Previously on TAR: Four teams set out from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Hong Kong. After the Chipmunks yielded Eric & Danielle in the previous leg, Charla & Mirna made a pact with Eric & Danielle made a push to get the Chipmunks out of the race. But the Chipmunks didn’t back down. And it was Eric & Danielle who left last. Upon arriving first in Hong Kong, Oswald & Danny went for the Fast Forward. They ran out of money but came in first. Eric & Danielle never caught up and came in last. Four teams remain. Who will be eliminated next?
– Intro time. A Final Four with a 2-part round isn’t unheard of. So far we’ve already seen one take place at Final Four in TAR 8: Family Edition in the least memorable stretch in TAR history.
– Phil Keoghan introduces us to Hong Kong–a thriving metropolis that is the epicentre of trade and finance.
– Phil’s Questions: Can Eric & Danielle, who are marked for elimination, overcome the thirty minute penalty and survive?
– Cha Cha Cha check out their vacation on a laptop. Chipmunks are over their shoulder watching them shop.
– Cha Cha Cha, who were first to arrive at 341pm, will depart at 341am. They are told to take a turbo jet ferry forty miles to the other semi-independent territory of Macau. Is it Hong Kong, Hong Kong or Hong Kong, China and Macau, China or Macau, Macau? Good ol fashioned politics.
– Once here, they will find a man with a rickshaw who will give them their next clue.
– They have seventy-three dollars. Oswald feels he has been fair with every team and will not stab them in the back. Oswald doesn’t want to run out of money. They only have 73 dollars.
*end of taxi ride*
DANNY: This is all we have.
*buys ferry ticket*
OSWALD: It’s fifty dollars.
DANNY: Here you go.
Second round in a row where Danny gets away with the “this is all we have” line? Brilliant. I need to use that when traveling.
Sure you can, Oswald. It’s Macau. Free market. You can do anything. Just remember you’re allowed to sell but can’t buy.
See? Just hope there’s an equalizer and you’ll have all of the time in the world. Macauians are your oyster. Use em!
– Cha Cha Cha are alone on the ferry. Chipmunks check out at 523am. That’s a decent Fast Forward lead. Just under two hours. It’s not like the Poland Fast Forward, though.
DUSTIN: We’re going to race like we’re in last place.
You mean with no self-esteem, taking absurd risks, and screaming at every taxi driver you come into contact with? Not to mention the adrenalin rush you’ll have to maintain.
– Chipmunks book a 600am ferry. Kandice hopes for a lead. Cha Cha Cha find the rickshaw guy.
– Oswald reads that teams must take a taxi to find the tallest structure in Macau. Teams must figure out it is the Macau Tower at 1, 109 feet high that is two miles away. They must search inside for their next clue.
Why in the world would TAR go to a really really really tall building? I think we all know what’s coming.
– OSWALD: Caution, Yield ahead.
Phil explains the Yield rules for the final time in the history of the series. That’s right, folks. This is it. Yields go bye bye after this round. Savour it.
Am I the only one who noticed the poster of an unnamed Asian couple on the glass before seeing the Yield board? Who are they? Did they die on the Tower?
PHIL: Teams can use their Yield power only once on the race.
Chipmunks have used theirs. Charla & Mirna and Oswald & Danny refuse to play dirty. That only leaves beloved last place team Eric & Danielle.
– Oswald asks a taxi driver where there’s a building they can jump off. He answers Macau Tower. Oswald says the only team he’d consider yielding is the team right behind them, which he identifies as to being the Blondes. He doesn’t know if the Chipmunks came in second, but assumes they did. Oswald & Danny doesn’t think they’ll use it anyway.
– Chipmunks have their own ferry. Dustin says they usually have to wait for everyont to catch up at ferries. That’s true. Ferries are the most notorious equalizers in TAR.
– Macau Tower opens at 1000am. Chipmunks have the clue and find out there’s another Yield. Kandice explains they’ve already used it. Both of them cringe. They accept they’ll be yielded.
– Charla & Mirna check out at 706am. Dang the Chipmunks are fast compared to the other two teams in the past couple rounds. I think a pit stop that lasts from 700pm to 700am would be best case scenario. You sleep during the nighttime and don’t have to adjust your body’s natural cycle. Mirna’s hair is quite unique today.
A ponytail may have been a better idea.
– Mirna talks about how people (who?) want her to treat Charla in a special way, but she doesn’t want to be treated in a special way.
MIRNA: Other teams see me as a tyrant.
But yet for reasons completely unrelated to Charla.
– Charla & Mirna board a ferry. We see the boat wobbling. Mirna gets the barf bags ready knowing Charla has a bad history as well as herself. Charla doesn’t like the boat wobbling either.
Well, this confirms the race for last place in the previous round wasn’t even close. No sight of Eric & Danielle.
