The Amazing Race 20 Episode Eleven Rankings: Bertram Van Munster, Leave Japanese Game Shows Alone

Eleventh Episode

Episode Blog #308



Previously on TAR: Eleven teams began a race around the world. Along the way they soared over Salt, experienced agony in Asuncion, they were bewildered in Baku, and taken aback in Tanzania. Six teams were eliminated. Kentucky Boys Mark & Bopper came on the race with one goal. The best friends competed with their hearts on their sleeves. Overcoming injury and exhaustion to finish just shy of the Final Four.

Wow. That’s the longest dedication to an eliminated team in the ‘Previously On’ segment that editors have ever done in TAR. Continuing. . .

“The Final Four teams caught each other’s attention early. After an airport blowup, they targeted each other with U-Turns but that only succeeded in ending a friendship.

Rachel & Dave had a goal simply bigger than winning. However success on the race course didn’t always mean success in their relationship. But through their ups and downs the married couple still won six legs and a spot in the Final Four.

Dating divorcees Vanessa & Ralph crashed and clashed. They overcame fears and falls battling their way into the Final Four.

Art & JJ began with plenty of confidence and backed it up with impressive results. Some late game stumbles had them limping into the Final Four.

Brendon & Rachel felt the pressure of the race early and often. But when it mattered the determined couple always came through earning their spot in the Final Four.

Tonight one of these four teams will be eliminated.”


ART & JJ 4

Intro time.

Phil introduces us to the city of Cochin/Kochi as the city of harmony. On the shoreline of the diverse city, there are enormous fishing nets. It was the tenth pit stop in a race around the world.

Dave & Rachel, who arrived first at an undisclosed time, will depart first at 1:51pm. They read they must fly over four thousand miles to Hiroshima, Japan.

Uh oh. I am going to be obnoxious this whole episode. I spent 36 days in Japan between the end of December and end of January. I spent three full days in Hiroshima. Teams will find their next clue on Miyajima Island.

hiroshima clue

logan miyajima

Alright. Just one selfie of me in front of this route marker. K. I’m good.

hiroshima clue 1

Miyajima Island is Hiroshima’s biggest tourist attraction. I refuse to believe they managed to get this shot without locking this area down. Tourists are EVERYWHERE on Miyajima.

Dave says the relationship is more important than a million dollars and their relationship. They sit down at a travel agency.

hiroshima man

Dave tells Rachel to see this booking through to “completion.” Oh, Dave Language.

hiroshima dave rachel brown

Please someone provide an honest answer when a local asks them one day.

RACHEL: Oh, I love your country. It’s very nice.

Wow. That’s the most generic answer on the planet. Anyone else notice the Christmas tree in the background? This season was definitely filmed in December.

RACHEL: Oh, I love your country. It’s very nice.
DAVE: Rachel, please don’t distract him. Let him work.

That response doesn’t make any sense. This conversation was definitely spliced for the edit.

DAVE: I don’t necessarily view Rachel as my wife. I view her as my teammate–
RACHEL: –Soldier.
DAVE: As my equal and as my teammate–
RACHEL: –Soldier.
DAVE: As my peer–
RACHEL: –Soldier.
DAVE: And as my soldier.

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It was a cute moment. I’ll admit it.

Dave & Rachel receive the bad news.

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The Equalizer!!!! Producers are pissed they couldn’t do this last leg.

In a moment of frustration, we don’t see the next three teams leave the pit start. No departure times given.

hiroshima plane

Surprisingly, they are not flying JAL to Hiroshima. Huh.

Nobody says anything interesting as they all sit down on the plane.

JJ: We feel we are the best team here.

hiroshima art jj

So you won six legs????

hiroshima vanessa macias

“Honey, where’s our passport?”

Vanessa is nursing her ankle injury.

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Oddly enough, this will be roughly the same length as their flight from Hiroshima to the finish line.

hiroshima geisha

We get three shots of Japanese landscape and one of them just HAS to be of a geisha. To the writers who have said TAR treats Japan as one big stereotype since TAR 15, we all know now what you’re talking about.

The flight lands at night. Art & JJ stumble over the all too familiar ticket machine to get to the bus. Art & JJ and Vanessa & Ralph are the first two teams on the bus.

hiroshima bus

They would probably sacrifice ten percent of the grand prize for that bus to pull away right now.

Brendon & Rachel approach the bus but don’t have a ticket.

