TAR 9 season finale ranking

Final leg

Previously on TAR: Phil is nowhere to be found because this leg was the second half of 2-hour finale. So no recap from Phil. That means I get to fill in. This time I’ll be serious and mimic how Phil would do that.

Previously on The Amazing Race, three teams set out from Bangkok, Thailand and flew more than seven thousand miles to Tokyo, Japan. Eric & Jeremy and Ray & Yolanda got on an early flight while BJ & Tyler were left behind. But Tyler used his extensive knowledge of Japanese to befriend locals and catch up to Eric & Jeremy. Teams raced through Shibuya, the world’s busiest intersection where they had to look at one of many big screens for their next clue. After resting in the Capsule Land Hotel where people rent capsules rather than rooms, Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler took a wild ride. Meanwhile Ray & Yolanda failed to navigate and barely avoided an arrest. It came down to a race on duck boats between Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler, but it was BJ & Tyler who came out on top. In the end, Ray & Yolanda couldn’t recover and arrived last. However they were not eliminated because this was the last of three pre-determined non-elimination legs.

Tonight one of these three teams will walk away with the one million dollars and win. . .The Amazing Race.

*cue intro theme if there was one*

I did pretty good, eh?

Now down to business. This is where I talk about why the three teams made it to the end. For some reason Phil has failed to do that in two of the past few seasons.

BJ & Tyler: Despite boasting the most amount of travel experience of any team this season, it hasn’t benefited them much during the race. Their inability to read maps led to them being late to the mat in a couple of legs.

But during the tasks they’ve performed very well. Their natural quality of charming locals as well as charming other teams has allowed them to follow others until right before the end of the leg before maneuvering into a first place position on a few occasions.

Luck has played a big part in their race. They came in last twice but managed to do so on both non-elimination legs. However they finished last in Oman because of a roadblock that was reminiscent of the hay bale roadblock in TAR 6, and finished last in Darwin because of a deceiving detour option that took much longer than the other.

And being the only ones with enough determination to eat crickets and grasshoppers granted them a spot in the Final Three.

Eric & Jeremy: If there is one word to describe Eric & Jeremy’s 12-leg run up to this point it is this–Flawless.

They are really good at asking for directions when they are lost. Eric is incredible at reading maps and only screwed up once in the whole season. Then when it comes to tasks Eric & Jeremy pick the one that suits them the best. They get along well with every single team in the race through a charming and hilarious nature just like the hippies.

The only downside is they are not well-traveled and didn’t study extensively in Geography class in high school. But in terms of  real world globetrotters these guys are getting it done at an unprecedented level.

And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to claim first place. Although come to think of it they haven’t finished in first place since leg seven. What happened to their rhythm?

They’ve lost their mojo!

i c wut u did thar/

But they’ve managed to finish first or second in eleven out of twelve legs. Let that sink in for a minute before you realize how incredible of a run that is.

It also helps that Eric & Jeremy have never had cab problems or problems with locals to an extreme. Eric & Jeremy aren’t talked about as one of the luckiest racers, but I would contend that their race has had virtually no bad luck present. Some racers who have lost in the past would give up half of the grand prize to avoid the bad luck in the way that Eric & Jeremy have.

Ray & Yolanda: Not the best performers on the race. Perhaps one of the biggest shocks to make it to a finale in the first nine seasons of TAR. In fact the only other team who I can guess that has done this poorly and entered the Final Three of all twenty-seven teams thus far is Adam & Rebecca.

(Logan checks stats and calculations.)

Yep. No matter what Ray & Yolanda will beat Adam & Rebecca but have no chance to pass anybody else on the list accumulated to this point. Dang I’m good.

Ray & Yolanda are the opposites of Adam & Rebecca. Adam & Rebecca did poorly on a season where none of the teams had any skills. They bickered constantly, Adam wasn’t allowed to say anything at airports, and failed miserably at several tasks. These two were notorious followers.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Ray & Yolanda. They only bickered twice all season and don’t follow any teams whatsoever. In addition they have a reputation for avoiding to ask locals for directions until they are certain that they are in trouble. As Jenna Lewis would say, “too little too late” when asking for help. And unlike Adam & Rebecca, they didn’t have the luxury of going up against weak competition. Therefore their finishes in each leg suffer due to the Frat Boys or the hippies being at the top of the chain in every round.

So what’s kept them afloat? Their quality decision making and their athleticism to complete tasks. As soon as they have to drive themselves they are immediately falling to the back of the pack. Unless the Darwin leg in Australia where they lucked out by having a very detailed map.

A couple who are both very athletic and can run fast enough from place to place in tasks, and also not make any outlandishly bad decisions, can finish next to last if they put their mind to it.

However, they face a huge setback in the final leg. They have no money and no possessions. Even the beloved purple pants have been taken. Maybe she should have left them with BJ so that he’d give them back if Yolanda survived a non-elimination.

On the other hand, this penalty isn’t too extreme. Unlike TAR 7 where Uchenna & Joyce spent eight hours begging and barely caught up to the two teams in nearby Puerto Rico, Ray & Yolanda have an additional two days worth of flights to beg for money and beg for clothes. From Jamaica to Florida in TAR 7’s finale is much shorter than Mt. Fuji to the United States. A lot more wiggle room.

One of these three teams will win the million dollars and join the winner’s club. Who will it be? You already know because my audience seems to be limited to hardcore fans, but I s’pose you can read it regardless.

– Now to the final round itself.

– Phil introduces us to Lake YamaHannakah. It’s based at “majestic” Mt. Fuji. Phil goes back to his days as  Family Feud days where he adds unnecessary adjectives to describe everything.

– The pit stop is the “Big Swan”. Never thought I’d see that as a pit stop. It’s a popular tourist attraction.

Phil’s Questions: None.

BJ & Tyler, who were the first to arrive at 1218pm (which means after leaving the capsule they raced for only 3 hours), will depart at 1218am.

