Wow. That was a much longer hiatus than anticipated! After backpacking around the world for seven months and having now visited 38 countries in just over two years, I am eager to continue the most ambitious and also the most inappropriate retelling of the history of The Amazing Race. Enjoy!
Episode Blog #306
“Kentucky Goes Bollywood”
ARGENTINA – PARAGUAY – ITALY – GERMANY – AZERBAIJAN – TANZANIA – INDIA – JAPAN – UNITED STATES
Previously on TAR: Six teams continued racing through Tanzania. A Double U-Turn pitted familiar foes against each other. . .and created new ones. On the brink of elimination four legs ago, Mark & Bopper finally tasted victory while federal agents Nary & Jamie came in last and were eliminated.
Five teams remain; who will be eliminated next?
MENTIONED IN THE ‘PREVIOUSLY ON’ SEGMENT
DAVE & RACHEL 5
ART & JJ 4
MARK & BOPPER 4
VANESSA & RALPH 2
NARY & JAMIE 2
“JOEY” FITNESS & DANNY 1
MISA & MAIYA 1
DAVE & CHERIE 1
ELLIOT & ANDREW 1
KERRI & STACY 1
Let’s buckle in for the last third of the season a.k.a. Dave & Rachel rape everyone.
Phil introduces us to Lake Manyara. Home to large herds of elephant and over four hundred species of birds.
I own the same shirt as Phil. Huh.
And because the audience only wants to hear from one out of the five teams, it is time for. . .
THE MARK & BOPPER POWER HOUR!!!!
“One of my bendy-doos is in a brace, y’all.”
“Please say he can’t continue because of his bendy-doos, doc.”
I love how the medic needs a subtitle when he enters. What viewer wouldn’t figure out he is a doctor? Do they think it is a random local examining Bopper because of a knee fetish?
I doubt a doctor hears a Kentucky accent too often.
We get the third flashback to Bopper twisting his knee in leg seven.
“Do whatever you need to do to my bendy-doos, doc.”
Aaaaand we get the one millionth confessional of “we come from a poor town and need the money.”
MARK: People don’t know how badly we need this money.
“Does Sia have 14k kicking around yet.”
BOPPER: In your opinion, can I still use the knee to run?
There is a dramatic pause with the doctor.
“You can run with the brace, it will just cause permanent damage when you do so.”
This is the only time in TAR history where Bopper will be medically cleared by a doctor.
Mark & Bopper, who arrived first at an unspecified time, will depart at 9:06pm.
Mark. . .
Mark. . .
Mark. . .?
Can someone wake him up? He’s like a zombie.
Mark unenthusiastically reads they must fly 2, 900 miles to India. Cochin, India to be exact.
They haven’t been to this specific city since TAR 4.
They managed to last a whole two seasons without going to India. In fact, the longest hiatus from visiting India is after this season when they press the pause button for seven seasons.
Teams must take a bus from the bus station to Sacred Heart College where they will receive their next clue in the town of Thevara.
And why does Wikipedia spell it as Kochi instead of Cochin? Why is the last letter dropped in the name? I can see the ‘C’ switching to a ‘K’ because a lot of cities do that, but that ‘n’ is pretty critical!
This will be the first time Mark or Bopper have ever stepped foot at a college.
“Our wives love making collages! This is right up our alley, Mark!”
MARK: I don’t know how my partner’s knee is doing. . .if I have to do most of the grunt, I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever it takes.
I love how Mark’s eyes immediately deflect away from the camera when he says this. It’s as if we don’t believe what he is saying. . .
Dave & Rachel depart second at 9:07pm.
From this point forward, the next four episodes will be known as “Dave & Rachel Kicking Everyone’s Asses Until It is Black and Blue.”
Dave says the relationship with Art & JJ is severed. They don’t care.
“I think we could win this thing if Dave & Rachel weren’t here. Hopefully we all get to be invited one or two more times to prove ourselves.”
DAVE: If the relationship can we be restored, great. If not, Rachel and I will continue to race as we always have.
I like how Dave uses computer terms to reference relationships. He is so technical and specific in his vocabulary. “If we can troubleshoot our current alliance woes with Art and JJ, we will be realigned once more.”
Dave & Rachel and Mark & Bopper show up to Rickshaw Travels to book a 7:40am flight to India.
I don’t understand why we needed this exterior shot nor a subtitle of the business. Sounds like a waste of time to me. Are they promoting Rickshaw Travels? Is everyone going to go to Ngorngoro, Tanzania and book last second flights with them? I think not.
Both teams find a 7:40am flight together.
Or Rachel does, anyway. Given TAR’s future, this is one of the final seasons to consistently show airline scrambles. By TAR 30 these scenes are done for good with extremely rare exceptions.
My favourite thing about third world countries are the businesses who employ an excessive amount of employees. Do they really need to have four people working at a travel agency in the middle of nowhere after ten o’ clock at night?
Rachel anticipates the arrival of Art & JJ.
Art & JJ depart third at 9:32pm. They talk about Major Dave screwing them.
JJ: Take your army ass and get out of my face.
Art & JJ may regret this as Dave will be so far ahead that they will never have Dave in front of their face for the rest of the season.
Art & JJ enter Rickshaw Travels. They completely shun Dave & Rachel.
This isn’t awkward at all.
RACHEL: We’re not here to make friends; we’re here to win.
Reality TV Cliche 101.
BOPPER: Art and JJ are acting like babies.
MARK: They are babies.
If Mark is calling you a baby, that is saying A LOT.
Dave exits the agency.
DAVE: Thank you, Pharrell.
He tosses the deuce up. This is Dave’s attempt at being down and with it.
Anything to be down with the N.E.R.D.
Art & JJ talk about how not a word was exchanged.
Brenchel depart fourth at 11:55pm.
Who knew it would take more attempts at U-Turning Rachel before she would get eliminated from TAR.
Brendon & Rachel say they are over being U-Turned. Especially Rachel when this will happen every season to her (granted she was ahead of Caroline & Jennifer, but you know what I mean).
Brendon should return in TAR 36 and race with Elissa to prove he is the stronger racer within the couple.
