Return to The Amazing Kitten Race Episode Three Extra

The Amazing Kitten Race

Author: watson
Rating: Episodes are PG-13, Recaps and Behind-the-scenes are R or more.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters, concepts and dialog belong to Mutant Enemy, The WB, UPN and others. The Amazing Race belongs to CBS, Amazing Race Productions Inc, Touchstone Television Productions Inc, Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and others.

Episode recap

Oh hello there, nice of you to join. I'm so cozy lazing around at the poolside of my pink belle epoch vacation mansion here at the French Riviera. Just let me finish sipping my champagne and have my butler bring me my robe, and I'll be with you.

Okay, I'm back in reality now, what a drag.

We get a sweeping aerial shot of the Ephrussi de Rothschild in its splendor, then it's time to start. No eat, sleep and mingle sequence. With the enforced rest and shopping the teams got the night before in Nice, they should be well rested.

Phil, in a rugged Aussie Outback jacket, wonders if Faith & Robin, who have moved up to first place, will stay focused enough to retain their lead; and whether April & Andrew, who haven't finished higher than ninth place so far, can get their act together and get out of last place.

It's a late night start again.

11.05pm. Team Efficiency, looking full of energy even though it's raining and dark and miserable. Looks like someone had a healthy dose of Pitstop sex. They are to drive more than 180 miles to Torino, Italy. Better known as Turin, it's the home of the 2006 Winter Olympics, Fiat cars and the Shroud.

They are to find the building that is on one side of a copper coin inside the clue envelope. I'm so happy about this clue, first, no airport or train station bunching; second, all they get is a town and a coin. Chances are the building is well known, but at least the Racers need to use a little brainpower to find out what it is.

They run to their car, throw in their backpacks and are off, not with a squeal of tires, but close. "We're totally pumped, we'll do anything to keep our first place," Faith growls. It's official, Pitstop sex is good for you.

11.17pm. The Moms. "We benefited from teams moving in a group together last leg, we're still worried about future physical challenges, but with our determination and respect for each other as a team, we're not afraid of anything," Sheila says. I'm surprised they came in second in the last leg, bunching was a big factor. However I also think the detour suited them and they managed the task quickly, so credit where credit's due.

11.23pm. Lovebirds. Can't tell what ridiculous outfits they may be wearing underneath their raingear, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say, colorful and uncoordinated. They are still by far the team I find most adorable. They've run a smart race so far, and have not constantly pushed their relationship in my face (Lynn & Alex I'm looking at you), I find myself genuinely wanting them to do well.

11.39pm. Pirates. Anya examines the coin carefully and remarks at how small it is. Hey! It's the Amazing Exposition Hands holding the coin in his very large palm. How I've missed you, Hands! Phil explains that coins in the Eurozone have one common side and country specific motifs on the other side. The coin in the clue is the Italian 2 cent and it shows the Mole Antonelliana, a Torino landmark with a tall strange narrow spire. It looks like a giant inverted ice-cream cone, or a long toilet plunger, if you ask me.

And okay, I can't help it, Photoshop is just sitting there on the dock, mocking me, begging for me to click on it. You can tell I've done Pixel Challenges before, and no, Glark hasn't killed me where I stand. He doesn't dare. My sincere, sincere apologies to the good people of Torino.

11.51pm. The Goldies are excited to be going to Italy. They're also happy that they moved back to the middle of the pack. "We'll just carry on moving up, picking off the competition one by one. It's what we're good at," Riley says smugly. To their credit, they haven't been all "we're famous celebrities" so far, just another YDC in a pack of YDCs. Boring, but not offensive. They're this leg's money announcer, they have $166.

12.19am. TallShort get their clue, examine the coin and rev up their car. At last we have the honor of hearing Oz talking at length! "We haven't really built alliances with other teams at this point. The older teams tend to stay together and the couples generally hang out. Adam and I don't fit into either group and that suits us fine. We just get on with it." He looks good in a baseball cap too.

