THE AMAZING RACE 18 “Don’t Ruin the Basketball Game (Kunming, China)” Recap

THE AMAZING RACE 18 (CBS) "Don't Ruin the Basketball Game"

THE AMAZING RACE 18 “Don’t Ruin the Basketball Game” (Kunming, China) – Teams face their second double leg of the race as they remain in China to travel from Leijing City to Kunming to play with dolls and build water heating systems and dinosaurs in the “Don’t Ruin the Basketball Game” episode of THE AMAZING RACE 18.

Kent/Vixsyn:

We begin this episode where we ended the last one: with a panicked and passportless Kent/ Vixsyn. That situation is resolved quickly when the duo heads back up the mountain and finds their fanny pack at the counter outside the gondola. They make their Zodiac wish and pound their candy without incident and head to the Eternal Tower where they are told they are still in the race but that they have incurred a 30-minute penalty for taking the wrong flight to China that will be enforced at the end of the leg. Oh, and during Kent/Vixsyn’s adventures, Zev/Justin make it to the pseudo-pit stop to become team number eight.

Train Station:

Leaving the pit stop, teams learn they must take the train back to Kunming and then head to the Flower Market. Margie and Luke get to the train station first at 12:01pm only to find out that the earliest train is 7pm, so hello, bunching. Even Kent/Vixsyn make it in time. Because the double leg has bunching extreme enough to wipe out the effects of the worst leg ever run by a team and the teams all get to sleep during an overnight train ride, this really is the equivalent of a Non-Elimination Leg.

I love the pick-up basketball game. “Who would have ever thought we, cowboys, would have been playing basketball with the Globetrotters in China?” I’m a big fan of watching the teams mingle and chat and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company here.

Flower Market:

Kisha/Jen are the first team to find their clue, followed by a mass rush of other teams. From here, racers must go to the Golden Horse and Jade Rooster Memorial Arches. Because not everyone’s cab waits, Jet/Cord take Flight Time/Big Easy’s. It takes the Globetrotters a while to find a new cab, and they are less than happy.

Detour:

So many teams get lost trying to find this. Gary/Mallory have the worst time of it. At the Golden Arches (not to be confused with McDonalds, by the way), it’s Detour time. Teams must decide between Honor the Past and Embrace the Future. In Honor the Past, teams must watch a traditional Tibetan performance while testing their powers of perception and memory. Without taking notes, they must place fifteen dolls representing the characters from the show in the same order they appeared on the stage. In Embrace the Future, teams must unload a solar water heating system from a truck, carry it to the roof of the building and install it. When they’ve done it properly, they get their clue. Yay, no needle in the haystack tasks!

Honor the Past:

Ron/Christina, Zev/Justin, Jen/Kisha, and a very late Gary/Mallory all initially do this task and Jaime/Cara and Flight Time/Big Easy must complete it after being U-Turned. The costumes are gorgeous and it’s not that hard a task if you split up memorizing the dolls. It actually seems fun. Flight Time/Big Easy probably had the best approach, associating the hats with mops, etc.

Zev/Justin finish first (first overall), then Jen/Kisha (second overall), Ron/Christina (third overall), Jaime/Cara (seventh overall) Gary/Mallory (eighth overall), and Flight Time/Big Easy (ninth overall)

Embrace the Future:

Margie doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about racing this time around, and who can blame her? Two double legs so far and now she’s hauling heavy boxes up to a roof. She’s such a strong racer, though, and plows right through. Other than Kent/Vixsyn having one little glitch, everyone seems to fly through the actual heating system set-up.

Margie/Luke finish this first (fourth overall), then Jaime/Cara (U-Turned), Jet/Cord (fifth overall), Kent/Vixsyn (sixth overall), and Flight Time/Big Easy (U-Turned).