– Oswald reminds the camera for the third time in six minutes that they do not have much money.
OSWALD: We spent fifty on the ferry. Ten on taxi service. We’re down to sixteen.
Why not mortgage Marvin Gardens? You’ll receive a quick one hundred ten dollars that way. Oh yeah, Danny sold it for a latte the previous round. He has about as much spending sense as the cast of Survivor: Samoa during the food auction.
The Mick Trimming Price. Inflation is getting out of hand.
– Chipmunks join Cha Cha Cha on the Tower.
DUSTIN: Can you believe there’s another Yield on this race?
TAR 5- All rounds had Yields minus the final rounds.
TAR 6 – Three Yields.
TAR 7 – Three Yields.
TAR 8 – Three Yields.
TAR 9 – Two Yields.
TAR 10 – One Yield.
Yep. I can believe there’s two Yields. You ignorant recruits only pay attention to the race you were on months earlier.
– Cha Cha Cha already picked ‘1’. Chipmunks have ‘2’.
OSWALD: We’re in front of you.
DANNY: We’re gonna Yield you.
That does not qualify as a laugh.
OSWALD: We have a little offer on the Yield.
*Chipmunks’ jaw drops as well as the audience*
Oh, Oswald is gonna play hardball now? Well batter up, Ozzy. Show us what you got.
– OSWALD: We’ll Yield whoever you want. . .but we do need cash.
Dang, Ozzy. You are playing hardball. Auctioning off your yield powers to the highest bidders? That is the smartest move I have seen. Setting up schemers to Yield another team by proxy while you benefit financially? This is as strategic as TAR gets.
– Chipmunks get together. They are smiling. Charla & Mirna have found the rickshaw. Mirna uses her fake Spanish accent to get to Macau Tower.
– DUSTIN: We have two hundred dollars.
How much money did Danny waste on a stack of newspapers?! Jesus, Danny. How do teams have two hundred dollars and you have sixteen?
– Chipmunks discuss if they’d rather race against Eric & Danielle or Charla & Mirna at the end. Given that they will never give credit to Charla & Mirna defeating Eric & Danielle in virtually every leg in the past six rounds, the choice is Eric & Danielle.
Dustin & Kandice, the Yield can be yours, but only if the Price is Right.
– Kandice hates the idea of yielding Eric & Danielle for a second time, even if it will be Oswald & Danny’s face plastered on the board. Kandice also points out that they will be handing the money over before the deed is done, thus not guaranteeing that Oswald will actually do it. I’ve never seen them hesitate with yielding a team before. They actually feel bad doing it to the same team twice?
– Dustin offers them forty-five dollars to yield Eric & Danielle. Trade accepted and they all shake hands with glee.
DUSTIN: We are now officially the Yield Queens.
Mirna’s a lawyer. She already notorized it last round when she hurled that nickname in the previous round.
– 931am. Eric & Danielle are last to depart. Holy crap they did worse during the actual racing part of last round compared to their already crappy ability to book early flights.
ERIC: I don’t like where we are now. It’s not a good position to be in.
You think Marked for Elimination is bad? Just wait twenty-nine minutes before you revise that statement.
– I doubt teams lose much weight on the race. They sit around in cabs, airports, and airplanes all of the time. The stress adds a few pounds too. Random thought, I know.
– Charla & Mirna show up to Macau Tower.
DUSTIN: Nice hair.
I wasn’t the only one to notice Mirna’s hair at least.
– Dustin reads a sign that has been staring in front of their face for hours.
MIRNA: I’m leaving, see ya guys!
What did you think it was going to be? TAR + Towers = jumping. That’s been the formula for the first eleven seasons. Just be happy you didn’t jump off the Eiffel Tower.
– It’s ten. The three leading teams run inside to grab a number. Apparently they didn’t have numbers beforehand. It’s about a fifty foot run. The sign says it doesn’t open until 1100am. Eric & Danielle are sure to catch up now. Marked for Elimination won’t mean much now, but the Yield sure will.
– Chipmunks are ‘1’, Oswald & Danny are ‘2’ and Charla & Mirna are ‘3’. Danny tells Charla he is going to beg. Charla doesn’t have much, but is willing to give Danny some.
A little late for that Charla. Although Danny could give back the money to the Chipmunks and avoid the blood on hands. Danny merely sticks with “we’ve got it covered”.
– Chipmunks think that Oswald may have made a deal with Charla & Mirna too. Because Chipmunks would never communicate with Mirna, and the Chipmunks can’t enforce Oswald & Danny to use the Yield since they are ahead. of them. This could be brilliant maneuvering if Oswald & Danny were willing to be ruthless.
– It’s 1100am. All three teams are inside the elevator heading to the 63rd floor. They grab a stamp from the Yield board. Oswald yields Eric & Danielle.
