TAR 9 Episode 11 ranking

Eleventh leg

Previously on TAR: The final four teams set out from Perth, Australia. BJ & Tyler hatched out a plan. Meanwhile Eric & Jeremy played a trick.  When teams found out they blamed Joseph & Monica. And the plan backfired on Eric & Jeremy. Teams raced to the city of Darwin, Australia and dashed to the yield. While other teams took a leap Joseph & Monica fell behind. At the detour BJ & Tyler and Eric & Jeremy chose a physical task thinking it would be quick but they soon found out that was not the case. Meanwhile Ray & Yolanda chose a musical task, finished fast, and were first at the pit stop. Joseph & Monica completed the same task and caught up. And suddenly it was a three-way race. In the end BJ & Tyler hit the mat last but avoided elimination. Four teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?

– Intro time. One non-elimination remains. Will they use it this round or save ‘er up for the Final Three and create a 5-5-4-4-3-3 pattern? Eh, I already told you in the opening blog for this season. Or if you’ve seen the season before.

– Phil introduces us to the Australian Outback. An area so remote that native peoples call it “back of beyond”. Whatever that means. In the midst of the tropical bushland, Lake Bennett was the eleventh pit stop in a race around the world.

– Phil’s Questions: Can Ray & Yolanda continue their success after winning a leg for the first time? And will the rivalry between Joseph & Monica and BJ & Tyler affect their ability to focus on the race?

– Ray & Yolanda, who were the first to arrive at 113pm, will depart at 113am. Ray reads that teams must fly 7, 000 miles to Bangkok, Thailand. It’s the reverse order of how teams traveled in TAR 2. Once in Bangkok, teams will take a taxi to the Moshi Bus Terminal then ride a bus 97 miles to find the Three Spire Pagoda. This is a temple to hundreds of monkeys. Here is where teams will find their next clue.

– Ray & Yolanda laugh at the idea of a temple of monkeys. Yolanda goes to the hippies’ car and puts a spare pair of Yolanda’s pants on her car. Now BJ needs socks and shoes.

– Ray says that earlier in the race they played the back of the pack. Not by choice, I assure you. Ray goes on to say there’s only four teams which means it’s game time. What were the first ten rounds of the game to Ray? I don’t know. Yolanda says their mental skills and physical ability brought together is the only way to win. I’d prefer Yolanda talk from now on.

– Eric & Jeremy depart seven minutes later at 120am.

JEREMY: Three teams have 203 dollars, one team has zero dollars and no pants.

(Click refresh.)

JEREMY: Three teams have 203 dollars, and one team has zero dollars and a pair of purple track pants.

– Jeremy gives the hippies a pair of sandals. What happened to their rant two episodes ago about how giving a competing team resources reduces the game to no longer being a competition? Somebody is back-pedaling.

JEREMY: It’s a nice thing to do because he’s a person.

Oh. So Doug Roobaker has a heart after all. He’ll cancel cabs but when he sees someone with naked feet, he feels it is his duty to clothe them. Roobaker is pissing me off quite frankly.

– Eric says they’re just out there to compete and feels the others are more worried about them than Eric is about the others. None of the other teams rarely mention Eric & Jeremy thanks to the conflict between MoJo and the hippies that have taken centre stage.

– At 121am, MoJo departs.

MO: One team has zero.
JO: And no pants.
MO: And yielded us. Ha!
JO (mock Chinese accent): You go to Thailand, oi!
(MO laughs.)

Wow. MoJo must have the worst sense of humour on the planet. I don’t think Arkansas is a hotspot for comedy. Their best comedian is likely someone such as Jay London.

– Jo thinks being yielded by the hippies is completely personal and wants to drive them into the ground. I’m pretty sure it’s because you didn’t comply with their threat but whatever. MoJo is pissed to see sandals and pants on the hippies’ car. To no surprise, MoJo gives nothing. Mo really wants to beat the hippies and believes she can do it. Especially if BJ chooses to run on rocks again. She hates how they try to play mindgames and refuses to take that.

– MoJo pass Eric & Jeremy on the road. The hippies check out at 122am. BJ holds the title for the only racer in 21 seasons to check out of a pit stop with no pants, no socks, and no shoes. BJ checks for clothes in the Lost and Found. I wonder if that’s where production puts all of their stuff. A woman comes up to BJ and presents clothes from the Lost and Found.

BJ: Great! My beloved purple pants! Thanks Yolanda!

Do I detect sarcasm?

– BJ is happy to have sandals because he knows he wouldn’t be able to board a plane without them. It appears Eric & Jeremy gave them the biggest gift of all. I wonder how long it would take for Tyler to beg then find a sandal shop at 130am. The hippies could have been done before they left Australia, I believe. Eric & Jeremy played with their heart for the first time all season. Will it backfire? If the hippies win this season, Eric & Jeremy have nobody to blame but themselves.

– Tyler says that losing their money and their stuff powers them up. However it didn’t work the first time because they finished in last place two rounds later. He says they will keep bouncing back until they get to the front of the pack.

BJ: Monica & Joseph didn’t give us anything because they’re not giving people.

Nah. They just hate you. And they’re competitive. Wasn’t it the Great Doug Roobaker who told us that this is a competition for one million dollars?

BJ: They’ve gotten a little too cocky for their own good.

Nah. They just hate you.

BJ: I think MoJo has a date with not being in the race anymore.

Can you stop talking about MoJo, BJ? I think you’re jealous that Mo is friendly with Jo, Eric, Jeremy, but not you.

TYLER: We’ve had that date before but it stood us up.

See? Tyler is handling it better.

