The Amazing Race 17 episode five rankings

Fifth episode

“Tough Nuts and Mysteries”

COUNTRIES VISITED

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

Previously on TAR: Nine teams traveled from Ghana to the Swedish Lappland in the Arctic Circle. At the Roadblock, teams went to the dogs (or did it doggystyle) while father and son Michael & Kevin endured a frigid Speed Bump to stay in the race.

At the Detour, Ivy Leaguers Connor & Jonathan crashed. And newly dating couple Chad & Stephanie crashed. In the end, doctors Nat & Kat came in first.

And Connor & Jonathan went home on their college graduation day.

Eight teams remain; who will be dealt with mercilessly in this blog. . .next?

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

CHAD & STEPHANIE 3
BROOK & CLAIRE 2
KEVIN & MICHAEL 2
CONNOR & JONATHAN 2
RON & TONY 1
JILL & THOMAS 1
ANDIE & JENNA 1
NAT & KAT 1

– Intro time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Remember that time when the Express Pass was hyped up as being a huge twist at the start of the season, but wasn’t even mentioned in the ‘Previously On’ segment?

Maybe because the f–king Express Pass is typically useless and did not enhance the race whatsoever.

How the Express Pass has stayed alive in TAR over the next nine US seasons, two Canadian ones, and the last Aussie season is beyond me. I mean, better this than the “eliminate a team at the starting line” like in TAR 15, but still, I will never understand how the Express Pass is a permanent TAR twist.

– Phil introduces us to the Swedish Lapplands. Once again, he emphasizes it is located above the Arctic Circle. In summer, it is the land of the midnight sun. He repeats where Norway and Sweden meet in the snow is the pit stop for this leg of the race.

norway pit stop

Even if there is not any snow on the pit stop. Phil loves deceiving us.

– Nat & Kat, who were the first to arrive at an unspecified time, will depart first at 6:00am. Looks like there will not be any equalizers today, folks.

– Nat reads that teams must drive themselves across the border into Norway, and find the city of Narvik. Once here they must search for a gondola station. Then they must ride to the top of the mountain where they will find their next clue.

norway sign

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Including locations such as Hammerfest and Nordpolen. Nordpolen? What the hell is that?

Narvik: A city so bored that they took the time to create a sign that lists the distance to all of the major cities in northern Europe.

norway gondola

That is one isolated gondola station. You never have to worry about population density in Arctic cities.

norway gondola 2

Cars and gondolas–the two primary forms of transportation in Narvik.

– Kat has a good Scandinavian accent when she pronounces Narvik. They comment on the incredible view and their strong friendship. They describe themselves more as sisters than friends. How many cars are on the one-lane highway, anyway?

norway car

Yep. Just that tiny white dot in the middle of the road. Due to the magic of editing, that may not even be Nat & Kat’s car.

– Gary & Mallory depart at 6:04am. Mallory does some opera sound effect when she opens the clue.

MALLORY: Make a rush over the border! Yeah! Yeah yeah yeah!

You’re going to a place about an hour away, and looks the same as the frigid area you have experienced for the past day. Seriously. Neleh from Survivor: Marquesas could give Mallory a used mint, and Mallory would be excited over receiving it. Even if she witnessed Neleh removing it from her mouth.

norway gary mallory ervin

Mallory’s excitement is always genuine.

– Mallory explains that she is excited her dad can live out his dream of being on The Amazing Race. Supposedly he watches it every Sunday night.

Of course, this means Gary has only been watching since The Amazing Race 12 if I am not mistaken. If he were a true superfan, he would have also been watching during the earlier years on Wednesday nights.

norway gary mallory ervin 2

Gary’s other dream is to give as few confessionals as possible on The Amazing Race.

– Mallory uses the most stereotypical accent possible to pronounce the next route marker.

norway mallory ervin

Mallory tries her best.

norway gary ervin

Gary cringes.

– Brook & Claire depart third at 6:05am.

BROOK: I am the most hyper, energetic, dedicated, and passionate person probably anyone has ever met.

norway brook claire

“And Claire is like that too, but just slightly worse at every single one of those categories compared to me.”

What is Claire then besides being a former school teacher?

mac veronica mars

Well, she used to be a real computer geek when she attended Neptune High School as a teenager.

norway brook claire 2

Isn’t that right, Mac?

BROOK: She’s this calm storm and I am this CRAZY animal.

Well, at least Brook is slightly recovering from her earlier diss of Claire.

BROOK: I’m a little excited. So I am finding my Zen today.

norway brook roberts

Whatever you do, wait to implement your plan of Zen until you are finished driving on the road! You don’t want to veer off the road, crash into a lake, and freeze over in the Swedish Lapplunds. You truly will become an ice princess.

– Brook does a brief chant.

norway brook roberts 2

Put your hand on the damn steering wheel! And who seriously buys gloves that look like they were removed from the Pillsbury Doughboy’s corpse?

– KevJumba and his much more interesting father Michael depart fourth at 6:30am. Kev says he is still in college, but afterwards he will move out from home.

norway kevjumba michael wu

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Out onto the streets of Texas you go, KevJumba!

– Kevin says this is the last opportunity he has to live together with his dad. This also happens to be the only time viewers will have to live with Kevin on their television set.

MICHAEL: So this race is our last chance to sleep together, eat together, travel together. . . .

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Kevin knows the punchline is coming.

MICHAEL: . . .and pee together.

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Well, there goes the sentimental value of that moment. Try again in your next childhood, Kevin.

Michael pretty much plays the role of Christopher Lloyd in Malcolm in the Middle–Hal wants a meaningful relationship with his father, but it never happens. Although Michael tickles Kevin a lot less than Christopher Lloyd tickles Bryan Cranston.

– The Jumbas run into an early issue.

norway kevjumba

MICHAEL: I don’t have it.

norway michael wu

I am all too familiar with this quote due to working at a pharmacy.

– They search for the clue.

pocket

“Did you check your pocket?!”

norway michael wu 2

“Oh. It was in my pocket.”

– Jill & Thomas start fifth at 6:48am. Thomas states that when he was going to Notre Dame (this is becoming Thomas’ version of “this one time in band camp”), he always envisioned himself dating somebody who also went to college because those are the types of people he was always around.

norway thomas wolfard

“And quite frankly, I am not going to associate myself with some low-life uneducated blonde haired woman. Let’s be honest. It takes a real woman to appreciate my open chest hairs, unshowered hair, and peach fuzz.”

– Jill says going to a cosmetics school in Marina Del Ray while Thomas went to “SUCH a great school” has made her a bit self-conscious.

norway jill thomas

Thomas does not appreciate Jill’s sarcasm.

– Jill regrets not having the full post-secondary education, but wants to show Thomas that she can do things and be full force.

JILL: Have you been in many gondolas?
THOMAS: Yes, I’ve been in a lot of gondolas.

He even took Gondolas 132 course at Notre Dame–an entire course that covers its history, its components, and studying the various styles of gondolas. Their field trip? Riding gondolas all day in the mountains.

Why, Thomas even -lost his virginity- in a gondola.

– There is an awkward pause before we get a re-enactment of a scene from The Burbs. You know when the kid tells the story about those who go over the fence, and the kid ends the story by saying “they got eaten” before biting into an apple with a serious face?

Well, we have an awkward pause after Thomas’ gondola remark, and you’ll never guess what he does next.

1989:

the burbs apple

the burbs apple 2

2010:

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Mmmmm that’s good apple.

– Gary & Mallory and Brooke & Claire’s vehicles circle around each other as they discuss where the route marker could be. Claire thinks it is a big needle on top of a hill.

norway mallory ervin 2

Mallory meanwhile is overwhelmed.

norway needle

Somewhere over the needle. . .

– What makes this situation comedic is that they are discussing directions while both vehicles are driving around a roundabout. The only way they can communicate is if a vehicle is a quarter of a circle ahead of the other one.

norway brooke claire

“Should we just pull over and talk like normal people?”

norway car 2

Mallory says it best.

Both teams are lucky that Norwegian Arctic traffic is relatively dead on early mornings. Mallory suggests to Brook & Claire that they lead them to the needle. . .or just out of the dang roundabout, I assume.

The best part about this scene is hearing the tires constantly screech while both vehicles drive in repetitive circles.