– MIRNA: It’s the beginning of the leg, they can catch up, and are probably right behind. It didn’t make logical sense to me.
Or it could be the fact that Oswald was yielding a team given his character. Mirna is losing hit points from confusion as we speak.
OSWALD: How do you do this?
DUSTIN: We’ll show you.
Never get a pacifist to do a Chipmunk’s job.
– It’s a roadblock. Shocker!
PHIL: These teams will face the highest jump in Amazing Race history!
Finally production is understanding the true meaning of All-Stars. Any tasks they have done in the past should be taken to the next level and up to its greatest limits ever. Even though jumping off a building is a one-dimensional task, at least it will be the baddest jump they could possibly do in eleven seasons.
– Teams must step outside and walk around the rim of the observation deck. Once they have done the lap, they will jump off 660 feet until they hit solid ground. Awesome. Danny, Kandice, and Charla are going to do it.
KANDICE: Do I keep all of my clothes on?
This skyjump instructor really risks it on dates. It’s all or nothin’ with him. Either he strikes out or hits a homerun. The Mark McGwire of dating.
Minus the steroids in his butt.
– Eric & Danielle are in a taxi and head to the Tower. He doesn’t think they’ll be Yielded again.
ERIC: With any luck, one of the other teams got there first. . .and yielded the Blondes.
Half of that statement is correct.
– Kandice is walking around. Dustin is crying and praying from the bottom. Geez, Dustin isn’t doing the task but is the most nervous of all. The wind is pushing Charla away towards the ledge which forces her to run.
– It’s very windy and rainy. Kandice is done. They have the clue. Teams must travel by taxi to Lou Lim Ioc Garden. They’ll search the garden for their next clue. Chipmunks jump into a cab while Eric & Danielle leaves. Dustin fires a nervous glance at them. If only Eric & Danielle captured the nervous glance.
– Oswald tells Mirna about the Yield Deal.
MIRNA: It’s like making a deal with the Devil.
Hey, don’t flatter Dustin & Kandice too much.
– The elevator opens up.
Hey there. . .it’s me. . .you. . .again. Smilin’ right back at ya!
ERIC: WE GOT YIELDED AGAIN?!
ERIC: You guys are pieces of s—! Hey Kobe, how does my a– taste?!
ERIC: HEY DANNY! I GOT SOMETHIN’ FOR YA!
So this is the second time in three Yields that a team has thrown up the Bird? Why was the Yield taken away? Teams can at least draw funny pictures on the board and shout at inanimate objects like the guy from the Gangam style music video.
– KANDICE: It’s probably really hard for Eric & Danielle to see the sign. I can’t imagine being yielded twice.
I can’t even imagine a team being able to use a Yield three times in a thirteen round stretch of TAR. You know you guys didn’t have to give the money, right?
– Danny jumps. I think any guilt he had was smooshed when he hit the ground. Oswald is happy to have money as they see another taxi ride.
DANNY: It is bad karma versus no money. If we didn’t take the money, we could’ve been eliminated this round.
– Charla jumps. For everyone else, it was a 660 foot jump. For her, it was 663 feet.
CHARLA: Jumping off the edge? It was like. . .NEIGH EHNEIGH NEIGH.
– Charla & Mirna jump into a cab. Mirna tells Charla what Oswald told her. She thinks it will backfire and motivate Eric & Danielle.
– Chipmunks realize they have a bad taxi. Oswald thinks he is relaxed and focussed. Chipmunks flag a new taxi. They’re frustrated. Eric & Danielle count down the final seconds of Yield history.
And with its final sandy discharge, the Yield twist comes to an end.
– Eric threatens to kick Oswald & Danny’s face when he sees them. Violence against homosexuals may not be taken too well by the LGBT community on cable television.
– Okay. I’m tired of the deal now. Oswald justifies the deal on camera for the fifth time. The three teams are shown racing in their cabs as if they are heading to the pit stop. Charla thinks she would drive faster. Cha Cha Cha have the clue. It’s a Detour.
– Teams must choose between Noodle and Dragon. In Noodle, teams make their way two miles to the second floor of a building. They will choose a noodle making station, use traditional noodle making tools, and cut two bundles of noodles.
In Dragon, teams travel one mile to a warehouse. Once here they will choose a dragon head and drum. They will transport it 3/4 of a mile through the streets to a dock with dragon boats. They must match their dragon head and drum with the coxon guy. You know, the head paddler.
– Oswald explains they had the exact same task in their season. In Hong Kong. Hong Kong tradition, Macau tradition, who cares. TAR can use the same tradition in two locations, yes?
– Chipmunks have the clue. They opt to cut noodles. Off they go. Charla & Mirna have the clue and will make noodles too. Charla doesn’t look too enthusiastic.
– Danny is frustrated with the driver, and isn’t convinced the driver is knowledgeable.
