In preparation for this episode’s ranking blog, please watch “Kintaro Walks Japan”. It is a really good documentary about Japan. After the episode I spent 35 minutes watching it in its entirety. It was well worth my time. And it will be well worth yours too.
Now let’s watch a bunch of reality TV.
Note that the twelfth and thirteenth legs aired together in a 2-hour finale episode. TAR 4 is the last time they’ve done a one-hour finale so this is to be expected. Let’s prepare for an unnecessarily long recap from our friendly neighbourhood Phil Keoghan.
Previously on TAR: This season on The Amazing Race it all began at Colorado’s Red Rock’s Amphitheatre where eleven teams of two set off on a race around the world. Their first destination–Sao Paulo, Brazil. At the detour many teams soared over the city but it was Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler in the lead. Dating couple Ray & Yolanda got the attention of the locals. While lifelong friends John & Scott struggled to communicate. At the pit stop Eric & Jeremy arrived first and John & Scott were last.
On the second leg teams traveled deep into the Brazilian countryside. Fran & Barry found the going rough but Joseph & Monica excelled. While sisters Lisa & Joni couldn’t get it into gear. In the end they were eliminated.
Eric & Jeremy and Danielle & Dani cozied up before the teams flew to Moscow, Russia. At the roadblock team members had to take a leap causing Wanda to face her fear of deep water while Desiree lended support. Teams grew frustrated searching thousands of nesting dolls then raced to Stuttgart, Germany.
Eric & Jeremy surged ahead at the detour. Meanwhile Fran & Barry had trouble learning a traditional German dance. But after hours of driving in the wrong direction Wanda & Desiree arrived last.
Teams then traveled nearly 900 miles to the Italian island of Sicily. BJ & Tyler took the lead. Lake & Michelle fell behind with a late flight connection. At the roadblock some teams had no trouble building a Greek statue. But Lori faltered as Dave watched. At the back of the pack Lake & Michelle yielded Danielle & Dani. Ultimately sealing their fate.
In the next leg teams drove across Sicily to the town of Catania. At the detour Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler delivered a thirty pound fish to a local market while Monica had a meltdown. Despite supporting each other Dave & Lori couldn’t make up for lost time on the prior leg and finished last.
After a quick stop in Rome teams then flew to Athens, Greece where Eric & Jeremy beat out Joseph & Monica for the Fast Forward. A harrowing roadblock exhilarated Ray but terrified Fran. BJ & Tyler got some bad news and eve though they were last to the detour they stayed positive. Lake & Michelle were at each other’s throats. Though BJ & Tyler were certain they were finished, it was Lake & Michelle who arrived last.
In the next leg it was Ray & Yolanda who bickered. Teams then flew to the Middle Eastern country of Oman where things heated up at the roadblock. All teams passed an exhausted BJ & Tyler who arrived last but were not eliminated.
BJ & Tyler left on the next leg with no money and were helped by some teams but not by Joseph & Monica. Teams then flew over 9, 000 miles to Perth, Australia. Even though Fran & Barry encouraged each other they couldn’t get a break and had an emotional farewell.
The four teams then raced from Perth, Australia. Eric & Jeremy turned up the game a notch by playing a trick. When teams found out they blamed Joseph & Monica. Keeping their word BJ & Tyler yielded Joseph & Monica. Ray & Yolanda finally landed first. While Joseph & Monica caught up with the other two teams making it a three way race to the end. BJ & Tyler hit the mat last but once again avoided eliminations.
Teams then flew to Bangkok, Thailand. Joseph & Monica were misinformed by a local and missed the early bus to Lopuri. When they arrived the next morning they were shocked to find out they were last. At the roadblock teams prepared a feast for sacred monkeys. Ray & Yolanda and BJ & Tyler dashed to the Fast Forward. A Thai delicacy of fried crickets and grasshoppers. BJ & Tyler held strong and triumphed. While Ray & Yolanda and Eric & Jeremy excelled at the detour, Monica & Joseph took the more physical task and broke down. In the end they were last.
Tonight on the 2-hour season finale of The Amazing Race, one of these teams will take home a million dollars as the winners of The Amazing Race.
– The last intro of the season. I don’t miss it, personally.
