The Amazing Race Ep. 21.10, “Not a Well-Rounded Athlete”: The stick-shift blues strike again!

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The Amazing Race Review, Season 21, Episode 10, “Not a Well-Rounded Athlete”
Airs Sundays at 8pm (ET) on CBS

One of the most exciting episodes of The Amazing Race typically happens right before the finale where four teams battle to make the last leg. That appears to be the likely scenario this week, but it’s really just setting the stage for the two-hour conclusion. There’s little at stake beyond placement, and a bunching flight brings everyone close together. Even so, there’s plenty of fun within the challenges to keep it enjoyable. The teams fly to Barcelona and take an overnight ferry to the island of Mallorca, the home of Rafael Nadal. It’s interesting to note the significant gap at the start, which puts each pair on a different flight. Josh and Brent begin about seven hours after Natalie and Nadiya yet finally catch up due to the ferry’s late starting time. The reunion is exciting for everyone because of Abbie and Ryan’s exit and the goat farmers realizing they have a shot. A rare bonus with the long break is the chance for the top three teams to have fun in Barcelona. Teams are now sequestered at Pit Stops, so they don’t get the chance to “eat, sleep, and mingle with the other teams” like in the early days. Watching them horse around at the beach is refreshing and recalls a different era of the race.

While they seem like the worst team, Josh and Brent could sneak into the finals. This week is a non-elimination, but it gives a perfect example of how a top team can falter. The twins have rocked most challenges, yet they struggle with the stick shift. This is Amazing Race 101 and could have hurt them much earlier in a different season. They start out strong in Mallorca but never recover because Nadiya can’t master the driving. This is not good. The Speed Bump shouldn’t hurt them since it’s usually easy, but it raises the possibility Josh and Brent could pass them. The first task is gathering a clue from some enthusiastic locals dressed as devils and demons. This is one of the most entertaining sequences of the entire season. The costumed characters breathe fire, climb on railings, and just have a blast freaking out the racers. Everyone has a great time and builds the leg’s positive atmosphere. The Roadblock involves hitting 20 tennis balls “in bounds” (not a technical term) while a ball machine shoots them quickly. It seems easy but is trickier because of the rapid pace. Trey has few issues completing it quickly, and James finds his groove to grab second place.

The trailing teams aren’t so agile on the tennis courts, however. Josh’s injury makes him a terrible choice for this Roadblock, and he ends up slumped in a corner. Nadiya is obviously not a tennis player and even wonders which hand to use. That’s not a good sign. Both players eventually find their groove and finish, so no penalties for the goat farmers this time. The twins are nearly even heading out, but they’re victimized by the stick-shift blues. The next task involves searching an impressive cave for music, which leads to two guitarists just hanging out inside. Their clue leads to the Detour choice of “Spin It” or “Bull It”, and the first option seems wiser. Teams must repair a 400-year-old windmill by re-attaching two large blades. While it seems formidable, the learning curve is pretty brief. Jaymes and James pick this one and have little trouble completing it. They actually decide to join Trey and Lexi for the other side, but poor navigation accidentally leads them to the windmills. Luck plays a huge part in the race, so the Chippendales should feel pretty good about their future. They’re also getting a very positive edit, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win.

“Bull It” is a silly task that has racers playing the bull weaving through a course of matadors. There’s definitely a Top Secret vibe to the two-person costumes. Trey gets too excited about the finish and crashes them into the last target. Lexi comes out of the ordeal with an injured finger, and they fail the challenge. They switch places for the second try and lets her navigate, which is wise and helps them finish. It’s a two-team race for first place in serious traffic, and the Texas couple reaches the 14th-century Castell de Bellver to grab the win. Jaymes and James arrive in second, and both teams are looking strong heading into the penultimate leg.

The twins and goat farmers both pick the windmill Detour, and they arrive within a few minutes of each other. It comes down to which pair is better at following instructions and working together to complete the challenge. Amazingly, the correct answer to that question is Josh and Brent, who easily best Natalie and Nadiya and head towards to the Pit Stop. The editors don’t even bother creating false tension, and the newly confident guys claim they can win it all. It’s a relief to see them actually trying, but they might not be the best choice in an Amazing Race pool. There’s always a chance they can avoid last, but crossing the Finish Line first is another matter. Josh and Brent are still the most likely team to not appear in the second hour of next week’s finale. Regardless, there’s no clear favorite going into the exciting conclusion of this drama-free season.

Dan Heaton

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