EPISODE BLOG #292
“Lake Malawi, I Presume?”
CHINESE TAIPEI – INDONESIA – NOT LAOS – THAILAND – MALAWI – DENMARK – GERMANY – BELGIUM – NETHERLANDS – PANAMA – UNITED STATES
Previously on TAR: Seven teams raced from Thailand to Malawi. At the Roadblock, Marcus struggled. And a taxi breakdown put him and Amani further behind. In a grueling race to the pit stop, siblings Justin & Jennifer had first place in their grasp but instead Andy & Tommy won their fourth leg of the race. Amani & Marcus couldn’t find a way to catch up, but survived to fight another day.
NUMBER OF TIMES MENTIONED IN THE ‘PREVIOUSLY ON’ SEGMENT
ANDY & TOMMY 5
LIZ & MARIE 3
AMANI & MARCUS 3
BILL & CATHI 2
JUSTIN & JENNIFER 2
ERNIE & CINDY 1
ETHAN & JENNA 1
RON & BILL 1
LAURENCE & ZAC 1
KAYLANI & LISA 1
JEREMY & SANDY 0
Phil introduces us to Malawi. Apparently it is the warm heart of Africa and is a player in the tobacco industry. He proceeds to remind us that teams checked in with their beds for the night. Each team gets their own hut.
CATHI: This one looks like a mansion.
Yes, I am sure these huts are mansions by Bill & Cathi’s rural Oregon standards.
SANDY: Oh my god. We’re going to kill each other.
If your partner doesn’t kill you, then the malaria-infested mosquitos and bugs will.
ERNIE: Home sweet home.
CINDY: Home sweat home.
There is certainly sweat underneath Ernie’s arms.
ERNIE: I’ve got my mosquito net just like I’ve got back at home. I’ve got my straw roof just like back at home.
If Ernie keeps going on like this, he’ll be sleeping outside just like back at home.
CINDY: We’ve got our foam mattresses.
NOTE: Yes, I am aware Ernie & Cindy don’t exactly get the best positive feedback by everything that happens this episode. I’ll address all of it at the end. -_-
Discussion Question: Do you think any of the romantic couples had sex at this pit stop? Hey, I’m just curious. How easy is it to maneuver on that foam mattress?
Andy & Tommy, who won the last leg of the race (usually Phil says ‘who were the first to arrive’ but rejected that phrasing for some reason) will depart first at 5:28am.
“Bro! I can see your breath!”
Tommy is complimented for his clue ripping abilities. I assume Andy is not allowed to be on clue ripping duty anymore after the previous mishap.
He is like a clue ripping maestro.
Tommy reads they must travel by bus to Salima. Phil specifies it will be a crowded two hour bus ride.
Good luck getting onto that bus, Marcus.
It looks more like a stable than a bus station.
They will get their next clue when they arrive at the bus terminal
I know production is refusing to use clue boxes this season, but that is just mean.
TOMMY: Caution: Double U-Turn ahead.
Andy decides to break the fourth wall.
TOMMY: Last leg we came in team number two, but got the classic ‘however’. . .
“I don’t know bro, I am just brushing my beard with my hand! Isn’t it nice?”
We get a series of flashbacks to all of Phil’s howevers.
However. . .
Wherever. . .
However. . .
Whenever. . .
However. . .
And that’s the deal, my dear.
Tommy makes a random noise in the taxi.
Tommy is now a Scooby-Doo character.
“EE-HIKES, ANDY! THESE GHOSTS MIGHT GET US AT THE DOUBLE U-TURN!”
Andy says they were under the radar for the first two rounds, but knows he is a prime target now.
Justin & Jennifer depart second at 5:39am. This means it took eleven minutes to run back to the truck driver, pay him, then run back.
We immediately cut into a personal confessional where Justin reveals he is gay, and how he came out of the closet to Jennifer. Well, I guess we know who is being eliminated this round. All we have learned about them thus far is that Jennifer is a sassy special ed teacher.
JENNIFER: It made me feel good that he felt safe enough and comfortable enough to tell me.
You know you have an accepting sister when she can handle the news of you being gay rather than the news of which bus you suggest taking to get to Bangkok.
JENNIFER: We may bump heads but I think he is amazing and strong.
Savour this minute while you can, Justin. Especially when Jennifer is cranky because she had to roll out of her hut by five o’ clock in the morning.
Jeremy & Sandy depart third at 5:40am.
SANDY: You have one dollar for this leg of the race. Let’s roll.
Laurence & Zac, who weren’t even shown checking into the mat at the same time as Jeremy & Sandy, depart at 5:41am.
I think Zac stole some of Andy & Tommy’s clothes for this round.
LAURENCE: Caution: Double U-Turn ahead! OW!
Either the news of the Double U-Turn got him or it was an early rising mosquito.
Laurence says he is competitive and the reality of the race is that you have to U-Turn a team if it is necessary to stay in the race.
The stigma of U-Turning a team is pretty much gone by season 19. It is going to be a LONG time until a U-Turn goes completely unused in TAR.
Laurence hopes to get on the first bus to Salima.
“And we should try to get first class tickets on the bus, Zachary.”
OK, the person with the red bag is clearly showing off.
It also acts an umbrella.
Tommy thanks his cab driver.
DRIVER (unenthusiastic): Yeah.
Andy & Tommy head into the ticket office.
It gives teams eleven minutes to trek through the darkness of the village, find a taxi waiting for them on the road where you are allowed to drive, then get to the bus station by seven. They have over an hour to work with for most teams.
Well, it’s not really a ticket office. Where does one buy tickets?
That’s going to be a nightmare for the bus driver.
Ernie & Cindy depart in fifth at 5:44am.
I have a feeling Cindy will be ditching all of that gear by the time she gets onto the bus.
Cindy views Andy & Tommy as the team to beat. Ernie chimes in that he has made his share of little mistakes thus far.
ERNIE: I am sure they’ll have their day where they have their mistakes too and we’ll be right there to pass ’em up.
Translation: “Andy & Tommy, we comin’ for you, playa!”
Foreshadowing is on the horizon.
ERNIE: We will have to use our [pointless] Express Pass just to jump out ahead.
Remember when we went four consecutive episodes without hearing about the pointless Express Pass twist? It takes TAR US quite a while, but I am happy the twist is essentially retired by TAR 29 and TAR Asia 5.
Unless you are these gals, it has never made a difference to any season of TAR.
Bill & Cathi are shivering at the pit start.
BILL: Areareare youyouyou ready?
CATHI: I-I-I- amamamamam ready.
Man, you know it’s an old couple on The Amazing Race when they start developing Parkinson’s halfway through the season.
Bill & Cathi depart in sixth at 5:47am.
I am curious how this Parkinson’s illness will shake out over the course of this leg.
Amani & Marcus are last to exit the pit start at 6:07am.
The range from first to last was only 39 minutes? That is with the wedding engagement and the car breaking down holding Amani & Marcus up? I am surprised.
Marcus exclaims over there being only one dollar in the clue.
“Hey! You shut your whore mouth! One dollar is a lot of money!”
Fifty-three minutes to make the bus? Should be do-able.
Amani & Marcus enter a cab with the squeakiest tires ever.
AMANI: Are the tires okay? Are they supposed to be squeaking that much?
This is the answer they wanted and not wanted at the same time.
MARCUS: We worry about having to do the Speed Bump, but we’re up for it. In my NFL career, the thing that I hear my coaches say more often than anything is ‘pay attention to details’. And when the big things come, they’ll take care of themselves. So that’s what we got to do.
Amani hasn’t heard an NFL analogy before. You can tell.
MARCUS’ NFL REFERENCES COUNTER: 8
It is seven. The six teams board the bus.
Perfect time for a crossword puzzle.
SANDY: Two tickets, please.
Sandy is throwing the deuce up.
CINDY: It smells bad in here.
CINDY: Definitely a new experience here. It’s busy, crowded, aggressive. This is Africa.
TIA, Cindy. TIA.
Yeah, Cindy quoted Blood Diamond of all things.
Bill comments that everyone is getting packed in like sardines.
C’mon Bill, don’t exaggerate.
Justin says nobody has seen Amani & Marcus yet.
Cindy has already covered up her nose. For all she knows the smell is from Ernie running around the world for six rounds.
Amani & Marcus show up and stand outside of the bus.
MARCUS: Excuse me, is the bus full?
It depends how you define the word ‘full’ for today, Marcus.
The man with the cigarette grunts at Marcus. Amani & Marcus have no idea if it’s a yes or a no.
Marcus says he wants to be on the bus with his friends.
Consider the line officially cut.
Amani & Marcus are on the bus.
Marcus fist bumps his buddy.
MARCUS: It’s like being at the back of the plane again.
It’s the roomiest part of the bus. I think the other teams will be jealous.
I bet the six teams regret not paying the driver to leave right at 7:00am. It has worked in other seasons. Now nobody has an advantage over Amani & Marcus’ presumable lousy Speed Bump.
We get the traditional ‘look at the poverty of Africa’ scene. Marcus says it was magical for him to take in that he was in Africa.