– By the time we get to the actual finale we are at 8:50 of the episode. Nine minutes worth of recaps. Dang.
– We are introduced to Bangkok which is home to the most uniquely designed monuments in Asia. Along the banks of the canals is the Marble Temple. We are reminded of Ray & Yolanda’s vacation of a lifetime and follow them into the suite and on their computer.
Phil’s Questions: After a night of luxury will Ray & Yolanda continue to work well together or will their relationship issues resurface? Will BJ & Tyler maintain their lead after climbing out of last place? And with a million dollars on the line, will Eric & Jeremy be able to keep their consistent focus and take home the prize?
– BJ & Tyler who arrived first at 1118am will depart at, you guessed it, 1118pm.
– Tyler reads that teams must travel 75 miles to the province of ???? and search for the Royal Kraal. Once here one of the elephants in ceremonial dress will hand teams a T-Mobile sidekick containing their next clue. Ah T-Mobile. A company that occupied 75% of the commercials during TAR 3.
– BJ: Let’s blow this temple.
Seeing how politically unstable Thailand can be and its past with terrorists, the government may take BJ’s statement literally.
– Tyler says after he wins a million dollars he will buy the temple. Or half of it. I hear three stories high of marble stretched across a couple hundred feet goes cheaply when put on sale every now and then.
– When they started out, BJ thought they could get first on every leg. They thought their travel experience would allow them to slaughter the other teams. But as they got into it they realized they’re susceptible to the same mistakes that other teams make. Tyler says the race changes because the fear of being eliminated is gone and now the focus is entirely on winning the race.
– At 121am, Eric & Jeremy depart. The hippies manage to get a two hour lead from eating crickets. Their lead is less than half of what Eric & Jeremy got from breaking a couple plates for their Fast Forward. Eric says this is about them as a team and trying to win. It’s all about competing and they like to compete. They’re not taking anyone lightly. It’s game time.
ERIC: I’ve never seen an elephant close up. I’ve seen them in “Elephants Attack” on TV though.
I bet that aired the day after Shark Week.
– The hippies are at the temple. Tyler remarks on the elephant corral. They approach the sign.
“Hours of Operation–4am to 6pm”.
Four o’ clock? I think that might be the earliest I’ve heard a place open without being 24 hours.
– The hippies speculate when the other teams will show up. In the meantime they taunt the elephant and yell that there’s peanuts.
– Ray & Yolanda depart last at 128am. Only six minutes behind Eric & Jeremy. Everyone should be there by 400am no problem.
RAY: We’ve got to catch the hippies and the Frat Girls.
Frat Girls? Is. . .is that supposed to be insulting? You got them good by changing their nickname to something feminine. I’m sure the women of America will love to hear that.
– Ray says they’ve had problems driving and navigating, but when they’re in the relationship they can have discussion about a wrong turn and suddenly be talking about the relationship.
Or debate whether you want to ask a local if you should walk across the bridge and instead end up flipping off your partner and talking about respect for three days. That’s the only disadvantage couples have on the race.
RAY: It goes from The Amazing Race to The Amazing Relationship Race.
That’s one transformation I hope that never occurs.
– He labels it as two different races before talking about how only one team can have a million dollars. Eric & Jeremy and Ray & Yolanda are at the route marker before 400am. Tyler greets Yolanda and is happy they’re still in the race. You mean Tyler didn’t want MoJo to stick around until Final Three?
Note that Yolanda has her purple pants on. I guess BJ didn’t want to keep them. He had a tough time parting with them. What’s equally surprising is that Yolanda was willing to wear them after BJ had ’em on.
– It’s 400am. The three teams watch the elephants running.
And one who is doing The Creep. Do The Creep do thethethe Creep.
– We see camera operators in the shadow. All three teams ask for Sidekicks.
It eliminates the lingering aftertaste of crickets and grasshoppers.
– Oh wait. We mean this one.
Am I the only one who wonders what happens to the Sidekick after teams are done using it? Who gets to fight over owning the Sidekick that was inside of an elephant’s trunk? Is it a duel? Flip a coin? Company puts it on eBay? A sidekick handled by an elephant must be worth a lot of money. Or does the elephant own the Sidekick?
