Episode Blog #307
“Gandhi, Elephant Dung, and Breaking Bad”
NOTE: I have started a 38-part series where I rank all 38 countries I have visited over the past two and a half years. Here is part one down below. Hope you enjoy it!
Previously on TAR: Five teams raced from Tanzania to Cochin, India. At the Roadblock, Mark wilted under the hot sun and made an emotional decision. After Bopper’s encouragement (the encouragement to continue after the encouragement to quit), Mark triumphed and finished the leg on a high note as they were saved by the final NEL of the season.
Five teams remain; who will be eliminated next?
Intro time. Imagine if production did something unprecedented since season four by having a third Fast Forward to give them a shot at staying in the race?
ARGENTINA – PARAGUAY – ITALY – GERMANY – AZERBAIJAN – TANZANIA – INDIA – JAPAN – UNITED STATES
MENTIONED IN THE ‘PREVIOUSLY ON’ SEGMENT
DAVE & RACHEL 5
MARK & BOPPER 5
ART & JJ 4
VANESSA & RALPH 2
NARY & JAMIE 2
“JOEY” FITNESS & DANNY 1
MISA & MAIYA 1
DAVE & CHERIE 1
ELLIOT & ANDREW 1
KERRI & STACY 1
The city of Cochin has long been an important shipping destination attracting traders and seafarers from around the world. On the outskirts, the 300 year old residence of the Dutch governors served as the pit stop for the last leg of the race.
Dave & Rachel, who arrived at an undisclosed time, will depart at 6:53am.
Dave & Rachel open their clue.
But first, one last mosquito check.
K. We’re good.
RACHEL: Make your way to the Daiva um nothing in the town of Chandiroor.
Phil has to jump in to say teams must go to Daiva Villi Bhagvathi Kshetram in the town of Chandiroor to receive a greeting from the priest and receive their next clue.
Or because editors ran out of room, let’s just call it “temple.”
I love in places throughout Japan, Thailand, and India how you can still find big peaceful temples within crowded spaces.
RACHEL: As a sign of respect, before approaching the head priest you must remove your shoes.
DAVE: We’ll have to be mindful of that.
Dave & Rachel say it would be super disappointing not to win the million because they feel they are the strongest team. They feel the only team who can beat them are themselves.
Huh. I know another team who thinks along the same wavelength.
If you are cattle in India, every day is a Non-Elimination Leg.
Seven minutes into the leg and they don’t have an auto rickshaw yet? Slackers.
Brendon & Rachel depart second at 7:20am. Given how big Dave & Rachel’s lead appeared to be last episode, the leg as a whole must have been very quick to complete. How else could Brendon & Rachel start just twenty-seven minutes behind them?
Brendon reppin’ UCLA.
Brendon views Dave & Rachel as the strongest competition. Winning five out of nine legs may have something to do with it.
It’s good to know the teams have guards around their pit stop location.
“Can I hire the same security for when I go to India?”
Brendon talk about wanting Vanessa & Ralph and Art & JJ both to go home because of their constant smack talk. We get a flashback to the infamous airport confrontation.
JJ: You couldn’t follow your own shadow on a bright sunny day.
“When I was a teenager growing up in Hyrule, I found my shadow and kicked that shadow’s ass until he was on the ground crying and shit.”
“I gave that shadow an ass whooping!”
VANESSA: Honey, get your nose done before you get your boobs done.
And of course the editors do an ultra zoom-in profile shot of Rachel’s nose. Anybody’s nose would look big when you zoom in two inches from her face. We would all look like Jimmy Durante.
And why would she need to get her nose done before her breasts? Brendon can motorboat breasts but I don’t think he is too keen to motorboat a nose. I’m just sayin’.
BRENDON: We just need to keep our heads in the game. Not to be. . .what’s the word I am looking for?
“What’s the magic word, Rachel? C’mon. Say it. . .”
YAY!!!! SHE SAID THE SECRET WORD FOR TODAY!!!!! YAY!!!!!! Last week’s secret word was bendy-doo.
Rachel’s favourite word after “chemistry.”
Art & JJ depart in third at 7:28am. That means Rachel beat Art at cricket by roughly eight minutes.
Art will stick to baseball from now on.
They read they are given twenty-five US dollars for this leg of the race. That’s more money than what a Senegalese taxi driver makes in a year.
JJ says the race is a continuation of train rides, bus rides, third world countries, flights, and no sleep. He adds he as a cold. The cold isn’t stopping him but is affecting his judgment and sharpness.
Who doesn’t get sick in India? My university buddy who also does travel vlogs like me caught H1N1 during his last trip to India and had to make an early exit.
Vanessa & Ralph depart in fourth at 7:32am.
RALPH: We always race like we’re in last place.
VANESSA: Which is typically the case.
Maybe you guys should try to race like you’re in first place. 🙂
This is the fifth round in a row they finished in second-to-last place.
RALPH: Out of the two of us, Vanessa is definitely the one not very interested in any physical activity.You are old.
VANESSA: I am old. I am freakin’ ancient.
RALPH: You are old. Hopefully a physical challenge doesn’t impede us.
“I feel your pain!”
Wow. Ralph has some balls to say that. My girlfriend is nearly ten years older than me but I have never called her old.
Actually, eight of the other thirteen contestants to make top seven in this season are older than Vanessa.
Art & JJ are yelling for rickshaws to pull over but none of them are.
“Hey! Pull over!”
“We swear we won’t look at your green card!”
“I’m not falling for that trick again. It’s how I ended up back in Cochin!”
Art & JJ get a rickshaw.
This is their driver.
This is Brendon & Rachel’s driver. Good luck telling them apart.
So far four teams have left the pit stop.
For the second round in a row, Mark & Bopper get hotel room footage hours before they begin the leg. Bopper comments on Mark’s heat stroke.
They were the only team mentioned in the ‘Previously On’ segment and now they get footage when they aren’t even on the race course two episodes in a row. Editors knew who the general audience wanted to see.
We get a flashback to Bollywood and come back to Mark getting an IV.