MARCUS: Just to see it as majestic as it was. See in any direction for miles and see the people walking on the streets and people carrying on their heads.
You just realized that, Marcus? Carrying things on your head?
Nobody is carrying anything on their head here. They must feel as light as a feather!
It looks more like Nevada.
MARCUS: I just really took inventory of how fortunate we are in the US.
For some people in the US, Marcus. Keep in mind you are a multimillionaire basketball player who is likely not hovering around the poverty line of a good chunk of Americans.
In other news, I think Bill & Cathi should adopt these two animals for their farm.
The bus pulls into Salima.
MARCUS: Lord have mercy.
It’s either that or a NFL reference.
In other news, we are getting very precise time stamps today.
I would love a bagel!
I presume this is routine for every time a bus pulls into Salima from Lilongwe.
For the first time ever, the Speed Bump board is moving and controlled entirely by an individual. I’d pay him twenty bucks to start running in the opposite direction and see how long it takes for Marcus to catch up and tackle him to the ground.
Andy sees the clue!
Whoa! Good thing Andy chose not to run for once. Otherwise the mother and her baby could have tipped over.
It’s a Roadblock.
Phil says this Roadblock requires one team member to use a local bicycle taxi known as a kabaza, and deliver a passenger carrying fish to one of three specific addresses written on their fish. Once they drop their customer off at the right address, they must return to the start and hand over their earnings to the kabaza dispatcher to receive their next clue.
For a guy who loves bicycles and even made a documentary about it, I am amazed Phil isn’t demonstrating this task.
And you thought the bus smelled bad.
“Ah! My Uber!”
Bill & Cathi and Justin & Jennifer need to pay attention to this part of the task—pay the driver.
Clue givers sure love stretching their arms.
All of the men hold up their fish proudly.
It is mad scramble and it takes a while to even establish who is all doing this Roadblock. Cindy is doing it.
CINDY (nearly touches the fish): Ew.
That’s their dinner, Cinds. They haven’t had a chance to put the seasoning on yet.
Easy enough address to memorize.
Laurence and Andy are also doing the Roadblock. It is also a scramble for everyone to ask for directions.
LAURENCE: Mitikoula! Mitikoula, anybody?
They can’t wait to be out of the busy street and pedalling into the villages.
ROADBLOCK: ANDY, CINDY, JENNIFER, LAURENCE, CATHI, SANDY
JENNIFER: I am horrible on bikes.
This is not Jennifer’s idea of fun.
This guy was probably hoping to be picked up by Cindy, Jennifer, or Sandy.
SANDY: I am gonna get killed.
I think your passenger agrees, Sandy.
Marcus finds the Speed Bump.
After arriving last in the previous leg, Amani & Marcus must now complete a Speed Bump. They’ll have to configure the new Malawian flag using a slide puzzle. If they can slide all of the pieces into the right place, they can continue racing.
FUN FACT: The new flag was discarded less than a year after the filming of the episode. It served as the national flag from July 29 2010 until May 28 2012.
New Malawian flag which is now the old flag.
The old flag which is now the new flag.
Once again, a Speed Bump this season is like a quarter of a Survivor immunity challenge.
There must be no wind because that flag is not blowing at all.
FUN FACT: I used to play in online versions of Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race for years (ORGs). I was known as somebody who could win A LOT of immunity challenges and do well at whatever game the host designed for us each round. However, I did have one achilles heel?
My achilles heel? Slide puzzles.
Normally I would say this Speed Bump is another lame one and for most people would require just a few minutes to solve, but I got stuck with a slide puzzle in an ORG as a Roadblock and was forced to use my Express Pass on it after wasting forty minutes on it.
Logan. Just. Can’t. Do. Slide. Puzzles.
If somebody held a gun to my head and ordered me to solve it or else I’d die, you would find my body in the morgue by next morning.
I feel your pain, Ghandia. I feel your pain.
Amani & Marcus use the flag as reference.
Wait a second. Did a White local person just walk by in Malawi?
I normally don’t point out racial things in this blog, but White people are so rare in Malawi that they fall under the category of ‘other’.
Andy tells us he is excited to be doing another cycling task. He repeats his previous story of how much he loves cruising on bikes.
ANDY: As a kid, I used to put someone on the handlebars and on the back. So I know what it’s like to balance someone on the bike.
Aren’t you forgetting someone, Andy? I am certain it was four.
You’re forgetting Jesus, Andy. Jesus is always with you on the bikes.
Laurence notes he could be cycling in the wrong direction with Sandy.
LAURENCE: Right now it’s like finding a hare on an elephant’s butt.
If a hare was on an elephant’s butt, I am sure we would all notice, Laurence. Weird British sayings.
Speaking of butts, I think Laurence’s is way too close to the local’s crotch for comfort.
LAURENCE: That saddle wasn’t fluffiest spongiest saddle in the whole world.
Probably because it felt like a very hard saddle.
LAURENCE: It was something that could crush it in a heartbeat if you hit the wrong bump.
Yeah, definitely hit the wrong bump.
SANDY: Let’s do this together. We’ll bang it out.
I love the casual fish in tow.
JENNIFER (sarcastic): I love bumps on a bike.
So does he. We call this the #SalimaGrind.
Jennifer asks for directions to the shop.
Jennifer hopes he means straight and not physically up a mountain.
Nope. He really meant up.
The locals are all sipping on Carlsberg and watching this go down. . .I mean up.
These two kids are wearing gis. They must be on their way to Tae Kwon Do class.
Cathi asks for directions and is told to turn around. She does so.
In classic Cathi fashion.
Cindy sees kids running after her bike.
CINDY: This is nuts. I have no idea why these kids aren’t in school.
Let’s examine that one.
Filming ran from June 18 to July 10. That would be twenty-two days. Given that the travel routes they have completed thus far from LA to Asia and Asia to Africa is much longer than the last few legs all around Europe, I would estimate the seventh leg of the race which means it filmed around June July 1st or July 2nd.
Which means it was very possible that this leg was filmed on the weekend. In other words, the kids aren’t in school because it would be the days off from class.
I would be more worried about Ernie getting jealous when he sees this footage.
CINDY: Malawi is very different from the other African countries I have been to. It is much more primitive. A lot less developed.
I don’t think the locals will want to hear you refer to them as ‘primitive,’ Cindy.
CINDY: They also carry things on their head.
Just kidding. Cindy didn’t actually say that last part.
Cindy isn’t being mildly racist in what she is referring to for Malawi, though.
Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique started MAJOR economic development more than any of the other countries in Africa over the past ten years. In fact, they are ranked at the top for experiencing the biggest economic growth of any country in the WORLD over the past three or four years. Malawi is the only country within this section that isn’t seeing a piece of the action.
CINDY: With English being the official language, no one seems to speak English or understand bits and pieces of it.
Try northern Scotland then get back to me, Cindy.
Let’s put Cindy’s commentary on pause for a second as she asks locals for directions.
That dude is wearing a condom shirt. And not just any condom shirt. It is a Trojan Magnum one. For those of you who don’t know, Trojan Magnum is marketed towards people who -think- they have a big penis.
And this guy is wearing Trojan Magnum. XL. XL.
And I wasn’t kidding about this.
And Cindy is so focused on the task at hand that she doesn’t even comment or notice the shirt.
CINDY: Is it a dirt road like that or a dirt road like this?
I’m pretty sure those are Dr. Dre lyrics rather than actual directions in Malawi.
It’s like this and like that and like this and uh. . .
CINDY: It’s the very first one?
Follow the only dirt road!
We check back in with Amani & Marcus.
Where did this crowd come from?! No one was around at the start of the task.
Marcus claps his hands and is audibly frustrated as only one piece is wrong.
AMANI: So close yet so far away.
Welcome to my world, Amani.
Locals don’t even help. They just laugh at Amani & Marcus.
Andy hears a clink in his bike. A pin falls which triggers both pedals to collapse to the ground.
Yes, Andy just said “my crank just broke” on national TV. If that happened to the Magnum guy, he would be dead.
This is a tougher fix than Ernie’s bike in Indonesia.
ANDY: Holy cow. The crank system just came apart. My bike is done.
“And I didn’t even do any wheelies this time!”
Cindy is first to a location.
I don’t even know what this place is supposed to be.
Follow the only first road back.
Editors put in the extra time to create two graphics for this Roadblock. Bravo, guys.
We cut back to the Speed Bump. The crowd is very hushed.
This is the quietest crowd that Marcus has ever played for. It’s like a chess match.
Amani says she loves puzzles, but finds it more tense because the longer she takes the further away the other teams are getting. Well, except for Cindy who has almost made her way back to the bus station, but you get the point.
Two suns and a cell phone signal strength drawing is the Malawi flag, right?
“Why couldn’t this be the logo for the Indianapolis Colts?”
Commercial break. We resume.
Amani & Marcus try to completely start over. Marcus decides to control the puzzle.
Has the switch helped?
Nope. Their puzzle looks more like the flag of Kenya right now.
Meanwhile, Andy tries fixing his bike.
I wonder if Andy always had two people with him on the handlebars in case he needed somebody to fix his bike in the past.