Vanessa & Ralph depart last at 1:31am. Wow. They finished really far behind everyone else. For a leg that was pretty damn linear, they sure wasted a helluva lot of time.
RALPH: We got U-Turned by the Green Team a.k.a. Big Baby Crybaby. . .
With all of the material Brendon & Rachel give you, this is the best you can come up with, Ralph?
It’s like Will Mega in Big Brother 2000 where he said the show should be renamed “Big Boring” after he was evicted.
Vanessa & Ralph mention they still have a U-Turn they can use. This is back prior to TAR 29 where you could only use one public U-Turn during a season.
Vanessa & Ralph book a 6:05am flight while everyone else is on a 7:40am flight. How the hell did they do that?
Vanessa & Ralph are stuck waiting for a bus. The other four teams to catch up. Well, so much for that flight scramble.
Bopper is reduced to walking.
Somehow Dave & Rachel are the only ones on the first bus. Everyone tries to figure out where the tickets are–it’s a third world country so they buy it on the bus.
Art & JJ and Brendon & Rachel are on the second bus.
Vanessa & Ralph are on the third bus.
Mark & Bopper are alone on the final bus.
Oh my god. Nobody could even catch the same bus as Dave & Rachel. That was a quick jump into the lead. Why doesn’t anyone follow them?!
Teams remark on Indian roads being like Indian roads.
Pretty tame based on past seasons.
ART: What is that smell?
JJ: It was. . .uh, welcome to India!
Mark & Bopper are on the last bus to Thevala. Bopper just made the bus in heavy knee wraps.
And yet it’s Mark who we need to worry about.
Mark actually says “I am ready to get sicker than shit” but it gets bleeped. Hilarious.
BOPPER: I hope you don’t.
MARK: I’m going to.
The optimism of Mark Jackson once again.
Rachel & Dave arrive at Sacred College Heart.
Mark & Bopper’s biggest fans.
And you thought vuvuzelas were annoying!
Dave & Rachel open the clue. It’s a Roadblock.
The growing bubble from Sim City is back at it again.
Phil introduces us to Bollywood.
PHIL: Bollywood, India’s film industry, produces more films than any other country in the world.
Ugh, I hate it when Phil spouts out incorrect information.
“Switzerland thinks it has one of the oldest democracies. . .at least, I think they think they do!”
So does India actually produce more films than any other country in the world?
That’s right. Nollywood is bigger than Bollywood. Nollywood stars are far more popular in Africa than Hollywood stars.
TIA, Keoghan. TIA. Wait. . .that’s not the proper way to use that phrase is it?
After mastering the moves, they will join a group of thirty extras and perform it for a Bollywood director.
Rachel was a high school dance phenomenon so she has “the moves.”
Considering how short East Indians are, you think “raising the roof” would be damn near impossible.
“Why did I sign up for this?”
If this were TAR Canada, we would’ve had six dancing tasks by now. I’m not kidding. By leg 9 in TAR Canada 6 they had already done at least five dancing challenges off the top of my head. It could very well have been six.
Finger guns mean Rachel didn’t have a choice after reading the Roadblock hint.
Rachel picks a dancer because she has orange.
Huh. It is very fitting for Rachel.
Art & JJ, Rachel & Brendon, and Vanessa & Ralph are running.
Art & JJ are second to the Roadblock.
ART: Who’s got all the right moves?
JJ: It’s all you.
ART: No dude, I did the last dance.
Both military partners are busting out the finger guns to deflect being chosen for a dance task.
We get a black and white montage of Art’s dancing. I should note we had an earlier montage of Mark getting car sick in legs one and six.
“Fuck you, dude.”
“lol I don’t give a shit, Art.”
And that is why we don’t laugh at our teammates.
Rachel and Vanessa are doing the Roadblock.
DAVE: I don’t know how many male federal law enforcement agents also double as quality dancers.
It was one of JJ’s undercover ops, Dave.
Rachel Brown gets one more instruction during the routine.
So that’s who Rachel got with after she divorced Major Dave.
What’s the next piece of instruction after “shake your ass”?
Is it “watch yourself?”
Rachel is ready to have fun with the green sequins and glitter.
BRENDON: This is a great day to have a female partner on your team. Not gonna lie.
“When your partner is being instructed to shake her buttocks. . .today The Amazing Race -is- fun and good.”
Art cheers on his teammate.
JJ just needs to raise his leg and he’ll have done the Bollywood Crane Kick.
Vanessa is doing the Roadblock.
Mark can’t breathe on the bus and is feeling sick. He has his barf bag prepared (or as I like to call it, the Mark Bag.)
JJ doesn’t have any rhythm.
JJ: I felt like a fat Elvis.
I don’t think there are too many toilets in Bollywood for you to take the easy way out, JJ.
Art starts dancing along like an even fatter Elvis.
I love the dichotomy between the two. One loves culture shock. . .the other not so much.
Mark bitches about the smog up “in the ‘err” and feels woozy.
Will Mark survive his trip through India? Let’s ask Bopper.
Bopper would do well in ancient Rome.
Many Americans say the same about driving through Kentucky.
In all seriousness, I know what Mark is going through. When I went through my first smog-filled Asian city, Manila, I became violently ill within an hour of landing. My lungs weren’t used to air like that before. I couldn’t leave my apartment for three days. It took me that long for my body to adjust.
This is Mark’s first urban Asian climate and he is suffering big time.
Meanwhile, I think JJ would rather be throwing up on a bus right now.
Mark & Bopper arrive at the Roadblock in last place. Bopper would’ve done it but he has that bendy-doo thing we have heard a lot about.
BRENDON: Does Mark have rhythm?
BOPPER: He doesn’t have much rhythm. . .but he’s got heart.
Weeeee, I’m an airplane.
This will be the last task Bopper will interact with fellow racers this season. . .and he chose to lie to them. “Mark” and “heart” are not two words you put in the same sentence unless you say “Mark didn’t have his heart in it.”
JJ thinks he is ready and will perform before Rachel, Vanessa, and and the other Rachel.
This is like ten seconds in.
This is more Egyptian than Bollywood.
