But to get to Nunavut, teams gotta head from the last pitstop — Quebec City — to Iqaluit, the capital of Canada's youngest territory. All the teams are on the same flight, including last place Timmies, who surprise everyone by showing up at the airport. Guess nobody told the other teams the last leg was non-elimination. There's the typical surprise and exclamations of how lucky the boys are to be the only team to survive two non-elimination rounds, like it's a historical event. Not so fast. If you're an Amazing Race fan like me, you know this isn't the first time this has happened.
In the first ever season of Amazing Race, Team Guido, hit two non-elimination legs and made the final three. Chris and Alex repeated the feat in Season 2 and actually won the race. So did Flo and Zack (I hated her) in Season 3, also winning. In Season 4, one of my fav teams of all time, Kelly and Jon also hit two non-eliminations and were only beaten when a train crossed their path. It returned in Season 9 when the first Hippie team, B.J and Tyler, did it and then won the race. Team Kentucky David and Mary did in Season 10, Nicky and Vicki (I forgot about this boring team) in Season 17, Bopper and Mark (loved these guys) in Season 20. So it's a semi-regular occurrence.
But luck denies the Zombie Timmies when they arrive in Iqaluit. Everyone finds their clue which is written in Inuktitut (yes, Vanessa it is a different language and they have different word for everything). They get it quickly translated telling them to head to Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park. I googled that park and found it's only one kilometre from Iqaluit. That's the distance between my house and the local convenience store. But the Timmies get the only cab in town who has no idea where that is. Not only that, the driver's gotta take a leak. Wisely, the Timmies leave the cabbie and his weak bladder.
Once at the park the teams must find the clue box, and though the Sisters arrive first, the Brothers get to the box before them. Find the throat singers by the river, it says. So Jody and Cory decide to have some fun and slide on their butts to the river. Note the word fun here and how it helps teams move forward. The Brothers followed by the Sisters, The Bicep Bros, the Docs and then the Timmies find the throat singers and listen to them perform before getting their clue. Everyone seems captivated by this, and rightly so. I actually recognized the two women, Tanya Tagaq and Celina Kalluk, having seen them perform at the 2010 Edmonton Folkfest. They performed on their own but I mostly recall them jamming including indie band Calexico. The combination of Inuit throat singing and Tex-Mex alt-country was too beautiful to describe. Also nice to finally see some Aboriginal culture in this show; save for the greeter in Vancouver, there's been a dearth of that. I'm still pissed they don't have a single aboriginal competitor.
Anyway, it's Detour time and the teams have two tough choices: Harpoon Hunter or Igloo Builder. In Harpoon Hunter, one team must drag a sled and their partner one kilometre (same distance between the town and the park) and then each member must hit a target with a harpoon. Then the teammate who rode has to drag the sled and their partner back. Igloo Builder is self-explanatory.
The Brothers, the Sisters and later, the Timmes, take on Harpoon. The Docs and the Bicep Bros do Igloo. Every single team struggles, especially the ones doing the Igloo. It doesn't seem tough but it's hard to figure out how to make those blocks of ice stick and not fall over when you make the dome. "You pee on it," Jet suggests, still having fun despite the struggle. Still, dragging the sled isn't that easy. Celina has the hardest time, exclaiming for probably the third or fourth time in the race that this is the hardest thing she's ever had to do. Guess life isn't that hard for a bikini model. Life is harder if you have Parkinson's, but that doesn't stop Tim Sr. He just sucks it up, drags his son and breezes past them. Celina screams in frustration.
At the Harpoon area, Jody shows off his sniper skills and misses the target over and over. Just like he did with the axe in Whitehorse. But they finally make it and head back. Nice of him to offer a high five to Celina on the way back. The Timmies get through quicker and also head back. The Sisters arrive and take their shots. Celina gets it pretty quick but Vanessa, who was sitting in the sled all this time, misses. Over and over.