Andy finds somebody with a tool box.
Let’s MacGyver it up in this bitch.
Hammer that crank!
Andy his buddy ride away once again.
Sandy and Laurence are somewhat lost.
SANDY: Let’s go back and ask these people.
SANDY: Laurence and I are working together, but I don’t know if we’re helping each other much. It’s just the blind leading the blind right now.
“You’re telling me!”
LAURENCE: Tour de France here we come!
So British. So so so British.
Laurence receives directions from a local.
No one makes eye contact with Laurence for some reason.
LAURENCE: C’mon Sandy. C’mon Sandy you can do it.
Balance. . .
Andy finishes his deliver with Cathi only seconds behind him.
I guess Cathi didn’t have to worry about damaging her crank.
Cathi has her clue with her to confirm she is doing everything correctly. The man on the left is suspicious of the camera.
The kids wait for everyone’s partners at the bus station. They even look the same direction.
Cindy is back.
CINDY: Are you the main dude?. . .Where is everyone else?
Cindy is always the perfectionist. Anytime she makes a small mistake she assumes somebody else had to have capitalized on it and get ahead.
The main dude hands Cindy her clue. Even with speaking English, the “main dude” may not understand what Cindy meant by that.
Ernie & Cindy read the clue. It’s an Insta-Detour.
This U-Turn is going to be brutal for whoever is on the receiving end of it.
Phil says Lake Malawi has more species of fish than any other lake in the world and is the lifeblood for millions of people.
Phil is happy to remain on shore.
In this Detour, teams must choose between Dugout or Lugout.
A crowd has gathered behind Phil to our right.
In Dugout, teams must participate in the Lake Malawi canoe race Amazing Race style. They must choose a traditional canoe and paddle out to drummers. When they make it back to shore, the fisherman will hand them their next clue.
When I saw Dugout as a Detour option, I was really hoping for a baseball task.
If this were TAR 29, they would be racing against professionals.
“How long do I have to hold this mask up for? Do you want to switch?”
I see the finish line is decorated with the colours of the country’s flag.
That guy must be roasting in that outfit.
Lugout requires teams to unload cargo from a ferry boat just like the locals. Working together, they will carry two boxes of cabbage, two bundles of sugar cane, two bundles of brooms, one chair, one fan, and eight passengers who expect to stay dry. Once they’ve unloaded all of their cargo, a porter will hand them their next clue.
“Hopefully enough teams pick this task so I can get off this boat.”
We go from a guy in a condom shirt to a guy wearing a 69 shirt.
I can’t wait to use these brooms for a Quidditch match.
Am I the only one worried about an electrical object being carried through water?
Next time you walk this trail alone, granny!
Why doesn’t Phil help unload?
Ernie & Cindy do Dugout. They jump back into their cab.
Andy arrives back at the bus station doing a wicked turn.
“Look at the way I pulled off that turn. I am the fucking man.”
ANDY: Dude, you wouldn’t believe my bike fell apart!
Why wouldn’t Tommy believe it? Is he a skeptic?
Andy finishes the Roadblock in second. He is surprised only one team beat him.
Amani & Marcus keep working on the Speed Bump.
Is watching somebody do a slide puzzle really the most interesting thing you guys can do today?
The locals start helping.
“Green to the empty spot.”
Marcus keeps encouraging Amani.
This child is not impressed.
Amani keeps shuffling pieces around until. . .
It is done!
Thumbs up works in Malawi too.
Amani makes Marcus do the Roadblock. I assume the slide puzzle took about twenty minute sto complete.
Marcus tells us he did a lot of bike riding in preparation for the race.
MARCUS: I put eighty pound sandbag in kit gear and rode it up a hill so I was just zoomin’.
That’s damn good preparation.
Buckle up, passenger! Prepare for ludicrous speed!
Jennifer drops off her passenger.
She has the dollar sign and can now go back.
JENNIFER: Oh crud. I don’t have my clue so I don’t know what I am supposed to do next. I handed my clue to Justin.
I said SHE HAS THE DOLLAR SIGN AND CAN NOW GO BACK.
JENNIFER: So he pays me and I do something. Something about a Bike Master.
“A Bike Master?”
“Are you a Bike Master?”
JENNIFER: I don’t know where that is. Shoot.
“Is that tumbleweed a bike master?”
Everyone stands around awkwardly.
JENNIFER: Hmmmm. Interesting.
“Pedalling back just seems a bit -too- easy.”
Laurence and Zac find the drop-off point.
SANDY: Good. Money. Laurence, let’s go back and not forget.
Cathi is the third person back. She and Bill head into a taxi.
Marcus keeps riding.
MARCUS: The language barrier is off the chain! They’re not understanding me and feel like I am getting further and further away!
The truck gives directions to a guy built like a truck. Just keep going straight, Marcus.
LAURENCE: Where’s the captain?
I believe the proper title is “Main Dude,” Laurence.
Laurence completes the Roadblock in fourth place.
SANDY: How far back are we?
JEREMY: We’ve got two more to come in.
Granted it’s the chick who has completely forgotten this task and the guy who started this challenge twenty minutes behind everyone else.
SANDY: We went so far our way. That was hard. Nobody spoke English and I am not good with kids.
“Unless it involves headbutting soccer balls.”
Justin continues to wait for Jennifer. He has no idea where she is.
Just standing here. . .
All she needs to do is tap her foot and she’d be just like a Sonic continue screen.
JUSTIN: Once she pulls up, we’ll keep moving.
Keep moving? Jennifer has to -start- moving to begin with!
Jennifer is going to go up to a main street to check to see if another team is coming.
She isn’t even pedalling up to the main street. I think Marcus is going to catch up quickly.
Sure enough he does. Marcus drops off his passenger and fish, gets paid, and starts making his way back.
Ernie & Cindy thank their driver who is named G as they are at the Detour location. Andy & Tommy are there too. Both teams hold their cab.
ERNIE: Monkeys everywhere.
Ernie & Cindy and Andy & Tommy run to find the Dugouts.
Something tells me Andy & Tommy won’t be riding in that boat.
Saddest drummers ever.
Future rowing Olympians.
“Screw you! I am not giving you this rock!”
Cindy says this is all nuts.
Why, Cindy? Because people are dancing on the beach?
Dancing in the water?
Dancing on a boat?
Dancing in the street?
Ernie instructs Cindy that they must shove the Dugout into the water.
ERNIE: Shove it in.
CINDY: Oh my god. Really?
Usually they swap in saying these statements.
Liz & Marie would have had a helluva time with this option.
Andy sprints at full speed.
I hear sprinting on a beach doesn’t work for some people.
I think Ernie & Cindy might be losing this paddle race to Andy & Tommy.
“Let’s roll dude!”
ERNIE: Babe, I think we’re turning too much!
You guys are already prematurely heading for the finish!
ANDY: Let’s rock and roll.
Andy & Tommy are so unconcerned with paddling that they are having casual conversation about the scenery.
Marcus completes the Detour in sixth place.
Amani chooses Lugout after Marcus wants her to pick the Detour task. They enter a cab.
AMANI: You gotta go fast like your mama is in the hospital and you’ve got to get to her.
That might be a bit extreme, Amani.
JUSTIN: I am hoping Jennifer is okay. All of the other teams are gone.
If Jennifer doesn’t come back with at least two bruises, Justin is going to wonder what the hell took her so long.
Justin somehow finds himself in Peru at a bus station.
JENNIFER: Has anybody seen any other Americans? Maybe? No?
I think it’s a no, Jennifer.
JENNIFER: I’m frustrated because I have to wait on another team. The only thing I can do is watch the entrance to the village and wait.
How long until Jennifer realizes everyone is finished the Roadblock is the question.
Ain’t nobody coming, Jenn.
A chunk of daylight passes.
JENNIFER: I don’t want to chug along in either direction and do the wrong thing. This is crazy.
That kid could roll that tire all the way back to Salima before Jennifer makes a decision.
The one girl has mastered the Chris Farley dance from SNL.
And Jennifer continues to watch the village unfold.
Commercial break. We resume. Jennifer is in the same spot.
JENNIFER: I have lost track of time.
That means it has been a while.
Jennifer is so hungry that she’ll soon have to resort to eating her own shirt! That’s how long it has been!
JENNIFER: I am gonna try taking the bike back to the bike rack at the bus station where I got the bike from. Maybe I’ll see somebody along the way who can let me see their clue. I don’t know what else to do.
“Just let ice hockey players bail you out, Jenn!”
Jennifer is going to kick herself big time when she gets back to the bus station.
We go back to the Dugout showdown. Ernie & Cindy are at the finish!
Well, that’s because they have been circling it the whole time. They actually haven’t gone anywhere.
ERNIE: Did Andy & Tommy figure out how to go faster?
I think they might have, Ernie.
a) Well, they are close to shore so it’s not like they have made significant progress in this task.
b) This thing expires next leg or the leg after that anyway, and there is still one more NEL left to go in this season
c) If you use it right now, you’re going for a prize rather than some irrelevant position in the middle of the group.
But you better decide quickly because Andy & Tommy are making the currents of Lake Malawi their bitch.