JJ: I don’t even think they read the clues. They just run.

hiroshima rachel reilly

In Japan, there is no such thing as violating procedure.

Dave & Rachel and Brendon & Rachel both require assistance with the machine.

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I will say this: If it’s your first time using the machines, you will be overwhelmed very fast despite the degree of signage above you. I spent my first five days in Japan with a friend who guided me through it before I travelled solo for the following thirty days.

hiroshima brendon villegas

BRENDON: I don’t know if this is working, Rachel.

It may or may not be a user error, Brendon.

Dave & Rachel make it in time. Brendon & Rachel don’t.

RACHEL: Maybe you should’ve listened to me and not said IHUHUHUHWHATWE’REDOING.

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Brendon turns to his left.

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And exits amongst a sea of Japanese folk.

RACHEL: From now on I’m not making any decisions. You can do them all.
BRENDON: Rachel, just stop. Just stop.
RACHEL: You didn’t listen to me in one of the most important decisions in the beginning of the leg of the race.

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“Now back to my makeup.”

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Rachel is Geisha’ing her eyes as they continue to bicker.

BRENDON: Rachel, first of all, just lower your voice. It’s rude to be yelling on the bus.

hiroshima brendon villegas 1

I love how TAR starts the episode with a PSA on Japanese bus etiquette.

BRENDON: Can you drop the attitude?
RACHEL: You act like every other man. You don’t respect my decisions. You think you can do it all on your own. You’re so smart.

The three teams are at the train station together. They need to book a JR line ticket to Miyajima. Dave & Rachel separate from the other two teams. Brendon befriends a dude named Nakano on the bus and he instructs Brendon precisely how to buy the JR tickets.

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Rachel befriends her seatmate as well making general conversation.

hiroshima sign

This is a very rare time since TAR 11 where locals are allowed to follow and help out the racers while on the course.

Brendon & Rachel are first to buy their tickets at the machine while everyone else goes to the separate ticket office to buy theirs like freakin’ amateurs.

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10pm and 10:20pm trains up for grabs.

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Oh boy. I am getting flashbacks.

Brenchel make it. So do Art & JJ and Vanessa & Ralph.

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Where are Dave & Rachel? “Dave & Rachel” and “last place” is not a sentence we have used through eleven episodes.

hiroshima doors

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Japanese Technology: 1
Dave: 0

Ticket dispensing and bottle balancing are Dave’s two greatest weaknesses.

DAVE: We can’t be content with “well, everybody else is here” and spend ten minutes. We’re not followers.
RACHEL: No need to pout about it. . .if there’s nothing we can do, don’t be pessimistic about it. There’s no reason.
DAVE: From my perspective, there is always something that can be done.
RACHEL: Or bitching about it.

The first train arrives.

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Brenchel run out in the dead streets near the ferry port.

VANESSA: Holy Advil.

Holy cheese and crackers, that’s not even a saying.

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Despite her swollen ankle, Vanessa is outrunning Art & JJ.

The three teams board the ferry together. It departs at 22:42 and the next one is not until 6:25. Holy hell. It’s the final ferry of the night to Miyajima then Dave & Rachel are screwed.

hiroshima ferry

Aaaaand they don’t make it.

VANESSA: Cheese and crackers.

hiroshima vanessa ralph 1

You’re not allowed to adopt a new team nickname on leg eleven. Sorry guys.

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“Where’s the ferry?”

Dave & Rachel ask a random employee when the next ferry leaves. I should note there is a lot of pointing when communicating with locals in Japan.

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DAVE: That was one million dollars for one minute wasted. They’re at a location where we need to be to search for that clue and we’re–
RACHEL: And no use pouting about it now.

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Rachel said the secret word of the week!!!!

DAVE: I’m not pouting. I’m telling you the reality of it and the grevity of it. We go from first consistently first to bringing up the rear. . .because of the decisions we made and face the ramifications of it. The error in judgment is magnified tenfold.

hiroshima dave rachel brown 5

This is going to be a fun night for producers.

RACHEL: Nothing we can do about it now except wait it out.
DAVE: Well, no use dwelling on it now.
RACHEL: Two hours of dwelling isn’t enough?
DAVE: Well, I’m a little preturbed to say the least.
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They really don’t get along when out of the leading position.

Are grevity and preturbed real words? Does anyone know?

