TAR 9 episode 8 ranking

Eighth leg

Previously on TAR: Six teams set out from the island of Sicily. But tension escalated immediately between Lake & Michelle. Teams flew to Athens, Greece. A Fast Forward involving the Greek ritual of plate breaking pitted Eric & Jeremy against Joseph & Monica. It was Eric & Jeremy who took the prize even though Joseph & Monica had arrived first. A harrowing roadblock exhilarated Ray but terrified Fran. But then she summoned the courage to jump. Lake & Michelle continued their fighting over their directions while BJ & Tyler got some bad news. And even though they were last in the detour they stayed positive. And faced a shock at the pit stop. In the end Lake & Michelle arrived last. Now five teams remain.

– With three non-elimination legs to go, I wonder if there were any viewers who thought there was more than a 0.0 percent chance of this being an elimination round? I know I didn’t. This isn’t Family Edition where you cram three non-eliminations in the last four episodes before the finish line.

– We are introduced to the Peloponnese. Whoa. I spelled that correctly on my first attempt. According to Microsoft Works, anyway. Along its coastline is the Fortress of Rion. It was the seventh/eighth pit stop.

– Phil asks if Eric & Jeremy’s string of first place finishes will continue? And after narrowly escaping elimination, can BJ & Tyler climb out of last place?

– For the first time ever, somebody successfully cheats at Peek-a-boo. The eyes may be closed on his face, but the sad eyes on top of his head are doing all of the work.

– Eric & Jeremy, who arrived first at 1154am, will depart at 1154pm.

JEREMY: Fly to Muscat. . . .Oman?

Well, at least you didn’t wonder if Pennsylvania was a state. I’ve heard worse geographic follies in TAR.

– Teams must now fly nearly 2300 miles to the city of Muscat, Oman. Cue Middle East music.

I don’t know why but TAR lingers on this shot for a solid five seconds. What point are they trying to prove here?

– We get a history lesson that Oman dates back 5, 000 years and is an oil-rich nation that borders Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and United Arab Emirates. In other words TAR is visiting the only country in the entire peninsula that is safe enough to travel to on American television.

– Once here teams must find a giant incense border to receive their next clue. The Frat Boys read that they must walk across the bridge to sign up for one of two charter buses to Athens.

JEREMY: I think the other teams are used to tasting our dust. They probably have mud in their mouths by now. We run faster, we work harder, and we try to get directions better. And that’s what it boils down to.

Especially if they heard you making that statement. And what happened to two idiots running the race as being apart of your strategy? I think the success is starting to get to their heads.

– The Fast Forward proved to be very advantageous as the next team does not depart until 431am. That was a quick 4 1/2 hours. Jo says it drives him nuts when other teams have better luck. Just wait for when production makes you ride in cabs again. You’ve been very lucky with that this season. Mo thinks their bad luck is a sign that they need to be on their own and make their own destiny.

– Ten minutes later Ray & Yo depart. They decide to ask if the huge bridge, which happens to be the only bridge remotely in their vicinity, is the one they need to cross. Their stupidity is interrupted by Yolanda explaining that they make fun of each other in a way that no other couples really do on the race. However if one of them is serious and the other isn’t aware of it then it blows up in their face.

RAY: Let’s just find the damn bridge.
YOLANDA: Stop cursing at me. Ray. . .stop.
RAY: What?
YOLANDA: You’re cussing at me! You need to think about it?
RAY: Think about what?
YOLANDA: Oh god.

Case in point.

YOLANDA: You just shot me the bird, didn’t you?

If Lake or Jonathan Baker flipped off their wife, the whole media would have a field day over it. However Ray flipping off Yolanda is swept under the rug and is forgotten by most viewers by the end of the episode. Who knows, maybe by the end of the segment. It probably helps that Yolanda doesn’t overreact to things like a Victoria or a Flo or a Vienna.

– Ray & Yolanda are frustrated.

