The Amazing Race 12 episode nine ranking

Ninth episode

india yield

We choose to U-Turn. . .ourselves out of this game and make a blunder of hay bales proportion to guarantee ourselves a spot on the next all-star.

Were Kynt & Vyxsin really mugging for an all-star spot? I doubt it. But a huge fight in round seven and a major blunder in round nine certainly helps a cause that is confirmed to occur a couple years down the road.

Previously on TAR: Five teams set out from Florence, Italy and flew to Mumbai, India. TK & Rachel continued with their calm and steady attitude which kept them in the front of the pack. But stress took other teams to the breaking point. And Ron reverted to his old ways. At the U-Turn  Kynt & Vyxsin made a huge miscalculation that led to regret, and set up a showdown between Nate & Jenn. In the end, TK & Rachel came in first, and the dating Goths came in last.

Four teams remain. Who will be eliminated. . .next?

– Intro time. No new observations about the twenty-two head-turns that occur.

– We are not only introduced to Mumbai, but the best instrument ever invented:

india trumpet

It’s like a mutated trumpet. But why is it so freakin’ long? And is that the proper attire to play the instrument? There’s bells on it too.

If I hadn’t already made a Lou Bega reference, I would have definitely made one here.

– Phil says Mumbai is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. This is the first season to not speak of eating, drinking, and mingling with the other teams at the start of each episode.

– Phil’s Questions: Will TK & Rachel’s ability to stay calm under pressure keep them at the front of the pack? And will senior citizen Don continue to keep pace with the younger racers?

That’s right. Phil just referred to Don as “the senior citizen”. What a flattering title to have on national TV. Why not just call Andrew from Dennis & Andrew “The Gay One” while you’re at it or Heather & Eve “The Idiots”.

– TK & Rachel, who arrived first at an undisclosed time, will depart at 125pm. Sounds like the pit stop was nearly 24 hours.

– TK reads that teams must fly to Osaka, Japan. Once they land they will travel by taxi to Kishiwada Castle. They will search the grounds for their next clue.

devil survivor 2

Luckily, TAR filmed in Osaka before the summoning app was invented and started wiping out everything in the city. Phew.

– Rachel says that she has issues with confidence in herself a.k.a. self-confidence, but because TK is around, that is no longer an issue. TK decides to check out a hotel for Internet. He sits with the travel desk.

– Nic & Don depart at 133pm. That puke break cost them a trip. Don thinks he has done well but that Nic is tough to keep up with. Nic understands himself as a leader.

He has a tough time keeping up with NIC? Imagine if Eric Sanchez was his grandson or Brian & Greg Smith. He would quit by the end of the first round. Nic can barely move himself. The only thing he can do well physically is carry his grandpa’s bags which likely consist of only one change of underwear and a pair of glasses.

nic shirt

Does Nic’s shirt say “country is not pretty”? Thank god he doesn’t have access to Amazing Race Canada, because they just went to Calgary where teams had to learn how to line dance to a country song.

– Don wanted to go to Japan when he was in the service. It’s a dream come true for him fifty years later. Fifty years later?! Did he serve in Vietnam?

– 144pm. Ronald & Christina commence. These three teams are fairly close.

RONALD: Wow! Osaka, Japan! Land of Sushi!

ronald pastry 2

italy ronald christina prego

Yep. This is the third time where Ronald has related the next country on the agenda to a particular item of food.

– Christina is pumped to go to Japan because she spent half a year in Japan. A country you know well this late in the game?

tammy victor

All you need is to have this happen for two more rounds and you’ll achieve the same results that they did. God I hate them.

– Ronald admits he gets too explosive in situations and that it isn’t right. He wants to continue on this journey of change.

Yes. The journey of change. In 2008. I can’t recall anyone else other than Ronald who discussed change in 2008.

obama

Oh right.

india airport

I guess there’s only so many airports you can name after Gandhi. I was expecting Ramachandran Airport. . .but I don’t even know who that is supposed to be. I was expecting a much longer name, personally.

– Nic & Don are first to the airport. Ronald & Christina are at a travel agency.

– Now here is a rare moment between Nate & Jenn:

nate jenn kiss

Their first, and only, mouth-to-mouth kiss all season.

– Jenn yells out “YES!” in an Aaron-skydiving from TAR 3-fashion as she reads the clue. They depart last at 238pm.

– Jenn says their biggest obstacle is to overcome their arguing and do what they say they are going to do. Nate says it is still painful to not finish first.

NATE: I had this fantasy last night that we were running towards the finish line behind other teams, and I threw my bag at them in hopes of taking out their legs, and run past them.

amy daniel

And that fantasy sadly came true at her expense.

– TK & Rachel book a 655pm flight with a travel agent. Nic & Don book a 830pm flight. Ronald & Christina book an 825pm Air India flight that connects via Hong Kong. Nate & Jenn book an 830pm flight too.