– BJ reads that teams must fly 9, 000 miles to Anchorage, Alaska. Once there they’ll choose a marked car and find their next clue. BJ puts something on Yolanda’s dashboard that is not shown to us. I replay the clip. It’s 2, 000 yen. This is why helping out the hippies when they were non-eliminated is the smart move.

– Tyler scraps off frost on the car. Filming the finale in December in the northern hemisphere will likely lead to those conditions. Especially when Mt. Fuji is right there. That place has snow on it like eighty percent of the year.

TYLER: BJ and I have been training for this race and this last leg for your entire lives.

How does smoking weed and partying in college train you for this? Or the time that you broke open your sister’s piggy bank and took her change? Or when you pulled an all-nighter playing Mario Kart 64? It is a bold-faced lie, Tyler.

– Tyler has approached life with wide eyes and bright enthusiasm and they’ve maintained that on the race. Now that is truth.

– Eric & Jeremy depart two minutes later at 1220am. Eric says they’ll go into the next leg full steam and they don’t have any friends.

JEREMY: We’re in overtime right now and we’re gonna win.

Overtime only occurs after a tie in regulation. You and the hippies have to step on the mat at the same time and go onto a fourteenth leg. And seeing how TAR forbids ties for first place at the mat, ties are impossible.  Why do teams come up with the worst analogies in the final leg?

– Eric reads the specific instructions. Followed by their impression of English dubbing in Japanese movies. It’s fairly amusing but impossible to screen cap. “Turning Japanese” remix is present once again.

I didn’t know Gene Simmons does dubbing for Japanese flicks.

JEREMY: Chick-OW!
ERIC: What was that?
JEREMY: That was my Chicken Kung Fu. Chick-OW!

Eh. Better than Rashomon.

– The two teams get to a tunnel where they choose opposite roads. Jeremy calls the hippies idiots as Eric is certain they are going the right way.

Roobaker knows his way around Japan.

– Tyler is certain it’s the most direct route on the map and can’t imagine what the Frat Boys are doing.

– Ray & Yolanda exit the pit stop at 301am. Nearly three hours behind the leading two teams. It’s probably the fourth or fifth time they’ve had this big of a disadvantage against Frat Boys and the hippies.  Yolanda is happy to see the 2, 000 yen.

YOLANDA: We’re leaving in last and we’re broke.

What about the 2, 000 yen?

Note that 2, 000 yen is equivalent to about 20 bucks. Karma finally repaid its debt. Yolanda knows they need to get more money. With a flight to Alaska they’ll have a ton of time. The hippies are first to the hotel and are told the first shuttle to the airport departs at 610am. Eric & Jeremy are there next and see the sign for the shuttle at 610am.

– The hippies ask the front desk if they have Internet. The agent says they do.

BJ: If anyone asks for Internet, pretend you don’t understand English.
AGENT: Okay.
BJ: Great.

May I remind you that agents never comply with these requests after nine seasons. They never would put their jobs on the line like that.

– Eric & Jeremy approach the desk.

ERIC: Do you guys have Internet access here?
AGENT: Yes.
ERIC: So can we use the Internet while we wait.
AGENT: . . (smile). . .(shakes head). . .(tilts head). . .

Read it and weep, Frat Boys. Hippies have charmed a man to not do his job.

In other news, this guy suffered reduced pay in his customer review scores after his bosses watched the episode.

ERIC: You don’t have Internet service? I thought you said you had it? Hmmm.

– Eric calls various airlines. Meanwhile Ray & Yolanda beg at a restaurant called Jonathan’s. They go inside and beg for money in the restaurant. They explain their situation and ask if they have any Yen to spend. What is their response?

Phil Keoghan will have her naked by the end of this round.

– Imagine that quote with the most stereotypical Japanese voice. Ray busts up laughing louder than I have heard all season. Yolanda seems as offended as she is amused. Let’s see the comparison.

This screen cap is all for you. I’m going to take this and give it the ol’ pale Michael Jackson treatment and we have. . .

Oh god no. I know they’re the same person because of the identical nose.

– It’s four o’ clock in the morning. Besides comparing Yolanda to Janet Jackson, there’s other evidence that they’ve picked the wrong time to beg.

These two guys are hilarious. Can TAR Asia cast them ASAP, please?

– They pick up a couple thousand yen.

YOLANDA: I’ll tell Michael you said ‘hey’.

The Japanese men think that could happen because Yolanda could pass herself off as Janet Jackson. Next they’ll see Jeremy and think it’s Ethan Hawke.

– Ray & Yolanda think they’re back in it. The hippies have found a flight that gets in at 1053am. Hours of operation shouldn’t get in their way. Jeremy is on the phone because the hotel doesn’t have Internet. They have a 750am flight.

– The hippies wonder if the Frat Boys are there. They turn off the lights like they’re Nelly Furtado and head down the stairs to greet them and announce that they were merely spying. If only they could spy to find out about a flight that gets in three hours earlier.

– Frat Boys refuse to believe that the hippies have been spying for an hour and instead ask why the hippies went the wrong way.

TYLER: To try to trick you.

That may be the most self-destructive trick I have ever heard. I think that’s a trick only Wil Steger would pull in the final round of TAR.

– Eric gives in and admits to the hippies that they aren’t idiots. They proceed to ask if there’s Internet. He thought it was weird that it didn’t have Internet. The agents laugh as the hippies do not respond.

– Hippies and Frat Boys are on the bus and don’t see Ray & Yolanda. Yolanda drives into the toll booth and are told it’s five minutes away. The bus containing our season-long frontrunners pulls into the airport. Frat Boys assume they will be followed by the hippies and try to ditch ‘em. The hippies wonder what the “Frat Cats” are up to and try to seek them. It’s a million dollar game of Hide and Seek.