They agree to use it. Ernie & Cindy are also doing it to avoid being U-Turned. If you want first place, this is the perfect situation to use it. . .even though an equalizer will be right around the corner.
Thankfully they don’t have to paddle back to shore. Ernie can just push the damn thing.
CINDY: We would like to use our Express Pass.
I doubt the porter is going to know what the hell you are talking about, Cindy.
I am almost certain the porter had to look at a producer off-screen and be told just to hand Ernie & Cindy the next clue.
The irrelevant Express Pass is out of play.
ERNIE: Fly to Jamaica!
JAMAICA! THE U-TURN BOARD IS IN JAMAICA! Good luck surviving -that- one, guys! It’s only a 24 hour flight in the opposite direction when you get to the U-Turn board!
Oh. Jamaica SHOP. Well I for one am disappointed.
Ernie & Cindy run back the way they came.
Ernie & Cindy don’t even get to play with the monkeys. Tragic.
Andy & Tommy paddle around the drummers. That is the halfway point.
Random local jumps in the water.
I am sure a producer will save him.
Thumbs up! He’s okay!
Bill pushes Cathi’s butt through the gate to Lake Malawi.
I don’t know why editors included this, but they did.
Bill & Cathi are surprised by the locals dancing.
And by underwater cartwheels.
Cathi’s jazz hands for the crowd.
CATHI: You want front or back?
BILL:I go in the front you go in the back.
With them it’s usually the other way around.
I have never seen so many people gather to watch the elderly paddle a boat.
BILL: My butt is going to be so sore.
Sandy rejects the man’s invitation to crump with her.
Laurence & Zac show up seconds later. They get into the dugout.
Laurence shouts at Zac to back paddle.
Zac tries to calm him down as Laurence keeps shouting about back paddling.
It doesn’t help.
Laurence & Zac pause as Laurence instructs Zac to paddle on a specific side and steer. Jeremy & Sandy are spinning.
JEREMY: You’ve got to—uhhhh. You’ve got to turn the boat.
SANDY: I am! Don’t yell at me.
JEREMY: Sandy, you’re in control of the turning, okay?
SANDY: Oh, okay. Please don’t yell. Let me turn. Let me just turn.
Ernie & Cindy are asking locals where the Jamaica Shop is. One of the locals gives Cindy some really good advice.
OK, that is pretty hilarious. It would be like asking “How would you make this car turn right?” and somebody responded with “by making it turn right”.
Cindy unintentionally follows the man’s advice and asks more people. I doubt people from Malawi and people from Jamaica even know the other exists.
Like, what overlapping ties could these two countries have?
ERNIE: We’re definitely wasting our lead looking around for this thing.
They are better off waiting for Andy & Tommy and hoping they settle for a game of rock-paper-scissors at the pit stop mat.
Amani & Marcus pass by the obligatory shot of animals on the side of the road.
We get a pep talk from Marcus.
MARCUS: I don’t want to be barely scraping by. I want to get up in this thing. We’ve got to be thinking our time is NOW! Our time is now!
It’s like the 1 hour and 25 minute mark of every sports movie ever.
MARCUS: You’ve got move, goat! You’ve got to move! That’s what I’m talking about, my man. Lay on that horn.
I wonder what would happen if the horn didn’t work and Marcus’ driver runs over that goat? I have a feeling that footage would not make it onto TV.
MARCUS: That’s how I used to do it when I was running that football. I just lay on that horn. “Get out of the way, Miami Dolphins! I’m coming through! I’m coming! I’m coming!
MARCUS’ NFL REFERENCES COUNTER: 9
The drummers await Bill & Cathi.
Bill & Cathi are halfway through the Detour. Bill talks about being together for fifty years.
BILL: We kinda understand each other’s modus operandi.
Bill used that term correctly. Well done.
Cathi says things are done quickly because they don’t argue and don’t blame. Bill is temporarily wobbly but regains his balance.
Is Bill dabbing?
I think that’s a Cedric & Shawn thing.
Jeremy & Sandy are not cooperating.
JEREMY: Ah, man.
SANDY: Keep turning.
JEREMY: Stop. Stop. Look it. This is how you turn it. You put the thing in the thing and you turn it like that, okay? You push forward or backwards. One way or the other, okay?
SANDY: Why are you yelling? You’ve got to stop yelling.
JEREMY: Well, I’m telling you how to turn the boat.
SANDY: But baby you’ve got to stop yelling.
JEREMY: OK, listen to me. Just listen to me.
SANDY: You told me yesterday you would stop yelling at me and you haven’t.
I think the only thing in the thing that Sandy wants to learn how to “you turn” is you, Jeremy.
In other news, Jeremy & Sandy never do well in boats.
SANDY: There’s Bill & Cathi.
JEREMY: God. This is embarrassing.
SANDY: Once again the sixty year olds Bill & Cathi were straight as an arrow and they were just cool and calm and we’re not.
“Those damn old people being harmonious and shit.”
SANDY: So once again they put us to shame.
We cut back to them paddling.
Careful, Jer! If you turn into the Incredible Hulk, that dugout is going to tip over! Keep cool, son!
Justin is worried about Jennifer being hurt.
But I think he’ll be disappointed if Jenn isn’t at least a -little- hurt.
JENNIFER: Justin, I need the clue!
JUSTIN: You had it.
JENNIFER: I handed it to you with everything else. I don’t have it.
Note that all Jennifer has to do is walk over to the bike manager who is probably just fifteen away and this whole scene goes away.
She reads the clue.
This is all she had to do.
Jennifer apologizes and Justin is surprisingly chill about it. I guess now is not the time for their usual conflict.
Ernie & Cindy find a reception desk. Where is the Jamaica shop?
It will probably be easier to ask locals for directions to “Chigumukile Village” rather than asking where the Jamaica Shop is.
The locals keep dancing in the water.
A future High Jump champion!
Andy & Tommy cross the finish line.
Andy does a flip of his own.
So does Tommy.
The name of the village appears right on the clue.
“Rock on, Malawi!”
It’s like the kids running with Rocky.
Ernie finds the village.
Cindy notes that Andy & Tommy with their classroom entourage is right behind.
It’s time to align after all.
The kids know all about Jamaica, mon. Andy & Tommy realize Ernie & Cindy have been told where to go and follow them.
Ernie is lagging behind.
Ernie & Cindy find the Double U-Turn board; we cut into Phil explaining the Double U-Turn.
And yes, this is the debut of the electronic U-Turn board. It will not last long because teams will complain about the glare in every single season. Apparently it was really difficult to see who you were picking!
In case you found this blog without watching any other seasons of TAR, this is where a team can force another team behind them to complete the Detour task that they didn’t do beforehand. Two separate teams can exercise this power.
CINDY: We choose not to U-Turn anybody.
ERNIE: We don’t like being mean-spirited.
“Unless it is a Blind U-Turn and nobody would know we are ruthless af.”
Ernie & Cindy receive their clue.
Livingstonia? Gee, I wonder who that was named after.
Lake Malawi was nicknamed Lake of Stars.
Because the sun looks like a star.
This nickname came from famous explorer Dr. Livingstone.
Those birds look like penguins.
The first hotel built on Malawi’s lakeshore was named in Dr. Livingstone’s honour. It is the seventh pit stop in a race around the world.
Phil Keoghan, I presume?
I wonder if Phil will check in teams by casually laying in the reclining chairs?
Ernie & Cindy’s lead on Andy & Tommy is under a minute. Given that this is a foot race and Andy & Tommy are one of the fastest teams ever, this might not end well.
Andy & Tommy with their cardboard necklaces opt not to U-Turn anyone.
Amani & Marcus choose to Lug It Out.
But not before Marcus feels the rhythm.
Both Amani & Marcus are carrying fans.
“I just had knee surgery. Thank you for carrying me.”
MARCUS: Pre-training camp workout. It’s all legs.
MARCUS’ NFL REFERENCES COUNTER: 10
And the dismount.
I don’t know how but Amani’s fan is currently spinning! Is it running on solar power or something?
A great shot of Lake Malawi.
Ernie & Cindy ask for directions to the Jamaica Shop from their taxi driver Gee.
Peace out, G Unit. It was nice knowing you.
Ernie & Cindy say that a ten minute run to the pit stop is way too far.
Look at this long trail.
I bet Cedric would have had a heart attack before the pit stop.
Andy & Tommy follow the same road as Ernie & Cindy.
TOMMY: It’s gonna hurt.
ANDY: I know.
What is on this road?!
Justin & Jennifer are sad in the cab. Jenn feels bad about not just biking back to the starting point to get her clue. Justin comes up with a strategy for the remainder of this round.
JUSTIN: We just have to keep running then get to the mat and find out what place we are in.
I think you just described every leg ever, Justin.
Bill & Cathi complete the race.
Laurence continues giving out instructions to Zac.
Very specific instructions. Just say the right side, dammit.
“Time to practice my jousting!”
Amani & Marcus keep on moving.
Marcus is indeed wearing an ass for a hat.
Yeah, this task is simpler than paddling but a helluva lot more physical.