CHRISTINA: This is a direct flight from Bombay to Hong Kong?
AGENT: Yes.
CHRISTINA: Awesome.
RON: Not direct–non-stop. Direct means you go pop pop means you can still make five stops.

ronald internet

I explained it in clear terms that our youth would understand by watching this popular YouTube clip.

magnitude pop pop

Pop pop!

miyagi lesson one

Miyagi use immense concentration to make his hernia go “pop. . .pop”.

– Ronald badgers the agent and Christina for a non-stop flight. Christina is frustrated and uses Mandarin (or Cantonese?) to communicate with her father. That’s when you know things are serious.

christina mad

I didn’t know that was a sentence you could use in any of the Eastern Asian languages where speaking up against your parent is highly forbidden.

– Ronald agrees to shut up. TK & Rachel show up to the ticket counter. TK asks if other people like him have come through. The agent says “no”.

tk space

This doesn’t help because no other teams have dreadlocks. Don’s green bandana is the only similarity.

– TK & Rachel have their tickets. Ronald & Christina enter the airport. Ronald discovers they are dropped off at a ‘no entry’ door. This sets Ronald off who hates the idea of a taxi not dropping him off in a place where minimal walking is required.

CHRISTINA: You know what. . .we’re here.

Christina understands to not be worked up over things that will not impact the race.

RONALD: I paid him good money for the ride!

Meanwhile, Ronald does not.

CHRISTINA: If you’re gonna waste your energy on this, it’s gonna hurt our game.

RONALD: Okay. Zip zip.

magnitude sad

Whatever happened to. . .pop. . .pop?

japan ronald

RONALD: I am old fart who rides on emotion.

miyagi lesson one

Miyagi is an old fart who needs anger management after beating up wife and daughter. That why Danielson is the first person to come over to my house in many years.

– Even after agreeing to ‘zip zip’, Ronald is still upset.

RONALD: I pay good money for–
CHRISTINA: Dad! If you keep complaining–
RONALD: I’m not complaining–
CHRISTINA: Yes you are!

Is anyone surprised he has a hernia?

– Ronald & Christina show up to the airport. They are in the same terminal with Nate & Jenn and Nic & Don. They wonder where TK & Rachel are.

– TK & Rachel board their flight. It connects via New Delhi and Beijing. TK has no idea about their position.

– The other three teams board their flight. Nate comments they still have not seen TK & Rachel. Come to think of it, when was the last time that Nate & Jenn would have seen TK & Rachel? The roadblock in Italy? Nate assumes everyone will be in Osaka at roughly the same time. Their flight connects only through Hong Kong.

– TK & Rachel show up to their first stop in New Delhi. TK says this doesn’t feel right. No teams in sight. They ponder their position.

– Now it’s Beijing. TK is still stumped. Oh, it’s just the same confessional repeated.

– We head to Osaka. The Hong Kong connection is not shown. We assume this means TK & Rachel are first.

japan lobster

How Ronald views Japan.

japan clown

japan wacky

Is this Osaka’s equivalent to the wacky waving flailing inflatable arm flailing tubeman?

brain age

Combined with the guy from Brain Age?

– It’s 230pm. Ready to see TK & Rachel?

japan nate jenn

Oh. They tricked us.

– Nic is yet again carrying both bags. Nate & Jenn are first into a cab. Jenn is hoping to beat the older teams for once. Christina speaks fluent Japanese and has no problem hailing a cab. She thinks Nate & Jenn are under the impression that they can cream the older teams.

– Donald thinks Japan is very clean. Jenn views it as spacious.

japan road

Seriously? A three-lane highway plus bike lane that has nothing but a semi-truck at three o’ clock in the afternoon? I swear this isn’t Photo Shopped.

– JENN: Off to Kishiwada Castle.
NATE & JENN (swinging arms in cab): King of the castle! King of the castle! King of the castle!

Oh my god. That is so 2008. If you were around back then, you should recognize the reference instantly.

Yep. That was when Borat was at the front of everybody’s minds that was between the age of sixteen to twenty-six. People went out of their way to reference this back then.

And you know what’s even crazier? TAR takes advantage of the Borat craze for TAR 13.

– Nate & Jenn giggle over thinking about Borat. Ronald wonders about TK & Rachel’s whereabouts. Ronald’s gut is telling him that TK & Rachel are behind them.

NIC: Maybe they went to Osaka, India.
DON: Anything is possible on the race.
NIC: . . .So cliche.

– Nate & Jenn ask their cab to wait as they search the grounds of the Castle. Dang. This is a place straight out of JRPGs. They continue to search. Jenn spots it.

– Jenn reads that teams must travel by taxi to JR Noda Station. Once here they will search for Les the Cleaning Man who will hand them their next clue.

japan noda

A rare shot in TAR because the camera operator needs to be sitting in the passenger seat of the cab ninety percent of the time.

japan taxi

Since when do vehicles only have four numbers in a license plate?!

– Ronald & Christina pull up to the castle as Nate & Jenn leave. Nate & Jenn fan themselves and are sweaty. Christina searches INSIDE of the castle rather than the GROUNDS as the clue dictates.