– The Frat Boys go into a side counter and hide beneath some advertisements that cover the counter. The hippies are fooled. Now THAT’S  a trick. You should write that one down, Tyler.

Poor flexibility with your back was still effective enough to defeat the eyesight of hippies. I s’pose all the hippies could see was this first thing in the morning:

Nothing like the morning Purple Haze. How the hippies can function is beyond me.

– The hippies played Hide and Seek one year earlier with some old people and lost that too.

PLEASE DUCK, DON! PLEASE DUCK!

The English language has too many meanings assigned to the same word.

– Ray & Yolanda are at the hotel and board the bus. Ray hopes to see the other teams as they board the shuttle. He wants the other teams to look like they saw a ghost.  Eric & Jeremy sneak to the counter and buy their tickets and board the plane. They fly alone to Taiwan.

– The hippies check for earlier flights. There is one to Taiwan. It connects with Air Nippon and arrives at 750am. The Frat Boys’ trickery worked to no avail. Oh well. They tried.

– Ray & Yolanda search for a flight and hear about one that gets in at 240pm. Yolanda is not confident that it’s the earliest one. Her and Ray surf the Internet at the airport for earlier flights.

– Amazingly, Eric & Jeremy are in Taiwan. That’s a long distance to travel while another team is stuck back in central Japan. I’m surprised the flight connects in Taiwan because it is a couple thousand miles further away from Alaska than Tokyo is. They sit and watch Transfer Counter D because if any teams come through then they’d be walking through there. Not much else to do during the long layovers.

– Yolanda finds a flight that gets in at 750am. They don’t have much time to book tickets. Ray runs to the counter and tells the agent about the flight. Apparently the agents didn’t know about the flights themselves. She slowly recaps the flight information. I doubt they can get on because in TAR 4 and TAR 6 every team has been banned from making any flight that has a last minute departure. The airlines have a policy that you must have meals or security purposes prevent anybody from going through unless it’s thirty minutes before the flight leaves, etc.

– And sure enough Ray & Yolanda are told they can’t get on. The agents don’t specify the reasons and Ray blames them for not informing them about the flight earlier. The lady at the counter caves in and makes a call. At the other side of the airport the hippies look for the Frat Boys but can’t seem to find them. However they do see Ray & Yolanda who join them on the flight. Ray says it’s the first time he is happy to see the hippies. So we’re off to Taipei.

– Eric is anxious because they’re watching the clock and waiting. The second flight gets in as two teams carry their shopping bags. Hippies are ecstatic to see the Frat Boys. On the other hand Eric isn’t happy to see either of them. They all board the flight for Anchorage.

– Then we’re in Anchorage. All three teams must have been provided with winter gear because it is impossible for the hippies and Ray & Yolanda to squeeze big bulky coats into their tiny shopping bags. I s’pose the show didn’t want to get sued for frostbite issues from head to toe.

– Tyler reads the clue. All it says is “Drive yourself to Mirror Lake”. Phil chimes in that teams must drive themselves 30 miles to Mirror Lake. It is a scenic recreation area where teams will receive their next clue. The hippies are first, Ray & Yolanda second, and Frat Boys in third. The hippies ask for directions at the toll booth. The man is American (kind of, Alaska doesn’t count for much of anything) and is given clear directions. BJ is stoked. Tyler isn’t focused on that and says it’s his first time in Alaska. How does he feel about the cold?

Flo’s face would be ten times more extreme than this if TAR 3 ever went to a snowy climate.

– Ray & Yolanda ask for directions at the toll booth too. Ray writes it down as he sits in the driver’s seat. The Frat Boys follow suit. Ray comments that the signs are frozen too and can’t read them.

YOLANDA: Just in case we missed all the signs, we’ll just ask this once and then it’ll be over.

Wait. Yo-Yo wants to be proactive as they are only twenty minutes away from the entire season being over? They’re really stepping up their game in this final leg. Since when do they ask for directions at the beginning of a drive? They’re playing for keeps.

– The directions?

GUY AT GAS STATION: Turn onto Stewart Highway and stay on it.

Yeah. The frozen signs really got in the way of you driving on a straight road for thirty miles.

– Eric & Jeremy are on the Stewart Highway. Ray senses the frat boys being two or three minutes ahead. The sun eventually rises. Jeremy complains that the hippies are driving really slow and decide to pass them on the iciest, snowiest, and frozenest road ever driven on in the history of TAR. Jeremy does it without dying and suddenly Frat Boys have taken the lead. We see both cars in the same overhead shot of the long road.

TYLER: We should probably follow them.

While Yo-Yo’s game has yet to evolve, Tyler sticks to the same old trusted game plan.

– Both teams pull into Mirror Lake and run out to get the clue. It’s a detour. Drill It or Deliver It.

In Drill It, teams traverse the frozen lake and set up an ice fishing camp. First using an orgit (???) they will drill holes down into the ice shelf until they reach the water. Then they’ll need to push one of these shacks from shore onto the site and cover at least two holes with the shack. Once the ice fisherman approves of their camp, teams will receive their next clue.

In Deliver It, teams must load a bush plane with medical supplies. Then using a map to navigate, direct their pilot to fly 150 miles roundtrip to this airfield.

What runway? All I see is a big patch of white for miles and miles. Am I a muggle and that’s why I can’t see it? Do teams have to search for Runway 9 and 3/4? I’m confused.

Once on the ground they must unload the medical supplies and deliver them to the First Aid station where the doctor will hand them their next clue.

– The Frat Boys will drill it. Hippies don’t follow and do their own thing by delivering it. Greg “Tarzan” Smith’s son breaks the bad news.

TARZAN JUNIOR: Well the weather in Girdwood is not good enough to get it on the ground. We’re on a weather delay. It’s too hard to tell when it’ll be good. Could be five minutes. Could be five days.

Well that’s not much of a detour. This is like the one in the Cairo leg of TAR 5 where six teams were forced to drag Pyramid stone slabs against their will.

