In Leg 3, the nine remaining teams travel from Guangzhou, China to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on two flights three hours apart. Even though they're the first to depart, "The Brenchels" (I somehow prefer this nickname to simply "Brenchel," though neither is ideal) fall behind in terrible traffic as their driver takes a weird route to the airport. "I think your brain's working a little too hard right now," says Brendon in his condescending coo as Rachel freaks out. Whatever, Brendon. But also: Whatever, Rachel for those green sequined shorts and headgear. They finally arrive and no one can believe the reality superstars have to board the sad-sack second-string flight along with Jessica and John and Meghan and Joey.
"This is a prediction for final three!" announces Meghan delightedly. Does she mean the last three teams to make it onto the mat at the end of the leg? Because if she does, then she is RIGHT!
Upbeat 'til the end, YouTube sensations Joey Graceffa and Meghan Camarena have been eliminated.
Excerpt from The Afghanimals: A Guide to Life (in stores never): "If you don't speak Chinese, just make random noises." -Jamal
The six teams on Flight 1 touch down in Malaysian Borneo and blend seamlessly into the oldest rainforest in the world. "This is a beautiful place. Lush! The jungle," Dave approves in his endearing personal brand of spoken-word poetry.
Road Block: Who will fall for this one? A team member must "join the Travelocity Roaming Gnome" (he's baaaaaaack!) on a 10-story rappelling journey down a rough-and-tumble cascade. We get a lot of "face the falls" cams, literally, as the rappellers/gnomes are outfitted with personal cameras to map their splashiest and most horrified facial expressions. The gnomes look the least scared of anyone; gotta give them some credit there. Overall this episode was TEEMING WITH GNOMES.
River Delivery or Run Through the Jungle? All teams must build a bamboo raft, then brave treacherous rapids on their way to either deliver goods to a village chief or join a hunting safari and shoot down two fake targets (that made real imitation bird sounds) with blow pipes. Right away Dave makes me tear up as he and son Connor lovingly strap a life vest onto their gnome. "To have that beautiful river… to be healthy… with my son…." Oh, man, if only Dave's ruminations on their tragic first season on the Race didn't give my Achilles tendons such an ominous tingle, I could listen to that sweet man reminisce for hours. Lush! His jungle of words.
Jet and Cord are mechanical wizards and put together their raft with their eyes closed and hands tied behind their backs. Practically. They proudly announce they're ready to deliver food to "any chief." Not just the specified chief. You throw any chief at them and they will be ready!
In a precarious sport that depends largely on SHOUTING for survival, it's nearly impossible for patient zen-goddess Margie and her agitated deaf son Luke to communicate on their shoddily constructed raft. Shouldn't Luke be sitting in the back anyway? He's heavier. Truthfully I know nothing about rafts. I was thinking about canoes. And I wasn't factoring in the Travelocity Gnome placement. Maybe it isn't even up to the players where they sit on these things and it's really the GNOMES who are calling all the shots.
Speaking of which: So many gnome shots.
Interesting development: The Afghanimals won't lie now. They want to, trust them! But season 23 -- the basic/only plot point of which was "Leo and Jamal are dirty rotten liars" -- taught them well, and the last thing they need this time around is to get Double U-Turned. So they're not making enemies. Not yet. They direct Jet and Cord to the delivery drop-off point.
Meanwhile, Dave and Connor somehow miss the delivery drop-off and have to walk their 70-pound chest of supplies upriver. I love how Dave gently corrects his son's word choice as they do this. "Holy crap, Dad, we're toast." "Well, holy cow."
The setback didn't seem to cost them any time; Dave and Connor still made it to the pit stop first. Same goes for Jet and Cord's setback during the rappelling challenge, when Cord didn't find the clue on the way down. No penalty! Let's get some penalties in the mix within the challenges, right? I mean, Meghan and Joey lost this leg because of one of their own mistakes -- not telling their taxi to stay with them. And that was basically the only real blunder of the episode.
Finally the other flight has arrived. Ehhh. Let's not worry about them. Back to the rapids!
NEXT: ROLL that beautiful gnome footage!