Rachel Reilly describes JJ as a “clumsy oaf” and Rachel Brown says it was “really really bad.” Even by border patrol agent dance standards.
But “surprisingly good” by DEA standards. Move your feet, HANK!
Rachel Brown is next on stage and my god did we need two Rachels to make it to the end of this season.
She is out of sync in this part but I suppose whatever the judging criteria is for this task has a few loose rules.
“To Be or Not To Be. . .”
“If only I could shake my ass as well as Major Dave’s wife. This is bullshit, Art!”
Apl.de.ap from Black Eyed Peas has since become a Bollywood director. Who knew?
Look at how deep JJ digs into his two inches of hair.
Rachel reads they must go to THE Indian Coffee House. I wish the business called itself “An Indian Coffee House” to troll contestants.
“Where do you want to go?”
“An Indian Coffee House.”
“An Indian Coffee House!”
“Yeah but WHICH ONE you gringo!”
“AN. INDIAN. COFFEE. HOUSE.”
“Get out of my tuktuk until you know where you want to go!”
Once there they must find the head waiter to get their next clue.
The head waiter looks more like Chef BoyarIndee.
Mark meanwhile is preparing to slap his instructor in the back of the head.
Either that’s a dance move or Mark is asking “why am I doing this to myself?”
Bopper says he is more of the dancing man but can’t do it today because of his bendy-doo.
The man touches Mark’s belly (or maybe his pancreas) and tells him to relax as they have to do the dance once more from the beginning.
Dave & Rachel hire an auto rickshaw.
Things are getting real very fast for Mark & Bopper.
Vanessa is blatantly out of sync and loses out on her first attempt.
Apl.de.ap does not approve.
ART: I’m telling you, man. Dudes do not move like girls. It doesn’t look the same.
“Their armpits don’t sweat like dudes do either. Have you smelled this thing, Ralph?”
The lizards watch as Rachel Reilly goes on stage.
It’s all fun and games until you jump out of turn.
“No! You ruined my vision!”
Dave & Rachel are already at Indian Coffee House. They have their clue. It’s a Detour.
Master the most popular game or master being an auto rickshaw driver.
Cricket or Clutch It.
Play around the kiwi, boys!
Phil is in stage one of having an afro.
Cricket requires each team member to hit one ball past the professional player through a boundary. They can hit it along the ground or over the top of the boundary. Once they do so, the clue is theirs.
In Clutch It, they must go to a driving school and become one of five million auto rickshaw drivers. They must transport passengers around a training course. Once they successfully navigate the course, they receive their next clue.
As somebody who grew up in a baseball family, I will never understand cricket.
Like, what does the catcher even do?
Why is the boundary not red and yellow?
Nice swing, Keoghy.
Phil is on the team.
It is very rare for Phil to do both sides of a Detour. Was he U-Turned?
Semi-pro cricket player or semi-pro taxi driver? Phil gets to decide!
Dave really wants to play cricket but Rachel says their skills and abilities lie in the driving task.
RACHEL: We don’t have skill and ability in cricket.
DAVE: I have skill and ability in nearly every sport.
Apparently bottle balancing and Bollywood dancing are not sports in Major Dave’s world.
Dave & Rachel walk over to the driving school. Dave is quick to label it as Rachel’s decision.
Wow. Instead of making the drivers go into the city, they already have enough drivers in that field to create their own road scenarios. The benefits of having over a billion in your country!
As a 28 year old who doesn’t drive a car, this task would be my nightmare.
Dave looks like a nervous dad teaching his daughter how to drive for the first time.
StArt? I guess this is a driving school rather than a grammar school.
Rachel quickly hits a pole (rather than the other Rachel who used to frequently slide down one).
“Did I do that?”
Oh, looks like we’ve got a fucking peanut gallery. They are pointing and laughing at her.
SHE IS TRYING TO DRIVE A STICK AND THEY ARE -LAUGHING- AT HER! AND THAT’S RUDE!
Rachel can’t stop laughing.
DAVE: Really? Babe, that’s not funny.
Pictured here in the front is me and in the back are people from the TAR Reddit.
We cut back to the Roadblock where the peasants are trailing Dave & Rachel.
Bollywood loves Thriller.
JJ is rejected.
Bopper notes Mark is not doing well and hasn’t made an attempt yet.
And won’t be up anytime soon.
MARK: Everything’s hot and everything is getting blurry.
“Here comes the sunshine, Mark!”
BRENDON: If Rachel gets emotional it throws off your game. A good thing about having a girl on your team is they can do things like this but a bad thing is they can get emotional.
Rachel goes on stage and gets rejected again. She is pissed.
RACHEL: It’s not gonna be perfect.
We are nearing meltdown mode. Brendon is trying to be like an action hero who shields everybody from the nuclear blast.
ART: Rachel was like the cheerleader who never made the team but kept trying.
We cut back to Dave & Rachel who are running their own race.
RACHEL: It’s hard to turn that on a dime.
DAVE: No it’s not.
By the end of this season, not a single person can knock Dave for his constant shit-talking as he will successfully back it up.
If you’ve ever wondered why India has so many traffic accidents, this may be why.
Dave hits a pole near the end.
You just got scolded by a grown ass man who thinks he can fly.
Dave succeeds on his next attempt.
Dave is forever haunted by hitting his pole. Things only get worse as in a few years Rachel will no longer be sucking his pole too.
We cut back to Bollywood.
MARK: Let’s go try it before I pass out. . .I hope I can do it. If I don’t do it I might have a heart attack.
RACHEL REILLY: Stop telling me I am emotional. I am a girl of course I am emotional.
The two most dramatic contestants on this season are both participating in the toughest Roadblock of the season. Producers are loving this.
Art refers to JJ dancing like a gorilla.
“Must go back to happy place. . .my happy place. . .Skull Island.”
Mark is about to make his first attempt and–
Oh, he already failed.
Vanessa succeeds on her third attempt.
ART: Chicks 2–Dudes 0.
“Oh how I wish I was part-Part of a Reekin right now. . .”
Apl.de.ap goes up on stage.
APL.DE.AP: What’s in my ass, Nessa?
APL.DE.AP: It’s your next clue!!!!