I’m sorry, Mr. Jackson. . .
. . .IV for real.
Dave & Rachel accept the clue from the priest. Or as Dave would say, “graciously accepted his offering.”
The only time Dave will bow before another being.
DAVE: What am I supposed to do with these? Do we eat it?
Rachel opens up the Fast Forward.
RACHEL: Let’s read it–
DAVE: We can’t do it. We can’t do it.
Fast Forwards have become so rare by this point in TAR that teams forget it can only be used once.
Every season since TAR 4 has had between zero to two Fast Forwards. In fact, both TAR 18 and TAR 19 had none. So to see a third one come up was a huge shocker for me when I originally watched this season. It gave me hope for the future, but little did I know Fast Forwards were going to be as close to extinction as you can get in the TAR universe.
NOTE: 21 and 22 would both have two Fast Forwards. 23 had only one Fast Forward that couldn’t be used. 24 didn’t have any. 25 had one. 26 didn’t have any. 27 had one that couldn’t be used. 28 didn’t have any. 29 had one. 30 had none. 31 had none.
When you’re trying to tie Marc & Rovilson’s all-time legs win record, a Fast Forward must be the most disappointing thing to see.
They read they must proceed to Pattanacaud Coir Mats and Matting. Phil doesn’t narrate this route marker.
He doesn’t even go here.
Brendon & Rachel pull over as locals in India can’t help but be curious when TAR’s cameras are present.
Rachel is either bowing or tilting her nose down since Vanessa decided to be a beeeyotch and make her feel self-conscious about it.
BRENDON: We’re in a place where Gandhi came from. To step foot into these temples is such an honour.
Gandhi came from Cochin or Chandiroor? I think you’re better off in the sciences rather than being a history major, Brendon.
Swing and a miss, Brendon.
Eh, it’s only 2, 310 kilometres off.
“Don’t worry man, you’re not the only one geographically challenged.”
Rachel gets excited seeing the Fast Forward knowing the only team ahead can’t use it. A Fast Forward pass guarantees Mark & Bopper are dead this round.
And if you’re a TAR fan as of season twenty, you know exactly what this clue means when it is a Fast Forward in India and tells you to engage in a good fortune ritual.
Still better hairdressers than the folks at Supercuts.
Vanessa & Ralph are third to the temple.
Getting your next clue is just a matter of crossing the T’s and dotting your eyes.
Vanessa & Ralph decide to play it safe and not go for the Fast Forward.
Vanessa joins in on the truffle shuffle.
Art & JJ are fourth to the temple. They are caught off by the Fast Forward too.
Clues don’t get more straightforward than that.
Dave & Rachel have to stop to fill up the autorickshaw with gas.
Brendon & Rachel show up to the Fast Forward location. We hear a new soundtrack in the background.
Brendon takes it upon himself to read the Fast Forward.
And the reaction. . .
Dammit, Phil steps in to explain the task for new viewers. It is our second official Switchback in TAR history.
Switchback #1: The awful shitty haybale task from TAR 6.
Switchback #2: Not an awful shitty task.
Rachel is not happy. This is much worse than slop.
BRENDON: For me. No doubt. Shave my head. Done it a million times. I’m a swimmer.
“I usually have more hair on my back than I do on my own head.”
RACHEL: I paid five hundred dollars for extensions.
Think of all of the really cool wigs you could wear after you win the million though, Rachel.
You could be Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray.
Or borrow Cammy’s hair from Street Fighter.
Or get one of those biker chick mohawks. Those are sexy as hell!
Rachel sees the razor.
RACHEL: I’ll be so saaad.
Eh, according to your watch you have nearly two hours before Mark & Bopper even start the leg. There is plenty of time to survive and beat them to the mat. However, seeing Rachel shave her head when she doesn’t even have to would be ten times more hilarious.
Commercial break. We resume.
RACHEL: I can’t shave my head.
RACHEL: Do you want me to?
BRENDON: No, baby. This is your decision.
RACHEL: I paid five hundred dollars for extensions.
BRENDON: Let’s go. Let’s not waste any more time.
“C’mon, Rachel. Let’s go. We can’t dawdle here and be. . .and be. . .
Dammit. Rachel doesn’t say the secret word.
RACHEL: I spent years and years trying to get my hair to look good.
Same club, sister.
They go back into the rickshaw.
RACHEL: Do you want me to shave my head?
BRENDON: No, baby, no. Just. . .it’s your decision. So. . .I don’t know. Whatever. If we’re out we’re out.
You played it well, Brendon. That question was one big trap and you avoided it.
Vanessa & Ralph are first (yes, first) to the Roadblock.
Brendon and Bopper have to do today’s Roadblock. Who’s at the end of their rope?
Phil explains in the southern state of Kerala how it is the Coconut State because it produces seventy percent of India’s coconut oil supply. This Roadblock requires to work in a fifty year old facility using the husks of coconuts to spin forty feet of rope.
I wish the women would start lassoing the coconut rope above them like cowboys.
I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconut. . .ropes.
Once they have forty feet of coconut rope on a spindle, they will receive their next clue.
Unfortunately the judge for this week’s Roadblock is not a former member of the Black Eyed Peas.
What’s the gossip ladies? Did you hear what Manjula did in accounting? Oooooh.
Ralph asks Vanessa if she wants him to do the Roadblock. Sure.
“Will you do me the honour of doing you the honour of doing me the honour. . .”
RALPH: How do I make rope?
Oh man, Ralph. Just be glad it’s a woman that is teaching you. I thought you would prefer to learn that from Vanessa.
Mommy dresses up her boy.
Ralph begins making rope then the bundle falls.
Dave & Rachel are second to the Roadblock; Dave is doing it.
Art & JJ are third to the factory. Art shall do it.
Ralph is on the learning curve.
RACHEL: You’re looking sexy, Dave!
VANESSA: Ralph is one of the few boyfriends I have dated who has not cross-dressed.
I wonder if Tim Duncan has crossdressed?
Meanwhile Rachel has found a new type.