– Nick & Vicki are next to depart at 7:11am in sixth place. The way Vicki tries to read the Scandinavian words reminds me of a second grader reading a short story in front of the class.

norway nick vicki

It’s alright, Vicki. Just sound it out.

VICKI: Norvikkolowhatevertheheck. ..phalgernussulfalame.

norway nick vicki 2

“Maybe I should try re-reading the clue again.”

norway funky

Yes, Nick you are absolutely right. Nobody screams out ‘funky’ more than Norwegians.

funky kong donkey kong country

“Try my viking barrel, bro!”

– Is Narvik known for anything besides its gondolas?

norway sign 3

According to its official sign, the answer is a clear ‘no’.

– By the way, the gondolas are called Narvikfjellet.

norway sign 4

See? I’m not making this up.

– Nat & Kat wait for the gondola. Kat is afraid of what could be waiting at the top.

– Chad & Stephanie commence in seventh at 8:12am.

norway chad stephanie

The ‘F’ on their hats stand for ‘F–k you Norway for making us start this leg in seventh’.

Or the ‘F’ is for Florida. One of two possibilities.

– Chad thinks if they can execute their plan flawlessly today they will jump up a few spots and “keep doing what they’re doing”.

Keep doing what they are doing means they will be seventh again. . .but Chad expects this to let them jump up a few spots? Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Phoenix Wright-esque contradiction.

– Katie & Rachel are bringing up the rear in dead last at 8:34am. Two hours and thirty-four minutes behind Nat & Kat. An unfortunate day to have without an equalizer in sight.

sweden connor katie rachel

Meanwhile, Connor & Jonathan wish Katie & Rachel were bringing up the chest rather than the rear.
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norway margie adams

Sigh. Margie. Enough.

– Katie & Rachel are shown running (maybe they took the clue too literally?). We see a pre-season interview being used as Katie & Rachel’s confessional for this round.

RACHEL: Katie and I are on this race to win. It’s Amazing Race. It’s a competition. This is not Amazing Friend, it’s Amazing Race. We will do what it takes to win.

norway rachel johnston 2

She don’t need your s–t. This is Rachel, bitches. What you see is what you get, and you ain’t getting no friend out of her! Byah!

KATIE: Amazing Friends. Amazing Friends.
RACHEL: We’re amazing friends.

norway katie rachel

norway katie rachel 2

Oh, you.

It shows you how editors view Katie & Rachel. They rarely get confessionals, but when they do it is a re-edited “I’m not here to make friends” confessional before the race even started.

Were Katie & Rachel simply too exhausted during each pit stop to give any worthy quotes that editors could integrate into the episode?

– Katie & Rachel pass by a statue on the road while driving. They debate whether it is a fisherman or a troll.

KATIE: Actually, it looks like you.

norway rachel johnston 3

norway rachel johnston 4

I see the resemblance.

RACHEL: . .He looks like the other teams.

What a comeback.

RACHEL (pre-season confessional): We will never give up. I always love a good comeback.

In other words, they are in last place. We get it, editors.

KATIE: I think the blonde one from Nat & Kat is terrified of heights, and can’t get on the gondola.
RACHEL: Hopefully.
KATIE: So I’m hoping she can’t go up this thing and hope has a panic attack.

norway katie seamon

norway rachel johnston 5

You guys are ridiculous. Nobody on The Amazing Race would quit over something like a fear of heights even if it is not a particularly dangerous task.

dubai mika canaan 32

Oh. Right.

– We cut to Nat & Kat preparing to enter the gondola. Kat tries to forcibly pull Nat into the gondola. Nat breaks the grip, runs away from the gondolas screaming, and quits the race.
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No. She goes straight in with Kat like a normal person. Until she starts breaking down, and Kat has to calm her down throughout the ride.

norway nat strand

“Riding gondolas was supposed to be fun!”

– We get a pre-season confessional from Nat & Kat where Nat states that  Kat has been given permission to push her off of the ledge if necessary.

KAT: And I will do that if it comes down to that.

norway nat kat

Gladly.

– Is Nat feeling any better as the ride has progressed?

norway nat kat 2

Nope. She looks like me when I worked at my first job, and was forced to retrieve boxes while on ten foot ladders. Needless to say my adrenalin was drained after each shift that I usually slept a minimum of ten hours per night that summer.

A job of standing on unsteady objects at great heights is my biggest fear, so I can definitely sympathize with Nat.

norway nat kat 3

You know you are a doctor when you test your blood as a way to distract yourself from a fear of heights.

I scratch that. Heights is not my biggest fear. Getting blood drawn from my body is much scarier for me. Nat is crazy.

– We see a series of Arctic stills taken by the B-Roll crew before Nat & Kat reach the top. Unfortunately Nat does not vomit at the top. This makes the trip a waste. They read the clue and. . .could it be. . .?

norway nat kat 4

Why, it’s a Fast Forward!

norway nat kat 5

This camera operator loves a good cinematic shot.

norway phil keoghan

Phil stands on the edge of his self-proclaimed Phjord to tell us all about it!

– In this Fast Forward, teams make their way to a restaurant where they must participate in a traditional Norwegian Christmas ritual.

norway sheep

And it involves whatever -this- is.

norway man

Not even this guy wants it.

– Turns out it is a sheep’s head. What do you do with a sheep’s head during Norwegian Christmas, anyway?

norway sheep 2

EAT the sheep’s head?

kazakhstan restaurant 2

kazakhstan menu 2

Better than making a vegetarian eat a sheep’s butt like with the TAR 13 Fast Forward, but still. My own vegetarian gag reflexes have come into play.

– Once each member has eaten half of the head, they will receive the Fast Forward award.

– I know I always criticize TAR for only having one or two Fast Forwards per season because all it means is that the first place team will go for it and extend their lead without needing to strategize unlike earlier seasons, but at least this time we get a rather difficult Fast Forward here. Not everyone will be willing to eat a sheep’s head, regardless of their position in the race.

norway fast forward

The other teams will be green with envy when they trail behind to see there is a Fast Forward clue.

If you look at the clue, you can see it specifies that up to four teams can compete simultaneously, but there is no hint as to what it is that teams will be eating other than “traditional Norwegian Christmas meal”.

– Nat is happy to know they can head back down to the bottom on the gondola, and also happy to see the clue for the Fast Forward.

norway nat strand 2

I have a feeling that smile will not last for long.

– Brook & Claire arrive at the gondola. They see Nat & Kat riding the gondola down, and are forced to wait.

norway brook claire 4

norway brook claire 3

What to do, what to do. . .
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And is that a Norwegian Sprite pop machine in the background? That’s right, folks. Norwegian Sprite.

– Brook & Claire and Nat & Kat discuss what’s at the top. Kat fails to mention the Fast Forward part, but informs them that the view is beautiful.

– Gary & Mallory miss Brook & Claire’s gondola by less than a minute. I thought they were following Brook & Claire?

MALLORY: Do we have to tell it to ‘come’ or something?

Mallory is going to name her next dog Gondola just to ensure she can achieve this in the future.

– Kevin & Michael catch up to Gary & Mallory. Gary congratulates them on their ability to catch up. The two teams ride on separate gondolas. Mallory does that adorable second grader laugh of hers while giving a thumbs up to Kevin & Michael. So awesome.

norway gary mallory ervin 3

norway kevin michael wu

MALLORY: They’re my best friends.

norway gary mallory ervin 4

Gary wants no part of this. He is rather antisocial. Is being in Norway really that miserable?

– Jill & Thomas park at the gondola. Thomas yells at them to start moving, but follows it up with blasting Jill for grabbing his raincoat.

norway jill thomas 2

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A raincoat on a cold and misty day in the Arctic Circle? What were you thinking, Jill?!

– Brook & Claire have the clue. They read the route info as opposed to the Fast Forward. Skjombrua Bridge is their next destination. That is where they shall find their next clue.

– Brook sums up what we have known about the Fast Forward for the past eleven seasons.

norway scenery

Pretty much.

– By the way, that is Gary & Mallory’s gondola approaching. It is moving slowly. Can Brook & Claire do anything to help?

norway brook claire 5

Pull the invisible rope, Brook!

norway gary mallory ervin 5

Mallory breaks out into her iconic laughter once more, and decides to reel Brook & Claire into the gondola with invisible fishing line.

