Note that this leg and the next one aired on the same night for the show’s third consecutive 2-hour TAR finale.
Previously on TAR: Eleven teams set out from the LBC and raced to Lima, Peru. Romber used their celebrity status from Survivor to get ahead. Some teams didn’t approve. Teams took a ride through the Peruvian mountains. Some endured spitting llamas. Debbie & Bianca’s fluent Spanish put them first on the mat. While Ryan & Chuck and Ron & Kelly got lost and in the end Ryan & Chuck were the first team eliminated.
In the next leg teams accused Romber of lying. Rob’s “innovative” gameplay ruffled some feathers. Romance brewed between the brothers and Megan & Heidi. And both teams got on the last flight to Santiago, Chile resulting in a foot race to the finish. And the girls were eliminated.
A thrilling drive through the Andes brought teams to a meaty roadblock where Rob refused to eat and took a penalty rolling the dice that others would follow. Debbie & Bianca took a wrong turn putting them last on the mat.
In the next leg Uchenna watched Joyce brave a wild ride. Teams gloated on the first flight but quickly changed their tune. Ray & Deana got nasty towards their competition. Even if it were a game of checkers he’d get nasty. Susan & Patrick floundered and never recovered.
The seven remaining teams then flew to South Africa where Ray & Deana beat Romber to the Fast Forward. Uchenna & Joyce got emotional at an orphanage. On the detour Gretchen took a fall but it didn’t break her spirit. The couple came in last and were not eliminated. And they had to start the next leg with only the clothes on their back.
In Botswana Brian & Greg lost control (WHAAAAAAAAT). Lynn & Alex stopped while Romber drove right by. Ray & Deana bickered at the detour while the brothers caught up narrowly defeating Ray & Deana.
Teams enjoyed a scenic drive through the bush. Tension grew between Ron & Kelly while Brian & Greg got lost and were eliminated.
If you haven’t tuned into TAR for several weeks, you would do a double take when you hear Phil casually mention that he eliminated two half naked men.
In India Meredith & Gretchen were adored by the locals. Uchenna & Joyce went for the fast forward and Joyce underwent an Indian ritual sending the couple to first place. Then Lynn & Alex got lost and never recovered.
The four remaining teams headed to Istanbul, Turkey. Kelly confronted Ron where Kelly’s soundbyte of saying Ron got out of the military by being a POW is replayed once again. Gretchen tackled a very physical roadblock. And Romber barely beat Ron & Kelly to the finish.
Teams flew to London, England where Romber delayed one team. Uchenna helped Meredith & Gretchen with a difficult detour. The roadblock frustrated all of the teams. And in the end Meredith & Gretchen arrived last. Tonight one of the three teams will win a million bucks.
– Intro time. The recap clocks in at exactly six minutes. I will go on record to say it is easily the longest ‘Previously on. . .’ clip in history. Typically for TAR they summarize the season and the reason why the three remaining teams are successful in about three minutes. They don’t summarize all eleven teams who took part in the season. There wasn’t even the montage of “Ryan & Chuck. . .Megan & Heidi. . .Meredith & Gretchen you have been eliminated from the race”. This is perhaps the most unique of all season finale recaps. You would think Meredith & Gretchen were in the finale judging by the amount of airtime they got in the recap.
– We are introduced to London, England with stereotypical British music. It is the capital. Rich in history. Potter’s Field Park was the eleventh pit stop in a race “around” the world. Politicians lie less than you, Phil. We see the Final Three toast to being the Final Three. Rob asks which of them will finish second. Joyce says he will.
– Phil asks with time running short if Uchenna & Joyce will finally have a baby. Wait. Phil really asked with time running short if Uchenna & Joyce can get out of last place. And with the race on the line will Ron & Kelly’s three miniscule fights that have been overly hyped be able to be put aside for the final days of the race? Romber who arrived first at 247pm will depart at 247am. Rob opens the clue. Kingston, Jamaica at the end of the eighth minute in the episode. We’re finally racing.