Amani is not enjoying this task much either. Marcus tells her to dig like Jeff Probst.
Marcus has an idea to make the Detour easier.
Sorry Marcus, no babies on board. If only the Be Sharps were from Malawi!
Or ask this baby vendor.
Marcus tries to mime a baby for the non-English speakers on board.
MAN: We’ve got no babies! No babies!
Cindy is out of breath and has Ernie carry her bag. He is still moving faster than her.
Two physical days in Malawi is taking its toll on Cindy.
ERNIE: Babe, this is where we lose every time.
And Cindy is worried it will happen again.
ERNIE: Andy & Tommy are right behind us. I’m sure we’ll see them any minute now. . .This is for first place so Cindy better pick it up because I have her BAG.
Ernie & Cindy have yet to see Andy & Tommy behind them as they see the sign for the hotel. Both teams are shown running over and over again.
Hump ahead? I guess that is one way to describe the pit stop resting periods for couples on The Amazing Race.
Andy & Tommy think they see Cindy. Judging by the camera work, Andy & Tommy are behind by about two hundred metres.
So that’s what happens when you play with the static balls at Science World.
You become one.
Also, one last shot of people carrying stuff on their heads.
This is close.
Tommy drops his bag to boost his speed.
Commercial break. A very rare commercial break where the cliffhanger is for two teams preparing to finish the leg in first place. We resume. Of course we see the same footage again. This is taking up two minutes of airtime.
CINDY: Boys, please let us win!
Cindy attempts the classic “You’ve won too many legs!” tactic that Nate used on Azaria & Hendekea repeatedly in Burkina Faso.
CINDY: Babe, I can’t.
ERNIE: Just go, Cindy.
Ernie makes his backpack fly.
Cindy gives up on winning this leg right about. . .
. . .Now.
Ernie has some words for Andy & Tommy.
If only you used your U-Turn against Andy & Tommy.
Ernie receives a very unwanted hug.
Phil asks Ernie to join everyone at the mat, but I think Ernie is closer to vomiting than he is to the mat.
CINDY: Oh my gosh. Are you serious?
Cindy collapses onto her ass.
“Is every team going to be like this when they show up, Phil?”
Cindy is ready to make Sand Angels.
Cindy thinks over the turn of today’s events.
She crawls to the shade like a person dying of thirst.
“I’m good right here, Phil. Just tell me I am second and I can go.”
A producer off-screen asks Cindy to get onto the mat.
CINDY: I have to go over there?
This image alone indicates that these two teams are the most competitive in the cast.
I think both teams will kill Phil if this turns into a Keep On Racing leg.
It is silent as we hear all four panting, out of breath, and exhausted.
PIT STOP GREETER (super cheerful): Welcome to Lake Malawi!
Well that’s one way to break the awkward tension.
TOMMY: Thank you! I like your hair!
Andy & Tommy are always complimenting beards and/or hair when it comes to pit stop greeters.
Only Ernie has enough energy to raise his arm.
FIRST PLACE: ANDY & TOMMY
SECOND PLACE: ERNIE & CINDY
In round 2 of TAR 30, Cody & Jessica won 2.5k each for finishing in first place.
What do Andy & Tommy get for winning round seven of TAR 19?
A Discover card worth 7.5k each thanks to the generosity of J.L. Webb.
Was this filmed at the hotel?
And look, skiing for Andy & Tommy!
Phil reminds Andy & Tommy that they have won five out of seven legs. He proceeds to ask Ernie & Cindy if they are frustrated after using the Express Pass but still coming a few steps short.
PHIL: You’re frustrated?
CINDY (huff): I don’t know.
CINDY: We could’ve been first three different legs if our decision making was better.
ERNIE: And this time it was literally inches.
Someone has been hanging around Liz & Marie literally a bit too much.
We move on as Amani threatens to vomit at the Detour and Laurence talks about paddling on port.
MARCUS: C’mon, you can throw up later.
“That’s what Phil’s shoes are for!”
But if you throw up in the lake, you provide free bait for the fish!
Laurence & Zac finish the Detour in fourth place.
LAURENCE: We have to U-Turn somebody.
Well you don’t HAVE to.
They say only Amani & Marcus or Jeremy & Sandy are behind them. They have completely forgotten about Justin & Jennifer.
Amani must be thrilled this is her last package to bring back to shore.
SANDY: Let’s get to this boat.
Jeremy’s Caveman Rowing technique cracks me up.
SANDY: We’re almost there.
JEREMY: Put a stop on the right.
SANDY: I am.
JEREMY: Stop on the right. K. Good job. Good steer.
Jeremy & Sandy are over halfway there.
Bill & Cathi step onto the mat.
CATHI: Can I get an appointment?
“I am fully booked, madam!”
PHIL: Bill and Cathi, you continue to surprise. You are team number three!
The only time old people surprise us is when they wet themselves about twenty minutes after the previous time they wet themselves.
PHIL (to pit stop greeter): Almost fifty years together.
GREETER: That’s good. Awesome.
“That’s nearly the entire average life expectancy of your people!”
Phil asks the secret to their relationship is communication and patience.
A man with hair like that knows everything about patience.
Phil thinks it is inspiring for people to watch Bill & Cathi race around the world and kick some ass.
Justin says he and Jennifer perform well in a sea kayak and are hoping to catch up at the Dugout task. Jenn is weak but refuses to quit.
Marcus is down to his last person.
MARCUS: Let’s go. Let’s get it.
And yes, the last man Marcus carries is using his head to keep an object stable.
“I guess I won’t be getting off of this boat.”
Amani & Marcus complete the Detour.
Although it nearly injured the guy on top.
Everyone applauds and cheers while Marcus shouts for someone to tell him where the Jamaica Shop is located. Laurence & Zac are told to go back the way they came.
Somehow Amani & Marcus beat Laurence & Zac to the Jamaica Shop.
Marcus sees Jeremy & Sandy are still on the water. He realizes they are in good shape and decide not to U-Turn.
Laurence & Zac see the Jamaica Shop.
Remember: Laurence & Zac squeeze through the entrance to the village of the Jamaica Shop at the same time that Amani & Marcus are exiting it. I can’t stress this enough.
Unless Amani & Marcus are completely blind, it is very obvious that Amani & Marcus have already received their clue at the Double U-Turn board.
Laurence & Zac are at the first ever electronic U-Turn board.
That glare does seem brutal.
ZAC: Amani & Marcus or Jeremy & Sandy?
ZAC: We choose to U-Turn Marcus & Amani because we’re one of the last teams right now.
LAURENCE: I hope they hadn’t just come past. They were going the wrong way.
“Because it would make us feel really dumb if they had found the U-Turn board before us.”
JEREMY: C’mon. We’re almost there. We got this.
SANDY: We’re last. I think the other teams are done.
JEREMY: Thank you. Let’s go.
SANDY: We’re the last team babe. Back to our taxi.
Judging by the way everybody has been talking, I believe they all assume that Justin & Jennifer have already come by and completed the Detour. Perhaps this is compounded by the fact that nobody sees them during the entire task. Jeremy & Sandy are gone before Justin & Jennifer show up.
JUSTIN: Hopefully we’re not too far behind.
I think you are, Justin. Jeremy & Sandy were spared from a 50/50 shot of being U-Turned by Laurence & Zac.
Jeremy & Sandy are told the Jamaica Shop is at the beach by their taxi driver.
SANDY: You think it’s this way?
JEREMY: No, I don’t know.
Justin & Jennifer are walking down the steps to the beach.
SANDY: Where are we going, hon? Babe, we’ve got to go back down.
Justin & Jennifer strap on their vests and don’t see any teams. I wonder how edited the timeing of this is.
Justin & Jennifer are pushed into the water by a local. Justin screams.
Justin is nearly tipping.
JENNIFER: Can you steer?
JUSTIN: We have to go around one of the canoes.
JENNIFER: They’re out there.
JUSTIN: I know. Trying to steer that way–
JENNIFER: I just asked if you could steer that way. That’s all I’ve asked you.
JUSTIN: Oh my god.
JENNIFER: Just relax. Take your time.
I don’t think this is the time to be taking your time, Jenn.
The pink toque roots them on.
SANDY: We’ve got to go back down.
JEREMY: Shit. It’s all the way in the other direction.
This suspense is pointless. Justin & Jennifer aren’t going to complete this whole task before Jeremy & Sandy find Jamaica Shop.
Justin & Jennifer keep paddling.
SANDY: Chicken bingo. Here we go. We need to find the Jamaica Shop.
OK, Sandy didn’t actually say Chicken Bingo.
FOURTH PLACE: AMANI & MARCUS
Marcus thinks he knows what’s need to be done to push for first place in each leg.
SANDY: Right here, honey. Marcus and Amani got U-Turned. We choose not to U-Turn anybody.
JEREMY: Thank you. Make your way on foot to the next pit stop.
SANDY: Let’s go. We need to pay our taxi.
This is the most ineffective U-Turn since TAR 15 when Lance & Keri U-Turned Sam & Dan.
Laurence & Zac make it to the mat.
