Previously on TAR: Teams travelled 4, 000 miles to South Korea. Teams got lost at the North Korea border. Phil busts out his best puns when he says teams experienced a “chilling roadblock” (swimming through ice) and Reichen & DK having a “lively meal” (eating octopus that are moving on their plate). Kelly broke her hand smashing boards. It was a race between two teams but recently visible David & Jeff checked in last and were saved by a non-elimination. Four teams remain. Who will be voted out–er eliminated tonight?
Phil introduces us to Seoul. He says the pit stop is in the “heart” of the city. The heart of Seoul? Ugh. Stop the puns, Phil!
– We’re told this is a crucial leg because this is the last elimination before the final leg where teams race for a million. We are treated to at least one person on each team saying ‘one million dollars’. It’s serious biz.
– Phil asks if Kelly’s hand injury will prompt her and Jon to go for the last fast forward. And will David & Jeff successfully get out of last place much to the chagrin of the producers?
– Kelly & Jon depart at 3:46am. We’re off to Hangang Park where teams will retrieve a kite. Taxis in South Korea continue to not speak any English as Kelly & Jon struggle to find an English-speaking cab. I can’t recall a country thus far in TAR where teams are having this difficult of time finding English-speaking cabs.
– Reichen gets his thousandth confessional of how he wants to be in the top three. Ughhh. This is going to be an annoying leg. Producers are going to shove it down our throats.
– Kelly goes on about the pressures of being the only girl and how she hurt herself. Wonder if production will post the suicide hot line on screen? And I think the pressures of being two gay men exceeds the struggle of being the only girl in any social environment. Just sayin’.
– The 3-step Process of DK’s intensity:
1) Grinding the teeth in deep thought.
2) Hiding his ape-like eyes.
3) The ‘I Need to Go to the Bathroom Because I’m Racing So Intensely’ Pose.
The next cut:
(jon al fun)
No Donkey Kong-like intensity found here.
I just caught on that the route marker is Yoda (Yeouido) Island. Too bad I’m not a Star Wars nerd and don’t care in the least about the name.
– You know what you find in Seoul at 4:30am? I have a feeling Kelly wasn’t thinking too clearly when she chose these people to ask for directions.
It’s the eleventh leg. Give her a break. I do appreciate she approaches them while the one guy is given a Chun Li-inspired kick straight to the crotch.
– DK freaks out at the cab as it passes by Hangang Park and doesn’t turn immediately. He slams the window in frustration. The clowns find themselves in the lead and find the next route marker that will take them to BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA! The days of non-English speaking countries are over.
– Reichen & DK are in second. Kelly & Jon were at the hotel to get directions and find a driver that could speak English.
– Kelly explains that Jon pulled the main kite string and the entire string broke. Ten years later and I still have no idea how that works. If there are any kite experts out there reading this, please tell me what the significance of why there is a ‘main string’ versus the other strings available have any significance.
– David & Jeff quietly check out of the pit stop. Jeff’s goatee is zoomed in on and speaks of how it’s a new day for it and David’s goatee. They checked out at 5:15am, in case you were wondering.
– Everyone’s on their way to Inchon airport. Ticket centres closed until 6:00am.
– Jeff mentions the FF clue for a split second. A hint by editing?
– Jon comments how Zeus threw down a lightning bolt of fog. It was like a plane flying directly into a cloud.
– Flights are delayed because of fog. Clowns are on a flight alone. The flight with the other three teams leaves more than two hours earlier than the clowns.
NOTE: Behind the scenes the other three teams were told to stay in the Brisbane airport until the Clowns arrived. I guess exposing production difficulties isn’t popular beyond TAR 1.
– Clowns miss the better flight with the other three teams by mere minutes. They asked to board it just a bit too late.
JON: Very rarely do you see the clowns stressed out, we’re stressed big time. I’m about to explode man. The blood’s going right through to my head.
That’s what Jon is wearing when he’s saying all of this. That’s great. If you’re wondering “why did the Clowns have the highest popularity rating of any CBS Survivor and TAR contestant ever?” Well, here’s your answer. Not once do they shed a tear or get angry, not once do they hurt another team, but not once are they boring. They’re entertaining us purely from their ability to be fun people.
– The clowns waste time in the airport by Jon balancing yet another pair of glasses. I won’t bother posting yet another screen cap for that. There’s already been three of those. But here is something worth screen capping:
JON: Hey Al.
AL (drinking water bottle): What?
JON: Why did the chicken cross the road?
AL: I don’t know. Why did the chicken cross the road?
Wait for it. . .
JON: To get on Korea Airlines!
Water meet Jon’s face. That was a full blast. I s’pose Al spits rather than swallows.
– Music as teams fly into Brisbane is stolen straight from Survivor: The Australian Outback. Which is unusual because they’re on the Gold Coast and absent of didgeridoos.
