Season 20: Episode 10 - "I Need Hair To Be Pretty"
Posted on May 1, 2012 03:35pm

After shaving their heads to win the Fast Forward, best friends Bopper & Mark fell a hair short of staying in the Race while Rachel & Dave won their sixth leg.

Departing the Pit Stop in first place at 6:53am, army wife and combat pilot Rachel & Dave ripped open their clue instructing them to travel to Daiva Vili Bhagvathi Kshetram and receive a greeting from the head priest along with their next clue. As the lead four teams raced to the temple, best friends Bopper & Mark rested in their room having three more hours to wait until their departure. Lying on a bed, Mark still looked physically drained from the previous leg when he experienced heat exhaustion. Watching his buddy, Bopper said, "He [Mark] has not been right ever since he got hot from the dance." Getting liquids and nutrients through an IV, Mark told Bopper, "I'm gonna be here until the end."

Arriving at Daiva Vili Bhagvathi Kshetram in first place, Rachel & Dave approached the head priest who stood on the temple steps. The army wife and combat pilot bowed and accepted the priest's greeting and an offering made of organic materials including a giant green leaf. Dave later commented, "The temple and the way that you pay homage to this individual is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity." Skipping over the Fast Forward contained in their next clue because they had already performed one, Rachel & Dave discovered they next had to travel to Pattanacaud Coir Mat and Matting. Reaching Daiva Vili Bhagvathi Kshetram in second place, PhD student and event hostess Brendon & Rachel bowed and graciously accepted the priest's offering. Rachel later commented, "This isn't necessarily my religion but really getting to experience it is amazing because you can read about it but when you actually experience it firsthand, it is very spiritual." Brendon added, "We're in a place where Gandhi lived and came from. To be able to just step foot in these temples is such an honor."

With Rachel & Dave and Art & JJ both unable to compete for the Fast Forward and dating divorcees Vanessa & Ralph playing it safe by not trying for it, Brendon & Rachel saw a golden opportunity to take the Fast Forward for themselves. To get the Fast Forward, a task that allows teams to skip all other tasks and proceed to the Pit Stop, Brendon & Rachel had to travel to the temple at Mutharaman Devastanam and find two priests. As the other three teams headed to Pattanacaud Coir Mat and Matting, Brendon & Rachel arrived at Mutharaman Devastanam and ran to the two priests who sat waiting with a sign in front of them that read, "It is a custom in India to express gratitude for good fortune. Those who are willing to express their gratitude by sacrificing their beauty are given blessings in proportion to their sacrifice. To win the Fast Forward each of your must have your head shaved." Faced with the scissors and clippers in front of her, Rachel fell momentarily silent simply staring in contemplation and a growing panic until she finally began to speak. Starting to cry, she told Brendon, "I don't want to shave my head. I paid $500 for extensions. It would be so sad." When Rachel asked if Brendon wanted her to shave her head, he told he that this was her decision to make. Once it was very clear Rachel wouldn't follow through with shaving her head, Brendon ushered her back into their auto rickshaw hoping to catch up to the other teams. On way she couldn't do it, Rachel remarked, "Shaving my head is such a terror for me. I've spent years and years trying to make my hair look good."

Arriving at Pattanacaud Coir Mat and Matting in first place, dating divorcees Vanessa & Ralph ripped open their clue to find a Roadblock. In it, one team member had to work in the 50 year old facility using the husks of coconuts to spin 40 feet of rope. Then, they had to spool four large bundles of rope onto one spindle to receive their next clue. With Art and Dave soon joining Ralph, the three men put colorful wraps around their waists and used the cloth to hold the bundle of raw unformed coconut husk fibers, called coir, handed to them by the local women who work in the factory. Walking up to a machine, the three guys attached the coir to a rotating needle that would spin the coconut husks into rope. By feeding more coir from the bundle they held and slowly stepping away from the machine, the newly formed rope would grow in their hands. On the process, Ralph later commented, "It looked so easy [but] my rope kept snapping. It kept popping." When Brendon & Rachel finally arrived at Pattanacaud Coir Mat and Matting, a stunned and upset JJ let his feelings be known. Making sure Rachel (and every other team) could hear, JJ ranted, "Nobody's doing the Fast Forward. Bopper & Mark get that Fast Forward we're fighting for the last spot. Can anybody play the game strategically? Does anybody have a clue what's going on? Nobody thinks." Rachel didn't reveal to anyone what the Fast Forward entailed, but she quietly reiterated, "I can't shave my head. I need hair to be pretty."