12.22am. R.Randy. They moved up one place to seven, but are still slipping compared with first place on the first leg. Randy was a little more useful last leg, finding the postcard and all, but I had nothing to do the other day [*perish forbid!*] and was thinking how Rupert could have been paired with the other racers. I had images of him with Buffy, Anya and even Joyce . Heh, I'm shipping a racer on a reality tv show, I must be reading too much fanfic.

12.36am. Principals. I wish they're gone, and I'm not being foreshadow-y. Snyder's been an argumentative prick and I'm beginning to hate Flutie for his passive-aggressive ways. We've seen more than our fair share of pricks on the Race: TAR3 Ian and TAR6 Jonathan to name a couple, but at least they were entertaining villains. Snyder makes my teeth grate. I can't wait for them to get off my screen.

12.52am. AAbot. I should want these two off my screen too, they've been piss poor racers. But like a wet puppy in the rain I feel a bucketload of pity for them because of their ineptness. They need to do better, way better, otherwise it's Sequesterville for them.

Driving more than 180 miles with little sleep, in the dark and in a strange country is no fun. I don't envy the teams. And yes, I know it's only 10 minutes into the episode and I've used up my quota of sympathy. My girlfriend is staying with me and I'm in a good mood, okay?

It's still dark when the teams take the turning off the autostrada towards Torino. Team Efficiency pull into a gas station to ask about the coin, they learn it's the Mole Antonelliana. Lovebirds and Pirates do the same at a hotel, sounds like the Mole is a large enough landmark to be distinctive.

Goldies, Moms and R.Randy meet at roadside and confer. It's funny to see 6 people puzzling over a tiny coin by torchlight, they decide they need to ask someone. Oh my, I'd never think of asking the local people, what a brilliant idea! [/sarcasm]

TallShort car. Oz is looking through a large foldable map. He identifies Torino and guesses the building is a famous church or museum. They agree to find the nearest gas station or shop so they can ask directions.

AAbot pull into a 24 hour convenience store. April cheerfully goes up to the cashier and naturally asks Andrew for the coin. Andrew reaches into his pocket and pulls out all manner of coins. He looks sheepish as he confesses that he PUT THE COIN IN WITH HIS OTHER COINS. And now he can't remember which one it is. Really, this team doesn't deserve to be on the Race.

All they remember is that it's small, which applies to all coins on the planet earth (well, except the chocolate coins we get at Easter) so the ScreechPrincess, StupidBoy and Not!Seven-Eleven employee examine all the coins that are now scattered on the counter and ask each other questions in languages neither party understand. This is just great, god, my good mood just took a swan dive into oblivion.

Principals ask the cashier at a road toll about the coin, she shakes her head. They ask some more, she shakes her head again and tells them to move along. Space clutterers.

Establishing shot of Torino night sky, with the Mole prominent in the foreground. Team Efficiency negotiate the narrow streets trying to reach it but there are random cars abandoned in the middle of the street, bumper to bumper, side to front, whatever way you can imagine. Robin wonders how they get out of those tight spaces and snarks that no wonder Fiat makes these insanely teeny cars.

The Goldies are the first to arrive, Riley impresses me by making up the 46 minute difference between him and Robin, who parks his team's car shortly after.

I was afraid of more bunching cos the Mole opens at 9am. Thankfully the cluebox is outside and teams can retrieve their clue without needing to enter the museum. They are to drive 240 miles to Strà near Venice and find the Villa Pisani.

But they can't leave yet. Each team must start a clock located in a small tented reststop and leave only when 45 minutes is up. Refreshments and freshen up facilities are provided but they cannot leave the immediate area. This is new, we've never had a mandatory stop like this. I mean, they just drove 3-4 hours and now another 240 miles? It's just TPTB making sure they don't get sued if someone causes an accident by falling asleep at the wheels.

Pirates, TallShort, R.Randy and Lovebirds arrive in short succession, get the clue and join the others. Xander asks Anya if she'll be alright with the driving and he can take over for a while. That's the first time I've seen them acting like they care about the other, well about time.

