Often on the Race, teams seem to forget that it's a competition, and that being with your friend or family isn't really the point. You can spend time with them at home!
So it was good to see one team go all in this week.
We started in Lapland, the land of the midnight sun. The now competent doctors are the first to leave for Narvik, Norway where they are to head for a gondola station, ride a gondola to a mountain top, and get to the clue box.
We get a few moments of deep reflection: The home shopping blonde tells us that she's the most dedicated, passionate person we've ever met and that if you put her and her partner together, we'd witness perfection. The father in the father & son team lets us know that because his son will leave home soon, this trip will be the last time they pee together. The dating couple with the college grad and the cosmetologist talk about his impressive Notre Dame education again; apparently, he never expected to be with someone like her, you know, a member of the unwashed masses, and she seems to agree that he's slumming. But she's game to prove herself. He shows his superiority again by saying he's been in lots of gondolas, unlike Ms. High School diploma.
On the way to the gondola, the volleyball players are desperate to move up from last place, so desperate they're hoping that the blonde doctor, who has revealed that she's afraid of heights, has a panic attack in the gondola.
Their wish comes true; blonde doctor panics, even sheds a tear. But she makes it just fine. First to the clue box, the doctors get the fast forward, which, if completed, will allow them to skip all the other tasks and go straight to the pit stop.
It turns out they have to go to a restaurant for a Norwegian Christmas tradition. The tradition is eating a roasted sheep's head. Eyes included. Each teammate must eat half. And then we learn that the brunette doctor has been a vegetarian for the last 22 years.
As soon as they see the little glass of water the doctors know it's an eating challenge. When the heads come out, the vegetarian doc looks at the food and starts cutting. She's not worrying about her principles, her 22-year comittment. She knows why she's there. 'It tastes like money," she says, and starts choking down the gelatinous sheep skin.
Meanwhile, the other teams have a roadblock. They must step off the deck of a bridge and rappel down to the water where a boat will bring them the next clue. They must ascend back to the bridge and then may open the clue.
Father of father & son is happy to be underestimated by his son this time, admitting he has no strength, no stamina, and no guts, the qualities required for the task, according to the clue.
Home shopping blonde passes the task over to her lesser brunette pal. The brunette does not seem pleased.
At the sheep's head table, the doctors are using mind control to get past the pain, pretending that the crunch of the eye is romaine lettuce, the chewiness from calamari, an eye socket is cucumbers, and oh, yes that scent is a cool million. That's what I'm talking about! They also try to pull in the inspecting Viking. The manly man offers no support.
No matter. They finish the meat, get the clue and head to the pit stop. I think they also make an agreement to purge later. They win a trip to Costa Rica.
Despite being in sixth place, the tattoo couple decide to go for the fast forward, probably because it's beyond them to calculate that five other couples have had the opportunity to attempt it, and the odds are that someone most likely has.
On the rappel line, the home shopping brunette is struggling because ascending is a lot harder than descending on the rope, mostly because it requires actual effort, like a whole lot of upper body strength. Home girl does not have it. Indeed, college-educated guy passes her, while she hangs on the rope crying in pain. She didn't even cry when she got hit in the face with the watermelon.
Tattoo couple arrives at the site of the fast forward and sees a sign that says "Fast Forward Taken." They have no idea what that means. Even later, when they are talking it for the camera, they still don't know what it means. They consider waiting out their stupor but that they are so confused, they just leave.
Brunette home shopping host is still crying on the rope and she's getting annoyed by blonde home shopping host's words of encouragement. So blondie tries a new strategy: telling brunette to pray to her grandmother. Seems her grandmother passed away four days before the Race started, and she was a spicy gal. So you know granny would want her to finish ascending!
Tattoo girl, on the other hand, is excited to do the rappel. She points out that she's the one in the relationship with the guts and she's been waiting for something like this. And she has upper body strength. She does it easily.
Next up is a detour. Bike involves riding a mountain bike on a tough course, and memorizing a combination for a bike lock that you need to open to get the next clue. Boat involves getting in a fishing trawler, guiding the captain to a spot on the shore, where they must pick up two cod fish and a chain saw and deliver them up a mountain to some man.
Father & son go for the boat because dad might keel over from any exertion. The home shopping hosts choose it too, giving them another opportunity to kiss someone. Their kiss count raises to 7.
Tattoo couple do bike; tattoo guy is confident because he's been riding BMX bikes forever. Naturally, when it comes down to it, tattoo girl outdoes him; she's way ahead on the path while he ends up holding his legs trying to keep it together. (Later, he says "I think we're in second, dude!" at the pit stop. They are sixth.)
At the pit stop, home shopping host blonde hits her face with the car trunk and gets a gash above her eye. She arrives at the mat bleeding, and Phil seems turned out by the fact that she's not whining or crying. Honestly, I've never seen Phil so excited. Phil, stay away from her. She wants your job!
The volleyballers, who had compared their situation to being down a game in volleyball ("We can't make any mistakes. We just have to win another game."), come in last, pleas to God not withstanding. There are tears. "I wanted to Race forever," one says. Instead, it's nothing but net.