Commercial break. We resume. Dave & Rachel find a backpacking lodge nearby.

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But not before editors sneak in this graphic.

The ferry prepares to disembark.

JJ: Ourselves, Big Brother, Conan & Kardashian are on this ferry.

See, that’s a better nickname than Cheese and Crackers.

hiroshima shrine

I love the floating shrine on Miyajima. During the day you can see the thousands of Yen coins stuck to the bottom posts. Teams may need it for this leg!

Brendon & Rachel run by one of the deer on Miyajima. The deer are VERY aggressive on Miyajima as well as Nara.

hiroshima deer

Sadly, this is the only reference we will see to the deer on Miyajima. I can assure you they are a much more prominent fixture when you go to visit.

Just when we think Dave & Rachel could lose this leg by as much as eight hours. . .
hiroshima clue 2

Boom. A secondary equalizer for the leg.

Dave & Rachel board the 6:25am ferry. They catch up to the other three teams as they await sunrise.

RACHEL: He can take his poopy pants off now.

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He had eight hours to do laundry last night. Someone preferred sleep over clean clothes.

Art & JJ see a guy dragging his cart.

ART: Those are some big ass clues.

hiroshima cart

That’s right. If this were HaMerotz, each team will be required to carry a bucket for the rest of the leg.

hiroshima shrine 1

I would’ve killed for a secluded sunrise visit to the floating shrine in Miyajima. Damn they’re lucky.

Teams receive their clue and find the Atomic Bomb Dome. In one of the rare occasions in TAR, we get another Nelson Mandela and Holocaust moment as all four teams are shown gathering outside of the Atomic Bomb Dome. Phil narrates the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War 2.

hiroshima brendon rachel 2

The Chem Majors will be all over this destination.

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TAR dips into public domain photos for the first time since I believe the Jacqueline Kennedy visit in Cambodia for TAR 13.

hiroshima atomic bomb

logan dome

logan dome 1

The Peace Memorial Park has a lot of other plaques and things on-site around the dome. Especially ringing the bell nearby which always has a steady lineup. When I was there the museum itself at the Peace Memorial Park was under construction. Knowing the Japanese, construction was likely done a month after I left.

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The racers are in the awkward state of simultaneously planning for Final Three but also reflecting on mankind’s nature to self-destruct in times of conflict.

Brendon uses it as a way to talk about radiation in the form of helping people with cancer. We get the typical string of confessionals in a scene like this.

hiroshima man 1

And of course a stand-alone shot of a Japanese man bowing before a memorial.

After their third equalizer of the past twelve hours, teams open up their clue. They must travel by shinkansen to OSAKAAAAAAAA. What’s the first shot we get after teams read their clue at the Atom Bomb Dome?

hiroshima shinkansen

All four teams are on the same goddamn shinkansen (high speed bullet trains which are excellent to use with your JR Pass) to Shin-Osaka station.

Osaka/Kobe were the first two cities I saw in Asia. They have a very special place in my heart. There are A LOT of places to see in Osaka. So Phil, where are we going?

osaka tv 8 studio

Huh????????? A random TV studio? Are you fucking kidding me, producers?

Get used to this. Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo will be used as a route marker three times (and also as the rough area of the pit stop three times). Shinjuku Central Park will be used as a route marker twice. TAR 9 used Tokyo. TAR 12 used Osaka. TAR 15 used Tokyo. TAR 18 used Kamakura (which is very close to Tokyo). TAR 20 is using Hiroshima and Osaka. TAR 23 will use Tokyo. TAR 26 will use Tokyo and Nagano. TAR 31 will use Tokyo.

It’s a shame that we could have fully explored Hiroshima or use the Atom Bomb Dome as the perfect transition to visit Nagasaki. Instead producers are throwing them to a previously visited city to go to a random lot that has nothing to do with Japanese culture.

As somebody who visited thirteen cities in Japan, this is frustrating to witness.

Anyways, much like the bullet trains, we instantly go from Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka station. I have done the exact same ride. It takes approximately two hours to get there. The Shinkansen bullet trains are no joke.

Vanessa & Ralph and Art & JJ take a cab to the TV studio. The Rachel teams are taking another train.

osaka train

What people don’t realize is that so many people take mass transportation in Japan that the roads aren’t actually that busy because of it.

osaka car

So a taxi will actually be your best bet.

osaka train

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When you second guess your decision.

