The Amazing Race 9 episode 7 ranking

Seventh leg

Previously on TAR: Seven teams set departed from the ancient temple in Italy and drove across the island of Sicily. In Catania, Fran & Barry panicked in the gridlock. Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler surged ahead lugging 35 pound swordfish through the streets while Monica broke down over the task. On the roadblock, Lake taunted Michelle. Then Dave & Lori bickered and quickly made amend but their support for each other couldn’t save them from last place.

Now six teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?

– Ray & Yolanda got the short end of the stick. They were the only team not mentioned in the intro. You think finishing second to last in back-to-back legs would give them an underdog edit.

– We are introduced to Siracusa. It was founded by the Greeks in 734 B.C. It was once the most powerful Greek city in the Mediterranean. A natural spring nearby is the pit stop for this leg in the race.

– Will Lake & Michelle’s emotions continue to boil over and hurt their team’s performance? And will BJ & Tyler’s carefree ways keep them on a winning path? Again, no mention of Ray-Ray and Yo-Yo.

– Eric & Jeremy, who arrived at 1033am, will depart at 1033pm. The first route marker in the previous leg didn’t open until 830am. See what I mean? Last round was extremely short. A detour, roadblock, an additional task, a pit stop, and a route marker shouldn’t be able to be completed in two hours flat.

– Jeremy reads that teams must travel by train and ferry 350 miles to Rome, Italy. Cue out of place sound effect. Once there they will go to the Trevi Fountain and search the man with the yellow and red scooter to receive their next clue.

How recently do you think he painted his scooter to be red and yellow? Or did production send scouts to find a random local who picked such an odd colour combination? I dunno.

– Eric sees that they were given tickets for the 800am train. Eric says you can’t be too serious on the race even if you want to win. It’s much easier to have fun and tease themselves and make each other laugh.

– The hippies depart at 1038pm. They still wear their Bowling Moms shirts. Tyler says they are as competitive as the other teams but are having fun. That may be the secret to doing well on TAR. The hippies and Frats win nearly every leg (particularly Eric & Jeremy who have yet to finish lower than second). Meanwhile you have couples like Lake & Michelle or MoJo who bicker and cannot crack into that upper echelon of success in TAR.

– Over an hour later at 1140pm, it’s MoJo time. Monica says the race makes her feel crazy and the fear of someone racing past her is what makes it so emotional. She has moments where she is falling and freaking out.

MO: It smells like dead fish in here.

You never had the fish in your car. Does that mean they didn’t take time to wash their clothes or throw the shirts out before this round started? Poor thing.

– Fran & Barry are next to leave three minutes later. Barry says Fran has more mental toughness than anyone he knows. Wasn’t Fran the one who said she couldn’t handle carrying a 35 pound swordfish? You can’t will yourself to carry 35 pounds? Or do you mean mental toughness as your brain has hardened to the point that you can’t see clue boxes or unable to figure out how to build a motorcycle with complete instructions from Lake?

– Eric & Jeremy park at the train station. They ask the officers when it opens. Four o’ clock. The officers also confirm that the 800am train is the earliest to Rome.

– Lake & Michelle depart at 1217am. Michelle says her and Lake never give up on anything. Their names randomly appear on-screen when they ask for directions. Woops. Editor must have fallen asleep onto the keyboard and accidentally pushed a button.

– Michelle asks if Lake has the additional info. He snaps and says that Michelle didn’t hand it to him. Is Lake & Michelle’s last name “Paolo” by any chance? They keep bickering. Michelle blames Lake while Lake shouts at her that she didn’t hand it to him.

LAKE: YOU DIDN’T HAND IT TO ME B—-, NOW SHUT UP!

Guess who’s gonna be doing their fifth roadblock thiiiis round? 😀

MICHELLE: It’s your fault. It’s a big mistake on your part.

A wife who didn’t flinch at being called a b—- by their husband and maintained a calm demeanour? I’m impressed.

MICHELLE: I’m gonna take the blame because I usually do.

Now you’re just being condescending.

– Lake hopes that their little thing they have going on doesn’t blow them up in the race. Well I’d say it wouldn’t be helping.

– Mo gets out of her car and asks BJ “wut up”. BJ says it isn’t open. At 102am Ray & Yolanda depart.

RAY: We have to play the game from the bottom up and take out one team at a time.

Then the 800am equalizer happened and puts you in a tie for first. Plan successful!

– Lake is at the train station and asks Eric when it opens. As Lake walks away, Eric hurls an insult to support the edit of Lake being a jerk.

ERIC: I think he’s bipolar.

Jonathan was referred to as being bipolar as well. When will people realize that there’s a difference between having high energy that rivals Robin Williams and bipolar where you’re very up and down in terms of mood? A bipolar contestant would provide you with zero worthwhile footage for a couple rounds and be boring TV. High energy people on the other hand. . .

– Ray is happy to see Eric & Jeremy. It’s the first time they would have seen them since Russia. Four legs? Is that the longest two teams haven’t crossed paths on the race? My gut tells me it must be a record.

– Phil narrates that the teams took a train to Rome. Suddenly we’re in Rome. We see several people exit the train station and run outside to catch taxis. The leaderboard doesn’t change as Eric & Jeremy are first. However MoJo have improved to second. The hippies, Fran & Barry, and Lake & Michelle take the subway to the Trevi Fountain. Ray & Yolanda are last and take a bit of time before being told to take the metro. They are only a few minutes behind.