An extra layer of clothing is exactly what Art wanted in the middle of a sweaty Indian factory.
Oh, in case you were curious Mark & Bopper are still in their hotel room doing NOTHING. This is such riveting television!!!!
MARK: The sun is shining on two old dogs and we’re gonna make it count.
BOPPER: We owe it to our families and our county to give up.
MARK: We’re gonna win this race!
Well, you gotta start the race man!
Ralph’s rope keeps snapping and breaking as he progresses.
It takes some finesse.
I have heard of pubic hair but this is RIDICULOUS.
Brendon has to do the Roadblock as he and Rachel show up in fourth. JJ is pissed demanding to know why they didn’t do the Fast Forward.
“If we’re here and you’re here, and only one team left is eligible to do the Fast Forward then that means. . .uh oh.”
That’s right. Now some people are claiming this Fast Forward was added in since it wasn’t really off the race course on the way to the Roadblock and the only two teams eligible to claim it ahead of Mark & Bopper would either force Rachel Reilly or Vanessa Macias to shave their heads. Considering the likelihood of those two ladies willing to shave their heads is roughly zero percent, it’s a foregone conclusion an already bald Mark and a nearly bald Bopper will have an easy time claiming the Fast Forward and making up a huge amount of time.
The only thing keeping Mark & Bopper away from surviving this leg now is either being dumbasses and not go for the Fast Forward OR for this leg to be super linear within a small distance because of a gradually reduced production value. Those are the only two ways Mark & Bopper won’t make up this 3+ hour deficit.
VANESSA: You’re doing great, Ralph.
Correction: He was doing great.
JJ is the first one to announce what we’re all thinking–one of those four teams has a very good chance of going home today.
I for one was not expecting a Razor Ramon pose from JJ to demonstrate his frustration with the situation.
RACHEL: I can’t shave my head. I know a girl on another season did it, but she was really cute, skinny, and pretty. I need hair to be pretty.
There is a reason why Joyce is the only woman to be spanked by their partner in the team intro.
JJ: Does anybody play the game strategically? Does anybody have a clue what’s going on?
Well, Vanessa & Ralph played it safe in case Brendon & Rachel got there first. Rachel didn’t want to shave something that she is CLEARLY very self-conscious about. I think that’s the extent of strategic thinking one can do in this situation, JJ.
RACHEL: I already feel bad enough about my big nose that Vanessa had to point out. I don’t need to have a big nose and no hair.
JJ: Unbelievable. Does nobody think for one second.
“Who cares about your big nose, Rachel. I’m self-conscious about my tiny penis. Do you know how much Viagra I have to take it? I can’t even take generic, Rachel! It doesn’t do shit! And my ears. My ears look like they have been stretched out but you don’t see me crying about it.”
JJ looks like he is going to snap harder than Ralph’s rope.
Dave Brown–Pink Shirt paper eater has moved ahead and finishes the first part of the task.
“Major Dave is becoming Major Pain in the Ass.”
Dave moves the four spools of rope to a tripod which feeds a hand crank.
“High five? . . .High five? . . .High five?”
Hand crank feeding from the tripod.
Ralph and Art put it on the tripod at approximately the same time. Everyone is spooling together.
It’s just a bunch of dudes using their crank.
Art finding the crank to be really painful.
DAVE: The hand crank was a ten inch nail. Nothing between your flesh and a piece of steel.
“Dammit, my stigmata is back.”
Brendon approaches the crank.
Art looks like a warrior who fought for Sir William Wallace right now.
Rachel encourages Dave.
DAVE: I don’t need positive reinforcement, please. I appreciate silence.
Dave, here is your new partner. Enjoy.
Ralph is first to complete the Roadblock. He reads they must make their way to Fort Kochi. Once there find a temple with a barber working underneath a tree.
Oh, now we switch from Cochin to Kochi.
Wouldn’t you want a shave where there’s a/c?
Vanessa & Ralph have the lead. In fact, this is perhaps the only time they have had a decent lead all season. They think they know exactly where the rickshaws will be.
Boom goes the lead.
We call this Falling Down With the Kardashians.
Twisting my ankle was always my biggest fear when backpacking. I cringe when I see this footage.
Either this is the worst pain of her life or we’re watching an orgasm before our eyes.
Commercial break. We resume. Paul Asleson must be the editor because we watch her fall down again.
Dave finishes cranking and asks the woman to lead him to the finishing point because he has never been in this factory before.
We go back to Vanessa.
VANESSA: I think I heard a pop. It’s like a screw in it.
The funny thing is that this was Vanessa’s idea of “playing it safe” rather than doing the Fast Forward.
Ralph presses on her shoulder as Vanessa keeps yelling “OH MY GOD” repeatedly.
RALPH: Stop yelling.
Stuffing her mouth with Ralph’s buff is the only way to keep herself from screaming in agony.
Dave gets the clue and takes off the sarong.
DAVE: You want this? It doesn’t look good on me.
“We have to wash it first, idiot.”
We cut back to Vanessa finally on her feet.
VANESSA: Maybe I just twisted it.
She’s going to find out really soon if it’s twisted.
VANESSA: Maybe I twisted it?
RALPH: I dunno. I’m asking you. I didn’t see it. You were behind me.
Vanessa says she has a high tolerance for pain and that she ain’t no bimbo. They get into a rickshaw.
JJ reminds Art of Mark & Bopper likely being saved by a Fast Forward. JJ makes one last attempt to convince Rachel to shave her head. Not because it would be funny but because he wants to guarantee his survival this round.
JJ: She’s a very nice lady. She really is, but she is very gullible. You just need to say a few keywords.
JJ turns to her.
JJ: I think you would look good with it.
“I would still hit it.”
“Uh oh. Border Patrol has a bald woman fetish.”
Art is frustrated with JJ barking at him to hustle as he gets the clue.
Yes, JJ is attempting to be a master manipulator.
Brendon completes the Roadblock. Away they go.
We are now eighteen minutes of running time in a forty-three minute episode.
