We are in New Orleans, looking at the back of a riverboat as the muted trumpet tootles. It's all very old-timey and Paul Robeson and so forth. The editors hit almost all of the stereotypical things for which New Orleans has long been well-known, except that I suppose there's no quick way to insert a shot of local government corruption. I bet you didn't know lizards were iconic symbols of New Orleans, but turns out that they are. Phil also refers to the city as "The Big Easy," which is a blatant shout-out to me for...a number of reasons, actually. I also love the fact that Phil explains that at a certain time of year, this is the home of Mardi Gras. It's like, "They have other great stuff here, too. Not right now, of course." And in the French Quarter, we open on the corner of Phil's shirt before zooming out to full-on Phil. And Phil is wearing ugly pants. Again. Maybe Phil has weird hips. Maybe Phil isn't a guy who can wear pants. Maybe he needs a total change of approach, like Bermuda shorts or gauchos. Maybe it's the belts they put him in. I just don't know.
Anyway, Preservation Hall was the fourth pit stop, where teams checked in for a mandatory blah dee blah that they didn't really need during this, The Amazing Summer Vacation With Your Parents, Only With Less Urgency. Phil wonders whether the Gaghans will get past their poor showing in the last leg, and whether the Weavers will "find strength" and avoid another Waffle House fiasco. I kind of want to see them tested with something really hardcore, like a Denny's. Would they dance in a parking lot at Denny's? Would they?
12:40 AM. Wally and the Tonyas prepare to leave. The Tonyas are actually just as pink as the pinks today. The unfortunate effect of this, in addition to creating a Pepto Bismol wash as far as the eye can see, is to make the two younger ones in particular look even more alike than usual. I really do feel sort of bad about this being the first time I've ever stopped trying to figure out who's who on a team. I feel even worse about the fact that it doesn't seem to be doing any damage to my ability to understand what's going on. They rip the clue, and it tells them that they're flying to Panama City, Panama. Two thousand miles, according to Phil! It's in Central America! Even Mama Weaver probably knows that's not the United States! The way the editing and scoring is done here implies, by the way, that high-energy Latin music is what makes the mechanisms in the Panama Canal operate. I know! I was surprised, too. I was sure it had something to do with levers and pulleys. Turns out the locks, like the rest of us, cannot resist the power of the samba.
Phil explains that when they get to Panama City, they'll travel 31 miles to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, where Archie Bunker's beach towel and Mr. Rogers's Hawaiian shirt are stored. There, they'll take a boat across the Panama Canal to an island. And on that island, they'll search for Ricardo Diaz -- referred to by my friend JWB as "the laziest scientist in Central America" -- who will be lying in a hammock with their next clue, just kind of kicking back, like nature experts do in Panama when the lizards are hibernating. I notice that this is a lot of steps to squeeze into one clue. Maybe they're saving on printing costs by jamming everything into the same envelope, and they're spending the extra on access to locations like the giant chair. As the Bransens leave, they talk about being happy to leave the country and so forth. I'll bet. Not exactly what any of these people had in mind, I'm sure, wandering around Mississippi looking for BP stations. Wally appears at first to be taking the week off from talking about how pitifully incompetent he is, because he instead tells us how different it is to be in a situation where he and the Tonyas are all equals. But it's a fake-out, because at the last minute, he adds that the Tonyas are "carrying [him]," so Wally has happily not forgotten that the theme of his participation in the race is "I can barely get from point A to point B without requiring oxygen, painkillers, and a nurse."