– Ray & Yolanda park and are at the all too familiar Qantas Airline. Two rounds in TAR 2, two rounds in TAR 4, and three rounds here in TAR 9. MoJo are at the airport and ask for a flight. Jo says ten minutes is a big deal. Eric & Jeremy and the hippies are at the airport. BJ puts on the pants and sandals. The first flight is at 600am. The other teams make fun of BJ wearing the pants.

– BJ & Tyler thank Ray for the flight information. It’s likely around 200am right now so they have a solid three hours to beg. I’d imagine Darwin, Australia is not a hotspot to beg for money at two o’ clock in the morning. Or maybe you can hit up the exceptionally drunk crowd who will throw their money at you.

I can see why Eric and Ray made fun of him. This outfit doesn’t suit BJ very well.

I think Eric and Ray would have settled to race in this rather than the purple pants.

– Ray finds it funny and thinks BJ likes wearing those pants. MoJo books a flight that goes to Bangkok via Sydney.

ERIC: What’s the story? Is he helping you guys out?
MO: No.
ERIC: Better not tell me a lie.
JEREMY: Are you helping him out, dude?
MO: He’s just looking at pr0n on the Internet.

Good cover. It’s probably foreplay before the female agents suffer enough to wear hickie scarves for their shift.

You’ll be on the first flight to my Bangkok via Ray J with a quick overnight layover inside Kardashian.

– Mo tells Eric that she is mad at them for giving the shoes to BJ because otherwise he couldn’t come into the airport. Eric says he got the shoes from someone else.

MO: You guys run along.

Ouch. She doesn’t want to do with anyone who is friendly with the hippies.

– Eric & Jeremy book a flight that arrives in Bangkok at 1100pm. The lady on the phone tells Roobaker that all other flights are full.

– The hippies are in downtown Darwin. BJ asks if he should wear the pants or not. They receive twenty bucks from an Asian. And more money from other Asians.

HOLD IT! Where did BJ get those shorts? That was never explained in the episode. Shorts don’t magically appear when you have no bags. Maybe the audio or camera operator is working without shorts.

– TAR 9 continues its run down the adult mature themes. An overweight woman is willing to give BJ money. But at a price.

Sweet Sloth! You want to see a homeless man’s skin? Well BJ, what do ya say?

A fat intoxicated woman at 3 o’ clock in the morning REJECTS you? Oh man. I don’t BJ has enough self-esteem to carry on in the race anymore.

– Tyler is confident they made enough money. They have officially recovered. The hippies successfully begged quickly enough to get to the airport and are told by Jeremy that everyone will be on the same flight.

– Or will they? Tyler calls to book tickets but subtitles on the screen inform us that the flight is completely full. BJ’s eyes sink.

His eyes glaze over. I’d like to dedicate the following song to BJ:

– Mo celebrates that the hippies couldn’t get on the plane. Tyler is stuck in the airport calling airlines.

BJ: This is stupid. We’re wasting too much time.

What’s the alternative, BJ? To not book tickets to Bangkok?

TYLER: It looks like today nice guys finish last.

MoJo may have a different perspective on that.

– Even after a 5-minute commercial Tyler is still working hard on the phone lines. Meanwhile BJ. . .

Is working very hard at doing nothing. Although we may give him a bye considering he spent over twelve hours without pants.

– Tyler’s head swing involuntarily a few times. The lady on the line tells him that a flight just opened up to Bangkok. Fly there via Perth will land the hippies at 1045pm.

WHAT?! A fifteen minute advantage?! Suga cookie mon, you craze-eh! It’s definitely not the first time we’ve seen this in TAR. Teams who hang back at the airport get the advantage of buying up new flights that have more favourable connections or a direct route. There’s not much you can do when you’re a leading team.

Are you seriously going to ignore flights because you think one will magically open up a couple hours later? You just have to accept that as one of the many components of luck on the race.

– BJ springs up on his feet. Tyler gets a high five from the agent. The hippies combine to say they only had a shirt and underwear but emerged with a lot of soul.

– You know the flight that was supposed to be fifteen minutes later than the hippies? Well, it got in 45 minutes early. Karmic retribution has taken place. Everything in the universe is restored. Luck on TAR? Ha! You’ll have to put in more effort than that hippies.

– Jo hopes the hippies are still stuck in Darwin begging for clothes. Eric & Jeremy board a taxi and think they’re ahead of everyone else. Ray & Yolanda get in a taxi. Jo shows the clue but the taxi driver doesn’t seem too confident or speak English very well. MoJo argue over whether the taxi is trustworthy. This inevitably leads to them bickering amongst each other. Classic MoJo.

– JO: This taxi is scaring me.
DRIVER: I show you bus terminal.
JO: Yes. Bus. Bus. Bus. Busbusbusbus.

I’d elect to say that YOU are the scary one, Jo. Imagine the driver hearing a passenger yell ‘busbusbusbus’ in a foreign language.

– Eric & Jeremy buy bus tickets with the help of a guy who speaks English. They have the tickets. It leaves at 1200am. If the flight got in at 1115pm then there’s roughly an hour before the bus leaves. Eric sees Ray & Yolanda board the bus. Both teams hope MoJo does not get on.

– MoJo are at the ticket counter only to find out the ticket counter is closed. Before a 1200am leaves? You mean you need to buy tickets an hour in advance for a bus that departs very frequently throughout the day? Oh well.

For some reason Eric’s reaction to seeing Ray has always seemed over-the-top to me. He crunches his Doritos extra hard when the competition gets tough. And forms Duck Lips in the process.