RAY: Just remember I’m a grown man.
YOLANDA: I can’t tell.

Something tells me they’ll be eating more of Eric & Jeremy’s dust with that level of teamwork. And to think this whole argument started with whether or not they should ask for directions. I have a feeling waking up and leaving at quarter to five in the morning contributed to their short fuses.

– Ray & Yolanda sign up for the 900am bus with MoJo and Eric & Jeremy. I assume Fran & Barry and the hippies will be put on the second bus.

– Nearly two hours later at 620am Fran & Barry exit the pit stop. Fran is surprised to see they are going to Muscat, “Omen”. Fran says their goal is to be number three this round. They may not have the speed but they are sure they have the endurance to be ahead.

Although their speed may increase if they ditch that cape.

– Fran & Barry sign up for the 900am bus. That’s an odd way to split up bus departures. Usually they intentionally split it up so that no team is alone on the final bus or at least have it right behind. Hmmm.

– It could be that the hippies are last to depart over two hours after the second to last place team. At 851am, it’s go time for the hippies as they break into a run. They’re happy to be given a second chance and will make the best of it and enjoy each moment.

– The five teams board the 900am bus. They taunt the hippies in their conversations and love the moment of seeing the hippies walk as the bus drives past them. Eric wants the bus to drive back just so they could pass the hippies again. BJ signs up for the 1000am bus.

– Athens airport. Fran & Barry are first to the Air Taxi ticket counter. There is a Gulf Air flight that gets in at 1050pm via Bahrain. But they have to go to the Gulf Air ticket counter. Fran & Barry stand still as Eric & Jeremy walk past. The second they walk past is when Fran & Barry take off in a sprint. Jeremy can hear it and he chases after Fran & Barry. So do Ray & Yolanda and MoJo. The flight takes off at 145pm.

– Suspense music as the four teams wait to book tickets for the 145-1050pm. Fran & Barry say they will go for it and not back down. Barry claims he is beyond the point of being the genial grandparents.

– BJ & Tyler are on a bus alone. BJ says the ghosts of their fallen comrades are on the bus. He is sitting next to Lake & Michelle. BJ does a DEAD ON impression of Lake. I couldn’t even do that good of an impression. All of the mannerisms are perfect too. It’s tough to screen cap any of it but BJ proceeds to high five all of the ghost teams. We’re told that Double D just asked if Oman was in China and that Dave & Lori are making out.

– Jo sees the hippies and asks the agent to not tell the hippies about their flight. I’m wondering if that EVER works? Tell an employee not to do their job appropriately as they are being filmed on tape for potentially millions of people to watch? Fer realz.

– TYLER: Hey what time does yours arrive in Muscat?
MOJO: We don’t know. We don’t have tickets yet.
TYLER: You haven’t even asked what time it arrives.
ERIC: . . . .

BACK OFF, THIS IS MY COUNTER!

BJ: They’re playing dumb, they’re playing dumb!

Most people know that playing dumb is merely an expression. Jeremy’s face took it to a whole new level.

– The hippies ask the ticket counter when the flight arrives two seconds later.

TYLER: We just found out for you guys that it arrives at 1050pm.

Ah. I believe Tyler mocked eight seasons’ worth of pointless airport scheming.

– Fran & Barry, Eric & Jeremy, Ray & Yolanda, and MoJo are on the 1050pm flight. BJ & Tyler are on Qatar and have booked a flight that gets in at 1145pm.

– First flight gets into Muscat as scheduled. Jeremy thinks the country looks cool. The Frat Boys are first into the marked van. Then MoJo. Then Fran & Barry. Then Ray & Yolanda. Eric & Jeremy talk about how the country is clean and pretty. They drive by the cleanest looking Macdonalds.

FRAN: Follow the path to musket.

Musket, Omen, where seeing things light up on fire can only mean bad things.

– Mo is convinced that the people who are rich here must be billionaires. I wouldn’t be surprised. Those are some fancy buildings.