Which means it is finally time for Mark & Bopper to depart in dead last at 10:38am. They are starting this round three hours and forty-five minutes behind Dave & Rachel’s pit start time.
Bopper spots cows.
BOPPER: Here’s our ride right here, Mark.
I feel like riding cows into the city centre is a prime way to get arrested in India.
Dave & Rachel and Vanessa & Ralph grab their clue from the barber just seconds apart. Dave & Rachel are back in first.
It’s time to immerse themselves into two ancient Indian jobs.
Detour: Pachyderm or Pack a Box.
In Pachyderm, teams must follow an example and properly decorate an elephant with proper bells and ornaments. Then they must transport fifteen wheelbarrows of manure to a nearby truck. Once finished, the Master of Ceremonies will hand them their next clue.
In Pack a Box, teams must take part in India’s spice trade which accounts for fifty percent ofthe world’s supply. They must find a ginger processing centre, pick up ten empty wooden boxes, fill it with dry ginger, seal and stencil each box for shipping, and deliver it to a depot. Once the boxes are ready for export, they will receive their next clue.
At least teams and Phil are using elephants in a task without riding them this season.
“Yo Phil, I can’t see. I’ve got Lowell Vision.”
It’s the equivalent of the young women who get on their boyfriend’s shoulders at a Snoop Dogg concert.
Pictured: TAR Canada.
That’s the Master of Ceremonies. I wonder if Phil had to call him “Master” when addressing him.
The real Spice Girls.
Signed, Sealed, and about to be Delivered. I’m yours!
I wish the sign was only in Hindi to make things -a little tougher- on teams.
Dry Ginger, eh?
To be fair, this Ginger Spice is equally dry here in 2019.
Dave & Rachel choose Pachyderm. Vanessa & Ralph choose the same option.
Brendon & Rachel are next and pick Pachyderm. Art & JJ are the only ones to deviate with Pack-a-Box.
Mark & Bopper show up at their Speed Bump.
Yep. Mark & Bopper are going to paint another man’s belly.
Paint on my bell-eh.
If producers wanted to help Mark & Bopper, find an infant and have them paint their belly.
The task is self-explanatory. Properly paint a tiger on another man’s body.
“I have changed my mind. I actually want to be a gopher!”
That’s it. Paint a belly.
I don’t think this is what Akon was hoping for when he wanted The Amazing Race to start using “belly dancers.”
Phil is not a tall man. That priest must be tiny.
Mark & Bopper begin painting.
BOPPER: I do quite a bit of painting. Me and my little girl paint rocks.
“If you can paint a rock, you can paint a belly.”
I for one stop at face painting.
Dave & Rachel find the elephants.
Some of us get to play drums or the flute.
Some of us get stuck with tiny cymbals.
That’s one way to cool off. I wish I could do that with my nose when it cracks forty degrees in Vernon during the summer.
Rachel wants to pick a small elephant because there will be less to decorate.
VANESSA: I love elephants. Elephants and monkeys. You go to my house and you’ll just find elephants and monkeys everywhere.
“Please don’t bring me to your two bedroom apartment. I won’t fit in there. There’s much more space here.”
Well, I see Dave is getting in his last licks prior to separation.
I was wrong. They DO ride the elephants. PETA is gonna be piiiiiissed. It definitely won’t be the last time producers will receive backlash from the group. Major Nearly Headless Dave and Rachel have pressed the trigger on it.
Brendon & Rachel pick an elephant.
Art & JJ see the boxes and ginger. JJ is painting.
ART: Coulda used the Fast Forward today.
JJ: Yeah, no one else has the balls to do it. We thought we were playing with people who had half a brain but they are the laziest people I’ve ever met. It’s astounding that they could be given a free pass to the end and you don’t want to cut your hair for a million dollars. Then why are you here? Why are you even on the race?
I don’t know if it’s being lazy. I think actually sitting down to get your hair cut as opposed to decorating elephants and creating coconut rope is a much more lazy option.
And why is Rachel here even when she doesn’t want to cut her hair for a million bucks? I can think of a few reasons:
1) Visually appealing people tend to be cast on reality TV. If Rachel shaves her head, it will take minimum two years for it to grow back into an American feminine form. Ergo, shaving head equals less invites to reality shows for a while.
2) She has issues with her physical appearance and is highly self-conscious of it.
3) She thinks Mark & Bopper are so far behind that she thinks she could beat them to the mat regardless.
4) Even if she gets eliminated, ten legs on a show where you travel to several unique destinations while being watched by five million people helps her career.
Do I need to go on?
PETA’s outrage shall only climb as the elephant is humiliated.
Ralph coaches Vanessa to have the umbrella “all the way up!” repeatedly.
All the way up, Vanessa! All the way up! All the way up!
Dave & Rachel are now loading up the manure. Dave attributes their success on the race to maximum efficiency and midwestern work ethic. It’s true. Dave & Rachel are a very efficient team. They rarely make mistakes on tasks involving a physical strategy.
Vanessa & Ralph are loading up manure. So are Brenchel.
VANESSA: Don’t drop any shit, Ralph.
VANESSA: Ha ha! I can see Rachel’s whole entire. . .
Art & JJ sift ginger. We cut back to the elephant dung portion of the other Detour.
RACHEL: I don’t think elephant shit is that gross, though.
Brendon attributes his fast wheelbarrow skills to helping his dad as a brick layerer wheelbarrowing lots of bricks.
Vanessa is thinking about the discrepancy in the number of wheelbarrow trips Brenchel claims to have done. Rachel asks Vanessa if she wants to do the Fast Forward. Hahaha. I can only imagine what Rachel will say to Vanessa if she shaves her head.
Why do we need this shot?????
And continues to dance.
Speed Bump is finished.
Grown men on the road just spent twenty minutes watching grown men paint other grown men.
Alright guys, we’re ready to film the sequel to Cheetahmen!
Mark & Bopper receive the clue and read the Fast Forward.
BOPPER: Engage in a traditional Indian good fortune. . .roulette.
Swing and a miss.
Mark & Bopper talk about it and decide to “risk” going for the Fast Forward.