– So what’s it like walking through a slick wet garden with short grass?
Marked for Failation. It’s a good place to sleep for the night. How can she stretch her leg that far?
OSWALD: Are you lost? God grant me the patience to withstand the things I cannot change. . .And the intelligence to hide the body of this man once I am done killing him.
I think you might be praying to Satan, Oswald.
– Chipmunks are at the noodle house. They watch the demonstration. Needless to say they are amused.
Oppa Noodle Style!
– DUSTIN: Ride the Pony,
Bounce, Bounce, Bounce
I swear these are lyrics from R. Kelly’s Ignition lyrics.
– Cha Cha Cha has two addresses. One is for the end of the Dragon and one for the beginning. The driver takes them to the end. They find a local and have proper directions.
OSWALD: We’re in a deep valley with no light, no sun, no water. Nothing.
DANNY (notes the rain): There’s plenty of water.
Danny showed him.
– Chipmunks are done flattening. They see how skinny the noodles are being cut. Charla & Mirna are at the Noodle House. Chipmunks cut the noodles too thick and must start over.
– Cha Cha Cha has the correct location. They ask the driver to take them to where they were earlier. He says nothing. This is definitely a Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan moment as Danny over-annunciates. Danny claims to remember the location of the lake and starts running.
– Kandice giggles as she sees Charla & Mirna’s noodle cutting.
Not quite the proper technique. Charla on the cutting board reminds me of the Iron Chef special where Bobby Flay faces off against the Japanese chefs, and celebrates his victory by dancing on the cutting board. Of course the cutting board is sacred in Japanese culture, and from that day onwards Bobby Flay became an Iron Jacka–.
You can see the full clip here.
Fast forward to 3:20 for the jacka–ery.
– Whoa, went on quite the tangent. Chipmunks’ noodles are approved. Mirna is screaming at Charla per usual. Kandice reads that teams must take a taxi one mile to a street and find a mini mope. A mini mope is a clown car on the street that holds their next clue.
-Chipmunks see Eric & Danielle arriving in their cab as they leave. Odd how it happened again.
– Eric & Danielle ask Charla & Mirna if the Chipmunks are done. Eric yells at Danielle for doing nothing but sliding the noodle strain as Eric bounces. Eric micromanages as Danielle keeps screwing up the technique.
– Charla tells Mirna to cut the noodles thicker and thicker. Danielle meanwhile tells Eric to cut it thinner and thinner. Mirna’s noodles are rejected and yells at Charla for telling her to cut it thicker. Well, Charla has done nothing on this task except cause bigger delays.
– Danny yells at Oswald when Oswald asks where he’s going. Danny has Malaysian Rage again. They run down the street as Danny is certain he knows where the water is. If you can’t find water in Macau, you have a horrible sense of direction.
– Eric & Danielle have the clue and run into the cab. Charla does virtually nothing except recap that Eric & Danielle are done.
MIRNA: One partner needs to be observational while the other partner doesn’t have to kill themselves doing all of the work.
Who could you possibly be referring to?
– Eric hopes he has made up a ton of time, and is glad he is ahead of Charla & Mirna at the least. Oswald doesn’t think this feels right as him and Danny continue walking through the streets. Danny gives in that it is time to ask. They ask two locals and neither knows where the water is. I suppose Danny needs to work on charm.
– Oswald cusses out Danny for knowing where to go when in reality he didn’t. Their taxi appears from the blue. The taxi driver directs them to the water. See, their taxi isn’t useless.
– Chipmunks assume they are second as they see the Mini Mope/Moke.
DUSTIN: Look at these things! It’s like a little mini Barbie car.
These are street legal?
– Chipmunks read that teams must drive themselves five miles to the island of Taipa and find Triho de Taipa Pequena 2000, which happens to be sitting atop a ton of steps. This park is the pit stop for this round.
– Dustin starts learning how to use the car and is fine. Eric & Danielle doesn’t think the Chipmunks are that far ahead, and hope Charla & Mirna screw up.
– Mirna is done bouncing the noodles. It’s time to cut after beating it with flour.
CHARLA: Please don’t cut it too THIN this time.
Uh, you really didn’t understand the problem earlier, eh? Mirna wastes no time yelling at Charla for being stupid.
– CHARLA (post-round confessional): I understand we did it wrong but I thought it was the thickness.
MIRNA (in confessional too): But when you look at the guy cutting it, he’s cutting it so thin I don’t understand how you interpret it to be half an inch thick. Obviously it was wrong so just accept it and move on.
CHARLA: I don’t know–
MIRNA: Just accept it and move on!
CHARLA: I was wrong. Whatever. We’re not perfect like some people.
– Mirna’s stubbornness and superior intelligence pays off as they receive their clue. They head into the cabs.
