Amazing Race teams drink beer, bungee jump, and get surprised in “Hamburger,” Germany

After a dismally boring episode last week, The Amazing Race picked up last night as it moved to Europe. It was one of those episodes that takes place entirely at night, and from that darkness came both a race element I’m not fond of, and a conclusion that seemed more surprising to me than to the team that experienced it.

Although I dislike the Intersection in principle–The Amazing Race has always pulled its best drama from its teams of people with pre-existing relationships–last night it gave us Caite “U.S. Americans” Upton and Jordan “25 quarters in an hour” Lloyd navigating the subway system in Hamburg. There was far too little of this, perhaps because they eventually asked someone for directions. But I see a Travel Channel show in their future: Riding the Rails with Jordan and Caite.

Teams started in Argentina and while it seemed like the flights would be a major equalizer, since the first team to depart had to wait 11 hours for their flight, they ended up on three separate flights. Though the show has overrelied on airport intrigue in the past, it seemed like some explanation would have been okay. Once they got to Germany, they were no longer in one big pack, but they were still funny and stupid:

  • The episode opened with a lesson from Cord: “There’s cities all over the world, Jet,” he said. Somewhere, Caite said, “Like, such as, the Iraq?”
  • Brandy is becoming this season’s meltdown champion, freaking out at every possible moment. After missing the train to Hamburg, she cried, “I’m over it!” Upon receiving another clue envelope, I expected her to shriek, “Another clue! I can’t handle ripping another one of these open again!”
  • Phil explained that, “for the first time ever,” teams would have to work together in the Intersection. Since that’s been used before, I think he meant that the difference here was that one member of each team had to go off together, leaving the other two to remain behind. That’s a moderately interesting twist, though it didn’t provide much drama at all.
  • Dan said he worked well with Brandy, “but I actually like Carol. She’s like the lesbian aunt I never had.” As a bonus, she probably wouldn’t have screamed in his ear and clawed at his neck during the bungee jump.
  • Jordan explained, “I’ve never done anything like that”–and “that” was navigating a subway system. Thus, Caite and Jordan boarded the wrong train, and Caite explained, “the maps weren’t too specific.” Considering that the subway map looked like every other subway map in the world, I think she must have been looking for specificity in the form of an icon that said “Jordan and Caite, go here.”
  • At the Intersection bungee jump, Jet insisted to the attendants that his cowboy hat was okay: “it’ll stay on.” After they jumped, while they were still bouncing, the first thing Mike said was, “Oh my god, your hat’s still on,” and Jet said, “I just proved to the world that you can bungee jump with your hat on.” Physicists everywhere raced to their laboratories.
  • When Brandy saw the bungee jump, she complained, “it’s upside down.” Yes, too bad it wasn’t one of those bungee jumps where you jump and fall straight up.
  • The Detour was a choice between eating a plate of sauerkraut rapidly, or kicking soccer balls through five targets suspended in a goal. Mike and Louie picked the sauerkraut, and Mike said, “I’ve eaten things as big as Jet and Cord.” Sometimes, they make it too easy.
  • At the soccer Detour, Joe complained, “I can’t get it up in the air; my knee is killing me.” What does his knee have to do with not getting it up? Zing!
  • When the lesbians shrieked “taxi,” I’m pretty sure I involuntarily peed my pants a little.
  • Jeff and Jordan got a bad cab driver who drove them far away from where they needed to be. Jordan said they should have done the other Detour task, and Jeff said, “What do you mean? This guy would have typed in his GPS and we would have ended up in Switzerland.” Funny, and true, but their journey wasn’t exactly helped by their stupidity. “Is this the hamburger place?” Jeff asked, and the driver said, “Yeah, this is Hamburg.” Jeff said, “Either we’re eating burgers or someone is eating us on this dark road,” and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.
  • Teams had to share a massive boot-shaped mug of beer, which most teams just let one person drink after the other took a sip. “This is my dad’s favorite, best challenge in the world,” Allie said, indirectly explaining why we haven’t heard her talk much this season at all.
  • Dan said that before the race he thought, “I hope there’s, like, a soccer challenge.” At the Detour, Dan’s bro proved to be less than capable at the task, and Dan said, “Jord, let’s stop wasting balls and time.” Translation: You might be the gay one, but I can do a better job handling these balls.
  • At the bar, Joe said, “I like drinking beer, but I don’t know if I like drinking this,” which he illustrated by dry heaving repeatedly. At least that was a better image than the river of puke Brent produced. The editors didn’t show him hurling, but did show us all of the beer and bile on the ground.
  • Once they arrived at the correct location in Hamburger, Jeff told his driver, “adios, muchacho.” Maybe they would have gotten to their destination faster if he hadn’t been speaking Spanish in Germany?
  • Caite explained that soccer is “my number-one sport and I’m really good at it.” Indeed she was: Although she had some kind of cramp or muscle problem that left her doubled over, she popped up and nailed a ball right into a target. During the pageant, when asked her about Americans not being able to identify the U.S. on a world map, Caite should have just kicked a soccer ball right into the questioner’s face.
  • Jeff and Jordan were in last place, so the editors gave us a lot of their comedy. Jeff said, “Hopefully someone fell off a bridge–with cement shoes.”
  • Seeing the massive beer they had to drink, Jordan told his brother, “We’re going to be shitfaced.” I think the producers missed a big opportunity here, because that challenge should have come first, so they would have had to kick soccer balls, eat sauerkraut, and bungee jump while hammered. Might as well go full-scale MTV.
  • Checking in, Jeff seemed resigned to his fate, telling the German greeter, “Thank you. It’s beautiful. It was pleasant here. I like it.” When Phil told Jeff and Jordan they were the last team to arrive and then started in with his questioning, we knew something was awry. “This race wasn’t easy for you, was it?” Phil said before finally confessing that they “better get it together” because this was a non-elimination leg. Jeff and Jordan didn’t seem surprised or happy or anything, and so I fast-forwarded and started searching for Allison Grodner’s name in the credits.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.