BOPPER: Let’s take a chance.
“Up here, brother. Let’s take a chance.”
“What about now, Mark? Now you wanna high five?”
Bopper gets rejected twice.
They are about to enter the taxi but Bopper yells out one last roar to the Tigermen.
“We wish we were there to play in shit again!”
Once again, everyone’s ass is kicked by Dave & Rachel once more.
Dave & Rachel read they must take a ferry to the “famous” Cheena Vala Fishing Nets. Yes, Phil does refer to them as famous.
You know, the famous Cheena Vala Fishing Nets as declared by Bertram Van Munster and Elise Doganieri when they filmed episode ten of season twenty of The Amazing Race.
From the pit start to Chandiroor (the Speed Bump location) is a twenty-six minute drive. From Chandiroor to Cherthala (the Fast Forward location) is twenty-five minutes by car. Cherthala to Vypin (the pit stop location) is one hour and thirty-seven minutes. If you include the Speed Bump and the time it takes to shave Bopper’s head, we’re looking at approximately three hours for Mark & Bopper to complete this leg.
For these three teams: Twenty-six minutes, twenty-five minutes, twelve minutes from Cherthala to Pattanakkad where the Roadblock was, Pattanakkad to Fort Kochi is fifty-five minutes for the Detour, thirty minute ferry from Fort Kochi to the pit stop in Vypin makes it two hours and twenty-eight minutes of approximate transit time. Let’s say the Roadblock took about thirty minutes and the elephant decorating and dung task probably took about forty-five minutes means the leg likely takes about four hours for them.
And that’s with Brendon & Rachel initially going to the Fast Forward location then rejoining everybody else which probably lost them no more than thirty minutes.
Mark & Bopper need Art & JJ to struggle with their spice task for an additional two hours to have any shot of surviving this round.
Much like the second India leg in TAR 13, this is a really really short round of play.
Apparently “Cheena” is the Hindi way of saying “China.” These are Chinese fishing nets.
Dave & Rachel hop into their rickshaw/tuk-tuk/I don’t know the difference.
Vanessa & Ralph finish the Detour shortly thereafter.
We get to see the full clue.
Vanessa & Ralph run away from the clue giver.
“Phew. Now I can pick my nose. I thought they would never leave.”
Why isn’t the camera guy panning away?
Brendon & Rachel receive their clue in third place.
Dave & Rachel board the ferry hoping nobody else hops on.
Brendon & Rachel say Dave & Rachel only have a three minute lead which means that Detour task was quicker than I estimated.
Dave goes to the guy promising to pay rupees to make the ferry depart. They see Brendon & Rachel coming and manage to make their escape.
RACHEL: There go Rachel and Dave.
First place is floating away from Brenchel.
If Rachel hadn’t gone for the Fast Forward, her and Brendon would have won the leg today. I know that’s going through her mind in this moment. Oh well. It’s funnier this way.
Feel free to hunt down this guy after the race is over.
Art & JJ realize they have chosen the wrong task by the fourth box.
Art & JJ are ready to pass out in a pile of ginger.
We keep cutting back to Mark & Bopper talking about the FF being a lifeline.
They’re in full on Lorena & Jason “We’re gonna get’chu” mode right now.
JJ is getting frustrated with how long the task is taking.
“Yes we can!”
Commercial break. We resume.
JJ: I’ll be Dave and you be Rachel.
JJ: Shut up, Rachel. Shut up. You need to hurry up. Just shut your mouth. You’re my partner now not my wife. Just shut up. You so weak. You don’t do anything, Rachel. You’re an iiiiidiot.
That was. . .the worst impression of any team I have ever seen. In fact, I haven’t seen a worse impression across Survivor, The Mole, or The Amazing Race. That was AWFUL. And I thought my impressions on the RTV Warriors podcast was bad.
“You need to work on your acting, bro.”
Dave & Rachel step onto the mat.
Well. . .
I guess Phil isn’t always on the mat with beautiful women after all.
They know what’s coming.
FIRST PLACE: DAVE & RACHEL
They have won 10k EACH. They bring up how they are just two wins away from tying Marc & Rovilson’s record with eight wins.
SECOND PLACE: BRENDON & RACHEL
THIRD PLACE: VANESSA & RALPH
Phil asks about Vanessa’s ankle.
Phil asks if everyone has done everything right after ten legs and doesn’t have to deal out any penalties.
Vanessa brings up the wheelbarrows and how Rachel went from three to seven.
RALPH: Who cares.
Yeah, when Mark & Bopper are three hours behind, those six minutes to do four more wheelbarrows isn’t going to impact the race.
RACHEL: Why are you starting drama on the mat?
I don’t think Vanessa brought up drama on the mat.
I think Philly did when he asked the extremely leading question of ARE THERE ANY PENALTIES I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT FOR SOME REASON PRODUCERS COMPLETELY DIDN’T CATCH DURING FILMING.
Brendon and Ralph both try to reel their partners back in.
“Babe, you’re becoming the E-word.”
PHIL: Why can’t you guys get on?
RACHEL: She doesn’t like my sequins. I don’t know why. That’s the reason.
Yeah. That is the reason. FUCK SEQUINS!
RACHEL: During the watermelon challenge, you told your boyfriend my ass was showing to the whole world.
We actually get an ass flashback.
VANESSA: I don’t have anything against you. Like, at all. Except for the craziness in the airport.
RACHEL: You told me I need a nose job.
VANESSA: I said before you get your boobs done. It just makes sense.
RACHEL: You have fake boobs too.
What makes sense? Is there a plastic surgery hierarchy that noses must be redone before breastuhses? Who came up with that pyramid?
“Nose, lips, tits then ass. You go from top to bottom, and then at sixty you do eyebrows and botox. You didn’t get the memo, Rachel?”
“My wife got her breasts done before her nose.”
“We divorced a month later.”
VANESSA: . . .OK, I’m sorry about the nose thing.
Vanessa does the right thing here.
They briefly return to the discussion about the wheelbarrow accusation but eventually it’s dropped.
The most awkward truce is formed.