Yolanda reads the clue. Fly to Tokyo and find the Shibuya Scramble Crossing–
BUAHHH! A clue for the Crossing appears on a cell phone just like it’s The World Ends With You? Did the composer make the Sidekick? Will the clue be embedded in the player’s arms? Will they be given Player Pins to enter the Crossing? Does that mean all of these teams are dead and we never knew about it?
P.S. I have been playing over 200 hours of The World Ends With You for the past four months. In fact before I blogged this episode today I put in two hours. I gained up in the Shibuya Crossing and had clues come up on a high-tech cell phone. It is perhaps the best video game ever made for the DS. Look it up. Buy it. You won’t regret it.
– Phil tells us that teams must fly more than 7, 000 miles to Tokyo, Japan. Once here they’ll drive themselves to Shibuya. Tokyo’s version of Times Square and the world’s busiest intersection. Here they will scan–
SCAN?! Just like in The World Ends With You? They get to scan with Player Pins to read everyone’s minds?
– “Here they will scan the many big screen TVs flashing a hint to the location of their next clue.”
Oh. I suppose I should have kept listening until the end of Phil’s speech. I feel dumb. I wonder what’s going to be on the big screens? Advertisements for CAT? Dragon Couture? Ras Mutten? The possibilities are endless.
– I return back to reality as I keep blogging. Tyler is excited for Japan because he speaks a bit of Japanese. In fact Tyler made a documentary prior to being on the race about how he goes on foot across the island of Japan in honour of his Japanese girlfriend. He became a Japanese TV star in the process.
In fact type “Kintaro Walks Japan” into YouTube and you’ll see the complete series. It’s six episodes and won’t take a lot of time. There is even a bit of Shibuya shown in the intro. The hippies have a clear and some would say an unfair advantage at a juncture so late into the season. It has Tyler’s odd sense of humour written all over it.
Like this dialogue here.
– So I just read the documentary. Tyler stayed in downtown Tokyo. He walked the entire length of Japan. He knows how to speak Japanese. This is far different from a team having hometown advantage in the final destination city because everyone speaks English and American culture is prevalent.
But going to a specific co-ordinate in the world where one person has visited extensively in the twelfth round of the race? That’s a whole new ball game, and one that production should have foreseen ahead of time.
– Tyler brags about his knowledge of Japan and that the other teams must be weeping. Jeremy points out that Tyler has been to Japan and speaks Japanese. I doubt the other two teams can be too thrilled. Ray & Yolanda are first to the airport and book a flight that leaves at 640am and gets in at 215pm. Tyler goes to the office of a major Japanese airline. Eric & Jeremy are last to the airport. Eric & Jeremy book the same flight as Ray & Yolanda. The hippies attempt to book that flight too. All three teams find out that the flight is very full.
– Suspense music plays. We keep hearing that the flight is very full. Ray & Yolanda are on the flight. So are Eric & Jeremy. The hippies are rejected and cannot get on the flight. Tyler keeps begging anyway. The two teams get in the plane and take off.
– The hippies go onwards to Thai Airlines. It departs at 820am. BJ tells us that the two leading teams have a ninety minute lead. Tyler thinks speaking Japanese will excel their progress. No kidding. Phil comes in out of nowhere to remind us of Shibuya. Seriously. We just heard the clue less than five minutes ago. If anyone’s short-term memory is that bad, they need to get checked out for Alzheimer’s ASAP.
– Teams have to drive to Shibuya. It must be a pain to find a parking spot there. The first flight lands. No flight delays or expedited flights unlike last leg. Ray & Yolanda and Eric & Jeremy board a bus to where the marked cars are parked. Eric asks Ray where the hippies are. Ray informs him that the hippies didn’t make it. That’s yesterday’s news, Eric. Get with the times.
– Ray is behind the wheel. Eric & Jeremy are at a hotel and ask for directions as well as a map for Tokyo. Jeremy says the goal is to beat the hippies and Ray & Yolanda. Ray thinks they messed up so Yolanda asks for directions. They turn around and find the expressway that they need. Apparently it was as obvious as a sign to Munich.
– The hippies land and are on the bus. They have a map and get directions on the bus. Eric concludes they’d be screwed if they didn’t have the map. Ray & Yolanda struggle navigating the signs and take a wild guess to board the “5”.