– Nic & Don have a mildly racist conversation about whether or not Ronald & Christina can speak Japanese.

japan nic

And Don has the perfect ‘grandpa English’ response.

japan don

Falutin? Yeah. I admit the last time I heard that word used was when I visited an elderly person in a retirement home. Take a minute to laugh that you just heard the word ‘falutin’ on the race because Nic certainly has a good chuckle.

– Christina catches on to search the grounds rather than the museum. They spot the clue from the top of the building. Nic & Don enter the castle as well. Donald moves slowly up the steps. They decide to observe from the top of the building. Donald is reduced to a walk as they grab the clue.

– NIC: Tired?
DON: No. Need water.

Fatigue is a common sign of dehydration.

– Jenn notes that there are no signs in English. Nate says it is why they are not driving. Ronald comments on the one-way streets. Christina observes that the driver is relying upon GPS before making an excellent point to foreshadow this round.

japan drive

Never say never. Dammit. I just did twice.

– Nate & Jenn identify the Cleaning Man.

japan clean

He looks more like a Japanese Ghostbuster than a Cleaning Man.

– Jenn sees it is a Roadblock.

JENN: Who is the ‘back seat driver’?

– The task? You guessed it. Driving. Teams must put on a hat and gloves like local cabbies do. Then they will drive a Japanese couple five miles through a confusing maze of often one-way streets to an address where a kid is standing by a marked bike. They cannot invite a local to lead them or join them in the car, and cannot ask the couple for help.

japan bike

Just picking up Junior from Bike Practice.

japan couple

The only reason they are choosing this cab is because they know there will be no obligation to tip the driver. I for one am surprised they are choosing not to wear helmets.

That one woman looks like a judge from Iron Chef.
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Okay. Maybe not.

– Once the couple is dropped off, the player must drive back to their partner at the station before they read their clue.

– Jenn is off to put on the uniform.

japan jenn

The last time Jenn wore a hat and white gloves was for a Halloween party.
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And nice hair.

– Christina sees Jenn on the streets receiving instructions. Nate is probably alone inside scouting out a new mistress. A Harajuku Girl no less.

– Jenn is ready to kill this roadblock, but takes some time to do something very important.

japan jenn 2

Does it co-ordinate with my black tank top?

japan jenn 3

Don’t I look rad?

japan jenna 30 rock

Jenn in ten years. She can see the signs in the mirror.

japan eyeroll

C’mon you crazy American woman. . .gee, wish this was a Cash Cab.

Note the McDonald’s in the background.

– Ronald & Christina read the clue. Christina initially volunteers Ronald but Ronald responds that he doesn’t speak the language. So Christina is gonna do it. Too bad she is limited on asking people for help this task before she knew what it exactly would entail.

japan drive

Don’t you look silly.

– Ronald & Christina are not happy with the task.

CHRISTINA: Just pray for me.

RONALD: Christina is not very good at driving. She does not have a good sense of direction.

An Asian female is not good at driving? Who would have thunk it.

– Christina reads the address as the Osaka Centre Post Office. Jenn exits her cab to ask people. She is dismissed on the street. Finally someone gives her the directions while Christina struggles to operate the cab.

japan bored

They really wish they brought their brand new Nintendo DSi for the trip.

– Jenn is told it is a ten minute drive by car. Christina tells us that she does not own a car of her own and uses public transit.

japan traffic

No better way to learn how to drive than in the downtown area of a Japanese metropolis and on the “wrong side of the road” with a bunch of clustered one-way streets. If you can survive this, you can drive anywhere, Christina.

– Christina exits the cab for directions but was -this- close to locking her keys inside the cab. She struggles to get the key out.

japan key

Can’t get the key out of the ignition?

japan r kelly

Just ask him.

japan key 2

Ahahahahahakillmenow.

– Nic & Don have the clue.

NIC: Who is the backseat driver? Are you tired? I am not.
DON: I am tired.

So much for ‘just needing water’, gramps.

– Nic is a pilot so this shouldn’t be much of a problem. Well, other than the ‘I don’t know Japanese’ part.

– Don enters a grocery store at the station and exits with a water.

NIC: Do you speak English?
LOCAL: No.

I love that response. I know they probably don’t speak more than ten words of English, but the ‘no’ response in English gets to me.

– All three ask for more directions. Christina tries to back up but seems flustered.

japan quote

japan quote 2

How many times has she seen Austin Powers for the Time Travel scene to stand out of all things?

I don’t know what language they are speaking, but I assume it’s Japanese.

And hey, Christina? You know the names of the couple who are sitting in the backseat that feel like they are in a death trap with you and wish to use profanity against you?

japan fook

Yep. I raise you a better Austin Powers reference. Your turn!

– Nic receives more directions. Christina thinks driving is more helpful than knowing Japanese. As Nic enters the car, the Asian riff plays.

Taken-right-from-Amazingrace-A-sia!

– Nic is thankful for his driving experience in Ireland that positions him on the other side of the road. He asks the couple if they are hot. Hopefully the figurative use of that word isn’t more popular in Japan or else Papa Bear will think he is hitting on his wife.