– Oswald takes the time to yell at Danny for still being led astray. Danny stops to explain to Oswald the exact route they took and doesn’t understand how Oswald couldn’t remember.
– Chipmunks hire a motorcyclist to lead them to the pit stop. Eric & Danielle find the mini moke and hire a cab to lead them to the pit stop. Eric wastes no time hiring a cab to the pit stop this round considering why they are Marked for Elimination to begin with.
– Danny matches the dragon head and drum at the dock. He is still pissed with the taxi driver, and likely anyone he sees. The taxi driver is so lost in translation. Danny screws up the first five matches. Sure enough it’s the last one. Oswald hands them “the bad drum”.
– Oswald has the clue. He knows the taxi driver will have an easy time because it is written in Mandarin.
– Eric thinks teams will have trouble with a reverse stick shift. Chipmunks are on Taipa Island. A reverse stick shift will be fun for Charla & Mirna.
– Mirna asks a local on the street to drive his car and lead them the way there. Mirna cannot quite figure it out. She asks Charla to try it because the seat is really far forward. This is an ideal car design for Charla.
CHARLA: No, you do it.
MIRNA: Did you take the time to try to learn stick?
THE OTHER RACERS: Did you?
MIRNA: I said try to learn. I never said learn.
– So how are things going for Mirna?
We’re operating at about an Eve Madison level of driving.
– Mirna proclaims she can’t do it. Cars are passing by her slowly. Some very nice cars. A bus is honking loudly. It has honked four times. I would hate to be in that situation. The bus is still honking. Macau traffic never sleeps. The local they hired helps her push to the side of the road, and she can drive.
MIRNA: It’d be so helpful if one day you could drive the car.
CHARLA: . . . .
– Oswald & Danny find the Moke. Danny is driving as they hire the same cab driver to take them to Taipa. Eric & Danielle ask for directions on the road. Didn’t they hire someone already? Suspense builds to see who is first.
– Note that every season since TAR 6 has a 2-part round. I am fully expecting the Chipmunks to be told to continue racing. But there’s too much time in the episode. . .I don’t get it. . .
– Chipmunks are officially first. This means there will not be any To Be Continued legs for the first time in six seasons. Kandice cannot believe it. One of their louder celebrations. They have each won a brand new Waverunner. Dustin proceeds to explain the deal they made for the millionth time this episode.
– Eric & Danielle sprint to the mat without any of their bags. They are shaking nervously thanks to the cold and the adrenalin. Eric has a picture of a team on his butt. Probably Oswald & Danny in the form of ‘kiss my a–’.
Eric jumps up and down on the railing while Danielle tells him that he is making her nervous. Doesn’t matter now anyway.
– New traveling suspense music plays. Danny does the cross as he is nervous about his Moke. Eric wants everyone to go to Hell. Danielle prays to God for the teams to be cast to Hell. Eric proclaims them as being sneaky and backstabbers. Danielle is pissed.
DUSTIN: You guys smoked this leg.
DANIELLE: We got yielded.
DUSTIN: . . .Here’s the story. . .
Wow. Dustin explains the story. Like, the truthful story.
KANDICE: We said ‘you yield somebody except us’.
Well, almost. I guess they didn’t want the situation to be completely awkward.
– ERIC: I wanna throw them off this roof.
It’s a hill, but it’s clear you’re nervous, agitated, and pissed off to where he’s bound to screw up basic words.
KANDICE: We’re somewhat we’re responsible too because we gave them money.
ERIC: I’ll throw you guys too.
Eric has managed to threaten physical violence towards Latino homosexuals and young women in a one-hour TV run. All we need is an African-American team and a Little Person to piss him off and we’ll have every minority group in America after him.
– Cha Cha Cha are at the park as directed by the taxi. They start walking on the hill. Charla & Mirna enter the mat as thirteen minutes remain on the penalty. They are confused by the finish but relieved. Danny realizes this is the wrong place because it’s an exercise park. Danielle bites nails. Oswald sees a park map and points to the driver where they need to go. It’s the other side. Eric sees a Moke. This round is so short that I would be surprised if there’s more than a 40 minute separation from first to last.
– Danielle asks out loud how much longer several times. Phil answers that it’s time to check them in. Third place is solidified. They survived being marked for elimination and the yield in the same round. I am impressed by their performance.
ERIC: I’m never the underdog, but I feel like Danielle and I are underdogs.
Let me correct that. You and Danielle are only underdogs as a team when there are flights involved. All of your best finishes have been in rounds where no flights are present. Look at this round.
– Cha Cha Cha parks and hits the mat. Sad music and loud wind and loud rain plays. They’re doomed to be eliminated. However, it’s the second non-elimination round in a row (and the third in a row if you eliminated Uchenna & Joyce back in Frankfurt) as we head into a 2-round finale episode. Danny says they are relieved even if their exhaustion cannot express it. The weather is terrible there.