– Hippies are on the expressway. Jeremy looks for the building that they need to park their car. They drove up onto the building by luck and park it. They get out and walk. Ray & Yolanda are at a toll booth. However they are instructed to take the “3” and the “5”.
RAY: My navigator. Drivin’ Miss Crazy.
Last time I checked she wasn’t the one who flipped you off on a bridge.
– Tyler feels at home. Well he did spend nearly six months here. Ray pulls over and can’t understand what anybody is saying. It sounds like they’re nowhere close to Shibuya.
– Eric & Jeremy are in Shibuya. Welcome to the UG, frat boys. They scan the giant video screens. Jeremy sees
I know Hachiko! He is one screen to the left in Shibuya. Was he a loyal dog who waited every day for fifteen hours after an owner who died on his way to work? Or was it because there was a food vendor at the same location who fed him scraps every day? Greediness or loyalty? No conclusive evidence is found.
– At Hachiko they will need to find a man bearing the next clue. Eric & Jeremy are told that Hachiko is behind the tree. Probably urinating after sitting by the subway all dang day. When they find the man bearing the clue they think HE is Hachiko. They didn’t catch on that it’s the dog statue standing two feet away.
Before we move on there is one thing I need to get off my chest about the man.
– Eric reads that it’s a detour. Maiden or Messenger. In Maiden, teams travel seven miles by taxi to a specified Japanese Tea Garden. Once here they must use a palindrome, a centuries old method of transporting royalty.
I think it’s called a palindrome anyway. These things look the exact same forwards as they do backwards.
– They’ll transport a maiden inside one third of a mile to a tea ceremony and receive their next clue.
– In messenger teams travel on foot about 200 yards to this parking lot where they’ll pick a pair of folding bikes and two messenger bikes each containing a parcel. Then they need to assemble their bikes and ride through the chaotic Tokyo traffic to deliver their packages to two separate buildings listed on each parcel. When the deliveries are done they must return to the bike parking lot to receive their next clue.
– Eric & Jeremy have gone several rounds without being with Danielle & Dani. It’s been even longer since they made out with the German woman at the bottle smashing detour. So guess which detour option they are going to do?
Yeah. The maiden task. Their only motivation is to meet an attractive woman. Shibuya Geishas don’t have their hours of operation begin until midnight, Frat Boys.
– Eric & Jeremy are in a taxi. They like the taxi and find Shibuya to be cool. The hippies park at the Sakamoto Building and inside Shibuya. They made up ninety minutes and passed Ray & Yolanda just like that. Tyler sees the sign and is at Hachiko. Of course he knows that Hachiko is the dog. The hippies choose to ride the bikes because I hear Tyler knows how to get his way around Tokyo and communicate with locals. Plus he’s practically a celebrity. Kintaro was a major news story only one or two years prior.
– Eric & Jeremy lift up the maiden and complain it’s heavy. I wonder if the “No Fat Chicks Policy” will be in effect for the Frat Boys?
For all you know a mantroll is inside the palindrome.
– Hippies find the bikes and begin assembling it. It seems pretty easy. Zach isn’t around to unzip his pants for this bike assembling. The hippies are on the bikes and are going fast through the streets. This is nothing for Tyler who went on narrow bridges dodging traffic throughout Japan.
– Ray is optimistic and thinks teams may have just as much problems as they’re having. Yolanda says to never bet on that. Ray finds the streets confusing and concedes that the hippies must be right behind them now. Heh. Oh Ray. You aren’t aware how screwed you guys are this round. If this were the UG, you’d be erased by a reaper by now.
– Yolanda asks for directions to Shibuya. The guy wildly points in broken English but both Ray-Ray and Yo-Yo seem to have understood it. Eric & Jeremy have completed delivering the maiden.
JEREMY: This is like a naughty fantasy come true.
True? Don’t you mean, oh what’s the word, false? I think Gwen Stefani is ready to kidnap her at any moment and make her work in the Harajuku Slave Labour Camps.
– Eric reads that teams must go to the Capsule Land Hotel. This is a hotel where people sleep in capsules rather than rooms. I learned about that two hours ago. Guess where? Yeah. Kintaro Walks Japan. Tyler slept in one. At the front desk is where people will receive their next clue.
