And we're off! Sunday's episode, "Speed Dating Is the Worst," takes us from the sparkling green river of Schönbrunn Palace to "the motherland" -- if you're an Afghanimal, that is. The six remaining teams travel from Vienna, Austria to Abu Dhabi -- or Dubai, if you're Ally and Ashley. I'm pretty sure the Ice Princesses still think they're in Dubai. Hey, as long as they're in the general vicinity of the Sex and the City movie sequel, it's probably good enough.
Getting there is easy. Good for them; boring for us. Leo and Jamal book a flight that gets in 10 minutes earlier than the one containing the rest of the herd. A kindly Austrian eye-roller becomes the 15th ticketing agent to break protocol and kiss an Afghanimal. But the real highlight of the tedious waiting-in-line scenes is Nicky and Kim intentionally stressing out PinkyMarie with their endless stretching and dietary requests at the ticket counter. "You guys are SO ANNOYING," Pinky bitches. There's amusement there, too, though, on each side.
See, the "Bunnies" are pleasant and crafty. I'm thrilled this was a non-elimination leg so they can stick around. I liked seeing them refuse to give away the location of the "hidden dates" during the Detour. They weren't nasty about it; they simply told Leo and Jamal they had to keep focusing on their own work. Nice move.
The most awe-inspiring part of this somewhat boring episode is the terrific camera work early on -- we get multiple sweeping views of the pristine and decadent Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It's gorgeous and still in the unbearable sunlight, as if floating in a white mist. All the teams marvel in its beauty. "It's one of the craziest things I've seen," says Tim, and you know he's seen some weird sh*t in his days, like Pinky throwing kids over a playground fence Miss Trunchbull-style after they won't let her borrow their sandbox toys, or maybe something kinkier than that. Who knows? (Leo and Jamal wish they did. Add them to the heap of men turned on by Pinky's "brutal manhandling" approach to civilization.)
Leo and Jamal arrive first to the mosque and say a quick prayer -- in Farsi, obviously -- that they can finish the leg first. Did they ululate as part of the prayer? We're dying to know. That much cultural infusion really could have kicked the episode up a notch. Anyway, it's onto the Irani Souk, where teams encounter….
NEXT: To settle or not settle for 'disgusting-looking' dates?