Now we get to see some team dynamics we don't get to see. The two tallest guys, Adam and Riley, strike up a conversation. Oz and the testosterone half of the YDCs, Xander and Robin seem to be comfortable with each other, and they're even joined by Willow, guess we now know who wears the pants in that relationship. Buffy and Faith look like sportswear models as they enjoy a coffee, in terms of fitness Faith is on par with Buffy, even though one is a famous athlete and the other, well, isn't. It's also quite obvious that Randy has a crush on Buffy, the way he appears to eye her up and tries to edge near her. Someone better tell the spiky haired one that he's invading the territory of a world record breaking athlete who can probably crush his windpipe with just one squeeze of those large hands. Plus which, you know what they say about large hands.

The Moms and Principals arrive in the meantime, to the relief of Rupert, probably out of place surrounded by younger folks.

Buffy & Riley and Faith & Robin's time is up and they get going. The mini-bunch of Xander & Anya, Adam & Oz, Willow & Tara and Randy & Rupert also leave when their time is up.

AAbot finally arrive, to find the Moms and Principals getting ready to leave.

Morning has broken. A parade of cars make their merry way across Italy's shoulders.

TallShort pull into a gas station. "Check the type of gas," Oz reminds his teammate. Just as well, cos they have a diesel car. Now why do I think the Amazing Editors showed me that clip?

Other teams fill up also. We're treated to an exhilarating shot of a large sign that says "DIESEL". Anya does a some stretching exercises while Xander works the pump, I notice the color of the nozzle, it's black.

Finally I get to see the Lovebirds' attire for today. Oh, no rojak. They're wearing something ... normal looking, long sleeved T-shirts in pastel colors and jeans. They look nice, but I'm kinda disappointed. Willow gets some drinks from the vending machine while Tara fills up, yep, the nozzle's black.

And then we cut to April & Andrew. I spy with my own little eye Andrew's using a green nozzle. Yikes. It's dieselgate again. Don't they ever learn? A prerequisite for any team entering TAR should be to watch old programs and note down important To-do or Not-to-do, like if a car runs on diesel, don't put unleaded in it.

Lo and behold, their car splutters to a halt on the highway. They totally freak out, screaming at each other, at the car, at anything. Andrew slams the door, grabs the hood and shakes it, it's no good boy. He looks like he's on the verge of tears. April is already blubbering.

Eventually Andrew gathers enough sense and says they need to get to a garage, they walk back in the direction they come from. Not looking good, man. I have a very bad feeling this. First the mistake with the coin, then the mistake with the diesel. I don't think they will last long.

Elsewhere the sun is well up in the sky when the first of the teams arrive in Veneto. Phil explains that the Villa Pisani is one of the grand villas dotted along the banks of the Rivera del Brenta that flows between Padua and Venice. Finished in 1760, it was modeled after Versailles and bankrupted its owners when completed. It has one of the largest hedge mazes in the world with paths totaling over 4 miles and a distinctive tower in the middle. Phil has shred his Outback jacket and has a brown V-neck sweater that's a little too tight for him. Somehow I feel like squirming when I see that sweater, it wigs me out, I prefer my Phil in loose-fit shirts thank you.

Buffy & Riley are the first to arrive, they must be fast and aggressive drivers to have consistently beaten Faith & Robin on the road. They find out the next task is a Roadblock that, not surprisingly, involves going through the maze. Riley plunges in.

Adam & Oz arrive next and Adam takes the Roadblock. I dunno, his height may be an advantage here. Faith & Robin park their car, Faith takes the Roadblock, that makes three in a row for her. Yes I've been keeping track, it's my job. Also, I want more shots of her running. I'm a pervert, so sue me.

Xander & Anya arrive, looking a tad worse for wear, the drive is exhausting. I have the feeling that because of Xander's eye, Anya does more of the driving. Xander lets his wife rest and goes into the maze. He decides to try the "keep turning left" rule and promptly find a dead end. Uh-oh, not so smart my Pirate.

Willow & Tara. Following a pattern that the person who doesn't drive to the Villa takes the Roadblock, it's Tara who will go a-mazing [*groan*, watson, can't you come up with anything better?].

Rupert & Randy, Rupert takes the Roadblock with a satisfied smile. He interviews that he is a big fan of puzzles and mazes, recognized the name of the Villa and speculated that it's a task. Randy slides over to Buffy and tries to speak to her, but she's too tense to give him more than a cursory glance. I want her kick his ass up where the sun don't shine. Piss off, Randy.

