The Amazing Race 17 episode four rankings

Fourth episode

Zebra Shorts and Crashing the Arctic”
COUNTRIES VISITED

UNITED KINGDOM – GHANA – SWEDEN – NORWAY – RUSSIA – OMAN – BANGLADESH – HONG KONG – SOUTH KOREA

Previously on TAR: Nine teams continued their race through the West African nation of Ghana. At a rural primary school, Ivy Leaguers Connor & Jonathan failed a pop quiz, but they would eventually pass, and won the leg.

At the Detour, teams tried to master a children’s game giving Chad inspiration.

Michael wilted under the hot sun, but he found the strength to finish and received some welcome news with his son.

Nine teams remain; who will be eliminated next?

NUMBER OF EPISODES A TEAM HAS BEEN MENTIONED IN THE ‘PREVIOUSLY ON’ SEGMENT

BROOK & CLAIRE 2
CHAD & STEPHANIE 2
RON & TONY 1
JILL & THOMAS 1
ANDIE & JENNA 1
KEVIN & MICHAEL 1
CONNOR & JONATHAN 1

– Intro time.

accra kevjumba 4

You would think Kevvius Klay, or rather his new name after conversion, Jumbammad Ali, would have been featured in the ‘Previously On’ segment.

– Phil re-introduces us to Accra. Well, Phil refrains from mentioning Accra. He instead presents the farming community of Doryumu. It doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page.

PHIL: Here where people have lived and worked the same way for generations.

I think that has changed a bit with an American competitive reality TV program entering the area.

sweden phil keoghan

Because Phil is not an American, he is treated as a second class citizen as he is stuck in the pen with the cows.

– Before we begin this leg, we get an inside look at this rural farming village. You may recall that teams are staying an additional day at this pit stop to help remodel the school.

sweden band

Firstly, teams will begin by listening to a choir supported by a drumming band.

accra school 2

The student who recited Coach’s poem from the previous episode makes another appearance.

sweden drum

All three of them are taking turns to see who gets to play the drums?

whiplash drum

I feel like I have seen this before.

whiplash drum 2

I would hate to see what the process was like to figure out who would get to play for a bunch of American contestants.

“Were you RUSHING or were you DRAGGING, Samson?”

Much like we saw in episode two, Ghana should really re-consider their emphasis on drums.

sweden choir

The choir has it easy.

– Phil informs us that the nine remaining teams returned to the primary school.

sweden cast

Hopefully for private lessons in geography.

– Nah, it’s just like Phil said at the end of the last episode. They are helping with renovations.

sweden cast 2

Make way for the teams!

– Teams begin painting some of the pillars, or whatever they are called. Infrastructure terms are not my specialty. Nat and Mallory talk about being able to help out.

sweden nat kat

They are not even provided with a change of clothes to paint. How tragic.

MALLORY: It’s nice to be able to do something for them.

sweden mallory erwin

It may be one of her duties as Miss Kentucky, but I believe Mallory is long overdue for a cat nap.

– Katie & Rachel also discuss the experience.

RACHEL: This experience -definitely- puts things in perspective. We are so fortunate.

sweden connor katie rachel

RACHEL: Like oh my god Katie, isn’t it CRAZY to be helping people who definitely have less than us?
KATIE: Oh my god Rachel, like you are sooooo right. We’re like, doing something for like a good cause, you know.
CONNOR: . . .
KATIE: Who’s that, Rachel? He’s staring.
RACHEL: I think it’s a kid with, like, a calcium deficiency.
CONNOR: . . .
KATIE: If only we were not spending alllll of this time renovating this school, we could for sure help him out.

CONNOR & JONATHAN: We are working on the schoool bus. A gift from Amazing Race.

sweden connor jonathan

One minute into this episode and we already have the following:

a) Connor & Jonathan’s perverted moment of the round.
b) Connor & Jonathan promoting their lacklustre a capella career that has annoyed everyone except for one taxi driver.

sweden brook roberts

c) Oh, and Brook delivering a kiss on the cheek.

Hopefully we are all covered for the rest of the episode.

– A student thanks the racers, and proclaims that all of the students love their new school.

sweden school

A clip was edited out where the kid on the bottom left looked up and said, “Nope, still looks pretty sh–ty to me. How long before I graduate?”

sweden school 2

Much like a renovation program on Home Gardening Television, we really needed that “Before and After” picture. Although that might have been overkill.

– The teams bid the children farewell, and blow kisses and wave goodbye as they walk away.

sweden school 3

“Bye! We’re going to try and win a million dollars now!”

sweden school 4

I think Connor is the only one who can reach that high five, Thomas.

– As you can probably guess, if this were an earlier season, the departure time would be completely screwed up. However, because this is the post-TAR 13 era, departure times are always arbitrary anyway. Unless you are watching TAR Asia, twelve hour or 36 hour pit stops are done and gone.*

* Okay. Earlier seasons also had the occasional eight hour pit stop. Producers LIED to us!

– Connor & Jonathan, who arrived first and I can assure you DO NOT have a calcium deficiency, depart at 10:15am.

This pit stop would have been close to 48 hours. Teams arrived during mid-day, stayed to help renovate the school on the following day, then had the chance to sleep overnight and depart the next morning. It might be even longer than the Tunisia sandstorm pit stop in TAR 1.

sweden connor jonathan 2

Wipe that stupid grin off your face, Connor.

CONNOR: You are headed to the Arctic Circle.
JONATHAN: Oh my god!

Yes, the great nation of the Arctic Circle.

PHIL: Teams must fly 4, 500 miles from the furnace to the freezer. The city of Kiruna.

Kiruna?

kelowna

Is that how Phil’s Kiwi accent pronounces my nearby town of Kelowna here in the Okanagan?

– No. Turns out Kiruna is in Sweden. A region known as the Lapplands. Known for producing Swedish-Mexican beer, of course.

sweden kiruna

F–k you, f–k me, and f–k everything. I may as well go hang myself. It’s a Sweden episode.

Why does Sweden always suck so much on The Amazing Race? Allow me to explain.

TAR 6: Teams traveled to Ikea, and the Detour task was held there. Yes, they had to put a shelf together. This was back in 2004 when nobody would shut up about Ikea.

don ikea

It was the toughest Detour of the season as Don nearly died without doing hard physical labour, and Lori & Bolo had an inability to count numbers.

Regardless, it was an ultra-sponsoured task.

Then teams participated in the most infamous and dumbest task of all time: haybales.

lena sweden 10

You do not interact with locals, you are not doing anything specific to Sweden, and it is pure luck that could potentially put you hours and hours behind the other teams.

TAR 15: Teams played Travelocity Ring Toss.

sweden travelocity gnome

Oh, and what else did they do?

sweden sam mcmillen 8

The first ever Switchback, and repeat the WORST task in TAR history. More f–king haybales.

I ranked the TAR 6 Sweden leg as the worst leg of that season, and the TAR 15 Sweden leg was only ranked ahead of the controversial starting line and also the controversial finish line.

In other words, TAR does not know how to put together a proper Sweden leg. I am very nervous they will be stuck unravelling hay bales for a third time.

PHIL: Due to limited flights out of Ghana, teams have been given tickets on the same flight to Kiruna, but are under no obligation to use them.

sweden airport

Well, when they operate on Windows XP in 2010, it probably takes an hour just to load up one flight at a time.

sweden airport 2

His middle name is Patrick. How fitting since this week was St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t know Jonny was Irish.

We should acknowledge that flight availability may be due to the lack of people in Accra whose first destination for a vacation would be the Arctic Circle.
ghana kwame nkrumah

They would probably prefer the Accra Circle as opposed to freezing in the Lapplands of the Arctic Circle.

– When teams land in Kiruna, they must drive to the nearby town of Jukkasjarvi which is home to the “famous” Icehotel.

sweden shotglass

Which is a sequel to the ice bar during the Sweden round in TAR 6.

PHIL: In winter, this mammoth offers a not-even-close warm reception to its guests.  In summer, the ten thousand tons of ice used to make up the Icehotel are ketp frozen in this nearby warehouse. It is here that teams will find their next clue.

sweden icehotel

I s’pose if you are going to a place called the Icehotel, you would be indifferent to whether or not the sun comes out.

sweden icehotel 2

This is how The Wall began.

sweden icehotel 3

I never thought I would see an Arabian style building made of ice.

sweden icehotel 4

That chandelier would be far more dangerous than the one in 13 Dead End DRIVE. Your whole body would split in half.

sweden icehotel 6

The object on the right looks like the tribal immunity idol for Survivor: Arctic.

sweden icehotel 5

That’s the warehouse? Looks more like the container storing sports equipment just outside of my high school. That’s usually where the athletes and cheerleaders go to make out.

– Connor & Jonathan start moving. Luckily they avoid singing. Connor recaps that graduation is taking place during this leg of the race. Jonathan adds that it shows their dedication to this experience, and how much they wish to win.

sweden connor jonathan 3

No, it’s a testament to how boring university graduation ceremonies are. Seriously. I had my ceremony in 2014, and all I was able to do was the Hollywood Hulk Hogan wave.

See? All you do is spend time to cheering, applauding, and a bunch of old rich people speak for two hours.

– Connor & Jonathan ask their driver to drive faster, but without the annoying tune. Their driver’s response?

sweden connor jonathan 4

Uh oh.

sweden connor jonathan 5

The days of Samson are over, Connor & Jonathan.

JONATHAN: We can’t take our time. We’re in a race.

sweden taxi

I hate it when taxi drivers value the safety of their passengers over reckless driving. Damn him!

sweden connor jonathan 6

Yeah, I don’t think singing will fix the problem here.

– Gary & Mallory depart at 11:19am. Mallory is screaming even before she has a chance to read the clue. She thanks Jesus for taking her to the Arctic Circle.

sweden gary mallory ervin

I think the Arctic Circle is essentially a first world country’s version of Hell.  This is not exactly a miracle, Mallory.

But hey, Mallory’s enthusiasm makes it sound like this is a paradise!

GARY: We’re going to go from 100 to zero.

For those of you like myself who use the metric system, it should be noted Gary is referring to the temperature drop in the non-sense Fahrenheit scale.

sweden gary mallory ervin 2

Really re-thinking your initial destination as a reprieve, aren’t you Mallory?

eminem without me tongue

Slim Shady agrees.