– Jeremy calls them a copycat. They weren’t even copying you in this situation. From now on the hippies will copy you just to spite you. Good thing this is the final round. Who knows how much more heated it would get between these two.

TYLER: Technically we’re the ones ahead so you’re copying.

I love second grader logic.

– Jeremy coaches Eric how to do it. BJ is done drilling the first hole. Eric is shocked that the hippies already have one done. However the Frat Boys recover as they get two holes done. They lead 2-1.

TYLER: We’ve got four!
ERIC: You guys have got four holes already?
BJ: Good lie.

Yep. The only thing to foil this thickening plot is if Eric opens his eyes and sees only two holes. But what are the chances of that? Tyler really needs to re-think what lies are worthwhile and which ones aren’t. Ask Doug Roobaker to teach you.

– Ray thinks they drove too far and pull over at a gas station. They are told to just keep driving. What a waste of time that was. Why did you ask for directions? I bet wasting your time on directions for once will prevent you from being so proactive ever again.

– Hippies have eight holes drilled. Tyler asks if they can use one to catch fish. Eric & Jeremy have all ten holes drilled and are cleared by the ice fisherman. They run to the shacks. Which one will they pick?

The Mirror Shacks are a little old place where Frat Boys like to get togetherrrrrr. Mirror Shacks babyyyy.

– Eric & Jeremy must be thinking what is the best way to honour their beloved pinks.

Hmmmm. . .

Yep, they choose the pink one. In their defense it was the closest. But still. . .

– Hippies have nine holes. Tyler is drilling the tenth and final hole.

TYLER: I’m nothing but skin, bones, and attitude. . .oh my god we’ve got to push those shacks.

And there goes the attitude.

– Eric & Jeremy decide to rest as they see the hippies still working on the hole. Tyler works on the hole and claims there’d be a million dollars inside the hole. If that was the case I think the entire state of Alaska can be bought out.

Minus the parts that have oil in it.

– The hippies run past Eric & Jeremy who have it pushed to the holes. Eric reads that teams must drive twenty-six miles to Kincaid Park and put on snowshoes. Using a map they’ll search the park for their next clue.

– The hippies begin pushing. The Frat Boys are inside the car.

JEREMY: That was so hard that I thought my biceps were gonna pop out.

My Sister’s Reaction: He’s just trying to brag about his biceps. Really? Like ‘they’re gonna pop out?’ He’s trying too hard.

– Hippies remind themselves that it’s all for a million dollars. They receive the next clue. Ray & Yolanda run to the clue box as the hippies exit. Ray & Yolanda realize they’re last. That’s what happens when you can’t navigate a straight road.

TYLER: TTOW for now.

I’m going to burn those mothaf—as at the finish line if they don’t tell me what TTOW means. I’d ship ‘em off to Guantanamo and pay for their supreme water boarding to ensure that happens.

– Ray & Yolanda “choose” to drill it. I doubt the weather cleared up. Tarzan Junior sits alone. Like father like son.

– Ray talks about being from Jacksonville, Florida where it’s warm in the winter now on up to Alaska where it storm in the winter. Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Memphis, Tenn., Chi-Town, holla at Ray.

RAY: It’s like taking the fish out of water.

Except fish would die if taken out of the water. If a man from Florida is taken to Alaska and dies from the cold, we’d denote him as the least evolved human being to be recorded in the 21st century.

– Ray-Ray drills one hole with Yolanda. For the first time this applies to ice. Jeremy is certain the hippies are close to them and busts out a country accent as he describes the hippies following them.

By the way, nice overalls.

– Tyler reads the map and sees the trail to the clue box. Ray complains that his fingers are frozen. Yolanda wishes she could do it with her legs because her legs are much stronger than her arms. They have ten drills and begin to push it. Real good. I have a feeling I’ve already referenced Salt n Pepa recently. They finish pushing and have the clue. Yolanda thinks the task would have been easier if there were two Rays.

– Frat Boys pull into the chalet and have the snowshoes. No hippies to be found so they expect to have a decent lead. However the hippies pull in just as Frat Boys are up the hill snowshoeing. Frat Boys see the hippies first and decide to run so they are out of view to confuse the hippies.

– It works. Hippies don’t see Frat Boys and thus don’t look in the direction of where the snowshoes are. They ask someone outside if it’s the chalet and if someone has a clue. No real response. So the hippies run up the stairwell.

Blind to a million bucks.

– They run up and have a good view. It’s too bad the snowshoes are tucked underneath. They run down the stairwell and go inside the building.

Getting warmer. . .oh wait. It’s Alaska. There’s no warmth. It’s always frigid as f—.

Fran & Barry’d.

– Hippies go inside and ask for snowshoes. The lady at the front says it’s outside. They go get the snowshoes and kick themselves for having run past it like senile old people. Ray is driving and says something along the lines of “this is it”. No s—.

– Eric & Jeremy study the map and keep running. Tyler opens his mouth to lick a snowflake but is met with a dumping of snow from a tree. Jeremy has the clue. He reads that teams must fly more than 3, 000 miles to their final destination city back to where the race began–Denver, Colorado.

One should note that only TAR 1, TAR 6, and TAR 9 have started and finished the race in the exact same city. That’s how every season should be in my opinion. A race around the world means you fly precisely one lap around the circumference of the earth. It’s the epitome of epicness. Assuming that were a real word of course.

– Once there teams will travel by taxi thirty miles to Clear Creek History Park in the town of Golden. There they’ll search the park for their next clue. The Frat Boys run back and think they’ll run into the hippies. The hippies think that the Frat Boys should be near. However the hippies stop to read the map as the frat boys exit an alternate way and flag a cab. They wish to keep their lead.

– BJ finds the clue. Both hippies trip (not that kind of trip) before grabbing the clue. They sprint back in snowshoes. I wonder if I could beat Usain Bolt in a sprint if he wore snowshoes in the 100 metre dash.