So we cut back to the Detour. JJ cuts his hand through the glove because he gripped the crate on the box by the sheet metal.
Dexter has now tuned in.
Art & JJ are shouting at each other and calling each other “a little bitch” as they are in pain pushing the cart.
This was the peak of it.
Mark & Bopper are at the Fast Forward location.
Something tells me they won’t be freaking out as badly as Rachel did.
There’s a reason why this task hasn’t been used again in the US version.
“This is easier than Bill & Cathi’s Speed Bump, y’all!”
They still try to shave Mark’s head.
“Did we get anything?”
It really needs to become like TAR Australia 3 where they gave them an awful design rather than a headshave.
Anything to win.
Meanwhile Art & JJ finish the Detour in fourth.
Considering the ferry is nearby Mark & Bopper have absolutely no chance of catching up now.
MARK: You don’t look as good as me, but you look good.
“I’m ready to start breaking bad, son!”
“Congratulations! You have won the Fast Forward but you are still SOL!”
“We’re twin brothers!”
We cut back and forth repeatedly in the cars.
Twenty seasons in and we’re too aware of the whole “Leading team is caught in traffic will they lose their lead” trope by this point.
And as always it doesn’t end up happening. Art & JJ very slowly stroll onto the mat as if all of the energy has been sucked out of them.
PHIL: I don’t think I need to tell you that things haven’t gone your way today.
JJ: No matter what you do, you fail. It’s tough.
ART: We didn’t fail. We didn’t come close to failing. We completed everything we set out to do.
JJ: We didn’t make it to the end.
Wow. This is like the antithesis to a motivational speech. Don’t have JJ come to your elementary schools. Jesus. Just listening to JJ right now makes me feel so depressed I’d shoot myself between the eyes.
“Huh? Mark & Bopper started out that far behind?”
FOURTH PLACE: ART & JJ
PHIL: You’re getting all emotional and crying.
JJ: I’m not crying.
ART: I see a tear!
JJ: It’s sweat!
Art points out the tear.
“I see tears too.”
I DID NOT CRY! I’M A MAAAAAN!
“I was just chopping onions!”
Art counts off the sweat, blood, and tears today.
ART: If that’s not enough to win a million bucks, I don’t know what it is.
Skills, efficiency, luck, and communication with locals?
ART: Ain’t no other team out there that has all three.
“Except Rachel Reilly when she’s menstruating. Then she has all three too.”
Bopper doesn’t have any padding on his head–his head will be very badly scraped if it doesn’t duck the tree.
Bopper is in a very high five-y mood today.
LAST PLACE: MARK & BOPPER
And they are indeed eliminated.
The sun has clouded over too. It wasn’t even close today.
They talk about how grateful they are for the experience. Of course we get a montage of moments we have seen a million times.
BOPPER: I am Kentucky Proud and if Kentucky is not proud of their boy then shame on them because I put 175 percent on the table for Clay County and Kentucky Pride.
Did they attend the same Math class?
NOTE: Mark & Bopper join Dennis & Andrew as the only other team to complete a Fast Forward but still be eliminated.
Next Time on TAR: Tempers flare and the Final Four make a run for the money in a thrilling and historic finish–a colossal mistake could cost a team a million dollars. Who will cross the finish line first and win The Amazing Race?
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.
10) Kochi, India -> Vypin, India
This was right up there with TAR 13’s second India leg. Super linear and finished in approximately four to six hours flat. Three to four hours if you did the Fast Forward. I believe Nick & Starr claimed they finished the second India leg in TAR 13 within ninety minutes which is a record I doubt will ever be broken from pit start to pit stop.
When we’ve had a dozen other India legs by this point in the TAR timeline, you have to try a lot harder to make it stand out.
Ride on top of an elephant briefly. Check.
Do an uncomfortable labour task. Check.
And that was it. This was far less interesting than the previous India leg last episode.
What really happened this episode? Rachel Reilly cried over not willing to do the Fast Forward. Art & JJ would have been eliminated if Mark & Bopper didn’t have a Speed Bump or if there was any sort of minor equalizer today. That would have been a memorable choke leading into a season finale.
Vanessa and Rachel Reilly loosely kissed and made up at the pit stop.
Anybody who cries saying we need equalizers on the race in order to make it more exciting. . .this episode would be a piece of evidence they would use to support their argument.
Overall, a very uninspiring leg and it is a good thing India only appears twice more over the next dozen seasons in TAR US.
TAR US has gone down this road since TAR 12 by having these cheap budget legs to ensure the #12LegsIn20Days criteria is met.
TAR 13 had two of them (Delhi and Moscow).
TAR 14 had Beijing.
TAR 15 had Dubai and Prague.
TAR 16 had that one region in France and Shanghai
TAR 17 had St. Petersburg.
TAR 18 had Zermatt.
TAR 19 had that Phang Nga leg which Andy & Tommy did in close to ninety minutes.
The thing is if your budget/time is low, you have to make it a tough day if you stay in the same city or else the position won’t change as nobody can do a damn thing based on their order of arrival from the previous leg.
In some of the examples above you have legs that are memorable because Big Easy can’t scramble a five letter word or you have Dan & Jordan spending two hours trying to figure out how to leave the pit start.
This second leg was just merely a “Hey guys, the finale is next week!” along with the Goodbye Mark & Bopper, The Only Team Our Audience Likes Farewell Episode.
So yeah. Not an interesting episode to watch. Thank goodness Vanessa rolled her ankle and JJ started bleeding.
P.S. Yeah, this is the only leg to feature a third Fast Forward since TAR 4.
1) Joey Fitness “Lasalla” & Danny “Horal”
I had so much fun making fun of these guys. They maximized the Jersey Shore stereotype like no other team I have seen on the race. That’s probably a good thing as we really didn’t need to see this more than once. A six episode streak of Jersey Shore was the perfect amount.
It’s painful to see Joey & Danny being convinced that they would’ve won the race if not for the Fast Forward attempt. Every team always has the ‘what if’ moment where if they dodged the bullet then they would have won the race—the funny thing for Joey & Danny is they think a mistake on leg six would have produced a victory on leg twelve.