– Chad & Stephanie commence in third at 11:29am. Stephanie hates snow. She is from Florida which is usually a great defense against such a substance.

– Katie & Rachel begin in fourth at 12:12pm. If it were 11:11, they could put their feet up and make a wish.

sweden katie rachel

What’s with the green bandanas? Did they expect this episode to be blogged just days after St. Patrick’s Day?

– We learn something new about Rachel.

RACHEL: I am half-Swedish. It’s kind’ve cool we get to go to Sweden. I can say ‘dumb girl’, ‘dumb boy’, and ‘dumb monkey’ in Romanian.

Okay. This made me lol.

1) Rachel points out being half-Swedish. Does this mean one of her parents is Swedish, or just Swedish relatives on one side of the family? White people in North America tend to exaggerate their ancestry to make them seem cool.

2) She goes on a tangent about knowing insults in a foreign language that has nothing to do with her Swedish ancestry.

sweden rachel johnston

She also knows how to say ‘dumb doctor’ in Romansh, but unfortunately that was edited out.

– Nick & Vicki depart at 12:23pm in fifth place. Oh my god. I can barely finish typing this when Nick makes the largest geographical error yet.

NICK (to driver): Arctic Circle, you know?

sweden nick vicki taxi

Cab fare for a 4, 500 mile drive may exceed the amount of money Nick & Vicki currently have in their possessions.

– Vicki has to point out the clue for him, and how they need to go to the airport.

sweden nick vicki taxi 2

“Why can’t we take a train?”

I love how Nick is still confused.

– Brook & Claire start in sixth at 12:24pm.

sweden brook claire

Brook feels compelled to shout the clue when she sees their destination. It must be the pink and black headband that gives her the powers of voice immodulation.

BROOK: Oh my god. That’s gonna be crazy.

sweden brook claire 2

Uh, this is the point where you start following them, camera operator. You recall the twenty foot rule, yes?

– Brook admits that they failed to bring snow boots. Claire says they were down because of their sixth place finish in the previous round.

CLAIRE: We went through our clothes, and decided to be who we really are.

sweden brook claire 3

And what would that be, Miss I Have a Hawaiian Flower in My Hair?

sweden brook claire 4

This looks like the start to some of the independent films I saw in the theatre last year.

The music is ridiculously suggestive. Like, uncomfortably suggestive. I can just imagine one of the editors from TAR Canada 2 putting this footage together.

sweden brook claire 5

“That’s right. NO ONE is watching. Feel free to do whatever you want.”

CLAIRE: She’s very bright and I’ve got my zebra pink shorts on, and we’re ready to go.

sweden brook claire 6

To see the rest of this scene, you can now subscribe to the CBS All Access streaming service for just $5.99 per month!

– Brook is ready for some ice.

CLAIRE: Guess it’s time to put on some clothes. Rats!

sweden brook claire 7

Yep. It’s time to bid a temporary farewell to a guest of TAR 17 since the beginning of the season: Claire’s Cleavage. That’s what happens when you have to put on clothes!

london brook claire 12

ghana claire champlin

accra claire champlin 2

Claire tears up not knowing if she will still be around to reunite with her friend later on in the season.

– Connor & Jonathan see that check-in time for the flight is 4:30pm.

– Jill & Thomas depart in seventh at 12:29pm. They have a confessional about the Express Pass, but who cares.

sweden jill thomas

sweden jill thomas 2

sweden jill haney

Instead we continue to enjoy the many expressions of Jill Haney.

– Nat & Kat leave the pit stop in eighth at 1:12pm. Nat is happy.

NAT: My homelaaand! My people!

sweden nat kat 2

I have not seen anybody be so happy about being frozen since watching the movie Frozen. And I think Nat missed a ‘praise Jesus!’ in her initial speech there.

sweden goat

Editors felt compelled to include this shot of a baby goat.

– The Jumbas finally leave at 1:26pm. Only fourteen minutes behind Nat & Kat despite Mike Jumba’s medical intervention during the Detour, and sitting on the ground for several minutes. Perhaps a time credit for the medical intervention? Something does not add up here.

For a short third round, I am amazed they finished over three hours behind Connor & Jonathan. In fact, Connor & Jonathan completed the leg over an hour before Gary & Mallory. I am impressed.

– KevJumba starts winking at the camera and wiggling his eyebrows when discussing their mental focus.

sweden kevjumba michael wu

All it does is make him look like he is twitching.

– KevJumba borrows a cell phone and calls the airport. Michael reads that their given flight connects through Frankfurt. Pretty much like every flight in Europe.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 2

“And can you access my YouTube channel, and subscribe to my page. Oh, and tell me how many new subscribers I have earned since I left two weeks ago?”

– A voice on the phone informs KevJumba there is a flight at 7:35am rather than the given 9:51am flight.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 3

Yes. Very very sneaky. From last to first just like that.

– Traffic is building up in Accra.

sweden local

Which is a great way for street performers to get attention. I for one am impressed the guy can balance on such a small board.

philippines michael jackson traffic cop

Not as impressive as the Filipino Michael Jackson traffic cop in TAR 25, though.

– All of the teams are now at the airport.

sweden kotoka

If this were TAR 1, I would assume this was named after a gorge.

– KevJumba notes none of the other teams discovered the earlier flight.

sweden airport 3

Connor & Jonathan sandwiched themselves between Brook & Claire and Katie & Rachel?

Predictable.

– Now we get to the best part of this scene. Want to know what it is? I bet you are dying to know.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 4

Michael’s toque! Take that Zebra Pants!

guilin margie 6

“He is trying to dress appropriate for the Arctic climate, and Logan is LAUGHING at him!”

– KevJumba asks his dad if they should let Gary & Mallory in on this new information. This alliance has never really been mentioned before, but here is the information being presented to us now.

– Because of the father-daughter and father-son bonds that were pointed out at the London pit stop in the premiere, that is why the two teams are close. KevJumba waves the team over.

sweden gary ervin

Any excuse to get away from Ms. Zebra Pants is fine by Gary.

– Gary brings up the Speed Bump. He asks if there is enough time to connect in Frankfurt. There is only one hour.

sweden mallory ervin

This rightfully worries Mallory. One hour is not enough time to guarantee you can make the connection.

– KevJumba thinks other teams are getting suspicious. Gary suggests they cover their mouths when asking a nearby ticketing agent about the flight.

sweden teams

“If anyone asks, we’re playing Pictionary.”

– The agent takes the sheet from Mallory, and promises to see if they can buy tickets for that flight.

sweden teams 2

“And I shall take this and SHRED it. Muahahahaha.”

– KevJumba says Mallory’s plan is brilliant. She punches him in the shoulder and states “you always need to have a girl”.

sweden teams 3

KevJumba was long overdue to be physically hit on The Amazing Race.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 5

Fingerbump. Anybody who abuses Kev is a friend of Michael’s.

– Mallory starts saying ‘yeah’ while waving her arms above her head. Way to be subtle, Mallory. I think that cancels out your initial sneaky plan.

sweden gary mallory ervin 3

If you are halfway to walking like an Egyptian, you may draw the curiosity of the other teams.

– Brook & Claire wonder where the doctors are. They know Nat & Kat are always making a plan, which is what Brook wants to do.

– She sees there is an Internet cafe, and assumes Nat & Kat are for sure doing their research there.

– Gary comments that Mallory’s boyfriend is approaching them. He informs them they are on the flight.

sweden mallory ervin 2

Awe shucks. In Kentucky we depend on the kindness of strangers. You sir are a kind gentleman, and a wonderful man.

sweden airport 4

Ghantlemen prefer blondes.

sweden connor diemand-yauman

Yeah. Teams are noticing something is up.

sweden mallory ervin 3

Mallory keeps up her animated antics. Most people would have left it alone at the initial reaction, but Mallory keeps fawning over the man’s kindness.

MALLORY: So glad I got blonde hair.

sweden mallory ervin 4

With the exception of her Goth phase during the eleventh grade, of course.

“You can’t tell me what to do with my hair, daddy! I’m not a kid anymore!”
“Mall, all I’m saying the dye job is a bit much, and not have the purple streaks! And is that SMOKE I smell on these walls? Hair was one thing, the lava lamp was another, but you will NOT smoke under my roof, young lady!”

– Connor & Jonathan have grown suspicious because of the Lufthansa worker. Connor thinks they found an earlier flight.

sweden airport 5

Hey, Air Canada has a presence in Ghana. Perhaps we have indirectly revealed a location for TAR Canada 3? Air Canada is the official airline of TAR Canada.

– Connor & Jonathan head to the information desk. Nat & Kat do indeed book tickets on the earlier flight.

sweden nat kat 3

Nat proclaims Sweden is her homeland, but yet she is wearing a Finnish toque, and you can see it even has a sticker of the Finnish flag on the left side.

Kat meanwhile picks out a hat that makes her look like a senior citizen golfing in Florida.

– Brook whispers to Nat & Kat if they found an earlier flight. They tell them the truth. Kat feels comfortable working with Brook & Claire.

sweden brook claire 8

I love how all blonde-haired women on this race except for Jill overreact to every single shred of information on the race.

sweden nat kat 4

Nat & Kat are unsure if Brook & Claire need medical intervention.

– Connor & Jonathan and Katie & Rachel try to book tickets on the earlier flight. Connor mans the counter in an effort to impress Katie & Rachel. Unfortunately, he hears a word that has become very familiar to him since his first bush party.

ricky j 2

Connor & Jonathan truly are the Ricky J of The Amazing Race.

CONNOR: This is the worst graduation ever.

sweden jonathan schwartz

And you don’t even get to throw your hat up in the air when flying! Tragic.

– Katie & Rachel check into the later flight.

KATIE: Thank yous.

*facepalm*

– Everybody is on the same flight to Frankfurt. It’s the early morning connection that will be tricky.

sweden airport 6

The scramble is on, bitches.

– The plane takes off, and Phil recaps the current destination path.

sweden flight

TAR’s first trip to the Arctic Circle is ironically heating up in the airport scramble.

– Frankfurt time. Lots of teams running through one of the biggest airports on the planet. The couples are confused to see four teams running. KevJumba yells at a local to hold the elevator. Gary & Mallory appear to be the slowest.

sweden brook roberts 2

Isn’t that a redundant statement?

sweden brook claire 9

Teams are in such a rush that the subtitles cannot even keep up with showing who is on screen.

sweden jill thomas 3

Oh, and Thomas is having tea time. How thrilling.