– Phil says they are Marked for Elimination. So Eric & Danielle were really marked for non-elimination. I bet the audience would claim it was rigged if a team marked for elimination was not eliminated after finishing last place.
PHIL: Eric & Danielle, you are marked for receiving the marked for elimination penalty.
– Anyways, Phil discusses the Yield situation and how Eric isn’t too happy. Oswald knows they are accountable for their actions, and that money is the root of all evil.
OSWALD: Today was a day where karma bit us one Danny and I in the ass.
DANNY: Quite hard, might I add.
OSWALD: It was not our proudest moment. Money is the root of all evil.
– UFC promo time as we head into the season finale. You can fill in the interview dialogue yourself.
Next Time on TAR: Following TAR 10 where alliances ran the entire game, this season is limited to a light partnership between Cha Cha Cha and Charla & Mirna, while the other two teams are on their own. No non-elimination rounds left leave Oswald & Danny being in one of the roughest non-elimination penalties ever. Can they rally in a debuting location that is ridiculously small and closely monitored by production? Stay tuned.
Oh, and Charla continues to be terrible in tasks overall.
P.S. Keeping up with TAR 10, the next round is NOT part of a 2-hour season finale.
Rank the Legs
1) Stone Town -> Warsaw (This is one of the few times where I can remember the day when I watched the premiere of this episode. My parents and my siblings were out of town. I was left alone in the house to watch TAR. Because I live in a house with five or six other people, the idea of being alone for a full night always freaks me out a bit.
When you’re thrown into a unique situation, all of your sensory experiences go to an extreme. That’s what happened when watching this episode. For a round where solitude and loneliness is the prevailing theme, I couldn’t help but feel moved by the editing crew’s techniques as we saw an unprecedented spread of teams. Chipmunks break the record for biggest non-Fast Forward lead on second place team, and I believe the biggest lead ever on teams who don’t get eliminated.
The travel from Zanzibar to Warsaw was such a grind for each individual team that production cut out a roadblock and cut down the Detour coverage in favour of showing the eight hours spent in a travel agency for teams or a tiny percentage of the thirty hours of straight travel that the trailing teams went through.
It is quite the mindf— when TWO-THIRDS of all teams sincerely believe they are stepping on the mat in last place, when really last place is 6-12 hours behind them. An incredible level of isolation is required for teams to make that assumption.
No other teams have experienced this type of mental attrition. Have seasons past been more physically demanding up to this point? Yes. But the level of mental attrition is nowhere near what we witness in this round and the one before it.
And the fact we are shown Chipmunks departing before two teams start the first task of the round is priceless. A Hall of Fame worthy episode of TAR. And we don’t even see a team get eliminated.)
2) Maputo -> Stone Town (One of my favourite episodes in TAR history. Seven teams spread across several dhows and several flights. Teams had to actively strategize to get from Maputo to Dar es Salaam by going further away from where they need to be. Figuring out flights took days as opposed to mere minutes. Every flight to the destination city was full to the point that putting yourself on priority standby and leading the lines became the name of the game.
Teams having team-on-team interaction in the dhows led to some memorable relationships forming. Charla & Mirna with Cha Cha Cha? Chipmunks with Uchenna & Joyce? And the dhows were a very unique form of transportation.
The tasks weren’t too bad either. It looked like it only took about two hours once in Zanzibar, but regardless were solid enough tasks. The puzzle appeared to be much faster than transporting logs, however.
Nearly a full day from first to last gave the round a classic feel as if there was not any over-the-top equalizers or heavy production intervention as if we were thrust into the TAR 1 days.
I find it amusing that the Guidos find themselves a full day behind most teams. The running joke continues to cap off a spectacular episode.)
3) Hong Kong -> Macau (Were you expecting this round to be high? I wasn’t. This was a round of the race where all four teams were distinct and enjoyable to watch that this round could be two hours for all I cared. The dynamics where everyone hates everyone in a friendly manner makes the race comfortable to watch.
The tallest jump in TAR history was perfect for All-Stars. The Detour was a bland Detour but was saved by the funny bouncing and Danny getting uber angry. The Dragon option could’ve been made more difficult given that it was duplicated. Mini Mokes were amusing to watch as Mirna nearly gets hit by a bus.
The Yield era ends on its highest note ever. A Yield triggering money, betrayal, and creating the first team to be yielded in one hundred percent of opportunities available (Weavers don’t count because there was an unaired/unused Yield in the first round of TAR 8), and thus created one of the biggest underdog teams in TAR history.
Add in the usual distinct humour brought in by all teams except the Chipmunks, and you have yourselves the second greatest Final Four non-elimination episode ever. Can you guess the greatest? I’ll answer it while I get a wrench to repair my ox.)
