Amazing Race

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I just figured out while watching the previouslies that in his WWI uniform in France last week, Michael looked a lot like Jean Reno, only more alert. Not that this does me any good now.

"These are the pastoral fields of Northeastern France," Phil says, in one of his most non-specific intros yet. "During World War I, they were a place of tremendous conflict," he continues over footage of last week's Detour, during which it was a place of tremendous fake conflict. "Today, they are a virtual sea of tranquility between tiny country towns such as this one," but when he says the name of it, the cowardly closed captioning cuts out on me again. The Pit Stop sign reads "Verdun, France," so that's no help. Anyway, Phil concludes, "This quaint [nameless] town, with a population at last count of 43, was the fifth Pit Stop in a race around the world." So apparently the entire town's population turned out to greet the racers yesterday. The first team to arrive, Michael and Louie, are now leaving at 7:47 AM. The cloudy sky behind them is a spectacular pre-dawn blue as they open their clue on a muddy, windy field that is patently not the village street where the mat was at the end of the last leg. "Drive yourselves to the city of 'Reems,'" Michael reads. Phil narrates that it's a 37-mile drive to Reims, whose correct French pronunciation I couldn't even begin to approximate here other than to say it sounds like someone trying to sneeze quietly and backwards. Phil says the city was started by the ancient Romans and liberated from the English by Joan of Arc, and its Gothic cathedral (which we now see partly covered by restorer's scaffolding) was traditionally the site of the coronation of French kings. Presumably they don't use it for that any more. Outside the cathedral is an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, impressively wielding a sword. Next to this statue, a street musician is playing a "singing saw," which brings this from the sublime to the silly in a hurry. She'll give the racers their next clue. And a crazy-eyed smile, looks like. But then one doesn't expect a musical saw player to be particularly well-adjusted in the first place.

Walking to their car, Michael talks about the cold morning in typical "we can do this" fashion: "France feels just like December in New England," he says, but he's sure it's harder on the other teams. "I'd be wearing my boxers out to get the newspaper this morning," he boasts. Thanks for that image. They interview a bit about how glad they are to have won two legs in a row, and are now merely amused by the other teams. "We're gonna own this continent," Michael says. Pride goeth before Philimination. Or the Finish Line. One of the two.

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Amazing Race

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