As Brendon just got started on spinning rope out of coir, combat pilot Dave extended his growing length of rope out to the full 40-feet needed to tie it off at the other end of the factory floor. In keeping a lead over Art and Ralph, whose rope kept breaking, Dave began the second part of the task by taking four bundles of pre-spun rope to another part of the factory. Once there, Dave placed the rope on a tripod-like stand that fed to a hand crank winding the rope onto a large spool. On the process, he remarked, "It was definitely very labor intensive like doing a hose." Soon, Art, Ralph, and Brendon joined Dave in the grueling job of spooling rope as all four teams vied to take the lead. Dave explained, "The hand crank was a 10-inch nail. Nothing between your flesh and a piece of steel." As the combat pilot kept spooling the rope, he started losing his grip on the hand crank because the skin of his index finger was slowing being ripped off by the nail. With Dave and Art slowing down, Ralph quietly finished spooling his four bundles of rope first and ripped open the next clue instructing him and Vanessa to make their way to Fort Kochi and search for the barber under an ancient tree.

Leaving the coir factory with a rare lead, Vanessa & Ralph excitedly ran to their auto rickshaw, but on the way, Vanessa tripped and crashed to the ground, screaming in pain. With a large scrape on her shoulder adding to the pain, Vanessa's biggest injury was centered on her ankle, telling Ralph, "I think I heard it pop. It's the one with the screw in it." Standing up, Vanessa tried walking, slowly at first and very gingerly, clearly hobbled from the injury. Believing she twisted her ankle, Vanessa got into the rickshaw with Ralph and kept racing, later commented, "People see me and they see big eyes, big hair, big boobs. I'm so much tougher than I look." With Rachel & Dave leaving the coir factory in second place, JJ and event hostess Rachel stood waiting for their teammates to finish spooling the rope. When asked by JJ, Rachel revealed that the Fast Forward was a head shave. Worried that nobody took the Fast Forward and seeing a chance to coerce and manipulate, JJ told Rachel that head shaving would be perfect for Bopper & Mark meaning Brendon & Rachel could be eliminated. JJ later commented on Rachel, "I think she's a little bit gullible. You just gotta say a few key words." As a parting thought before leaving with Art in third place, JJ told her how good she would look with a shaved head. JJ's mind games didn't work on Rachel though because while she felt bad for putting her and Brendon in fourth place, Rachel never reconsidered her decision.

Arriving together at Fort Kochi, Rachel & Dave and Vanessa & Ralph both spotted the barber under an ancient tree and ripped open their clue to find a Detour having the choice of Pachyderm or Pack A Box. In Pachyderm, teams had to follow an example and properly decorate an elephant with a golden headdress and decorative bells and ornaments. Then, they had to shovel and transport fifteen wheelbarrows filled with elephant manure to a nearby truck. Pack A Box required teams to take part in India's spice trade that accounts for almost 50% of the world's supply. Teams had to find a ginger processing center, pick up ten empty wooden boxes, fill them with dry ginger, seal and stencil each box for shipping, and deliver them to a warehouse. While border patrol agents Art & JJ began the tedious process of stenciling wooden boxes for packing ginger, army wife and combat pilot Rachel & Dave, dating divorcees Vanessa & Ralph, and PhD student and event hostess Brendon & Rachel all chose to decorate and clean up after elephants. With an Indian band providing background music, the three teams watched a demonstration and looked at an adorned elephant for reference before beginning the task themselves. Avowed elephant lover Vanessa was on cloud nine as she jumped atop the majestic animal, declaring, "Favorite task hands down ever in my life." Putting a long yellow necklace over the elephant's massive neck behind its ears, the teams also put an ornate headdress on the pachyderm and finally opened a big parasol while riding atop the elephant as a finishing touch.