– Gary & Mallory and KevJumba & Michael both read the clue. KevJumba asks Gary & Mallory if they are going for the Fast Forward. Gary initially says no. But Mallory re-reads the clue.

MALLORY: “Happy holidays”. . .”Christmas ritual”. . .I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!

Kentucky Fried Sheep’s Head to accompany an orange and Ferrero Rocher chocolates in the morning was Gary & Mallory’s Christmas breakfast, I assume.

– Oh. They are not even told it is an eating challenge. Just that it is a tradition. Nat asks if it will be an eating challenge.

KAT: I dear hope to god it’s not.

Then we receive the golden piece of information.

KAT: I am a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat in twenty-two years.

norway nat kat 6

If Kat is allowed to push Nat off of a ledge during a heights related task, does that mean Nat can open Kat’s mouth and shove meat down her throat during an eating challenge?

It’s funny that Terence and Kat are the only two vegetarians since TAR 12, and they happen to be the first team to show up to a meat eating Fast Forward in their respective seasons.

That’s just cruel.

– Nat is not sure if Kat will be able to get through food challenges, let alone ones that have meat in them.

norway nat strand 3

Nat possesses the most evil grin I have ever seen. Now it is Kat’s turn to let the tears flow!

– Jill & Thomas and Brook & Claire point each other out as their gondolas move in opposite directions. Jill says Brook & Claire are a strong team. Brook notes everyone is on their tail, and does a weird 1930s dancing frog motion.

norway brook claire 6

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“Hello my baby, hello my honey.”

– Jill & Thomas wave at Gary & Mallory through the window. Mallory responds with saying ‘uh oh’ like the ICQ sound when somebody signs online.

norway jill thomas 4

norway gary mallory ervin 6

Although I don’t think anyone had ICQ in 2010.

– Thomas mumbles the next route marker location when he picks up the clue.

– Gary & Mallory agree to follow Kevin & Michael to the bridge.

– Nat & Kat arrive outside of the Fast Forward location.

NAT: Hopefully we have little outfits that we can put on! I can’t wait to meet the Vikings.

norway viking

I hear they are a very exciting people.

– The “Viking” opens the door for Nat & Kat.

norway nat kat 7

“Hello! Merry Christmas!”

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NAT: Little music. Dim lighting. Very romantic.

What a cozy atmosphere.

norway plates

KAT: Uh oh. Plates. Silverware. Water.

Yes. Kat catches on quickly.

NAT: We know enough about the race that if there’s a little glass of water on the table. . it’s a bad sign.

norway nat kat 8

A very bad sign.

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Kat tells Nat to smile for the chef. He put tears, sweat, and some actual blood into this meal.

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“How far behind are Katie & Rachel?”

– The plate of sheep’s head is plopped onto the table. I love how the plate is sizzling.

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“This is a sheep’s head.”
swedish chef

“It is good for you!”

matilda entire confection

“You must eat the entire confection!”

– Nat & Kat recap once again that Kat has not eaten meat in twenty-two years. They decide to tear it into little pieces to disrupt the texture.

norway meat

Looking better already.

norway meat 2

Mmmmmm.

ethan zohn

“It looked so good I just wanted to rub my face in it!”

KAT: Tastes like money.

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She will have no problem being a vegetarian for another twenty-two years after this meal.

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Hilarious.

– We go to commercial break. Now we return to more of Kat’s misadventures.

– We are reminded that not only does Bobby from Big Brother Canada 3 have no blood on his hands, but also that Kat has been a vegetarian for twenty-two years.

KAT: This is something special.

No kidding.

– Kat describes it as having thick and slimy skin. She is not used to flavour being that strong.

norway nat kat 18

How dare you diss a beloved Viking delicacy!

– We cut back to a much more pleasant sight.

norway bridge

Somebody preparing to vomit indoors in a cab while eating a sheep’s head has a striking contrast to the beautiful outdoors of the Arctic on a somewhat pleasant summer day.

– Michael is excited in the vehicle and points out the sign and clue box to Kevin. Gary & Mallory are driving with them.

norway sign 5

If this were one of Kevin’s YouTube videos, that sign would read “Skjumbrua”.

norway kevjumba 2

KevJumba has the most evil grin on his face. He knows that not only is he currently in first, but he is also not suffering through eating a sheep’s head. Producers never told him that this was the Fast Forward, but somehow Kevin just -knows- this.

– It’s a Roadblock.

ROADBLOCK: Guts, strength and stamina–you’ll need all three.

– Now we get a very special Phil moment.

– In this Roadblock, teams must step off the deck of this bridge and repel to the water below.

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Phil is going to channel his inner Jon Montgomery and actually participate in an Amazing Race task?

– When they’re at the end of their rope, teams must signal for one of only two boats to bring them their clue. Once rigged to return, teams use a mechanical ascender to haul themselves up 130 feet back to the top of the bridge. This is where they may open their next clue.

linda pan
In other words, this is the Linda & Karen TAR 5 Memorial Switchback.

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Huh. I wonder if I should do it or the guy who nearly died guiding a bicycle hoop outdoors?

– KevJumba volunteers, and is immediately glad he chose to do this Roadblock upon reading what the task entails.

KEVJUMBA: I am glad I chose to do this task. No offense, Dad.
MICHAEL: Have fun Kevin, have fun!

norway michael wu 3

He’ll be more than happy to take a seat on the bench.

KEVJUMBA: The Roadblock said ‘Who has strength, stamina, and guts’? And my dad. . .
MICHAEL: I don’t have none.

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I like the instant hilarity ensues whenever Michael has to talk about himself. He just refuses to take anything seriously.

– Oh, and Gary is doing the Roadblock too.

– Claire sees the bridge and admits she is already peeing her pants. She takes over Michael Wu’s role for the first time since the starting line. Brook mimes a cross on her body while driving.

– Brook reads the clue.

BROOK: You’ve got this. Whatever comes next is me. Honey, read your instructions. You’ve so got this.

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“Run along now, girl. Do they even have watermelons in the Arctic Circle?”

– For some reason, Brook gets a burst of energy as she is excited for Claire.

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BROOK: Claire you’re gonna–
CLARE: You are such a little–
(Camera cuts to another team.)

– Mallory thinks the other players are brave as they are “marching off to war”.

norway mallory michael

You know who might be better at marching than Mallory?

russia dan 8

I never thought I would say this, but Dan may not be the worst person to march on The Amazing Race.

– Claire follows the instructor to the bridge. She has a complaint about the equipment.

CLAIRE: It’s giving me a wedgie.

norway claire champlin

CLAIRE: It’s like when it goes up your butt.

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Claire even mimes what a wedgie is for him. I like how he is non-chalant about it and did not get a clear explanation for it.

– You know what is less pleasant than a wedgie?

norway nat strand 4

KAT: It’s probably an eyeball.

– Kat quickly changes strategies to make it sound more pleasant.

KAT: Crunchy Romain lettuce.

norway nat kat 19

Yes, Nat. Sheep’s head tastes just like chic–calamari.

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They love recounting this task.

– Nat explains how they both kept encouraging each other.

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You know I am only watching this because I want to see someone vomit, right?

KAT: Cucumbers.

Dangit, Kat. Stop trying to achieve this task with mental focus!

– KevJumba does not know why he is looking down when he is nervous. Michael laughs that the right person is doing this task. KevJumba starts about a minute before Gary descends on one of the other ropes.

norway gary ervin 2

Gary wears New Balance shoes. Who knew?

norway instructor

The instructor has to flail his arms like crazy to give the players some slack! It’s comical.

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A task like this would not be complete without a helmet cam.

– KevJumba compliments Gary on how quickly he caught up. Both he and KevJumba are at the bottom preparing to ascend. Gary does have one minor complaint, though.

norway gary ervin 3

Hearing an old man complain about his testicles being in pain is not one of the top ten reasons why I watch The Amazing Race.

KEVJUMBA: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
GARY: You feel my pain. The climb is gonna be a bear!

norway kevjumba 4

Yet another reason why all-female teams have an advantage this season. These tasks are not designed for males.

– You know what would be more painful than chafing, though?

norway nat strand 5

So close yet so far.

– Nat & Kat start talking to the silent Viking guard.