– Eric & Jeremy spot the scooter. Eric reads that teams must travel less than a mile and find horse-drawn carriages near the famed Spanish steps. In the carriage they will find portfolios. Inside will be their next clue. So they don’t get to ride in a horse-drawn carriage but rather grab a portfolio from it? That would be a letdown if I was a racer.

– Further instructions tell teams to keep the sketch with them that was inside the clue.

Hopefully they don’t have to go to an airport. Security officials may “randomly select” them when they see a drawing of a headless man in their bags.

PHIL: In the spirit of the upcoming movie The Da Vinci Code, teams have been given one half of Da Vinci’s famous Petruvian Man. They will find the other half inside the portfolio. The first team to put these pieces together, crack the code, and bring it to the pit stop will win a prize.

– MoJo make some of the strangest car noises as they want the driver to pass a motorbike. Mo has always wanted to go to Rome. Suddenly she has the envelope and is back in the cab looking for the motorcycle.

– The hippies continue to be in ‘Mario and Luigi’ mode as they are lucky enough to spend their third leg in Italy. I won’t be surprised if after leaving Italy that the accent is stuck with them for the remainder of the race. Much like how the contestants of BB 2000 spoke in the French accent after the Tour de France task. At least Julie Chenbot will break character.

– The hippies, Fran & Barry, and Lake & Michelle have their envelope.

BJ: It’s Da Vinci’s something man.
TYLER: Naked is what it is.

– Something looks different about Lake.

Ah. He shaved. Lake has regained his lesbian look. Michelle must be pleased.

– Fran & Barry stop to run after hippies and Lake & Michelle because they want to avoid getting lost. Ray & Yolanda find the motorcycle. At the other end of the street Eric & Jeremy have their clue.

– Eric reads that they must fly 655 miles to the capital city of Greece–Athens. Here in the heart of the city is the ancient agora. In the market centre is where teams will find their next clue. Eric & Jeremy take the time to solve the code. It appears to take ten seconds before they see what it reads.

“You cracked the code. First team to bring this solution to the pit stop wins the prize” or something like that. Production wasn’t very creative.

After seven rounds, we FINALLY have our first new country of the season! Yes ladies and gentlemen, it took us exactly to the halfway point, but we finally did it! Bring on Greece. Which from what I hear is pretty much the same as Italy. I know Italians and Greeks can agree on that fact without hesitation.

– MO: To walk in the same place as Caesar. . .and all those other people is just incredible.

Caesar. . .and. . .Gee, what else is in Rome? I know a lot of crap happened here but I can’t remember what. There was Octavian, Remus and Lupin, and the guy from Gladiator. Not the brother of the dead actor’s character but Russell Crowe’s. I think.

– MoJo are at the carriage. They are off to the Agora. The hippies, Lake & Michelle, and Fran & Barry have the clue. Hippies crack the code. BJ brags that he read the Da Vinci Code too.

Can you tell it’s 2006? That was one of the biggest book fads. Everybody wanted to do puzzles from anagrams to cryptograms to Sudokus. Now they all feel like a bunch of nerds and thought ‘let’s move onto something cooler’.

Then came along Twilight. >_>

– Ray & Yolanda are last to the portfolio. They can’t seem to get out of last place regardless of the 800am equalizer. Their plan to work from the bottom up has failed. Ray comments that he saw a lot of shops and wants to come back here if he wins the million bucks. In 2012, Italian officials would beg reality TV winners to spend money in their country and stimulate the economy.

– Eric & Jeremy book the 725pm flight. MoJo books the flight too. Hippies sneak under the rope and have the flight too. Michelle asks about all of the flights going to Greece. The only one is 725pm. Fran & Barry book it and so do Ray Ray and Yo Yo. That was two quick equalizers.

– Odd soundtrack plays before Fran & Barry are first into a cab and have a lead. Then Ray Ray and Yo Yo.

And here comes the local stereotypes! Didn’t My Big Fat Greek Wedding come out around this time, too?

– Barry takes the opportunity to break Fran’s arm in the cab with cold eyes. The excitement of their first lead has changed Barry for the worse.

Now bring your other wrist over and you have fashioned yourself a wicked Indian burn.

– MO: This is where thinking began and the great philosophers.

Inspired from the Greeks several years after the fact. A copycat.

– MoJo pass Ray & Yolanda. Mo mocks Ray & Yolanda for being all business and all about the race. However the jokes about shopping and pretending to intimidate cab drivers says otherwise for Ray & Yo.

– Yo doesn’t think a lot is going on with MoJo. Seeing as they did not get airtime until episode six, I can’t help but agree.

– Jeremy is inside the cab and goes crazy. He utters a bunch of random cheers. Keep in mind his head snaps back and forth too like the Kennedy assassination. This is the best job I could do to transcribe what he says:

JEREMY: Wehhhh wehhhh like that like that THAT THAT YEAH WAHOO HOO HOO.

Someone is a little too excited for The Agora. And what’s up with everyone making strange car noises and jerking their head? It must be the jet lag.

– Fran & Barry read that the Agora is open at 800am. Literally two seconds later it’s 800am and it opens. It’s pouring rain. One of the harshest rainy days encountered in quite a while on TAR. From the snow in Russia to the mild weather of Germany to the hot days in Italy and now to the rainy and muggy nature of Greece, we’ve explored all climates here in season nine.

– Hippies follow the Frats to the clue. Ray & Yo play tag along as they wait to watch other teams to find it. MoJo are first to the clue. Phil announces that this is one of two Fast Forwards hidden on the entire race.