– Teams will fly across the Atlantic AGAIN 4, 600 miles to Kingston, Jamaica. Once here they will take a taxi ninety miles to Port Antonio.
Once in Port Antonio they will find Frenchman’s Cove. And once in Frenchman’s Cove they will find a clue. And once they find a clue they can do their next task. And once they have their next task they can do their detour. And when. . .
– Rob is excited but they came here to win and for producers to write the cheque. He says the war hero and beauty queen and black couple with the Survivors in Kingston, Jamaica. Romber books a 1240pm flight that they know everyone will be on. So everyone will be even heading into Kingston.
– Ron & Kelly depart nearly two hours later at 426am. How long was that yield and how much did Kelly suck at the roadblock? If only Ron did it. I hear he’s good at driving mobile machines. They have enough money to get a taxi. Kelly believes she has shown Ron what she is made of outside of a beauty queen or a ballerina. Kelly hopes Ron sees the quality woman that she is. Ron’s rebuttal?
RON: When I was in the military I deal with soldiers and we didn’t have these emotional issues but it’s part of dealing with Kelly. The emotional little being that she is.
On the sixth syllable that he utters this leg Ron has said the dreaded M-word.
Ron’s military count: 13.5 + looked like a D-bag in the process.
– Ron wants the subway but Kelly wants a taxi. They get inside and Ron is surprised how expensive the cab is. Kelly shrugs as if there is nothing they can do about it now so why complain? Uchenna & Joyce check out at 441am. Ron & Kelly lost a ton of time. Joyce is excited about Jamaica. Uchenna recaps that him and Joyce have been quarrelling a lot and have looked at options that involve not being together. Uchenna has never been prouder to be Joyce’s husband than this very moment but at the same time they have a one-in-three chance to win a million bucks. Uchenna loves going from London to Jamaica.
– Ron & Kelly book the 1240pm flight. So do Uchenna & Joyce. Ron & Kelly fight over the one hundred dollar cab ride. Kelly tells him to just let it go. Who is the emotional one now Ron? Kelly’s ego really wears you down, eh? They sit down in the airport. Kelly wants to figure out if they have a future after the race.
KELLY: When it comes to any argument Ron and I don’t communicate well at all.
Well that’s not true.
Oh. Maybe it is. Kelly wishes she retained her Ms. South Carolina title and Ron thinks about the great food in Iraqi prisons and how he wish he could do the last roadblock.
– Ron hates the control factor. He already dealt with that in the military. He doesn’t want to be married and cannot handle anyone controlling him. Kelly starts crying. She goes full on with her Southern twang when she says “I. . .Love. . .You”. Her heart is broken to hear him say stuff like that. Not a surprise because I think she was raised in the type of household where you’re expected to marry the first guy you date in your early 20s and start having children. Ron says it’s not right for her to pressure him into marriage. Kelly isn’t giving up on the race though.
– The three teams all check in for their flight. Three teams racing to avoid being last. Phil tells those who have ADD that teams are going to Kingston like we heard four minutes ago. Uchenna & Joyce are first to flag a cab. Then Romber. Then Ron & Kelly. Uchenna says they were in Jamaica on holiday but racing for a million bucks is a bit different. Awkward soundbyte is stuck at the end of Uchenna’s statement when they cut away from his voice. Good splicing job, editors.
– Romber are behind Uchenna & Joyce.
RON: The smell of a third world country again.
Ron ignores factors like economic growth, GDP, health, education, etc. All you need is a sense of smell to figure out first, second, and third world. It’s what they teach you in the military. And since when was Jamaica third world? They have a bobsled team for crying out loud.
– Uchenna & Joyce have the clue. It’s a roadblock. In this roadblock teams will have to participate in a traditional Jamaican party game–The Limbo. As Arsenio Hall says it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. What seems to be a lame roadblock is actually pretty creative by production. Each rung on the Limbo poles corresponds to a departure time for the following morning from Frenchman’s Cove. Each rung is lowered in fifteen minute departure intervals. Teams have eight chances to see how low they can go.