– Eric & Jeremy settle for a taxi. The hippies have delivered their first parcel then ask for directions to where they need to deliver the second parcel. Ray & Yolanda are on the road where Ray does a U-Turn. He finds the Scramble Crossing. Him and Yolanda run through it. In Shibuya, the only way to get by is if you’re in partners. You cannot survive on your own.
– Tyler asks in perfect Japanese if bikes can be in the second building. What a sickening advantage Kintaro has. They deliver the parcel. I’m anticipating that a cartridge for Chrono Trigger or a few copies of manga are in the parcels.
I dream for the day in North America where you are free to ride your bikes in the hallways.
– Yolanda spots the Hachiko sign. Ray asks where Hachiko is. He emphasizes ‘Chi’ a bit too much. They have the clue and choose to do ‘Maiden’. Ray isn’t so hot on a task that involves asking for directions.
– Eric & Jeremy get into a cab. The driver doesn’t know where Capsule Land is but does know where Shibuya is. Frat Boys settle on it because they need to be in Shibuya regardless. The driver asks for directions to Capsule Land. A remixed version of “I Think I’m Turning Japanese” plays as the hippies bike through the streets. They deliver the parcels and have the clue. Onto Capsule Land they go. Tyler thought it was a ton of fun.
– Ray & Yolanda carry the palindrome. Ray complains that it’s heavy.
RAY: It’s heavy, it’s heavy. I’ve got a Chevy.
*Song Lyrics Not Found*
– Eric & Jeremy go inside Capsule Land. They are given a 900am checkout time. Jeremy thinks their advantage is gone. Did they not watch TAR 8 where teams were given departure times for the episodes involving state parks? Oh right. That’s because nobody watched TAR 8.
– Eric & Jeremy are shocked to find out they will be sleeping in a tube. Jeremy points out that’s why it is called Capsule Land. They change into their robes. If only there were change rooms. They laugh so hard at the idea of capsule hotels.
JEREMY: I hope I don’t sleep and wake up to find out it’s 1972.
The capsules containing Flux Capacitors are upstairs, Jeremy.
– Ray sings a boot camp song to the point where he rams the palindrome into a tree. Neither of them open up the palindrome to see if the woman inside is okay. I think some tea will cure the concussion. They see the house and deliver the woman.
RAY: You feel much heavier than you look.
Is that a compliment?
YOLANDA: You’re cute.
– Ray & Yolanda are in the cab. The cabbie doesn’t know but punches it into his GPS. I wonder if a cab driver will get lost ever again after TAR 22 because of technological advances.
– Ray thinks he’s second or third. Yolanda breaks out a voice from Sister Act and keeps saying “Shibuya” in sing song form.
– Hippies are at the hotel. They have a 915am departure. Ray & Yolanda are there next, and what do ya know, they have a 930am departure. Ray & Yolanda hopes that they are first. They open the door to see the hippies and the Frat Boys in robes eager to greet them. Ray comments that it is like a prison. The six racers all sleep in the capsule.
– Eric & Jeremy depart. Eric reads that teams must drive themselves 80 miles to Fujikyu Highland. An amusement park at the base of Mount Fiji. It is widely popular amongst the youth of Japan. Its roller coasters are some of the tallest and fastest in the world. This thrill seeker’s paradise is where teams will find their next clue.
– Eric reads further that the cars are parked where they left them yesterday. It seems like production didn’t know how to design this leg. Into Shibuya, out of Shibuya, park a car at Sakamoto, go back to Sakamoto the next morning, etc. I can’t recall a time where the route markers have such a criss cross applesauce nature.
And not the type that makes viewers like me wanna jump, jump.
– Eric & Jeremy have directions. Jeremy pretends to be a pink dragon as he enters the car in Sakamoto. They are on the highway. The hippies read the clue in unison and go to the building. Tyler has directions too. BJ says the frat boys have only a fifteen minute lead. Sounds like they assume they’ll catch up.
– Ray & Yolanda check out and embrace the new day. Their first move is to ask for directions at Denny’s.
RAY: Please let us find somebody who speaks English.
It’s a Denny’s. The only people who speak English at Denny’s are drunk. They may as well be speaking Japanese for all I care. Indeed they find someone who has directions in Japanese or drunken English. Yolanda is confused. Ray does a U-turn and is on the “4”.