I do agree to a certain extent, though—they were being competitive with both Art & JJ and Dave & Rachel after the third round. Just don’t go into a direct Head-to-Head showdown with Dave & Rachel earlier than you have to on the race.
And I guarantee you they went back home immediately to have a threesome with Gina Marie followed by using their short-lived TV fame to get a whole bunch o’ numbers. That’s just a given.
Danny’s grandfather may want to hose down the apple truck.
2) Dave Gregg & Cherie Gregg
Misa & Maiya weren’t capable of doing The Amazing Race. Dave & Cherie just seemed to really suck at math. Well, Dave anyway.
They were on the second bus and well on their way to the third round of the season, but a tragic bus accident where a window went smashy-smashy led to putting them at peril. Since the only task in Buenos Aires was for Dave to do math. Vanessa succeeded, Andrew and Joey aligned, and Dave was ultimately doomed.
Producers clearly loved Dave & Cherie. Constant positive content, exploring Dave’s history with a familiar cancer, and their own theme music. That fast motion exit with Cherie tripping and doing cartwheels was a unique piece of editing.
Dave & Cherie had terrible jokes, but at least they had a great PMA (Positive Mental Attitude!) from start to finish. No wonder Dave & Rachel were willing to give them a bit of help with the Detour. Too bad they couldn’t rescue them from the Roadblock.
During the first leg they seemed doomed to be that middle-aged couple who goes home instantly, but a combination of determination and Misa & Maiya and Joey & Danny being terrible drivers allowed them to leapfrog to a decent eighth place finish.
In a season that will be dominated by conflict between all of the teams, it’s nice that there was a sideshow of clowns who kept things relatively upbeat for the first couple of rounds.
And unlike Misa & Maiya who appeared to be recruited for the sole purpose for us to laugh at their blunders, we had a team who loved TAR and knew we were laughing with them.
Teams who go home on the second leg have a tendency to have the smallest edit of the season, but that isn’t the case here.
3) Mark Jackson & Bopper Minton
Let’s put Mark & Bopper right here. I can’t state it enough how popular Mark & Bopper were at the time of their elimination in TAR 20. They crossed over into mainstream media briefly once they were gone. I believe Rachel Ray or some other talk show donated a bunch of money. Not as much as Luke Toki from Australian Survivor got but still a reasonable amount.
I feel a bit icky with producers putting Mark & Bopper on the show. We know Mark & Bopper don’t have much money, and it’s extra tough for Bopper given his family situation. We all know going on shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race, while dangling a huge grand prize for the winner, typically comes at a financial sacrifice for anyone else who participates.
People have quit their jobs just to go on these shows with very little compensation (particularly if you compete on Australian and Canadian versions). We have a team that wants this money very very very badly.
What makes it worse is when they exit this season as the most popular team and fans are screaming everywhere on social media GIVE THEM ANOTHER SHOT! WE NEED AN ALL-STAR! BRING BACK MARK & BOPPER!
Remember–by TAR 18, we are in the age of social media and viewers demanding that their favourites get brought back or treated to some sort of reward. So you have Mark & Bopper getting all of this support and being fed into this campaign of getting a second shot at the race and how they are the best team ever (sorry David & Mary).
Bopper would be very active on social media all the way through to about TAR 27 trying to get himself back on the show again and again. Thankfully, Mark & Bopper have essentially moved on from The Amazing Race.
Alright. Let’s go back to their TAR 20 antics. I mean, there are some legitimate funny moments. Just the way Mark & Bopper talk about things is funny. When other teams strategize or mislead other teams, it comes off as scheming. When Mark & Bopper do the same thing to Kerri & Stacy, it comes off as light-hearted and hilarious. We tricked Mississippi, y’all.
They are indeed the only team to break up Dave & Rachel’s neverending string of victories after leg four and do so by just a minute in a leg that was also fairly linear.
There really was no other choice but for Mark & Bopper to be the heroes not just because the other teams had a lot of douchey confrontations but also because Mark & Bopper were saved by two NELs and had the least amount of travel experience. They were the true underdogs from start to finish. Editors got as much as they could out of them.
Mark was a very up-and-down moody racer. Sometimes he was having fun–other times it looked like he wanted to be anywhere else on the planet. Perhaps even North Korea.
Overall, a quotable team that fit the underdog role like a glove for editors. However, they are a very overrated team in the TAR universe.
4) Elliot Weber & Andrew Weber
Much like Misa & Maiya, and to a lesser extent Dave & Cherie, Elliot & Andrew weren’t the strongest casting choices. They had as much charisma as fellow soccer enthusiasts Isaac & William on The Amazing Race.
They expressed frustration with each other in leg three (as well as sarcasm in unaired footage with Mississippi), and Andrew tossing a backpack and string was entertaining. However, they didn’t have any specific highlights beyond being a team who choked as badly as another team during a very long day.
Well, a very long day if you suck at both tasks.
Even if Dave & Rachel hadn’t used their Express Pass, Elliot & Andrew would have still been eliminated. During the first two legs Elliot & Andrew would either be at the back of the group they flew/rode into a city with or very close to last. They did only slightly better than Misa & Maiya at tasks and only beat Dave & Cherie at math or the occasional self-driving directions.
I can see during casting that Elliot & Andrew had some entertaining banter between them and having interesting backgrounds in the form of music and being professional soccer players, but we didn’t hear Andrew until leg three. That awkward confessional of Elliot joking about being incest-ish gay brothers set the tone right away.
The good news is they provided that “dangit, those nice guys were eliminated in that close race with the controversial couple” which was a bit of an early season highlight.
It’s not much, but hey, we needed at least one likable team in a sea of controversy. And I’d rather watch these guys for an approximate three episode run. They went home at the right time and served their role in the season.
5 Misa Tanaka & Maiya Tanaka
Poor Misa & Maiya. Their reputation on TAR is going to be known for that one very very infamous blunder (which lucky for them will be overshadowed just two seasons later). They run a terrible leg. They can’t drive. They spend two hours searching through the same baskets in the hot air balloons. They can’t run fast.