Vanessa & Ralph enter one of the random buildings in the business district.

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If the taxi driver dropped them off at one of the random offices in the business district, Vanessa & Ralph are going to fall behind very very fast. I only ventured into the business district because of the Capcom headquarters. The TV 8 Studio is about an eight minute walk from here.

osaka roadblock

Ouch. Brendon and Vanessa’s injured ankle have to do this Roadblock. The hint really needed to be Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.


Especially when 21 would have just come out a couple years prior. They really didn’t follow the book “Bringing Down the House” whatsoever.

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Oh no. Another mildly racist Japanese game show task that nobody asked for. I said the season premiere of TAR 15 made me quit watching TAR for about four seasons. Here in TAR 20 we get a copy of a task that made me go on a two year hiatus.

TAR 14 through 16 is also commonly referred to the Dark Ages of TAR (with TAR 30-present potentially being the second Dark Age). Why are we going to a playbook from the epitome of the Dark Ages? I discussed it before on the season 31 premiere podcast with RTV Warriors, but the Japanese game show challenge is very very cheap for producers to produce.

osaka host

We’ve found a host for TAR: Japan.

osaka crowd

They’ve been here getting liquored up for hours.

osaka hat

raving rabbids

Hey! It’s one of Raymond’s Raving Rabbids!

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I don’t understand why the logo has a chicken being butt raped.

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Oddly enough, this is the size of TAR’s viewership by season 31.

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Having a game called “Bring ____ Home” is perfect for a border patrol agent.

The host explains they must sprint on a running track to jump up and grab three chickens then make it to the finish line.

osaka phil keoghan

We then bring in that other host to explain this challenge.

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And get paid all of the money for it.

osaka phil keoghan 2

This is why TAR gets more and more budget cuts over the years. Phil takes a larger and larger cut.

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rubber chicken family guy

I hear Al Qaeda would kill it at this Roadblock.

Art begins on the track.

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Art is running and. . .

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*insert idiotic souond effect here*

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Vanessa’s ankle is less painful than watching this task. Cheesy graphic isn’t helping it.

Art gets his second chicken. He runs and leaps for his third. . .

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If Art Velez had to do this task, he would be dead.

We cut to the Rachel teams working together to find the studio. Vanessa & Ralph are trying to hire a new cab.

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Vanessa waves him over. He waves back.

VANESSA: No, we need a cab.

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“And hello to you too, madam.”

Vanessa & Ralph snag a new cab. The other two teams have cabs too. They initially went to the new studio instead of the old studio.

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And Art wins the challenge.

osaka group

The crowd cheers.

Art & JJ read they must head to the Umada Sky Building.

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Why is there a hole in the center?

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Looks like an architect really likes Mario Kart 64.

Once there they must look for a pair of Windows 7 touch screen computers.

osaka computer

A one-off sponsour by Microsoft. It’s like TAR Asia.

Vanessa has to do the Roadblock.

VANESSA: I hope it’s nothing too physical.

Brendon has to do it. Since Dave & Rachel had claimed a Fast Forward Rachel is the only one with a choice.

osaka contestants

I still don’t get the astronaut helmets for this Roadblock.

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peter griffin knee

Vanessa has briefly turned into the Peter Griffin of TAR in the past two episodes.

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OK, NOW Vanessa has become Peter Griffin.

osaka brendon villegas

Now is not the time for breakdancing, Brendon!

osaka laugh

I should note we cut to the exact same shot of this guy laughing whenever somebody falls.

Brendon had captured two chickens before falling. Rachel has one. Brendon grabs his third. Rachel has her second. We cut to the same man laughing as both of them along with Vanessa fall repeatedly.

Seconds apart we see Brendon and Rachel complete the Roadblock.

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Winners winners chicken dinners.

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Oh, and Vanessa has an injured ankle with no chickens.

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Oh, and Vanessa has an injured ankle.


Somehow Vanessa has two chickens in her hand. This edit is misleading. We see her fall a few more times.

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“I knew I should’ve picked Tim Duncan as a teammate.”

Commercial break. We resume. Vanessa describes the pain as the worst moment of her life. She grabs the second chicken.

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Vanessa strips down as it is probably too hot with the extra layer on.

Haha! I can see Vanessa’s entire bicep!

She eventually snags the third chicken while crying in pain.

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“I wish I didn’t go to Japan today.”

Art & JJ reach the Floating Garden Observatory.

