It's the ninth leg of "The Amazing Race" and the final five are racing from Moscow to Amsterdam -- or Paris, if you've misread the colors on the flag clue, which most of the teams do at first. The Chippendales are racing in the hopes of winning that million to help blond James' dad, a cancer patient, pay his bills. The Sri Lankan twins are racing for "brownie power." And the divorcees are hoping to collect the two million dollar prize that goes to the last team standing, who also won the first leg, i.e., them, they hope.
But everything rests on those Moscow-Amsterdam flights and every team is taking a different one. Abbie and Ryan are nervous about their Frankfurt connection, because that's the airport that sunk them last time and ... sure enough, "we got franked," Abbie moans, when they miss their connecting flight and the next one has mechanical difficulties.
In Amsterdam, the twins are the first on, talking in unison and saying, "This is awesome balls." Not a phrase we've heard much, but OK. They opt to do the fast forward, which involves a sprint for the Van Gogh cafe and a ride on the Flying Dutchman bus, an amphibious bus that plows straight into the canal -- as the twins holler, in their signature nasal whine, "Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my gawwwwwd."
They must each eat five herring in the seven minutes before the bus/boat returns to shore, a task they complete with maximum gagging and whining. Then, it's straight to the pit stop
The rest of the teams must take a boat to find the Poffertjesboot, where they're making little puffy, powdered sugar things -- similar to ebelskevers -- that look delicious. They get the snacks and a clue that gives them a choice: Back in Time or Organ Grind. The Chippendales head off to a very cool hand-cranked organ wagon on a street corner, where they must make music and collect 30 euros in tips.
"We must take all necessary steps," they tell each other, stripping out of their shirts and donning their signature Chippendale cuffs and bow ties. They are, understandably, very popular. Blond James explains, "I'd been getting two cents, five cents and a little grandma with her little grandkids, she gives us 10 euros. We're done!"
They head off on foot to the Museum Geelvinck to search the gardens for the next stop, a double U-turn that causes considerable angst. The agreement the Chippies had reached with the Texans and twins was that the first team to arrive at the U-turn would turn the biggest threats, the dating divorcees, and the second team to arrive would turn the first, thereby throwing the advantage away but depriving the divorcees of any chance to turn anyone else. Only thing was, the distressed Chippendales say, they'd agreed because they'd expected the twins to arrive first. Now it's them.
"We're going to lose two friends!" they tell each other. "I feel terrible. They're going to hate us!"
The Texans finish off the organ grinder task and U-turn the Chippendales, as agreed. Meanwhile the last two teams, the Beekmans and divorcees arrive at Amsterdam airport at the same time. Hugs! They head off to the Back in Time task, where they must recreate Rembrandt's famous Night Watch painting as a tableau vivant, with living models and real props. "All red with a gun! All red with a gun!" Ryan says, grabbing a costumed model by the hand. "Turquoise girl!" Abbie calls. Rembrandt gives everyone a thumbs up.
At the double U-turn station, the divorcees discover their misfortune and they're devastated by who turned them. "If it was Trey and Lexie or the sisters, OK," Abbie says. "But the Chippendales?"
The Beekmans are nearly as distraught. Josh actually considers throwing the lead that's landed so neatly in their lap, but the pair eventually heads off to the next task, leaving the divorcees to go grind that organ in the rain. Abbie dances in the street with a particularly sweet passer-by, who tells her, "I'm gonna make it so you're done," and hands over the remaining euros. Hugs all around. Abbie cries in the woman's arms. More hugs. It's very, very sweet.
Ohhh, remember a few season ago when they had to do the hilarious ditch-vaulting challenge? Everybody got extremely wet and muddy, and fell down a lot. A. Lot. Either this ditch is a lot narrower or the teams have been practicing their ditch vaulting on the side, because it's a piece of cake for the Chippendales, Texan Trey does it first try, and even Josh, who trips in the grass on the way to the ditch, gets over the little canal without much trouble. Poor Ryan, though, goes sploosh. Twice.
The pit stop
OK, we've got the twins in first, the Chippendales second and the Texans third. The distraught Beekmans snag fourth place, looking so despondent that Phil asks, in all seriousness, if they'd like to cede their spot to the divorcees. Well, no, they don't.
Abbie and Ryan are the last to arrive and they're headed home, but only after a bitter Ryan says the experience was not just a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but a once-in-a hundred-lifetimes. "I don't feel like we accomplished what we set out to accomplish," he tells Phil. "It feels wrong."
Oh puh-leeze. It wasn't a total loss. Your team coined an excellent new phrase -- "we got franked" -- to describe air travel woes.
Next time: The final four head to Majorca for challenges involving lethal flying tennis balls and toreadors.