FIFTH PLACE: LAURENCE & ZAC
No mat chat for you.
I don’t think Jennifer will be sprinting fast enough to catch up with Jeremy & Sandy.
I wonder if the locals know not to wait for anymore teams?
Jeremy & Sandy are at the pit stop.
JEREMY: C’mon. This is it.
PHIL: Jeremy & Sandy. . .
PHIL: You are team number six and you are still in this race.
PHIL: Cut it close.
JEREMY: We’re doing the best we can but it’s really tough. We’re just trying to work together and not go in circles.
Wow. That is Jeremy’s only confessional of this whole episode. In fact, this wasn’t a very confessional heavy episode for any of the teams, but Jeremy & Sandy got by far the lowest of any team.
Justin & Jennifer casually stroll onto the mat.
Jennifer looks less defeated than Cindy did earlier.
Just hit them with the news, Phil.
LAST PLACE: JUSTIN & JENNIFER
Justin does not like this news.
Jennifer says she will feel guilty about her mistake for a while. Justin says they are a team, and their relationship has been strengthened.
JUSTIN: I know we got off to a rocky start, but then we were a hardcore racing machine.
Remember the time Justin & Jennifer won five out of the first seven legs?
At least that kid is having fun today.
And away they go. Soon to be forgotten.
Next Time on TAR: Teams hit the dance floor in Denmark. Amani & Marcus get puffed up. And Ernie & Cindy make a game-changing move.
RYAN STORMS 0
NUMBER OF TIMES MENTIONED IN THE ‘NEXT TIME ON’ SEGMENT
JEREMY & SANDY 2
ERNIE & CINDY 2
AMANI & MARCUS 2
JUSTIN & JENNIFER 1
BILL & CATHI 1
LIZ & MARIE 1
EVERYONE ELSE 0
RANK THE LEGS
One) Bangkok, Thailand -> Lilongwe, Malawi
Out of the first half of the season, this round definitely had the best overall design.
Obvious bonus points are awarded for going to a new country in Africa. If I recall correctly, the next new African country is not until Zimbabwe appears in TAR 27, and as of TAR 30 no other countries have been added to the catalogue. Where is the Rwanda visit, production!
We learned something interesting about Malawi other than the African stereotype of people carrying things on their heads. We learned that it is one of the biggest global producers of tobacco. This led to a very physical Roadblock which had comedic value due to how much the locals/workers were dancing and trolling around all of the contestants. We also had that awesome moment of everyone running with Marcus out of the stadium. Well, I know it was a factory, but it felt more like a stadium.
A Detour where teams picked between sewing clothes or building a carton truck seemed reasonable enough. The marketplace and the school were both neat locations. It is also funnier when Sandy gets attacked by a rogue soccer ball and Laurence being inaccurately portrayed as somebody wanting to reinforce gender stereotypes.
Teams shown trying to hire a truck (a private car allowed as a form of transportation on TAR!) or chasing one down is the neat chaos I like to see. Laurence opened the driver’s side door of a moving vehicle! Cindy was freaking out while hanging off the side of the truck, and Laurence & Zac tried to fit the beds into a small taxi.
Seeing teams try to be logical and pay their driver prior to going to the pit stop was interesting. Everyone knows the rules that you must pay your driver before you can check in, but yet two teams made that mistake. The physical labour involved with moving the beds made it Bill & Cathi’s time to shine as well as Cindy finding herself behind bars for the first time in her life.
Andy & Tommy picked up their third win because of another team’s error as well as their fourth win in five rounds making them one of the most dominant teams in the first half of a season ever. They should have been major U-Turn targets by this point.
Ernie & Cindy make small mistakes despite Cindy being a perfectionist. You can see the decline since the Taipei victory taking its toll on her.
It always amazes me how unmemorable all of Jeremy & Sandy’s footage is. They had quite a bit of content this episode, but if you look at other recaps of this episode online or what people say when this episode becomes part of a discussion, Jeremy & Sandy’s journey with the delayed truck, Sandy bleeding, or playing with the children never comes up.
Amani & Marcus suffered a lot of bad luck this leg. They and producers are happy it was a NEL. The top two from Bangkok went to the bottom two in Lilongwe (Bill & Cathi switched to sixth place this round).
I am curious what people thought of every single team choosing their male partner to do the Roadblock. There wasn’t a single woman to be found in one of the most physical Roadblocks that TAR has ever done. It would have been great to see Sandy or Cindy try to tackle it. Especially Cindy because her mixture of frustration and intensity would have been entertaining to watch.
Again, no major alliances or big rivalries are forming. Random teams comment on Bill & Cathi’s strengths or Andy & Tommy running into Laurence & Zac at a couple junctures are the only two points of interaction in this whole leg.
Two) Lilongwe, Malawi -> Senga Bay, Malawi
We enter the second half of the season as the editors make it clear they want us to pay attention to one specific storyline: Either Ernie & Cindy or Andy & Tommy are going to win this season.
The episode was all about Ernie & Cindy attempting to strategize as to how they could overcome a team that just can’t stop winning nearly every leg of the race. Other than the Bangkok bus rides, Ernie & Cindy are the only team to definitively beat Andy & Tommy in the first seven rounds. As Andy & Tommy pass Ernie & Cindy in the round’s final steps, it was very much a mentality of “they won the battle but they haven’t won the war”.
I like that this leg took place in locations we will never see on TAR again. A bunch of random villages several hours away from Lilongwe? Production avoided going to one of the more typical destinations in Africa.
I enjoyed the tasks. A slide puzzle as a one-time Speed Bump isn’t the worst idea in the world. It beats the hell out of untying knots. The Detour was difficult as you were either drained physically or had to figure out how to paddle a boat. Every season of TAR should have a paddling challenge because of how much teamwork it always requires. The cycling Roadblock also proved to be difficult for some of the teams as they were getting lost amongst the many villages spread throughout Malawi.
We also get our first U-Turn of the season. Unlike other ineffective U-Turns which typically go unaired, production decided to show this one. Maybe because the idea of a Jamaica Shop in Malawi was too cool to keep on the cutting room floor or because editors wanted to embarrass Laurence & Zac wasting their U-Turn.
I am sure to this day Jennifer doesn’t know why she was dormant for an hour at the Roadblock rather than go back and meet her partner. According to interviews, that hour is what made the difference in this leg. Just think it would have been Jeremy & Sandy that likely would have been eliminated this round, but were spared with a second-to-last place finish for the second elimination round in a row.
I am going to miss those dancing locals.
Cindy caused a bit of stir on the Interwebs with the “Malawi is primitive” comment and the way she described Malawi throughout most of this episode. I would say the remarks were very very mild in comparison to KKKendra, which I think makes the outrage very unjustified.
I mean, Cindy didn’t even really say anything that offensive. She just pointed out how it is a big contrast to anywhere she has lived or traveled to beforehand. Cindy has a very first world lifestyle and is highly educated. Everything is very structured and there is always a method as to how to create a path for everything around her and is very developed.
So I can see a place like Malawi being a bit of a shock to her system and not seeing any “progression” in terms of the resources around the country.
This is much easier to put up with in contrast to KKKendra saying “let’s go down the ghetto street” or “this is more money than you make in a year!” or “the Ethiopians choose to be poor which I find very refreshing!” or “these people keep breeding in this poverty and I can’t take it”.
Three) Taipei, Taiwan -> Joe Jer Carter, Indonesia
First off, thank god production chose to not do the Contradicting Sign Twist ever again.
Racers are instructed to follow what’s in their clue as the primary source of instruction. During the Detour, they were told to give up the Rupiah they earned to the orphanage. It said nothing about giving up your American Dollars. Teams said that even if they noticed the sign (primarily the words of Jenna Morasca) that they still would have followed what it said in their clue rather than some random sign. I believe that since Phil could have penalized them at the pit stop for not following their clue correctly or unintentionally trick teams into giving up precious money for the following round of play.
It is even worse that this twist occurs simultaneously with the Double Elimination. If the sign wasn’t there, Ethan & Jenna finish this leg in ninth and are saved over Kaylani & Lisa. That’s a potentially big change to have a ripple effect throughout the rest of the season.
This round also had what many consider to be the dumbest Speed Bump of all-time. Untying that rope took somewhere between 5-8 minutes based on the order of events on-screen. I am sure the audience was happy to see Bill & Cathi take the lead after doing the Speed Bump, but we all wished they did a bit more to earn it. Sadly nearly every Speed Bump in the future will go on to be a joke collection of tasks. I have been long advocating for a new type of NEL penalty because clearly the Speed Bump is not working.
The Roadblock was a cool location and was a decent task. A spelunking obstacle course was fun.
The Detour wasn’t particularly memorable. Because of the nineteen teams checking into the pit stop, it was one of the most condensed tasks in TAR history. I think we saw about twenty seconds of dancing and about thirty seconds of motorbikes being parked. It didn’t appear to be memorable or difficult.
The only reason this leg isn’t at the bottom is because Indonesia was a brand new location for TAR US. Other franchises beat them there but it was nice for TAR US to get it off of their check list.