But right before the pit stop they get a task that falls under their vary narrow tree of personal strengths. They make up a ton of time and aren’t last and then. . .completely fuck it all up by not seeing Phil. Joey Fitness & Danny slip through, and they are the first team eliminated.
Misa & Maiya have to be in the conversation for some of the worst racers ever.
John & Scott weren’t competitive.
Dana & Adrian chose the wrong person to complete a Roadblock.
Ron & Tony get very lost while driving.
Mika refused to do anything involving heights or water.
Meredith & Maria can’t drive and have no sense of direction.
Misa & Maiya. . .were mediocre or atrocious at everything that didn’t involve gyoza-related challenges. I think if you ran this season ten times, Misa & Maiya are the first team to be eliminated on nearly every leg imaginable.
It’s too bad because they wanted to be presented as strong women to the audience, but boy oh boy did that not come through.
6) Nary Ebeid & Jamie Graetz
Of the six remaining teams, only two teams weren’t hated when TAR 20 aired in the spring of 2012. People were upset to see them go as the ugly 4-way conflict between Vanessa & Ralph, Dave & Rachel, Art & JJ, and Brendon & Rachel were reaching uncomfortable heights. TAR 20 would conclude as one of the least popular seasons ever.
Seven years later and. . .Nary & Jamie are not a very charismatic team. You can’t even make the argument of “I don’t care about charisma I just want good racers” that I frequently see online because Nary & Jamie weren’t competitive racers either. In seven out of eight legs, they finished in fifth, sixth, and seventh. Those are middle of the pack finishes which guarantees you don’t really have much of a story or impact on the season. You can’t be a crazy early boot or a compelling endgame team.
Let’s talk about Nary & Jamie’s story other than they like cake. They are badass federal agents who lie and say they are kindergarten teachers.
But here’s the thing: They didn’t do anything secretly badass and raced this like kindergarten teachers the whole time. It would have been better if they were kindergarten teachers and lie by saying they are federal agents. That would’ve been hilarious.
And this doesn’t even become a storyline until their last two episodes because Art & JJ confront them about it. If Art & JJ didn’t decide to be overly aggressive and confront them, this storyline would’ve been one of the most empty plots in TAR history. In other words, they had to rely on another team to get any sort of substantial airtime this season.
TAR 20 was a ROUGH go for all-female teams. Thank god we get Natalie & Nadiya for TAR 21.
You had one all-female team be so incompetent they couldn’t even identify Phil Keoghan ten feet away.
You had another all-female team who was apparently disliked by every team and production that their airtime was reduced to “I miss my kids.”
And the most successful all-female team this season likes cake and was interrogated by border patrol agents right before being eliminated.
If I had to come up with a comparison for Nary & Jamie, it would be this:
They are like some of the women I know on co-ed softball teams. Friendly, dare I say peppy (although that term has uncomfortable connotations so I caution using that word), competitive enough on teams to not be terrible but not competitive enough to excel, not the most dynamic of personalities you would meet in your city, but the easiest people to talk to in a situation while everyone else is acting like drunk assholes on the field.
That is the role Nary & Jamie had this season, and I guess they did their job. Maybe the federal agent thing is a lie and they really are semi-professional softball players. Who knows.
7) Kerri Paul & Stacy Bowers
Unaired: They were angry over how they were treated by Elliot & Andrew and Vanessa & Ralph. This would have made for great TV, but I guess when one of those teams goes home early and they go home early themselves, and we have Brendon & Rachel coming off of two stints on Big Brother where any interesting footage was automatically going to be aired, Kerri & Stacy’s storylines got erased.
How erased were their storylines? It got reduced down to “Kerri is out of her element and hasn’t traveled enough to navigate or drive a standard!” for Kerri and “I miss my babies!” for Stacy.
They messed up the drive. Mark & Bopper duped them with giving up their taxi in Paraguay. Stacy was afraid of heights.
I think I just highlighted every single scene from the first five episodes. It’s a shame because they could have been a three-dimensional social trainwreck but instead fit into a mold we have seen several times. Hell, their storyline was almost replayed verbatim like Kaylani & Lisa—I don’t know what it is about all-female teams that go home early but it’s the truth. If they have a kid, cue up tears and a photo upon elimination. If they don’t have kids, they’ll talk about being the next all-female team to win. If not, they’ll be shown a bunch of brief highlights of them being really far out of their element.
Kerri & Stacy’s edit didn’t bring anything unique to the table. A fun team to watch in a couple of scenes, but that was it. Editors didn’t do them enough justice.
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.
— C+ —
3rd Lyn & Karlyn 4.85 – Yielded TAR 10
7th Ivan & Hilda 4.83 TAR Asia 4
7th Teri & Ian All Stars 4.83 TAR 11
5th John Vito & Jill 4.8 – FF and saved by NEL once TAR 3
6th Mai & Oliver 4.8 In a car TAR Asia 3
7th Schroeder Family 4.75 TAR 8
9th Connor & Jonathan 4.75 TAR 17
6th Lake & Michelle 4.71 – Used Yield TAR 9
6th Brian & Greg 4.71 TAR 7
5th Erwin & Godwin 4.70 TAR 10
3rd Adam & Rebecca 4.69 FF and Used Yield and Yielded, saved by NEL once TAR 6
9th Duke & Lauren 4.67 TAR 10
3rd Hussein & Natasha Saved by 4.64 NEL once TAR Asia 4
6th Gary & Mallory 4.625 TAR 17
5th Mark & Bopper 4.6 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 20
5th Lori & Bolo 4.6 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 6
6th Jet & Cord 4.56 – U-Turned, saved by NEL once TAR 18
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
3rd Amani & Marcus 4.42 Saved by NEL once TAR 19
8th Joe & Heidi 4.40 – Blind U-Turned with Injured Knee; TAR 16
6th Laurence & Zac 4.375 Used U-Turn and U-Turned TAR 19
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
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