– The hippies have a cab of their own. It seems to be dark as Ray & Yolanda start to run in their snowshoes. No quote from Ray about how “Floridians don’t wear snowshoes” or some other cliche that is typically heard on the race.

– Frat Boys are at the airport and are told of a non-stop flight to Denver that departs at 1110pm. They book ‘em. Eric hopes that they don’t see the other two teams because they froze on the race course. Now you’re exaggerating. That would only happen in Antarctica.

– Tyler asks for a cell phone in the cab. Alaskan cabs are advanced enough to carry cell phones. BJ takes it and books the 1110pm flight. Ray & Yolanda have the clue and intend to catch up to the suckers at the airport.

– Hippies notice that the Frat Boys left the airport out of an alternate exit. They chase after them as Tyler screams “FRAT BOYS!” for the hundredth time this finale.

BJ: Did you find anything international?
ERIC: I don’t know. Did we?
BJ: If you did then why are you going back to the other terminal?
JEREMY: Uhhh you never know.
BJ: Let’s follow them.

And the hippies live up to their expectations of following a team once again.

– Ray & Yolanda put away the snowshoes and on their way to the airport.

TYLER: Oh frat boys. What’s a race around the world without the frat boys?

Do you like being called frat boys, frat boys? Do you frat boys? How are you frat boys? fratboysfratboyfratboysfratboys.

– They are in the other terminal and have time to kill. They play a game where on the count of 3 they announce which airlines they are on.
1
.
2.
.
3
.
ERIC: Air China.
TYLER: Fox.

China beats FOX?

– Ray & Yolanda drive by a temperature sign that says it’s 13 degrees farenheit. I’m not American but I have been to the States enough that summer weather is between 80-105 and that the 50s is crappy weather. I shiver at the thought of 13.

– Ray & Yolanda book the 1110pm flight and is happy to be equalized.

RAY: Bet on black.

That quote is copyright of Sean Rector. He wants his royalties, Ray.

– Phil tells us all three teams are on the same flight to the final destination city. Once again Alaska proves to be completely pointless for the third season in TAR history.

– Whoa. Denver already. Flight lands. Frat Boys walk through the airport. This is the final city. You better be running. Frat Boys are first into a cab followed by the hippies. Ray & Yolanda once again can’t keep up with the leading two teams.

You know what bugs me about the final destination city? Teams never drive themselves. Instead those crucial two to three hours that determine the winners of a million bucks boils down to half of the outcome being based on the taxi driver. Wouldn’t driving yourself test the ultimate skills needed at the end of a 29-day journey? To prove everything that you’ve learned?

– It’s dawn. Frat Boys are first to Golden and catch on that the clue might be in the shed. They’re right and Jeremy has the clue. No other teams have shown up to Golden yet. Jeremy reads that teams must travel by taxi six miles to where it all began:

Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

For the first time ever the race starts and ends not only in the same city but in the exact same location. I have been loving the classic format to this season. Minus yields, reduced Fast Forwards, and To Be Continued legs. But other than that it’s good.

– At the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is where they will find their next clue. Jeremy yells out the next location across the parking lot to the cab driver. Eric tells him to shut up because the hippies are incoming. I’m guessing the lead is about three minutes.

– I’d like to point out the cab drivers.

Love the hat. It’s the Sri Lankan flag. Who knew Denver was a hot spot for Sri Lankan immigration.

– Now I present the Frat Boys’ cab.

According to the Japanese businessman, both of these cab drivers are Stanley from The Office.

– Jeremy tells the cab that the only goal is to beat the other cab. Tyler finds the clue in the snow outside the shed. They run back to their cab. As they exit they see Ray & Yolanda coming in. Both cab drivers know where it is. Ray & Yolanda are searching but with no luck.

– Suspense as both teams look intense and wonder where the other teams are. They have their eyes on the road. Tyler catches on that it’s the original starting point. Eric & Jeremy tell the cab driver to stop when they see the clue. It’s a roadblock.

This shot alone confirms that this final task will be better than any other final task in the first eight seasons.

TAR 1: Take a subway to Flushing Meadows.
TAR 2: Run around the streets aimlessly before riding a cab to the marathon run.
TAR 3: Line up five animals in order of appearance.
TAR 4: Sun Devil Stadium riddle. White plus white plus bet on black.
TAR 5: The farm maze.
TAR 6: Eat a pizza. -_- One step backwards.
TAR 7: Find a cigar shop where your cab driver must speak Spanish. A further step backwards.
TAR 8: A puzzle of North America. A huge step forwards.
TAR 9: Arrange the flags spread across a field in the correct order of appearance. The majority of the flags are dummy flags. Awesome.

Note that Phil is suited up in his turtle neck. It’s about to give away a million dollars.

– In this roadblock that person must run into the field of 285 flags.

I don’t envy the lone person who went out into the cold and snow while putting out each of the 285 massive flags.

– Teams must go into the field of 285 flags and find one for each of the nine foreign countries that they visited during the race. They must put the flags in the order in which they visited the country.

Now there’s a really stupid component to the task that will make this challenge extremely easy and makes 220 or so of those flags a complete waste of time to put into the field.

Each team is given a placard for reference. However, the X’d out flags are extras that don’t appear. The flags aren’t too obscure. One is India which anyone should recognize if they’ve played Street Fighter, the flag for a British colony that is a shade much lighter than Australia and New Zealand, and a green and yellow flag that would be commonly found in western Africa. So it shouldn’t be difficult figuring out which is real and which is fake.

– This task is the equivalent to Fallen Comrades in Survivor. Why? Because teams were given a picture of the flag on their clues when they were told to fly to a given country. So when they went to Japan they were given a picture of the Japanese flag on their clue. This gives teams the opportunity to observe and file away that information. Much like how Fallen Comrades forces you to be a true Survivor player who got to know and understand how each player works. For TAR, knowing the flags means knowing the race course that you traveled through over the course of 29 days.