How low can you go?
How low can you go?
How low can you go?
– Teams spend the night on the beach. Hot, hot, hot. Joyce is doing it. It starts at 915am. Joyce succeeds. Amber is doing the roadblock thanks to Rob using all of his roadblocks. Joyce has finished the second one. Amber does the first one. Joyce has done the third one. Ron & Kelly have the clue but instead of reading it on the beach where the other two teams are clearly playing they go back into their van and read it. I wonder if it was too noisy for them to read it on camera because of the ukuleles, band, and cheering night time spectators?
– Kelly is doing it. She does dance so Ron thinks she should do well at it. Although Ron applied that same reasoning to when she had to balance firewood on her head for a detour and she failed. Ron must think dance gives you skills for balance tasks on a universal basis. Joyce fails fourth and fifth attempts. Amber succeeds on attempt four. And five. That’s the peak of the ladder. They will depart at 815am when they will go to Grants Level eleven miles away high in the hills of Port Antonio. Rob attempts the limbo just for fun.
Not such a good idea.
– Kelly succeeds on her fifth attempt. 815am departure for them too. Joyce screws up on her eighth and final attempt. So it’s a 830am departure. That sucks. No Meredith & Gretchen present to act as a buffer now. I really wish Gretchen would have done it. She would have cracked her back on the 900am level. Guaranteed. We are treated to limbo experts doing a limbo with flames as a rung.
I am impressed.
– While Amber and Kelly and Joyce were doing the limbo they had band music playing like I mentioned before. They continue playing for a while.
How do the spoons move that fast?
– Kelly’s audio talking about Romber is extremely awkward because of how it doubles over. Kelly says they seem to have been tied with Romber all season long and it’s like a thorn in their side and that Romber is scared of her because they know she can beat them. Uchenna says two strong teams are ahead which puts them far behind. Romber thinks that Ron & Kelly’s relationship will allow them to use the weaknesses of other teams to win the race.
– Romber and Ron & Kelly have their taxis at 815am while Uchenna & Joyce watch them run away. Rob says they have a 33% chance of winning more money than most people make in a lifetime. Uchenna & Joyce get into a van taxi. The driver’s name is Mikey. Romber are at Grant’s Level. So are Ron & Kelly. Detour time. In this detour teams choose between two river activities. Raft It or Build It. In Raft It, teams travel eight miles down the Rio Grande on a traditional bamboo raft using only a pole to steer. Once they successfully raft down the river teams will have their next clue. In Build It, teams must build a bamboo raft using the parts correctly. Once approved they can raft across the river and climb up a hill to the clue box.
– Romber thinks eight miles is a two hour paddle. They will build it. Kelly suggests doing the opposite of what Romber is doing but Ron says that eight miles is a long ways to paddle on a slow river. Kelly is frustrated and agrees to build it. Both teams watch the demonstration before proceeding to build it. How long before Rob references his construction work past? Uchenna & Joyce are at the detour and agree to build it. They tell their taxi to wait.
– Rob refuses to put on gloves but proceeds to cut his fingers open. Amber fetches him gloves but he throws it away. Ooooooh. What a real man. Ron cuts his fingers too and wisely puts on gloves afterwards. Uchenna & Joyce had the bright idea of putting on gloves the minute they got there. Ron tells Kelly to relax because he has never done it before. Amber references the day 13 reward challenge in All Stars where they had to build a raft.
AMBER: Rob’s been in construction for ten years.
And there”s the construction reference.
– Kelly complains about other teams being ahead but Ron points out it’s because she is doing nothing. He orders her around. Uchenna & Joyce note other teams struggling. Uchenna calls for efficiency and said Gilligan should have been watching. Amber stops working to do a confessional to announce everyone’s progress like she’s Jeff Probst.
RON: Don’t put that up there yet. It’s the last thing we need to do.
KELLY: I’m just laying them down.