Somewhere many many miles away, a mechanic tows the helpless AAbot car and with broken English and an assortment of hand gestures, tells them that the fuel tank needs to be drained. The color drains from their face. The extent of their screw up hits them full in the face.

Back at the Roadblock Adam takes one last turn and finds himself at the center. He smiles a small smile of self-congratulation, runs up the stairs on the outside of the tower and gets the clue.

Faith comes through and she yells at Robin that she's found the tower. He high fives himself and beams at how wonderful his girlfriend is. Hot too, I know. Damn it.

The shadows are very short when Snyder & Flutie drive up. Smartass Snyder decides he's the one to do the task. I groan as I realize he's staying on my screen. Copious amount of beeping as we follow him to one dead-end after another.

Riley finds the tower, he three-steps up, grabs the clue and is down in a fraction of a second. I can tell he is enjoying the race, I'm happy for him. Like I said, he and Buffy could have come into the race all stuck up and riding on their fame. I was all prepared to hate them, and though I'm up to meh now, I think if I have to pick the last 6 teams, they'll be in.

TallShort read the clue, they are to drive 22 miles to Venice, park their car at the Tronchetto carpark and find the church of Santa Maria del Giglio where they will get their next clue.

In other news, Sheila starts on the maze just as Rupert finds the tower. Man, the Professor manages to leapfrog a couple of spots. He's impressive, that man.

Xander and Tara meet somewhere in the maze and team together. They find the tower soon after, a sign that their co-operation is working. They run back out to their partners.

Sheila gets the clue. Snyder lets loose a whoop! as he finds the tower. How despicably little I care.

April & Andrew finally arrive. Andrew does the Roadblock, perhaps to atone for his mistake. I have a feeling it's too little too late.

TallShort, Goldies and Team Efficiency park their cars at the Venice carpark and try to figure out how to get into the city. They get onto the bus, which, it being Venice, is a boat rather than a vehicle on wheels.

The tentative alliance of Pirates and Lovebirds arrive, park and head for the bus stop. What do they do next? They go to the counter and ask directions to the church, another sign of good racing skills. No prizes for guessing whose idea that is. My adoration for them cements another block.

They learn that they can take the No. 82 waterbus, but the stop serves buses going both sides and they need to check the sign on the boat.

Music of impending doom greets us as we cut to the earlier boat. Why oh why do I know this was going to happen? It's almost clichéd, that someone'd rush onto the first bus along and it's the wrong one. Robin and Riley puzzle over the route map and they show the others. They look annoyed.

R.Randy arrive at the car park and line up for their bus.

Pirates and Lovebirds waterbus. Xander interviews that they're on the way to Santa Maria del Gigolo [sic], and that he and Anya and Willow and Tara have decided to work together on this part of the leg. It's Giglio, Xander, please don't confuse a saint with a male prostitute.

They disembark at a busy square, spy the routemarker and run straight into the church in search of the clue. Ah, in a small twist, the cluebox is actually outside the church so we see them walking briskly (cos, we never run inside churches, remember children), peering down pews, looking everywhere, but not finding a clue. Anya opens the door of a confession chamber and comes face to face to a rather irate priest. "Bless me father for I have sinned. I'm looking for a clue," she actually has the temerity to say. She's incorrigible, that one, she's going straight to hell.

R.Randy's waterbus arrives, they help a woman with a child and bags get on. How chivalrous.

The accidental tourists get off their wrong waterbus and wait impatiently for the right one. "We've just lost our lead," Buffy sulks. "It's only 4 stops, don't think we lost too much time," Riley comforts her. Suck you lips back in, Golden Girl, it looks very unpretty. Continue like that and the lucrative modeling contract will disappear, you'll have to resort to hawking unfashionable cosmetics like Maybelline.