*cue my regular speech about how stupid it is for there to be only two Fast Forwards per season*

In this Fast Forward, teams must travel on foot less than one mile to a popular restaurant and take part in the traditional method of warding off mischievous spirits–plate breaking. Teams must break plates until they see a yellow and red route marker baked into one of the plates. There are hundreds of plates.

In other words, it is the fifth or sixth task this season that falls under the ‘needle in the haystack’ theme.

– Teams must travel by train more than seventy miles to the city of Corinth and find the Isthmos Train Station. Once there teams will find their next clue.

Thanks to math class, I know that the letter ‘S’ in the Greek alphabet is sigma. And the egg looking letter is ‘T’ for theta. The I, M, and O are self-explanatory. I have a feeling there is no ‘H’ equivalent in the Greek alphabet.

– Eric & Jeremy are running to the Fast Forward. So do Fran & Barry who are doing a slow walk. The other four teams are wise enough not to chase down the Frat Boys and get into cabs or a bus to the train station. MoJo are going for the Fast Forward too. They are there first.

– MoJo are breaking plates at a slow rate. Eric & Jeremy enter. I don’t know why are they are whipping it so hard or using one hand. I would do a two-handed toss. Ten seconds later Eric has the flag. That was the least suspenseful and  most poorly edited showdown I have ever seen. I hope production had very little to work with in the editing suite because we saw it play out in real time.

Although production may not care about how they edit Fast Forwards anymore. They went from twelve down to two Fast Forwards for no good reason, so maybe they don’t care about showdowns unlike the ones we saw in TAR 3 just so the audience tells them to not do Fast Forwards anymore.

– Rant over. Eric reads that they must drive themselves to the next pit stop–Fortress of Rion. A 14th century stronghold on the Greek coast.

– You know what’s the best thing to do when you’ve won the Fast Forward?

Toss hundreds of sharp, broken and fragile plates in the air to celebrate the victory! Oh no, you cut a band member’s skull in half! Oops!

The lesson here kids is to always wear a helmet when diving across a table full of sharp objects. As long as you have a helmet, you’d be fine. I’m certain no other part of your body could get injured with that technique.

– In the shocker of shockers, Jeremy notices he cut up his thumb pretty good. It’s bleeding.

– Fran & Barry are so late to the party that they are dumbfounded to see the Fast Forward taken. Two teams went inside and left without Fran & Barry seeing them. I wouldn’t be shocked if they ran right past Fran & Barry knowing their eyesight.

– Lake & Michelle buy tickets for Corinth and wonder where everyone else is. Hippies get on the train shortly thereafter as well as Ray & Yolanda. BJ speculates that the other three teams either competed for the Fast Forward or they are lost in ancient Athens and may the gods help them.

– Mo asks if anyone speaks English and a couple cabs drive past them despite clearly tring to flag them down. Instead they take a bus. Mo breaks out in tears and Jo asks to lift up her spirits. Barry knows he can’t run as fast to the taxis as the other teams so they always fall behind when making crucial mistakes.

BARRY: We can’t run to the clue box as fast as other teams.

Especially when you can’t find them. Tough to run to something you can’t see in plain sight. In most universes that sentence would be a paradox. But not for Fran & Barry.

– MoJo sees the terminal. Mo sits and cries and gets all high pitched and whiny. Mo is happy to see Fran & Barry on the train because she knows she can beat them. End of tears.

– BJ thinks it’s cool that they get to see Greece on the train. Meanwhile Lake complains that it’s not nearly as Italy. Greeks have lost yet another battle in their rivalry with Italy.

– Corinth. Teams step off the train. Ray does it in the most dramatic way possible.

“I’m not a crook!”

– The three teams ask if this is Isthmos Station. The agent tells them that all three leading teams got off at the wrong station. He tells the six of them they need to buy bus tickets to Isthmos. So all three teams buy bus tickets. If Fran & Barry and MoJo successfully follow directions, we’re in for a tight leg.

MICHELLE: It said do not get off the train until you are at Isthmos Station. We got off before Isthmos Station. It says nothing about a bus. I hope this doesn’t screw us up because we didn’t ride a bus.
LAKE: This is not gonna screw us up, dammit!
MICHELLE: Don’t curse at me.

Lake calls you a b—-, but when he sees dammit is when it crosses the line? What’s next? Michelle thinks diamonds trumps all other suits in a deck of cards?

– The three teams get off across the street from the Isthmos Train Station. It’s a roadblock.

“Who wants to hear the sounds of their own scream?”

That’s a pretty direct roadblock clue.

In this task a person must walk onto the bridge and bungee jump 240 feet into the Corinth Canal. Once they’ve completed the task they will receive their next clue.

– Since Lake & Michelle’s roadblock count is 4-1, Michelle has to do it. Ray and Tyler are doing it. They had to race to pick numbers too. MoJo and Fran & Barry are at the train station. Fran and Mo are doing it. Mo has “4” and Fran has “5”. Fran is scared to bungee.

Uh oh. I sense this is the obligatory “I was the most frightened so I could mug for as much airtime as possible when I knew I would do it all along in the first place” segment that we see multiple times per season.

– Ray pulled the “1” so he is first to jump. He has the most gut wrenching deep yell as he goes down. It’s like a caveman. Ray receives his clue. It’s a detour. Crap. Another leg where you do two tasks in the same location? Lame, lame, and lamest.