– David & Jeff clear customs first and are heading straight to the Fast Forward. Phil informs us that this is the last Fast Forward on the race, and although it gives racers the opportunity to skip all tasks, it does not guarantee victory. Why are we being informed of this if it has only been relevant in one leg per season?
– The other two teams are heading for the ol’ concierge. Teams constantly remind us that this day is all about making top three. Kelly & Jon took the train while Reichen & DK took the cab. Surprisingly, Kelly & Jon spot them in their cab while in the train. They must eat their carrots.
– The teams are taking the elevator to the top of a random tall building. My harrowing TAR detour sense is tingling.
– And it is. Face First or Foot First. In Face First, teams will take a face first repel down the face of the hotel. In Foot First, teams have to walk down the stairs to the first floor of the hotel and walk across the street until they find another building to get the clue.
– Kelly can’t grab the rope because of the broken hand while breaking boards last leg. Meanwhile Flo wouldn’t do this task if she had two perfectly healthy hands.
DK and Jon race down the building simultaneously. DK swings down the building faster than his non-simian competitor. Kelly is ready to be nervous and anxious about doing this task with a broken hand. . .
– Which is a perfect time to cut to David & Jeff doing the FF. They are struggling. Jeff tells David to “Hang on David! Don’t let go!” I observed that this is the EXACT SAME SOUNDBYTE from the Aleppey leg FOUR EPISODES AGO. They must’ve been terrible during tasks and interviews if they needed a sound byte from four rounds ago.
– Kelly coils as the instructor shakes her broken hand. She mentions how he shook her broken hand. Jon chimes in and says Kelly broke her hand on the previous detour while breaking the boards. How. Dumb. Are. Viewers?
– JON: C’mon Kelly! Don’t let that GAY GUY beat you!
Evidently Jon is NOT a gay rights activist. Congratulations, 70% of the reality TV viewing community officially hates you.
– Kelly screams, moans, and whimpers as she goes down the building because she can only use her broken hand. It was a very Blair Witch Project tone of voice.
– Teams are heading to Mooloolaba something something. I don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention.
– David & Jeff finish out the FF. For a few years I thought the body they rescued in the water was a mannequin. On a re-watch about five years ago I noticed once they’re back on the beach that the body shakes their hand and then in the next shot she’s standing up. I believe I thought it was a mannequin because Jeff puts her on his board with her butt directly into his face.
The most sexual position you can find while you’re doing a surf n rescue mission. See what I did there? Surf n Rescue? As opposed to Search n Rescue? It’s 1:00am and I am on fire! Anyways, David & Jeff are on their way to Mooloolaba Yacht Club.
– Clowns are doing the detour. They seem to be miles behind considering how quickly they show them doing the face first task.
– Reichen & DK and Kelly & Jon are on their way to Mooloolaba Waterworld.
– They get to the roadblock. The clue is ‘just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water’ and they’re surrounded by eels, stingray, and sharks. Kelly, who I don’t know, has a broken hand I guess? She wanted to do the task. Jon overrides her decision in .01 seconds and insists he can beat one o’ the gay guys.
WHAT?! I can’t stand on a shark? What is this? I was going to be like Bobby Flay in that TV special where he jumps on the cutting board after he beats the iron chefs from Japan and the Japanese chefs are all pissed because a cutting board is sacred. Or maybe I’d use the shark as a foot stool to see above Leif Manson who is observing me from the outside. Or invite a fish to stand on the shark and we’d have a sumo match where first one to fall off the shark’s back loses.
Don’t stand on sharks or else they’ll bite. Geez. Is there ANYTHING you can do while you’re around a shark? Frankly if you can’t stand on ‘em, I really don’t see the point. What a grouchy bunch of mothaf—ers.
Heck yeah, I don’t like being stood on! I used to have people jumping on my back all the time ,but man, it really starts to wear you out after a while. So please watch the back! I’m slouching over as it is. By the way, where’s that waiver that gives you guys permission to show me on camera?
You didn’t say ‘Simon Says!’
Except Russell Hantz. He flipped a shark to his side to avoid pulling rocks in a tiebreaker.
– JON: When I passed Reichen his eyes were like the cat on the ceiling with its claws stuck in it. So I kinda laughed at him.
KELLY: Whenever you see the shark pass Reichen you’d see the buggles go ‘Ooooo!’ and a few seconds later it’d be ‘Ooooo!’
Editors are really painting Kelly & Jon as homophobic. I s’pose editors were desperate for a storyline in the last couple episodes of the season.
– Kelly opens up the clue. It’s time to head to the Mooloolaba Yacht Club. David & Jeff have yet to check in. The clowns are nowhere in sight. It seems to be a foregone conclusion.
– David & Jeff arrive at the pit stop. They’re first once again. They win a 7-day trip to “exotic Mexico”.