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I love seeing teams use Windows Media Player on The Amazing Race.

We cut away from Windows 7 as Phil introduces the two tasks–Japan is passionate about thwo things–sushi and sumo. Bingo Shoutout or Photo Cutout.

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“Oh my god, it’s Ethan Hawke!”

In Bingo Shoutout, teams are required to pick up sushi off the conveyor belt and match them onto their Sushi Bingo card.

osaka sushi

I must admit I didn’t see a sushi place in Japan where anime figurines were on the conveyor belt next to the food.

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The pictures really help.

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It’s the healthiest game of Bingo you’ll ever see.

As the chef calls out names of sushi, teams must correctly identify pieces of sushi with a letter attached to it and match them to their name on the board. Once they have the correct five pieces in either a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line, they can yell out SUSHI! and they must eat all five pieces of sushi before receiving their next clue.

osaka keoghan man

I like how dramatic they make the kid when he yells out “sushi!”

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He holds that pose too.

osaka eat

The Dream Teamer shot you always wanted.

Photo Cutout requires teams to pick up a camera and two life-sized cutouts of sumo wrestlers.

osaka photo

What type of camera is that?!

osaka photo 1

e honda

“Me and my homies are finally featured on The Amazing Race.”

They must convince locals to take a total of ten different pictures using the sumo cutouts. Once finished, they will receive their next clue.

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They have to pay 800 Yen too? That’s just mean. That’s close to ten bucks Canadian.

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It’s nice to see TAR Asia in progress. What D-List singer/celebrity is she supposed to be?

Art & JJ pick sushi.

ART: Old men love bingo. Old men love sushi.

Dave & Rachel went outside of the sky garden and circled around.

DAVE: This is insane.
RACHEL: Look at how far you can see!

osaka dave rachel brown

osaka skyline

It sure is pretty. You can see all the way to Kobe!

RACHEL: You have a clue?!
GUARD: No. Down.
RACHEL: One floor down?
DAVE: Dammit. Stupid.

osaka stupid

You think I am stupid, Dave? Well you Osaka!

But seriously, Dave is getting buried in this episode.

Brendon & Rachel have yet to go down.

We cut back to Vanessa & Ralph are at the studio.

RALPH: How many times are you gonna try this? Until it breaks?

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I see Ralph has gone to the Bopper Minton School of Encouragement.

Vanessa suits back up to do the final sprint with her three chickens in hand.

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“You did it!!!”

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“Wait a second! You choked like Japanese Bill Buckner!”

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Down she goes.

Allegedly seconds later Vanessa succeeds at the Roadblock.

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Winner couldn’t be a more inaccurate reflection of Vanessa’s position at the moment.

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She definitely doesn’t feel like a winner.

In fact, I think this is what should be seen on the screen. . .

VANESSA: The only thing I can think about right now is putting on my eyelash. It’ll make me look pretty.
RALPH: She’s on The Amazing Race and right now she is worried about an eyelash. Priorities.

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Ralph, did you have a stroke?

osaka driver

One of Vanessa’s eyelashes is longer than all of the driver’s eyelashes combined.

Dave & Rachel spot the Windows 7 computers. They choose Photo Cutout. Brendon & Rachel see it not too long after. They pick Sushi Shoutout.

Dave tries entering a taxi but his bag is open.

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My poncho!

Rachel tries to talk to the driver while Dave is cursing.

DAVE: What’s my bag doing open?

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I wonder what other trinkets we will find in that bag? A Dixie Chicks album?

RACHEL: We’re going to–
DAVE: Rachel, all of my shit is falling out.

osaka dave brown 3

You gotta chill, man.

Dave & Rachel’s driver doesn’t know. They jump out.

DAVE: Rachel, if you unzip your bag, you gotta tell me.
DAVE: Freak.
(RACHEL does a NYC whistle for a cab.)
DAVE: Classy.
RACHEL: You’re driving me insane.

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Remember guys–this is the team that is tied for the most legs won worldwide.

DAVE: I’m competing and tired of you–
RACHEL: You’re driving me insane. You’re accusing me of not trying and of unzipping your bag,

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It’s all about team cohesion to be peak performers on The Amazing Race.

DAVE: Silence is golden, babe.
RACHEL: Then why don’t you shut the fuck up?!