– In this detour teams must choose between two activities rooted in Greek mythology. Herculean Effort or It’s All Greek to Me.

Real men wear adult diapers.

– In Herculean Effort, teams travel to a 2300 year old stadium and complete from three events from the ancient Olympic games. One team member must throw a discus and throw a competitive distance. Then the other will throw a javelin and throw it a competitive distance. Finally, both must take on a professional wrestler (the type not on steroids and cocaine) and push him outside a 20 foot circle. When all three events are completed, the Toga Master will give them their next clue.

– In It’s All Greek to Me, teams drive to the same stadium and travel to an archaeological site and search a specific section for the nine pieces of pottery shard that have Greek letters on them. With the help of these spectators, they must translate the Greek letters to English and arrange them in an order that will spell out a location on the map. Then they will receive the next clue.

– Yeah. Herculean. Ray & Yolanda think along the same lines as me because they are fit and track stars. Tyler jumps next. He says he could get addicted to bungee jumping. They will do herculean effort too.

BJ: We get to compete in the Olympics! I love Olympics!

London 2012 ended yesterday. Besides Usain Bolt, it was a gigantic waste of time. Did you watch any other part of the Olympics? I sure didn’t. At least teams weren’t required to compete in a boxing match. The referees would flip a coin to determine if they got the clue regardless of their performance in the task.

– Athens 2004 was the last Olympics to occur at the time of TAR 9 so it only makes sense that they had an Olympic-related detour. In addition to Olympic origins in Greece. Michelle and Monica complete the bungee jump in an uneventful manner. Fran looks distressed. Mo tells ‘Franny’ that she loves her. They’re all doing Herculean Effort. Fran is still on the bridge crying and whining and begging for encouragement and kisses from Barry.

– She is scared. She says she’s scared. And says she’s scared again. Then commercial. We come back and she does it instantly. I wonder if production told her to do it because they didn’t have an obvious segment to use to cut to commercial yet? She does it and says she has never been so scared in her life.

Fear conquered? Doesn’t sound like it.

– They choose to do It’s All Greek to Me. The only team to do so.

I bet Gold and Silver would be willing to make a confessional about how they always take the slow road. Arianne would be infuriated that they chose to sell fish, read Greek, and try to build a motorcycle rather than skydive or ride a jet ski.

– Lake yells at Michelle before she has a chance to open the map. She wants to stop and ask but Lake tells her to shut up. Michelle is pissed that Lake is yelling at her like she did something wrong.

LAKE: Baby, dammit. You screwed us right off the bat.
MICHELLE: Stop right here and ask.
LAKE: Shut up.
MICHELLE: Quit yelling at me like I did something wrong cause I didn’t.
LAKE: Well let’s talk about everyone yelling f—ing and all those good things.
MICHELLE: You yelled at me first. Take the map and ask them.

Rejected!

LAKE: Dammit, don’t be an idiot right now! Don’t be crazy now! You’re falling apart right when the pressure gets tough.

I’m still amazed by his map rejection, personally.

Nothing like a good first grader argument of “but you did it first” on The Amazing Race. I thought Family Edition was over?

– Frat Boys park their car and see Phil. They casually walk onto the mat. They’re team number one yet again.

Jeremy is trying to tell us something about finishing first in back-to-back legs.

It’s just “two sweet”.

– Phil asks if Eric brought Da Vinci’s man. They’ve cracked the code. They have won a trip for two to walk the red carpet for the theatrical premiere of The Da Vinci Code. We get a glimpse of a couple quick highlights of the movie.

NOTE: CBS forgot to set them up to go down the red carpet. They gave Eric & Jeremy a different prize in exchange for their loss. What the prize was is unknown to us.

– Eric & Jeremy say they are stoked to take part in their first red carpet event. So much for their dreams.

– Meanwhile, back to the people who can never seem to catch up to the Frats, Ray & Yolanda are at the stadium. They look at the line of guides.

Ladies and gentlemen, pick your toga! I particularly like the stud on the left who is looking into the Heavens.

– Sure enough, Ray & Yolanda pick the guy who was in the Heavens. He came back to the earth to show Ray & Yolanda the sports. Yolanda completes the discus after a couple tosses. He proceeds to impart his knowledge on Ray regarding the javelin. Back on the highway, the hippies are completely lost. They know they should have asked somebody for directions.

– Michelle still can’t read Greek and doesn’t understand the map. Lake wonders if she can get anything right. She snaps back saying it was her idea to buy the map. Yep. Purchasing a map that you’re unable to comprehend is a great idea!

Rebecca agrees.

LAKE: Yeah you did do good on the map.
MICHELLE: Well shut the hell up.

Don’t curse at Lake now, dag gummit!

– We see Ray screw up twice. Mo screws up on the discus throw. Ray does another poor throw. Mo is done with the discus. Toga leader tells Jo to wait for Ray to complete his toss. Ray does not reach the mark again. Now it’s a rotation system between Ray and Jo.

– Fran & Barry are at the stadium. They pick up several letters. The nine are collected. Lake & Michelle are at the ancient stadium. Michelle is the one who drives and parks there. I suppose Lake reading the map was the right way to go. They are doing the “It’s All About Greek” task. They have the nine letters too.

– Hippies pull into the Shell gas station. They are told they are going the wrong way.

Charles Manson is embarrassed by his own navigation skills.

– Hippies conclude they lost two hours by driving the wrong way. BJ believes they’re done.

