Purple Rock Watch-Along: The Amazing Race 7 Episodes 4-6

We continue our offseason re-visit of the most Survivor-y season of The Amazing Race, examining four hours of TAR 7 in three episodes.

A reminder: these recaps are by a Survivor fan who started watching The Amazing Race with this season and hung on for another ten before giving it up.

Killer Fatigue

As Survivor viewers, we’re generally cognizant of the fact that the people we see competing in that physical, emotional, and strategic contest are not doing so in peak conditions. We see them wasting away with no creature comforts, all dirty in their underwear out in the wild, so it’s easier to remember that simple things like thinking clearly is not so simple (in theory, anyway, although we’re probably all guilty at times of lacking empathy for the mistakes made in the comforts of our homes).

Whereas on The Amazing Race, we see teams wearing normal clothes (that they can change!), driving cars, using modern amenities, visiting exotic places. It can be easier to forget how mentally taxing the Race can be. Think of all the times in your life where you’ve been at your worst, mentally. How many of those involved being in airports or public transit? At least on Survivor, you’re only doing a challenge 2 out of every 3 days (if that). In the Race, you’re hustling through customs and out into a foreign city to do challenges right after a 14 hour flight. So mistakes will happen and bickering will occur.

And boy howdy, did we see a lot of that in these episodes. By basically every team. So that’s something to keep in mind throughout everything else we discuss here. And also… it’s only gonna get worse.

Best Episode Ever?

Let’s start with the fifth episode of the season, the double episode in South Africa (and middle of the ones we’ll discuss here). Obviously, my lack of experience with the show prevents me from answering the question posed in the header (but more experienced TAR -heads can feel free to tackle it in comments), but MAN was that a hell of an episode. After a 14-hour flight, the teams arrived in Johannesburg and delivered a whirlwind episode fraught with daring tasks, tear-jerking encounters, fun with locals, harrowing accidents, all capped by a pulse-pounding foot race to the final mat. Good stuff.

Fuckin eh

Team Impressions

Meredith & Gretchen

The internal struggle I had with this team through the first three episodes continues unabated. The longer they’re in the Race, the more Gretchen’s constant pronouncements grate on me. Worse, it can be hard to admire any of their performances in the Race other than how they continue to outperform expectations. They don’t seem to do anything particularly well, but manage to just do enough to stay out of last place*. Which becomes impressive in its own right, until the next episode when they’re back to doddering along making odd choices like “let’s do the more physically demanding task in the middle of the desert… because the other teams are?” Seriously, I guess you can admire the old team willing to do the spelunking and corn crushing, but I’d rather admire a team who smartly chooses to do the easier tasks that WOULDN’T tax their older bodies.

But then Gretchen falls, cracks open her face, and then keeps on going and does a Roadblock with face covered in bandages and dried blood and you can’t help but admire her pluck and his loving support. And then… you remember the most impressive thing they did on the Race was overcoming their own failings and… yeah. Good for them?

You get the impression that if Gretchen worked in your office, you’d simultaneously admire how vibrant and full of life she is, while also steering clear of her in the lunch room for fear of her launching into another one of her stories.

*Also, they didn’t even manage to avoid finishing last every time. More on that later.

Ron & Kelly

Last week, I generously set the over/under on dates these two had been on prior to the Race at 9.5 (losing my shirt on the under on that one). After these episodes, the new question is “how many dates do you think they went on AFTER the Race”? Let’s set the over/under on that at 1.5. Now before you scream “UNDER, UNDER, UNDER”, we’ll probably need a clarification on whether or not “viewing party with friends and family” is considered a date or not.

TFW you’re trapped on the other side of the world with a complete stranger whom you can’t stand.

Now, it’s important to remember the Killer Fatigue I prefaced this article with and remember the effect it probably had on the two and their interactions with each other. However, unlike the bickering we saw from teams like Rob & Amber or Meredith & Gretchen, which felt like run of the mill disagreements/annoyances from grumpy people, Ron & Kelly’s fatigue seemed to highlight how each are realizing how little regard they have for the other. The Race has wiped away the little niceties they came in with and all they’re left with is the Race itself. They even have separate post-leg confessionals! Did that happen with any other team?

It’s also important to remember that they’re trading all these angry barbs and snide remarks with each other while they’re doing exceptionally well. They finished fourth, second, first, and second these legs. So it’s not even the additional stress induced by the fear of elimination like you saw in Susan & Patrick, Rob & Amber, or Ray & Deana. They just don’t like each other. And while I can sometimes see how Kelly can be a little annoying and frivolous, I’m struck more this time around by what a dick he is to her. He has no patience at all for her, then gaslights her when she calls him on it. Sorry that your beauty queen “girlfriend” isn’t as physically fit as an Army pilot, Ron. Maybe you should try and be a little more understanding about it, especially since she’s seemingly doing enough to keep you at the front of the pack. Also… she was right about the books in episode two.

Uchenna & Joyce

I’m still waiting for the set of episodes that lets me say more about U&J than “they seem really nice”. They get along really well, often CRUSH the tasks (particularly Uchenna), and it was nice little grace note that they were still in the Race long enough to participate in the orphanage trip that was almost certainly put in to help tell their story. Joyce in particular had a nice confessional about what it was like to be with the children (even if in reality they barely spent any time there as they were hustling to stay out of last place at that point). They get from place to place (eventually… navigation is not their strong suit. And why is Uchenna often driving AND reading maps), do their tasks, get to the end. And sometimes go back and do it again when they’ve forgotten something (fatigue, man. Fatigue).

She seems really nice tho.

