The Wife:

Teams stayed inside the Russian Federation this week, traveling via the Transsiberian Railway from Krasnoyarsk to Novasibirsk, which, Wikipedia tells me, is Russia’s third largest city and the largest in the Siberian district. I learned nothing about Siberia in my college Russian classes, except that it’s very cold.

And man, that sure proved true on this episode – especially for the folks who had to run around town in their underpants!

I wish Luke could at least pretend to be happy about being in his boxer briefs! I mean, balloons! Whats not to love about balloons!?

I wish Luke could at least pretend to be happy about being in his boxer briefs! I mean, balloons! What's not to love about balloons!?

This leg of the race became and interesting leveler when frontrunners Christine and Jodi arrived at the train station and realized that their train wouldn’t leave for another 10 hours, giving every team a chance to make the train – the only one, in fact, running that day between the two cities. Even though the playing field was completely leveled, I’m sure everyone enjoyed having an overnight train with sleeper cars, except for maybe Kisha, who is such a tall lady that her feet dangled over the edge of her bed. I know Mel White had a good time, reading in the dark with his flashlight headband as a makeshift reading lamp.

Once in Novasibirsk, teams raced to grab taxis and get to their next clue, a Detour in which they could:

1. Drive a Russian Snowplow through a training course or

2. Find a Russian Bride and make sure she got to the right church to meet her groom and get married.

Both challenges involved driving oneself around in a Lada, a cheap and popular mode of transportation in Russia that, like most affordable cars, sometimes has some problems getting started. I’m sure Russians have their own little acronymic version of Lada, like how Fiat stands for “Fix It Again, Tony” or Ford stands for “Found on Roadside Dead.” (Fiat really is an acronym for “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino,” or Italian Automobile Factory of Torino. Ford, as I’m sure you’re aware, is not actually an acronym, although their PR people like to promote that the proper acronymic form should be “First on Race Day,” rather than the less-laudatory version I proposed.)

Tammy and Victor, Margie and Luke and Jaime and Cara all chose the snowplow route and attempted to caravan to the site, only Tammy and Victor pulled ahead and left the other teams behind, making swift enemies of the mother and her Deaf son and the former cheerleaders. Once at the site, everyone seemed to have a hard time identifying exactly what a snow plow looked like, although it seemed pretty clear to me that the other pieces of heavy machinery were things that belonged on a farm tilling the soil. Mark and Michael also chose this task and didn’t have anywhere near as hard a time identifying the correct machine, and all of the teams only had to do the course once.

Mel and Mike, Christine and Jodi and Kisha and Jen chose to help Russian brides get to their wedding. Mel and Mike succeeded in this task without a hitch, and their bride even gave Mel one of her flowers to wear. Christine and Jodi took their bride to the wrong church, but eventually got her to her groom. I felt really terribly for this girl, stuck in a Lada with two crazy blonde Americans, at the mercy of traffic and people who don’t speak Russian at all to get her to her wedding. I was reminded of a show TLC used to run in which couples would let their friends and families plan their weddings on a shoestring budget. Those weddings never turned out well. They were always high on the tack factor. Case in point: I saw a fireman get married on that show, so his family thought it would be cute to put Dalmatian spots on the aisle runner, make centerpieces out of plastic firemen’s hats and even make an altar piece out of ladders. None of this was cute. It looked like a birthday party for a child more than a wedding. (Okay, the ladder thing is kind of inspired, but also kind of very bad luck.) Why, oh, why would you put your perfect day in someone else’s control? I then thought about what would happen to the brides who were not picked up by racers to make it to their weddings. There had to have been seven waiting brides, as there were seven teams that could have chosen them, but only three (including Kisha and Jen) did. So what about the other four girls? Did they just not make it to their weddings?

My husband, of course, pointed out that these were probably not any actual weddings to take place that day, and he’s probably right. But given how happy Christine and Jodi’s bride was to finally make it to her groom, I can only assume that she’s either a.) the greatest actress in all of Siberia or b.) she really was just that happy to finally be out of the care of crazy women and in her strapping fiancé’s arms. I’m going to tell myself that even though they weren’t really getting married that day, those two did end up getting married. And as for the other four girls? I’d like to think that Phil picked them up and took them all out for a nice dinner and an orgy.

Once all of the teams had completed their Detour, they drove their Ladas to the amazingly beautiful library to get their next clue, a Road Block in which one team member would have to participate in a 1.4 mile winter marathon the way the locals do . . . in their underwear. Luke, Tammy, Cara, Mike, Mark, Jen and (I think) Jodi all took to the streets in their skivvies. Victor immediately wished his sister hadn’t volunteered for this Road Block because:

“I really wanted to run around the streets in my underwear.”

Victor, don’t even worry about it. Just sign up for Bay to Breakers in May. It’ll be way less cold in SF then, anyway.

I immediately noted the smart planning of many of the female racers, choosing to wear cute bikini briefs instead of thongs. My husband mentioned that he thought the teams were probably provided underwear, which turns out is true if you, like Jen, do not regularly wear underpants, but that free underwear is apparently not available if you, like Jodi chose to wear a thong that day. So Jen got free panties, while Jodi had to run around Siberia with her butt cheeks hanging out. CBS blurred them out, but I’m sure many drunken Siberian men were very happy. I mean, if they were sufficiently enticed by seeing Tammy in her underpants, imagine how happy they were to see Jodi’s bum.

Jen, in borrowed underpants, running her butt off.

Jen, in borrowed underpants, running her butt off.

The end of the race was the pit stop at Novasibirsk’s ballet theatre, where a dreary little robot ballerina girl announced each team’s welcome to her hometown. Racer’s teammates were already there waiting for them when they finished their very cool footrace.

1st: Margie and Luke, who won a trip for two to St. Lucia
2nd: Tammy and Victor
3rd: Jaime and Cara
4th: Mel and Mike
5th: Mark and Michael
6th: Kisha and Jen
7th: Christine and Jodi, who were mercifully not Phileminated this week, but will have to complete a Speed Bump at some point during the next leg of the race.

On another note, I finally got a good look at Mike White’s tattoo this week and I think it’s of a baby playing with a truck. What? If anyone out thee has any insight, I’d love to know.

The Husband:

I don’t have much to add, since all the teams acted pretty much according to their already existing archetypes and the challenges went just about the way you’d think they would. So I’m just going to post another video.

In honor of the glory that is Mike White, here is a deleted scene from one of his earliest scripts, the sorely undervalued Orange County. Yes, he has shown up as an actor in four of the movies he has written, and also made a great appearance on the first season of Pushing Daisies.