RON: The last time I built one of these was oh never so relax.
KELLY (calmly): They’re on their fourth stick.
RON: Help me!
KELLY: I just smashed my hand between a rock.
RON: Shush! Control yourself!
KELLY: Look at what they’re doing. They’re a lot further than us.
RON: I understand that. I’ve never built one of these before. That’s what I’m trying to explain to you. When you learn how to build one then you explain it.
KELLY: Smart A.
Kelly’s ego just needs to relax. And “Smart A” sounds more like the Canadian chocolate candy then being an eight year old who avoids cursing.
– Ron raises the drama (beauty) queen level by talking about how Kelly talks about other teams. He wants her to worry about them. Isn’t that what the whole marriage discussion referred to? That’s as being about yourselves as possible and Ron hated that too.
That pose violates the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
– Romber get it checked but it’s not approved. Ron & Kelly’s isn’t approved either. Uchenna & Joyce’s raft is approved. Fifteen minute disadvantage is made up. Romber’s raft is approved too then Ron & Kelly’s. Ron & Kelly try to push it but the raft got caught. Uchenna & Joyce lose a paddling race on the river to Romber. Ray isn’t around to say that Uchenna & Joyce did indeed have an Olympic rowing crew at the earlier detour. The reality TV racism continues. Amber bails on the hill so badly that she crashes onto the raft.
– Rob lost a sneaker (or as Rob says, “sneakuh”) in the water and grabs it. However he fails to dodge Uchenna & Joyce’s raft that runs right into him. Amber reads the clue. It’s a pit stop. Already? Teams travel eighty miles by taxi to Montego Bay and find the villa at Round Hill. The 100-acre coconut and spice plantation is a pit stop in a race around the world. Last team to check in here may be eliminated.
There’s two legs left. One is a non-elimination. So the chances of a team being eliminated is. . .?
– Romber and Uchenna & Joyce get into their taxis. Joyce tells Mikey not to let Romber pass them. Ron goes up the hill by himself and repels down the bottom alone. He slipped too. Him and Kelly are in the taxi. Kelly praises how fast the taxi is.
In Jamaica the way to do it is kiss the same hand rather than each other’s faces.
I think the drugs are starting to kick in, mon.
– The driver for Romber refers to himself in the third person as Tyson. He says Romber have nothing to worry. Mikey is his boy. Tyson yells up to Mikey that they’ll pull over to get petrol together. This opens the door for Ron & Kelly. Uchenna & Joyce pull out before Tyson has filled up. Ron & Kelly pull in to get gas and are there at the same time as Romber. Romber are next out. Uchenna & Joyce run into a traffic check. It’s a police check. Police pulled over Romber. Rob is pissed. Ron & Kelly pass them and are in second place. Uchenna & Joyce are visibly ahead. Rob doesn’t like the idea of that cop costing him a million bucks.
– Rob is hoping for a miracle for them not to finish this leg. Joyce talks about the pit stop and that they are looking for cottage sixteen. Ron notes that Mikey’s van has a flat tire. They hope it pops. Tyson has caught up with the two vans. Rob praises him for his unbelievable driving. Even Rob can see that Uchenna & Joyce’s van has a flat tire. Rob is praying for a pothole. Uchenna hears the flat tire. Joyce says it is un-freakin-believable. They pull over. Ron & Kelly pass. So do Romber. Ron & Kelly take the top road while Romber takes the bottom road to Montego Bay. Rob is panicking that the taxis went two different ways. Uchenna & Joyce are back on the road. Ron & Kelly are told to look on the right side.
– Tyson doesn’t know exactly where Round Hill is so Rob jumps out of the van and asks for directions at a stoplight. Ron & Kelly see cottage sixteen. So do Romber. Uchenna gives in after being optimistic that they would not be last. He must know it was extremely close by and it’s impossible to catch up. All three teams are shown running in which is no doubt highly edited. Ron & Kelly arrive at the mat first. Phil gives them the good news. Romber are waived onto the mat immediately as it seems only thirty seconds separated them. Both teams believe they will win. Both teams have cleared as Uchenna & Joyce get onto the mat in last.