– Has anyone made it to flight on time?

sweden nat kat 5

Winner winner chicken dinner. They jogged it out.

sweden claire champlin

Brook & Claire hitched a ride with transportation meant for handicapped people? CHEATERS!

sweden claire champlin 2

You better have paid the driver a good tip.

– KevJumba & Michael are in the elevator as the other three teams are already inside the plane. Suspense is building. Details about the Speed Bump are repeated.

In the words of Danielle DiLorenzo. . .

sweden kevjumba michael wu 6

Oh, the terror of a tight flight connection.

– Commercial. We resume.

– The teams who are all on the later flight are standing around.

RACHEL: Pink ran for it. We think Nat & Kat got through. We think Mallory and her dad got through. . .and the ASIANSSS.

sweden rachel johnston 4

For some reason, viewers were offended by how Rachel emphasized the word ‘Asians’ during that confessional. In reality, she was probably emphasizing that four out of nine teams are ahead rather than Kevin & Michael in particular are in the lead.

But the audience tends to overreact to anything a reality TV contestant says under the age of thirty, so I am not surprised.

The most surprising thing during this event is that nobody is stopping the cloaked man standing behind Rachel. How has security not nabbed him yet? All he is missing is a hood or a wand.

– Jet & Cord victory music plays as KevJumba & Michael make the flight. This is a soundtrack we will become all too familiar with in the coming seasons. Sigh.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 7

“The JERSEY GIRLSSSS didn’t make it.”

– Michael says “Thank Kevin” for making the flight.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 8

He said “Thank heaven” rather than “Thank Kevin”? How was I supposed to know that? Michael is a tough man to transcribe.

I should note that the Jumbas and Gary & Mallory Ervin truly are a “Star Alliance”.

Nah, that title belongs to Brook & Claire and Nat & Kat for the time being.

EARLIER FLIGHT (7:35AM): BROOK & CLAIRE; NAT & KAT; GARY & MALLORY; THE JUMBAS

LATER FLIGHT (9:50AM): NICK & VICKI; CONNOR & JONATHAN; KATIE & RACHEL; JILL & THOMAS; CHAD & STEPHANIE

CONNOR: We found out the other teams did get on the other flight.
JONATHAN: We’re now in a five-way sprint to not get last.

The only five-way Jonathan has been apart of in his life, I assume.

sweden nick vicki

Vicki is the first person to wear a leopard print shirt in the Arctic Circle.

– We are in Kiruna. The music being played reminds me of a lot of Sega Genesis video game soundtracks. Very similar. In fact, the instruments used are a lot like the Casino Night stage from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

– Oh my god! We get a close-up of one of the strangest animals I have seen.

sweden animal

This is why you do not use bath salts. It’s like he drew a moustache on himself using a felt pen marker.

– Nat & Kat express their preference over the mini vans in the parking lot rather than the cars in Ghana.

sweden van

Just wait a few years until brakes start having defects, Nat.

GARY: The game has begun.

tarzan

He was going to say “the game is afoot”, but that was trademarked three years ago.

MALLORY: This is the coolest place.

Yes. The bad puns are well underway. Ugh.

– All four teams appear to be following each other on the road. Mallory points out the IceHotel, but Gary completely misses it. Brook & Claire and Nat & Kat turn correctly, and take the lead for this round.

sweden icehotel 7

For a place called the IceHotel, it sure is misleading when there is not any snow around.

sweden gary ervin 2

“You mean the sign for the IceHotel was the turn-off for the IceHotel? You can’t be serious, Mallory.”

sweden claire champlin 3

“See the sign? Turn, Claire.”

– Mallory is the angriest she has ever been so far this race (about a 2 out of 10 on the Jonathan Baker scale) and rubs it in Gary’s face.

MALLORY: I told you! Turn around quick! Told you, told you, told you!

sweden mallory ervin 5

“I don’t wanna say ‘I told you so’, but ‘I told you so, I told you so, I told you so!'”

– Don’t worry, Gary is not the dumbest person in this scene.

KEVJUMBA: We’re just going to follow Gary & Mallory.

sweden michael wu

Michael is too afraid to say it, but I believe he knows they would not stand a chance without the two hour advantage.

– The two leading teams enter the warehouse.

sweden ice storage

Ice storage is not a big issue for Sweden, I imagine.

– Oh god. There is something horrible inside when they walk in.

sweden talk

No, it’s not the two faces on that ice cube, but rather the beginning of The Talk. Sara Gilbert of Roseanne fame is a worthy person to spend at least five years on a talk show, but do we really -need- any of the other five? What’s their biggest accomplishment? Interviewing Kim Spradlin following the season finale of Survivor: One World?

– So the two teams check out the IceHotel.

BROOK: My fiance calls me an Ice Princess. So I may have to borrow that outfit later. Very pretty.

sweden ice princess

I have a feeling if she lends you her outfit for role-playing purposes Brook, she will probably not want it back. Just my intuition.

– In a shocking twist, the clue is made of ice. They must figure out the clue on the block of ice is leading them to their next destination: Fjellborg’s Lodge.

sweden ice

Unless teams have an excellent memory, or Nat is in touch with her roots, they may want to write this information down.

sweden lodge

Not a straw of hay in sight. So far so good. It might be on fire, though.

– It turns out teams can physically take the block of ice with their clue out of the facility. It must be colder outside than what I figured.

sweden brook roberts 3

Brook holds it like a guitar. All she needs is a piece of tobacco and she can start playing!

– Brook insists the ice clue is not heavy.

sweden claire champlin 4

Claire can only dream of holding the clue.

– The Jumbas and Ervins backtrack to the warehouse. KevJumba sees the Speed Bump.

sweden phil keoghan 2

What task do they have to complete, O Great Kiwi One?

Because as we all know, Speed Bumps since TAR 12 always put teams into some serious s–t.

PHIL: In this Speed Bump, Kevin & Michael must sit on this furniture made from blocks of ice for ten minutes before continuing on the race.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 9

I feel compelled to point out that Michael & Kevin have the nerdiest photo out of any team I have seen on TAR. It’s just them doing a thumbs up and smiling for the camera. Has anyone else ever done a thumbs up for the camera before? I’m surprised they didn’t do a robot pose.

sweden ice chair

Yes, sitting on this frozen chair for ten minutes is the grand obstacle in KevJumba & Michael’s survival.

estonia gary matt tomljenovich 5

Yes, I know Gary & Matt had a similar experience with spending FIFTEEN minutes in the saunabuss, but at least it was tougher because Matt had to try and get the woman’s phone number without his dad c*ckblocking the whole incident.

SPOILER: He did. Matt never got her digits.

But here it is a room that is zero degrees Fahrenheit, and you only have to sit for ten minutes. We will see quicker Speed Bumps on The Amazing Race, but not only is this the lamest, but also the least challenging.

I think we are well past the time where Speed Bumps were interesting or necessary for The Amazing Race. There have been other ideas I have mentioned in past blogs to replace it, but we really need to do whatever is possible to squash the Speed Bump for good.

If you consider TAR in 2015, there are multiple occasions in recent seasons where two legs play out in the same city. This happens twice per season. Why not make both of these rounds Keep on Racing legs without any equalizers, and have Marked for Elimination as the final NEL round?

TAR Asia did not have any Speed Bumps in its four season run. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for TAR Australia and TAR Canada.

– The Jumbas sit down.

KEVJUMBA: Oh man. I’m wearing soccer shorts.

OH MY GOD! THIS TASK IS SO DIFFICULT NOW!!! HOW CAN A GUY SIT ON A CHAIR IN SOCCER SHORTS AND A SWEATER?!?! INTENSE!!!!!!!!!!!

MICHAEL: I wish we had these chairs in Ghana.

sweden thermometer

The official TAR thermometer.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 10

The Speed Bump is boring to the point the TV station with a channel of a fireplace is there to entertain teams. . .and the production crew who is stuck with them. The best part is when the wood crackles. Be patient, but it’ll happen.

– Nat asks a man for directions. He speaks in the stereotypical “America, I will crush you” harsh European type of accent.

MAN: It’s a camp. By lake.

sweden man

“Now excuse me. I have a corpse and a German Shepherd whose heads I must mount on the walls of my cabin tonight.”

– Mallory suggest to Gary that they follow Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire. We cut back to the Jumbas doing the Speed Bump because we all know how exciting that is.

KEVJUMBA: This is starting to hurt. Feels like needles are sticking into my butt cheeks.

sweden kevjumba

Coincidentally, that is the same description I have for my experiences of watching videos on KevJumba’s YouTube channel.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 11

Sitting on a frozen chair is better than being kicked in the butt with a frozen boot. Just slightly better.

MICHAEL: To me it’s okay because I was using a technique where one side was higher than the other.

sweden michael wu 2

So comfortable.

– KevJumba has a disgusted look on his face during the confessional.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 12

In the words of Frozen, I think he just “let it go” during the interview. That’s four rounds in a row for Papa Jumba.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 13

This says it all.

– The Ice Princess informs them the task is over, and they can receive their next clue.

sweden ice princess 2

If the second part of their Speed Bump was a spanking by the Ice Princess, the joke would be on her because they would not feel a thing.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 14

They were down, but after ten minutes, they got back up again. You’re never going to keep them down.
jumbawumba jumbawumba 2

Just like during their One-Hit Wonder days as Jumbawumbas.

KEVJUMBA: We probably should have brought gloves and butt pads.

You mean you would still keep your soccer shorts on, Kevin?

– Kat tells us the trail they are supposed to take the lodge is unmarked. They turn off into a dirt road. Brook & Claire decide to tell a Brothers Grimm like tale.

BROOK: Four girls in the middle of the roads. . .

sweden woods
CLAIRE: All of a sudden their car stalls. . .

sweden claire champlin 5

Even the lighting is supposed to be spooky.

I never thought Brook & Claire would be bored enough to start playing the popular classroom high school theatre game known as “Once Upon a Time”.

Pretty much what you do is everyone sits in a circle, and each person takes a turn adding four words to the story. Has it really come to a game I played seven years ago in high school?

CLAIRE: All of a sudden their car stalls. . .and that’s when all of the axe murderers come out!
BROOK: AHHHHHHH!

sweden brook roberts 4

Brook! BROOK! It’s just a story. Calm down.

wanderlei silva

Wanderlei Silva doesn’t even live in Sweden. He lives in Brazil. Deep breath, Brook.