RAY: I don’t know what language the people speak here, but I can’t read the signs. They’re all squiggly.

Also known as Arabic.

Although some would read the English side. Ray is really making the race tough on himself.

– The hippies’ flight gets in. They meet a guy at the airport who is in their car and willing to lead them to the park. I bet hours of operation will interrupt things with the midnight arrivals.

– Sure enough Eric & Jeremy are first to the sign and see that it will open at 600am. MoJo are next. Fran & Barry. Ray & Yolanda. The hippies.

– Yolanda discusses the incident with Ray regarding why he fingered her. Er, not like that. I mean flipping her off. Yeah, that sounds better. Ray thought she was insulting him so he insulted her back. Yolanda says it was merely teasing. Six o’ clock couldn’t come fast enough in Ray’s mind.

– We’re reminded that Ray & Yolanda have spent only four days together consecutively prior to going on the race. They’re seeing new sides of each other through this experience that they haven’t been exposed to before, etc. But they’ll work on it. Whoa. This is the segment leading into the commercial? Production didn’t have much to work with, I suppose.

– We are spared being re-shown any footage and six o’ clock is here. Ray & Yolanda take the lead up the trail. Dang. That trail looks so clean and like it’s Aladdin’s palaces brought to real life.

– Eric & Jeremy overtake them and have the clue. Jeremy reads that teams must drive 135 miles to the town of Sur. Once a key centre of trade with East Africa, it’s now a fishing town. Teams must find a ferry crossing named something I can’t understand to receive their next clue. Eric & Jeremy, Ray & Yolanda, BJ & Tyler, MoJo, then Fran & Barry drive together. Jeremy knows the other teams are following him despite not knowing where he’s going.

– Yolanda notices that they just wasted a ton of time. Ray flips out that she told him that she knew where to go as of ten seconds ago. BJ says let the other teams pass so they can follow MoJo. MoJo knows that the hippies are following them. MoJo stops to ask for directions. The hippies stop too. Way to be stealthy, Tyler. They wait until MoJo has the directions and proceed to drive in front of them. Monica is pissed that the hippies are doing this.

– Fran reads the map correctly and is convinced she is leading Barry in the right direction. Eric & Jeremy stop at the road and ask for directions. A team drives in front of them.

ERIC: What the hell? Fran & Barry?

You mean. . .Fran & Barry are ahead of Eric & Jeremy. . .
.
.
.

Not possible! GWAAARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

– Eric doesn’t know which way to go.

ERIC: Sir, this way?

What do you mean by “this”? There’s no subject Eric, you blundering fool!
.
.
Oh wait. -_-

Correction

ERIC: Sur, this way?

Heh.

– Yolanda has no idea. Ray asks if they should ask. Yolanda screams to ask. So he asks. The guy on the road says in English that he doesn’t speak English.

– MoJo and the hippies are at a flooded road. He is tiny. Both teams are amused. He instructs the teams to put it in 4-wheel drive before following him.

MO: I want to take him home and put it in my pocket.

In post-production news, Monica has been blacklisted from Oman.

– Both teams are led through the deep water in their trucks.

An image that the Schroeder Family is all too familiar with back home.

– Fran & Barry are at the flood. Oh. I suppose Fran & Barry have fallen to third. Eric & Jeremy are fourth. Ray gets out of the car physically and asks a police officer for directions. He finds the signs confusing.

– The hippies are fearful as they see another river crossing. For fun they let another team go first. MoJo pulls up alongside the hippies and tells the hippies to go first and not be scared. You’re rejecting an invitation to be in first place? Uh, whatever floats your SUV I guess. Fran & Barry and Eric & Jeremy are right behind them. Fran & Barry lines up. Eric & Jeremy isn’t scared as they are in first.

What the heck? Since when do teams literally go off to the side and let another team pass them? Let alone Eric & Jeremy who have had the tightest grip on the lead than any other team thus far in TAR’s history? This is getting ridiculous.