Rachel & Dave took the early lead as all three teams began shoveling and transporting elephant manure. Dave credited his and Rachel's efficiency and strong Midwestern work ethic as a reason why they had an edge over the other teams. Rachel broke up and prepped the manure while Dave ran back and forth with the wheelbarrow to the truck to unload it. Meanwhile, with a shot at first place in his grasp, Brendon ran as hard as he could; dumping wheelbarrows of manure onto the truck with skills he later credited having learned from his bricklayer father. However, Vanessa appeared less impressed by Brendon & Rachel's speed and suggested something more sinister, telling Ralph, "They went from three to seven." She later added, "There was a slight discrepancy between their number and mine. I a lot of times question what they do and how they do it."

Finally departing the Pit Stop at 10:38am, best friends Bopper & Mark reached the temple at Daiva Vili Bhagvathi Kshetram and had to perform their Speed Bump before receiving a greeting and clue from the priest. A Speed Bump is a task that only Bopper & Mark had to perform for arriving in last place on the previous leg. In it, the best friends had to paint the tiger on the belly of a Pulikali Tiger Dancer. Walking over to the dancers, Bopper & Mark looked at the bellies of two fully completed ones and made a game plan of how to start painting the one dancer whose belly remained bare. First using black paint to outline the eyes and mouth, Bopper felt comfortable with the artistic element of the task from his experiences painting with his daughter. Bopper later commented, "I had no problems with it other than being on a man's belly." After finishing their work of art on the dancer's belly, Bopper & Mark received their greeting from the priest, and when they opened their clue, the best friends contemplated the Fast Forward. Having no clue what the other teams ahead of them decided, Bopper told Mark, "Let's take a chance on it." In their taxi, Mark said, "This Fast Forward could be a lifeline for us. If nobody done it, this could be the lifeline that keeps us in the game."

In the hotly contested race shoveling elephant manure, Rachel & Dave finished in first place, followed closely by Vanessa & Ralph and Brendon & Rachel. The three teams raced by auto rickshaw to a nearby dock where they needed to travel by ferry to the Pit Stop at the Cheenavala Fishing Nets. With the slimmest of leads, Rachel & Dave reached the dock first and impatiently waited onboard the ferry, hoping it would leave before the other two teams arrived. Rather than relying on hope, Dave took matters into his own hands and offered the dock attendants rupees to leave immediately. Just as Brendon & Rachel and Vanessa & Ralph reached the dock, the ferry pulled away carrying only Rachel & Dave who just secured another victory. After the ferry docked, Rachel & Dave ran on the boardwalk along the shore until they found Phil waiting at the Cheenavala Fishing Nets. For their sixth win, the army wife and combat pilot won $10,000 each and now set their sights on a new goal, tying the Race record of seven victories. Dave said, "Seven is the goal. We'll match that hopefully in the next leg and on the final leg will be our eighth victory."

Stepping on the mat within seconds of each other, Brendon & Rachel finished the day in second place while Vanessa & Ralph took third. When asked a question by Phil, Vanessa brought forth her contention that Brendon & Rachel skipped from three to seven wheelbarrows at the Detour. Rachel denied the unfounded accusation and snapped back, "Why are you starting drama on the mat? That's not even good sportsmanship." From there, the two foes rehashed past run-ins from Vanessa's comments at the watermelon challenge in Paraguay to Vanessa's nose comment at the Nairobi Airport. Vanessa insisted to Rachel, "I don't have anything against you," and went on to apologize for the nose job comment. Rachel then apologized for comments she had made about Vanessa and the pair shook hands to signal an uneasy truce.

|As Bopper & Mark headed to the temple, border patrol agents Art & JJ soon realized they had a tough task ahead of them once they began sifting ginger like the local women inside the processing center and slowly packing the sifted ginger into the wooden boxes. Frustrated, JJ asked, "Can we do anything more slowly than this?" After packing all ten boxes, the border patrol agents loaded them onto a cart, but in the process, JJ sliced his finger open on one of the sheet metal lids covering the boxes. With blood dripping, JJ kept loading boxes, later saying, "It added insult to injury." The delivery of ginger to the warehouse proved even more disastrous for the flailing border patrol agents when they encountered problems steering and moving the cart laden with 10 heavy boxes. When JJ shouted repeatedly at Art to stop pushing the cart, a frustrated Art said, "Quit yelling. You're being a little bitch. I'm trying to do what I can." Stung by Art's comment, JJ replied, "The last thing I'm doi