I don’t know the purpose of this close-up except maybe to show the beard hairs trembling and shaking from the stress on BJ’s face. Tyler tells BJ to hope it’s a non-elimination. Never have they seemed so down.

– Jo completes the javelin. Ray does an odd spin with his javelin and misses again.

– Fran & Barry have translated all of their letters and sees the map inside the urn. Lake grabs the map in the urn too. Michelle hate seeing Fran & Barry and concludes the old couple is better than them. Lake plays the role of optimist for once and is happy to see another team period. He proceeds Michelle to shut up. Negativity will not be tolerated.

BJ: We’ve got this frog hat on for the rain and for good luck. I’m gonna wear this hat to help us.

It also helped him defeat Bowser a while back. He hasn’t had to wear the hat since 1990. Sixteen years worth of dust has collected in the closet.

– MoJo are on the third and final part. Mo runs around the ring wailing because of how physical it is and is afraid of the man. She eventually gets in the thick of things but runs away again. Jo comes up with a smart move of tripping the wrestler on the edge of the ring resulting in both of them crashing outside the ring. They are told that they will receive their clue.

However Mo takes the reluctant wrestler by the hand to potty train him so he doesn’t have to wear those diapers anymore. The toga master says they will receive an Express Pass if they are successful in their endeavour.

– Mo reads that they must drive 107 miles across a fancy bridge to the pit stop. Can you guess? It’s the Fortress of Rion in the town of Rion. It was a stronghold. Last team to check in MAY be eliminated. So is it an elimination or not? Only nine minutes away.

– Ray finally completes the javelin. The wrestler claps Ray and Yolanda’s hands before they wrassle. Ray & Yo waste no time butt raping the wrestler before pulling him out of the ring.

YO: We got beat by MoJo which is a big no-no.

That’s fo sho sho,
ya kno kno,
Ray Ray and Yo Yo?

– Fran & Barry are still translating. Barry thinks it is tougher than a New York Times crossword puzzle. You know you’re really old when you reference the New York Times. Half of the TV audience is lost with that reference.

– Lake & Michelle work to translate the letters. Lake tells Michelle to shut up so Fran & Barry doesn’t hear. Lake doesn’t want to translate the ninth letter because with eight they should be able to find it on the map. Fran & Barry see a town with nine letters so they approach the toga judge. They are toga approved and awarded the clue.

– Michelle points out a town. Lake takes the name to the judge and they have it. Lake congratulates her on a job well done. Only problem now is that Michelle can’t find the name of the town on the map. She defends that “Fortress of Rion” isn’t a town so there is no way to know where it is. Unless, of course, you ask somebody. Fran can’t see it either.

– Barry can’t see anything either as he backs the car into a tree and takes out the entire back window. If they win the million, TAR is mailing them the bill.

FRAN: Your whole back window is out.
BARRY: It’s okay. I didn’t see it.

My friend who received a DUI used that same excuse regarding a traffic light during his defense in traffic court.

Evidence that Barry’s driver’s license needs to be taken away when he re-enters the US.

INSTANT REPLAY

Now you see it.

Now you don’t.

Barry is carefully watching for traffic that may come up from the tree in the middle of the park.

– They proceed to drive into a driveway to ask for directions. Thank god they didn’t drive into the house.

– Hippies are at Herculean Effort. Tyler is told by a toga master that he is the last one. BJ completes the discus throw where Tyler and him engage in the most flamboyant hug possible. Lake thinks he is driving in the wrong way and tears up not being able to handle the pressure. He says he probably couldn’t recall his own name from the stress. Michelle tells him to calm down and take a breath.

No matter what happens, Lake is sooooo getting laid tonight.

– Tyler completes the javelin. The wrestler takes down Tyler once. Both hippies are laughing hysterically. Tyler takes off his shirt and engages with the wrestler. Both hippies take an arm use their momentum to swing down the wrestler out of the ring. They ask for directions immediately. MoJo gets out to ask too.

– Yolanda notices Ray’s muscles popping out as they run into the pit stop. Phil tells them they are second but there was a penalty. Remember how Michelle said they should have taken a train rather than a bus? Yeah. They weren’t supposed to ride that bus. So Ray Ray and Yo Yo’s journey from the bottom up is not yet complete. It’s only a fifteen minute penalty rather than the 30 minutes that we always hear about since TAR 5. Five minutes into the penalty is when MoJo checks in. Mo is in disbelief that they are team number two.

– Ray & Yo still smile at being team number three. Michelle complains it’s about to get dark. Lake is in the back seat tearing up. It’s pitch black now. Tyler says it’s fine if they go out because it’s been an amazing experience.

– Fran thinks they are eliminated. She checks in where Phil informs them they are team number four.

An umbrella but no turtleneck? Phil didn’t dress appropriate for the weather for once. That is so uncharacteristic of him. I’m concerned for his well-being.
– No penalty for smashing out a back window. The hippies enter the pit stop in a unique fashion without any suspense. The hippies assume they are going out in style.

Because BJ is wearing Mario’s Frog Suit that automatically makes Tyler Yoshi by default. Although Yoshi doesn’t come along until after the frog suit is discarded. Who cares. This timeline makes about twice as much sense as the Legend of Zelda timeline.
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And about ten times more sense than the Facebook timeline.

– Hippies are in disbelief that they are fifth. However they are in just as much shock that they didn’t read a clue and realize they could have screwed up. The clock begins. TTOW sees that two minutes remains. Then fifteen seconds. Lake & Michelle are shown running up the stairs. When time expires the stairs are reshown with no team running up them. Oh editors, you tricky sons of guns. Anyways the hippies are waved onto the mat.