– Clue instructs teams to walk to the pit stop. Kelly & Jon are running while Reichen & DK hop into their car. DK orders Reichen to join him in the car and drive to the pit stop.
– The clowns get to the roadblock. Al is doing the roadblock. Jon tries to tell Al to limbo under a shark. He is dumbfounded that Al doesn’t want to lean back and hurdle under a big freakin’ shark.
– Reichen & DK celebrate their 2nd place finish at the pit stop. Phil pulls one of his few infamous ‘however,’ and tells them they have a penalty of 35 minutes. This is back in the good ol days where all rule violations are 30 minutes plus the number of minutes gained. Back when rules were logical.
– Kelly & Jon get to the pit stop in 3rd but are bumped up to 2nd.
– Reichen & DK hope the clowns arrive late despite loving them as people.
– The ‘2nd to last place triumph’ music plays as the clowns get to the pit stop. Viewers are under the impression the clowns must be saved. Phil tells them Reichen & DK have a penalty. The clowns giggle. But Phil crushes their hopes and dreams to announce that the penalty wasn’t enough. Ouch.
The clowns talk about Jon being a good family man. They are given applause by the others and hugs all around. Geez, this is a bit much. I am sure producers were under the impression that they want to bring them back for an all-star at this point.
– UFC promo time. Kelly thinks DK will do something particularly sneaky to get ahead. Reichen gets to talk multiple times. Jeff is ignored but David gets to throw in a ‘you’ve seen nothin’ yet’. Baby babyyyy, you’ve seen nothing yet!
In the previews Phil says “teams jockey for position” as the camera jumps to a shot of teams on horseback. Really? Phil starts off with the bad puns and ends on the bad puns. This is worse than my “Syria is in Syrias trouble” joke.
1) Muiden -> Mumbai (An incredible leg. The equalizer occurs at a time that makes sense when teams arrive at the first route marker at 2:00am. The season gets a breath of fresh air (poor pun I know) in India as it contrasts with the central European spamming where it’s either cold, recreational, or gondolas everywhere. The train ride is one of the most daring ventures in filmmaking as teams get one of the biggest culture shocks in recent memory. Millie ruins a stranger’s clothes, the infamous creeper smile, and a leg that has you engaged from start to finish is TAR at its finest.)
2) Kota Kinabalu -> Sandakan (Teams drive themselves for a huge chunk of the leg and have a map so they can completely own where they’re going. This leg exposed major attrition by multiple teams. The only team that wasn’t at each other’s throats were the clowns. Even David & Jeff were given airtime to show their intrapersonal conflicts! Reichen & DK couldn’t follow a road so DK got to play with his own kind, Kelly & Jon screwed up the location of the hot springs and spotting the number 5, and David & Jeff not finding a clue in a wheelbarrow, and Millie & Chuck messing up every second of the entire leg makes this a comedy of errors. I like the setting for this leg too. There were very few people around because it was a rural area leaving the teams needing to go well out of their way if they wanted to contact locals. The sharp coconuts drew first blood for some of the teams. In fact, the detour was a great test of patience which is great in the ninth leg of the season. Also a great showdown that nobody was expecting in a non-equalizer leg as Jon and Chuck faced off in the roadblock and testing their knowledge of using a stick shift effectively.)
3) Mumbai -> Aleppey (Legs that are a part two to racing in the same country tend to be bland and uninteresting. Check on my rankings from previous seasons and you’ll know what I mean. This had a really good format. Yes they get bunched on the train but not much you can do when teams check out between 12:00am and 3:00am. I also like the unique environment of southern India. The roadblock was very inspired and made several players feel disgusting and likely worn out in the heat as we head into the second half where attrition becomes a factor. Editors did a really good job with the showdown between Reichen & DK and Tian & Jaree at the end of the episode. Sometimes you need to have a good ol fashioned showdown even if it is pretty manufactured once you’re in the midway point of the season. I’m in love with the idea of the pit stop being at a place called ‘The Finishing Point’. I don’t know, everything fused together extremely well for this leg.)
4) Marseilles -> Hamlet near Amsterdam that nobody cares about (The only European leg to not feature any equalizers. It’s incredible. The rivalry between Kelly & Jon and Millie & Chuck increases when they equally share nasty names for each other when the audio crew is nearby. A detour where teams put up with a lot of crap is fun to watch. Don’t forget the phallic roadblock. Tian’s sunglasses are a highlight too. Did I mention everyone in Amsterdam looks like they’re stoned? Oops. Will my Arts editor edit that one out? But seriously, this should’ve been the first leg of the season. It could’ve set the tone for the whole season.)