– All of the teams are loving driving through the deep waters. Fran says there is no way she would have driven the car through the mud.

MO: That’s Eric & Jeremy’s way. They just cut in front of lines all the time.

a) Eric & Jeremy went into a new line
b) Maybe if you didn’t come to a complete stop and taunt the hippies for five minutes you wouldn’t have given Eric & Jeremy the opportunity to be in that position.

Just sayin’.

– Tyler wants his words marked that there will be a time when Eric & Jeremy taste last place. Ray & Yolanda are last to be led through the waters. We’re introduced to Sur quickly before we cut to the teams. Eric & Jeremy stop to get directions. This lets MoJo and the hippies pass them. Baith Al Battha. That’s what Phil said? Wow. Didn’t sound like it.

– The four teams have the detour. It’s a choice between camel and watchtower.

In camel, teams must use a lock and tackle system used to load camels into a pickup truck. Once the camel is secured in the flatbed, they will use a map and drive one mile to find a bedouin camp where they will exchange the camel for their next clue.

In watchtower, teams must search amongst three watchtowers for a message box. However not all watchtowers contain a message box. Once they find one they must travel one mile and deliver it to the Gold & Silver Smith shop and hand it to a man named Mubarek. Once Twitter has dethroned Mubarek, they will receive their next clue.

– Fran & Barry are doing the watchtower. So are the hippies and MoJo. Eric & Jeremy are doing the camel. All four teams are in the same boat before it docks and all four teams take off. Eric & Jeremy hoist the camel. Several sheep run amok throughout the watchtowers.

– I realized I already made a Jimi Hendrix’ All Along the Watchtower reference in TAR 7. The hippies and Fran & Barry are the first two teams to have a message box. MoJo asks if they got it. BJ says they don’t. Fran & Barry have their message box. MoJo switch to the camel task because they don’t feel like running to the third tower. Well that’s inefficent.

– The camel is in the flatbed. Eric & Jeremy drive off. The hippies and Fran & Barry successfully get a guide. BJ drew a sketch of the camel. He found it to be feisty and hence why he didn’t go with that detour option.

No witty caption from me. I just thought you were curious to see the sketch.

The camel is either yelling in pain or is eager to show off his brand new Crest white strips.

– Jo hoists the camel by himself. Eric directs Jeremy. Neither of them see anything. Fran & Barry wave the hippies over to the shop. They trade the message box in for the clue. They read that they must drive 81 miles to the village of Al Hawiyah and once there they must make their way through the palms to the sand dune where they will receive their next clue.

– Fran & Barry and the hippies travel together again. MoJo are in the van. Jo directs himself while reading the map and driving. Eric & Jeremy still can’t find it. Mo yells that she sees it but Jo says there’s nothing. Mo gives a direction but Jo says he is going the opposite way and to trust him.

– Jo is right. By ignoring Mo and preventing her from doing more work than the camel, they have the bedouin camp right away. Yet Eric & Jeremy don’t have it? Did the Frat Boys really screw up reading a map? Shocker.

– MoJo has the clue. They are in their car and drive. A driver drives them back to their car on the other side of the river. MoJo is ecstatic to see Eric & Jeremy’s car still parked. Eric concludes that he is lost.

ERIC: Right. . .or left.

Yeah, I’d say they’re lost.

– Eric & Jeremy have found the camp. Jeremy knows it could have taken two seconds. Ray & Yolanda are at the detour. Eric & Jeremy are back in their car and pissed. They are happy to see Ray & Yolanda behind them. Even if it is not far behind.

– Ray & Yolanda are doing the camel task. Yolanda concludes they are last. Ray hates being last and refuses to start now. Did he forget he left the pit stop in last place in back-to-back legs?

– BJ & Tyler are at the roadblock.

BJ: Who’s willing to work for food?