Jeremy & Sandy’s only storyline of wanting the Survivor winners effectively comes to an end this round. Watch their airtime dwindle even more.
Justin & Jennifer was more annoying than it was fascinating to watch. I think the pettiness of the fighting outweighed the comedy of it which is a shame. I wish they recorded some of their physical altercations when they were younger, though. Did anyone get a broken nose?
Despite Bill & Cathi dropping to seventh because they had to run several kilometres, it was still a great comeback for a team that finished the first leg over six hours behind almost all other teams. Yes, two massive equalizers helped but at least they are no longer perceived as a team of fodder.
Kaylani & Lisa’s airtime essentially dropped down to nil this episode. For a team that made a huge blunder in the first leg and were extremely lucky to be saved this round, production didn’t want to focus on them when they aren’t doing anything jaw-dropping.
And I think Ron & Bill finished where most people expected them to this season. They were too mellow for the race.
Four) Fuckit, Thailand -> Bangkok, Thailand
I think we were all fearing the same thing: When teams had to take the bus to Bangkok, the possibility of a mass equalizer would have really messed up this round.
Luckily that wasn’t the case, but the luck of what bus you chose shifted the standings more than they should. Thankfully it produced the same elimination outcome, and didn’t truly affect anything long term. However, it was still a silly design.
In contrast to the other Bangkok legs that I have seen, it isn’t the most draining one that I have seen. Nobody fainted or anything. The only exhausted team was Laurence & Zac for needlessly ditching a first class bus or Liz & Marie who had almost no Thai money for most of this leg.
Once again, this season struggles with interesting tasks.
Disassemble and re-assemble a spirit house at a temple.
Search a river for a couple of minutes to find a wrapped koi.
Wash an elephant as a Speed Bump.
By far the most interesting part of the episode and what makes it rank higher than most of the earlier legs is that the scramble from the bus station to Bangkok Noi to the pit stop caused a lot of trouble for teams. Liz & Marie were given bad directions, Andy & Tommy lost a ton of time by hanging around a school, Jeremy & Sandy didn’t know what the hell to do, and Ernie & Cindy’s bus station frustrations and traffic frustrations led to a big shuffle right before the pit stop.
I mean, the elephants were cool, but this was the fourth episode in a row where we have seen an elephant this season. It was like a stampede.
Producers trying to leave a hint for teams to take notes on the spirit house was also a slight boost for this episode. Seeing people like Andy & Tommy, Laurence, and Ernie shut down the notion of re-assembling the spirit house was funny to watch. It wasn’t a bad idea for a Double Roadblock implementation.
Once again, a significant amount of airtime is dedicated to Ernie & Cindy and demonstrating the contrast in their personalities, and how they handle a major confrontation with a local. Given the circumstances, they didn’t go over-the-top in the moment and handled themselves quite well in confessionals when talking about the incident. Producers really want to make it their season, and give them a relatively positive edit.
However, not everyone was able to get away with a positive edit this round. Andy & Tommy stirred up a huge controversy that is still talked about online to this day. Even months after the episode aired, Andy & Tommy couldn’t respond to it in a way that produced much forgiveness from the online community. I am interested where the conversation would have gone if one of the interviewers wanted a more extended dialogue about this topic and give themselves a chance for redemption or be clearer about what they exactly meant. Because as it stands, Andy & Tommy are stuck being ranked 702nd out of all TAR teams worldwide by another TAR expert.
Another team that didn’t get such a positive edit was Laurence & Zac. Even with Bill being significantly older, Laurence was the one who came off as the grouchy old man. He told Zac not to take notes and then complained that Zac couldn’t memorize a series of subtle details while claiming he himself could do it without a single hiccup. Fast forward to the end of the episode where Phil mocks Laurence more than I have seen him mock anyone for jumping off of the first class bus.
Amani & Marcus and Bill & Cathi managed to go from frequent cellar-dwellers to claiming the top two spots for this leg. Neither team got much airtime because bigger storylines were going on, but at least we got to see both teams thinking they were the bottom two simply because of what has transpired in the past four legs. I bet both teams were riding a huge high before heading to Malawi. They were the teams that broke Andy & Tommy’s attempt to grow a hat trick into a grand slam.
Lastly, let’s talk about Liz & Marie. They received a significant amount of content in their elimination because of the unusual circumstances. It was an increasingly rare scenario where a team had to fight through multiple episodes without any cash and seeing their position continue to decline into a state of hopelessness. However, they absolutely LOVED playing with elephants in their Speed Bump. They would have probably traded the million dollars for the chance to play with elephants. The brief storyline of playing this race in honour of their recently deceased father was an added touch. None of the scenes seemed unnecessary.
P.S. Jeremy & Sandy fought through their issues like normal people.
Five) Los Angeles, California -> Taipei, Taiwan
I hate Starting Line tasks. I hate pointless Speed Bump-esque penalties that aren’t entertaining and/or serve no purpose to the race other than ‘look at this repackaged twist that we are pretending is brand new!’
I am becoming increasingly more open to NELs in the season premiere, and surprisingly I am okay with the setup for the Double Elimination twist. Eliminations in TAR have always been arbitrary, and choosing to eliminate the bottom two teams in exchange for saving a team this round is perfectly fine with me. . .even with who eventually goes home because of it. -_-
I like that producers didn’t use a single clue box this round. We had a tough billboard challenge that left old people scrambling for five hours.
The other tasks weren’t particularly interesting to watch.
The umbrella task came down to pure luck for most teams at the starting line and led to a pointless penalty that was even more pointless because of the NEL. It just cost us precious Taipei time.
The Hazard required only one person to participate while their partner did nothing.
The dragon boat task wasn’t really a task. It was all to be done in a fixed amount of time for the most part. They had twenty people helping them.
The Confucius Roadblock was alright. I wish the phrase was just a little bit longer, but was enough to stump Liz for a really long time.
I am seeing evidence of why this season doesn’t make a big impression on people. You either didn’t like the twists or were indifferent to it, and no major storylines really developed.
Cindy is controlling.
Marcus loves football.
Kaylani & Lisa had the worst start ever in TAR history, but somehow finished the leg in ninth. How far can they go? And that whole incident with Reality Fan Forum was a memorable moment.
Bill & Cathi are nice. Hopefully they don’t screw up this second chance.
Ethan & Jenna were on Survivor.
Premieres need to either grip you in with story or be hilarious to make people settle in for the ride–this was neither.
Overall, the good cancels out the bad and leaves us with a very mediocre season premiere for TAR.
Six) Joe Jer Carter, Indonesia -> Magelang, Indonesia
This leg is definitely the worst out of the first three in terms of design.
Easy cycling task where the only way the order changed is if your bike had an unintentional malfunction.
Both sides of the Detour were quick and uneventful. Either plant rice in mud or fill up grass to an arbitrary line that was either accepted or rejected based upon questionable criteria, fill buckets, and herd goats. The bags of grass still mildly annoys me since some of the teams’ bags looked really full.
The Roadblock and the Pit Stop were in the exact same location. That means whether or not you happened to settle with your cab beforehand solely determined who went home because all of the teams were close together. In other words, it was a roll of the dice to figure out who was going home.
Andy & Tommy won another leg because of a team ahead of them being penalized at the pit stop. We don’t know why the penalty was determined to be fifteen minutes rather than the standard thirty. Perhaps because the leg was so short and linear that a fifteen minute penalty was the equivalent to a thirty minute penalty in other legs.
Ernie & Cindy received a huge amount of attention during this leg as a team being aggressive and skilled at the race, and Amani & Marcus rallying from certain doom were the two key storylines of this leg. Oh, and Bill & Cathi are old people who can’t stand in tall grass. Everyone applauding whenever they complete a task is kind of hilarious as if they aren’t capable of going far in the race.
Lastly, we hit upon Kaylani & Lisa’s only non-passport storyline. Kaylani has a young child at home that she misses. Phil, Lisa, and hopefully others successfully convince Kaylani that she isn’t disappointing her daughter. It was a roller coaster for a team that goes home in the second elimination leg of the season. Considering they originally checked into the second pit stop in tenth, and Phil was on his way to eliminating them in the first leg, they are probably grateful they got three rounds in The Amazing Race.
This leg would have been much stronger if they travelled to another part of Indonesia that was outside of Java.
Seven) Joe Jer Carter, Indonesia -> Phuket, Thailand
This leg was excruciatingly linear and took place in a shorter amount of time than the leg in Joe Jer Carter.
Other than Liz & Marie struggling at the Detour and Justin & Jennifer’s usual antics, the only source of conflict in the whole episode was Jeremy & Sandy. It was extremely uneventful and was a very ‘normal people’ type of fight. Seeing two level-headed people butt heads in a diplomatic way does not make for entertaining television. If it was hilariously calm or hilariously overboard, then yeah, we want to see it, but otherwise it doesn’t need to make it beyond the editing room suite.
After TAR 14’s teams refused to do a Fast Forward for charity, we had it as one of the two Detour options. While many teams switched tasks, it seems like the amount of time lost was very minimal for everyone except Liz & Marie.