5) Sandakan -> Seoul (As Darkwing Duck would say, “Let’s get dangerous”. Teams have to suffer for the first time from communication barriers, breaking hands, and literally freezing themselves throughout the course of their venture in South Korea. Not to mention two of the teams see the border. The bizarre short-sighted decision by the clowns and the goats to share a cab plays out which is neat to see. I couldn’t imagine all twelve teams being able to put up with these tasks if it was thrust upon them at the start of the season. This was designed for experienced racers. Also, why does Reichen get to narrate virtually the whole episode?)
6) Venice -> Gmunden (There’s only one equalizer but it’s before the detour and roadblock. It’s an inspired leg for racing in central Europe. Producers bring out fiacres straight out of the 19th century, Beethoven vs. Mozart as a detour because they had the biggest rivalry until Yankees vs. Red Sox, and the largest tower jump in Europe is acceptable enough for a mindless task. Now to the highlights. Millie and DK get into a scrap where the female virgin cuts DK (although it’d be funnier if the gay guy cuts the virgin — C’MON, the irony of the situation!), Tian and Jaree get into a fight over who knows what, and Kelly goes into full on Southern Flo mode. Millie’s asthma attack where Josh sneaks into the frame is great, too. Also, Steve & Dave surviving the third leg was the most surprising thing I’ve ever witnessed in TAR history at this point in time. Steve & Dave were hours behind Russell & Cindy, the only task remaining was to take a train to the pit stop, and in the scenario that Steve & Dave arrive in Gmunden first, how could they possibly avoid being outrun by Russell & Cindy to the pit stop? Steve & Dave’s reaction when they get to the pit stop is hilarious too. They were as shocked as we were that they were ninth.)
7) Seoul -> Mooloolaba (One of the worst elimination legs seen on TAR. When this originally aired everyone was too busy being sad that the clowns were going to be eliminated that they couldn’t care less what the other three teams were doing. In fact, Kelly & Jon’s comments would have been handled better by the public if the clowns weren’t in peril. Unfortunately, it adds fuel to the fire as viewers were rooting for Reichen & DK’s intensity to be punished or Kelly & Jon’s bullying to be punished as well. David & Jeff are given zero personality this leg but I recall rooting for them during the episode and hoping they’d win. We go through the episode awaiting the clowns’ dismissal. In the last five minutes the fans jump on their feet thinking the clowns can upset Reichen & DK to break into the finale and win this game. This excitement lasts for about one minute of the whole episode which doesn’t make up for the 35 minutes that we all thought it was a foregone conclusion that our favourites would be sent packing. Phil proceeds to fake out the audience and sends the clowns home. Everyone resorts to their next pick for who they want to win. Note how I didn’t mention any tasks that occurred in Australia or any incidents that teams had with the locales. This is why English speaking countries only belong in season finales. For some reason legs are really underwhelming if it’s just ‘go down the third cliff of the season’ and ‘do a five-minute task that doesn’t require any skill’. This episode is not memorable. If only we could have been privy to a David eye roll.)
8) Aleppey -> Kota Kinabalu (For a non-elimination leg, it was fine. The race slowed down as we learned about the five teams that will leave the most significant impression once the season is over. There were few taxi and boat rides which also means less of a luck factor. Look at the order of finish. The skill of teams in terms of the tasks and ability to find flights directly reflects where they finish at the pit stop this leg. Anytime the race limits the luck factor is when you know production has done a fine job. I just wish more was at stake than a seven night cruise. -_-)
9) L.A. -> Cortina D’ampezzo (Over an hour premiere is a good idea. Particularly when all twelve teams get airtime. Sure, I agree it’s the weakest premiere yet when teams have to find the best airplane ticket then the best bus ticket for the first forty minutes. Jaree abandoning a coffee before she can drink it while in last place is memorable for me. The most satisfying part of the episode is when Debra & Steve get eliminated. If you look up their interview on RNO you’ll see them agree that they aren’t the most exciting television to watch.)
10) Gmunden -> Marseilles (I s’pose it was an okay leg. Not that great. I’m happy teams were able to drive themselves this leg which producers wanted to be a rarity this season for whatever stupid reason. Nowhere near as much tension on an intra basis this leg except the mild bickering between the father-son. Chuck panicking about tight spaces and a roadblock coming before detour makes this memorable enough. I wish the detour had a bit more originality. It took DK’s inability to follow directions to make this one entertaining. I don’t know. The leg otherwise feels a bit flat.)
11) Cortina D’ampezzo -> Venice (Okay. This leg isn’t THAT bad. The mountain rafting looked awesome. Kelly & Jon snow rafting without a raft was hilarious. The guy at the pit stop could have bitten his thumb at the teams. Gondola race was neat. Reichen & DK hanging onto the doors when a bus arrives to put them at the back of the line is a funny little moment. Did you know it was revealed that David & Jeff held onto the doors as well? However, a couple of equalizers in a 17-hour leg makes this one of the sloppiest designs to a leg in TAR.)