– Jeremy has the ticket. He comments on how big the mountain is.
JEREMY: That’s a big mountain. Mt. Tokyo.
ERIC: Dumba–. That’s Mt. Fuji.
That can’t be possible. Fuji is an apple or a country! Andria ‘Dreamz’ Herd is a natural born Fujian. You don’t see natural born Fujians like Dreamz in Japan.
– Hippies comment on how cool Mt. Fuji looks in the distance. Ray & Yolanda see it. Ray practices saying the words really quickly to mimic Japanese. Eric & Jeremy aren’t sure if it’s the right way so pull over and ask a guy in a van. The driver says to follow them. Bonus. Money in the bank.
JEREMY: I learned a lesson about speaking to people and making them understand. You can’t speak it slow to them. They won’t get it. You have to speak it like FUJIKYU HIGHLAND. Then they’re like “Oh. . .I didn’t know what you were saying. It’s right up there.”
Ray wasn’t kidding. Jeremy used his strategy and it worked. Write down these travel tips.
– BJ announces the turn-off is close. Tyler rambles on about how Japan is in their comfort zone and that it is an ideal final leg. Something about victory being close and the one million dollars. Eric & Jeremy don’t know if it’s an amusement park. Sure enough they see it. The hippies have caught up to the frat boys and pass them on the road. Eric hates that their lead is gone due to the hippies knowing the language. The two teams discuss if Ray & Yolanda will find out soon because they are known for not asking for directions too often.
– Both teams grab the clue. It’s a roadblock.
“Who’s ready to coast through their day?”
No mystery what that means.
– In this roadblock that person must experience the physical strain and adrenalin rush of three consecutive rides: The Pizza, Something, and Fuji-Yama. While coping with these wild rides, teams must maintain enough composure to spot a man holding a sign with a message along one of the rides. Once finished all three rides they must tell the park manager what they saw. If they are right, they will receive their next clue. If they’re wrong, they have to go back and do all three gut-wrenching rides again.
Let’s hope they didn’t pull a Sandlot and have a bunch of chewing tobacco before going on the ride.
Hey Park Manager, I didn’t see anyone holding up a sign, but I did see some blurry blue post hold something that said “Lake Yamanaka”. Is that it?
– Tyler is doing it because it’s his turn. Jeremy is doing it. They start on Pizza. Tyler tells the women to look for a sign. Jeremy tries to talk but they all ignore him. The women begin to sing as the ride begins to soar. Remix of “Turning Japanese” plays again. I swear I can hear Brand New Sin’s Tequila playing.
– Neither Tyler nor Jeremy saw a man with the sign. They go on to the next ride. Ray & Yolanda are at the toll booth. They are supposed to hand the man a ticket. Unfortunately neither can find the ticket. Ray opens the door to lean in and take a closer look. He insists Yolanda and the honking cars behind him to not get frustrated. It’s tough when you’re right by a city of 30 million people who need to have the ability to move swiftly. Time is precious. He gives up and tells the guard the bad news.
RAY: I don’t have one.
Ray is so used to broken English and Japanese that he isn’t prepared to hear a word that he understands clearly.
– The guard directs them to drive ahead and pull over. Ray looks at the camera and says that he doesn’t want to go to jail. They’ve been a prisoner of the clues, a prisoner of the language barrier, and now a prisoner of the Japanese state. Will they become the second team in TAR history to be arrested?
– Nope. There is a slight fine that they pay right on the spot for the ticket. The man is in good spirits. Ray takes advantage of the situation and asks where the amusement park is. I think the man was a professional baseball player. Why?
Because he slaps a stranger’s butt without little hesitation. This is why professional baseball players can’t get another job after they’ve retired. Ninety-nine percent of them would face sexual harassment lawsuits without any malicious intent behind the actions.
– Ray is uncomfortable and goes to Yolanda’s window to talk about what happened. Yolanda wants him to get over it. She has to handle a crowd in Sao Paulo and Bangkok. You get a tap by a lone stranger and Ray loses all focus. Eventually Ray gets in the car to stop the hemorrhaging of their chances at a million dollars.