– MO: How do you know it’s closed?
DRIVER: Cause I. . .
MO: Cause you know?
DRIVER: Yeah.
MO: Open at 450? Does that mean they’re open with 450?
DRIVER: Yeah.

Just tackle him to the ground now, Mo. This driver is up to something. I hate it when a local in another country is helpful and sure of himself!

– MoJo gets a hotel room. That means they’ll have to share a bus with the hippies. Awesome.

– Ray is hoping another bus doesn’t leave until the morning. In most cases saying this on camera would make you really stupid given the number of equalizers on TAR. However, Ray aims high with his wish and it works out. MoJo are on their way to crash at a hotel for a few hours.

– The hippies’ flight lands. Tyler is not too happy to explain that their flight was delayed.

TYLER: It should put us about even with the other teams.

I doubt the hippies can comprehend the idea of the other flight arriving 45 minutes earlier than scheduled. Aren’t planes almost always supposed to be delayed on TAR if they don’t arrive on time?

– Tyler learned “go get em” in Thai. He thinks Thailand is so cool. Him and BJ sleep on chairs in the terminal. It’s 400am and the hippies wake up to walk around to see if other teams are around. I guess you can’t sleep much later than 400am on benches in a densely populated city. It works out because they board a bus at 420am.

In other news, BJ has replaced his top hat. I swear BJ has more possessions this round than he did after the first non-elimination leg.

– BJ watches out the window praying that he sees another team walk into the terminal. But that doesn’t happen. MoJo, thinking that the counter didn’t open until 450am, arrive at the ticket counter at that exact time. They buy tickets for the 520am bus.

JO: Is this the first one?
AGENT: Yes.

Nothing like a team having a deluded sense of security on The Amazing Race.

– I just realized that the first bus left at midnight. The route marker is 97 miles away. Shouldn’t the first bus be able to travel 97 miles in five hours and twenty minutes? Maybe it broke down and didn’t make the final cut for the episode because it was that big of a lead?

– Mo is worried as no other teams are on the bus. Jo says to stop worrying and hope this is the right bus. The first bus is in Padoga. Ray & Yolanda board a small taxi while Eric & Jeremy board an awfully big taxi.

A type of ride that everyone needs to experience when traveling through Thailand.

– Ray & Yolanda are at the temple. It opens at 800am. Ray says it’s 545am. Well they’ll still have a two hour lead regardless.

ERIC: The monkeys have a pretty good lifestyle. They don’t have to work.
JEREMY: If we win we’ll be monkeys. I’m gonna take a look at the monkeys.

Am I the only one who thinks Eric & Jeremy’s parents would be uneasy hearing how lazy their sons intend to be?

RAY: They look like rats on steroids.

I’m sure the monks would love to hear you describe their religious figureheads as ‘rats on steroids’. The monkeys would be flattered.

Yeah. I’d definitely be worried if I was their parents. By the way, we should note that monkeys like pringles. . .and Jeremy’s crotch.

– The hippies board the bus and see the teams outside the temple. Their bus was four hours behind. Therefore they should have been in at 1000am if they matched the first bus’ travel time. I assume the first bus must have had a two hour delay and broke down. Wish we could’ve seen that.

– The three teams receive a clue. One says “TRAVELOCITY–OPEN AT PIT STOP”. That’s the first of its kind.

Well what good is a clue if you can’t open it until the end of the leg? That seems a bit lame.

– Ray & Yolanda and the hippies both read the Fast Forward. I hear it’s the second of only two Fast Forwards hidden on the entire race. Heh. I got it word for word.

In this Fast Forward, teams must travel by taxi two miles to a restaurant and take in a favourite after school activity in Thailand–working for Shadowloo.

Er, I mean feasting on a bowl of stir fry crickets and grasshoppers. That was going to be my second guess. Is that really an activity or just a way to kill boredom?  The first team to eat an entire serving will win the Fast Forward. The catch is that none of the teams know that this is the task. All they have been told is that it is “an after school favourite”. The teams are banking that pizza is a universal favourite!

– I have no issues with having two Fast Forwards hidden on a season of TAR and have one of the two Fast Forwards played in leg 11.
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Oh wait. Yes I do.

– You know what I think about the FF format post-TAR 4. The Fast Forward was the most strategic component in the first four seasons and was a season-long game of Cat and Mouse. You had some of the most intense battles between teams all because of the Fast Forward. Do you use yours right away or do you wait until the end of the game to secure yourself a spot in the Final Three?

Unfortunately TAR scrapped it and for eight years we’ve been stuck with 1-3 Fast Forwards per season. That means there is no strategy to it. If you’re in first place you will take it to increase your lead because it will be the only time you’ll be in a position to claim the Fast Forward anyway. Plus production has too much control if they get to pick which two rounds it is played.

– I did my research. From TAR 5 to TAR 8, the final Fast Forward was played out in leg nine at the latest. That means there were five teams remaining. Some seasons had both Fast Forwards done by round six or seven.

So what’s the problem with it being in leg 11? Because the first place team gets to break into the Final Three without really having to work for it. They can say “well, we’re first, may as well have an easy day and get into the Final Three”. It’s a bit of a cop out. This is far different from David & Jeff or Tara & Wil who gambled and gambled all season long to use the final one on leg 11. They had to do some critical thinking and analysis each round. What did BJ & Tyler have to do? See the clue and go for it?

Things like this is what makes me want to run over Bertram in a Segway.

– The hippies are in the lead taxi for the Fast Forward. Ray & Yolanda are trailing. For whatever reason they aren’t bright enough to head back.