– Phil informs them it is a non-elimination. They are relieved and hug. Uchenna thanks god like Yau-Man finds lemon trees. Phil proceeds to collect his Pogey cheque for the two months following TAR as Uchenna hands over the cash. Neither of them have their bags with them. Must have dropped it on the way running to the pit stop. Phil is impressed by their money saving before requesting their bags. Uchenna & Joyce collect them and drop it on the mat. In addition neither of them will receive any money for the final leg. Ouch. Uchenna says they can still win with their heart and mind. Joyce thinks that she shaved her head to show how competitive they are. The amount of time it will take to beg for money to get a cab to the final destination city may very well put them on the later flight.
– End of leg. Quickest round ever. The leg did not start until 7:56 of the episode and ended at 35:02. Other two hour specials have limited a leg to 35-37 minutes at the lowest but this leg clocking in at 27 minutes absolutely shatters it. I highly doubt a leg is ever edited to be this short at any point in the next thirteen seasons.
P.S. If Joyce could limbo that fifteen minutes would make all of the difference and Romber would be stripped of everything.
Next time on TAR: The Final Three teams all depart within minutes of each other as they scramble to the finish line. One of these three teams will be crowned the winners of a season much better than its predecessor. Will Romber dominate their second reality TV show? Will Ron & Kelly’s dysfunction and one-dimensional nature cause an upset? Or will the biggest upset of all occur when a penniless Uchenna & Joyce try so desperately to even keep themselves in the running? Hmmm.
Uchenna & Joyce 5.6
Ron & Kelly 9.7
12th Debra & Steve 12.0
12th Gina & Sylvia 12.0
11th Ryan & Chuck 11.0
11th Team Seinfeld/Avi & Joe 11.0
11th Dennis & Erika 11.0
11th Deidre & Hilary 11.0
11th Matt & Ana 11.0
10th Megan & Heidi 9.5 (Wow. They sucked.)
9th Peggy & Claire 9.0
10th Meredith & Maria 9.0
10th Dennis & Andrew 9.0 FF
10th Russell & Cindy 8.33
8th Don & Mary Jean 8.2
10th Kim & Leslie 8.0
9th Jim & Marsha 7.33
8th Dave & Margaretta 7.0
9th Lena & Kristy 7.0
10th Hope & Norm 7.0
8th Susan & Patrick 6.5
6th Lenny & Karyn 6.43
7th Paul & Amie 6.2
8th Steve & Dave 6.2 FF
11th Amanda & Chris 6.0
6th Andre & Damon 5.86
5th Kami & Karli 5.8
8th Michael & Kathy 5.8
7th Cyndi & Russell 5.8
9th Heather & Eve 5.75
5th Nancy & Emily 5.67
10th Alison & Donny 5.5
6th Tian & Jaree 5.43 FF
4th Meredith & Gretchen 5.36
7th Monica & Sheree 5.33 FF
7th Marshall & Lance 5.33
9th Debbie & Bianca 5.33
7th Gus & Hera 5.29
8th Bob & Joyce 5.25
7th Silver & Gold 5.17
7th Ray & Deana – FF
9th Steve & Josh 5.0 – FF
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0 – FF
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF
6th Brian & Greg 4.71
3rd Adam & Rebecca 4.69 FF
5th Lori & Bolo 4.6 – FF
2nd Teri & Ian 4.53 – FF
8th Shola & Doyin 4.25 – FF
4th Linda & Karen 4.17
6th Mary & Peach 4.14 (Two failed FF attempts.)