– The Jumbas see the sign to park, and are somehow first to the clue box. They made up those fifteen minutes rather quickly. It’s a Roadblock.

ROADBLOCK HINT: Who is feeling kind of mushy?

PHIL: The ground in Kiruna is covered with snow eight months of the year, making dog sleds the fastest form of transportation. During the offseason, these dogs can be allowed to lose their muscle.

Do you know this blog’s promise to screen cap every single dog that has ever appeared on The Amazing Race? Because, you know, I am an animal lover and vegetarian to the extreme that I refuse to see the films Bambi or Old Yeller to this day?

sweden dogs

sweden dogs 2

sweden dogs 3

That might be difficult.

sweden dogs 4

sweden dogs 5

This dog is my favourite. It looks so bored as if its owner took their 3DS away.

“But Magnus, I don’t WANT to go hang out with my friends. I just want to lie here and play Pokemon X. Is that too much for a mutt to ask?”

sweden dogs 6

If only these dogs wore FitBitch straps which would not be introduced until TAR 26, we would know exactly how many calories they burn during the summer.

PHIL: Teams will now find out exactly what it takes to keep these animals in shape during the dog days of summer.

sweden phil keoghan 3

O no he di’int. At least he didn’t say the dogs could lose their “mushle” during winter.

– Using a summer training sled, teams mush their dog down this forest trail and along the way snatch five different flags, and trade it for a shipment of bird pelts. For every flag they miss, teams perform a penalty lap around the hunter’s camp. Then they must lead their dogs back to the start of the course where they can exchange their pelts for the next clue.

Taking down flags while on a dogsled? Isn’t this essentially a remix of the TAR 10 horse chariot task during the Morocco round?

sweden man 2

This is exactly the type of person I envisioned to possess bird pelts.

sweden family

Not even The Gap would carry clothes like that.

– KEVJUMBA: Okay, you can do it. You get to mush dogs, dude. Awesome!

I almost sense sarcasm in KevJumba’s voice. It is as if he wanted to give his dad the lamest Roadblock possible.

– Michael approaches the dogs.

MICHAEL: Good doggie! Good doggie!

sweden dog

sweden dog 2

Not a good doggie.

– Yep, we get more close-ups of dogs. I give up. There is too many. The TAR 1 Alaska Switchback begins, and Michael leads his horde of dogs.

sweden dogs 7

miley cyrus

gene simmons

Miley and Gene lead the charge.

– Remember that embarrassing pre-season intro where neither Michael nor Kev could reach the easy rebound when they played basketball?

sweden michael wu 3

Well, Michael has redeemed himself. He has successfully reached the flag.

sweden michael wu 4

I think Kev’s days of beating his dad at basketball are over.

– Michael keeps being excited throughout the task and pumps his fist several times in the air. The sun is blinding. Unfortunately, the dogs begin growling and barking. Something is wrong.

sweden bear

HOLY CRAP IT’S A BEAR!

bart the bear 3

And unlike Bart the Bear in TAR 8, I doubt this one is tame.

MICHAEL: Don’t fight, don’t fight! Oh, it’s a bear. That’s why. It must be a big bear.

Michael was calmer seeing the bear than he was about the dogs growling? He is a greater man than I.

sweden bear 2

The bear’s attempt at blending in. It tried its best.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I think the close-up of the bear was B-roll, and was as bad footage of an animal as a black and white Godzilla film. The roaring sound effect too. That was just downright bad.

– Gary & Mallory, Brook & Claire, and Nat & Kat all show up to the Roadblock together.

sweden trail

It’s a great hike when you’ve got the lead.

sweden michael wu 5

Michael fighting to preserve his lead.

– Kat, Mallory, and Claire are doing the Roadblock. It is Claire’s second Roadblock of the season.

london claire champlin 15

We all remembered what happened at the first one.

– Claire is doing this Roadblock because she grew up on a ranch. Oddly enough, it is the exact same reason why she did the first one which led to a watermelon in the face.

sweden brook claire 10

Brook secretly hopes the watermelon to the face is topped by a bear attack. The trap is set.

CLAIRE: I grew up on a ranch working with animals, and we do the whole sleigh thing. . .I felt like really ROUGH and rustic.

sweden brook claire 11

Brook laughs at her use of the word ‘rough’. Pretty much for the same reason I am laughing.

sweden dogs 8

Get it? Because a dog task is ROUGH. Ruff. HARHARHAR.

– Michael commands the dogs to not bite as he delivers the flags to the pelts bearer.

sweden michael wu 6

That’s one way to pull a muscle.

sweden michael wu 7

Michael would love the concept of a hoverboard.

sweden man 3

Thwumb up for a job well done, Michael.

– Michael takes the bird pelts, and begins riding back to the family.

– The second plane lands in Kiruna.

Connor & Jonathan are fifth. Jill & Thomas sixth. Katie & Rachel seventh. Nick & Vicki eighth. Chad & Stephanie are last.

STEPHANIE: We are truly the kaboose of this train right now.

sweden stephanie smith

accra chad stephanie 8

The only kaboose her boyfriend has yet to squeeze on the race, mind you.

–  Jonathan has a really tough time pronouncing the names of roads when he directs Connor. You want to see Jonathan’s winter outfit, don’t you? I know you do. Your challenge is not to laugh.

sweden jonathan schwartz 2

lol

sweden nick vicki 2

Can Nick even see with his bandana pulled that far down? He is not prepared for winter weather at all.

– Mallory commands her dog pound to slow down as they get closer to the first flag.  She is unable to reach.

sweden mallory ervin 6

charla bag

#CharlaProblems

MALLORY: Oh shoot. I missed one. I have to stand up on the revs because I am so short like this.

sweden mallory ervin 7

I like how Mallory stretches her body as far as possible like a little kid trying to reach up to the top of the fridge and grab a cookie from the jar.

“No Mallory, those are for LATER. You can have one after you finish your broccoli.”

– Kat and Mallory talk about the fun task at hand.

MALLORY: I’m going to hook up our Great Danes and park it in my house and do this.

– The cartoonish behaviour increases.

sweden kat chang

Mallory manages to pass Kat, and get into second place.

MALLORY: Go go go dawgies! Let’s pass! Good job, dogs. Let’s do this, dogs.

Here’s the best part.

MALLORY (deepens her voice): These are my dogs. (register in her voice spikes) Heh heh heh!

Is this an adult or an eight year old running The Amazing Race?

sweden mallory ervin 8

Mallory Ervin: The newest member of the 2-1-3.

snoop dogg deez

From the depths of Kentucky, the back of the pack
Mall Doggary Dogg, Spunky, yes but passed the Kat
Went solo on that task, but it’s still the same
Gloucester’s the spot
Where she started the race
Now her dogs on the sled say
“Follow us, follow us, follow us
follow us”, but Mallory don’t lose her grip
Season seventizzay is the year
for her to f–k up s–t
Even if she lose her bag, she ain’t going back
And motherf–ker she got three
appearances by Twenty fourteen on tap
It’s like that and as a matter
of fact
She never hesitates to put the Jumbas on her back
What’s her motherf–king name?

– Claire’s dogs nearly collide with Kat’s when she passes. We see production’s dog sled blatantly as well.

sweden kat chang 2

Tough to hide producers on such a narrow trail.

– Mallory is next up to interact with our creepy pelt bearer. We do not see where Mallory is keeping her flags. Where could they be?

sweden mallory ervin 9

Right down her shirt. Hopefully she did not mix up the yellow flag with her prized bandana.

– The man laughs, and gives her the signal to run an additional lap.

sweden man 5

Only in Kiruna do Americans take part in the tradition of “flag stuffing”. It’s acceptable here.

sweden mallory ervin 10

The additional lap proves to be straining.

– Claire is next to encounter our man in the odd jumpsuit. She offers him a kiss.

It should be noted that Claire took the “Who likes to get mushy?” clue in a different manner.

BROOK: We have a kiss count going, and Claire kissed number six today.

That’s how special the kisses are today. They are referred to by numbers rather than names.

sweden claire champlin 6

This is the start to every great sex tape ever made.

CLAIRE: He was like a Swedish chief.

sweden brook claire 12

Romance was in the air.

sweden brook claire 13

Wow. I never thought I would say this, but I feel bad for Jumpsuit Man. They just tore into him on American television.

– Mallory and Kat retrieve the bird pelts without any kissing involved.

– Yikes. All of the trailing teams enter the IceHotel. Everybody is writing down the address rather than taking the ice block with them.

sweden icehotel 8

It’s a zoo in there. Everybody is taking notes.

– Teams exit the IceHotel and break off into different directions asking locals for help.

sweden katie rachel 2

Truck driver attempts to help Katie & Rachel.

– Thomas is the only one to physically carry the ice clue out of the IceHotel. One problem:

sweden thomas wolfard

Ice + Bare hands = Not a good combination.

– Thomas uses Jill’s jacket, and wraps the clue in that.

THOMAS: So slippery.

What a surprise.

– The four teams cheer on Michael completing the Roadblock. I can notice the dogs are moving slower. Michael receives the clue from the two kids.

sweden clue

The first time they have probably interacted with a man from Taiwan in Sweden.
.
.
.
Truth be told I do not know much about Taiwanese-Swedish historical relations.

– KevJumba reads that they must drive through the Swedish countryside to the Vassijuare Train Station where they will find their next clue.

MICHAEL: Kev, you missed all the fun.

Heh, suck it Kevin.

– Claire and Mallory are done the Roadblock. So is Kat. Everybody raves about how fun the task was.

– Chad & Stephanie say all of the teams are neck-and-neck except Jill & Thomas who have yet to be seen. They are all at the Roadblock together. Too confusing to follow who is all doing it.

– Jill & Thomas are last to the Roadblock. Jill decides to do the task. They run down the trail.

THOMAS: Let’s go.
JILL: Are you sure it’s down this way?
(Edited splice inserted here.)
THOMAS: Honey. Go. Go. We’re in last place. You know that?
JILL: Yes. I hear you.

sweden jill thomas 4

sweden arrow

Classic Jill & Thomas.

– Connor is doing the Roadblock. So is Nick. Lots of yelling. Thomas screams at Jill to run faster. They are sprinting into the depths of the Lappish Woods.

sweden jill thomas 5

Jill & Thomas running on an unmarked trail reminds me of Reichen & Donkey Kong in TAR 4 walking for two hours around a French gorge because they missed the Detour. Good times.

sweden dogs 10

No wonder the dogs prefer to run in snow. That level of dust and dirt being kicked into their eyes must not be fun.