This is why I miss the longer filming schedules for TAR. The attrition that would set in during the older seasons is something you don’t see until the penultimate leg or the finale in modern seasons.

osaka detour

I guess Vanessa & Ralph aren’t as far behind as we thought. Editors must have really stretched out that Roadblock.

Dave & Rachel finally have a taxi. So do Brendon & Rachel. Vanessa & Ralph pick the sushi task. Dave & Rachel are the only ones picking the sumo task.

Art & JJ find the sushi restaurant.

osaka chef

“Welcome our new contestants to Sushi Shoutout!”

Ugh. The Japanese game show music theme is back.

CHEF: Sushi Bingo starts now!

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Somehow this crowd is about the same size as the TV 8 Studio crowd from the Roadblock. Hell, it could even be the exact same people.

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tyler oakley

And you thought TAR 28’s cast was bad when it comes to mugging for the camera.

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Art & JJ must join another pair. First plate they pick was snail instead of unagi. They really struggle with the first couple of callouts.

Dave & Rachel have their sumo cutouts. Rachel is responsible for flagging people down. Being super polite doesn’t work. She starts getting aggressive. Dave is doing a good job too.

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Only problem: Rachel is stumbling with the camera.

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osaka detour 2

This is cringeworthy.

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Thinnest sumo wrestler ever. . .and somehow even he is taller than my girlfriend.

Art & JJ get help from their tablemates with this task. That sure makes things easier.

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JJ is so happy to see Brendon & Rachel at the Detour!!!

Vanessa & Ralph’s driver is lost. Vanessa gets really sarcastic about how wonderful the day is going.

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If only Miyajima Island wasn’t an equalizer as opposed to preserving that eight hour lead over Dave & Rachel.

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dirty harry.jpg

We cut to Japanese Dirty Harry on a bicycle.

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Rachel photographs somebody wearing a red beret.

We cut back to the sushi task. Rachel Reilly overexplains the rules how the letter pin on top of the sushi and where it is on the board needs to match. It is a very BB-esque confessional.

Meanwhile, Dave & Rachel choose a man who is bewildered by the sumo request.

osaka man

I love Colonel Mustard’s brother.

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Dave starts kicking a random local’s bicycle to intimidate him into being in the tenth and final photo.

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Can he borrow Christmas Snoopy and put him in the Sumo cutout?

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They eventually find their lucky winner for the task.

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It took them a while, but Dave & Rachel are finally back on top at the right time.

osaka castle

ryu street fighter.jpg

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Yeah, Street Fighter led me to Osaka Castle. This is our penultimate pit stop of the race.

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The Phil is waiting.

Dave & Rachel hire a cab.

Art & JJ complete SUSHI. Art yells BINGO but isn’t acknowledged. JJ has to correct him before they are acknowledged.

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Japanese game show music theme plays yet again and we see the highlighted board.

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Intense much?

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Brendon & Rachel are not in on the celebration.

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Nor the excitement.

Art & JJ hire their own cab.

Vanessa & Ralph walk through the door.

RALPH: Wow, we caught up.

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Look at how close they are to finishing. Rachel is excessively worried given her current board.

Dave & Rachel are already at the castle.

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This is so Osaka. The steam punk theme of Final Fantasy VII was really inspiring.

The Japanese rift plays on the soundtrack as Dave & Rachel make it to the mat.

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And once again. . .


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Dave shakes the shit out of Rachel upon hearing they have tied the US record.

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This is all that remains internationally.

Phil recaps the current status of their US record before unveiling their trip to “stunning” New Zealand. Five nights in Lake Wakatooku and observing the southern alps. Phil mentions that is his homeland.

travelocity gnome

Oddly enough, the Travelocity gnome will get to do challenges like these in upcoming seasons.

Art & JJ are jogging around Osaka Castle. Brendon & Rachel are filling up their sushi board. They finally complete it. The other customers are much happier than Rachel when she calls “sushi.”

Brendon & Rachel hire a cab. I can’t tell if Rachel is sweating from the sushi or running to the cab.

Art & JJ are running around Osaka Castle to find Phil. It really is a huge place. I can vouch for that.

Vanessa & Ralph receive their clue in last place.

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They didn’t have to occupy too much of their board before receiving their clue.

VANESSA: I don’t like to wish misfortune on anybody, but we need a team to get lost or get abducted by aliens.

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Roadblock: Who wants to Storm Area 51?

Art & JJ see Brendon & Rachel on the grounds and are there together.