Back at the igloos, the Docs are starting to freak out under the pressure, again. And the arrival of the Brothers gets both the teams considering a change in Detours. "Good luck, we suck," says Jet (or was it Dave?) as they quickly decide to change. The Docs vacillate. Holly wants to change. Brett's asks if they should but she asks what he thinks. He says they should stay so they do, despite their fruitless efforts. They lose precious time.
The next clue sends the Brothers up a hill to some snowmobiles which they must ride across Frobisher Bay to an old Hudson Bay Post. Cory and Jody seem to be having the time of their lives, which again, is one reason why they are leading this leg. Fun and enjoyment is the key. The Timmies arrive a bit later for their Speed Bump. It's similar to the regular task but with a dogsled. Across the bay, find a food cache, then back. They also have fun riding the sled and get done just as the Sisters arrive. It's a race again for these two teams, this time on snowmobiles.
Jet and Dave are also done and right behind the girls. The Docs, however, are way behind. They finally switched (too late) and struggled with the sled. Brett hits the target on the first try. But Holly misses and misses. And misses. By now, we already know they're out, despite Brett's optimism and support. Of course, if you were paying attention early on, you already knew something was up. While on the way to the Quebec City airport, we got a scene of the Docs talking about their student loan debt, etc. Other teams spoke briefly about themselves but it was the Docs who had a background section first. Not a good sign. (Note to producers: you've done this four times so far and every time — EVERY TIME— the team involved has come in last place, three of them being eliminated. Please find a new storytelling technique. Please).
Meanwhile, back at the trading post, the whale blubber is laid out for a Roadblock. One team member must eat 10 pieces of muktuk. If you puke, you have to start again. Self-described picky eater Jody takes on the challenge. And despite an initial gag, he eats it all. Over to the pitstop boys, and win your first ever leg. Good on them. They had fun this leg, let the intensity relax a bit and that's one reason why they won.
Arch-rivals, the Timmies and the Sisters, get to the muktuk task at the same time, but it's a foregone conclusion. Tim Sr. eats the blubber like it's box of Timbits on a Saturday morning and easily beats Celina. The boys then climb up the hill to the pitstop and have a poignant moment. And here I must praise the producers. They have been very subtle their portrayal of teams with medical conditions like Tim Sr.'s Parkinson's. And Jody's legs. They haven't brought it or edited the teams talk about it every chance they could, like they do in the US edition. They have been very subtle. We see Tim's hand shaking as he recites Robert Service, or while awaiting inspection at the Depot. Or we hear Jody joking about how hard it is to line dance without ankles. Or see him switch to blades in Quebec City. Subtle, nicely done. Great TV.
And though it wasn't great TV seeing Celina retching as she ate blubber, it was better than a twerking Miley Cyrus. It was also great to see the Bicep Boys still having fun even, Jet joking about meal plans and beach season before chowing down on muktuk. It's one reason why they managed to get past their struggles this episode. They get done pretty quickly and it's a race for third place. It's been a long day but it seems the conditioning of the Bicep Boys pays off. They pass the girls with Celina wondering why her 21-year-old sister, the youngest competitor out there, can't seem to climb a hill. "Shut up and come," screams Celina, echoing the sentiments of almost everyone. My buddy Gord and I are more than twice as old as Vanessa and though we love beer and chicken wings, we would have easily passed her on that hill.
But luckily for the Sisters, the Docs are way behind. And though Brett eats a piece of muktuk per second, it's too late for them. They are eliminated from the race. Despite their exclamations of dealing well with pressure, they didn't deal well with pressure. I'll miss the Docs, but I know others won't. Some saw them as villains, but they played the game well. Some were annoyed with Holly and that's okay. But while you are celebrating their dismissal, remember this: in all the times Holly freaked out, and they were a lot of them, Brett was there for her. He didn't yell at her, belittle her or tell her to suck it up, like we've seen many partners do to another in other versions of TAR. He hugged her, dried her tears, helped her calm down, supported her. He was, and is, a good husband. They are also raising money for their hospital, an Amazing Cause. Go donate.
Next week, the Maritimes. The Sister get lost (really?) and funsters Jet and Dave get angry with each other. And there's a U-Turn. Will the Timmies or won't they?