– Eric & Jeremy already used theirs so it’s roadblock time for them. In this roadblock that person must prepare a ceremonial feast for the sacred monkeys that inhabit this shrine. They will offer it to the monkeys to receive their next clue.

Hey! It’s Magilla! He came from the Chuay Gahn camp just so he can eat some more food prepared by American reality TV stars. Although I suppose nobody from Survivor: Thailand really became a TV star.

– We are told this is part of the annual local Monkey Festival. The Monkey Festival? In North America, we’d think all of these monkey events and religious creations would have been by an immature five year old. It’s neat how things are portrayed across cultural gaps.

Teams come from Darwin to see a bunch of locals who voluntarily rewind their faces to what it would have looked like ten thousand years ago. Charles Darwin would be pissed that his theories were debunked.

– Eric is doing the roadblock.

JEREMY: This is a good roadblock for Eric to do. I’ve seen him prepare meals for monkeys very often.

Tossing bananas at monkeys in the zoo when you’re six years old does not count.

JEREMY: Keep it up Chef-Boy-R-Eric.

That’s not even witty.

– Tyler talks about the Fast Forward always being a risk. Him and BJ are at the location. Ray-Ray and Yo-Yo are still in the car and haven’t caught on that they’re DOA.

YOLANDA: An after school favourite. . .what is that? Football?

Yes, Yolanda. Thailand is known for its football program. I couldn’t keep track of how many Thai players are in the NFL.

But seriously, I think the players in CFL could probably have no trouble defeating a Thai team. And if you know anything about the CFL, you’d find that to be the biggest burn that Thailand has had to suffer through.

YOLANDA: A game of football. . .cricket?

DING DING DING DING DING. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

In TAR 20 players able to play Cricket. Rewind back to TAR 9 when s— was real and you had to EAT crickets, dammit! And toughest of all, in TAR 1 there was a Fast Forward where you had to UNDERSTAND the game of Cricket. This was edited out because no one could complete the task.

TYLER: It looks like fingernails with guts inside.

You mean if they were fingernails alone that wouldn’t gross you out, Tyler? O.o

– Ray & Yolanda arrive. Them and the hippies size each other up to see if all are willing to do the task. Both teams claim they can do it. The hippies are given two bowls and begin chowing down. The red line in my Word document informs me that ‘chowing’ is not a real word. All these years I thought it was a real word. But back to the race. . .

Bon appetit, b—-es.

There’s only one way to know that crickets have a tendency to stick to your teeth. Judging by his looks, most people would believe that this is the first meal the homeless man has had in days.

– BJ questions if he can do it. Tyler pumps himself up. Ray & Yolanda have their bowls.

RAY: They got a two cricket head start.

A unit of measurement that I never thought would be created.

– Tyler wonders if Yolanda can do it. She takes a few bites. A crowd has come to watch.

Some of the men in the crowd seem to be observing Ray & Yolanda a little too keenly. It’s building a motorcycle in Sao Paulo all over again. I think I see Tim LaMaster in the crowd.

Ah. It is indeed Sao Paolo all over again. Tim LaMaster and Co. have clung to the restaurant to watch that badonkadonk.

– Yolanda says she can’t eat it. Ray replies that MoJo probably hasn’t shown up at the roadblock. So they peace out. And sure enough, we are not shown the crowd for the remainder of the Fast Forward.

– Ray wants to be calm and hopes to be in front of MoJo. Yolanda doubts that BJ can complete the task.

– MoJo doesn’t know where the other teams are. Their questions will soon be answered because they are the second team to the roadblock. Jeremy announces their entrance to Eric. Jo is doing the roadblock. Monica assumes they’re out of it but Jeremy tells them that the other two teams went for the Fast Forward. He also tells Mo that their bus was at midnight. Disappointed music plays but Mo’s reaction remains the same.

MO: We thought we were the first ones.
JEREMY: Man did you think wrong.

In. Yo. Face!

– Eric finds much of the food to be stinky.

JO: I’ll Iron Chef’ing this up.

You know it’s 2006 when. . .

– Yolanda decides in the cab that she is doing the roadblock. That’s a TAR first. I can’t think of a roadblock and Fast Forward being assigned at the same time except maybe the clay factory in TAR 5. You don’t get to see a team decide who will do the roadblock off-site.

– Eric sees Ray & Yolanda and knows who got the Fast Forward.

JO: The hippies go the Fast Forward. AW THAT EATS MY A–.

Is that even an expression?

He knows all about getting his a– eaten.

– Ray tells the other teams not to worry. He estimates it will take them at least three hours. Ray has a lot of experience with estimating the consumption of a bowl of stir fried crickets. However bring in Chip from TAR 5 and you’d have to shave that estimate down to five minutes.

His bowel movements were never the same after TAR 5.

– A monkey has hopped onto the table and ate some of Yolanda’s preparations. The hippies are eating more cricket.

TYLER: This guy’s name is Jiminy.

I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.

– Tyler dances thinking it will help him. He doesn’t want to look at it.

BJ: You know what I wanna do? Throw up.

That’s what I’d like to hear when I am struggling to eat a specific food that is worth a million dollars.

– Eric is almost done. Mo insists Jo is catching up to Eric. Everyone sees the monkeys inch closer and closer. They warn Eric about the monkeys. Suddenly three or four monkeys hop onto the table and sure enough go for the bananas.

Oh? Did I do that?

ERIC: You little bastards. Get away you punks.

If anyone in the audience knows English, they would have heard unspeakable blasphemy towards their religion.

– Monkeys hop onto Jo’s table and takes his food. Jo sprinkles some seeds at the monkeys. Eric is done and offers it to the monkeys.