Meanwhile the Principals drive up at the carpark. The Moms are almost there too. The Principals get on the bus to see the accidental tourists. Disbelief all around. Snyder mutters "Go, go, go" to no one in particular. The Moms park. Snyder stamps his little foot impatiently for the waterbus to leave, but it's waiting for some crates to be loaded. The Moms park, see the waterbus and run. Snyder looks like he will murder the driver any minute soon. The Moms squeeze on and exchange hugs with the Goldies and Team Efficiency. The Principals ignore everyone else.

Back at the church the Pirate and his cohorts discover the cluebox is nowhere inside the church. "May be it's outside?" speculates Tara. Ding! goes the lightbulb and they troop outside and find the clue almost straightaway.

It's a Detour. Teams have to choose between Barca or Bauta. In Barca, teams have to go to a nearby camera shop, pick up a digital camera and take photos of themselves on 3 forms of popular Venetian transportation - a gondola, a vaporetto and a traghetto. In Bauta, they go to the same camera shop, equip themselves with a camera, and take photos of themselves in a full bauta outfit. When they finish, they have to return to the camera shop and make printed copies of the digital photos to get the next clue.

They are not told what any of these terms stand for, and I continue to be vaguely impressed with the Amazing Producers for not spoon-feeding the tasks. Phil tells me what these are though, yay! A gondola is of course the mode de choice for romantics, a vaporetto is the waterbus the teams just came from, and a traghetto is an old gondola that is used to transport people across the canals at set points. A bauta is the outfit of white creepy mask, black robe and trihorn hat that so epitomizes the Venice Carnevale, they can rent one at most mask shops. The boats are better known, but teams have to run around to get 3 photos. They may need to ask about the bauta, but once they figure out what it is, renting one for a photo is easy as mask shops are found at almost every street corner.

The alliance choose the familiar and go for Barca. "The square we got off the waterbus is full of different means of boat transport. We know for certain what vaporetto and gondola are, and we think we know what a traghetto is, we saw a small sign over at the side," Willow explains.

Meanwhile R.Randy, who are out on their own, arrive at the church and spot the cluebox. They go for Barca also.

The mini-bunch arrive on the waterbus (or should I call it a vaporetto now that I know what it's called) and search for the clue. All go for the Barca. That makes it 8 for 8 for the boats. Somewhere, a mask shop owner weeps tears of rejection.

I love the way a traghetto operates. These black gondolas ferry people between the banks of the canal for a small fee, and it's standing room only. Looks kinda rickety and unstable to be standing, but that's just me.

The Pirates/Lovebirds alliance finish their Detour and head back to the camera shop.

The mini-bunch sends Buffy as the rep to ask a vaporetto conductor about the traghetto, and she gets the answer. They all run off to the pick up point. Needless to say, they jostle cos the old gondola is only that big and can take 6 or so people per crossing. The fitter teams get on first, meaning Team Efficiency, Goldies and TallShort finish first. Adam and Riley on that traghetto gave me a bit of a heart attack, I was so afraid they'd fall into the canal.

The Principals and Moms draw the short straw and have to wait, barely fuming, at the side. R.Randy arrive.

Eyepatch and his cohorts print their photos at the 2 terminals at the shop and receive their next clue, which tells them to return to their cars and drive 230 miles to Bellinzona, Switzerland. Once there they are to find the Castello di Montebello, the Pitstop for this leg of the race. I cannot believe it, it's more driving. Do they get car miles the same way they get airmiles?

They get back to the carpark without much problem and drive off happily. "We think we're at the front, or near the front. Hopefully we can keep our position," Willow smiles. I hate clips like this, it gives me wiggy feelings that the Editors are trying to tell me something. My heartstrings are so easily pulled.

Teams Efficiency, Goldies and Tallshort head for the camera shop. Only 2 terminals, and Goldies draw the short straw this time. It takes around 10 minutes for the photos to print, soon the shop is full of obnoxious American racers, taking up space but not purchasing anything. I hope CBS paid an appreciation fee, for loss of business during that time.

Just as the Goldies get their clue, the Moms walk in through the door, followed by R.Randy. The Principals seem to be having a spot of trouble finding the shop.

In an absolutely fantastic bit of camera work, we have a shot of the Efficientmobile leaving the carpark just as the AAbot car arrive. Oh shit, I've totally forgotten about those two, at the back of my mind I've written them off.

