to the train station and book a 5:10 p.m. Munich-Bucharest flight. Do they know when the next train leaves? If they don't, Victor has taken an unnecessary risk.

The second team to leave doesn’t get the go sign till an hour and 48 minutes later. Wow, did V&T ever slaughter the others last week. Anyhow – Mike and Mel head out at 12:01; Amanda and Kris go at 12:12; Margie and Luke at 12:30.

Cut to V&T already at a Munich Airport ticket counter. They check for stand-by openings on a Bucharest flight that was full when they reserved the 5:10 flight. And they are in luck. They will be on a flight leaving at 3:30.

Brad and Victoria depart at 12:53. Cut to the two of them addressing the camera. Brad tells us, rather inappropriately in my opinion, but, hey – he didn’t edit this thing - “I’m a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I’ve been sober for over 25 years.” (Yeah, sober from birth to the day after his 25th birthday. After having been sober for over 25 years Brad said, “Screw this,” and it’s been one big party ever since.)

Jamie and Cara, 1:17. Cut to everybody between them and V&T getting on the same train to Munich. Amanda and Kris get a nice local with a cell to call a travel agency. If they can make it from the train station to the airport in 30 minutes, they can get a flight out at 4:45. The friendly local tells them it can’t be done. They decide to book the ticket anyway.

Brad and Victoria are with a young family of friendly locals. The man and woman tell B&V that getting from the train station to the airport can’t be done and advise them to book a seat on the next plane out – 9:30 p.m.

Kisha and Jen depart at 1:51; Mark and Michael, 2:00; Christie and Jodi, 2:42. That’s everybody. Four hours and twenty-nine minutes separates the first team from the last.

V&T depart for Bucharest on the 3:25 flight. A&K and Mel&Mike are at the airport and have tickets for the 4:45 flight.

Possible disaster – technical problems with V&T’s plane force them to return to the airport.

Brad and Victoria don’t bother with the 4:45, assuming they won’t make it, and are convinced to take a 7:30 to Amsterdam, and then catch a flight to Bucharest that gets them in at midnight. Seems late to me, but they take it.

V&T are earthbound once more. They are going to try to make the 4:45. They are still in the shuttle bus when the flight lifts off. Victor ages on the spot.

The late arrivals get booked on the 9:30: Kisha and Jen, Mark and Michael, Christie and Jodi, and two Harvard lawyers who have just blown a four and a half hour lead.

B&V’s flight to Amsterdam is delayed. They miss the connecting flight to Bucharest. Worse, fog has settled in and there will be no more flights out until 9:15 the next morning. Bye-bye, Mr. B and Ms V.

The 1st flight with contestants aboard touches down in Bucharest. Mel&Mike, M&L, A&K scramble for cabs. They find the Sala Gimnastica, It looks like a cross between a dance studio and a high school gymnastics room, except the ceiling is twenty feet high and has really nice plaster moldings.

Roadblock: One team member must complete assigned moves on the balance beam, parallel bars and in floor exercises.

Amanda goes, then Margie. Amanda kicks it. And she and Kris leave for the next clue in first place.

Teams must travel by train to Brasov, Transylvania, then make their way to Curtea Johannes Honterus-Hof. That’s what the clue reads. Phil says it means they take a taxi to the Biserica Neagra, the Black Basilica.

Mike is the first male to do the roadblock. There’s a bottleneck at the train station. Next one to Brasov doesn’t leave until 6:30 a.m.

The second wave arrives. When V&T get to the general area Victor, on a hunch, dumps the taxi to search for the entrance to the Sala Gimnastica on foot. Bad move. They wander till they find someone to ask for directions. Once the get in the right sala, Tammy has trouble doing the gymnastics. Victor’s presence unnerves her and she takes forever to get the routines right. Mark&Michael, Jaime&Cara, Keisha&Jen, and Jodi&Christine are all ahead of V&T now, leaving the lawyers with only B&V, fog bound in Amsterdam, to save them from last.

Tammy finally finishes and they head out to the train station. Cut to a clip of Tammy addressing the camera. Wiping tears as she speaks, she tells us that she is frustrated with her brother for not listening to her ideas when decisions have to be made during the race. And, boy, can you see the tension – neither one has unclenched their jaws nor their anuses since their flight returned to the airport, several hours ago.

With V&T we have everybody at the train station, waiting for the 6: 30 to Brasvo. After approximately 18 hours of racing, Brad&Victoria are down for the count and everybody else is even.

6:30 a.m. The train to Brasvo heads out. We get a clip of Jaime & Cara communicating with Luke. Cara (I think) knows her ASL well. Cut to B&V in Amsterdam. They are not giving up.

