Phil welcomes us back to St. Petersburg, "The fourth-largest city in Europe and the home of thousands of renowned and ornate buildings." Because of how they don't blow them up, as noted last week by well-known architectural historian Nick. One of these buildings would be St. Isaac's Cathedral. Phil says it was "forced to become the Museum of Atheism during the Soviet era," but that's all over, and now it's a church again. But even better, it was the sixth Pit Stop of the race. Presumably the racers spent the night sleeping in the pews.
Jill and Thomas are leaving the Pit Stop at 8:30 AM, having won the previous leg. Looks like a chilly morning, going by their winter jackets. "Join the circus," Thomas reads from the clue. Phil says they'll need to cab it from St Isaac's to Avtovo Circus to find their next clue. As Jill and Thomas get started on doing that, there's a pre-race interview in which Thomas describes himself as "extremely competitive, extremely outspoken," which is normally the kind of thing you hear a racer say at the beginning of the season that's shorthand for "I'm an asshole and you will hate me." Jill agrees that Thomas has a tendency to talk at her rather than to her, but Thomas claims they work well together. They certainly are a convincing pair of synchronized mouthbreathers in the cab to the circus.
Brook and Claire are starting the leg at 8:35 AM, and Brook's pretty excited about getting to go to the circus. "That's where I belong!" she chirps. They hop into a taxi, in which Brook says, "I hope I get to wear a leotard." Claire does a double-take and asks her, "Who says that?" "Me," Brook duhs. I'm going to spoil not only the plot but Brook's morning by saying right here that there will be no leotards.
Here go Michael and Kevin, at 8:40, and they seem to be doing well so far; not only is a cab right there, the driver knows were the circus is. An auspicious beginning to the leg for them. What could go wrong now?
Jill and Thomas also know where the circus is, because they're there. They run to the front gate and find a hand-painted sign with the word "CLOSED" and a weeping clown on it. It's hard to say which of those two things is more upsetting. Thomas alerts us, "Other teams are starting to arrive." Here indeed are Team YouTube and Team QVC, and suddenly we're in a cab with Nat and Kat (who are pronouncing circus as "seer-kiss"), and then Chad/Stephanie, and Gary/Mallory. No more departure times for us this week? No, and there'll be more on that in a minute.
While waiting for the front gate to open, Jill and Thomas at least get to watch a little show of clowns clowning around in the courtyard, including one driving a guy in a bear suit around in a motorcycle sidecar. It's a scene of highly concentrated wackiness. Finally the gate is opened, and in rushes everyone. We haven't yet seen Nick and Vicki, who probably still haven't left and should have a Speed Bump ahead of them this leg. Right? Everyone opens the clue at pretty much the same time and learns that it's a Detour. Over shots of more clowns inside the circus tent, Phil says, "The circus has been a fixture of Russian culture for hundreds of years," so this Detour is a choice between "Circus Band" and "Circus Clown." For the former, both team members will have to learn how to play a Russian folk song on the accordion to earn their next clue. For the latter, they'll do a plate-spinning bit where they have to keep ten plates spinning simultaneously on poles for at least ten seconds. Easy to explain, hard to do, on both counts. At least it seems that way. Jill and Thomas decide on the plates. While the other teams are deciding, clowns are sticking foam-rubber clown noses on their faces for them, just to help them get into the circus mood (or, alternatively, to make them look ridiculous for the cameras, because there's a first time for everything). Michael and Kevin decide on the plates, as do Brook and Claire. Nat and Kat opt for Band, Chad/Stephanie and Gary/Mallory decide on the plates, and Nick and Vicki (who have shown up after all) also go for plates.