NAT: How are we doing?
KAT: Are we eating like Norwegians?
NAT: Thumbs up? You’re very inspiring.

norway guard

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“Only Roman emperors at the Coliseum do that ‘thumbs up’ bulls–t.”

– Nat & Kat wrap up their final few bites.

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The first bite just as enjoyable as the last.

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The Viking guard comes up with the most inaccurate phrase to describe a sheep’s head that has been picked clean.

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Yeah. Looks good to me too. . .

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The vegetarian of twenty-two years is probably -hoping- she vomits right now after eating half of a sheep’s head. If she does not vomit now, she will be in for an epic case of diarrhoea sooner rather than later.

I hope it is a short drive to the pit stop for Kat’s sake!

Actually, it would be much meaner if they had to race on foot to the next pit stop. That would have some interesting results!

– Nat & Kat have officially won the Fast Forward. They can now drive themselves to the next pit stop–Ankenes Marina.

norway marina

The architect must have been drunk. Who else would find it hilarious to create a marina in the shape of a perfect rectangle, but stop just ten feet short?

– You know what would be a crazy hypothetical?

germany kurt bergen

If Kurt & Bergen won this Fast Forward and had an enormous lead, but Kurt wanted to quit because they were struggling with driving to the marina. After another twenty minutes or so of frustration, they ditch the car and go with public transportation. Suddenly, Kurt & Bergen are awarded a big penalty and are out of the race.

Sorry. That episode of TAR 26 just aired. I can’t get it out of my mind.

– Nat & Kat bid farewell to the Viking chef and run out of the barn/restaurant.

NAT: That was disgusting. I don’t know what kind of head that was, but oh boy.

I could take that quote out of context. . .but I won’t. There’s a Don & Mary Jean joke in there somewhere.

NAT: Do you want to get sick now?
KAT: No, let’s get to the pit stop now. We’ll take care of that after.

– Nick & Vicki are sixth to the clue box. Nick whispers that he sees the clue. Vicki wants to do the Fast Forward.

NICK: We need to hurry up and get there because I think everybody will be doing that Fast Forward.

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Okay. Unless Vicki is reading this and wants to defend this decision. . .going for the Fast Forward makes absolutely no sense here. Five teams are decisively ahead of you. Heck, Nat & Kat have already had enough time to eat the whole freakin’ sheep’s head.

Nick & Vicki are aware of the Fast Forward’s strategy as of TAR 5, yes? Unless you have an impossible surfing task on your hands and you happen to be a pro surfer, you shouldn’t even entertain the thought of the Fast Forward when you are in the middle of the pack.

– Chad & Stephanie see Katie & Rachel driving right behind them.

norway stephanie smith

However, remember rule number one: Don’t Mess With Steph.

– Katie finds it easier to be in last because all you have to do is play catch-up. When you are in the front, you have more anxiety.

What Katie is saying is true. However, that does not really start to apply until attrition sets in. Due to seasons being much shorter, the Millie & Chuck level of fatigue sets in for fewer and fewer teams. Teams do not start choking at the front until Final Four.

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Sorry. I didn’t mean to be this boring with my explanation.

– Okay. We cut back to the Roadblock.

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Gary and Kevin would switch positions with the two guys in the boat. Unfortunately, Gary and Kevin are only halfway through the testicle crushing spectacular.

– Mallory yells to Gary and Kevin to signal the boat.

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And just like the overpasses in Louisville, this is when Mallory will spit on the suspecting people below.

– KevJumba and Gary have their clues. Michael screaming encouragement at Kevin cracks me up.

norway gary ervin 4

Gary not finding much luck so far.

– Claire begins to descend. Brook points out how awesome it is she is going down a bridge. Thomas approaches the bridge all geared up.

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Although this shot of a truck driving across the bridge is much more interesting than Thomas at the moment.

MALLORY: Thomas is here. Gosh they are fast.

norway mallory ervin 4

“And f–king boring!”

Yes. Editors had to bleep out a F-bomb from Mallory.

– Jill is nervous and is coaching Thomas before he even descends.

JILL: Hold on. Hold on.
THOMAS: I’m not doing anything. I’m not going anywhere.

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“The task hasn’t even started yet, you’re not the one doing the Roadblock, and you’re already freaking out!”

sahran gorilla

A classic Sahran move for Jill to emulate.

– Claire is struggling to stand up and begin her ascent. Brook is panicking from the top as Claire leans over. She has no balance.

norway claire champlin 3

And what’s worse is the instructor is taking a hands-on approach to confirm Claire’s wedgie. This situation has become exponentially more terrible!

– Thomas tries to go down as fast as possible, but temporarily swings under the bridge.

norway thomas wolfard 5

Maybe he saw an apple under the bridge. Who knows.

– Thomas is already at the bottom with Claire. Jill says Thomas is good at this because he grew up in the mountains repelling.

For some reason that description makes Thomas out to be some lonely lumberjack.

norway thomas wolfard 6

He’s just lounging while waiting for the instructor to attach the clue to his gear. Thomas taking a minute to chill, you know?

– Kevin is resting. This is a big distance for them to ascend. Nick & Vicki are approaching the Fast Forward location.

VICKI: I’m pretty sure everybody did the Fast Forward. I don’t see why not. It doesn’t look too hard.

norway nick vicki 5

Do they ever listen to themselves talk? I just want to shake both of them and sit them down for a lesson in logic.

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Damn you, producers. Teams should not know the Fast Forward is taken until AFTER the sheep’s head has been consumed. Can you imagine Nick’s reaction if he ate the whole head and did not receive the clue?

norway vicki casciola

In most situations, this is where the scene would end. But in true Nick & Vicki fashion, there has to be an additional moment to make the scene ten times more ridiculous.

VICKI: Fast Forward taken? Does that mean somebody is in there?

Nick adds this gem.

norway vicki casciola 2

I know. It could mean anything. A boat is a boat, but anything could be in the box. Why, it could even be a boat! You know how much we wanted one of those? Let’s take the box!

– Vicki peers in and sees no one.

VICKI: It’s taken so I don’t know what that means. Somebody already did it?

norway nick decarlo

“I wonder if the Norse hieroglyphics etched on this door will help make this problem clearer.”

We cut to a confessional.

VICKI: I didn’t know if it was taken for right now or if it was just taken period.

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“That’s the thing with the race. Every clue can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways.”

VICKI: Do we have to wait?
NICK: I’m not going to sit around and wait.

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Toughest riddle yet. This Fast Forward is one big mindf–k!

Oh. The confessionals are not done yet.

VICKI: I still don’t even understand it. I don’t know if it was taken. I mean it said ‘taken’ but I don’t really understand.

norway vicki casciola 3

Man. I guess we’ll never know.

VICKI: But the thing says Fast Forward taken. That’s what it is.
NICK: I don’t care about what that thing says.

This is too much for these two PIs to solve for one day.

VICKI: You want to do the other one?
NICK: Yeah, can’t deal with this crap anymore.

norway nick vicki 8

Back to the van you meddling kids. This is one mystery that will remain unresolved for Scooby and The Gang.

scooby doo

“Golden Sheep’s Head taken? Does that mean a ghost has robbed the Golden Sheep’s Head. . .for now? Let’s head back, gang.”

– Ah. Old school Fast Forward days where the winning team is already checking into the pit stop.

KAT: I’ve missed you, Phil!

For what? Thirteen hours?

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You don’t have to worry about RFF stalking teams in the Arctic Circle.

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The relationship between Phil and the greeter is a bit cold. I imagine they get into fist fights over whether woolly sweaters or turtlenecks are the best fashion for winter weather.

– The greeter does his typical duty.

PHIL: Would you guys like to be team number one?
NAT & KAT: Yes we woulllld.

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norway nat kat 24

FIRST PLACE: NAT & KAT

I have never seen Nat & Kat this giddy before on the race. They cannot stop giggling.

– Phil is about to give them some good news.

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But Nat sticking out her tongue in an unusual fashion is the bad news.

– They have won a trip for two to Costa Rica. From what I gather, they will not have to find a man named Diaz laying in a hammock.

– Kat claims they are not quitters and will keep on going. Nat cannot picture herself running the race with anybody else, and is lucky to have Kat on her team.

norway nat kat 26

BFF Pose.