Who knew that a monkey’s favourite food was not bananas but rather watermelon. They want their fructose, dammit!

– Eric & Jeremy are amused by the monkeys. Eric reads that teams must travel 90 miles to Chow Buy-A-River and take a ferry to Koh Kret Island. Heh. Even the spelling of the island is monkey Kong style. Once there they’ll go to the Buddha Garden and  Meditation Centre and find the grounds for their next clue. What would be ironic is if teams are stressed out looking for a clue in a Meditation Centre.

– Tyler comments that the crickets are cold and have become nice, cold, and squishy. We see him nearly upchuck. He feels really full. We go back to the roadblock where a monkey is humping the clue box followed by Mo shoving down snacks into her throat. Mo is done the roadblock and offers it to the monkeys. Will Ray-Ray & Yo-Yo’s numerous back-of-the-pack finishes finally blow up in their faces? But first, we watch more monkeys feast. MoJo gets into a cab and drives away. Yolanda is done and Ray thinks she made up a lot of ground. He thinks it looks like Monkey Heaven. Ray states that they are only five minutes behind MoJo and that BJ is ready to throw up. The next cut is BJ nearly throwing up. Ray-Ray and Yo-Yo may be in better shape than we thought.

BJ: This is like a Turkish prison.

In Turkish prisons, they force you to eat twenty pounds of crickets. In an Iraqi prison, I hear they make you lose twenty pounds in eighteen days. Take your pick.

Although side effects of going to a Turkish Prison is that you’re a humongous D-Bag.

– Tyler asks if they should go back. BJ says they dreamed about getting the Fast Forward and that they would be making a huge mistake. Tyler takes a 180 after the commercial break and is willing to do it. BJ is done his bowl but Tyler still has a lot.

– Meanwhile Eric & Jeremy board a ferry alone.

ERIC: This is a unique experience for me. It’s ferry cool.

-_-

– Eric & Jeremy already have the clue. They did have quite the lead at the roadblock thanks to the mishaps of others. It’s a detour. Teams have to choose between two traditional Thai tasks. Move It or Altar It.

In Move It, teams make their way on foot to a pottery factory. Here they must transport 72 clay pots through the winding leaning supermarket to a boat docked on the river. Teams must transport the pots using the traditional Thai method of carrying the pots on a long plank. In other words you need a lot of strength and balance to do the task.

In Altar It, teams must make their way to the Watch-Em-Clean Buddhist Temple and make a shrine to Buddha. First teams must assemble the shrine then completely gold leaf a statue of Buddha. When the shrine is finished teams will receive their next clue.

– Eric & Jeremy choose to Altar It because taking the physical task on the previous leg screwed them over. MoJo are next at the ferry and board it alone before Ray & Yolanda get there. I wish I knew the time difference between ferry departures. One minute? Two minutes? One hour? Who knows. I suppose that is editing trying to create suspense.

– Ray & Yolanda are on the ferry. MoJo are at the Buddha Garden but can’t seem to figure out what to do.

Note: It said to find your next clue.

MO: What does it say on the clue to do here? Find your next one?
JO: We’re gonna light incense.

Hippies, Eric & Jeremy, and now MoJo are heavy into the incense? The secret to making it to the end of TAR 9 is to be absolute potheads, apparently.

MO: We have to know to do that.
JO: Take off your shoes.
MO: I’m telling you we’ve got to find a clue.
JO: We light that incense.
MO: Baby, I’m telling you we’ve got to find a clue.

The funny part is that Jo didn’t want a clue. He just wanted to take an aside to light some incense. His head is killing him from listening to Mo for fifteen days.

– Jo finally listens to Jo. Ray & Yolanda ask for directions and find the Garden as Eric & Jeremy are on their way out. Ray & Yolanda has the clue. They think the physical task will take a lot of time so they choose to do the shrine too.

– We know it’s a race for last place amongst these three teams. It’s perhaps a tighter race than it was in the previous leg. But what does Yolanda do when she sees MoJo run past her? She tells them where the clue is exactly located. Dang, Yo-Yo. You let a million dollars dangle above you but you push it up and away. What a stupid move in the final elimination round of the game.

– MoJo decide to do the Altar It detour option too. Everyone is too scared to take the physical task after what happened last leg.

– Tyler is finished the bowl of crickets. Him and BJ celebrate. You know what Tyler likes to do after he eats a bowl of crickets?

Time for a dry butt raping! And pressing hard on BJ’s stomach is the last thing you want to do after eating thousands of Jiminy Crickets.

– BJ reads that they can take a taxi directly to the Marble Temple. It’s a Buddha Shrine that was built in the 19th century at the command of a king. For whatever reason we see a zoom-in on the Fast Forward information. Here it is for your own curiosity:

I love how by TAR 9 production gives them every detail on how to find the pit stop. It’s in two different words in English and a word in Thai. I prefer calling it Marble Shrine over Wat Benjamajbopit.

– Tyler points out the cricket on BJ’s face. Tyler burps up a cricket as they high five in the cab.

– Eric & Jeremy look at the example in the temple as Buddha Music from Mario is Missing plays. Jeremy is painting while Eric leafs. Ray & Yolanda is at the buddha. MoJo is at the task but Jo insists to switch. Then why go there first anyway? You saw both teams running there.

JO: We’re not gonna do that. We’re not gonna race them.

Yes. Because why race people on a show called The Amazing Race. Jo is above that. So let’s waste five minutes wasting the detour option and put ourselves further behind in last place.

– Yolanda complains that it requires a lot of concentration. She hopes the other task is so frustrating that you’d lose your mind trying to complete it. Like failing to eat a bowl of crickets, for instance.