The train arrives in Brasvo. Victor and Tammy get a taxi first. “We’re first,” Victor says, with a look of such relief you can’t help but be scared for him. There is a traffic jam exiting the airport. Victor is in first by as little a margin as it possible to have and still be in first, but all is right with the world. If this guy ever gets eliminated somebody should stick with him for a few days, keep him away from high windows, sharp objects and subway platforms, you know?

A&K and Jamie&Cara beat V&T to the clue at the Black Basilica. Detour - teams must choose between Gypsy Moves and Vampire Remains. Phil calls them “two things you might expect to find in Transylvania.” Somebody needs to let Phil know that vampires are imaginary creatures. Do all New Zealanders expect to find vampire remains in Transylvania?

In the Gypsy Move, teams must load a gypsy family’s belongings onto a horse-drawn cart, move them to their new camp and unload. In Vampire Remains teams must follow a marked trail through a woods, find a coffin and drag it to an area where wooden stakes have been driven into the ground. The coffin, wrapped in chains and padlocks, must be unlocked. Upon opening it we find not Vampire Remains but wooden frames that one smashes on the stakes until one finds the frame with a route marker inside.

Cut to B&V arriving in Bucharest.

Cut to J&C finding out that their taxi driver has fibbed about knowing where the Gypsy camp is. The women are not impressed. Cut to A&K and Mel&Mike arriving at the camp. It seems Gypsy’s drag around things like car bodies and dishwashers, in addition to funny cards, candles, hoop earrings and do-rags. In light of Mel’s pulled groin muscle, he and son Mike quickly regret their decision. Kris pitches in, as do several of the Gypsy men, and help Mel&M with the heavier articles.

Jaime&Cara are freaking out at their cab driver. One of them has the most incredibly annoying staccato voice when she complains. Plus she cracks her gum when she gets tense. This is not some one with whom I would enjoy having a lover’s quarrel.

Kisha&Jen and Mark&Michael start the Gypsy Move

Cut to V&T and Jodi&Christine arriving at the start of the trail in the Vampire Remains challenge. Victor heads out and starts following markers that consist of three vertical lines, two white and the center one red, painted on trees. Tammy questions the decision, pointing out that the route markers so far have been red arrows outlined in yellow. He brushes her off with as idiotic a rationale as I’ve heard: “This is a marked path.” J&C, meanwhile, find the correct marker and are on their way.

It quickly becomes obvious that Victor is not following an Amazing Race marked trail, but, despite Tammy pointing out the obvious, he continues wandering deeper into the bush. J&C meanwhile are on a marked path you could drive a truck down.

Amanda and Kris finish the Gypsy Move and are the first team to get the pit stop clue. They are a taxi ride to the Vila Panoramic, a small inn overlooking the valley dominated by the castle of Vlad the Impaler, the original model for the monster Dracula.

Mel&Mike head out in 2nd. Jaime&Cara have made it to the coffins, as have Margie&Luke. Tammy continues to follow Victor further from their goal and closer to Brad and Victoria. Cut to Victoria finishing the gymnastic challenge and heading out to catch the next train to Brasvo.

Kris and Amanda lose time looking for the fanny pack Kris laid down during the Gypsy Move. Somebody has swiped it. Why? I guess we’re supposed to think, as Kris does, because they’re gypsies. Kris spots the fanny pack on a wagon, surrounded by smirking men. He takes it and thanks them (for not beating him up?). Mel&Mike pass A&K to finish first – amazing for a team with a half-lame member.

Tammy and Victor wander down a tree line on a mountain slope. He is looking for a marker, she is begging him to head back. He finds a market – a red and white, two-headed arrow. Tammy shrilly pleads: “I promise you, they would not put up a marker pointing in both directions.” Still he insists they continue down the tree line. She submits tiredly, as if soothing an out-of-control two year old hell bent on getting its way.

Kisha and Jen finish the Gypsy Move and are the third team to head for the pit stop; Margie and Luke are fourth; Mark and Michael are fifth.

Victor and Tammy come across two of the striped markers side by side. He drops to a squat. He sniffles heavily. He is humiliated, broken. He finally agrees to go back. They eventually make it back to the starting point and find what Victor refers to as, “The stupid arrow.”

Mark&Michael finish fifth, Jodi&Christine right on their heels. Cut to Victor finding they have broken off one of the keys to the chains on the coffin they have dragged to the staging area. They doggedly search for the key and actually find it.

Jamie&Cara finish 7th. Brad and Victoria are still on the train to Brasov.

Tammy&Victor finish second to last. Victor weeps in relief. Phil asks him what he has to say for himself and he replies that he’s just glad they are still in it and that the leg is over. In private he tells the camera that they need to learn how to disagree without becoming, “unintentionally hurtful.” In private she tells us she has discovered she, “needs to hurt his feelings a little bit,” to get him to listen to her. What a recipe for disaster.

Hours later Brad and Victoria are eliminated from the race. They go out with class. Good on them for not quitting.

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