5th Lynn & Alex 4.11
3rd David & Jeff 4.00 – FF
4th Oswald & Danny 4.00 – FF
5th Gary & Dave 3.89 – FF
2nd Kelly & Jon 3.85
4th Jon & Al 3.73
6th Charla & Mirna 3.71
3rd Blake & Paige 3.69 – FF
5th Millie & Chuck 3.67 FF
6th Jonathan & Victoria 3.56
1st Freddy & Kendra 3.46
1st Chris & Alex 3.38 – FF
1st Chip & Kim 3.38
4th Kevin & Drew 3.36 – FF
3rd Brandon & Nicole 3.31
1st Reichen & DK 3.15 – FF
4th Derek & Drew 3.10 – FF
4th Hayden & Aaron 2.92
3rd Joe & Bill 2.76 – FF
2nd Tara & Wil 2.53 – FF
1st Flo & Zach 2.69 – FF
3rd Ken & Gerard 2.69 – FF
2nd Colin & Christie 2.54 – FF
1st Rob & Brennan – 2.46 FF
2nd Frank & Margarita 2.38 – FF
2nd Kris & Jon 2.38
Rank the Teams
8) Megan & Heidi
They’re blonde. They like alpha males. Heidi drove 70 in a 50 zone. Drove on the wrong side of the road. However both of them knew how to drive a stick shift which instantly trumps previous best friends to be cast in Meredith & Maria. Their fondness of shopping cost them the race. You need to check your first world tendencies at the door when you go onto the race. I do applaud them for a couple of ‘Wtf’ quotes in two short episodes. Their failed showmance with Brian & Greg was lawlzy.
I’m still crying from them losing in a foot race to their newfound loves. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
7) Ray & Deana
Deana is fairly bland. Extremely bland for anybody who has been on the race. But Ray? That’s a different story. People on YouTube were comparing Ray to Jonathan from TAR 6. I see nothing in common between them except that Ray tries to guide Deana. However by that definition every couple in the history of TAR would be similar to Jonathan. What makes Ray special? His squirrel face right before the last commercial of leg six.
But seriously, he takes part in the most one-sided rivalry in the history of TAR. His rivalry? With the oldest and nicest couple in the race.
MEREDITH: Hey Ray, is all well? You wanna hang out at my cabin after the race. We have fish, you and Deana can use our hot tub, and we have a spare room.
RAY: Yeah, sure.
RAY (confessional): This is all a ploy so I can get free food and board then when the man is weak from giving me everything he has, he’ll be so worn out from his hospitality that I can beat him at checkers! It will be sweet. It’s like getting rid of Jafar’s lamp! Or tricking Biff into a pile of cow manure! I’ve been working at this for a very very long time.
The best part? Ray’s one-sided rivals and the weakest ones he could have picked as a rivalry beat him in the race. After six episodes the couple who has yet to finish above fifth and only had twenty bucks to their name with zero items defeats Ray.
Way to f—ing go, Ray.
6) Ryan & Chuck
Hillbillies who can speak Portuguese and are taken straight out of the Barenstein Bears books. Luckily none of them had a drinking problem like Papa Bear or anorexia like Sister Bear. I understood what they said a bit more than Tom Buchanan which is a plus. They are the heaviest racers in the show’s history if I do declare.
5) Meredith & Gretchen
Gretchen’s personality was so over the top. A huge step up from Don & Mary Jean where this team was likeable. Oldest combined age for a team to compete in TAR (yes, all 20 seasons). Their stretch of finishing 6-7-7-7-7-5-5-5-4-2-4 has to be the worst of any team to last eleven legs. Look at where they finish up on the team averages placing. Even Monica & Sheree are head of them. Nothing really else to say about them except it was fun to see teams bring in Meredith & Gretchen into their alliance for the sole purpose of dragging them to the Final Three. A Meredith & Gretchen victory would have been the most random and most unexpected win of all-time.
4) Lynn & Alex
The first stereotypically gay team to ever run the race. Obsessed with creams and Rob and Amber. And Rob. And Amber. Exaggerated reactions to things were great. They modeled rowing for Phil. Both of them would break out into random comments and had short attention spans. Their calm demeanour was refreshing too. Some of the ways they phrased certain incidents was quite a hoot as well. They earned their position to be this high. Next time just stop obsessing over Romber.