“Yay! Ass clues are the best!”
For some reason, only two of the three teams applaud her efforts. C’mon Brendon. She did well!
Rachel Reilly succeeds as JJ and Mark both contemplate mass suicide.
ART: Chicks 3–Dudes 0.
As long as you keep hydrated JJ, you won’t be! Wait seven years and you’ll understand why this is funny.
Things are going from bad to gee golly miss molly for Mark.
Commercial break. We resume.
JJ is on his fourth attempt. His dance is approved. He gets mobbed by his backupd dancers.
“Hug him extra tight, guys! My brother is in San Diego and has currently overstayed his visa by two years! Do you want a chariot too, sir?”
You’re the best, Mr. Carrell!
Bopper is happy with Mark’s efforts. Mark is way out of sync. No idea how far it is into the dance.
We cut back to the driving school. Dave demands Rachel listen to him. She agrees only if he is nice about it. Eventually she succeeds. They read they must go to the pit stop–Bolgatty Palace. Cochin is the Queen of the Arabian Sea, and Bolgatty Palace is situated on a small island.
It is known as a great place for some cricket.
Vanessa & Ralph decide to do Clutch It.
RALPH: The rickshaw seemed like the simpler task.
VANESSA: Even though I failed driver’s ed. In San Antonio, I have hit a few things. Street signs. Trees. Other cars. The Alamo. It was an accident.
“And by things I mean people.”
“You hit The Alamo?! If I didn’t know any better, I’d light you on fire with propane and propane accessories!”
Brendon & Rachel are third to the coffee house and choose cricket; Art & JJ opt with cricket too.
“These guns are ready for some cricket, Art!”
Leading off, with her emotions coming out of Left Field, Rachelllllllll Reilllllllllllllllllllly!!!!
I love how both teams refer to it as “the baseball thing.” The editors have fun as they use an Indian inspired drum beat accompanied with the song “Charge!” that you hear at baseball games. We are treated to a montage of everyone striking out.
Mark is on his fourth attempt then fifth attempt then sixth attempt. On the sixth attempt he makes it all the way to the end but is rejected. Mark is determined to finish this task.
FIRST PLACE: DAVE & RACHEL
Wow. They hit the mat before anybody has finished the Detour.
DAVE: You’re always with gorgeous women Phil.
So that’s Dave’s new wife.
For viewers and contestants it is #12ShowsIn20Days, but for Phil Keoghan it’s #12HosIn20Days
They have won a trip for two to St. Lucia. Hopefully they used up this prize prior to Hurricane Dorian.
PHIL: How many times have you done this now?
Also the number of times we have been separated!!!!
We cut back to Vanessa who hits a pole.
VANESSA: Son of a monkey’s uncle.
It is taking every fibre within Vanessa’s being to not curse on national TV right now.
In most cases, switching Detours is almost always TAR suicide. Here the driving school and the cricket field are connected to each other in the same shot. There really is no downside to switching as you can be at the other task in literally seconds.
JJ gets contact but it is caught. Brendon hits it to the “outfield.” Art hits it to the outfield too.
JJ really stepped out of the batter’s box to get that one.
We cut back to Bollywood. Surprisingly, Bopper is the one who encourages quitting and take the penalty while Mark insists he keep going.
MARK: I am going to do this or die on the spot.
These are high stakes.
No karate chopping in Bollywood, man.
Mark fails his seventh attempt and dies on the spot. . .nah, just kidding.
Bopper keeps encouraging him to quit. I am guessing Mark is in worse shape than what we saw on TV.
Vanessa completes the course without hitting the Gandhi statue. It’s Ralph’s turn.
Art keeps swinging and missing too.
JJ: There is no way Rachel will get this.
**FIVE SECONDS LATER**
Rachel gets it faster than Art.
RACHEL: It was great to know they both got beat by a girl.
*Art got beat by a girl. . .and Rupert Boneham.
Chicks: 1 Dudes: 0.
JJ is like the guy from Silver Surfer–Silver Surfer.
“Rachel’s green sequins are blinding me. I swear I am not crying.”
ART: Rachel hit that stupid cricket ball before I did.
JJ: Which strips you of all of your manhood.
I can see why the TAR 20 cast wasn’t the most popular. We’ve gone through sexist remarks for ten straight minutes now.
ART: It’s a freakin’ oar not a bat.
JJ: It’s still a piece of wood hitting a freakin’ ball.
“You’re off the team, Art!”
Art gets it past the boundary/out of the park.
Ralph succeeds. They finish the Detour in fourth place.
We cut back to Bollywood.
MARK: If it wasn’t for my kids I would quit right now.
In the first couple seasons of TARC, we saw some challenges have forty to fifty attempts by a few teams. Here eleven attempts for a dance challenge is seen as a really big deal.
Bopper sits Mark down and encourages him to quit once more. For being the only team to beat Dave & Rachel after leg four, this is really disappointing to see.
Bopper punches him in the bendy-doo for added dramatic effect.
It’s true this season. We have seen an insane amount of time made up at a few of the challenges. Look at Nary & Jamie after their NEL in Tanzania or the Azerbaijan leg. India isn’t exactly the easiest country to take a cab from place to place.
While they are talking, Brendon & Rachel finish in second place.
SECOND PLACE: BRENDON & RACHEL
Rachel is very jumpy today.
We cut back to Bollywood where a Bollywood movie is playing out on a Bollywood set as Bopper now reminds Mark of his wife and kids back home.
MARK: I had to sit back and re-evaluate the important things in life and what my kids would do without me.
Jesus Christ, guys.
This is The Amazing Race–not the movie Beaches.
Bopper successfully convinces Mark to quit.
“Stick it out! You’re not gonna die!!!”
MARK: I got three kids I got to raise. I just thought if a million dollars was worth not walking my kids down the aisle and going to my youngins ball games and I came to conclusion that it wasn’t.
Mark exits stage right and avoids certain death on a Bollywood set.
Commercial break. We resume as the choreographer gives Mark a pep talk.
MARK: I have three kids.
CHOREOGRAPHER: I know, but you are a great man.
MARK: I did all I could do.
CHOREOGRAPHER: I know. You did.