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The castle grounds for Osaka Castle are big but they are not -that- big.

After JJ says Art’s name five times in the span of eight seconds, they find the mat.

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JJ looks like he walked in on Phil naked.


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It is theirs.

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If Phil doesn’t like being hugged by Art. . .

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I don’t know how he’ll feel about Dan from Island of the Idols.

We cut back and forth between the two teams. One big running montage.

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Phil informs them of advancing to the Final Three.

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I don’t think Rachel hears him.

We cut to Vanessa & Ralph being last to the mat.

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Ralph leaps higher than Vanessa did during the whole Roadblock.


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They’re done, son.

Phil praises Vanessa for her efforts today. We get a montage of all of their moments including “this is your jackass idea” clip.

VANESSA: It’s smooth sailing from here unless there is a rubber chicken.

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I guess a rubber chicken was in their future after all.

It’s UFC promo time as everybody talks about how badly they want to win and will win even though one of the teams has won more than twice as many legs as the other two teams combined.

Next Time on TAR: Winners are declared in Hawaii. All three teams make major colossal errors, but only one team gets to successfully recover and take home the prize. It is arguably the most memorable finish between TAR 13 and TAR 31.


ART & JJ 1


ART/JJ 3/6
Leg Rankings
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) Fort Kochi, India -> Osaka, Japan

Japan was a cool place to visit in TAR 9, 12, and 18.

Sadly, producers think the TAR 15 premiere where they had a fake Japanese game show challenge was a hit and continued the tradition here in TAR 20. Add in sushi and sumo cutouts to continue playing off of Japanese stereotypes. Folks like Bindles online has written about how the visits to Japan tend to be the most offensive out of any country TAR visits throughout the timeline.

The numerous equalizers were annoying. It would have been a super memorable leg if missing the ferry and Dave & Rachel arriving at the pit stop eight hours after all other teams resulted in their elimination. Instead ninety percent of the outcome was determined by everyone’s driver finding TV 8 Studio and running on a track. Everything else had little variation. Sigh.

I wish more time was dedicated to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Hiroshima is quite an interesting city and we saw as little as we could of Memorial Peace Park and Miyajima Island. TAR didn’t do a great job of capturing what Hiroshima is like in the two or three minutes of footage. Sometimes visiting a location from the TAR catalogue can taint your perception of the episode. Ignorance can be bliss as a viewer.

The Detour with the Sumo Cutouts was the only interesting part of the episode because it featured teams interacting with locals. The other bonus of the episode was seeing teams figure out how to buy tickets for the trains, and Brendon backing off of a fight with Rachel in order to befriend a local and snag the lead in that moment.

Tbe episode heavily focused on Dave & Rachel’s bumpy relationship as they try to chase down Amazing Race history. The other three teams were pretty much footnotes in this episode. It’s tough to top the “Silence is golden, babe” “Then why don’t you shut the fuck up!” exchange.

Oh, and Vanessa & Ralph got eliminated.

9) 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.
10) 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.

11) 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.
Ceremony. Check.
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.

Team Rankings

1) Vanessa Macias & Ralph Kelley

I can’t believe it, but Vanessa & Ralph are this high on my list for TAR 20. The dating divorcees established being bottom-feeders early on and had a rivalry with the biggest names going into the season. They were eventually bested by Brendon & Rachel, but not before they lightly patched things up at the tenth pit stop to ensure the two teams didn’t end things on a completely sour note. Allegedly the conflict began because of a dispute of pro-life versus pro-choice that went unaired. I haven’t had a chance to confirm this with anyone, but that is the rumour which has circulated for over seven years. It wasn’t because of noses and breasts.

Vanessa & Ralph won the Nate & Jenn Pottymouth Award. Production was forced to intervene early on to make them use more cable friendly language to let them get any airtime on TV. Holy Cheese and Crackers. Ha! Ha! I can see Rachel’s whole entire bum bum.

I thoroughly enjoyed their mix of sarcastic and self-aware commentary all throughout the season. Production tried way too hard to put the #DatingDivorcee label on them as it really had nothing to do with their story after about the first five minutes of the season.

I liked how Ralph didn’t really care for or was interested in the conflict with the other teams. He couldn’t give less of a shit about it while Vanessa was much more engaged with mocking other teams. Particularly that faceoff with Kerri & Stacy where Vanessa may have stepped out of bounds in her rant about Team Mississippi when Ralph visibly groans. It’s like you saw the difference in maturity before our eyes.