– MoJo is loading up their wooden boards with pots.

MO: It’s really hard, Joseph.
JO: I know, I know.

This is the part where I ask ‘are you referring to the boards, Monica?’

They’re supposed to rest on your shoulder as you walk. It’s going to take a miracle from the Make a Wish Foundation for Mo to keep all of those pots balanced for a third of a mile.

– They set the planks down to ask for directions. Jo has two rows of pots on his wooden board and sure enough a couple crash. Mo uses the worst form possible but the pots stay on. Jo goes inside and begs a woman to walk them there. We hear the woman yell “very far”. Mo sighs and is in stage 2 of preparations to cry. At least Flo or Eve didn’t have any preparations and skipped directly to the act of crying.

– They pick up their planks and keep walking.

MO: It hurts.
JO (whining): I don’t know, Mo.

Gangsta whine. I don’t know Mo, and that’s fo sho sho.

– Tyler is happy to be cruising to the pit stop. BJ reminds them that this is after they started with no pants, socks, or shoes. It feels good to go from last place with nothing to first place with a bunch of stuff. They even have two gift bags brought into the pit stop. They check/jump onto the pit stop. Phil tells them that they are first. He thinks it is incredible that they went from last to first.

nWo has their influence on the hippies too because Tyler revitalizes the ‘too sweet’ sign.

– Phil asks a very well rehearsed statement.

“You were asked to bring a Travelocity clue. . .thing.”

Travelocity didn’t care what Phil called it. They just wanted the plug.

– If there’s a golden gnome inside the clue, they will have won a great prize. Suspense builds as Phil reveals a regular gnome. He tells the hippies that they are one of the final three teams racing to the finish line. They’ll do what they can to win this race.

– MoJo sets down the pots. Mo points out where it is. Jo says that’s far but yells for Mo to keep going. She wants Jo to wait as she picks it up again. MoJo manages to bring 46 pots safely to the dock. This detour option may be faster than we think. Mo says it’s the hardest thing she’s had to do. Someone has had an easy life. Oddly enough she said this exact statement when carrying the swordfish back in Sicily.

– YOLANDA: Why’d you guys pick this task?
JEREMY: I gold leaf a lot in my spare time.
ERIC: We used to have gold leafing parties.
JEREMY: We used to get a lot of girls gold leafing.
RAY: I love structure. Cause I’m a hustla.
(YOLANDA rolls eyes.)

Lawyers can’t be hustlas. It’s an unwritten rule. With one exception of course.

Is and always will be the only exception.

– Eric & Jeremy speculate how far away Ray-Ray and Yo-Yo are from being done. Jeremy thinks that their opponents have a ways to go. Ray catches on that you need to be calm to do it. Eric puts it on the table but it is rejected by the judge. They need to paint it a bit more. A few seconds later they are done and have the clue. Eric reads that teams must travel by ferry back to Bangkok then take a taxi eleven miles through the congested streets to the Marble Temple. We learn a new fact that it was composed almost entirely of marble. What a waste of marble.

– Ray-Ray and Yo-Yo get their buddha checked. The judge says it needs to be smoothed down some more. Yo is pissed and Ray finds the task to be very tedious.

– Mo says it’s hard and Jo says he needs to keep pushing. Yeah. I know.

MO: Sometimes when you carry it like this it’s easier.

Unless there’s obstructions. Mo never planned for this scenario.

JO: Watch your edges!
MO: I am.

(We hear several pots smashing like it’s the Aladdin game for the Sega Genesis when people throw pots out their windows.)

Smashed less pots than Monica.

– What’s worse is that Monica stands around doing nothing for a few seconds. Not only that but she stands there to say she has messed it up for them. Jo does the logical thing and yells at her to keep moving. Well at least half of this team hasn’t given up. Monica has only six pots remaining on her board.

– As she carries the most pathetic line of pots on the board four more fall as the tears are more prevalent than ever. Jo says it’s okay as she is in full-fledged crying mode.

Jeff Probst’s four year old niece could carry more pots than Monica.

– She doesn’t think they have enough and doesn’t understand how they could have enough. Commercial. They deliver the pots. They’re seven short. I suppose they anticipated a few to break but not that many. Jo insists that Mo isn’t letting anybody down. Mo won’t hear any of it as she continues to cry.

– Eric & Jeremy are on the mainland and run through the streets failing to claim a taxi. They think they’ll run all the way to downtown Bangkok. Ray & Yolanda are done and board the ferry. Yo tells us that they are not far behind Eric & Jeremy and are certain that she is ahead of MoJo.

– Mo walks behind Jo as he carries a row of ten pots. Mo quietly asks like a child wanting to be involved if she can carry a couple pots. Shockingly enough Jo won’t let her. Why? You’d think she’d drop it? Is it too big and important of a job? Mo plays the role of cheerleader. They have the clue and run to the ferry. Jo insists they are still in it.

– Eric & Jeremy run past a bus of loud kids waving out the window as they finally hail a taxi. Eric tells us that they ran two miles. Ah. That is far. Ray & Yolanda have a taxi right away. Yo says if they don’t hustle that they’ll be last. Ray has no idea how MoJo did at the detour. Mo says they won’t give up and stop running until the pit stop. Mo is crying. Jo for once doesn’t shout at her for crying.

The best way to clear up some tears from the eyes is to replace it with twenty days of old, new, wet, and dry perspiration. All better, Mo?