Why is the choreographer so invested in convincing Mark not to quit? What is his stake in it? If I was one of the choreographers on TAR and a contestant decided to quit I would be like “Thank god, I can go home now to my a/c in this fifty degree heat! You’re not getting a pep talk from me, bitch.”
I hear The Good Wife is just a show where Dave tells Rachel to do things and she is obedient for the whole episode.
The choreographer is convincing a shirtless and half naked Mark who is struggling with his clothing because he is too sweaty to stick it out one more time.
NOTE: Teams have said off the record that for judging tasks where teams take a really long time that the subjective criteria for judging is loosened up to allow a team to progress. Also teams who are far ahead tend to have tougher criteria at tasks involving judges. I have absolutely no doubt that is what is going to happen here should Mark decide to attempt it one more time. It probably makes for a great story on-screen too as producers know this will be a tough season to edit.
Remember: The cast of TAR 20 as a whole was extremely unpopular except for Mark & Bopper. At best, Brendon & Rachel had their BB diehards and Dave & Rachel received slight praise for their dominance. Otherwise this was seen as the least likable cast since TAR 14 or 16.
CHOREOGRAPHER: One more–
MARK: No. I won’t make it. I am going home to my kids.
ANOTHER NOTE: Mark would still have to go to Elimination Station just like everybody else.
“But I ain’t got no rhythm!”
If this is a NEL, the penalty should be that Mark has to walk around like this all of next leg instead of doing a Speed Bump.
God. You two are so dramatic.
We cut to Art & JJ finishing in third place.
THIRD PLACE: ART & JJ
This leg was truly an ass-kicker. . .or rather Art’s leg was.
Art & JJ’s mat chat is invaded.
FOURTH PLACE: VANESSA & RALPH
They really dig being second-to-last place.
And I bet both teams hope this is an elimination leg and next leg is the final NEL.
After convincing Mark to quit, Bopper reverses his thinking.
Pep talk continues. Bopper goes on about how they need to finish this for their kids and to take advantage of this opportunity.
BOPPER: You need to do this for our kids and show we ain’t quitters–
PHIL: Bopper & Mark, all other teams have checked in.
BOPPER: Oh then fuck it, we’re eliminated anyway.
Seriously. It would have been hilarious if Phil walked in right now to ruin this story.
The choreographer gets in on this.
He really gets in on this.
It is Mark’s 12th attempt. Mark is so far out of sync during this dance but is given the clue. I need to capture how out of sync he is on his final attempt.
Bopper mimes being a pregnant woman.
Or a monkey.
Mark gets the clue as they get a long montage. The tradition of “who would have thought two from ____ would be here in ____” line. Then they repeat it once more at the pit stop.
BOPPER: We gave it 150 percent in everything we did.
You convinced Mark to quit a task!!!!
We get a long thing at the mat about their kids and being Kentucky and kids and Kentucky and kids and Kentucky.
I can’t tell if she feels bad for them or she is in tears over hearing the word Kentucky so many times.
LAST PLACE: MARK & BOPPER
“I’m sad we’re last but I finally get to rest my bendy-doo!”
“Your poor bendy-doo.”
. . . . .
PHIL: You’re gonna have to muster your strength because this is a non-elimination leg and you’re still in this race.
Mark & Bopper are saved by their second NEL. Remember how I said that TAR and Survivor are edited in reverse? This is what I mean. When a team finishes in last on two NELs, you pretty much HAVE to make them the underdogs of the season no matter what. Considering Mark & Bopper’s fellow competitors, this practically fell in the editor’s laps.
And it was at this moment Mark realized he would have to spend another leg exposing himself to a risk of sunstroke.
BOPPER: We’re going to the Final Three and then somebody is going to have to fight the Kentucky Boys for the million dollar prize.
The only Final Three Bopper will see on TAR is himself, his knee, and his pancreas.
Next Time on TAR: Will Mark & Bopper be able to recover from another Speed Bump despite Bopper’s bendy-doos still in rough shape, and being several hours behind all other teams as Mark secretly books a flight back to Kentucky? Stay tuned!
MENTIONED IN THE ‘NEXT TIME ON’ SEGMENT
MARK & BOPPER 2
ELLIOT & ANDREW 1
NARY & JAMIE 1
ART & JJ 1
DAVE & RACHEL 1
1) Buenos Aires, Argentina -> Asuncion, Paraguy
We have only three tasks total this leg and there wasn’t much navigation within the city of Asuncion.
However, we had a little bit of a flight scramble. Yes, it was just over two flights, but that’s more than what we typically get in TAR during this era. The three tasks we had were all tough as balls. You know it’s tough as balls when Dave & Rachel, a team who people put in the conversation of the strongest team ever are unable to complete ANY of the three tasks.
I assume Dave & Rachel didn’t put in as much effort as they normally would due to the comfort of the Express Pass. It’s like a power player playing loosely when he has a big chip lead. I’ve seen myself do the same thing in Survivor ORGs when I have a hidden immunity idol or am in the majority. When you have an advantage and are damn good at what you do, you just don’t try as hard.
Therefore, I believe the Express Pass wasn’t really a factor in Dave & Rachel surviving this leg. They didn’t even bother attempting the harp challenge and switched the watermelon task early because they knew they could use their Express Pass if the harps presented any sort of difficulty or an abundance of teams. Combine that with Elliot & Andrew and Vanessa & Ralph being several hours behind Kerri & Stacy, and I am about 97% confident that Dave & Rachel make it through no matter what.
So yeah, the Express Pass twist was a waste once again. Luckily Dave & Rachel used it early to prevent it from hogging up airtime. I do think, however, that Dave & Rachel’s performance in this leg erases them from contention in the strongest team to ever run the race.
The storyline of Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel representing the top of the leaderboard continues. They aligned, got on the best flight, and Art & JJ were very strong where Dave & Rachel are very weak. JJ outright says that these two teams will dominate the whole season. We see layers of Brendon & Rachel and Mark & Bopper showing strength in this leg and being presented as the only two teams who could possibly catch the two dominant teams in an upset. The editors have an easy story to tell for this season.