– They are fifth. The hippies are happy to be alive.

I think Phil will need to borrow one of those Italian hickey scarves sold at airports.

Make that two scarves.

And that face explains why the hippies will never be allowed back on The Amazing Race.

Also this greeter looks pretty sweet. TAR loves a greeter with unique facial hair. From Santa Claus to Haggar, it seems we are in the era of the Greek Selleck.

– Lake & Michelle calmly step onto the mat. They are the last team to arrive and eliminated from the race. Michelle cries. Lake hugs her and says it’s okay. He smiles. Nobody expected Lake to go out with such grace. It was an extremely stressful experience. She hates she couldn’t do anything to help him. Uh oh. Here comes self-pity. She knows people will think they have a wacky relationship.

Next time on TAR: If I told you Eric & Jeremy not only are below second, but fight it out with an equally dominating team for last place, would you believe me? Huh, would ya? And after six legs of no new countries, we hit up our second new country in a row as well as a new continent.

Confessional counts

Lake&Michelle 0.1
BJ&Tyler 1.2
Ray&Yolanda 2.2
Joseph&Monica 0.2
Eric&Jeremy 2.2
Fran&Barry 2.2

Team averages

12th Debra & Steve 12.0
12th Gina & Sylvia 12.0
11th Ryan & Chuck 11.0
11th John & Scott 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 Lisa & Joni 10.0
10th A Black Family 10.0
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
8th Danielle & Dani 7.8
9th Jim & Marsha 7.33
8th Aiello Family 7.0
8th Dave & Margaretta 7.0
9th Lena & Kristy 7.0
10th Hope & Norm 7.0
9th Rogers Family 6.5
8th Susan & Patrick 6.5
6th Lenny & Karyn 6.43
9th Wanda & Desiree 6.25
7th Paul & Amie 6.2
8th Steve & Dave 6.2 FF
11th Amanda & Chris 6.0
6th Andre & Damon 5.86
7th Dave & Lori 5.83
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
6th Gaghan Family 5.5
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 – 5.0 FF
9th Steve & Josh 5.0 – FF
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0 – FF
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF
7th Schroeder Family 4.75
6th Lake & Michelle 4.71
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 Paolo Family 4.13 FF
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
4th Godlewski Family 3.18
3rd Weaver Family 3.15
1st Reichen & DK 3.15 – FF
1st Uchenna & Joyce 3.15 FF
4th Derek & Drew 3.10 – FF
3rd Ron & Kelly 3.00
4th Hayden & Aaron 2.92
2nd Bransen Family 2.85
1st Linz Family 2.77
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
2nd Rob & Amber 2.31

Rank the Legs:

1) Denver -> Sao Paulo (Much like the TAR 7 premiere, a new cast and a new route to follow a terrible season can make an episode ten times better simply due to its contrast with the content leading up to it. After suffering through episodes seven through thirteen of TAR 8, one cannot help but feel giddy as they witness this season’s opener. A brand new starting line that exhausts teams with its altitude combined with the first trip to Brazil in seven seasons? Yeah, I’m game.

The level of mature content has never been so prevalent in TAR but is necessary because of the watered down nature of TAR 8. Then there’s the kooky cast. They are all over-the-top mixed with the exceptionally brilliant and the exceptionally stupid. Many of the players are superfans who seem to be playing a game of one-up with each other to see who can parody the events of TAR the best. Compare the pit stop entrances of the first eight seasons with what you see in the premiere and you’ll know what I mean.

Fran & Barry losing 45 minutes for a clue sitting in front of their face the whole time is an extremely bizarre sighting (no pun) for TAR. Locals sexually harassing one of the players has not occurred to such an extreme since the train rides in TAR 4 with Kelly and Jaree being fondled.

And the tasks? Running up an amphitheatre? Going to fancy bridges? An insanely expensive helicopter scavenger hunt? A religious ceremony and tracking down a huge soccer stadium? That my friends is a proper premiere. The icing on the cake is that the worst and the biggest bore of a team is gone in the opener too.)

2) Munich -> Segesta (I was a big fan of this leg. Your order of departure gave you an advantage or disadvantage unlike what we’re used to seeing in recent seasons which made it one of the fairest legs of the race. This round perhaps featured more strategy than any of the first four rounds. There were multiple flights to take to Palermo which led teams to scrambling around many airlines. Lake & Michelle’s fail dropped them to last while BJ & Tyler’s wise planning launched them into a definitive first place finish.

Then there was the yield. The leading teams chose not to use it to avoid making any enemies. Lake & Michelle however used theirs to yield the weakest team knowing they were minutes away from being eliminated. Yielding the weakest team increases your chances of survival while also ensuring the team you yielded is gone and cannot come back to haunt you. What if they yield Ray & Yolanda? Wouldn’t Ray still kick butt on the puzzle and Double D is gone regardless?

Teams had to drive a stick shift to ensure all of the teams are well-rounded. The team that could not drive the stick were the ones who ended up eliminated. Other teams got lost driving themselves rather than at the hands of an incompetent taxi driver holding your fate.

The roadblock is one of the tougher puzzles seen on the race. You needed to have your wits about you to conclude that there is two pieces that do not get used anywhere on the statue.