– Nic puts on the air conditioning.

– Donald and Ronald stand together in the station. Now THIS is an interaction I have been craving for months.

japan eat

In typical fatherly fashion, both fathers agree to finish the food as quickly as possible before their kids come back. I must say that Ronald needs to talk without oceans of food in his mouth.

– Jenn asks for directions from a traffic guard. She tries to turn around in the middle of the street when she sees the sign in English.

japan post

The only English sign in all of Osaka.

– Christina sees it and is stumped how she can legally drive to the building and park. A lady in a neighbouring car points out the building to Nic at a traffic light. It is a closely edited race.

– Christina decides to follow “him“. Suspense with a major Japanese inspiration of music is played.

– Jennifer is indeed first. She attempts to make her way back to the station.

– Christina is second to receive the clue. Nic has it too. Nic is fairly confident that he can trace the route back to the station. Jenn is back at the station but can’t figure out how to get back into the same road.

– Christina can see her father inside as well as Nate. Now she is stumped how to retreat back.

japan red

For some reason, if you are the three people wearing red this round, you are not allowed to do the roadblock. Even if the roadblock symbol is red too.

Speaking of red too, have you seen Red 2?

– Jenn is first inside the station. She is surprised to discover she is first. A few more forced ‘gosh’s and, whoa, even a ‘god’ is in order.

– Jenn reads that teams must travel by taxi to Kita-Mido Temple. I doubt anybody will complain about a ‘bad taxi’ after suffering through that task. Once at the temple they will receive their next clue.

JENN: By the way, nobody here speaks English.

– Jenn tries to get the taxi driver’s attention by miming she is in a race. But in all honesty, she is closer to miming the Locomotion.

japan hook

If you diss the Locomotion, I will knock you out with this left hook. I would have said ‘jab’, but the local people may think I am saying an entirely different term instead. And that wouldn’t be good.

– With only a Detour to go, and two older players behind them, Nate makes a bold prediction.

japan prediction

Will it foreshadow as much as Christina’s “hope I don’t have to drive” quote? We shall see.

– Christina parks and the man with the orange hair who wishes he had his hat back says it is okay to park there. Christina picks up Ronald and starts mimicking an anime character in an English sub to speak to the taxi driver.

– NIC: It’s easier to land a plane than it is to drive in Osaka.

denzel washington

Landing a plane is even easier if you have cocaine.

– Donald waits impatiently. Nic is frustrated with the traffic.

japan nic 2

It may be five years since I have been behind the wheel of a vehicle, but I have a feeling it doesn’t work out too well there either.

– Nic is guided by a neighbouring truck and continues.

– TK & Rachel’s airplane lands in the evening. TK is unsure if he is behind or ahead. They are both smiling. Good spirits.

– Nic receives more directions. Jenn tries to explain how the last turn to re-enter the station was the toughest. Nate must be pretty with it considering all they are doing is sitting in a cab.

japan nate

You have to pay attention when he’s driving? Uh, ten bucks says Nate is checking out somebody crossing the street.

japan nate 2

Left hook coming your way. . .

– Nate knows something is wrong and didn’t say the right thing. He tries get her to understand that he can’t watch somebody drive and listen to her at the same time.

NATE: It’s just hard when. . .well both of you are uh. . .You know what I’m saying, right?
JENN: No. I don’t.

Words can’t speak louder than words itself, so Nate proceeds to do an action to cool things over.

japan arm

Who wants an arm massaaaage?

– Ronald & Christina’s driver is wheezing as he drives. Christina is heartfelt with worry.

RONALD (casually): I hope he doesn’t croak on us.

Ronald sounds like the cabbie’s death is long overdue.

japan driver

A driver dead at the wheel is still a better option than Christina as a replacement.

– Nate & Jenn are at the temple. It’s a Detour.

– Sense of Smell or Sense of Touch.

– In Sense of Touch, teams make their way on foot to the Shima Jima building  Once here, they must use miniature robots which are controlled by cell phones.

japan robot

So futuristic.

– They will use these robots to play a game of table soccer. They must get the ball past the robotic goalie and into the net to receive their next clue.
In Japan, students don’t need to go into athletics. Why do it when a robot can do it for you!

japan robot 3

That Transformer has some sick offense!

– Sadly this isn’t even the most exciting game of Soccer going on in Japan at the moment.

japan mega man

!!!

japan mario

It’s uh me, Mario!

japan mario 2

His first referee gig in nearly 25 years.

– Each team member must score a goal.

PHIL: These mechanical robots are tough to control. Teams may end up kicking themselves rather than goals.

Oh Phil, you.

– In Sense of Smell, teams head to a flower shop where only artificial flowers are sold. They must use their noses, and ONLY their noses to identify one real flower hidden amongst thousands of artificial ones.

japan smell

Lean a little bit closer and you’ll see that roses really smell like poo poo poo.

– It’s a 2-storey flower shop. They will exchange the real flower for their next clue. Phil pulls out the word “olfactories”. Wow. Phil knows his anatomy. Only the real flowers have a ascent.