Yunman Province Cultural Center:

After the Detour, teams must figure out that the picture they’re given is the Yunman Province Cultural Center where they will find both the Double U-Turn and their next clue. Ron/Christina’s driver initially takes them to the Kunming Cultural Center instead, much to their chagrin and that of all the teams following them.

Double U-Turn:

Margie/Luke get to the U-Turn first and decide not to use it. The Cowboys also decline to U-Turn. Kent/Vixsyn get there two steps ahead of Jaime/Cara, so Kent U-turns them. “Putting a bullet in a Playboy bunny is what was going to save us.” Plus, they’re the only team he absolutely knows is behind them. Hee. Jaime/Cara U-turn the Globetrotters. For some reason, I thought U-Turned teams had to finish the second task before they could U-Turn someone. Am I the only one who thought that? The Globetrotters are once again less than happy.

The clue tells everyone to go to Stone Forest outside of Kunming.

Because cab drivers have issues finding Stone Forest and Jaime/Cara’s driver stops for gas (ah-memories of their first race when Jaime always hated the drivers), the racing order changes itself up. Jen/Kisha are the first ones there. Ron/Christina are next, then Margie/Luke, Kent/Vixsyn, Jet/Cord, Flight Time/Big Easy, Jaime/Cara, Zev/Justin, and finally Gary/Mallory. Gary/Mallory opt to use their Express Pass and head out to the Pit Stop.

Roadblock:

Who’s ready for a task 65 million years in the making? Each racer must put together a 20-foot replica of a dilophosaurus using a shared diagram. Kisha, Christina, Margie, Kent, Jet, Big Easy, Jaime, and Justin perform the task. As with many things, it’s all in the hips, something Kisha learns quickly when her first dino is rejected for being unsafe. Many more attempts by the racers will be rejected. The trick definitely seems to be checking the diagram often and being very careful with the joints. Jaime has the hardest time by far, and when Flight Time/Big Easy leave while she’s still toiling, there is a fair amount of gloating. This is my favorite task of the race so far. It’s both mentally and physically taxing and, hey, a dinosaur!

Order out: Gary and Mallory, followed by Jet/Cord, Margie/Luke, Jen/Kisha, Kent/Vixsyn, Flight Time/Big Easy, Ron/Christina, Zev/Justin, and Jaime/Cara.

From Stone forest, teams must head to Green lake Park and their next Pit Stop.

Pit Stop:

Because Gary/Mallory get lost on the way to Green Lake Park, Jet/Cord overtake them to win the leg and $5,000 each. Gary and Mallory are second, Margie/Luke third, Kent/Vixsyn arrive fourth but must sit out their penalty so Kisha/Jen take fourth with Kent/Vixsyn in fifth, Flight Time/Big Easy sixth, Ron/Christina seventh, and Zev/Justin eighth. Jaime/Cara are eliminated.

Notes:

I’m amazed that Kent/Vixsyn were able to take fifth this leg, but this is the second time a team has been WAY behind at the midpoint of a double leg and been able to stay in the race. Not coincidentally, both have involved U-Turns. Speaking of which, I think Kent was smart in choosing to U-Turn Jaime/Cara, especially given their history of U-Turning someone in front of them. Plus, isn’t it better to U-Turn someone to their faces?

I’m not sure how I feel about Jet/Cord taking the Globetrotters’ cab. I guess it comes down to it’s a race and you do what you have to do. So many cab issues this leg with teams getting lost. Plus, Jaime/Cara have cab issues once again on a leg they’re eliminated. I’m not sorry they’re eliminated, but I like that Jaime finished the Roadblock even though she knew they were done.

Ron was remarkably focused this leg and he stayed calm while Christina did the Roadblock, so I wasn’t annoyed once. All in all, this is my favorite leg of The Amazing Race 18 so far. The tasks were better, the U-Turn was downright fun, and there was both basketball and dinosaur skeletons. Works for me.

What did you think of this leg? Which teams do you think are in the strongest position at this point in the race? Which teams are the most disappointing so far? Let me know in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter @michstjame