– In this roadblock the teammate may guide but not physically assist. Once the teams have completed the task they must run the path to the finish line. That’s right. The finish line is right there at the roadblock. The first team to arrive will win the one million dollars.

– Jeremy tells Eric that he knows the flags. They run to the field. Eric grabs Brazil. One down. Eight to go. He grabs Japan because it was last. That’s typically how our brains work. It’s what I learned in Psychology class anyway.

– Tyler senses Phil lurking in the shadows. They are at the roadblock. BJ is doing it. Eric brings back Germany next.

D’oh.

– BJ has put in Brazil. He says Russia isn’t around because it’s not on the placard. What? You mean you don’t know the Russian flag of all things? Have you watched the Olympics once in the past twelve years? What was BJ expecting? A hammer and sickle on the flag? Those days are over, pal. Next BJ will tell us that he’s trying to dodge being drafted into the war.

– BJ puts in Germany after Brazil. Him and Eric think alike. He goes on to Italy. Eric puts in the Russian flag but has it after Germany. It’s tough to remember where you got all of your first place finishes. Eric says they went to Sicily next but can’t find the Sicily flag.

Oh the wonderful country of Sicily. I’m sure they want to be their own country as much as you want them to, Eric.

– BJ has the Sicilian/Italian flag. Eric snags Australia because it is second to last. Eric only needs to make one switch and the million dollars will be his.

TYLER: These flags are bringing back memorieeeees.

Production worked hard on this challenge. They don’t need your sarcasm, ya hippie.

– Why are we back in Golden? Oh right. Ray & Yolanda are still searching for their clue. What a waste of twenty minutes for them. Ray has the clue in the hen house. They battle to catch up.

– Eric puts Greece in the right place and goes for Oman next. BJ and Eric both have the Omani flag. BJ runs to Australia next. Eric puts the Greece flag one slot to the left because he thinks Italy was next. Ouch.

The cold, the snow, and the migraine that Eric is touching is tough to overcome as we see only four flags put in properly. Add in the stress of a million dollars being five minutes away. Yikes.

BJ isn’t fairing much better.

– Eric brings back Thailand. He asks the woman if the order is correct. It’s wrong. He’s trying to think what’s wrong. BJ brings back the next flag but one slot is missing. They know it’s the Russian flag. Both BJ and Tyler study the placard. They conclude it’s the one that’s, well, the Russian flag.

– Eric switches two flags that were in the correct order but it’s wrong. He re-arranges Germany and Russia. Now that’s a correct change. He switches Italy and Greece. It’s still incorrect.

This is the worst I have felt for any team ever. If Eric didn’t switch Thailand and Oman they’d be millionaires right then and there. It was the most impulsive of their switches too. My stomach knotted up thinking how bad you must feel seeing a million dollars slip from your fingers after running a near perfect race.

– BJ throws the Russian flag on the ground and switches everything one slot to the right.

– Jeremy asks Eric to switch the Thai flag with the Italian one because the Thai flag may be the green white and red one. Yeah. They don’t watch Olympics or play much Street Fighter either. Stage select is your friend.

Translation: Jeremy wants Eric to switch the one that is the Omani flag with the Italian flag. Uh oh. Nearly every flag is wrong except for the ones at the ends.

– Eric looks at the placard and brings back the green yellow and red flag as Thailand. You’re about six thousand miles off. It’s still incorrect. Eric brings back the green yellow and red flag.

– BJ has all of the flags and asks for it to be checked.
.
.
.
.

WOMAN: YES! That is correct. And do you like my impression of Joan Rivers’ face lift?

– The hippies run to the finish line. Eric announces that the hippies got it. Jeremy looks miserable. We see the montage of all eight teams cheering. Surprisingly MoJo is cheering. Teams practice their clapping and cheering for two hours so maybe it was taken from earlier in the day. I doubt MoJo would truly clap for the hippies.

– Hippies step onto the mat and hug Phil.

Five continents, nine countries, more than 59, 000 miles, the hippies are the official winners.

– BJ hugs Phil as Tyler kneels on one knee and buries his face into his hands. They hug each other. For a really long time. Phil says they were brainiacs and that it did come down to brains. Tyler finds the experience unreal. BJ says it was life-changing and the best thing you can do for your relationship with someone. Phil points out they always had a smile on their face at ever pit stop. Probably because they weren’t eliminated. It’s couples therapy. Tyler thinks the world is a beautiful place and that the people they met in every country were great. Him and BJ tried to give them their adventurous energy in return. They think they won because of the people all around the world.

– Phil asks if they’ll keep their look (particularly the long hair and beards) because they are now richer than they were in the beginning. In other words, Phil just called the hippies ugly and homeless.

– Tyler says they were successful as hippies so they may as well stay being hippies. The other teams simultaneously groan and laugh. They must have asked Phil to order the hippies to shave off their stupid beards.

– Next we see Eric & Jeremy run to the finish mat. They drop their bags and frown. Least excited a second place team has ever been. It’s likely because this is the fourth leg in a row where they finished second and lost the season because of two lousy flags. Phil cheers them up that they were the most competitive team they’ve ever had. Jeremy jokes that he didn’t think it would come down to brains.

– Phil asks where the frat boys nickname came from. It was Tyler who coined it.

ERIC: We’re college dropouts, okay.

Well someone is in a pissy mood at the finish mat.

– Phil wants Eric to talk about his partner. It’s cliche crap but there’s one quote I must pick out.

ERIC: It’s pretty great with Jeremy. I wouldn’t do it with anybody else.

. . .But I could’ve sworn that two seasons later he. . .oh, forget it.

ERIC: We wanted to win so we didn’t have to work our crappy jobs anymore.

After the finale their employers may reduce their crappy jobs to ‘no jobs’.