Despite Mark & Bopper finishing in last place twice this season, Vanessa & Ralph walked away with a lower average of 4.91. It is perhaps the lowest average for any team who made Final Four without being saved by a NEL. They never finished better than third all season long, and had plenty of second-to-last place finishes. This could be largely attributed to having slightly above average fitness and determination to push through combined with sucking at a key trait like following directions or figuring out logistics.

I think Brendon & Rachel making a big enough presence this season to trigger Rachel playing two more times is because they had Vanessa & Ralph to play off of. Perhaps Vanessa regrets engaging with Rachel Reilly enough to make her one of CBS’ first 5-time contestants.

Vanessa & Ralph would have likely made an early exit in the earlier seasons of TAR. However, contemporary TAR where sheer athleticism is far more rewarded than cunning and strategic ability allowed Vanessa & Ralph to make Final Four. Vanessa doing a running task on a sprained ankle was a great act of toughness, but that appeared to make the difference in a leg with far too many equalizers. That eight hour lead over Dave & Rachel being erased really screwed them over. Oh well, Vanessa & Ralph made a deep run and I am content with eleven rounds of play.

Oh yeah, and they broke up even before the season finale aired.

P.S. Vanessa’s resemblance to a Kardashian is quite frightening.

2) 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.

3) 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.
4) 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.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.
8) 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.

Team Averages

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

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

Therefore their average is 8.2.

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

8th Michael & Kathy 5.8 TAR 3
7th Cyndi & Russell 5.8 TAR 2
7th Shana & Jennifer 5.8 Used U-Turn TAR 12
9th Heather & Eve 5.75 Legal team beaten by rule book. TAR 3
5th Nancy & Emily 5.67 R.I.P. Nancy. Saved by NEL once. TAR 1
7th Jeff & Jordan 5.67. Saved by a stupid Blind U-Turn once but dead next day. TAR 16
5th Bill & Cathi 5.5 Saved by NEL twice, U-Turned once and Used U-Turn once TAR 19
6th Nary & Jamie 5.5 TAR 20 Saved by NEL once
6th Gaghan Family 5.5 TAR 8
7th “Joey” Fitness & “Danny” 5.5 TAR 20
6th Tian & Jaree 5.43 FF TAR 4
8th Sahil & Prashant 5.4 FF. Beaten by a bunch of rules. TAR Asia 1
8th Katie & Rachel 5.4 Had all of the tools to finish with a 5.4 ratio TAR 17

— C- —

4th Meredith & Gretchen 5.36 Saved by NEL twice TAR 7
7th Monica & Sheree 5.33 FF TAR 4
7th Marshall & Lance 5.33 TAR 5
9th Monique & Shawne 5.33 TAR 16. Praise Jesus.
9th Debbie & Bianca 5.33 TAR 7
7th KevJumba & Michael 5.29 TAR 17. NEL once + Heather & Eve Syndrome.
7th Gus & Hera 5.29 TAR 6
4th Nick & Vicki 5.27 TAR 17 Saved by NEL twice
6th Joe & Bill All Stars 5.25 Saved by NEL once TAR 11
8th Bob & Joyce 5.25 TAR 5
8th Lorena & Jason 5.25 U-Turned TAR 12
5th Mark & Michael 5.22 Saved by NEL once but came up just short TAR 14
3rd Andrew & Dan 5.18 Saved by NEL once TAR 13
7th Silver & Gold/ Wil & Grace 5.17 TAR 3
6th Kelly & Christy 5.14 TAR 13
5th Chad & Stephanie 5.11 U-Turned TAR 17
7th Ray & Deana 5.0 FF TAR 7
7th Melody & Sharon 5.0. Screwed over by weird penalty for another team. TAR Asia 1
9th Steve & Josh 5.0  FF TAR 4
9th Pat & Brenda 5.0  FF TAR 1
9th Mark & Bill 5.0  Wah. TAR 13
4th Vanessa & Ralph 4.91 U-Turned once TAR 20
5th Fran & Barry 4.89 TAR 9
6th Howard & Sahran 4.88 TAR Asia 1

— C+ —

3rd Lyn & Karlyn 4.85 – Yielded TAR 10
7th Ivan & Hilda 4.83 TAR Asia 4
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

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