– Chad & Stephanie are seventh to the clue box. They conclude at least one team would have claimed the Fast Forward, and choose to head for the route marker. While running to their vehicle, Katie & Rachel drive by them.

norway car 3

Editing is not tricking us. Chad & Stephanie are less than ten minutes ahead of Katie & Rachel. We’ve got a race, folks.

RACHEL: There’s a lot of leg left.

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“And look at how tiny they all look. . .we will catch up in no time!”

– How big is this bridge for the Roadblock?

norway bridge 2

Big enough to make you think there is a team called Kevin & Gary and another named Thomas & Claire that have just been added to the race.

– Claire is slowing down.

CLAIRE: Baaam, I’m exhausted.
BROOK: I know you are tired but you got to fight through it.

norway claire champlin 4

“This wasn’t in the brochure.”

BROOK: Claire, just breathe. Take a nice deep breath.
CLAIRE: Bam. . .just shut up.

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Urrrrgh.
norway brook roberts 3
That may win the award for the most evil grin in the history of The Amazing Race.

– Kevin reaches the top.

KEVIN: I’m glad you didn’t do it because that was hard.

norway kevjumba 5

“Get it? Because I think you are useless at physical tasks?”

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As long as Michael does not have to do anything beyond sitting upon a frozen chair, they should stay in the lead.

– Kevin reads that they must drive to Harvika. It is a remote field.

norway harvika

The hottest beach in the Arctic Circle!

norway harvika 2

You know what I would do with a beach in the Arctic Circle? Make it an official nude beach, and laugh at anyone who visits for that reason alone.

“It’s twenty degrees below zero–what were you expecting when you came here? Clothing is optional, but anyone who doesn’t want to freeze to death will stick with the option that avoids such a fate!”

– Kevin encourages the other teams at the Roadblock as he exits. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much are Gary’s testicles being crushed?

norway gary ervin 5

We may be leaning towards a ten.

– Gary finishes the task. Mallory reads the clue as they run off to their car. Brook continues to encourage Claire as she starts whimpering.

CLAIRE: I can’t do this! My arms feel like they’re going to fall off!

– Thomas completes it.

JILL: Oh my god, honey. You did sooo good. You were awesome. You are amazing.

norway jill thomas 6

amber brkich

Is she Amber or Jill?

– Claire’s whimpers evolve into moans or tears.

BROOK: You’ve gotta believe in yourself. I know honey it’s tough. All I want is for you to finish this. I don’t care how. I don’t care when.

norway brook roberts 4

Selling sunglasses and playing with a jump rope. . .

norway claire champlin 6

. . .may be more enjoyable than a gruel physical ascension and a watermelon to the face.

By the way, these tears are courtesy of the helmet cam!

– Commercial break. We resume. More moaning from Claire.

norway claire champlin 7

Well, it is Easter. Let the resurrection of Claire’s biceps. . .commence!

BROOK: Pray to your grandma! She’ll get you through it!
CLAIRE: My grandmother passed away about four days prior to coming on The Amazing Race.

norway brook claire 10

Brook has some additional thoughts regarding Claire’s grandmother.

BROOK: I have met Claire’s grandmother. She is the spiciest woman I have ever met. If you thought Claire and I have spice, this woman beats us all. If Claire can find the inner strength from her grandma, she can do this.

norway brook roberts 5

A grandma was spicier than Brook & Claire? I have such a tough time accepting this.

Mainly because all four of my grandparents died before I was born, and late pictures of them showed them being all frail, wearing huge glasses, and wrinkly skin. Those images in the family album freaked me out a little in my nightmares during childhood.

So now I have to wonder what Claire’s grandma was like. Maybe it is like Jonny Fairplay’s grandma who was closer to looking like a parent rather than a grandparent at the Survivor: Pearl Islands reunion show.

– Katie & Rachel reach the clue at the top of the gondola. They have a confessional.

RACHEL: To make a comeback in comparison to volleyball, we’re down a couple games and we need to make it to playoffs. Just need to take it one step at a time.

norway katie rachel 4

Sports cliches? C’mon Katie & Rachel. You’re above that.

– CLAIRE: This is the hardest thing in my life. Going down was awesome. . .

o_O

CLAIRE: . .Going up is the bitch.

BROOK: Just think of your grandma and how strong she is and she’d be encouraging you the whole way.

So now somebody two generations older than Claire is physically stronger than her? C’mon Brook, I know you like putting Claire down at times, but give her a little credit here!

Brook’s remarks like this are one of the primary reasons why she is so dang fun and entertaining. Every statement sounds like a compliment.

– The last of the moaning and whimpering from Claire.

norway claire champlin 8

Just a little bit further and the wedgie will be over. I wonder what Spicy Grandma’s advice on wedgies is, by the way?

BROOK: Scaling bridges–not Claire’s thing.
CLAIRE: Check that one off the list.

norway brook claire 11

nelly hot in here

Wearing a band-aid like Nelly? Definitely Brook’s thing. Is that all because of their boxing trip to Accra where they decided to copy the fashion of the training facility? We’ve really been overlapping with references this season.

– Brook & Claire are currently in fifth. Brook congratulates her chica for impressing her yet again.

– Nick & Vicki are in a solid sixth at the Roadblock. Vicki agrees to do it.

VICKI: I’ve been waiting for something like this. I’m the one with the guts in this relationship.

norway vicki casciola 4

She may not know the concept behind the word ‘taken’, but Vicki is more than well-versed in the concept of the ‘burn’.

norway nick decarlo 4

And Nick just got SCORCHED.

– Nick comments the task is badass and real high. Chad & Stephanie approach the bridge. Chad thinks they will have to do something on this bridge.

CHAD: I think we’re doing something off this bridge, Stephanie. I’ll do it.
STEPHANIE: Oh. Yeah. You will.

norway chad waltrip

Let the passive-aggressive battle. . .begin!

– They open the clue and keep talking over each other.

CHAD: But what if it’s strength–
STEPHANIE: I know you want to do it. I know you want to do it.

norway chad stephanie 2

Chad is not as excited to do the Roadblock. He will do it, but at what cost? Massage her feet at the pit stop? Buy a Swedish Husky as a pet when they return home? The price will be steep.

– Vicki is at the bottom. She starts the climb up. Stephanie cheers on Chad. Vicki proclaims she feels like Hercules.

norway vicki chad

I like how the race puts these shots into the episode for tasks like this. It is their way of saying “c’mon viewers, give us a little credit for how we present the episode, please?”

– The Jumbas reach Harvik. It’s a Detour.

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I should note beforehand that Kevin drives like an old man. The only reason why he needs to be in the lead right now is because he is afraid of driving when it is dark later in the day!

– PHIL: When temperatures rise in this part of the world, people want to get out and have a good time. But whatever the weather, work still needs to get done. Like the locals, teams will need to make a difficult choice–Bike or Boat.

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Motto of the Arctic: Work Hard. Play Hard.

– In Bike, teams will pick two bikes. They must note the colour of their team’s bicycle lock.

norway bicycle

GARY & MALLORY: Shotgun yellow!

– Teams will ride out on their mountain bikes through a gruelling course until the reach a sign. The sign contains the combination for each coloured bicycle lock. They must memorize this 4-digit number, and ride back to their bicycle lock and enter in the 4-digit code. If unlocked, teams can open what’s inside to see their next clue.

norway bicycle 2

I wish one of the signs was “1-1-1-1”.

norway code

norway code 2

Harvik is so remote that there is nobody physically there to give them their next clue.

– In Boat, teams make their way to a fishing trawler. Using a map for reference, they must direct their captain to a spot on shore. They will disembark and deliver two large cod and a chainsaw to a “summer” lodge to receive their next clue.

Sounds like a lot of steps for a Detour task.

norway detour

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Yeah. A lot of steps. Is it just me, or is everyone in the Norwegian Arctic over the age of fifty in this leg? The restaurant, the pit stop greeter, this Detour, and the instructors in the boat are all grey or white-haired.

Or maybe the Arctic really does age you fast.

– Kevin asks his father what he would like to do.

– Michael wants to do the boat task. Kevin explains the redundant reasoning as to why they chose the Boat option. Once again, he does not think his dad will be able to complete a physical task.

norway kevjumba michael wu 9

There there, Pa. Your days of physical activity are behind you.