– Ray & Yolanda are at the finish. It’s revealed in an Early Show special that Yolanda completed the roadblock. Phil is pleased to see that they’re smiling. Everything is fine. Yolanda isn’t moving out yet.

TYLER: But when are you getting married?
YOLANDA: Not today!

More like “not ever!”

– They’ve learned about each other and love each other. Ray would have only done this race with Yolanda. Yolanda found Ray as a source for her motivation. Ray proposes to Yolanda on the Early Show. Yeah. He copied the same s— that Colin Guinn did. I never thought somebody would want to follow in Colin’s footsteps.

– Phil asks for a round of “apause” for the three teams who ran the race course of 59, 000 miles. I love it when Phil’s Kiwi accent comes out. The letter ‘A’ has been his nemesis over the course of 21 seasons.

– BJ says being cerebral or intelligent isn’t as helpful as being in the moment and being aware of what’s going around you and stay positive and enjoy each other’s company and friendship. Tyler shared their spirit of adventure with every country and every person that they met. There’s so much in the world and take advantage and give back as much as they can. So many run-on statements from all statements.

At least it ended better than this.

Confessional counts

BJ&Tyler 3.4
Ray&Yolanda 4.4
Eric&Jeremy 6.7

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
3rd Ray & Yolanda 4.23
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
1st BJ & Tyler – 2.46 FF
2nd Frank & Margarita 2.38 – FF
2nd Kris & Jon 2.38
2nd Rob & Amber 2.31
2nd Eric & Jeremy 1.69 FF

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) Lake YamaTanaka -> Denver (May of you will be shocked to find the season finale ranked this low. Why is it this low? Because it was very boring until the final task. We have grown used to knowing that anything that takes place in Alaska will make no difference of who gets the better flights. We know all three teams will be in the same boat because Alaska tends to keep all three teams together and we know it is not the final destination city.

Besides Yolanda being referred to as Janet Jackson, the hotel lying to Frat Boys about Internet service or the frat boys and hippies playing their game of fake airlines, there isn’t anything too funny that goes on in the leg.

Teams were on the same flight to both Alaska and Denver which creates little suspense or the idea of a rally. We had to wait until the last twelve minutes of the episode when teams got to the final city. And what they had to do in Denver was minimal. Find a clue in a shed? That was all until the final roadblock. And the finish line was at the location of the roadblock. Thus we miss that final dash that is the peak of all other seasons.

Production did well with the final roadblock and ending it in Denver, but was Alaska necessary? Denver had just as much snow and frigid weather as Anchorage. Couldn’t they find equivalent tasks to do in Denver? They could’ve gone to the training facility for the snowboarder who looks like Carrot Top as a detour or climb up apart of the Rockies. I don’t understand what production was trying to accomplish by putting them in Alaska.

It’s too bad that they dropped the ball this way. Good final showdown between hippies and frat boys though.)

9) 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.)

10) 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)

11) 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.)

12) 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.)

13) 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) BJ & Tyler

I gave the hippies the number one spot. Only because their sense of humour won’t be repeated by any teams in the future. They truly enjoyed the countries and the people that they met along the way. In addition they were responsible for many other teams getting extra airtime because the hippies would interact with them in an entertaining fashion (I’m looking at you MoJo and Fran & Barry).

I considered putting them in second because of the negativity surrounding the controversy of them following. But did they really follow that much? I’m thinking of moments when teams crossed the river in Oman and the hippies allowed other teams in a way of being fun because of how dangerous that looked. Were they really intending to follow in that situation? I doubt it. They were just having fun with the other teams. And by the end of the race they must have been so sick of the badgering from MoJo that they followed the Frat Boys whenever they could to carry the running joke.

TTOW!
My peg leg!
Good thing I took that anatomy class!
When yield season comes along, Joseph & Monica will be the hunted!
We started this leg with no pants and no shoes.
We get uh pizza pie!
Let’s run into the pit stop backwards!
*Kiss Phil on the cheek*
Is it the million dollars that’s coming between us? *shoots glare* Just checking!
SANTA!

The hippies contributed so much to the positive experience of the season. The only way you don’t like TAR 9 is if you aren’t a fan of the hippies or any alpha male teams that do well.  I believe we all should have enjoyed this season, and we have the hippies to thank for delivering every episode.

And I will never forget BJ’s frog hat that came straight out of Super Mario Bros 3. I also can’t forget how BJ constantly reminded me of the caddy from Happy Gilmore.

2) Eric & Jeremy Roobaker

Flawless racers except for the final task of the game. And taking an extra twenty minutes to find a route marker in Oman than necessary.

Heading into this rewatch I thought the frat boys would be annoying and come off as sore losers the whole time. They have been one of the biggest surprises on a re-watch throughout the nine seasons that I have blogged.

Many of you aren’t expecting me to say this. . .but I think Eric & Jeremy were at times funnier than the hippies in a given episode. I haven’t laughed much harder at something in TAR then the whole Doug Roobaker situation followed by accidentally cancelling their own cab via karmic retribution.

Mock Japanese conversations, making fun of locals, making fun of other teams, shamelessly seducing any woman on the race course whether they were pink, German, or Harajuku during the season. They didn’t let up in their intentions to get laid somewhere along the race course.

Unlike Russell, Eric & Jeremy traveled 40, 000 miles for sex.

Yeah, really obscure TAR reference I know. Expect this to be the first and last time that I reference Russell.

I can’t really think of any other team in 21 seasons who tried to play homewrecker for as many of the other dating couples as possible. It’s probably why they did so well. The other teams were worried about their own relationships so much that Eric & Jeremy dominated. The hippies were too busy getting high and Fran & Barry were too busy looking for a clue and Lisa & Joni were too busy peeing their pants to catch up.

Jeremy may be the best at physical comedy when it comes to TAR. I forgot all of his zany actions such as dancing in the street, rolling out his Gene Simmons tongue, and massaging the Travelocity gnomes. Tommy Linz may have been overthrown.