4) Calama -> Puerto Montt (Okay, it was a round with rather easy tasks. None of them involved skill. However, everything else about the leg was great. There was the one and only scramble for flights during the episode, and teams drove themselves for the entire round. None of the teams can blame a dang thing on taxis.
The conflict between the teams were organic and set up what is to come for the next several rounds. Guidos vs. Eric & Danielle, Rob’s disrespect for Eric continues, Charla & Mirna vs. Everyone in sight. This makes the round crucial and ultimately a bridge to what will occur the remainder of the season.
Overall, a cast delivers as much as it can as all nine teams had something interesting going on. It’s just that production couldn’t provide a leg that was all-star worthy. Wish we went to a new doggone country.
One last thing that bothered me is how they spent another round in a country where two teams (Romber and Uchenna & Joyce) would have a big advantage, and everyone else is at a disadvantage compared to them. That’s one of the logistic issues when doing an all-star. You have to do countries where everyone is on a level playing field. Sadly, another round that tips the race course in favour of another team is not the answer.
One last thing that I liked is that David & Mary were eliminated. The three weakest teams are gone. From the fourth episode until the end of the game, this feels like a true all-star race.)
5) Ushuaia -> Maputo (Yes! A new continent for this season! Yes! A new country to add to TAR’s catalogue! Yes! A unique roadblock!
But production did a terrible job with the Detour. One appeared to take two minutes max while the other option appeared to take well over an hour. Teri & Ian seemed to be about an hour behind all teams but come in third ahead of every team that did the charcoal option? That’s ridiculous. I think the nail polish task should have raised it up to ninety meticais. I am curious who was in charge of going with thirty meticais. Did they have a Dream Team test it out but they ended up struggling?
Cha Cha Cha chasing Phil is easily a top ten moment in TAR history. I don’t think any mat entrance has matched that since. I think Tramel & Talicia would like to come back and regain their crown.
This episode avoided taxis. Anytime you present taxi help as optional rather than mandatory is always the way to go in TAR. Teams each being assigned their own driver is a classic element from the first two seasons of TAR.
Visiting sub-Saharan Africa is always a wise choice because you get some unusual encounters compared to the WASPy nature of Europe. Teams are thrown out of their comfort zone. The growing rivalry between Charla & Mirna vs. Chipmunks and Guidos vs. Eric & Danielle makes the season a bit more fun.
And LOL at Guidos’ charcoal mustache. A comedic episode overall, but was in desperate need of possibly fewer equalizers and a more polished Detour. At least last round had the exciting finish.
6) Warsaw -> Skala (I didn’t expect myself to rank the episode this high. For some reason I always remembered this episode as being terrible.
But upon a re-watch, there is a lot of subtle gems in this episode that we really don’t see in TAR.
The biggest thing of course is a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Perhaps the most memorable route marker in TAR history. It is the heaviest location TAR will ever visit. You can’t top Auschwitz. You just can’t. So for production to take that leap is really ballsy and should be rewarded. I approve of my emotions being challenged for once.
This leg was a night round for all teams. It must have been around 7pm-8pm when the first bus arrived at Auschwitz. It made for a leg traveled entirely in the dark which is something we rarely see in TAR. Can you think of a round in the past where all teams must play through in complete darkness? It is probably what made this round so freaky and eerie as a viewer. The light never comes.
The Detour was amazing. One task was easy to find but tough to perform while the other task was hard to find but easy to perform. Classic Detour logic that stems from the Tunisia Detour in round one.
Seeing Chipmunks and Charla vomit is a series highlight. Charla inducing vomit is hands down the grossest image I have ever seen in a round of any TV show.
Charla & Mirna bickering with each other and continuing to find unfriendly locals and also seeing more in-depth analysis of other teams helps build characterization to finish out the remainder of the season.
With several many crowning achievements why does this episode rank so low?
Because the massive equalizer was unnecessary. They could have at least made the teams travel to Auschwitz in three buses rather than two. I don’t understand why they went with two buses except to make Guidos and Eric & Danielle much more competitive.
The Intersection did nothing in TAR 10 thanks to production being too scared to do anything with it. What happens with the Intersection here in TAR 11? The exact same thing! There was zero benefit except force the Chipmunks to lose their fifteen hour lead entirely. Stupid stupid stupid.
Oh, and the Fast Forward offer is the easiest Fast Forward I have seen since production reduced each season to have only two Fast Forwards for another set of stupid reasons. Counting steps? Why can’t they eat two feet of sausage each?
And the roadblock was lousy. Lead a horse down a straight line? Unless you’re Joyce, this should be done within ten minutes and without any variance between the time gained or lost for each team. And the pit stop was twenty steps away? This was even worse than the unaired roadblock + run to the pit stop combo that we saw in the previous episode.
It’s like production is becoming lazy when finishing out a round of TAR.
