Amazing Race

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Czech it Out
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We're back in the Estonian capital of Tallin. "Not well known to Americans," Phil says, giving us a pass on our geographical ignorance, "this former Soviet Republic gained its independence in 1991." But right now we're more interested in the giant mud bog outside the city that served as the ninth Pit Stop. And I feel I should take back my crack from a couple of weeks ago about how impressive the Pit Stops always are. Clearly I had no way of knowing that the racers would apparently spend one rest period in a giant wooden cable spool upended in a swamp. Meghan and Cheyne, having arrived first, are leaving at 12:00 AM. The clue tells them they're flying to Prague ("over seven hundred miles," Phil says, like they're going to have to bike it). Once they get there, they need to find the city's old town square, and find a man in a Praga. What's a Praga, you ask? Well, the clue doesn't say this, but it's a "vintage Czech convertible." Cheyne reads from the clue that for this leg, they have zero dollars (the Shaft!), and off they go. While they wander around in search of the parking lot, looking for taxis by headlamp, we see an interview in which Cheyne may be attempting to undo the jinx he just called down on them at the mat last week. He claims they're not looking at winning it all yet. "Our goal and our vision is to make it to the top three," he says modestly. As for the million dollars, "We're not there yet." They get in a taxi and send their driver to the airport, then get started early on their next challenge which is to wonder what a vintage Praga is. So far they're knocking this leg out of the park.

Sam, leaving at 12:19 with Dan, is completely stoked about going to Prague. Nice to see he's not jaded, even after nine legs, even after midnight. AS they run for the cabs, Dan asks Sam about Prague, if they speak Spanish there, and where it is. Sam is not entirely polite about showing off his superior world knowledge: "Prague? It's a country," he says, displaying his world knowledge. Sam interviews that they are now officially rivals with the Globetrotters, especially after last week's kerfuffle. There's a flashback to that awkward moment on the mat, but they're too excited about being in the final four to be thinking about it as they get in their cab. Besides, they'll have a fresh feud to deal with by this time tomorrow.

Flight Time and Big Easy are, unsurprisingly, leaving at 12:20 AM. And Big Easy interviews that they talked to the brothers. "Everything's cool. Nothing personal." Well, thanks for wasting our time, then, show. Flight Time adds that they have to respect the brothers for getting to the final four. Well, by that logic, I would have to also respect Dan and Andrew, and obviously that's not going to happen.

Brian and Ericka get to leave at 12:22, which is a lot less far behind than I would have thought. "Vintage Prada," Brian misquotes on the way to their cab. He interviews that everything has worked out for them. "Even when it looks like it wasn't going to work out, everything has worked out in our favor." I get what he's saying, but I might phrase it a little differently. Like, "Sure, we're circling the drain, but our orbit is remaining stable." In their cab, Brian takes it as a good omen that their driver wears a yellow shirt and tie, matching their team colors. He may or may not be aware that that is the uniform of the cab company. Brian claims, "We're just gonna continue being nice people and let them all fight it out and we'll sneak on in there." As soon as he figures out where Prague is. I guess I should be happy that nobody has pronounced it "Prayge."

Meghan and Cheyne are unsurprisingly the first team to reach the airport, and learn that the first flight out is at 5:20 in the morning on Air Baltic, but it goes through Riga and the ticket office doesn't open until 4:00. I know there's rarely good news for the first team to arrive at the airport at the beginning of a leg, but this is just piling on. Hey, you know what I just now figured out? The show must have ditched the twelve-hour rest periods so they could synchronize teams' departures with the longest periods between flights, to make sure everyone flies out together. Yes, this is the kind of incisive deduction I get paid the big bucks for.

Outside, the brothers and the Americas are arriving at the same time, and Sam marvels at how the other team was able to make up its three-minute deficit in transit. Or maybe they also thought Brian and Ericka were further behind than they were. Both teams head off in search of the internet. Meanwhile, the arriving Globetrotters learn about the Riga connection old-school, from the departure board. Long story short, they're all going to try to get on the same flight, and Flight Time appears to know off the top of his head that Riga is in Latvia, which probably puts him ahead of most Americans on that score (including myself, probably, if I didn't happen to know a Latvian dude). With that out of the way, Meghan invites Cheyne to go do some internet research with her. "Scoot over, Pookie," Ericka says to Dan so he'll clear her a patch of floor to sit on. Meanwhile, Meghan and Cheyne have learned from the internet that a Praga is a car. Meghan floats the idea to Cheyne of lying to everyone that they've learned a Praga is a hat, while Brian, way behind them, observes that she's sneaky. Which part of what Meghan is doing right now is sneaky? The idea of lying about what they learned, or the internet research? Because those strike me, respectively, as less "sneaky" and more "unwise" and "perfectly sensible and something that everyone else should be doing anyway," respectively. Cheyne seems to go along with Meghan's idea, but when they drift past the Globetrotters, whom they overhear guessing that it's a car, they don't speak up. Possibly because the Globetrotters are at an internet terminal of their own. Meghan interviews that you have to be "on your game at every minute" against them. There must be something really tricky about using the internet in the Tallinn airport, for all the intrigue that's going on around it.

At 4:00 AM, tickets start printing up, and as expected, everyone's on the same flight to Prague via Riga, per the Amazing Red Line. At the Prague airport, Meghan and Cheyne are the first to emerge from the terminal and hail a taxi, followed by Sam and Dan. Brian and Ericka, on the other hand, are asking for directions to the subway. What? Are they that low on cash? Did the Shaft hit them that hard? The Globetrotters also get a taxi, which Ericka points out to Brian as he leads her to the shuttle bus. "Somebody on the airplane said this was the fastest way to get to the old city center," Brian says as he and Ericka wait for the shuttle to take off. "Kind of taking a gamble, but we hope it pays off," he says. Because this kind of gamble ever does.

In their respective cabs, Meghan|Cheyne know they'll be looking for an old car, while Sam and Dan ask their cab driver if a Praga is some kind of jacket or robe. No answer. Ericka says they're at least seeing some of the sights, which is always such a great sign on this show. And the Globetrotters are trying to get something -- anything -- out of their elderly, slack-jawed driver. Flight Time remarks that they're going to old town to look for an old car, so it's appropriate that their cabbie is an old man, and driving like one.

Meghan and Cheyne get out of their cab at the square, and have barely paid the driver by the time Meghan spots the car they're looking for. They dash over to it just as Sam and Dan pull up and follow them, essentially doing what Sam accused the Globetrotters of last week. Meghan and Cheyne quietly read the clue handed to them by the man sitting in the car, and Phil says they need to get to a place called "Kayaky Troja," which Phil refers to as an "outdoor adventure center." Well, it seems to have a canal that's been converted into a man-made rapids, so it seems to fit that bill. Both teams grab taxis, but Meghan|Cheyne's taxi ends up behind Sam and Dan's. Sam adm

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