– Eric & Jeremy instruct the driver to ‘honk, honk, meep, meep’. What Eric does not know is that ‘honk honk meep meep’ is an onomatopoeia that belongs to few countries. ‘Woof woof’ isn’t cross-cultural either. Anthropology taught me that. Jeremy’s patience is wearing thin. Ray loves that the driver is going fast. MoJo’s driver is going fast too.

JO: This guy is hauling balls.

I’m going to use that term from now on.

– Eric & Jeremy are at the temple. They see the marked entrance and land on the mat. Phil informs them that they are team number two. Jeremy hands the Travelocity Gnome. Unfortunately it’s a regular gnome. But Phil offers them a consolation prize in the form of being one of the Final Three teams.

– Ray & Yolanda exit the cab and run into the marked entrance. So does MoJo.  Yolanda almost trips over a pot. Instead it’s a stubbed toe as she yells in pain but keeps the pace. When they enter through the entrance Yolanda is stopped. She is instructed to cover her arms. Her and Ray are both wearing T-shirts, but only Yolanda has to cover her arms. You have to love sexist rules in the majority of religious beliefs. Who knew religion could get in the way of one’s greed for a million bucks.

– MoJo state they’re almost there. Yolanda likes her shirt provided and wants to keep it. Suspense time. It ends when we see Ray & Yolanda land on the mat. Phil announces they are team number three before asking for the Travelocity Clue. . .Thing. 50/50 shot of it being a golden gnome.

And it is the almighty golden gnome. They did this in TAR 7 where a random gnome provided you with a prize at the Final Four. In that scenario it was the last place team who got it. In this season it’s the third place team. I don’t know why but I have issues with a team that doesn’t do well at all on the leg get rewarded with a prize. I mean, Ray & Yolanda chickened out of the crickets task. Shouldn’t the hippies be the ones who get the big prize because they ate the dang crickets? But I digress.

– Phil tells them that they have won a cruise around Sydney Harbour in a private yacht. They get to explore the wine district and the Great Barrier Reef. Just don’t pull a Colby Donaldson and take home a piece of coral as a souvenir. We’re not done there. Ray & Yolanda get to stay in a luxurious suite and go online to check out their prize. They’re stoked. Phil adds on that they are in the Final Three. Ray always thought they would make it to the finals. Yolanda finds Ray to be a pillar of strength and how he is the only other person in her life that she has relied upon.

– Sad music plays as MoJo steps onto the mat. Phil already revealed that it’s a Final Three so no point to delay the inevitable.

Here’s the pit stop greeter in case you were interested. She didn’t do anything funny or stereotypical so I didn’t bother mentioning her beforehand.

But now that I think about it, I do recognize her from the Survivor: Thailand intro.

And then I listened to all twenty-four Survivor intros. That was a waste of 25 minutes.

– Phil breaks the bad news that they are last place and eliminated. Jo shakes Phil’s hand and MoJo both express that it was the most amazing experience of their lives. Mo cries and talks about how Jo is her rock and couldn’t have gone through it without him. Jo said Mo helped keep her composed.

What? Really?

– Jo says they’ll get married and have a family. Aie.

– UFC promo time. You can fill in what they say yourselves. The only interesting thing is that Jeremy says that the hippies never do their own thing. BJ works in a “it’s on like Donkey Kong”.

Next time on TAR: It’s the last non-elimination leg of the season. Could the hippies do the unthinkable and finish in last place for every non-elimination leg? And expect a ton of references to The World Ends With You in the next round. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

BJ&Tyler 7.9
Ray&Yolanda 10.5
Joseph&Monica 6.3
Eric&Jeremy 9.4

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 Fran & Barry 4.89
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
4th Monica & Joseph 3.50
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) Perth -> Darwin (This isn’t the greatest leg format wise but the drama is so good it’s difficult to not have it this high. If it weren’t for the first ten minutes or the last five minutes this leg would no doubt be near the bottom. I’ll just list in point form why I love this episode so much:

a) Doug Roobaker. That whole scene is majestic from start to finish. Canceling another team’s cabs is something that I doubt ever crossed a producer’s or a racer’s minds until Eric & Jeremy came up with it. I love it when contestants out-think production on a reality TV show. They proceed to cancel cabs and order a cab under a fake name. And it’s “Doug Roobaker” of all names. C’mon. Doug f—ing Roobaker? That’s something even fan fic writers couldn’t come up with. Eric & Jeremy cement their spot in the TAR Hall of Fame.

b) Doug Roobaker’s cab not showing up after all of that effort. Everyone hates MoJo at this point. When MoJo is the only team to have a cab show up it’s hilarious to see the hippies and Ray & Yolanda automatically accuse MoJo as the guilty party all because Eric & Jeremy play dumb as their own cab isn’t around. This is the type of material you’d see written in a comedic film. What enriches the situation is that MoJo hates everyone so much that they don’t bother to defend the accusation. They could give a crap what other teams think.

c) Tyler trolling MoJo by creating the ridiculous rumour of Monica and Eric having a fling. It’s obvious they don’t have a fling but Tyler tries to rub it in so hard to piss off MoJo. And it works. Eric knows it’s all a joke, but given MoJo’s track for a sense of humour is minimal, this flies over their head and they take the bait.

d) The hippies yielding MoJo. Because we all wanted it to happen. Innocent hippies would play it off as strategy as we wait for the dumbest crap possible to spew out of Monica’s mouth. And boy did she deliver.

e) The equalizers were at the start of the leg. Therefore the last half of the round played out without production interference.

f) Ray & Yolanda going from their chronic position at the back of the pack to winning the leg decisively.

g) The 3-team road race to the pit stop for last place. Three out of four teams all bunched together despite no equalizers for the last three tasks of the round? There wasn’t even public transportation. Teams always drove themselves. This is what made the whole situation so rare. Production didn’t have to slant the table. It all worked out on its own.

h) MoJo avoiding last place despite being yielded by one second. It’s great when the yielded team can recover on their own. Regardless if they are not the most likable couple. It’s just a good storyline to have in play.

i) BJ opting to choose running across a rocky path rather than a clean and steady bridge. Major face palm inducing moment.

j) Hippies become the first (and final) team to lose all of their money and possessions twice in the same season. What makes the situation unique on top of that is BJ has no pants, no socks, no shoes, and no money to buy clothes with. It’s going to potentially require one to beg three times more begging than what Uchenna & Joyce had to do to stay alive and claim victory in TAR 7.