In this roadblock, that person must dig through 117 sand mounds until they find one of six buried shuwas. This traditional Omani dish of sliced lamb is steamed in an underground oven. Once they find the shuwa they will receive their next clue. They must keep the shuwa because the Omani delicacy will be their dinner.

– BJ and Barry are doing the roadblock. Another f—ing ‘needle in a haystack’ task. Tyler tells him to use caution digging into a buried oven. It’s a hot day digging in a sandy desert. MoJo are confused why two teams are already at the roadblock. Monica is doing the roadblock.

MONICA: Why does it say be careful you’re digging into buried ovens?
JO: Because the sand is hot, Monica. The food is cooking in there.

Ohhhhh. I get it. It’s an oven.

– Jo tells Mo to stop pouting and instead find the food. Eric & Jeremy are at the roadblock. Eric is doing the task. The camel is wailing on and off which the hippies and Frat Boys make fun of.

– Barry has it. The other racers stop to observe Barry finding it. The players on the sidelines tell the racers to keep going. Mo has one too. Ray & Yolanda are simultaneously stressed and relaxed. They’re in a much better mood now.

– Barry and Mo can’t get the bags to come up because the dirt collapsed in and it weighs a ton. Mo has the bag and trades it in for the clue. Jo reads that they must drive 150 miles to Jabreen Castle. Built by a Sultan more than 300 years ago, this fortress is the pit stop for this leg of the race. The last team to check in will not be eliminated, no matter what Phil says.

– Mo is excited to be first. So is Jo. He is looking at the map. Barry has the shuwa and trades it in for the clue. Barry looks like he is ready to die. He complains about his back.

On the count of 3, Barry will make his best Lillian Morris face. One, two. . .three! Dang Barry. You’re good.

– Tyler encourages BJ as BJ is increasingly frustrated. Jeremy is freaking out. Eric has found one and digs it out. Eric has the bag and trades it in for the clue. The hippies should have won the leg but thanks to the nature of the task they have fallen to fifth. This is why these types of tasks are so annoying. Ray & Yolanda are at the roadblock. Yolanda is doing it.

BJ: I have to dig for gnomes, I have to dig for food. You get to bungee jump and–swing.
TYLER: Now’s not the time, BJ.

You’re not the time, Tyler, you’re not the time!

RAY: Just take your time and get a pattern goin’.
YOLANDA: Your momma got a pattern goin’.

You know a racer is delirious with dehydration when they resort to ‘yo momma’ jokes.

– Ray and Tyler coach their respective teammates to keep going. It’s getting annoying.

I think this is Yolanda’s way of flipping the bird.

– Yolanda has found one. She tells him where it is as he is in agony. They have the clue and drive off. Tyler is finding it painful to watch BJ collapse on the ground into each mound before he starts to dig. Tyler announces that BJ has been searching for 75 minutes. Eh. This is nothin’ compared to what Lena had to do. BJ has the lamb and has the clue. He thinks he dug up every hole. Tyler says BJ is his hero and hugs him. They are in the van. BJ looks completely worn out.

Now they have to focus on the Fashion Police on not stopping Tyler in the middle of the streets. Geez. Tyler is trying way too hard to revitalize 60s fashion.

– Jo slows down to read the map as he drives. Mo warns Jo that Fran & Barry will be right behind them. He knows. I think I’d just shut up and let the person read the map if I was doing nothing in the backseat.

– Eric thinks he found a shortcut and tells Jeremy where to go. He anticipates that they will be first or second as a result. Yolanda reads the map and tells Ray where to go. He asks if she’s sure. She isn’t one hundred percent which leads to them bickering.

YOLANDA: You’re acting like a child.
RAY: Like a child who is trying to find his way home.

– Tyler will not let the Philiminator Philiminate them. The teams all talk about being first. Mo tells Jo to hurry again. Barry is doubtful they can beat MoJo. Fran is ready to run as fast as possible.

– Jo doesn’t think it’s right because he doesn’t see any signs. They are told to keep going on the road. Mo pouts that Fran & Barry are first.