And Eric is one of the best at giving confessionals. I couldn’t help but notice that Eric narrated a ton of events that took place throughout the season. When I think of who recapped conflicts or other teams that responsibility usually lied with Eric.

Plus the gloomy look on Eric & Jeremy’s faces when they lose is priceless.

ERIC: It’s pretty great with Jeremy. I wouldn’t do it with anybody else.

That’s the best unintentional comedic comment made all season.

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) Ray & Yolanda

I think this is an appropriate spot for Ray & Yolanda. Much like Michael & Kathy in TAR 3, they were a long-distance dating couple who came together on the race to see if they could handle each other for an extended period of time. And also much like Michael & Kathy, the results made them as one of the most rootworthy young dating couples seen on the show.

Their ability to make fun of most situations as well as finding humour in the underlying perception of Black people around the world made them out as a very likable team.

Even when they bickered it wasn’t like other teams where we suddenly sprint for the remote and lower the volume on our TVs. They talked in a normal person’s voice regardless of how much they were at each other’s throats.

And I don’t think the start of a non-elimination leg could be so hilarious if it weren’t for Yolanda bringing her purple pants onto the race.

I think the season may have been viewed as the absolute best if these two trumped both the Frat Boys and the Hippies in the final leg. Just a hunch.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) 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.

10) 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.

11) 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.

Conclusion

Remember how I said that this was the final season with thirteen legs and To Be Continued Legs? That still exists next season.

Now onto the conclusion. Have I given enough solid evidence that this was a good season over the past thirteen blogs? Have I changed your minds from what those suckers at Sucks told you about TAR 9? It was a great season.

There’s a few fair criticisms to make about this season.

1) Nothing revolutionary. As I stated at the beginning of the season, I said there wasn’t many new countries and the format was untouched. The non-eliminations, the penalties, race route, and the tasks don’t vary too much from what we’ve seen in the past. It’s an easy going season which is why there was nothing memorable about it. Whether it be because it’s in a TAR 5 way of “Oh my god that was incredible” or a TAR 6 way where it’s “oh my god that was horrendous”.

2) The season focused on two teams. In review, I’d say we got an extremely in-depth look at Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler. They stood out and ate up a bunch of airtime in the 2-hour premiere and carried that all the way through to leg 13. Much like how Rob & Brennan, Frank & Margarita, Kevin & Drew, and Joe & Bill rode the top of the pack in the initial installment of TAR and were the stars.

As Mike Boogie said in Big Brother 2, “we’re the stars and they’re the extras”. That’s certainly true for the Frat Boys and Hippies. Double D and Fran & Barry were perhaps the most well-known of the other nine teams because of how they were glued to either the Frat Boys or the Hippies. Lake & Michelle were the only ones who were able to stand out all alone without anybody’s help.

3) The final leg. Too many equalizers and we could have really fast forwarded to the final twelve minutes of the episode. It was that nauseating. The Janet Jackson conversation with Yolanda was perhaps the only thing worth watching before the roadblock.

So what do I think worked very well after re-watching this season?

1) The casting. A very compelling cast who were all hilarious in their own way. MoJo was so serious that it was funny. And the only mistakes, John & Scott, were first ones out. Everyone else from top to bottom was worth bringing onto the show.

2) Oman and Greece, despite being the only two new countries added to the catalogue, were welcome additions to the TAR family.  The Olympics detour as well as everything in the Oman leg really stood out for me. The ultra clean Macdonalds and the little man who led teams through the flooded waters was memorable.

3) Both yields either resulted in an elimination or had a strong impact on the social relationships for the remainder of the race. There is nothing worse than for production to insert a twist that everyone shrugs and says “So what?” to. And the drama wasn’t terribly manufactured. The hippies and MoJo were already at each other’s throats, and we know Lake was willing to do anything to survive elimination.

4) Even with repeating not only the same countries but some of the same cities, they found enough new things to do. Eating crickets and grasshoppers or making a feat for monkeys rather than exploring a bat cave and burning toy cars. Or flying in helicopters rather than riding buses to waterfalls.

5) The best final roadblock thus far in the series.

6) Likable teams. No stunt casting or teams that are annoying to the extent that they are interrupting your enjoyment of the season.

So where does TAR 9 end up when everything is said and done?

1. The Amazing Race 5 – 9.2/10
2. The Amazing Race 7 – 8.8/10
3. The Amazing Race 3 – 8.7/10
4. The Amazing Race 9 – 8.6/10
5. The Amazing Race 2 – 8.5/10
6. The Amazing Race (1) – 7/10
7. The Amazing Race 4 – 6.25/10
8. The Amazing Race 8 – 4.0/10
9. The Amazing Race 6 – 3.9/10

They take the #4 slot for now. I feel it is appropriate.

TAR 5 was revolutionary, cast great people, and revitalized the series.
TAR 7 was revolutionary in terms of the race route, created polarizing people, and had the best rally of any season.
TAR 3 had a ridiculously good cast, several fatal errors that are never repeated, extremely over-the-top but real people, new tasks, and an incredible race route in a time where reality TV was at its best.

TAR 9 just wasn’t revolutionary enough. It was a solid season but is a victim of being at the end of an era where things begin to blend together. However it beats out five other seasons on the list for simply being above average based on its own merits.

Next time on TAR: We enter the double digits with TAR 10. During the offseason production analyzes everything about the TAR format. After their analysis they decide to do the exact reverse of nearly anything they have done for the first nine seasons and especially what they have been done since TAR 5. Will one of the most twist-heavy seasons work out as we begin the Transition Era? Or will the saturation of twists repulse some of the long-time viewers? We’ll see soon enough.

P.S. I won’t be transitioning to blogging TUF 9. I’m on a MMA break. Expect TAR 10’s opener to be posted by Monday (hopefully).

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