3) Susan & Patrick
Besides Adam & Rebecca, TAR needed a mother-son team that had a stereotypical spoiled mother’s boy-mother dynamic. Susan was rational, calm, and optimistic while Patrick was whiny and complained about everything. Hilarious jokes were there to be told the whole time. It was about time TAR broke this barrier.
2) Debbie & Bianca
A team that went on and on about being an all-female team. . .but was actually interesting overall. Both were insanely competitive and worked hard with weaker teams. Bianca’s fluent Spanish propelled them to the front of the pack combined with Debbie’s guts (including the ones she just ate) made them a tough team to beat. However, an unnecessary lie to POW Ron made themselves a target from Romber’s antics. Mix in poor independent map reading and you have a strong team taking an early and disappointing exit from TAR. The Gina Crews of TAR, perhaps.
1) Brian & Greg
Funniest team ever to run the race. Nobody has been so bold as to intentionally screw themselves over if it was a non-elimination. No other team has been last to a pit stop but beat a team to the mat itself in two separate legs.
Rank the Legs
1) Santiago -> Mendoza (One equalizer at the very beginning of the leg at a reasonable time of day. Teams previously on the bottom rose to the top much like the transition of leg four in TAR 3. Unprecedented quitting of the roadblock is a highlight of the series. That’s not even considering the fact that THREE teams quit the task too. What’s even more bizarre is that all three teams weren’t even close to the danger of being eliminated. Romber stealing cabs and Debbie interpreting a map she wasn’t even on makes it a very smooth and unpredictable TAR episode. Good job in the format, production.
2) The LBC where it’s hard being Snoop D O double G -> Cusco (Only because it was the most refreshing episode to see in over a season. The TAR 6 nightmare was officially over.)
3) Jodhpur -> Istanbul (Ron & Kelly and Romber no longer finish 1-2 at the top of the pack. Rob’s strategic musings backfires like no other in TAR history except perhaps Guido’s transportation choice and lollygagging from the Fast Forward. Uchenna is responsible for backfiring Rob’s move and is able to pick up Meredith & Gretchen to take them to the front of the pack. Meredith & Gretchen take two whole laps to find a clue. Istanbul is one of the most unique cities ever visited on TAR. Architecture is astounding. The ‘columns’ detour task is the most creative in the show’s history. The episode is capped off by Ron standing from a watchtower to see Romber occupy the remaining spot where Phil doesn’t mug you. This leg will be known for the debut of the Travelocity roaming gnome.)
4) Buenos Aires -> Johannesburg (We head to a new continent at just the right time. Leaderboard is greatly shaken up as teams have only one equalizer at the start before having to drive their own way for about a ten hour day in the suburbs and city of Johannesburg. The orphanage is a highlight. Gretchen getting stitches is a highlight. Ray & Deana taking part in the scariest task that was taken straight out of The Simpsons on the wobbly volcano bridge for a Japanese game show was another highlight. Brian & Greg being hilarious from start to finish. And a non-elimination penalty that the last place team can finally now dread being last? This leg really stands out for being a mid-season non-elimination.)
5) Johannesburg -> Maghakfjdkjsfdjfhddki Pans (This was an unusual leg. It was part of a two hour episode where the Soweto leg was 46 minutes while this one clocked in at 39 minutes. Significant difference. TAR turns into National Geographic as Botswana is portrayed as composed entirely of bushmen. How other’ing of them. The route markers were pretty much just ‘follow the flags’ to your next task making it impossible for teams to get lost. There were only two tasks and both appeared to take a total of 45 minutes to complete. Lynn & Alex’s obsession was more annoying and biased than it was enjoyable. Brian & Greg’s carwreck is a series first and their ability to rally from behind at the pit stop itself in a foot race for the second time this season is a ridiculous feat. It sent Ray & Deana home who had worn out their welcome by this point. Well, not as much as Ray & Deana had worn out their welcome. This leg also featured Meredith & Gretchen rallying from no money and no bags to arriving in fifth for their best finish yet. The audience rejoices.)