– We see a team step on the mat. It’s gotta be Eric & Jeremy. You’re not fooling me, editors. You’ve tried and tried again but you always fail.

HO. LEE. CRAP.

He was right all along. Anything is possibulllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.

I don’t know how he fits into the picture, honestly.

– Phil is smiling more than ever. He says they have won a trip for two to Rome, Italy with a luxury hotel in the centre of Rome with spectacular views of the Vatican. Fran says they never dreamed of being number one. Well those are low expectations.

– MoJo is team number two. They react silently. Eric hopes are having just as much of a problem finding the place. They are nowhere near any sort of city. Ray & Yolanda check into the pit stop in third. They move up from last yet again. Yolanda says their fun has gone down the drain over the past couple days. Ray is certain they’ll recover.

– Eric discovers that the map wasn’t that great and they were much better off sticking to the highway. Eric has no idea if they are out of the race. Tyler hopes that all of the other teams got lost. Suspense between the two teams who have combined to win all seven legs thus far. Nobody expected it to come down to this. They forget for a moment that there is a 99% chance that this is a non-elimination leg. Phil does a quick glance at the greeter before a team emerges.

– Eric & Jeremy saunter onto the map. They laugh at being fourth. Eric says it is pretty horrible. They say they need to re-think some things. The hippies are shown landing on the pit stop in last.

And for their final trick. . .

– Phil says they are last but that this is a non-elimination leg. All of their money is taken away. None will be awarded on the next leg. In addition all of their bags are taken. Including the frog hat. Tyler says they’ve thought about what to do without their possessions and claim that they can do it with just being BJ & Tyler and nothing else to win the race. He knows the other teams see them as meek but claim to be just as strong. BJ says their goofy attitude will be used for the next leg of the race seeing how far it has got them.

Next time on TAR: Teams travel to the remote western coast and navigate abandoned tunnels beneath a 19th century prison. And Joseph & Monica clash over directions. What? Joseph & Monica are featured in the previews for a second time? What the heck is this?

Confessional counts

BJ&Tyler 5.9
Ray&Yolanda 5.4
Joseph&Monica 2.5
Eric&Jeremy 6.6
Fran&Barry 4.2

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) Rion -> Muscat (This leg was great overall but unfortunately had one crucial flaw. Besides all of the teams being equalized by the beginning of the first task, we also had to endure through yet another ‘needle in a haystack’ challenge. The task was designed so that randomly picking which holes to dig was enough to drop a team from first to last. There is no other reason why the hippies shouldn’t have won this round and maintain the first place finish trade-off with Eric & Jeremy.

We’ve suffered through ‘find the ___ in the gnome,’ ‘find the ____ in the plates,’ ‘find the ____ in the clothesline,’ ‘find the ____ in nesting dolls,’ and now ‘find the ____ in the sand mounds’? That is proving to be a lack of creativity on production’s part. Six of these tasks in eight rounds? That is extremely excessive when you look at it on paper.

But let’s focus on the positive attributes of this leg. Fran & Barry cause the biggest upset thus far in the race when they are the first team to overthrow both Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler in the same leg, regardless if they followed BJ & Tyler to every route marker except the pit stop. The hippies and MoJo began their feud. MoJo also managed to cuss out a team for following when they ended up doing the same thing at the river crossing. Ray & Yolanda got into a multi-day scrap all because they debated to ask for directions. Especially when it was capitalized by a ‘yo momma’ comment.

And last but not least, teams went to Oman. This is easily the coolest of the one-time visits ever experienced on the race. The temples, the slick Macdonalds, the architecture, the river crossings, the people, and the route markers they went to has no similarities to anything we know in the Western world. It’s a taste of the Middle East without putting yourself in harm’s way.

Also any round that incorporates a camel for half the leg will have its share of laughs.)

5) 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)

6) 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.)

7) 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.)

8) 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.)

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