For a team who doesn’t make it to the very end nor will be super popular with the audience, editors invested in Vanessa & Ralph barely surviving this leg. They had their own segment after a commercial break just to show the conclusion in their late night showdown with Elliot & Andrew. Hell, we even got a good chunk of content of their rivalry with Brendon & Rachel. We had the full spectrum of “I can see Rachel’s whole entire ass” to “we will not quit to set a good example for Ralph’s son”. The audience definitely has mixed opinions about this team.
Nary & Jamie being the friendly team with a goofy storyline that trolls Art & JJ’s and Dave & Rachel’s competitive spirit officially begins this round. Art & JJ don’t like goofy folks. Too bad we don’t see a helluva whole lot else from Nary & Jamie except being bumped to the early flight.
Both all-female teams were underedited this leg as Kerri & Stacy were barely shown. They were on the receiving end of being outwitted by freakin’ Mark & Bopper. Editors chose not to bury Kerri & Stacy by showing the online exclusive unaired scenes and rather buried them via lack of airtime. They were outwitted then Kerri twerked to the harp music. We didn’t even see the completion of the Roadblock or more than a second of being at the pit stop.
As for Elliot & Andrew, editors did a great job of capturing their relationship and story all within the span of one episode. There wasn’t much to tell and decided to wait until they were relevant for the round.
This leg also receives extra credit for being a debuting country for the TAR catalogue. Paraguay has never been visited before or since. If they do choose to return to Paraguay, hopefully we get a leg outside of the only major city that 99% of the population can point to on a map. Can you think of another city besides Asuncion? I doubt it.
Wow, I totally forgot about Joey Fitness & Danny until now. There wasn’t much time for their comedic relief. Too much story was going on, they finished in the middle, and Rachel and Bopper were trying too hard to entertain the audience. Sorry guys. Maybe crop your mohawk Danny and you’ll get more attention.
2) Torino, Italy -> Bavaria, Germany
This round wasn’t terribly electrifying with entertainment value compared to the past two rounds. However, I love the design of the round.
They went all in with a fairy tale theme within Bavaria. Other than the minor equalizer at Gasthof, which only let two teams catch up to Art & JJ, teams had to completely self-navigate from start to finish. A ten hour train ride followed by about six or seven hours of driving yourself around Bavaria? That’s true TAR.
Art & JJ won their third leg in a row. When only two teams win the first five legs of the race, it really cues us up that we are in for a Titan season. No one could touch Dave & Rachel in the first two legs. Nobody has been able to come remotely close to Art & JJ in the next three legs. Right now the only team who has demonstrated to be competitive has been Joey & Danny.
The Roadblock was lame but surprisingly difficult for a couple of teams. Slide a pawn across the ice into a circle. That’s it. Not the most physically draining of tasks, but pretty much dictated who went home this round (if they hadn’t got lost).
The Detour was very offbeat. Collect gingerbread pieces on a snowy trail as a ridiculous witch taunts you. The other option was shaping a man’s beard.
It is also one of those rare episodes of TAR where it takes place while it is snowing. You can thank filming in the middle of December for that.
Seeing Kerri & Stacy blow it on the self-drive over Nary & Jamie on a short drive to the pit stop is something we don’t see often—however, it would have been more memorable if Nary & Jamie and Kerri & Stacy weren’t borderline invisible up until this point.
Seriously. How many of you remember Kerri & Stacy and the way they went out? Because it wasn’t an entirely straight-forward elimination.
Lastly, I love how the producers tricked teams with going to one of the two castles. How did nobody make this mistake in TAR 3? Was the clue in TAR 3 just “Go to Neuschwanstein Castle” rather than “Go to the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty” like they did this season?
P.S. Brendon falling on his ass at the pit stop was hilarious.
3) Fussen, Germany -> Baku, Azerbaijan
Good news: We have a new country added to the TAR catalogue.
Bad news: We won’t see another new country until the endgame of TAR 22, and it is a very Anglophone country. The next non-English speaking country added to the TAR catalogue won’t be added until TAR 25. Yep. Five seasons.
In terms of suspense as to who will be eliminated, it is telegraphed less than halfway into the episode. Joey & Danny and Dave & Rachel both chasing down the Fast Forward led to a guaranteed elimination for whoever lost the battle. Obviously, Joey & Danny tanked this battle.
The oil bath task provided a lot of interesting visuals and is one of the more unique tasks. Nobody has ever had to clean oil off of a living human being as if they were a duck in an offshore oil spill.
Dave & Rachel win the leg and Art & JJ attain second place to continue their dominance. Three wins apiece. The Titan Season is in full effect.
Vanessa & Ralph barely escape elimination again thanks to Joey & Danny taking an unnecessary risk. They don’t do well with tasks involving fruit or things “hidden” in plain sight.
Mark & Bopper received the Jet & Cord theme music when checking into the pit stop and a lot more scenes this week really played up the “good ol’ country boys” narrative. From this point forward, it is really going to build.
We also see Nary & Jamie not quite match up to the other teams as they never excel at any of the tasks or pull off any brilliant decisions.
The Roadblock to do underwater training is neat in concept but lame to watch on TV. The task takes about ten seconds. All they do is swim out of a window and go up to the surface. I get that the risk is somebody panicking underwater, but nobody did and therefore the task had no real payoff. After the first couple of demonstrations, we could’ve just moved on.
The Fire Temple group dancing at the start of the leg is the last time the group will get along. Starting next round. . .things change.
4) Asuncion, Paraguay -> Torino, Italy
If you are not a fan of Brendon & Rachel’s bickering, you probably hate this episode as it occupies about ten minutes or more of the airtime.
If you can look past it and/or embrace it, it’s another leg with a decent design.
No equalizers and it’s all self-drive. As an old school fan, you can’t ask for much more.
The Roadblock of scaling down the Lingotto building did its job by messing up a couple of teams and triggering what I presume to be a twenty to thirty minute delay for them, but not the most interesting to watch unless you love to laugh at Vanessa flailing in midair.
The Detour was more comedic rather than it being particularly difficult. You either went to the easy-to-find salami shop but more time-consuming to complete or go to the hard-to-find junkyard but with a straightforward head-lofting cleaning process. They are a couple of more unique albeit not the most interesting tasks to watch. It’s a good thing the teams were able to entertain what could otherwise be mundane tasks to see play out.