KEVJUMBA: Being a boat is much safer, and that’s the risk we gotta take.

Wow. That is the epitome of a contradictory statement.

norway man 2

I wish teams had to row themselves to the boat. Oh well.

– Jill & Thomas and Gary & Mallory show up to the Detour simultaneously as Sega music once again plays during this season.

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Thomas opens up the clue like he is freakin’ Hulk Hogan tearing off his shirt. Never seen anybody pop the clue open like that before.

– Jill & Thomas and Gary & Mallory both choose Bike. Mallory says the mountain bike is too high for her.

– Brook & Claire are fifth to the Detour. They choose Boat. I am guessing Claire is done with physical tasks for the day.

norway brook claire 12

And also gave up on how to put on a lifejacket.

BROOK: Our lifestyle is going to work in suits and lots of makeup on. Going to parties. This is extremely abnormal for Claire and I.

– Brook points out she is wearing a diaper as a lifevest.

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Maybe I would choose bikes after all.

CLAIRE: Uh. . .can we go get a manicure around here?

norway brook claire 14

4.5 rounds down. . .only 7.5 to go. If you were Kurt, this is when you would decide to quit. Yes, Claire. You could go down as the first racer ever to quit over a manicure.

– Vicki repeats she is almost there. I think the distance between her and Chad is greater than when they started. Chad even confirms it by stating “Vicki just killed it”.

– Katie & Rachel park at the bridge. Two other cars are currently parked. Vicki complains her legs are too heavy as she re-joins the bridge. Chad is also done the Roadblock. For some reason Katie & Rachel are really excited over it being a Roadblock.

– Both teams run by Katie & Rachel on the way out. Katie is gearing up.

norway katie seamon 3

Is that guy Jon Montgomery? He joined in on The Amazing Race production crew earlier than I thought!

– We cut back to KevJumba and Michael at the boat. They prepare to head to shore.

norway man 3

Normally I would tell the captain that smoking is bad for his health, but f–k it. It’s the Arctic. How the hell does long term health benefit you in the Arctic? May as well enjoy any vice you can while you live in the world’s depression vacuum.

– The Jumbas are now at the ladder.

norway man 4

This guide has great balance.

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Surprisingly, Michael struggles with this strenuous climb.

– Kevin explains they had to carry the two fish and a chainsaw.

MICHAEL: Kevin of course he had to carry the two big fish. That’s why he smells so fishy right now.

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norway kevjumba 7

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Kevin fell for the oldest trick in the book!

– Now to another gorgeous shot of the Norwegian roadside.

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This is what it would be like if Dr. Oz’s desired fecal matter was turned into a highway road.

– It’s also the same roads that Gary & Mallory and Jill & Thomas are riding on. Gary repeatedly warns Mallory of the slippery roads. He advises her to walk with it.

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Mainly because Gary just took a tumble himself. Will Mallory listen?

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lol. Nope.

MALLORY: If I had been any further, I would have chucked that bike off the side of the mountain.

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Mallory lived up to Gary’s expectations of not being the biker chick that Gary is thankful he never had.

– Jill asks Thomas to slow down. They make it all the way to the board. Dang, they’re looking much stronger this leg.

JILL: Does it matter what colour we have to memorize?
THOMAS: YES! Totally!

Er. They still have some work to do.

norway jill thomas 8

It takes the mind of someone who went to Notre Dame to recall that they need the correct lock combination to complete this task. Four years of post-secondary education prepared him for this very situation! It may be a 4-digit code, but Thomas paid a 6-digit price in tuition to attain this valuable information.

– Mallory memorizes the red combination and makes her way back.

– Rachel cheers on Katie as Katie has her clue. Her pants ruffle on the audio before ascending.

norway katie seamon 4

“Is anyone else coming?”

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. . .Things ain’t looking good. Blunder music plays.

– Thomas unlocks the clue. He reads they must drive themselves to the pit stop–Ankenes Marina. It was a military stronghold during World War II.

You know it’s a world war when a freakin’ lighthouse in northern Norway was strategically important.

norway phil keoghan 7

Not so much New Zealand.

– Gary & Mallory unlock their clue too.

norway gary mallory ervin 11

“That much closer to being candidates for the next all-star season!”

– The Jumbas arrive at the cabin. They definitely lost time by choosing this task.

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Heh. KevJumba is stuck with carrying the chainsaw too.

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The honourary fish peace offering is a decoy for the man’s true identity: The chainsaw wielding KevJason!

You should have never given him that chainsaw, Michael.

– Am I the only one worried that a lumberjack who lives in the woods  near the water not only struggles to catch his own fish, but does not have his own chainsaw?

norway kevjumba 10

Oh for goodness sake KevJumba, stop eyeing that mask!

– The Jumbas are back to the ropes. Kev shows his dad how to get down.

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Slide down on your butt? That could be painful with all of those rocks. Not to mention the ground is probably very wet.

– The Jumbas’ boat passes by Brook & Claire’s incoming boat. They wave and cheer as the teams are in contact.

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Brook once again shows off her diaperized lifevest.

– Brook warns Claire of how slippery the ladder is. The ground must be dang slick.

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Just like Happy Gilmore, Claire will be alright on this if she thinks about grandma.

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Unfortunately Brook’s grandma is not so spicy, and thus Brook had nobody to channel as she tumbled.

– Brook is stuck with carrying the two fish on her back.

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Brook is fish-tailing it on the course.

– She explains how the fins would slap against her butt (worse than a wedgie?).  Brook thinks it was sixty pounds of dead fish on her. She claims the fish did not stink.

CLAIRE: No. It was pretty bad.
(BROOK starts waving her arm to spread the fish aroma in the confessional room.)

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Brook? Spicy.
Claire? Spicy.
Claire’s grandma? Spicy.
Two dead fish? Not so spicy.

CLAIRE: I’m tired. Can’t feel my legs. My body is in shock.

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Claire is having a wonderful day.

– Gary & Mallory keep driving. The Jumbas return to their car. Michael feels Kevin is rushing him.

– Thomas feels he and Jill made a wrong turn. They see a bridge while driving.

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JILL: See? There’s the bridge.
THOMAS: That’s a totally different bridge.
JILL: Oh, I’m sorry. You know every bridge that’s here?
THOMAS: I know we’re not driving around in a circle.

norway jill haney

If only you were in the Faculty of Bridges led by Associate Dean Todd Bridges at Notre Dame, Jill. You would know these things.

JILL: I’m so crazy–I’m so crazy for thinking that!
THOMAS: Unbelievable.
JILL: Grrrr.

norway jill haney 2

Another fun day on the race.

– KevJumba is also nervous. He thinks he missed a turn.

norway kevjumba michael wu 14

Michael is completely zoned out. It has been a long day.

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It is about as fun as jury duty.

– Gary sees the boats. He parks the car. Mallory starts yodelling as they jog to the mat.

MALLORY: I like today.

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“You sure about that, Mall?”

– Mallory keeps up her childlike antics as she giggles at the raised eyebrow.

MALLORY: I wish I could do that really good.

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Good try, Mallory.

MALLORY: What team number are we?

norway phil keoghan 9

One.

norway phil keoghan 10

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Two.

– The Ervins crack the code.

SECOND PLACE: GARY & MALLORY

norway gary mallory ervin 13

norway gary mallory ervin 14

Celebrate good times, c’mon! Let’s celebrate!

– What was Phil doing communicating their finishing spot by the number of eyebrow raises?

Gary & Mallory may be team number two, but I think Phil Keoghan is team number stoned.

malta brooke robbie malta phil keoghan

Better than his epic fail when attempting to use his pecs in TAR 25, though.

– Nick & Vicki are now at the Detour. For obvious reasons, they choose Bike. Chad & Stephanie are next there. Steph wants to do Boat.

norway helicopter

TAR helicopter sighting!

NICK: I wrote BMX bikes as a kid too. I’ve always been active with bikes. Since I was twelve years old I have been riding dirt bikes competitively.

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I wish somebody would’ve gone to the bicycle rack at Nick’s elementary school, unchain Nick’s bike, and leave a note that said “Your bike has been taken”.

Nick wouldn’t know if it was taken for now or if it was taken permanently.

– Vicki tells Nick to wait for her. She can’t be better than him at everything. Chad tells the captain to make the boat move faster.