April & Andrew park their car. April & Andrew get on the vaporetto. April & Andrew get their clue at the church. April & Andrew go for the Bauta Detour! "I know what a bauta outfit is, I've seen people wear it at Horror Cons, it's a mask, bat cape and executioner's hat, it should be easily found in a costume or mask shop," he says as they run off. That's one thing the boy's done right today.

Phil at a medieval castle that is ... kinda bare. When I think about castles, I think about Windsor, Neuschwanstein, Beauty & the Beast, the grand ones with intact structures and some still in use. Why am I surprised there are castles in the world that have fallen into ruin? I didn't fail history at school, honest, miss. So that's what the Castello di Montebello is like, I have to use my imagination to "see" where the grand rooms are, cos ultimately all I have to work with are some walls and parts of a roof.

There are three UNESCO listed castles in Bellinzona, Phil is at the largest, our Pitstop, and he points out the other two to us, remarking that they are all perched at strategic points on the hillsides surrounding the town.

To reach Bellinzona, teams have to drive through Italy into Switzerland.

Now is time for a little social economics and geography lesson. Switzerland, despite being right smack in the middle of Continental Europe, isn't part of the European Union. It doesn't use the Euro and is staunchly neutral, the last war it fought was over 600 years ago. Centuries of peace means one thing, that a nation's riches have not been diverted to war efforts, freeing up the good Swiss people to concentrate on making watches and of course, making money. Having the most beautiful scenery on Earth is also fairly conducive for its tourism industry.

Going back to the not being in the European Union business, crossing into Switzerland isn't like driving from France to Italy, where the border is just this little sign at the side of the road that says "Welcome to Italy" in 4 languages. The border crossing into Switzerland is really a border, with immigration checks and customs.

Why am I telling you this? Because that's where our racers are at. The first few teams are waved through by the friendly looking Swiss officials, but then they start noticing our intrepid teams. First Team Efficiency have to stop at the side and have their passports examined. Then the Goldies, of all people, are stopped and questioned.

The official asks Buffy & Riley the obvious question, "So, you're Americans?" Riley is like, dude, do you ever watch TV? Like, my girlfriend and I are famous gold medal winners at the Olympics, we're in a hurry and don't want to talk to you. He should have just say yes, and lose the attitude. The official asks where they come from and where they are going.

Now if Rob & Amber were on this race, I'd bet $1 that Rob has spun some sort of tale and asked the border officials to detain and delay teams behind him. No, not bribe, cos Swiss Immigration Officials are not South American bus drivers, attempts to bribe them will have fairly dire consequences. But thankfully (or not, as the case may be), Boston Rob and his pretty bride are not here, so I guess the official is putting the Goldies through the wringer cos, well, cos he can. May be there's a Q&A quota, that so many questions have to be asked per day, and that guy is running low. May be it's the time honored border official mantra, pick an unsuspecting tourist at random and treat them like they're drug smugglers.

Anyway, Riley just wants to get going and tells the uniformed guy they're on a race and they really have to go now. The official is so impressed that ... he tells Riley to pop the trunk. He really is unfazed, this Swiss guy. Riley is getting furious, "you can't treat us like this, we're Americans," he protests.

"Then you should understand the need to check people going through our borders carefully. In America, the entry formalities are even more strict," the official explains. "In Switzerland we don't fingerprint people for no good reason." You know what? Guy has a point. Why does our government insist on always over-reacting? Most people who come into the US just want to get on with their business, visit family, attend meetings, go sightseeing, whatever. The way they are treated, like they are all potential terrorists, smacks of small-mindedness and ignorance.

Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

It's been a long day, very early start and an intense amount of driving. Xander & Anya arrive at Bellinzona, park their car at the castle and land on the Amazing Bathmat, totally exhausted. They're team number one but they have just about enough energy to give each other a weak hug. Anya says that she's never done so much driving in her life and doesn't want to repeat it soon, she looks completely clapped out. I'm happy for them, they haven't yelled at each other all day, and Anya's stepped up and taken up more of the responsibility, and for that she has my respect.