Oh, and it is the first of THREE Fast Forwards! Not zero, one, or two. Three! Landing a remote control helicopter on somebody’s head seemed difficult. We wouldn’t see this task again until TAR Asia 5 where teams also sucked at it. It provided some amusing scenes where Dave was willing to risk his life in the race just to prove how much of a pilot he could be.
In terms of storyline, Art & JJ evened up the score with Dave & Rachel as the two teams have won two legs apiece. Thanks to the Fast Forward, they won by several hours for the second leg in a row.
Furthermore, the dominance of these two teams is solidified by the fact that Dave & Rachel kicked a lot of ass despite being at each other’s throats the whole leg and describing their performance as a failure. That should terrify all of the other teams.
Mark & Bopper’s travel inexperience was highlighted as they couldn’t figure out how to book flights to Italy until it was too late. Thanks to a pre-determined NEL (or CBS production interference if you’re a conspiracy theorist), their underdog storyline grows as Art & JJ’s act of charity combined with Bopper talking about his daughter made it memorable for the casual audience. Mark & Bopper became the official fan favourites thanks to this episode.
Vanessa & Ralph and Joey & Danny both tried to one-up each other in terms of sexualized and crass humour. I think Vanessa is still the queen but it could tip in Joey & Danny’s favour soon.
And lol @ Nary & Jamie and Kerri & Stacy combining for 45 seconds of airtime this episode. If you have seen all of the secret scenes, Kerri & Stacy were not well-liked by production as any interesting scenes with them were edited out.
Lastly, I know people think Art & JJ donated money to Bopper because they just wanted to look like good guys on TV and use Mark & Bopper in the race—but I do think it’s a bit extreme to assume ulterior motives were involved. Maybe Art & JJ -can- be good guys under certain circumstances. Or at least have a mixture of ulterior motives and generosity on The Amazing Race.
P.S. Yet another visit to Italy for TAR but luckily it is a brand new city.
5) Baku, Azerbaijan -> Ngorongoro, Tanzania
This leg is very tough to rank.
On one hand, we have some of the best airport drama and conflict between teams that we have seen in contemporary seasons. Undercover agents being exposed, Brendon sprinting through the airport for no apparent reason, Vanessa burning Rachel over and over, Dave & Rachel having their own absurd fights, and Vanessa’s biggest rival becoming a bicycle.
We also get a very brief visit through Kenya. When will we get a full Kenya leg? Damn you, TAR Canada 5! You were so close.
From the start of the episode Phil made it clear: “Africa—one of the most challenging continents in the world!”
In other words, production made the most generic leg in Africa possible. Drive in a vehicle with an assigned driver. Do multiple tasks within a really small area. Toss another rungu. Jump with Masai villagers. Assemble something in the bush. Oh look, animals.
This is a leg where anything good was 100% from the teams and 0% was from the production design.
Dave & Rachel winning another leg with Mark & Bopper right behind sets up for the only big upset of the season.
By the way, this might have been one of the most telegraphed mid-season NELs in a long time. We all knew it had to happen this leg. Nary & Jamie stopped to check out freakin’ elephants because of how confident they were. It took me back to the Final 3 NELs from the early seasons where nobody gave a fuck about what happened to them.
I could rewatch Vanessa trying to ride a bike on a repeated loop. That was hilarious.
6) Ngorongoro, Tanzania -> Lake Manyara, Tanzania
There was suspense to who would be eliminated for about thirty seconds this episode, but then we were reminded of the Speed Bump and how easy the Roadblock was this episode. Two teams U-Turned, Rachel bleeding, Vanessa & Ralph’s flat tire as well as getting lost, and Nary & Jamie really didn’t have a chance to catch up this round. They even received directions and help from Brendon & Rachel but that wasn’t enough.
Once again we get a “Welcome to the town of Rural in the country of Africa” leg. I bet viewers don’t even recall what country they were in by the end of this episode. We had all of the Africa staples—a safari, small towns with ultra linear tasks, and a “wow, look at how hard it is to get a basic necessity” string of confessionals. It’s funny because Tanzania, Rwanda, and Mozambique just a few years later are part of the string of countries in southeastern Africa with the highest GDP growth on the planet.
You either really hate this episode or really like this episode as Art & JJ’s conflict with Dave & Rachel starts here because they didn’t keep their word regarding the U-Turn.
And knowing how much Brendon & Rachel occupied reality TV pop culture as of TAR 20, you probably hated this episode alone for all of Rachel’s antics and the drama surrounding the Water Supply Detour as well as the Double U-Turn.
And you probably hated this episode because Dave & Rachel, Brendon & Rachel, Art & JJ, and Vanessa & Ralph all survived this episode as you lose one of the two teams that the casual audience somewhat liked at the time. And knowing who gets eliminated next, those last two episodes are really going to be fun for the audience.
Hillary Clington was an amusing route marker, finding the route markers this episode seemed too easy (unless you’re Vanessa & Ralph), and the Roadblock was neat in concept but very lame in execution. There were almost no highlights of it—in fact, I think there was about one or two minutes of footage total from it. Playing in a swarm of thousands of bees sounds crazy out loud but it did not translate to interesting television.
The Detour was fine, though. Clearly one task was easier than the other, but both reflected the local culture so I am fine with that.
Also, I guess that Speed Bump task was alright given the five seconds we saw of it. Hanging an art display without any commentary on it means I have no commentary to provide on it.
In spring of 2012, people were super bummed to lose Nary & Jamie. It is funny because re-watching this season seven years later and having enough distance from this season makes me have. . .a much different take on Nary & Jamie. This team was being compared to a Brook & Claire or Nat & Kat and I have seen people on message boards want them brought back for TAR 24 or another all-star team as a “team that could have been,” but I can’t agree with that at all after what I had seen in eight episodes.
7) Santa Barbara, California -> Cafayate, Argentina
I am not a fan of Starting Line tasks, and here we get another clear example of how a Starting Line task makes a season premiere feel super rushed and condensed. The first time we see two teams interacting is when Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel team up during the Roadblock. A couple of other loose observations during the tasks, and that’s it. Thankfully future rounds will explore these social interactions more.
