After four legs stuck in the U.S. on the Amazing Race 8 world tour, the teams have managed to leave home and travel to ... Panama! Yes, a U.S. protectorate! Woo-woo!! Departing from the last pit stop in New Orleans, the six remaining teams traveled by plane to Panama City, Panama, to play baseball and spot fake birds in the rainforest. But don't reach for your remote yet!
At the start of the morning, each family got their clue which sent them on boat rides down the Panama canal to find a dude lying in a hammock. The Gaghans had the most advertureous ride as their boat driver went the OTHER WAY to pick up another passenger. With much screaming and pleading, they convinced him to turn around and following the other teams, now well ahead of them.
Cheers to the Paolo family which grabbed the opportunity to do the Fast Forward - the only one on the entire race, according to Phil. After all their fighting and teen angst the past four weeks, it was nice to see a little family love and the son finally treat his mom with a little patience and kindness. That was almost a hankie moment to see Ma Paolo tear up and say that all she wanted was to hear her son DJ say that he loved her. Which he didn't quite do but at least he gave her a hug and a kiss. Aaaaw.
In fact, kudos to her because she was the only one in the family who did not show a moment of doubt when going up to do the tandem bungee jump off that crane. She was totally cool giving her family encouragement, especially when DJ said he couldn't do it because of his fear of heights and all. She kept right on being positive and telling him it's over in a second. Then when he jumped and held his mom tight, you got the idea that the family had just broken through some huge invisible barrier and that they all might just get along a little better after this. With the fast forward task behind them, the family made to the mat first and won ...oh no! a trip for four to Panama. But they are already IN Panama! Who decides these leg prizes? God, what a letdown that must have been!
Meanwhile, the Gaghans had followed the Paolos to the bungee jump, hoping the other family would back down. They lost a lot of time but managed to make it up when they headed over to do the Detour.
Detour: Rhythm or Coos.
In Rhythm, teams told a red devil bus around Panama City in the requisite scavenger hunt for the series. They had to find 4 different places and pick up a trumpet, trombone, sax and conga drum, then said the band instruments to a Jazz and Wine Club where the bandleader gave them the next clue. In Coos, the teams took a red devil bus to go fake bird-watching.
Perhaps the rainforest is a little short of the real thing in those parts, so they only had to find stationary, mounted, painted, wooden replicas of the birds. Once the team identified five birds on their aviary chart, a birder happily gave them the next clue.
The only funny moment was when the Godlewski sisters picked up a local to show them the way to the Detour location, and the woman got on and told the driver in Spanish an address. The woman then got off the bus and walked away smiling, while the sisters were left stunned. One quipped, "That lady just had us take her to work!"
Roadblock: Who can hit in a pinch?
One member from each team stepped to the plate in a local baseball stadium and had to face a championship Little League pitcher. The batter had to get a base hit or hit a home run in order to get the next clue. Not much suspense here. The fielding was glaringly bad and the pitches - the ones that actually got across the plate - were fat ones.
But it wasn't without a little controversy. The Linz boys gave Rolly Weaver the usual jostle -- "Heeeeeeeey, battabattabattabattabatta, saaaa-wing, batter!" and his mama came completely unglued, telling Alex Linz to hush, like it's a golf putt. Hey, Rolly's played ball before, he knows the other teams want him to miss. Uhh, that's THE POINT of heckling the batter, even if he is only 14 years old. Oh, if only God would smite the other un-holy, un-Christian teams for the Grievers! But mama hasn't completely wussi-fied Rolly and he smashed a fine grounder to get on base.
In a bit of strange luck, the Gaghans get stuck on a narrow street behind a delivery truck, as the music gets qeued, and the Pink Ladies are racing to the finish. Who will arrive first? Oh my! The Godlewskis, fearing they would be last but hoping it was a non-elimination round, pulled on extra clothing before heading to the mat. They guessed right: they were last - but not out of the race. Phil is obviously pleased that the racers have at least watched prior episodes and know what to anticipate. He cracked, "Are you aware that it is illegal to wear underpants on your underpants over your pants?"
Phil must have been secretly pleased that the Pink ladies were still in the race because it's easy to see that the most interesting teams are the Bransen Daughters, Linz bruisers, pink ladies and fighting Paolos. The Gaghan parents and two little kids are definitely the weakest team left, and the Weavers are the most annoying. In fact, I suspect Phil and the producers can instantly change rules on the mat, chosing when to make a leg non-elimination, in order to keep teams they deem to be camera worthy.
Next time on "The Amazing Race": Teams stay in Panama and walk an Indiana Jones kind of bridge. It's scary. They mention that. Mama Griever prays for deliverance when she get's the truck stuck in the mud.