In fact, all of the mistakes this leg other than Liz & Marie cost very little time. Ernie & Cindy’s compass clue was easily corrected, Laurence & Zac were able to follow another boat, Jeremy & Sandy had to shuffle a few chairs, and Amani & Marcus couldn’t find the pit stop for a few minutes in a very limited area to search.
Setting up umbrellas and chairs was lame as a Detour task until the gusts of wind happened. The coral cage was cool and fighting the current was a legitimate challenge.
The compass task of directing your boat thirteen minutes to an island using a medallion was neat on paper, but ended up being relatively easy for everyone.
The rock climbing Roadblock was perhaps the easiest version of it I had ever seen. Maybe the ladder from Family Edition is the only one that was easier. There was no way for Liz & Marie to make up time in this round. It all truly came down to the Detour.
The floating village was bland. I wish they had done something there or showed neat things about the village. It looked like a lifeless ghost town to me unlike the Cambodian floating village from TAR 13. Production could have done so much more with it.
I don’t know why there was such a big deal made about the arrival of the flights when there was a mass equalizer to make it all pointless. Those scenes could have been cut down so much more.
And Liz & Marie were really really really lucky that they didn’t need any Thai money beyond the initial taxi ride. This leg made it obvious that Liz & Marie aren’t destined for a deep run into this season in contrast to everyone else.
No major storylines were developed this episode. Laurence & Zac messed up sailing, Liz & Marie messed up at something similar to being lifeguards, and Marcus struggled with a sports stadium. All were amusing little moments.
And yeah, this was the perfect leg design for Andy & Tommy. I estimate their morning was done in less than two hours. After three consecutive leg wins, Andy & Tommy secured their spot as the biggest target of the season.
RANK THE TEAMS
One) Ethan Zohn & Jenna Morasca
This is more of a ranking to reflect Ethan’s presence rather than Jenna’s. It is always how I have felt about this seven year dating couple on Survivor. Their Survivor personalities were repeated here in TAR 19. Jenna was always pissed off and making big mistakes like forgetting the Detour clue while Ethan was positive, interesting, and fun to watch.
Editors appeared to have very little interest in showing Jenna. They wanted Ethan to do all of the talking which was probably wise in their limited run.
Out of all of the teams to go home on the first elimination leg, Ethan & Jenna rank high up there in terms of attention attracted by the other teams. There was a surprising number of scenes where teams were talking about how much they wanted Ethan & Jenna eliminated from the race. Thankfully Ethan & Jenna weren’t completely segregated as they were shown having fun with teams like Laurence & Zac and Andy & Tommy.
It is a shame that the Contradictory Sign and the Double Elimination twist had to combine their bad taxi driver to put them in a guaranteed spot to be eliminated. I am sure Ethan was mildly embarrassed to be eliminated because of a task that required them to give money to charity.
This was supposed to be Ethan & Jenna’s epic return to competitive reality TV, and they are barely a footnote in this season. In fact, Ethan nor Jenna have not made another appearance on Survivor or TAR since then. They really should have taken that initial offer of competing against each other on Survivor: South Pacific.
I am sad. My ten year old self wanted to watch Ethan try and win again.
Two) Kaylani Paliotta & Lisa Tilley
In the first episode, they lost a passport and were saved by social media moments before Phil was going to eliminate them at the airport, thereby cancelling the Double Elimination twist.
In the second episode, they were about to be eliminated but were one of only three teams to correctly read a sign at an orphanage.
In the third episode, Kaylani missed her daughter. Then was eliminated.
That is the three episode story arc of Kaylani & Lisa.
Their opening confessional was making a comment that viewers and their opponents would only see them from the breasts and upwards. They also wanted to break the stereotype that models and showgirls have on The Amazing Race. Did they break the stereotype? Overall, probably not, but is it really Kaylani & Lisa’s responsibility to break that and rocks should be thrown at them if they didn’t succeed at that objective? Of course not. They’re just people.
I am amazed how invisible they were in the second episode. We see Kaylani cry at the pit stop and that’s it.
I am glad they found a new friend in the form of Ryan Storms ™ because of their TAR experience. That’s not a story you read about too often.
Three) Justin Young & Jennifer Young
It was tough ranking Justin & Jennifer in contrast to Liz & Marie.
Liz & Marie were one of those teams you knew were doomed to go early on TAR, but literally provided us with some running jokes on their way out.
Justin & Jennifer were a more capable team, but didn’t provide a huge amount of material.
I was surprised by how much editors pushed them onto us in the early episodes. I have spoken to other fans about this online, but they didn’t recall Justin & Jennifer fighting as much as they did until they read these blogs. That scene at the Jakarta train station ran for a while. The paddling Detour in Phuket was also another one of their more memorable fights too, and Jennifer having such a vivid sassy face that even Phil was trying to replicate it made you realize they were supposed to be one of the bigger characters of the season.
However, fast forward six years later and almost nobody remembers them. I mean, TAR 19 is generally agreed upon as the least memorable season of TAR ever, but even when TAR 19 is discussed Justin & Jennifer are never mentioned. Liz & Marie, Ethan & Jenna, and Kaylani & Lisa are all talked about more than Justin & Jennifer.
They have the best average (4.29) of any team to exit in seventh place up to this point in TAR’s history worldwide. It’s just that one mistake which put them out early.
Hopefully this blog gives them some sort of legacy.
P.S. I have been informed by reader Jordan that Justin & Jennifer are the last brother and sister team on TAR US as of the end of TAR 30.
Four) Liz Canavan & Marie Canavan
Much like Kami & Karli in TAR 5, a pair of female twins were a complete disaster on The Amazing Race. They didn’t try to board a plane without a boarding pass, but still.
You knew the chances of an all-female team winning this season was not very high after the first episode. Kaylani lost her passport and Liz couldn’t memorize a couple sentences in English. Literally.
They frequently hovered around the bottom and finished in eighth or worse in four out of their five legs. Their race truly ended at the start of round four when they forgot to exchange their Indonesian money into Thai money. Round four didn’t require much money, but Liz & Marie dropped to dead last due to their inability to fight the elements at the Detour. They finished round four hours and hours behind the other teams, and needed to stop and beg for rides non-stop in round five. I don’t think producers ever expected them to do well at any point this season.
There is something about twins on TAR where both racers think too much alike and are more prone to blatant blunders. I doubt twins will ever win a season of TAR because you need two people who think and perform in a slightly different manner.
This was confirmed by the fact that they kept finishing eighth over and over until they were eliminated.
Prior to the start of this season, I had absolutely no memory of anything Liz & Marie did. Thankfully now we have the Indonesian currency error and the running joke of overusing the word literally.
So yes. Liz & Marie now have a legacy in TARstorian. They will never be forgotten. You’re welcome.
In short: Nice people; terrible racers.
And that’s okay.
Five) Ron Zeitz & Will Smith
I don’t have much to say about Ron & Bill. They liked sweating through blue shirts, Bill didn’t know how to dance, and had fun with Phil when they were eliminated.
Ron received very little airtime in contrast to Bill. None of the other teams ever talked about them, and they were never shown interacting with the other teams.
They just wanted a fun adventure as a couple. Unfortunately, their lack of hustle kept them on the bottom after their initial arrival at LAX. In fact, LAX is a great way to describe how they ran the race.
They were somehow eliminated before other teams who almost always struggled this season.
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 eliminated team from this episode has fallen amongst the ranks of what TAR history has to offer.
2nd Teri & Ian 4.53 – FF TAR 3
6th Chris & Anastasia 4.50 TAR Australia 1
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
7th Justin & Jennifer 4.29 TAR 19
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
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 Dave & Kelly 4.10 TAR Australia 1
2nd Sam & Renae 4.083 Saved by NEL once and Used Express Pass TAR Australia 1
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
2nd Jaime & Cara 3.92 TAR 14
2nd Pamela & Vanessa 3.92 TAR Asia 2
4th A.D. & Fuzzie 3.90 – U-Turned and saved by NEL once TAR Asia 3
5th Gary & Dave 3.89 – FF TAR 2
6th Sunaina & Dimple 3.875 – Used Yield, U-Turned TAR Asia 4
2nd Kelly & Jon 3.85 Saved by NEL twice TAR 4
2nd Michelle & Claire 3.81 Used U-Turn and Yielded TAR Asia 4
1st Zabrina & Joe Jer 3.77 saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
2nd Sandy & Francesca 3.77 – Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
2nd Herb & Nate a.k.a. Flight Time & Big Easy 3.75 U-Turned and Used U-Turn TAR 18
4th Diane & Ann 3.75 – Yielded TAR Asia 2
4th Jon & Al 3.73 TAR 4
6th Charla & Mirna 3.71 TAR 5
3rd Blake & Paige 3.69 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 2
5th Millie & Chuck 3.67 FF TAR 4
5th Kynt & Vyxsin 3.63 Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR 12
1st Eric & Danielle All Stars 3.62 – Yielded Twice, saved by NEL once TAR 11
4th Mardy & Marsio 3.58 FF, saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
6th Mel & Mike 3.57 TAR 14
5th Ethan & Khairie 3.56 TAR Asia 4