– Stephanie talks at lengths about loving animals.

STEPHANIE: I have been wanting a husky forever. FOR. EVER. FOREVER.

sandlot

sweden chad stephanie

Yes, Chad is dating the police officer from The Sandlot.

sweden chad stephanie 2

I know for a fact Chad has about twenty different responses to this comment. If we saw this interview for a bit longer, we would have seen his funniest response. Oh well.

– Thomas assumes they are going to the lodge. They read over the clue, and think they are screwed. Commercial. We resume.

– More running. No lodge. Thomas thinks they are too far off, and run all the way back.

THOMAS: We totally ruined ourselves!

I can assure you that producers probably discouraged them from swearing too much, and I am certain Thomas would have typically said a different word in place of ‘ruined’.

JILL: Do you want to use the Express Piss?

See! Now this is the appropriate time to have editors air a scene about the Express Pass to viewers. If the team is in last place by a significant margin, that is the only time it becomes relevant.

And yes, it did sound like Jill said ‘piss’ instead of ‘pass’ on the audio.

sweden jill thomas 6

Nothing like a great day of backtracking through the Swedish wilderness on The Amazing Race.

– Thomas is hesitant to use it quite yet. Still plenty of race to go.

– Nick starts rooting for his dogs in the stereotypical biker voice. Connor is in his sights.

NICK: Good puppies. Good puppies. Yeah! GOOD DOGS! GOOD DOGS! GET EM. GET EM. I’M COMING CONNOR! I’M COMING, BABY! I’M GONNA GET’CHA!

sweden connor diemand-yauman 2

sweden connor diemand-yauman 3

This is the perfect “Oh s–t” moment of the episode.

– Katie wishes to kidnap the dogs and take them to Jersey. Stephanie praises the mutts. Jill & Thomas finally make it to the lodge, and Jill starts picking dogs.

sweden dog 3

This one may not be your best option.

– The Jumbas enter Vassijuare. Much more snow present. They have the clue. It’s a Detour.

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Were they expecting something different by driving further north into the freakin Arctic Circle?

PHIL: The unspoiled wilderness in this part of the world is not only a haven for people who love extreme sports. . .

sweden crash

sweden crash 2

Did they intentionally crash just to get on TV?

You know this could be a difficult task if the expert driver demonstrating it cannot even succeed. This is not a good sign.

– PHIL: . .but also a refuge for people who follow the customs of their ancestors. Now teams must figure out how they exactly want to experience this land–Sleds or Beds.

– In Sleds, teams head to the top of this mountain. Then using an extreme sports gadget called a TechSled, they must speed down a difficult course and both reach the finish line in less than  one minute and fifty-eight seconds. If they succeed, teams will receive their next clue.

sweden clock

That’s the cheapest electronic clock I have ever seen. It reminds me of the timers for games seen at Scandia’s or Chuck-E-Cheese.

sweden woman

The soon-to-be recipient of Kiss No. 7.

– If they don’t make it to the finish line in the allotted time, they must make their way back to the top and try again.

sweden snow

sweden snow 2

Snowboard Cross is less lethal than this.

sweden phil keoghan 4

I understand Phil has gone back to wearing turtlenecks, but it doesn’t mean he can’t help the person who crashed just metres behind him.

– In Beds, teams make their way to the encampment of Sami people. The original descendants of the earliest Scandinavian nomads. Then using traditional materials, teams must build a tent-like dwelling known as a goahti. When the structure is completed, and the interior is made comfortable for sleeping, the Sami elder will present their next clue.

a) The only person who I know can put up a great goahti is my dad, and it has been located below his nose for the past twenty years.

b) Anytime you say ‘traditional tools’ and ‘Detour’, chances are that task will be readily ignored.

c) What is the Sami elder?

sammie

This guy’s grandpa?

sweden sami

Who wants to bet that producers contacted a local school, and asked which kids and their parents would pose as ‘traditional Sami people’ for this task? It’s the same concept as the Springfield Braves or Boy Scouts.

sweden tent

This tent is probably more complicated than the colour-coded rods from the season premiere of TAR 8: Family Edition.

sweden man 6

It’s like the Joker playing card has come to life! All we need is the hat.

sweden man 7

KevJumba is a crybaby for complaining about his soccer shorts.

– Jumbas choose Beds because KevJumba is scared that Michael cannot do it. Michael crashing would have been VERY funny, though.

– Nat & Kat are second to the Detour.

– The Jumbas begin constructing their tent. It is not going well.

sweden kevjumba 2

It’s all coming down on Kev.

sweden pencil

“Ah! Our pencil is complete!”

sweden locals

What is so funny? It is a perfectly functional number two pencil.

– Connor finishes out the Roadblock.

sweden connor diemand-yauman 4

Connor must be desperate when all of his bitches have to be forcibly tied up to help him out.

Tom not cool

Oh c’mon Tom, you know that was good!

Nick compliments the locals on having good dogs. He is done. So is Katie. Chad completes it in eighth, and is well aware that Jill & Thomas could leap ahead with the Express Pass. Jill is done the Roadblock.

– The Jumbas have camped before. They thought they were building a bed rather than a tent. It was a curveball to them. Michael laughs the whole time as KevJumba explains this mixup to the viewers.

KEVJUMBA: Dad, focus.
(MICHAEL keeps laughing anyway.)

sweden michael wu 8

Michael Wu loving the atmosphere.

sweden kevjumba 3

On the other end of the spectrum, KevJumba is too serious and killing the mood per usual.

– Gary & Mallory are third to the Detour. They choose Sleds. Brook & Claire are fourth to the clue box, and also choose Sleds. They’re already giggling about how crazy the task could be.

– Nat & Kat are riding up on the chair lift.

sweden nat kat 6

I bet teams are forced to wear that. Please let Nick do this task and try to wear his grey bandana.

– Nat comments on the intense and dramatic landscape. They disembark and meet their TechBikes.

sweden vehicle

Ah.

sweden vehicle 2

The equivalent to a vehicle select screen.

– Nat & Kat get help with putting on their safety equipment.

sweden nat kat 7

Nat looks stoked while Kat is terrified. The typical dichotomy for this team.

– They are reminded the time to beat is one minute and fifty-eight seconds.

sweden start

Racers, start your engines!

sweden guy

Instead of a woman wearing minimal clothing waving a checkered flag, we get this depressed guy who cues the start of the race.

sweden snow 3

The Techbike is very small and light. You could probably pick up speed rather quickly.

sweden snow 4

This track does not mess around.

– Nat says it was icy, sharp turns, and very fast. Brakes are viewed as useless according to Kat.

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Kat really loves the outside lane.

sweden kat chang 4

TOO FAR OUTSIDE, KAT! I haven’t seen somebody break a protective barrier like that since the fight in Bridget Jones’s Diary where Hugh Grant and Colin Firth break through the glass while It’s Raining Men is playing.

This isn’t American Gladiators where you can run through walls and expect to be fine.

sweden nat strand

Nat keeps going. Oblivious to what happened.

sweden nat strand 2

Hum-dee-dum-dum-dum. What a breeze.

sweden vadar

Why do we need the vader and snow info?

sweden vader 2

I didn’t even know there was in-depth information about Vader in northern Sweden.

– Nat clues in something is wrong, and Kat is missing.

sweden nat strand 3

“This wasn’t a Roadblock? Uh oh.”

– A member of the safety crew attends to Kat. He asks the biggest ‘duh’ question ever.

sweden kat chang 5

KAT: YES!

She’s got ninety-nine problems, and redundant questions are just one. The other ninety-eight represent potentially broken bones in her arms and legs.

– Gary & Mallory are next to run the course. I assume Kat is being treated off course.

sweden gary mallory ervin 4

I find it funny how “1st attempt” has to be added on screen to indicate more crashes are to come.

MALLORY: Whoa! Whoa! Oh my gosh!

sweden mallory ervin 11

Holy crap, Mallory. You hit any sort of bump and your body will be sent flying.

– Kat crosses the finish line in 3:36. She informs Nat of the crash. Brook & Claire see the chair lift, and begin their ascent.

– Gary finishes before Mallory. Mallory is done at 1:58. They celebrate thinking the clue is theirs.

sweden mallory ervin 12

“Yeah!”

sweden time

The Swedes are buzzkills. It turns out you have to BEAT one minute and fifty-eight seconds.

sweden mallory ervin 13

This is the closest I have seen Mallory to tackling another person on The Amazing Race.

– The Jumbas are nearly done pitching their tent.

KEVJUMBA: The hard part was getting the tent up.

Isn’t that pretty much the only part, Kevin?

KEVJUMBA: My legs are so frost-bitten. I’m wearing ankle socks.

If you choose to wear soccer shorts AND ankle socks in the arctic circle, you only have yourself to blame.

sweden michael wu 9

The Samis love a healthy orange glow in their tents.

– Kat completes the task on the second try. Nat reads they must drive themselves across the frigid landscape to the Norweigan Border–a proverbial line in the snow.

sweden border

Unlike other border clashes in the world, this is land that NOBODY wants. They would fight just to assign it to their enemy. Sweden must have won this battle.

sweden phil keoghan 5

The only place Phil would find lamer than this to finish a leg would be some really lame and common urban location. . .like a parking space.

– Kat drives as Nat supplies her with directions. Gary & Mallory and Brook & Claire are running the course simultaneously.

sweden snow 5

This could be dangerous.

GARY: Ride like hell.

Yes Gary, you badass.

sweden brook roberts 5

Brook trying her best to brake. It ain’t gonna happen.

– Brook cannot be happier to recap this fast-paced experience for the viewers at home.

sweden brook claire 14

sweden brook claire 15

graig merritt

I think those are the same motions the driver made before hitting Graig.

– Brook typically keeps her composure during confessionals, but she is wound up telling this story that you can barely make out a word she says.

sweden brook claire 16

If there is one thing to take away: This is who you’re dealing with if you go out on the track. Bammer’s gonna gun you down, bitches.

– Brook clears it in 1:35; Claire completes it in 1:43. The Ervins are done around 1:24.

BROOK: That was so fun. It was STELLAR!

sweden brook claire 18

sweden brook claire 17

We call this the Arctic Celebration Thrust!