– Brook delivers fish to the lonely murderous lumberjack.

norway brook claire 18

Watch where you are pointing that chainsaw, Claire!

BROOK: Stanky dirty fish for you.
CLAIRE: Why do you live all the way up here?
BROOK: It’s a bit silly.

– Brook & Claire receive their clue. What do three people do after handling smelly fish and experience a great deal of outdoor physical labour?

norway brook claire 19

Kiss number eight. . .I think?

– Editors throw in a traditional romantic Italian soundtrack in the background.

norway brook claire 20

Brook & Claire: Bringing the Italian Riviera to the Arctic Circle.

– Brook compliments his beautiful home.

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“You a good kisser, ja?”

Just wait until you see the interior decoration, Brook.

– Brook skips down along the path.

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BROOK: Kiss count is up to seven!

norway brook roberts 10

Look at the air she is getting! Brook is clearly in love. Perhaps the man should have revised his list to two fish, a chainsaw, and some Viagra.

– Jill & Thomas return to the bridge and see someone repelling. They see Katie & Rachel.

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That’s just cruel. Rachel is well over an hour behind Jill & Thomas, but now she is under the impression they may be close.

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“This makes absolutely no sense, but Jill & Thomas just drove by!”

norway katie seamon 5

“Say what?”

norway jill haney 3

“Bridge computing error!”

– Rachel yells to Katie that Jill & Thomas are now just arriving at the Roadblock.

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See? False hope is evil.

– Jill snaps at Thomas for driving too slow over the bridge. Thomas cusses himself out. He is more focused on cursing than he is at driving more than five miles per hour.

– Jumbas see Katie & Rachel rappelling too. How small is the distance covered for this round? Jumbas are driving directly behind Jill & Thomas.

THOMAS: Wow. We went right over the f–king bridge.

norway thomas wolfard 7

Thomas’ potty mouth.

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How about I avoid taking this screencap out of context?

– Katie finishes the Roadblock and re-enter their vehicle. They now refer to themselves as the Comeback Kids.

– JILL: It’s okay.
THOMAS: It’s not okay! We were in such good positioning! We just totally ruined ourselves!

Thomas. You just saw a team who had not finished the Roadblock. Calm down.

– Commercial break. We resume.

THOMAS: It’s just frustrating. We work so hard and you go so fast then you just lose so much time.

He is still dwelling over being in a position that does not matter in the long run.

JILL: Who’s that? Kevin? DAMMIT!
THOMAS (edited audio): Unbelievable!

norway jill haney 4

“There’s a team behind us that has been behind us for most of this leg! Hope you’re happy. We’re going to be third instead of third! Outrageous!”

– Katie & Rachel discuss what they assume is Jill & Thomas’ bad mistake, and is the team “behind them” despite not seeing them all leg. Rachel adds that Jill & Thomas still have to find the bridge and do the Roadblock.

norway rachel johnston 10

False hope has now permanently dislocated Rachel’s jaw.

norway katie seamon 8

Katie is the calmer one.

– Jill & Thomas flash their lights to get a car on the road to slow down. Jumbas pull over behind Jill & Thomas on the road. The mysterious man in the car jumps out and points the way to the marina. It is yet another local in his 50s and trying to re-live his disco days. Disco Scandinavia!

norway local 3

You can tell by the way he use his walk
He’s a woman’s man
No time to talk

norway local

The marina is the other way
You can try
To understand
The difficulty to read Norwegian signs and their affect on teams

norway local 2

Whether you’re Jenna’s mother
Or KevJumba’s father
This race is about stayin’ alive.

norway kevjumba 11

Whether you’re following the inner city
Graduate from Notre Dame
It’s about stayin’ alive

– KevJumba sees the direction that Scandinavian Disco Guy was pointing. Off they go.

– We cut back to Nick & Vicki who are supposed to have an easy time on the bikes.

VICKI: The bike thing was awesome. It was uphill–it was pretty hard he thinks, but I thought it was easy.

norway nick vicki 10

“You were all tuckered out on that course weren’t you, Tiger?”

– We see Nick repeatedly call for Vicki.

norway nick vicki 11

norway nick vicki 13

VICKI: You okay? Push it uphill until it’s easier.

“Are you okay? I can’t hear you because of how far ahead of you I am at the moment.”

Just because Nick participated in biking competitions at a high level does not necessarily mean he ever did -well-. For all we know he ended each race by receiving a purple ‘Thank You For Participating’ ribbon.

norway nick decarlo 5

Nick is physically pressing down on his own leg to make it move. That’s not a good sign.

– Nick & Vicki stop.

norway nick vicki 12

NICK (faintest voice possible): Yeah.

– They should be on equal footing now, yes?

norway nick vicki 14

Aaaand he’s already fallen behind.

– Nick reaches the board, and Vicki encourages as well as expresses pride for Nick’s performance at this task.

– Chad & Stephanie are pulling up to the ladder. Katie & Rachel are now at the Detour. They also make the mistake of choosing Boat. So much for making up time. Ouch.

– Jill & Thomas and Jumbas see a marina. Jill & Thomas argue for a second over the directions. So do the Jumbas. Thomas is swerving around on the small road. Kevin is first to spot parking and run to the mat. So do Jill & Thomas.

THIRD PLACE: JILL & THOMAS

norway jill thomas 9

Thomas is even wearing a Notre Dame shirt?

Oddly enough, not many people in April of 2015 wear clothes that express Indiana solidarity. Now we await the repeal. . .

FOURTH PLACE: KEVJUMBA & MICHAEL

norway kevjumba michael wu 15

Ah. A brodown.

– We cut back to Nick & Vicki who are now on the downhill portion. Nick is ahead of Vicki at the moment.

norway nick vicki 15

Oh, Nick.

– Vicki ignores his insistence for her to hustle and merely encourages him on doing well. They are back at the bicycle lock.

norway nick vicki 16

Like a commenter on a YouTube video, I was waiting for Nick to shout “FIRST!”

– NICK: Mine’s unlocked!

Yes. Your bicycle lock which has nothing to do with Vicki has been unlocked because you accomplished the oh so impressive feat of memorizing a 4-digit code. Bravo.

– Brook & Claire pull into the marina. Do you remember Brook’s mysterious band-aid in the confessional?

norway brook roberts 11

Brook opens a door.

BROOK: Uh oh. Claire. I just cut my face open. I’m bleeding really bad.

norway brook claire 22

I don’t see anything. You’re making it up, Brook.

norway brook roberts 12
BROOK: The door.

Such a drama queen. Claire can’t even see the blood as of yet as they run to the mat.

tian jaree finish second to last

If Tian & Jaree didn’t bleed from a door during the premiere of TAR 4, I think Brook should be fine.

norway brook claire 23

See? Still can’t see anything. All fiction.

FIFTH PLACE: BROOK & CLAIRE

– Oh. Now Phil notices.

PHIL: What’d you do to your eye?

norway brook roberts 13

Holy crap. That’s the type of cut in MMA fights where the doctor usually has to stop the fight. That is a brutal cut.

PHIL: Your eye is looking so mean. Seriously, you’ve got a nick in there.
BROOK: It wouldn’t be the first on this journey.

norway phil keoghan 12

“I assumed teams would only do that with a chainsaw rather than a door.”

norway phil keoghan 13

PHIL: You’re one tough nut, aren’t you?

The same cannot be said after what happened to Gary at the Roadblock.

PHIL: Nothing but blood gushing out of you and standing here talking away normally. You’re ready to sell jewellery! That’s insane!

norway phil keoghan 14

If Phil were a pun master, he’d ask Brook if that means she would be selling ‘blood diamonds’.

norway brook roberts 14

Imagine if this happened to Kurt? He wouldn’t even make it to the mat. Kurt would immediately quit in the parking lot right then!

– Chad & Stephanie scale the ladder. He is coaching Stephanie. Chad is hustling.

CHAD: We are too far in the pack to be walking.

– Chad & Stephanie have their clue. Their boat passes by an incoming Katie & Rachel. Stephanie knows they cannot make any mistakes on the way to the pit stop.

norway katie rachel 5

If Rachel behaves well, maybe the captain will let her take control of the wheel!

– Chad & Stephanie make a proclamation.

CHAD: The green team is hopefully going down!