– Nate & Jenn decide to ask locals which Detour option written in Japanese is closer. Ronald & Christina have their clue. The guy on the street tells Nate & Jenn that both locations are ten minutes away. He decides to lead them to the flower shop.

JENN: We’re doing Sense of Smell because I have the nose of a bloodhound.

japan bloodhound
About time they get a female member.

japan laugh

Nate might be laughing because he has never heard such a dumb comment in his life. . .or because he is uncomfortably laughing from the knowledge that he isn’t wearing any deodorant.

– Ronald & Christina choose to smell because Christina has a good sense of smell. They convince a guy on the street to guide them.

– Nic returns. Don informs him that the two teams left ten minutes ago. Only ten minutes ago? Hasn’t there been only ten minutes in the episode since the two teams finished? Since when are teams shown racing in real time?

– Both teams are shown running in the streets. Nate & Jenn decide to go into a flower shop to ask where the flower shop is.
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Yeah, it ends up being the one.

– Christina asks for directions inside the mall. She is pointed to it. They decide to start on the second floor because Nate & Jenn are on the first floor.

– Donald hands off his bag to Nic. He is afraid of letting Nic down but Nic is more afraid of letting himself down for not helping his grandpa in a time of need.

japan bag

Comfy?

– Nic & Don enter the building to play soccer with robots. I can’t imagine Gramps operating this technology. Don assumes they will show them how to play. The referee signals for the game to start.

japan mario

No lame tutorial level. Mario wants to do it old school.

japan mario 3

Back in his day, nobody told you nothin’. Just pick up and go. The referee has aged well.

DON: I’m not crazy about this because I don’t do video game.

If you refer to it as “I don’t do video game”, your skill with “video game” is that you are like my dad who will pick Sagat in Super Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers and spam the ‘A’ button regardless of how well he is doing until you politely ask him to stop playing.

1999-2001: The three years that my dad would play Street Fighter for ten minutes at a time every few months and learn nothing.

DON: My six year old grandson can beat me on games.

Don’t worry, Don. I was beaten by a three year old.

japan don 2

And he is ready to have a re-match with that six year old once he masters Robo Soccer.

japan goalie

I really want to see a soccer goalie with this type of build in real life.

And what the heck is that goalie supposed to be? Anyone know?

japan robot 4

Thank goodness these robots aren’t programmed like REAL soccer players where they moan, scream, and yell in pain whenever they are tripped or fall down of their own accord.

– Don starts cursing at the technology like any good 60+ year old man should do.

– Jenn is getting light-headed from smelling flowers.

JENN: I was hallucinating from seeing all of those flowers. It’s like a Pink Floyd music video.

Signs you born in the 80s.

– Christina suggests that they each choose a side of the room and meet in the middle. Ronald agrees and is encouraging her so she isn’t demoralized.

Uh, I’m not worried about Christina being demoralized.

– Jenn takes a second to tell Nate that she is going to follow him. He is annoyed and tells her to stay where she is.

NATE: Be quiet and smell.

Not an instruction you hear every day.

NATE: All I hear you is talking.

– Nic & Don press ‘0’ to get up. Nic has adjusted to the controls. Such a pilot. Nic’s player trips as it tries to shoot. Suddenly it’s an empty net. Mario yells “Goal!” once it is achieved.

– Back to TK & Rachel. TK rambles on about how he has no idea if they are half a day behind or way out in front. They have not seen a team since the “pit start”. I thought that was a term only used in TAR Asia?

– Jenn decides her and Nate should go upstairs. They are met by another large volume of flowers. “Gosh’s” are in order. Jenn wishes they did the other one.

– More smelling.

– Nic coaches Don how to use the phone to operate the robotic shooter.

DON: Nic is high tech and I am low tech. I don’t even own a computer.

God, this guy is so much like my dad. I am waiting for Don to admit that he pressed the ‘big blue E’ with his index finger to access the Internet on a desktop computer.

– Don’s robot falls. Mario shakes his head in shame. Don’s technological skills is as dead as his sense of smell at his age.

– Nate & Jenn want to finish the task and want first place. Both teams are shown in a smelling showdown.

japan cam

japan cam 2

Those cameras cost one thousand bucks each and only used for two seconds all season.

You’re welcome.

– Nate thinks he has sniffed it out. Jenn grabs it and exchanges. The two of them quietly celebrate and squeal. They run out to read the clue. They read that must head to Tempozan Park which is on the outskirts of the congested streets of Osaka. It is named after the lowest mountain in Japan.

– Christina has a flower. Ronald shushes her. Both think Nate & Jenn are still there.

– Nate & Jenn try to flag a cab but the driver doesn’t know Tempozan Park. Ronald & Christina have a cab. Nate & Jenn are with another cab driver who does not know as well. They fail to hail a cab that whizzes by. Ronald & Christina don’t know if Nate & Jenn switched Detours or are already done.

– Nate & Jenn find a guy on the street who calls a cab for them and instructs the driver in Japanese to take “his friends to Tempozan in a hurry”. Stakes are raised.