– Tyler and Jeremy run into the entrance of the second ride together. Allies at Final Three it seems. A young woman likes Tyler’s beard. Tyler allows her to touch it. She freaks out as she rubs his beard. Jeremy proclaims Tyler to be an idiot. The second ride begins before the episode gets too weird. Everyone is enjoying the ride.
And this guy who has a version of the ride in his own home.
– Neither Tyler nor Jeremy see anything. Jeremy admits to wetting the seat. I doubt he is joking. Tyler and Jeremy ask each other if they saw anything. Tyler lies that he might have. Jeremy wouldn’t be surprised if he has to do it again. Jeremy opts to sit at the front thinking he might have a better chance of seeing it. So does Tyler. Jeremy couldn’t keep his eyes open and doubts he could see anything.
– Jeremy screams louder than ever. The ride is shown in full length. Jeremy sees the sign. So does Tyler. If this is a pit stop it will be close. Jeremy catches on that Tyler attempted to psych him out. Tyler has no choice but to lie.
TYLER: Maybe it wasn’t the one I saw earlier.
Yeah. Maybe it wasn’t the one that you didn’t see earlier.
– If this is a pit stop it’s going to be near impossible for these two teams to separate. BJ and Tyler continue their typical pattern of reading the clue in unison. They read that teams must travel 7.5 miles to Lake Yamanaka which is at the base of Mt. Fuji. Once there they must take a duck boat.
My favourite is the one wearing the sideways blue hat. He is meant to appeal to the younger and more hip demographic. The top hat is meant for the stylish and gracious individuals. The pink heart is meant for all women, and the bald duck is assigned to old and retired couples who have nothing better to do as they pass the time until they die. Seeing as it is Japan, they’ll have to wait four to nine more decades before resting in their death beds.
– Once they have the duck boat they must paddle it to the big swan.
Quit looking at Phil, swan!
– This popular attraction is the pit stop for this leg of the race.
PHIL: The last team to check in here may be eliminated.
This is why Final Three non-eliminations cease to exist after this season. No one is taking this round too seriously and everyone at home knows Phil is pulling our chain. Not even Survivor does Final Twos anymore. If anything it’s more likely for TAR to have a Final Four on leg 13 than a Final Two. I really hope there’s never a Final Four to end a season of TAR. That’d be a disaster.
– The two teams get into the cars. Frat Boys agree to follow the hippies.
JEREMY: Don’t tell anyone but I was on the Swan Boat Club in high school.
Teens nowadays wouldn’t believe you, Jeremy. Your stories are further evidence that funding for public education has been scaled way back.
– Ray & Yolanda mildly bicker when they see the roller coaster. Both end up telling each other to shut up. Yolanda has to do the roadblock which launches her into a soliloquy regarding the relationship. She hates his driving and they suck at communication.
– In the car Tyler tells BJ about how he failed to deceive Jeremy about the sign and how obvious it ended up being. In the other car Jeremy tells Eric about how the hippies deceive them. And so TAR’s version of the Cold War has begun. Both think they are one step ahead and brighter than the other without directly confronting the issue. Jeremy says he hates the hippies.
– Yolanda is on the third and final ride. She sees it. I’m curious how one would miss the sign. Would they have to close their eyes completely? Yolanda is in good spirits as she reads the clue. Her and Ray ask an old man outside the park where Lake Yamanaka is located.
MAN (points left): Right.
YOLANDA: Did you get that?
RAY: He said ‘right’ but pointed left.
It’s true. We got it. The only problem is that it doesn’t make any sense. That’s just as helpful, right? Get in the car and gun ‘er, Ray-Ray.
– Ray-Ray & Yo-Yo get in the car and look at the map. Yolanda speaks aloud of how she needed that break at the roadblock and goes on to say how she hates Ray’s driving.
RAY: When you’re driving you wanna be in the back, when you’re in the back you wanna be driving, or you wanna be driving and be in the back.
Translation: B—-, please. 🙂
– Hippies see the swan boats and the sign for Yamanaka. Eric breaks out his worst stereotypical Japanese voice possible. Both teams park and run down to the boats. They ain’t no Linzes who miss the red and yellow route marker altogether. The two teams taunt each other and commentate their own race. The hippies have the bald duck while the frat boys have the top hat. We see a montage of them paddling like crazy.
Sit in seats on a boat ride? Heh, those are for chumps according to Jeremy.