Thank goodness there is an alternative nickname for Katie & Rachel. I was done with the volleyball references.

norway chad stephanie 3

Not the most exciting round for Chad & Stephanie.

– Nick & Vicki run to the mat. Oh my god. Their ridiculousness has yet to end.

norway nick vicki 17

Does Nick like to, you know, go out of his way to be wrong about EVERYTHING?

norway nick vicki 18

SIXTH PLACE AND DEFINITELY NOT SECOND: NICK & VICKI

I thought only Rex & Bob screw up their finishing prediction that badly.

– Katie & Rachel reach the cabin.

norway katie rachel 6

And hopefully do not have to reach for that clue.

– Katie & Rachel scramble back to shore.

norway katie seamon 9

Taking off lifevests can be tricky.

– Chad & Stephanie get directions from a man who stutters and has a rough time with English. This is not the ideal situation for a scramble to avoid being eliminated.

norway local 4

norway chad stephanie 4

“Uh, thanks anyway!”

– The information they get from him is to -not- go on the bridge. Katie & Rachel are involved in their second consecutive mad dash to avoid elimination. Lots of back and forth cuts. Rachel’s stomach is in knots and may vomit on the mat if eliminated.

Now I want Rachel to be eliminated. Only if she vomits.

– Rachel repeatedly pleads with God to keep them in the race. So who shall be seventh?

norway chad stephanie 5

Yay! A day so short that there isn’t much of a shuffle on the leaderboard!

– Chad & Stephanie believe they are a strong team and know how quickly things can change in the future blah blah blah.

– Katie & Rachel sprint to the mat.

norway katie rachel 7

God shall post-determine if this leg is a non-elimination or not.

LAST PLACE: KATIE & RACHEL

– Phil informs them that they are indeed last.

RACHEL (quietly): Oh no!

norway katie rachel 8

FAIL!

– Both commence crying. But do either of them vomit?

norway rachel johnston 11

Rachel breaks her promise, and fails to do so.

norway katie seamon 10

Close, close. . .

norway katie seamon 11

Dammit. She recovered.

– What about in their final confessionals?

norway katie rachel 9

Nope. The biggest disappointment of the season yet.

RACHEL: I wanted to race forever.

norway katie rachel 10

“And play peekaboo. One of the two.”

norway katie rachel 11

As Katie & Rachel bid farewell, they wave one last curse upon this cast that no all-female team shall win this season in their absence.

Next Time on TAR: Teams are immersed in Russian culture. Music. Cinema. And babushkas.

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.CLAIRE  7.6
CHAD.STEPHANIE  4.3
KATIE.RACHEL  5.5
NAT.KAT 7.6
KEVIN.MICHAEL  7.4
NICK.VICKI  1.4
JILL.THOMAS  2.1
GARY.MALLORY  1.2

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 of how long this list has become, I only show the relevant section where the team has fallen amongst the ranks of what TAR history has to offer.

9th Heather & Eve 5.75 Legal team beaten by rule book. TAR 3
5th Nancy & Emily 5.67 R.I.P. Nancy. Saved by NEL once. TAR 1
7th Jeff & Jordan 5.67. Saved by a stupid Blind U-Turn once but dead next day. TAR 16
6th Gaghan Family 5.5 TAR 8
10th Alison & Donny 5.5 TAR 5
6th Tian & Jaree 5.43 FF TAR 4
8th Sahil & Prashant 5.4 FF. Beaten by a bunch of rules. TAR Asia 1
8th Katie & Rachel 5.4 Had all of the tools to finish with a 5.4 ratio TAR 17
–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

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.

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) Katie & Rachel

A rare duo to take part in the race. That seems to be the theme for this season. Demographics that have yet to be cast.

Katie & Rachel are in their early 20s, but were a surprisingly competitive all-female team this season. The only two reasons they sucked in rounds four and five is because they were on the later flight and they could not get a handle on the TechBikes. With no equalizer in sight, they were doomed.

For some reason, the way they disrespected the other teams amused me. Maybe it is because they backed up the trash talk for the first few rounds, and you know that they are extremely competitive people in New Jersey.

If you have ever interacted with somebody in the middle of a competition, you would probably be horrified by the statements that come out of a competitor’s mouth. But you know what? I get it.

It’s too bad that Katie & Rachel are not remembered in TAR history. They were an early boot in a middle era season that featured much bigger and relevant characters. Not exactly Mark & Bill treatment from TAR 13.

I do like how at one point this season there was an alliance between them, Brook & Claire, and Connor & Jonathan. I find it hilarious that these three teams were aligned at one point. Connor & Jonathan were in the alliance for not-so-noble reasons, but still.

I read comments made about Katie & Rachel at the time that this season aired, and as per usual, the young all-female competitive team was not well-liked by viewers. That will always be the case when it comes to reality television. Either the casual fans hate you, or the people who do like you only do so because of your physical features. I would hate to be a female reality TV contestant competing in her 20s.

Also, Katie & Rachel received criticism for something that occurred off-screen. As you know, TAR uploaded online videos called Elimination Station between TAR 11 and TAR 17. This was the final season they had this feature online. Elimination Station still exists for every season of TAR, but not with cameras around to record it into webisodes.

Katie & Rachel were the second to last team to join Elimination Station (a resort in Mexico), and expressed their strong desire for an all-female team -not- to win. Katie & Rachel were so determined to be the first all-female winners that seeing another all-female team on their own season take the title would be unbearable.

What makes it funnier is that this issue comes up in all eight of their Elimination Station videos. I believe it was Ron who said that he was afraid Rachel would tackle one of the women if they crossed the finish line first.

It is situations like these that made me wish producers honoured Elimination Station webisodes out of tradition. Waste the twenty thousand dollars to give the 0.01% of the hardcore viewership what they want.

Overall, I really liked Katie & Rachel. Just not enough screen time to get to know them. I dropped them a couple spots because of the excessive usage of volleyball comparisons.

Team Dead or Alive is officially gone.

4) 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.

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!

5) Riksgrandsen, Sweden/Norway -> Narvik, Norway

The weakest leg of the first five rounds. On a season like this, it is not much of a criticism.

We had an unofficial Roadblock Switchback to TAR 5’s task in round twelve where teams had to use a mechanical ascender to reach the top of a great distance. The only additional portion here is that teams first rode down to the water before climbing back up to the bridge.

The Detour of choosing between delivering a few items on an overly complicated task versus a bike lock task was fairly ordinary. It was clear biking would be faster because it required more athleticism while the Boat task was drawn out if anything.

The Fast Forward was a classic. Eat a large quantity of a disgusting delicacy if you want your next clue. To raise the stakes, somebody one-ups Terence’s performance in TAR 13 by being the first vegetarian to slaughter a meat eating Fast Forward task.

The gondola route info was an excuse to enjoy more of the Arctic scenery. This was nothing new since the northern landscape was emphasized in the previous round.

A few ordinary tasks while self-driving around northern Norway was a reasonable leg design. No stupid tasks really.

Once again, the teams enhance the route. Kat’s vegetarian background while attempting the Fast Forward was neat to watch play out. Nick & Vicki understanding absolutely nothing about this round, and Nick humiliating himself at a biking challenge was great comedy.

Gary & Mallory and KevJumba & Michael kept up their usual antics. We finally heard from Gary for once.

And Brook & Claire were downright ridiculous. Kissing a lonely man who lives in a cabin, a diapervest, and Brook slicing her left eye by opening a car door (no joke) leaves you were wondering how the heck both of them are still alive in this race.

Jill & Thomas were entertaining for the first time this season. Thomas enjoying his apple and emphasizing his education to an annoying extent, and watching Jill feel nervous and pressured.

Oh, and of course their cruel act of returning to the Roadblock bridge on the way to the pit stop which indirectly led Katie & Rachel to believe they were still alive in the race.

Scandinavian legs tend to be really boring and unmemorable on TAR. TAR 17 managed to handle this bland region fairly well for once. This is about as high as my expectations would ever be.

A surprisingly quiet episode for Chad & Stephanie. What happened to their big booming personalities from the first few rounds? Katie & Rachel may have been the better alternative for who survives this leg. If only they had all of the tools to do so.

***

Oh, by the way, I totally host my own The Amazing Race and Big Brother Canda podcasts down below. Perhaps you wish to give it a listen?

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