– Nate instructs Jenn to get into the cab. Jenn is angry because she hits her head and blames Nate for pushing her into the cab.

Anybody ready for some instant replay?

japan push

Inconclusive. Worst. Camera angle. Ever.

– Christina is inside the cab and claims that leg nine is the first time where her dad has not yelled or lost his temper.

Wow. Did she just completely forget how Ronald freaked out about the cabbie dropping them off at a ‘no entry’ zone in Mumbai, formerly Bombay? Selective memory.

– TAR production shows us an instant replay of the same horrible camera angle. Jenn mumbles that it can cost them the race. Nate says it can’t and pleads for her not to be negative.

– The robots begin to taunt Don. He barely misses the kick. The goalie falls over and Donald very slowly guides his robot to push the ball into the goal. Mario chants “GOAL” and hands them the clue.

– Don says Nic’s intelligence makes him the only partner he could have been successful with in TAR. A cabbie pulls over for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cShYbLkhBc

Dono arigato, uh Mr. Roboto Soccer.

– Ronald & Christina’s cab asks for directions in the street. Jenn points out a park. Suspense is built. Who will finish first?

japan greeter

That’s quite the make-up and hair. I think I’ve seen hi–her–that person before. . .
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boy georgekynt goggles

That person is as if Boy George and Kynt mated to produce a Japanese baby. That would be what it looks like.

– So who got first? Oh yeah. I’ll go ahead and reveal it. No need to Seacrest it.

japan celebration

FIRST: RONALD & CHRISTINA

Ronald & Christina are so excited to be first that one of Christina’s breasts disappears during the celebration.

– Ronald doesn’t complain about his hernia while jumping around. Phil informs them that their prize is winning an electric vehicle each that seats four. It is environmentally safe. Wow. That is the closest TAR has come to awarding a flat out racist prize.

– Christina lies in order to brag that her father did not lose his temper once this leg.

japan ronald 2

What can I say? The Prozac certainly helps. It’s non-stop.

– Phil asks Christina if her dad is improving.

CHRISTINA: Worlds!

Oceans!

Ronald & Christina want to continue improving as a cohesive team in order to be number one at the end. It would be the biggest upset in TAR history.

– SECOND: NATE & JENN

– Phil gives the news and said it was close.

japan greeter 2

Boy Kynt suppresses the urge to drop the flowers they have been holding for several minutes and re-join their peers at the Ouran High School Host Club.

– Jenn said it is ‘ON!’ after another second place finish. She thinks the second place finish is a lesson that they need to stop bickering.

japan speech

Nate prepares his UFC-like promo speech for the final two rounds of TAR.

NATE: The best team is gonna finish last, and that’s gonna be Jenn and I.

*Editors insert record scratch*

japan speech 2

Jenn’s reaction is a combination of Danielle DiLorenzo’s Hiss and Tara’s “Wil. . .you’re an idiot!!!” look. I love how Nate looks straight into the camera as if nothing is wrong.

NATE: Er, I mean finish the last leg first.

Good recovery.

– Nic volunteers to carry Don’s bag onto the mat. It’s night time.

THIRD: NICOLAS & DONALD

– Don admits he was tired today. Phil comments on Nic carrying his bag. Don repeats that he is turning 69 in a few weeks.

DON: I am just about 45 years older than everybody on this race.

miyagi lesson one

Miyagi only twenty-two. He came out of womb balding and grey hair on forehead.

– Donald insists he will be aggressive enough to win a million bucks.

– TK comments that the castle looks like it should be closed. I bet in most circumstances it would be closed, but a team being over fifteen hours behind all other teams isn’t too attractive of an option for editors.

– Rachel catches on that they must be last because the route markers are desolate and still no sight of other teams. They recap their journey as if elimination is inevitable, and discuss their relationship. Rachel talks about having negativity in her life before meeting TK.

RACHEL: TK was like a beam of light coming down to save me.

Whoa. That’s a bit much. These two are really in love.

– The character scene continues. Rachel did the roadblock. They of course do the flower Detour because Rachel knows her flowers. TK thinks the relationship is meant to be. Apparently Rachel completed the Detour instantly strictly by appearance of a real rose rather than sense of smell.

japan outkast

Not only do real roses SMELL like they are poo poo poo, but LOOK like poo poo poo.

– It is the perfect farewell. TK & Rachel step onto the mat.

LAST: TK & RACHEL

– They are told they are indeed last. . .but are saved by the second of two non-eliminations that Phil lied about. They are nearly three hours behind the leading three teams AND will encounter a Speed Bump. That is a huge chunk of time to make up. Seems like a dire situation to me and the viewers at home given that a lot of countries play in consecutive rounds.

Next Time on TAR: It’s all about who will make the Final Three of the ultimate race for one million dollars, and the gloves are coming off.

Confessional Count

RONALD.CHRISTINA 5.7
NICOLAS.DONALD 3.9
NATHAN.JENNIFER 4.5
TK.RACHEL 8.2

Rank the Legs:

1) Dubrovnik, Croatia -> Florence, Italy (Awesome round even though it is a non-elimination. The reveal of the Speed Bump was an intriguing and buzz-worthy twist.