– WATCH YOUR HEAD!
– Both brag they’ll win. BJ screams he’s coming for Phil. Eric thinks they’ve lost the race while Jeremy insists they must beat the hippies. The hippies indeed get the victory as they climb onto the swan boat and run and hug at the mat. Phil says they are team number one and have each won a T-Mobile Sidekick including three years of free service.
PHIL: You can jump for joy.
(The hippies proceed to jump.)
On top of that they are paid five grand each to follow upon Phil’s direction to “jump for joy” at hearing the news of the prize. Thank you T-Mobile.
– Eric & Jeremy squeeze onto the mat. Phil had no idea that they could be beaten by hippies on a paddle boat. The frat boys expected to pass but paddled as fast as they could on those things.
TYLER: Well not quite as fast cause we beat you.
Ohhhhh no he di’int. Rivalry. Rivalry. Rivalryyyyyyyyyy. And good thing it starts now because the next leg is the Million Dollar Round.
– Phil continues the Q & A and asks how after all that time how it could come to a sprint like that. Well maybe having two teams depart fifteen minutes apart and be equalized as they wait for amusement park rides to start may contribute to that happening. Phil also asks if they are thinking about the end of the race. Jeremy thinks the hippies are playing dirty and that he’s not happy with them.
TYLER: I’m sorry. You canceled a cab. Now we’re even.
What?! Doug Roobaker’s identity has been exposed? Dammit, we need Tyler to be promoted at the Bureau, pronto!
– JEREMY: We had a lot of good faith in these guys but now he tries to throw me off. That was mean of Tyler.
I’d take it seriously if Jeremy wasn’t smiling the whole time.
– The hippies defend it’s just a competition and that they’ll use anything to get an advantage over them. Even Yolanda’s purple pants if times are desperate enough to warrant their use.
JEREMY: We’re gonna use everything* we can get so it’s gonna be deadly.
* except condoms
– Ray & Yolanda get in the boats. Happier music plays. Phil announces they are team number three AND the last team to arrive. But it’s a non-elimination leg. Ray & Yolanda didn’t put on extra clothes. They gave up all of their bags and money per usual. Phil says they’re not looking too good to start the next leg with nothing in a country where they have come nowhere near close to communicating with the locals.
– Ray claims they’ll win the money. I’d say that’s a possibility if they don’t have to travel Japan anymore. Yolanda says they’ll race with their hearts then Ray pipes in that they’ve rallied from being the underdogs.
Next Time On TAR: The end to it all. A million bucks is ready to be awarded. But it will be no easy feat. The most epic final task in TAR history as of season nine will be showcased. An incredible showdown will have you on the edge of your seat either screaming at your TV praying for a rally or screaming at your TV hoping a lead is maintained. You’ll either jump with excitement and punch a hole in your ceiling or you’ll throw a bowling ball at your TV in frustration.
It is a contender to rival with TAR 5 for the best finish to a season.
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) Bangkok -> Laka Yamaharmonica (This leg would have been much better if the three teams were on an even playing field heading into a leg that wields heavy influence on the outcome of the season due to the nature of the non-elimination penalty. Unfortunately production tilted this round in favour of the hippies. I’ve covered Tyler’s extensive knowledge of Tokyo itself which does not need to rehashed.
So why isn’t this at the bottom? Because if you look at the format of the leg, it was done quite well. It’s too bad Tyler’s advantage spoiled it. An elephant handing you a T-Mobile sidekick is surreal. Add in one of the most amazing locations that TAR has visited (Shibuya) accompanied by some compelling tasks. Delivering a person hiding inside an object to a tea house, search for a clue on a big screen to find the famous Hachiko, riding scooters to hotels through the busy and crowded streets, riding on amusement park rides to read a sign, and a final dash on duck boats. This leg quacked out by the end.
The leg did serve another purpose though. It set up Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler’s rivalry for the ultimate showdown. Both teams followed each other out of strategy throughout the leg and finished only seconds apart. They deceived each other too but also worked together temporarily. We could feel this season-long rivalry working to its apex.
Lastly, Ray & Yolanda’s season long flaw of why they finish at the bottom in nearly every leg was resolved.)
9) 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)
10) 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.)
11) 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.)
12) 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.)