I expect the Lovebirds to be arriving any minute, but all the minor forshadowing is coming back to kick me in the ass. Tara, who is in the car furiously trying to map-read, tells us that they took a wrong turn in Italy and entered Switzerland via a different route, ending up on a smaller and more windy road, with no cut-throughs to the main highway. They're just going to have to follow the road to the next junction. Shit, shit, shit.

April & Andrew drive into Switzerland. They're waved through, no delays.

Adam & Oz arrive at the Pitstop, looking a little fresher than the Pirates, but not that much better. They're team number two.

Faith & Robin park and manage to run around the car park in the wrong direction, before Faith shouts and they get back on track. Welcome, team number three. Phil asks them if it's been tiring, man he is the master of understatement today isn't he. Robin smiles thinly and says it's been very demanding, mentally and physically.

Buffy & Riley are team number four. Looks like the border guard let them through at the end. Rupert & Randy and Joyce & Sheila arrive one after the other, they're teams numbers five and six respectively. They collapse in a heap at the Amazing Bathmat, to the amusement, and slight concern, of Phil.

Where are Willow & Tara? I'm beside myself with anxiety.

Snyder & Flutie arrive, team number seven. They say something, but I simply can't listen, all I can hear are my teeth grinding.

It's getting dark, the Lovebirds find a roadsign that says Bellinzona, and a picture sign that indicates a castle. Whoopee! They drive up a steep winding hill and arrive at a deserted car park of an medieval castle. No Phil, no routemarker, nothing. They get out of their car to look for an information board.

AAbot car turns off the exit into Bellinzona. This is going to be close.

"Honey I think we have the wrong castle," an anxious looking Tara says to an equally anxious looking Willow. They whip out their map and realize they have indeed gone to the wrong castle.

"Let's hope for the best anyway," Willow tries to smile but she looks close to cracking. Tara leans in and gives her a small encouraging kiss, they take comfort in each other. And I want to kiss and punch Jerry Bruckheimer at the same time, cos I've been clamoring for Lovebird smoochies and he's given me the perfect one at the perfect time, no big buildup, no gratuitous publicity. Just two people who have the utmost respect and love for each other trying to get through a tense situation. And for that I'm grateful. But why does it feel like it's the last chance?

A car arrives at the Castello di Montebello carpark.

Drunken careening cameramen running up to Phil and the bathmat. Who is it? Who? Who? Who?

Oh my god. It's April & Andrew. This means ... OH NO!

Willow & Tara run up to Phil hand in hand, fully prepared for the consequences.

Phil goes "you're the last team to arrive and I'm ..." he pauses. Willow & Tara have cute little frowns on them. And it's Non-elim! I let out the breath I don't know I'm holding. It takes them a second to realize that too and they finally let the tension out. Phil tells them that they're still in the race but of course have to suffer the penalties.

"I've never been so happy to hand over all my money before," says a grinning Willow.

"We won't get any money to start next round, but we'll figure out what to do. We've grown so close since we started the race, we're not going to let that bother us," Tara agrees.

It's my job to recap the episodes, but nowhere in my contract does it state that I have to be impartial. I can't stand Snyder & Flutie. Buffy & Riley started to get into my good books but Riley's antics at the border was so typical of an ugly American it puts me to shame. I have a grudging admiration for Faith & Robin, if they win I'll have no complaints. I applaud Joyce, Sheila and Rupert for coming so far. But I'll make myself clear, in case it isn't already, my favorite team this Race is Willow & Tara, apart from off-the-scale cuteness, they're smart and show a lot of respect for people around them. A couple of unfortunate navigational errors almost cost them, I hope that they will learn from it, cos I, for one, want to see them in the final run-in to the finish line. And I'm not ashamed to say this.

Teaser for Episode 5

Driving through an extremely dark tunnel. "Watch out for that truck! You're too close to the line!" screams Rupert.

Teams argue about who is the best James Bond.

"This is stuff that dreams are made of," Andrew says with a grin as wide as the hellmouth.

"I can't see my fingers," says Robin.

The Moms break down. "It's too much," they plead.

Useful links & information

Euro coins

Mole Antonelliana

Villa Pisani
Carnevale costumes

Bellizona castles

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