The ability for this season to make the viewers laugh continues. Two unique pit stop entrances occurred this round as BJ & Tyler make a joke of Phil offering the sponsoured prizes on the race and Lake carrying his wife onto the mat. Let’s not forget the wheelchair Olympics in an airport and how BJ and the Frat Boys sat in that wheelchair across multiple segments. Add in ironic quotes from Double D, Fran & Barry missing another clue, and Lake’s high energy level produces a very entertaining episode.

Last but not least Ray & Yolanda rally from being last only one mile from the pit stop and successfully stay alive. It is one of the biggest upsets in TAR history. You rarely see a team make up that much time with so little distance until the pit stop and avoid the wrath of the turtleneck.)

3) Siracusa -> Rion (This was a good transition leg into the second half of the season. After several legs where leading teams were given an advantage for departing first in the next leg, this round gave teams several chances to switch up the leaderboard and go in different directions. The only bummer is that teams were stuck on the same trains and flight all the way to Athens.

However it was a fairly well-rounded leg. Teams left Sicily for the first time in three episodes and headed to Rome even if it was for only a short while. An inspired Da Vinci task is memorable and unique for the season. It is something I hope the Race will expand upon it in the future. I suppose stacking two pieces of paper on each other is not a bad way to start out. It made me think of the slick Columns task in Istanbul during TAR 7.

So we head into Athens where teams sucked at following directions. I haven’t seen such a separation between teams for the simple fact that riding a bus when you should’ve been riding a train or reading Greek maps can prove to be so difficult.

Then there is an extremely inspired detour. Herculean Effort drew upon the ancient Olympic games while the other option is perhaps one of the most unique tasks developed in TAR history.

Add in the completion to Lake & Michelle’s run on the race, the hippies proving to be vulnerable, and Eric & Jeremy being Eric & Jeremy, you have a solid leg.

Oh, and I’m busting up thinking about Barry backing a truck up into the largest and most obvious tree sitting in a relatively empty field. That’s the kind of stuff I couldn’t get away with in my TAR fanfic. And he can’t use the “I’m not good with a stick shift” excuse like Eve did when she slammed into a pole in TAR 3.)

4) Sao Paulo -> Brotas (It’s been a while since TAR has had to cram ten teams into a single one hour episode. In this episode it is noticeable. We repel, we go to the next destination, we ascend, then pit stop? Ascending and repelling in two places only one hundred miles apart makes this a very ho-hum leg on paper. The episode plays out more like a recap show where a couple of key characters are the only ones shown (hippies, Eric & Jeremy, and Double D)

5) Moscow -> Munich (This is the first time that a leg doesn’t have an enormous equalizer right after a To Be Continued episode. I give major kudos for making the race a bit more legit. Being in the lead finally has an impact leading into this round. In terms of production decisions, I deduct marks from them for the design error in their Travelocity error.

The detour tasks were both amusing. I can’t quite get over the cuckoo clock that would have driven the teams crazy and the locals in outfits that they would never wear in the streets of Germany. The co-ordination of Fran & Barry was fun to watch. Unfortunately their lack of co-ordination would be nothing compared to a certain task four seasons from now. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then you haven’t seen TAR 13.

Wanda & Desiree missing a sign for the city not once but twice, and also going on the same incorrect road not once but twice is memorable. It was the first leg where teams were given a vehicle to drive themselves across long distances. That was necessary because Wanda & Desiree’s extreme lack of direction was exposed and we know now that they should never be in a position to win TAR. Same with Double D who followed Wanda & Desiree blindly. What were they thinking?

And who can forget the Wall of Death? You put your life in the hands of a German who drives a normal Mercedes vehicle 170 kilometres per hour on a ramp that you think only Tony Hawk could clear on a skateboard.

To cap off the episode, Eric & Jeremy and the hippies’ rivalry continues as they also provide a huge amount of comic relief. I should give a nod to Lake, too.)

6) Brotas -> Moscow (I hate To Be Continued legs. Think if this leg was an elimination or a regular non-elimination. Do you know how much of a blunder Dave & Lori sharing a cab with a team all the way to the pit stop in last place would have been? That would be in every TAR highlight reel. The commercials would have promoted the heck out of it. But instead it was tossed aside and minimized for the episode.

The hippies and Eric & Jeremy were hilarious per usual. So was Lake. I wish those five could be on every season.

Double D nearly sink themselves by being of many victims to leave their fanny pack at the previous route marker that erases their lead. Then there is Wanda’s fear of diving that rivals Ibrahim Rahman from Survivor: Palau. She had to kick for three seconds and she would have received the freakin’ clue. What’s wrong with her?

In addition seeing locals have troubles communicating with Russian taxi drivers was great too. Especially when Lake & Michelle and Eric & Jeremy give up and decide to follow Ray & Yolanda to what is the less desired detour option. Such good unintentional comedy. Also let’s not forget what little about Russia that all of the teams know. They’re just a country who all smokes and drinks all day? I thought that was Germany’s reputation, personally.)

7) Segesta -> Siracusa (This leg seemed extremely brief. It was like TAR was in a hurry and needed to cut a leg so that filming would be done by the deadline. That is what happened to this round.

There was a route marker in a town about three hours away. At that same route marker was a task you needed to complete there. Once done you were given your detour task that was within a third of a mile. From there you drove twenty miles to do a roadblock that takes about five minutes followed by a pit stop less than a mile away.

In other words this leg seemed very limited in terms of location. It wasn’t so much as getting lost as it was to keep your mind focused in one of the biggest traffic jams that teams are forced to drive through on the race. There was very little freedom to move ahead of your position from last leg or fall behind. The only thing you could do was yell for directions as often as possible and make sure you can run during tasks. Other than that you needed nothing else for this round.