There is one good thing about the Starting Line task this year: It’s the first one without any sort of penalty for the team that finishes last. They just have to get to the airport like everybody else.
Making 120 empanadas prior to reaching the pit stop was more of a unique task in TAR, and I appreciated it. We saw quite a bit of position shuffling due to the difficulty of it.
We saw a classic Roadblock fakeout as the team that thought they were going to skydive never ends up skydiving. Producers wanted more terrified racers to do this task, but the best moment we got was from Stacy and even that was a very small and repetitive moment we have seen over the course of twenty seasons.
Part of me wishes the pit stop was at a separate location, but it is the only reason why we got our Misa & Maiya elimination moment. I saw this episode live when it originally aired over six years ago, and the idea of this ever happening on TAR was thought to be reserved more for fanfics.
“A team is within plain sight of the pit stop less than100 yards away and doesn’t see Phil, camera crew, the pit stop mat, and the pit stop greeter? There’s no way that could happen.”
But it did. And not only that, but it was in the final showdown to determine who would be eliminated from the premiere. Knowing what happens at the finish line of this season, it really sets the tone for how TAR 20 is going to go.
Speaking of setting the tone, the way many of the teams carried themselves indicated who would be dominating this entire season. Dave & Cherie, Kerri & Stacy, Joey Fitness & Danny, and Misa & Maiya presented very clear weaknesses in this first round as the audience could quickly narrow down our contenders at the top. And Mark & Bopper were going to be our wildcards.
It’s not an awful premiere like others we’ve seen during this era of TAR, but more work still needs to be done. This episode would have been very unmemorable if not for the Misa & Maiya elimination.
8) Lake Manyara, Tanzania -> Cochin, India
For the tenth time in just twenty seasons, India is revisited. . .and it’s the second time for Cochin. I understand India is perhaps the peak of experiencing culture shock on the planet, but when well over a hundred countries have yet to be visited by season twenty, it’s a disappointment to see India on yet another route. The good news is India will be seen only twice over the next twelve seasons.
I am not a fan of subjective dancing tasks. That is well-established at this point I don’t like silly dancing tasks but thankfully this is the only major subjective one of the season. It was also the second time they used a Bollywood theme for route marker since TAR 4.
The Detour was connected together so there was no risk in switching if you chose the wrong task. Once again teams had to do a driving school in India. At least the cricket task, while not the most exciting to watch, was new for the India catalogue.
This was a case study of how balanced Dave & Rachel’s abilities are for TAR and why they crushed everyone this leg. It doesn’t matter how much they piss off the other teams.
We also see the foreshadowing of how Art will blow the season finale of 20 as well as the season premiere of 31 as he struggled in a fairly straightforward cricket challenge.
When you contrast it to previous India legs in TAR US and even the other franchises, this leg in 20 is very far down at the bottom. TAR 1 had that house of rats. TAR 4 had the train ride from hell. TAR 5 had moving those cars without engines and I’M PACKING IT. TAR 7 had the showdown to the pit stop and “Are You a Sharpie?” TAR 12 had Kent & Vyxsin’s complete choke. TAR 14 had that stupid telephone clue and Mel White getting kicked in the groin. TAR 18 had people getting cremated and Vyxsin jumping into the Ganges. TARC 3 will film there during that legendary heat wave.
But TAR 20’s India leg rivals TAR 10 for not being memorable. It’s just ten minutes spent on Bopper’s bendy-doo and watching Mark & Bopper get so far behind that they think they will die in Bollywood. Editors milked that scene as much as they could until they advanced Mark out of fear they would lose their biggest characters prematurely in the season.
9) Cafayate, Argentina -> Buenos Aires, Argentina
This leg had too many equalizers for only having two tasks.
Want to do a Detour? Wait for everyone until sunrise.
Want to do a Roadblock? You have to board one of three buses and hope yours doesn’t have somebody come up and smash your bus window with a baseball bat. Oh, and there’ll be a pit stop immediately afterwards.
Because TAR gives a lot of airtime to a pair that are prominent on other reality shows whenever a crossover occurs, we had an overwhelming amount of Brenchel content. Seeing how they competed on consecutive seasons of BB, an episode where they have several scenes early on in the season triggered a lot of groans within the viewership.
And because Art & JJ represent that anti-Brenchel Brigade within the viewership, their excessive comments towards Brendon & Rachel were also constantly shown. It doesn’t help when you know these two teams will be sticking around for a very long time in this season. What’s the point of the other nine teams being there?
Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel’s alliance dominated the whole cast for the second round in a row. It must have been scary to be any other team as they know the top two duos have decided to become a Superpower. A counter-strike has to come soon.
The Detour was a bit unique in terms of using a solar panel with minimal instruction to be setup and heat a tea kettle to a boil. That was fun to watch as teams didn’t know whether that would be quicker than the donkey alternative. Art & JJ made the absolute right call in this situation.
We found out Kerri & Stacy are good at things you wouldn’t normally associate with their archetype in TAR. They are handy and are good at math? I wouldn’t have guessed.
Mark put aside his Eeyore tendencies and was very pleasant this episode. Same with Bopper. No mention of how much they need the money. They were just having a grand ol’ time out there. This is how Mark & Bopper should be edited. They didn’t complain once during the task in an eyeroll-y fashion.
Vanessa & Ralph were the narrators for this episode. Who expected that?
Danny making himself bleed by accident and Joey Fitness’ leap onto the platform for the Roadblock clue was mildly amusing to watch.
Elliot & Andrew are invisible.
And poor Clown Dave. Nobody wanted to save him at the Roadblock.
Lastly, Diego Maradona always laughing at other people’s tragedies is about as much as you need from a pit stop greeter.
This leg just wasn’t well-designed and two teams hogging too much of the airtime is what drops it down in my rankings.
P.S. Nary & Jamie’s lie that they are kindergarten teachers is very believable considering their reaction to everything so far. I totally think Nary called a buddy in Langley to smash the second bus, though. I am certain of that.