So long, Hong Kong. Ciao, Macau. Ends up, we didn’t really need you, after all.
The Amazing Race Canada returned to home soil on Tuesday night—and it promptly delivered its best episode of the season.
Our eight remaining teams flew from China to the Yukon, where they raced across the territory on dog sleds and snow bikes, in pick-up trucks and canoes.
“My legs are going to fall off,” said an exhausted Ryan.
“Who designs these torture tests?” Rex demanded to know. “Satan?”
There were winding mountain roads, runaway dogs, and one team who didn’t know the difference between up-river and down-river (Sukhi and Jinder, obviously).
Even Olympic gold medallists and perpetual first-place finishers Natalie and Meaghan had a tough time: They fell behind during the dog-sled challenge and never quite recovered, placing third overall. (“Still on the podium,” noted host Jon Montgomery.) And while it has been inspiring to watch the golden girls school everyone else in the race, it’s also exciting for the audience—and definitely a relief for the producers—that we finally have a competitive race on our hands.
But the spectacular Canadian wilderness and Olympic-sized upset is only part of what made this episode so compelling. Most important, it had heart.
Emotions always run high in reality television. Rarely does that feel anything but contrived (*cough* Bachelor in Paradise *cough*). But when mother-son duo and fan favourites Nicole and Cormac came upon their biggest challenge yet—the biathlon roadblock—their emotional roller-coaster grabbed you and didn’t let go.
The task was gruelling: a bumpy one-kilometre bike ride through the woods, followed by hitting five targets with only five rounds of ammunition. Miss a target, and you have to get back on the bike before you try again. Most teams needed 10 tries to complete it.
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Nicole didn’t hit her first target until her 13th try. This means she had to bike 13 km just to hit the first of five targets, and then had to get right back on the bike as she kept trying for the remaining four.
“I don’t care what the outcome is,” she said. “I’m going to stay here and shoot this until it’s done.”
It’s possible that if Nicole had quit and taken the penalty, they could have finished sooner. “But I keep trying, because I’ve taught Cormac, ‘Never give up,’ ” she explained, looking close to passing out.
Nicole and Cormac have been a competitive and endearing team since the start of the race. They go all in at every challenge and they’ve enthusiastically cheered each other on.
To this point, the most devastating episode of The Amazing Race Canada was in its first season, when Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod were eliminated after being U-turned in Saskatoon. But that was before the series of shots of Nicole on her bike in the Yukon: crying, pushing the bike, talking herself through the pain, missing the targets, and going around and around again.
“You didn’t come here to quit a challenge,” she told herself, pedalling on her 18th kilometre.
When she finally nailed all five targets on her 22nd try, the mother and son cried and hugged. Then they ran to the pit stop, hand in hand, where Jon broke the news that they’d been eliminated.
Sometimes, the race breaks your heart, and this was one of those times. They were a top-performing team since the first leg, and they deserved to stay in the game. But you don’t always get a second chance. (Maybe they’ll get it if there’s ever an Amazing Race Canada All-Stars.)
Jinder and Sukhi—who got their second chance when last week was a non-elimination round—pushed harder in the Yukon and actually finished fourth, thanks to Sukhi’s surprise ability to fire a rifle.
This week’s first-place finishers were Alain and Audrey, who came from behind to take the top spot after Alain nailed the biathlon roadblock on his first try. Ryan and Rob closely followed in second place. The significance of beating the Olympians wasn’t lost on anyone; the two teams high-fived and congratulated each other at the end.
Next week, the teams head to Winnipeg. If that doesn’t sound very exciting, at least we know there’s a thrilling showdown ahead: Meaghan and Natalie gave twin brothers Pierre and Michel their extra express pass, but few teams think the Olympians can trust the twins not to turn on them.