The Amazing Race: Muscles in Brussels (spoiler alert)
For your reading pleasure, TAR fans, another recap from my correspondent Astrid Lange:
The first stop for teams on this leg of the race was at a statue of fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen in Copenhagen. The Road Block had one member of each team memorize a poem of Andersen's written on the statue, then travel by bicycle to a local theatre by using a map on the front wheel. Once at the theatre, teams had to dramatically perform the poem before a judge.
It was a fitting poem for the racers: "To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote: To travel is to live." And not a particularly difficult one to memorize. Ernie and Cindy were well ahead of the other teams and, despite some pesky tourists sitting on the statue and blocking the poem while Cindy was trying to read it, she completed this task easily.
What should have been an easy task for English teacher Cathi became more difficult when she got lost on the way to the theatre and then messed up the recitation. Her students would not be proud. She had to go all the way back to the statue and then return to the theatre to give it another try. Tommy also got lost on the way to the theatre but managed to remember the entire poem. However, he did not perform it with enough dramatic flair, so he too had to return to the statue. Cathi and Tommy's missteps allowed Amani to pass them both.
Sandy also got criticized for a lack of drama and was forced to repeat the task. Drama, in this case, seemed to be nothing more than a lot of arm-flailing and heart-clutching. By that standard, Cathi, Tommy and Sandy all performed satisfactorily on their second tries.
Teams next made their way to the original Legoland outside Copenhagen, where they had to put together a puzzle made from the famous Danish toy, which revealed their next location. But there was a catch: teams had to put this puzzle together while sitting in a spinning bucket ride. My worst nightmare.
It took Ernie and Cindy only two spins on the ride to complete the puzzle, which was a picture of the Hamburg train station. Amani and Marcus, who were on the verge of losing their lunches, needed a few rides to finally complete the puzzle. The snowboarders, who are used to a lot of spinning, completed it in two tries. And poor Jeremy and Sandy, who lost a piece and had to get a new puzzle, looked absolutely awful. I recognized that look on Sandy's face, who said this is the worst thing she could have done. Yes, a ride for children is the "worst" thing she could have done. But I understand Sandy, believe me, I understand.
And Ma and Pa? Well, they got lost on the way to Legoland, even though Cathi said she knew where it was. Though the puzzle task wasn't too difficult for them once they finally arrived.
From Legoland, teams drove across the border to the Hamburg train station in Germany, where they learned that their next stop was Brussels, Belgium. Any lead that Ernie and Cindy gained was quickly lost when they found out that the only train they could take was leaving hours later at 12:30 a.m. All teams were on that train, which took them to Brussels via Cologne, Germany.
Ernie and Cindy somehow managed to drop their train tickets from Cologne to Brussels on the floor of the train station and couldn't find them when they went looking for them. They didn't have enough money to purchase more tickets, so they decided to board the train anyway. Kudos to Ernie, who remained calm while Cindy, as per usual, panicked. Even after the conductor took their tickets on the ride to Cologne and said there was nothing she could do about their missing tickets, Ernie reassured Cindy that there was nothing to worry about. And as it turned out, there really was nothing to worry about because no one collected tickets on the second leg of the train journey!
Once in Brussels, teams took taxis to the European parliament where the clue told them they would be competing in a body-building competition! Brussels is the home of the "Muscles from Brussels" himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, so I suppose this task was fitting, if not totally bizarre. Teams decked themselves out in the skimpiest of bathing suits, applied spray tan and worked with a professional body builder to create a muscle-flexing routine for three judges. In order to complete the task, teams had to get a combined score of at least 12 points.
This was, without a doubt, the funniest task of this season so far. The shame of the racers in this ridiculous situation made for good television. While most were totally embarassed, Ernie seemed to revel in his bright orange Speedo ("What's up? I've got some tan on!"). But his enthusiasm didn't get them the scores they needed the first time around. Those judges were sticklers!
Amani and Marcus hammed it up for the crowd with their stellar poses, grins and overall showmanship and were the first team to receive 12 points. Ernie and Cindy finally got the points they needed on their second try. And Jeremy and Sandy did one better and got 13.
And for once, the snowboarders struggled with a task. Due to injury, Andy couldn't seem to get into some of the squatting positions that their instructor had given them. And let's face it, as with the poem recitation task, these guys have shown that outside of physical feats, they are just not great performers due to a lack of charisma. Bill and Cathi also struggled, but come on judges, this couple is in their 60s! Did you have to be so nit-picky?
After their flexing performances, Amani and Marcus and Ernie and Cindy raced to the Pit Stop at the gazebo at Parc Elisabeth. Amani and Marcus arrived first, won a trip to Panama and were told by Phil, as he handed them another clue, that they are still racing. Then, "to be continued ..."
Huh? We haven't seen Ernie and Cindy nor Jeremy and Sandy arrive, nor do we know what has happened to the hapless snowboarders (and Bill and Cathi) back at the body-building task. Will the snowboarders grin and bear it and finally complete their task? Will a team be eliminated on this leg? Will it happen at the beginning of the next episode? We will have to wait and see. Until next week, Race fans.