Sure, there were too many equalizers at the start of the round or a lack of strategy at the airports. A been-there-done-that roadblock accompanied by a questionable detour is present but the leg excels for the reasons I listed above.

I wouldn’t be surprised if reading this episode’s summary alone makes you want to go back and watch the episode. It’s just that good.)

2) 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.)

3) 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.)

4) Jabreen -> Fremantle (This leg wasn’t terribly eventful for the first half but once in Australia things picked up. Expensive taxi rides and hotel costs forced teams to strategize how to spend their money wisely. The hippies, who had everything stripped away from them, had to beg as much as possible from locals. This resorted to picking up hitchhikers knowing they would give them some cash or blackmailing and/or bullying other teams into helping them via the inevitability of a second yield.

MoJo and Fran & Barry sparked the idea of ordering taxis in advance which usually occurs around this time in every race. Teams had a lot of freedom in how to transport themselves from Perth to Fremantle to Rottnest and back to Fremantle. No two teams ever copied each other in their order of transportation in the episode which was unique to see.

The hilarious nature of Eric & Jeremy and the hippies continued. Even the bickering of MoJo had its highlights and their newfound feud with the hippies that came out of nowhere. In fact the new alliances of Eric & Jeremy and MoJo versus Fran & Barry, the hippies, and Ray & Yolanda is something you don’t see in any other season. Typically alliances form and die in the first four episodes. Since when do deals form in the ninth round? Not often, I can tell you.

And the roadblock task is by far the most creative task that TAR had all season. It was a task you would think was inspired from The Mole: Australia television series. Dungeons, prisons, flashlights, and pitch black canoeing? C’mon. That’s awesome. Thank you, Duracell.

The episode reaches a tragic end when the only team to overthrow the hippies and Eric & Jeremy meets an unlucky end only one leg after being on top. If only they were willing to settle for mediocrity. The race must go on.)

5) 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.)

6) 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.)

7) Darwin -> Bangkok (This leg is great because the most annoying team of the season goes home in 4th place. There is no better position for the annoying team to finish than in fourth place. You can breathe a sigh of relief as you immerse yourself into being excited for the finale and not have to worry about suffering through with your least favourite team to the bitter end.

The hippies rally from no pants, socks, shoes, and money to having full attire and a first place finish. You can’t forget the temple of monkeys. Everything else? Yeah, it’s pretty forgettable. For some reason a bowl of baked crickets doesn’t sound too disgusting. It’s not like slimy caviar or an enormous egg or 10, 000 pieces of chocolate that you have to bite.

Monica dropping all of those pots wasn’t as funny as it could have been. I feel the editors dropped the ball a bit there. I can’t think of what to suggest exactly, but I think they only fulfilled half of its comedic effect. The other half of the work was left to me in this blog.

The worst part of the episode, as with any season after TAR 4, is the Fast Forward. It was a sin for the Fast Forward to be offered on leg 11 at such a critical juncture. I say that elementary TAR strategy dictates that the first place will go for it no matter what to increase their lead. So what happened? First to the clue went for the Fast Forward and claimed it. Yeah. Brilliant freakin’ move.

It’s too bad that MoJo and the hippies went from a hyped up rivalry to virtually no interaction this leg. They trash talked each other but after the first ten minutes were left with no face to face interaction. That was perhaps the second biggest disappointment of the episode.)

8) 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)

9) 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.)

10) 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.)

11) 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) Fran & Barry

The best old couple in nine seasons of TAR. I think they even surpass Bob & Joyce. After putting up with an annoying team like Meredith & Gretchen, it’s great to see some real racers who want to compete directly with the younger competition. And they did pretty well. Their finishes would be better if they could track down clue boxes faster, but overall they maintained a constant presence in the top five after their follies in the Brazil rounds.

. . .

. . .

Fran was a cancer survivor. And that was a bad break with the taxi. They were likable.

P.S. Barry had his driver’s license taken away once the Greece leg aired. And both were sent to an optometrist after doctors watched their performance on the race.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) Monica & Joseph

Yeah. They’re this low. I feel it is necessary to put them this low because they were not shown for more than two seconds until episode seven. They are perhaps the most neglected team in the first eighteen seasons. The only entertainment from MoJo is when Mo occasionally built up to crying and Jo would scream at her for crying. Especially when carrying 35 pound swordfish.

They were good for the odd soundbyte and their ironic descriptions of the hippies. They were never funny when they intended to be. They said their relationship was extremely compelling, but it couldn’t have been more bland and fade into the background. Unless they focused their anger on the hippies, there was little point to giving them airtime. The hippies are entertaining regardless if MoJo is present or not. This is not true on the opposite end of things. MoJo had about ten minutes altogether in eleven episodes if you excluded the presence of the hippies.

Even their reaction to being yielded sucked by a team they despised sucked except for the one ironic quote.

I happily place this team in next to last.

8) 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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