The leg was very long. Teams were forced to drive themselves for 220 miles in a country with relatively high density population. This made navigation tested moreso than any other leg this season which was awesome. Their stamina was finally tested.

Plus the ferry ride to Italy looked like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I liked the Fast Forward task. No more hair-cutting which made producers look creative for once. Instead teams had to permanently mark their body for the first time in TAR history. So that was neat.

The Roadblock was simple unless you’re TK, but the contraption was very Vinci-like and fit in with the adventurous aspect of the race.

As for the Detour? The Invention task was super cool. It was like watching Treasure Hunters. Tradition could have been less subjective in terms of judging.

Add in TK & Rachel’s and Kynt & Vyxsin’s one-uppsmanship in terms of mistakes on the race and you have a near perfect round of TAR. Add in the errors that other teams couldn’t avoid making and this race truly looks like anybody’s game.

Oh, and did I mention how much the casual audience cheered that there was only two non-elimination rounds?

Such a great round.)

2) LA -> Tony Clifden, Ireland (One of the funniest TAR episodes ever. From the starting line where Nic & Don stalled the rolling of the credits, to Ari’s infamous proclamation, teams taking several wrong turns, funny trips, funny falls, ironic quotes, inappropriate insults, and the word ‘bitch’ being used in about a hundred different ways, this was a very memorable opener.

The tandem bike was neat. The ‘sign up for X charter that leaves in the morning’ continued, and you know you can expect entertainment when high-strung teams are required to lead donkeys. Production has learned that the best way to eliminate a mean-spirited and/or crazy team is to give them a donkey. Look at Jonathan &Victoria.

Ari & Staella are the perfect first boots for this season. They came into the game thinking they were 150 to 200 percent certain they would win, but alienated themselves so early on that they were stuck all alone to complete the task and eliminated in the blink of an eye. I admire their ability to take their elimination rather well.)

3) Mumbai, India -> Osaka, Japan (The editing in the episode was perfect. I was floored that this round was a non-elimination even though I knew it had to be this round or the next round. Dang editors tricking me.

The tasks were very creative. In TAR 10 they made teams get a driver’s license in India, but it seemed like they were ridiculously lenient. For this revamp in Osaka they made the task much more independent, racked up the difficulty by making them navigate to an address and back, and put them in the downtown district of one of the busiest first world streets in the world.

So awesome. The only thing I could ask for is to include a stick shift for the task.

We understand why teams were never allowed to drive themselves to the route markers outside of that task. I’d fear for their lives.

The Detour was excellent. It didn’t even feel like a needle in the haystack because teams had to rely entirely on a sense of smell which had never been tested before. I must admit the other option was much cooler–robot soccer using cell phones? In 2008? I didn’t even know you could do that!

I wonder if anybody has won a college scholarship so they could play robot soccer professionally?

The interactions between all of the teams were great, and the airport scramble was intriguing enough due to TK & Rachel’s major error.

There hasn’t been a bad leg since the fourth round when they did a linear exploration of Burkina Faso.)

4) Florence, Italy -> Mumbai, India (For being the first city to experience being re-visited in full length in the TAR franchise. . .producers did a very good job to make it different from the last visit. In fact, there is no way to tell it was re-visited unless I was directly told it was Mumbai.

The fight for flights was fun even though it ultimately didn’t matter, and the equalizer’s timing during the day was very reasonable.

This trip to Mumbai was MUCH easier overall compared to TAR 4’s Mumbai round, so that is a shame knowing they could have made the city a much more draining experience for teams. I guess they didn’t want Vyxsin, Jenn, Rachel, and Christina to be groped. Can you imagine Ronald’s experience? Everyone on that train would be dead.

Every task except for the roadblock was relatively new and creative. The garland looked like it could have been frustrating to learn initially and the poster task was hilarious to watch Ronald suffer through it and not fully understand it. The crushed cardboard crate is downright funny.

Teams shuffled very frequently throughout the course of the day which is something that is not seen on TAR to such an extreme.

The episode was primarily focused on the storyline of “Will Kynt & Vyxsin Survive the Speed Bump?”. The outcome was that they didn’t, but the Speed Bump had nothing to do with it. Kynt & Vyxsin created a first-time blunder by yielding/U-Turning a team that was already ahead of them, and thanks to Mrs. Ladak saving Jenn a good twenty minutes to ensure she beat Kynt & Vyxsin to the mat with Nate.

Nic’s exhaustion will stand out too. Overall, I can’t really complain. The Speed Bump was very fitting and was very fair.

Just wish Mrs. Ladak didn’t end the round on a sour note.)

5) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso -> Vilnius, Lithuania (This leg was extremely smooth. Teams spent the first 17 minutes of the 43 minute episode strategizing for flights which will become a rarer and rarer aspect of the race. In fact this is the first time since the middle of TAR 11 that flights have truly mattered.