7) Kuala Lumpur -> Hong Kong (One of the strangest Final Four dynamics form, and it is all thanks to the All-Star nature of this race where we have seen each of these teams compete in more legs than virtually any other team in TAR history. Cha Cha Cha’s alliance with Charla & Mirna to oppose the Chipmunks left Eric & Danielle on the outside with no one willing to help them unless it was to push back their enemies.
This leg felt very inspired with life in Hong Kong. Traveling through crowded and confusing streets as teams battled ninjas on scaffolding, being filmed in a car crash, and kicking down doors at an abandoned building made this round distinct.
The money woes of Cha Cha Cha was edited in a great way as we see it constantly alluded to knowing it will play an important role soon.
I wish the tasks were made more difficult, though. This was probably the easiest challenge catalogue for any leg since the season premiere.
And a non-elimination we all see coming makes this episode a mellow experience.)
8) Puerto Montt -> Ushuaia (This is when teams should have gone to the next continent. But half a leg in Chile and half a leg in Argentina? I was over these locations at this point. The tasks weren’t great either.
The stardom showdown between Romber and Charla & Mirna makes this episode an instant favourite for most people. Seeing a team go from finale bound to running a horrible leg and being eliminated in the biggest upset of any round in TAR’s history had people talking. There was no reason for Romber not to win this leg. They were in the perfect location that has been so good to them this season and their past race.
The teams used several modes of transportation except train. That was a bit neat. Also, I approve of the callback to other teams providing letters.
If you switch Romber to finishing 3rd or 4th, you would end up with the worst leg of the season by far. There was virtually no other exciting things going on this round. Nothing that indicated to you this was a race at an all-star level.
The biggest compliment about this round is that producers no longer have a reason to use footage from confessionals where teams discuss Rob & Amber to be used in the episodes.)
9) Skala -> Kuala Lumpur (This leg has never clicked for me over the past six years. All I ever remember is “Eric & Danielle get yielded” and “Uchenna & Joyce miss a flight”. I was genuinely surprised by the Detour and Roadblock tasks. The cookie task didn’t a ring a bell for me. Or the patterns. I’ll forget those tasks by this time tomorrow.
The Roadblock isn’t terribly memorable either. Collecting newspapers when nothing is on the line for any of the teams?
This round and the Roadblock task begin the “Cha Cha Cha self-destructs” storyline. Between the arguments and Danny making one of the dumbest financial decisions ever on TAR, this is the lone credit I give to this leg. I didn’t recall the Roadblock task, but I knew it involved biking and Danny wasting his money at some point.
I suppose when nothing is at stake the round falls flat on its face. The one great thing about this round is we do not have any equalizers. This round is played straight up which puts it above the worst legs of the season.
Otherwise this round is rather deflated. Perhaps the disappointment in Uchenna & Joyce being royally screwed was too much.)
10) Miami -> Quito (The season premiere of any all-star edition of any competitive reality TV show is always a top ten episode of any franchise. Why? Because of the unlikely interactions. You can’t help but feel giddy as Ian groans at Charla & Mirna, as David and Drew physically fight over a car, teams going from goons to gods, and gods to goons. Who can finish at the top of the all-star pact or falter to the bottom? How do they match up against our expectations? So many great storytellers for the first round make minor events seem like the funniest things in the world.
Then there’s the jokes editors throw in. Gutsy Grannies reference thrown in for good measure. Themes in how teams continue to treat each other. You should watch a different show if you didn’t enjoy the premiere.
The only way I can penalize this episode is that the difficulty of these tasks were lousy. Cotopaxi seemed to be tricky for teams but it did not translate well on TV. Producers could have been more harsh, but with so many teams to catch up on in a one hour episode, I believe a one episode grace period is in order.
And Poor Drew. He probably gives enough hope to people like James & Abba to try their luck at a Craps table.)
11) Quito -> Calama (Both tasks were great. However, that flight to the final task is what ruined the episode. Add in a one-lane road to the pit stop with only one exit, and suddenly you have the bottom four teams having no choice but to travel as a pact to the pit stop. Luckily they screwed up on the same turn, but the fact production opened the door for complete chaos is not something I approve.
Drew’s 2-episode glamourous return was well worth it. We were graced with the opportunity to witness the least enthusiastic racer in TAR history. Charla & Mirna broke the record for blowing a situation out of proportion. Mary giving directions based on the number of words was a series first.
Drew eliminating Phil from the pit stop was great. He just shuns them. There is no rule that you had to stand there as the sad music plays and Phil requests a life transformation from you.
Eric sounding like a lost kid as he followed Oswald and Amber and repeated ‘what is it’ over and over is an underrated moment. Or Charla falling.
Overall, the cast and tasks delivered. It’s just that one flight that knocks it down. Split charter flights would have been a better alternative if production was stuck in a crappy situation.)