– Connor & Jonathan and Chad & Stephanie are fifth and sixth to the Detour. Chad wants to do Sleds because he believes both of them will complete it on the first try.

CHAD: I was pumped when I read our choices.
STEPHANIE: I was not. I haven’t even ridden a snowmobile or anything like that before, but I know Chad really likes being on the mountains so I really tried to hack it for him.

sweden stephanie smith 2

And yet all of the signs were there that Stephanie would probably prefer to do the other Detour option. Poor oblivious Chad. Dude just wants to catch those jumps and fly through the tight corners.

– Nat & Kat are at the border. They exit their vehicle and run to the mat.

sweden pit stop greeter

Because we are now in Norway, I assume every local we encounter has an Olympic medal from the Winter Games.

sweden phil keoghan 6

Phil pauses longer than normal. He has never seen two different all-female team first at the mat this early in the race. Ever.

sweden nat kat 8

They are expecting to be team number two due to not knowing of the Jumba’s issues with the Beds task.

FIRST PLACE: NAT & KAT

– Phil informs them they have won a prize. What better reminder of warmer weather than telling them they have won a trip for two to Belize. Five freakin’ nights.

sweden nat kat 9

I would say they are content with that prize. My guess would be their reaction would be  mild if it was just breakfast in bed.

KAT: We are a team to be reckoned with. We want to be the first women to win The Amazing Race.
NAT: If we can just stay focused and play our own game, we’ll be happy.

zabrina joe jer win

“F–k you, Nat & Kat! Asia counts!”

– Katie & Rachel and Nick & Vicki are seventh and eighth to the train station. Both teams do Sleds.

– The Jumbas tend to the fire inside of their tent.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 16

Neither of them are even searching for a hidden immunity idol.

sweden kevjumba michael wu 17

There we go.

– Their home is checked out by the Sami people. It is appwuved. KevJumba has the creepiest ‘thank you’ in TAR history.

sweden clue 2

Geez Kevin, we are well past the ‘Once Upon a Time’ game. You don’t need to play the role of axe murderer!

sweden kevjumba michael wu 18

The only reason the hug is this tight is because the Jumbas are extremely cold.

sweden clue 3

– In Sweden, if women wear the same outfits, nobody finds this odd as the women can lead typical and healthy lifestyles.

unbreakable kimmy

In North America, if women wear the same outfits,  it is presumed that they are Sister Wives.

– Brook & Claire and Gary & Mallory run to the mat.

SECOND PLACE: GARY & MALLORY

THIRD PLACE: BROOK & CLAIRE

sweden pit stop

This is the third leg in four rounds that Brook & Claire checked into the mat simultaneously with another team.

This is the second leg in four rounds that Gary & Mallory have accomplished this feat.

Are they afraid of being alone?

sweden group

In any case, Gary Ervin becomes the recipient of kiss number seven.

– Jill & Thomas are last to the Detour.

THOMAS: Dude, we could easily bypass this and kill everybody.

Except for three out of seven teams.

– Connor & Jonathan are at the first corner. Connor tries to coach Jonny how to brake, but struggles. You know what makes it worse?

sweden connor jonathan 7

Connor crashes first.

sweden connor jonathan 8

Jonathan goes down.

sweden connor jonathan 9

Then Jonny again.

sweden connor jonathan 10

This is just sad.

– Stephanie is at the top of the hill, and warned this is a fast track. She is already nervous upon hearing this news.

STEPHANIE: Don’t tell me that.

If only the safety instructor would have lied to you.

INSTRUCTOR: You ready to go?
CHAD: Yep.
STEPHANIE: Nope.
WHAT I WISH THE INSTRUCTOR REPLIED: It’s two against one! Go!

STEPHANIE: I’ve never been more scared. Honestly. In my entire life.

Honestly, you are an exaggerator.

– Stephanie makes Chad go first.

sweden instructor

The instructor is pumped to see somebody attempt this course despite being petrified.

– Stephanie says she was shaking from head to toe the second the task began. She picks up speed and is about to bump into Chad.

sweden chad stephanie 3

Please let there be one of those cartoon puff clouds when the two TechBikes crash.

sweden chad stephanie 4

Luckily Steph bails. Let’s see how she does when she gets back on just seconds later.

sweden stephanie smith 3

Impromptu Nap Time!

– Chad stops to see if Stephanie is okay. She says she cannot brake. Chad wants her to try harder.

sweden chad waltrip

Newly non-dating.

– Connor & Jonathan miss the target time. They must go again. Katie & Rachel and Nick & Vicki are next to the Sleds. Stephanie crashes again.

CHAD: Ridiculous. It’s not that bad. She’s freaking letting her head get to herself. (sees other teams and channels Will Ferrell) STEPHANIE! LET’S GO! THERE’S TWO OTHER TEAMS HERE NOW! LET’S GO!

sweden chad waltrip 2

I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!

– Jill & Thomas are alone at the Beds task. Meanwhile, Chad is annoyed about losing his lead. Thomas sees the task and thinks it could take a while. Jill suggests to use the Express Pass. Stephanie completes the course, but probably finished waaaay overtime. She claims to be done.

– Jill & Thomas make it official.

sweden jill thomas 7

In its debut, the Express Pass has a rare occasion of impacting the race. Jill & Thomas were essentially dead if they did not use it.

sweden express pass

Over the next five years, this Express Pass will be passed down from generation to generation of the Sami people.

– Thomas reads the pit stop clue. Jill proclaims they would have been done, and that they played it smart. Suddenly they are in fifth. We cut back to Chad & Stephanie.

– STEPHANIE: I mean did you see me fall? I had literally the whole thing laying on top of me.
CHAD: So you don’t want to try again?
STEPHANIE: Sorry I can’t. It scared the s–t out of me. I crashed three times. It landed on top of me, and nearly went over the entire gate. I’m sorry.
finale adrian yap 5

Adrian can relate.

sweden chad stephanie 5

Chad ain’t having any of this.

– Commercial. We resume. Chad calls for Stephanie to move with him and give up. To the other task they go. Steph cries and shivers on the way down.

– Jumbas finish the leg.

FOURTH PLACE: KEVIN & MICHAEL

sweden kevjumba michael wu 19

You can tell they will not have a big storyline when their recovery from the NEL is not a story at the mat chat.

– Connor finishes the Detour within the time limit. All he needs is Jonathan.

sweden jonathan schwartz 3

That’s not how you ride a board!

bobby hlad

Who is he? Bobby from Big Brother Canada 3?

JONATHAN: Saying that Connor is better at the sledding than I am is a gross understatement. . .I was scared that I was going to really hurt myself.

sweden jonathan schwartz 4

sweden jonathan schwartz 5

Too late.

JONATHAN: The protection wasn’t good enough for me because I was going over it every time. So I thought I’d end up in Norway.

sweden connor jonathan 11

What do you think the fence is there for, Jonny? Those who suck and cannot survive the TechBikes are ejected into Norwegian borders. Forever shamed by their lack of handling abilities on the track.

– Jonathan crosses the finish line just shy of three minutes.

sweden jonathan schwartz 6

sweden jonathan schwartz 7

He can’t even cross the finish line.

JONATHAN: Dude, my ankle is broken.

– Chad & Stephanie are at the tents.

CHAD: This is going to be a bitch. We have to hustle, Stephanie.

The dog-sledding Roadblock is over.

STEPHANIE: I’m sorry, Chad.
CHAD: I was in the boy scouts, thank god.

Yes. Chad is here to rescue us all.

– Nick & Vicki get their only confessional of the episode. Vicki says they are more physical than mental (no kidding Miss England, London) and how they love to snowboard as well as motorbike.

– They succeed at this task, and finish it easily.

sweden nick vicki 3

Trust me, Nick & Vicki are not gong to be invisible for the rest of the season. We’ll see more of them soon enough.

– Nick & Vicki are finished in sixth. Connor & Jonathan are in the chair lifts, but look down below to see Nick & Vicki receiving their clue.

– Katie & Rachel make their first attempt at the sleds. Are they doing better than Connor & Jonathan?

sweden rachel johnston 5

She does the splits on the fence!

sweden katie seamon

It’s like she is doing the TAR 4 Roadblock where you get dragged by bulls, but here it has been replaced by a TechBike.

– We briefly cut back to Connor & Jonathan.

sweden connor jonathan 12

Oh no!

sweden connor jonathan 13

sydney sunaina guila 5

And you thought Sunaina had it rough during TAR Asia 4.

– KATIE: I hate flying down mountains on ice at fast speeds.

sweden katie rachel 3

Huh. Who knew someone would hate putting their life in peril?

– Katie goes down the mountain when all of a sudden. . .

sweden katie rachel 4

sweden katie rachel 5

switzerland margie 5

The TechBike has turned into a wheel of cheese from TAR 14.

– Jonathan keeps ordering his bike to brake. It goes over a few bumps.

JONATHAN: The bike and I weren’t agreeing, and it was becoming truly painful.

sweden jonathan schwartz 8

And it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

– Connor & Jonathan complete another lap. Did their time to improve?

sweden time 2

Not quite.

FIFTH PLACE: JILL & THOMAS

Okay. Even if they had not used their Express Pass, Jill & Thomas definitely would have survived this round.

– Katie & Rachel join Chad & Stephanie at Beds. Stephanie points out their presence. Chad is cheering. They are nearly done the task. Chad wants Steph to build the bed as he makes fire.

SIXTH PLACE: NICK & VICKI

– Connor & Jonathan stumble on their way to the Beds task. The other two teams are stunned.

sweden rachel johnston 6

RACHEL: Hopefully they’re not freakin boy scouts or something.

sweden connor diemand-yauman 5

I don’t think you have to worry about that.

– Jonathan is thrilled to see the other two teams there because it means they still have a chance.

. . .But they were there before you.

– Chad & Stephanie ask for a check.

sweden task

sweden task 2

Suspense is killing them.

sweden chad stephanie 6

If Chad read Stephanie from the start of the Detour, they could have been in a much better position. Thankfully Steph got her way.

STEPHANIE: Sorry for disappointing you.
CHAD: You didn’t disappoint me.

Chad’s response may be different if they were in last.

– Katie & Rachel put the last touch on their tent.

sweden match

Why is there a kid on the matchbox? Dangerous marketing.

Oh, by the way, the judge comes up with the lamest pun possible.

sweden match 2

Right after the MATCH is lit? Are you kidding me?