I liked that teams had to drive themselves around the capital and navigate the relatively crowded and narrow streets. The tasks were all fine. Jenn counting the posts is one of the most underrated moments in the TAR franchise because it is tough to believe that somebody could develop such a horrid counting system.

The roadblock was great on paper, but producers failed to understand that splitting everyone down into four final locations was a big mistake. Why? Because the teams that were assigned the hair salon took the longest of all teams while the restaurant was quick to find. Hopefully TAR producers revise this if they attempt a task like this in the future.

The Detour was fine. In fact it was really inspired as teams counted amidst a hectic festival or would have to learn stilts which have a steep learning curve. That did not seem like a pleasant Detour. Although I question if counting pickets in a picket fence is an activity in Lithuania midsummer festivals. Plus those costumes may be the most ridiculous things I have ever seen.

And much like Burkina Faso, there was too many ‘follow the marked path’ to clue boxes and the pit stop once they reached the outskirts of town. It seemed too easy.

The only way this leg could be better is if Jennifer’s lack of proficiency with a stick shift led to the bus hitting her car, thus forcing producers to -only- cast teams who can use a stick.)

6) Ransdorp, Netherlands -> Bingo, Burkina Faso (I think this beats the Dutch leg in the previous round because it is a new country, and they spend time in a town called ‘Bingo’. It is surprisingly not a retirement town.

The camel milking task, while requires a great amount of skill, may be controversial due to the fact that not all camels are equal and some may have more milk than others  This unfairly led some of the teams down the bottom of the pack while others rose to the top.

The number of marked paths was frustrating as a viewer because it made teams travel in packs together and follow the first team to spot a marker. That’s what happens when every route marker is within a two mile radius.

Lorena’s freakout may be one of the season’s highlights. Ronald’s hernia was referenced a bit much for a single episode. Between the train ride and the moonlight dancing, we had a lot of character development for each team. Every team benefited from this character development with the exception of Shana & Jennifer who did not particularly enjoy being in West Africa.

The school task was a TAR first. It was creative and had a ton of skill involved. Personally I think ten words was too easy and should have been bumped up to fifteen given the fact they could make multiple guesses.

The leg was unique and had a good concept on paper, but its shortcomings can all be explained by the screencap of five teams huddling around the pit stop mat.

Good, fun, and creative leg overall, but definitely could be re-worked in the future to make it more well-rounded.)

7) Vilnius, Lithuania -> Dubrovnik, Croatia (One of many rounds this season that seemed too easy and had virtually zero navigation.

In fact, I only place it this high because Dubrovnik is perhaps the best location they have ever visited in Europe.

The tasks were neat on paper but were too easy in execution. Plus teams didn’t travel more than about six or seven miles the whole round. Super lazy.

This leg is also saved by some of the best strategy involving airport and airline scrambles. For once, booking a flight quickly and making fast decisions was critical to finish this leg early enough.

I could have ranked this leg lower simply due to Azaria & Hendekea’s premature exit from the season.)

8) Clifden, Ireland -> Ransdorp, Netherlands (I wish this round required more teamwork. The only way you had to have teamwork is if you chose the biking option for the Detour.

It was a short distance for teams to travel, and the whole task seemed to take no more than four to five hours in round two. I will give points for the ditch vaulting for being amusing even if it could be done in five seconds.

The round was completely character-driven. Everybody played in their necessary roles and made the round a treat to watch them play.)

9) Bingo, Burkina Faso -> Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (This leg is the worst of the first four episodes for one reason:

It was too easy.

Both Detour options didn’t even seem challenging whatsoever. None of the teams ever said during the Detour “Wow, this is difficult and/or frustrating!” for either task.

The roadblock was a neat change in difficulty. Teams trying to figure out how to balance the bikes before embarking to find a market stall a mile away  allowed for interaction with locals and needing several skills to complete the task quickly. It was the only time teams struggled for the whole episode. Vyxsin, Rachel, and Shana all experienced setbacks.

The most annoying thing about the leg is that it is the first time I can recall that a team starts out a round less than two hours behind everyone else, and U-Turned to only be put twenty minutes further behind, that they weren’t given a chance to give up. All of the tasks combined didn’t seem to take more than an hour to complete.

Therefore, Lorena & Jason were screwed over. If this were TAR Asia, or virtually any TAR season, a bus or a plane or a train would have simply clumped them in with several other teams. But for whatever reason, this leg was stuck to pre-determined taxis on an extremely linear race course. There wasn’t much variance in how you can accomplish anything this round.

And the “Imma come at you bro” drama that was promoted for virtually the whole episode had zero pay-off. Why not just pretend like Lorena & Jason aren’t there to trick the viewers into thinking TK & Rachel are last like they do in previous years? Reminding us of Lorena & Jason’s presence only made the episode drag for the whole hour.

And that dancing task needed to be significantly re-worked. I can’t get over its lazy format.

Plus Vyxsin’s tears were a bit too over-the-top for the camera. That same image of the kids gathering in front of the camera was really beating the viewer over the head.

In short, this leg was lazy.)

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