6) Istanbul -> London (Nothing to complain about this episode. There were no equalizers. They went to all of the major London landmarks except Big Ben. Teams had to figure out if taxis or public transit was faster given London’s dense population. Detour was okay. Roadblock required a ton of skill and major gambling as teams are forced to guess if they should enter the final two legs 5-5 in roadblock usage or have one person use up their sixth and final roadblock. Bee Rob doing the roadblock on his fourth attempt was the most unintentional and hilarious joke set up by producers. Ron & Kelly were irritating to viewers at home because Kelly’s ego was in the way. This was a very Empire Strikes Back episode as Romber and Ron & Kelly make up for the previous leg’s error by taking a turn to be on the earlier flight than our unlikely heroes Uchenna & Joyce and Meredith & Gretchen. This episode was one of the best bridge episodes to a TAR finale ever. Will Uchenna & Joyce rally? Will Rob win for once? And will Ron & Kelly’s dysfunction make a major ‘wtf’ finish? All would be revealed soon.)
7) Lucknow -> Jodhpur (I liked that there was a 26 hour train ride to wear down the teams. Although giving them twelve hours to recover afterwards earns a thumbs down. I was disappointed that there didn’t seem to be much to do this leg. There were only two tasks after the third equalizer was over and both tasks seemed to finish quickly. Taxis and tight traffic prevented teams from being able to separate until the pit stop on the outskirts of town which 100% relied on taxi knowledge and speed. Highlights include Gretchen riding in an elephant for no reason, stubborn camels on the race course, and Joyce being the only person to agree to have her head shaved during the race. Memorable Fast Forward (so why did production nearly make them extinct?! They’re the most exciting part of the episodes in the earlier seasons. Joyce’s head shaving alone puts the leg this high.))
8) London -> Montego Bay (It is perhaps one of the toughest legs for me to rank. On one hand we get to know the teams a bit better and all of the storylines are cemented for the final leg of the season. On the other hand there were was only one task per day and a really long ride to the pit stop where we had to wait it out for a gas station fill-up, a police checkpoint, and a flat tire. It was like The Matrix 2. Way too much time spent on a car chase and all other aspects were largely ignored. However the fact the leg was so condensed made it entertaining for a 25 minute spot. It just has an inability to stand alone as its very own episode. )
9) Cusco -> Santiago (Too few tasks in Santiago. I wish there was perhaps one more task to even things out. Lynn arguing over a rigged scale, Gretchen ‘OOOOing’ at every little event, and a foot race where the team I was rooting for hit the mat first makes this a quality episode. Plus the irony of Debbie & Bianca being nauseous that another team lied.)
10) Mendoza -> Vincente Cesares (This leg just didn’t quite have the magic that the other legs had. Lynn & Alex reinforce obsession with Romber, Ray obsesses with old wrinkly people, and the last few minutes of the episode is so rushed it throws you for a loop. Not a bad episode by any means though.)
11) Khwai River -> Lucknow (Meredith & Gretchen’s paparazzi welcoming is one of the strangest things I have seen on the race. Really? Them of all teams get the celebrity treatment? The pace of the leg slows down as we get to know the teams better as we stop at several airports between Khwai and Lucknow. There was tea stealing. But the leg is a gigantic ball of frustration when it’s a bulls— To Be Continued Leg. Otherwise this round would be a bit higher.)
12) The Pans -> Khwai River Lodge (You know a leg sucks when the majority of the footage is inside a car. And a roadblock is performed inside a car. And a team broke a car twice. No change of scenery from the previous leg to make it forgettable. Highlights are limited to two teams being turned away, Lynn & Alex’s car troubles that I have already mentioned, and Brian & Greg entering the pit stop in swimsuits praying that it’s a non-elimination and they’re stuck without a shirt for the rest of the race. It’s as bare bones as the race gets.)