– Connor & Jonathan are fast with getting their tent up after Katie & Rachel’s rejection.

– Chad & Stephanie step onto the mat.

sweden chad stephanie 7

Why is Chad still transporting that stupid ice block with the clue on it?

sweden chad stephanie 8

We call this an icebreaker.

SEVENTH PLACE: CHAD & STEPHANIE

– They receive an extended confessional. Phil is surprised by Steph’s good spirits. Chad regrets pushing Stephanie too hard (not in a Jonathan Baker way).

– Katie & Rachel and Connor & Jonathan scramble on decorating the interior. Katie explains why they will get it done faster.

sweden katie rachel 6

She has a point. It might be a draw when it comes to TechBiking, but Katie & Rachel have ALL of the tools when it comes to other tasks.

ghana tractor 2

And isn’t this the same team Katie & Rachel were allied with just two rounds ago?

– Katie & Rachel are judged once more.

sweden lady

This lady sure loves tents.

sweden connor jonathan 14

They’re just digging themselves a bigger hole.

sweden jonathan schwartz 9

And. . .whatever else they’re trying to do.

– Connor & Jonathan are done. Both teams are driving to the pit stop. Rachel totally thought she was screwed until Connor & Jonathan switched.

– Pointless suspense being built. Don’t give up. Anything can happen. Blah blah blah.

sweden car

sweden car 2

What is this supposed to be an advertisement for?

RACHEL: Oh my god is this it?!
KATIE. OH. MY. GOD.

sweden katie seamon 2

“Oh my god I can’t even handle!”

– So who will be spared by Keoghan?

sweden katie rachel 7

Were late arrivals supposed to bring ice to the pit stop?

– Katie & Rachel gently set down the block of ice.

sweden katie rachel 8

Hopefully they do not get too excited when they are told they are safe because otherwise somebody is going to slip and fall on that ice.

PHIL: By the skin of your teeth, Katie & Rachel, you’re still in the race.

sweden katie rachel 9

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ELIMINATING THE GREATEST TEAM EVER: CONNOR & JONATHAN!!! YOU ARE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE EVIL WOMEN!!!!!!!!

– Connor & Jonathan arrive. They slowly walk onto the mat.

CONNOR & JONATHAN: Bum-bumbumbum-buuuuum. Buum. BUM!

sweden connor jonathan 15

sweden phil keoghan 7

wtf?

CONNOR & JONATHAN: BUM-bum-bum-bum.
JONATHAN: I messed that up.

sweden connor jonathan 16

I guess no need for the TAR farewell piano music. Connor & Jonathan supplied their own vocals.

sweden connor jonathan 17

Now they must hang their heads in shame.

– The greeter pronounces the location in a funny way.

GREETER: Welcome to Rick’s Grandson Lump Lund.

sweden pit stop greeter 2

Is she Rick’s grandmother? I am confused.

– Phil breaks the news to them.

LAST PLACE: CONNOR & JONATHAN

From first to last.

JONATHAN: Yeah, we figured.

Hey, Phil’s just doing his job.

– Connor says they graduated from Princeton today, and also graduated from The Amazing Race today.

Usually finishing dead last at a task typically gets you thrown out of most universities, but okay.

sweden connor jonathan 18

You know what would be cruel? If Phil wiped the smiles off their faces by informing them they could watch a live stream of their graduation, and even watch the afterparty crap where they can see their peers getting wasted as they enjoy free booze.

– Oh. They have their own ceremony.

sweden connor jonathan 19

sweden connor jonathan 20

sweden connor jonathan 21

sweden connor jonathan 22

Look at the hats go.

CONNOR & JONATHAN: Through maaany Detours, Roadblocks, and legs, we are the last team to arriiiive.

sweden connor jonathan 23

Aaaaand scene. They could not be sent to Elimination Station in Mexico fast enough. Luckily there will be no more teams on The Amazing Race who have a constant habit of singing.

caroline jennifer

Sheeeeeeeeeeeit.

P.S. We went through an entire Sweden leg without encountering any hay bales. Hooray! Score one for production!

Next Time on TAR: Nat & Kat celebrate Christmas Norwegian style. And Claire is left hanging.

NUMBER OF EPISODES A TEAM HAS BEEN MENTIONED IN THE ‘NEXT TIME ON’ SEGMENT

BROOK & CLAIRE 1
NAT & KAT 1
NICK & VICKI 1
KEVIN & MICHAEL 1

CONFESSIONAL COUNT

BROOK ROBERTS.CLAIRE CHAMPLIN 4.4
CHAD WALTRIP.STEPHANIE SMITH 3.6
KATIE SEAMON.RACHEL JOHNSTON 2.3
CONNOR DIEMAND-YAUMAN.JONATHAN SCHWARTZ 6.7
NAT STRAND.KAT CHANG 4.3
KEVIN WU.MICHAEL WU 4.3
NICK DECARLO.VICKI CASCIOLA 0.1
JILL HANEY.THOMAS WOLFARD 0.2
GARY ERVIN.MALLORY ERVIN 1.3

Team Averages

Below is a list of all teams from seasons I have blogged to date, ranked by racing average.

e.g. Don & Mary Jean finished 9th, 8th, 8th, 8th, and 8th. Add up the numbers and divide it by the number of legs they have played

Therefore their average is 8.2.

Because the list of teams has become too long, I have shortened it to give you an idea of where Connor & Jonathan fall.
–C minus–
4th Meredith & Gretchen 5.36 Saved by NEL twice TAR 7
7th Monica & Sheree 5.33 FF TAR 4
7th Marshall & Lance 5.33 TAR 5
9th Monique & Shawne 5.33 TAR 16. Praise Jesus.
9th Debbie & Bianca 5.33 TAR 7
7th Gus & Hera 5.29 TAR 6
6th Joe & Bill All Stars 5.25 Saved by NEL once TAR 11
8th Bob & Joyce 5.25 TAR 5
8th Lorena & Jason 5.25 U-Turned TAR 12
5th Mark & Michael 5.22 Saved by NEL once but came up just short TAR 14
3rd Andrew & Dan 5.18 Saved by NEL once TAR 13
7th Silver & Gold/ Wil & Grace 5.17 TAR 3
6th Kelly & Christy 5.14 TAR 13
7th Ray & Deana 5.0 FF TAR 7
7th Melody & Sharon 5.0. Screwed over by weird penalty for another team. TAR Asia 1
9th Steve & Josh 5.0  FF TAR 4
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0  FF TAR 1
9th Mark & Bill 5.0  Wah. TAR 13
5th Fran & Barry 4.89 TAR 9
6th Howard & Sahran 4.88 TAR Asia 1
–C + —
3rd Lyn & Karlyn 4.85 – Yielded TAR 10
7th Ivan & Hilda 4.83 TAR Asia 4
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF and saved by NEL once TAR 3
6th Mai & Oliver 4.8 In a car TAR Asia 3
7th Teri & Ian All Stars 4.83 TAR 11
7th Schroeder Family 4.75 TAR 8
9th Connor & Jonathan 4.75 TAR 17
6th Lake & Michelle 4.71 – Used Yield TAR 9
6th Brian & Greg 4.71 TAR 7
5th Erwin & Godwin 4.70 TAR 10
3rd Adam & Rebecca 4.69 FF and Used Yield and Yielded, saved by NEL once TAR 6
9th Duke & Lauren 4.67 TAR 10
3rd Hussein & Natasha Saved by 4.64 NEL once TAR Asia 4
5th Lori & Bolo 4.6 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 6
2nd Teri & Ian 4.53 – FF TAR 3
8th Kris & Jo–er, Amanda 4.50 U-Turned TAR 14
5th Paula & Natasha 4.45 saved by NEL once TAR Asia 2
4th Louie & Michael 4.36 saved by NEL once, used U-Turn. & trained wolf cubs TAR 16
5th Uchenna & Joyce All Stars 4.33 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 11
8th Joe & Heidi 4.40 – Blind U-Turned with Injured Knee; TAR 16
1st Dan & Jordan 4.33 – FF once TAR 16
3rd Brent & Caite 4.33 – Used U-Turn TAR 16
4th Jess & Lani 4.3 TAR Asia 4
4th Kisha & Jen 4.27 Saved by NEL once, U-Turned once TAR 14
3rd Brian & Ericka 4.25 saved by NEL once TAR 15
8th Shola & Doyin 4.25 – FF TAR 2
–B minus–
3rd Ray & Yolanda 4.23 saved by NEL once TAR 9
5th Gary & Matt 4.22 saved by NEL once and c—blocked once in Saunabuss TAR 15
3rd Nicolas & Donald 4.18 FF and U-Turned TAR 12
4th Linda & Karen 4.17 Saved by NEL once TAR 5
3rd Charla & Mirna All Stars 4.15 TAR 11
6th Mary & Peach 4.14 (Two failed FF attempts.) TAR 2
5th Paolo Family 4.13 FF and Used Yield TAR 8
5th Lynn & Alex 4.11 TAR 7
5th Andy & Laura 4.00 – Yielded TAR Asia 1
5th Carol & Brandy 4.00 – U-Turned. May or May Not Be Mean. TAR 16
3rd David & Jeff 4.00 – FF, saved by NEL, grew goatees TAR 4
4th Oswald & Danny 4.00 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 2

Rank the Teams

1) Connor & Jonathan

Fine. I liked Connor & Jonathan. But c’mon, they were such easy targets.

A sympathetic nerdy all-male team is bound to be a magnet for casual fandom. If you know anything about people like me in the reality TV community, we always have fun finding ways to indirectly annoy that particular fan base. They fall for it every time.
 
But seriously, Connor & Jonathan are in that semi-exclusive club of finishing first in an early leg by a large margin, and follow it up with a brutal elimination in the next leg. The club which originated from the days of TAR 4 and TAR 5 with Amanda & Chris and Alison & Donny.

They definitely had unique personalities. It was odd for them to have a storyline like The Sandlot where it was the last summer of their childhood (or in this case their last summer of being students together). No other team has really had that experience before.

Just for the record, I do not think Connor & Jonathan are desperate virgins. It was just funny to see how frequently they hung around the other all-female teams throughout the race. I can assure you their a capella skills was not exactly the best musical genre to woo the other all-female teams, anyway.