So it makes me wonder “why do a round that has zero traveling and limits you to two precise locations”? Where’s the adventure or race in that? If you compare the finishes from this leg to last leg, the only difference you see is Dave & Lori moving down a spot while Eric & Jeremy moved up a spot thanks to map reading inability or ability. That was it. There was nothing anyone else could really do.

The tasks aren’t terribly noteworthy. Count 41 obvious heads? Carry fish to a market and find the correct stall? Play a game of polo that can be rigged entirely by the professional players? It’s not as weak as a round of Family Edition or TAR 6, but we’re certainly closing in on it.

What’s worst of all is that it was an elimination round. There is no way such a quick leg should count as an elimination. It would have been perfect as a non-elimination because the teams who barely scraped by in earlier legs can fight it out for who doesn’t get stuck with the major disadvantage. Unfortunately Dave & Lori don’t have a chance to wear their swordfish blood and guts drenched on their shirts for several consecutive days.

Try getting locals to help you when you’re covered in another’s blood and guts.)

Rank the Teams:

1) Lake & Michelle

Lisa & Joni have finally been overthrown, dag gummit!

I can’t believe people thought Lake was the new Jonathan. This guy wasn’t even close. Lake did about ten times more work than Jonathan did, and Jonathan was ten times louder. I would say Lake was more of a southern fireball. He has a quick explosion but then diffuses instantly. Rinse and repeat.

Then there is Michelle. She is supportive to Lake but holds her own as well. She can fight well and pointed out all of Lake’s ridiculous behaviour without being all that ridiculous as well. I think her and Lake would have been more entertaining if they had to be around each other for a couple more rounds and experience the frantic nature of the endgame. Seeing how Lake doesn’t like to lose and doesn’t handle stress well, I think the idea of losing out in fourth or fifth would be devastating for him.

Whether it be standing on top of  Volkswagen to get a better view of your surroundings, take your shirt off for no apparent reason, invent phrases never uttered before or since, and celebrating a victory two inches away from the team you yielded to be eliminated, TAR 9 wouldn’t be the same without Lake & Michelle.

If they lasted a little bit longer, I think they were guaranteed an All-Star spot. Too bad.

2) Lisa & Joni

The frosties and/or glamazons. For some reason the only thing I remember about these two heading into this re-watch is that they were extremely negative and cranky. However that only occurs for Lisa at the end of the second round. Joni was much more upbeat but lacked that urgency you need to do well on the race. Both of them are dead last to virtually every route marker except for maybe one or two. The one time they weren’t last is when they spent five minutes screaming and shouting into the faces of everyone they ran into.

P.S. Lisa & Joni are the only team to have an average of 10.0 for playing at least two rounds. Out of all teams to play in only two rounds, they are by far the worst of all-time. They sucked that much.  I hope to get their screaming and urine talk out of my head eventually.

3) Dave & Lori

What an adorable couple. They are nice to each other. The audience liked them. I liked them. It’s refreshing to see a team that does not bicker. They usually chose the less popular detour option which distinguished them from other teams. Seeing Dave run up fire escapes and big hills was amusing to see.

Then there’s Lori who claims to be a master of puzzles but can’t catch on that there is two obvious extra pieces that everyone except Double D catches onto right away. They referenced more obscure crap than I do in an episode blog at some points which I think we should give them credit for.

I do wish I had more to say about them but I really don’t. They were real people. Their insanity wasn’t that of the Glamazons nor did they have exaggerated Spanglish or Air Head issues, they were just somebody that the common folk could root for. And in every season I think you need a team like that.

4) Wanda & Desiree

I put these two below the frosties/glamazons because they weren’t quite as dynamic and outrageous. Wanda’s fear of diving more than a couple inches could have been more memorable. But can addicts of TAR 9 really recall Wanda’s diving fears clearly? It’s already a bit foggy for me.

What I do give this team kudos for is being a very well defined Puerto Rican mother-daughter team. Boricuaaaa. Wanda’s Spanglish phrasing and inability to use any language correctly will be her legacy. Gnome is guh-nome, schlop is schnell, and using her Spanish on Brazilian and Russian citizens provides some season highlights.

Desiree was okay too. You do need some people in the cast who aren’t over the top to allow the audience to breathe. So she gets a nod.

5) Danielle & Dani

For now these two are up this high. However they weren’t the most entertaining. They were saved by Eric & Jeremy chasing after them and incorporating them into their storyline for this season (and future seasons to come). Their comments on Eric & Jeremy and what the frat boys said about them is the only memorable thing about them.

Their interaction with another team, Lake & Michelle, perhaps triggered their only memorable moments as they said some of the stupidest crap while in last place and pouting on the yield mat.

The audience was never really rooting for them either. Did you root for them? I doubt it. We all wanted them gone for losing fanny packs at roadblocks or not knowing how to drive a stick which drives us nuts thinking those types of people don’t deserve to be allowed onto the race. They were good for the odd sound byte, but overall not the most likable of people.

In addition, they wore a ton of pink.

6) John & Scott

John has a fear of flying but doesn’t have a fear of flying. Scott is quiet and non-chalant. John wants to ask for directions and change their strategy when things don’t work out well. Scott thinks things will work out on their own and is taking in the scenery. He hopes John can get over his non-fear fear of flying.

Oh joy.

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