I am glad the edtiors did not show every a capella rendition of events that occurred on the race. A couple clips each episode is all that was needed, and considering they were eliminated by round four, it was the correct dosage.

They were also decent narrators and could hold their own in confessionals. Plus Jonathan was great riding a TechBike, and both did well at African geography.

I am glad that Connor & Jonathan were ultimately cast. They gave me plenty of material to work with for this blog, and that’s all I can really ask.

P.S. Why did Connor complete all four Roadblocks? Jonny did not participate in a single one. Even Stephanie did a Roadblock by the end of the fourth round.

2) Andie & Jenna

This was probably the most emotional pairing in TAR history. TAR 17 was the first time that Andie & Jenna truly had the opportunity to spend time with each other. They re-connected for the first time Andie put Jenna up for adoption. It was neat to see them learn about each other during their short time on the race, and see a family relationship build from square one on the race.

I cannot emphasize this enough: This is acceptable while the stupid romance blind date twist on TAR 26 is not (I wish Phil would reveal at the end of TAR 26 that the blind date couples are actually siblings separated at birth).

Did Andie & Jenna have a chance to go further than three legs in the race? Absolutely not. Andie sucked at driving, they were too passive with directions, gave up their own money easily, and had a far more important goal.

Does that mean they are bad people or undeserving for being cast on TAR? No.

That’s a balance you always need to have in every cast. You need at least eight teams who are truly competitive, but also two or three teams who are going to be entertaining television or grateful for the experience of being on TAR.

In other words, the exact opposite of how TAR 15 was cast.

I like that this casting was not too gimmicky. Perhaps they would have survived the second round if there was a Billiards Roadblock for Andie.

Not much else to say about Andie & Jenna. I liked them overall, and glad to see they enjoyed the experience more than most teams do. Yeah, they are terrible racers but that is fine by me.

3) Ron & Tony

Oh, Ron & Tony. Ron could run fast out of the gate, and they had the advantage of landing in the country of London more than twenty minutes before everyone else.

They could have been three hours ahead of everyone and still be in last. This may be one of the worst opening round performances I have seen by any team. Perhaps Meredith & Maria being lost for more than three hours on a single road in Iceland is the only other feat that out-stinks this one.

This team appeared to be ideal to go far into the race. They are alpha males with a good education. Especially when they made it to the airport faster than nearly everyone else.

Unlike Meredith & Maria, Ron & Tony did not have the luxury of being saved by a mid-leg equalizer in London. In fact, this might be the start of the trend where TAR opts to not have the “first 3 teams check out early next morning, next 3 teams depart 30 minutes later, and the last 5 teams depart one hour later”.

Ron & Tony were shown stopping a ridiculous number of times, and they probably sensed how far behind they were because they had not seen a team all day long. The freakin’ guy at the Stonehenge outright told them “lots and lots and lots of teams have come through”. Heck, I think TAR 25’s cast came into London before Ron & Tony found their way.

Ron did in fact complete the watermelon challenge (he did it in three shots), but was not shown on TV. Their total time spent in the car was eight hours. It is unclear whether they did in fact skip traveling by boat to the Roadblock.

I am curious how Ron & Tony’s edit would have played out if they made a deeper run. Personally I think they would have had a one-dimensional fan favourite edit, but alas, they instead must suffer the embarrassment of losing to a team who thinks London is a country after spending a full day there.

I am waiting for Tony to release a video game called Tony Fu, and play the role of a genie in a children’s film.

P.S. Sorry Ron. You are going to be the only player in this whole season who does not receive a direct comparison to a celebrity. Even Tony received a celebrity counterpart. Sorry.

Rank the Legs

1) Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA -> England, United Kingdom, London (according to Nick Decarlo)

What a great premiere. Rarely a dull moment and perhaps a contender for one of the funniest openers ever.

This is perhaps the most famous episode in TAR history simply because of Claire being hit in the face with a watermelon.

Let me correct that statement: It is the episode that holds the most recognizable clip in TAR history.

I can back this up. You see, I recently finished spending 17 years going through school. Elementary school, high school, and university. While in elementary school, nearly everyone I knew watched Survivor and/or TAR.

High school in 2004-2009? The popularity dropped significantly. Teachers participated in a fantasy pool, and classmates Anita and Jordan spoke to me about Survivor: Gabon at the time.

University in 2009-2013? Yeah. I heard one woman talk about it on the bus in 2011, and my linguistics professor brought up Soo Hawk during my final year. Lastly, my friend Jake said “look, they are going to Nicaragua. Too bad it is all staged inside of a studio” when Nicaragua was announced.

There was one other exception in the past five years.

When the watermelon clip was pushed to being viral, my friend Jered posted it online. I know Jered well from high school–I can assure you he could not care less about competitive reality TV.

Well, two more years went by and he re-posted the clip. He, Doug, and Clint talked about it and thought it was one of the funniest things they have ever seen. Again, NONE of them watch this genre of television. My jaw dropped to see them engaging in a conversation that related to Survivor or TAR.

I can guarantee you they have not seen any other clips in the past six or seven years. Thus, I can safely conclude that Claire getting hit in the face with a watermelon is TAR’s only true viral claim to fame. TAR 26 starts airing next week, and with the current numbers of only five million Americans following the series, it is fair to state that TAR has not achieved recognition anywhere remotely close to the watermelon incident since then.

For those who bothered to watch the full episode, we got to see sinking boats, the start of robotic Jill, a creative starting line that is not Los Angeles or New York, and a self-drive leg to open up the season.

Watching teams struggle with a stick shift or basic geography is a favourite past time of mine.

This opening round leaves almost nothing to be desired.

2) London, England -> Accra, Ghana

The second round has a tendency to be forgettable in TAR.

That is not the case here. An amazing premiere was met by a near equally amazing second round.

Selling sunglasses and interacting with locals is a type of task I always love. The task is what TAR is all about. You do something culturally that people would not normally associate with a given city, but be forced to interact with the locals as well. So many hilarious moments. How many deals did I individually show you that made you laugh out loud? Quite a few, right? Chad’s lengthy deal-making, the dancing lady, the man buying two hundred sunglasses, and the lady who was knocked down by cardboard.

The Detour was unique. Seventeen seasons and we get ideas that are not only fresh, but also very suitable for the race. Transporting coffins that resemble an individual’s personality? Being forced to set up a television with an antenna until you get a clear picture? This was fantastic.

Let’s add in the fact that this leg was in West Africa. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the final season to feature a West African nation (I am currently tweeting Elise and Bertram to see if ebola has prevented the possibility of a return in the near future).

I always love it when TAR travels to West Africa nations, and Ghana has been no exception. The culture shock of congested streets and markets, third world poverty, but also its beauty, is what makes it fun to see Americans try to navigate through this region of the world.

Oh, and this round deserves some points for Brook & Claire winning this leg, and for making Connor & Jonathan scared for the whole day. Two of my favourite past times.

P.S. Can’t forget the taxi driver who was K-G’ing It!

3) Accra, Ghana -> Riksgransen, Sweden-Norway Border

Correct. It is Riksgransen rather than Rick’s Grandson.

I liked the airport scramble at the start of the leg. An aspect of TAR that will continue to fade in future seasons. In fact, it will fade to the point that when it does show up, viewers will see this as an -unfair- aspect of TAR.

I know. Crazy turn of events, eh?

From Ghana to the Arctic Circle for the first time? TAR 17 really did wonderful things for the start of this season. It was also the first trip to Sweden that I enjoyed watching unfold on TAR. Can I say it again? NO. HAY BALES.

The clue carved into ice like it was the TAR Asia 2 Japan Roadblock, the Detour of pitching a complex tent or get yourself killed in a TechBike, and the dog-sledding Roadblock were all great tasks.

Yeah, the Speed Bump of sitting on ice chairs was dumb, but I can be content with that if it is the worst task of the round.

A surprising amount of airtime awarded to Chad & Stephanie this round.

The Express Pass came out to play for the first time in the US version of TAR. It turned out to be inconsequential, but since Jill & Thomas were in dead last at the time, the move to use the item appeared to be the difference for that leg. In other words, the introduction of the Express Pass ultimately made zero difference.

If there is one thing to take away from this round, it is dogs pulling sleds and the hilarious crashes. Sure, Jonathan broke a few bones but it’s Jonathan. If he can live with this blog, he can live with those injuries sustained during each crash.

Also, please let Nick wear his bandana in inappropriate climates. I wonder if he has ten grey bandanas stuffed into his backpack.

And it was the right time for Connor & Jonathan to go. They had a solid four round run.

Lastly, it was creative to have the pit stop located on the border.

4) Accra, Ghana -> Accra, Ghana

The end of this round concluded with the news that teams would not be racing on the following day. Instead, they would stay at the pit stop and help renovate the rural elementary school.

This makes perfect sense given that this leg took about two to five hours for most teams to complete. I assume the charitable day for production meant they had to condense one of the rounds, and this must have been the leg where they did that.

Sure, teams traveled an awfully short distance (a boxing academy and the local school were the only two locations for this leg), but at least they crammed in a ton of tasks.

The boxing Roadblock, the geography lesson, the Bicycle Parts Detour, the wheelbarrows, and finding the pit stop were all quick tasks, but hey, at least producers did not try to get away with just two tasks this round. They had enough footage to create a one hour episode.

It’s too bad that teams were not forced to take a public form of transportation in West Africa. This typically leads to great local interactions, and old American grandpas dancing with Latin American sisters.

After seventeen US seasons and four Asian seasons, we get tired of the typical “they have so little yet we have so much, omg aren’t we so lucky” confessional to the point it is a cliche. I feel conflicted because it is probably a very honest reaction from the racers, but editors are practically on auto-pilot when they edit that scene.

I wish the boxing Roadblock was more intense. The only person who lost time for reasons other than showing off was KevJumba with his hand wraps. We really needed a tougher task here. Combat athletes are never supposed to have it that easy.

If there was any leg that deserved to be a non-elimination round, it was this leg. Not that I wanted the Jumbas to be saved, but because of how short the round was. It just didn’t have enough to be considered a well-rounded leg.

The cast all played their part to make up for the round’s shortcomings. Drawing chalk around children, missing a HUGE decoder staring them in the face, Eye of the Connor, Brook & Claire being Brook & Claire, Nick & Vicki’s geography class experience, and Nick’s supportive attitude being shown once his girlfriend nearly died on the field.

You thought I would rank this round near the top, but NOPE!

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