Rob & Amber

We got a mix of Romber at their best and their worst in these episodes. For best, they finished first twice and second once. Probably my favourite moment from these episodes (other than perhaps the foot race to end the fifth episode) was Rob & Amber strolling on to the plane while the other teams (led, of course, by Lynn & Alex) crowed about their absence from the first flight. The entire time they gave up for refusing the meat block was erased, allowing them to win the very next leg after they quit.

Chew on that.

I think what I particularly liked about that sequence was that it was AMBER who was casually sitting back, gleefully anticipating how much their success would bother the haters. It’s important to remember that while she’s the nicer of the pair, and often helps tame the wild ego of Rob Mariano, Amber is still a highly competitive person herself. While she helps smooth his rough edges, he lets her feel comfortable with her own ambition and competitiveness. It’s almost like they complement each other or something.

The Champ is here.

I also enjoyed their interactions with everyone who recognized them in South Africa, which, of course, was a controversial fan topic back in the day. We talked about it when they received help from a fan in Peru, but it was even more pronounced here as we saw multiple people come up to them and address them by name. So I ask again, is this an unfair advantage?

Just going from the fifth episode, I have to say that it’s a wash (although it must be noted that I’m heavily biased). The first time we see them recognized is at the clinic they stopped at for directions. They did get the directions they needed, but it’s hard to say that the directions came as a result of their celebrity status, since doing so would require suggesting that the people at the clinic would’ve told other teams to go screw instead of helping them. Instead, stopping to greet a bunch of fans seemed to slow them down.

Then came the marketplace, and that woman DEFINITELY helped them (apparently, she actually saw Rob first while he was waiting on the sidelines, then he sent her to find Amber to help her). But… that wasn’t a particularly difficult task. It was probably really helpful to have a local guide Amber through and help her haggle, but no team seemed to have any difficulty with the task. I’m also sure the local helped them find the orphanage easier, but again, no one seemed to have any difficulty with that. More importantly, Rob & Amber finished the leg almost an hour ahead of Uchenna & Joyce. I don’t see where the help they received in the market makes that much of a difference. So if you’re argument is that Rob & Amber only do well on The Amazing Race because of their fame, I’m not sure the evidence is there to support you. Hater.

Plus, this was fun. They brought her on the mat! She was so thrilled to see the folks from the teevee!

So that was the good. But the bad… was bad. The fifth leg was easily their worst of the entire Race, starting with a failed bid at the Fast Forward highlighted with an INCREDIBLY pissed off Amber and a fairly condescending Rob. But they recovered, did really well at the Detour (once again choosing the easier task, albeit mostly due to proximity this time), and finished two hours out of last place in a non-elimination leg.

My friends, it will shock you to learn that I have been on the receiving end of a death stare such as this. Oh, have I ever.

So that leg showed a chink in their armour. Which is fine. What wasn’t fine was their behaviour in the next leg, when they drove past Brian & Greg’s car crash without even checking in to see if everyone was okay. I may be one of Rob Mariano’s staunchest defenders on the internet, but even I have never had a defence for this behaviour. At the time, other Rob partisans charitably pointed out that Rob & Amber were the only team to happen upon the accident scene while another team (Lynn & Alex) were already stopped to help out. In such an instance, the thinking goes that they saw that there were already helpers on scene and they wouldn’t be needed (whereas later teams showed up after Lynn & Alex had already left).

And there might be something to that… if I could believe for one second that Rob would’ve stopped if he had happened upon the crash before Lynn & Alex did. And… I can’t. I have no reason to from Rob’s reaction and words at the time of the accident and at the mat.

Super Smash Bros

One of the things I’ve always liked about Rob since All-Stars is the way that he properly put these reality shows in perspective. Yes it’s “reality” and yes you’re dealing with people and their feelings and promises and alliances and all of that. But in the end, these are games. And all the manufactured “morality” that people have tried to put into these games since they debuted on TV is more often than not, complete bullshit designed to tailor to the whims of the beholder. It’s no more immoral to lie in Survivor than it is to bluff in poker. It’s no more dirty for Rob to favour his in-game alliance with Amber over his pre-game alliance with Lex than it is for Lex to favour his in-game alliance with Shii-Ann over his pre-exisiting relationship with Ethan. One of the most interesting tensions in All-Stars is how Boston Rob is dragging the game, kicking and screaming, out of that old era of morality plays into the new one against the players most responsible for the older way of thinking. And for much of the early part of this season, the same held true for his turn on The Amazing Race.

But the flip side of “it’s just a game” is to recognize when more important things take priority because… it’s just a game. And one of those more important things is upholding the social contract of checking to see if people (two of whom – the camera and sound operators – are not a part of your little competition, btw)  who were just in a life threatening situation are alright. Yeah, sure, you may have recognized that you’re no longer the first responders… but the least you can fucking do is slow down and unroll your fucking window. Rob even half-recognizes this when he says that even though it’s a competition, you don’t want to see that… and then keeps on driving.

He has no idea who these people are, does he?

Lynn & Alex

First off, full marks to Lynn & Alex for doing the right thing and fully checking in on Brian & Greg (which is one of those things you’d think people wouldn’t need credit for, until Rob & Amber showed otherwise). Lynn & Alex are very self-conscious about being seen as “the good people” on the season, particularly in comparison to their self-imposed nemesis, Rob & Amber, but I wouldn’t even suggest that shaping their narrative was why they stopped. They stopped because it was the right thing to do.

I’ll even allow that they do seem to get along with the non-Romber teams pretty well, even if I can’t be sure that they didn’t just do it to have other sounding boards for their Rob & Amber complaints. So if you use “friendliness with other teams” as your “good person” rubric, then Lynn & Alex easily beat the team that steals cabs, refuses money to competitors, and leaves them for dead. And also, good for Lynn & Alex to deny Rob & Amber use of their cab (and ugh to Rob for being all “no more Mr. Nice Guy, as if he had ever intended to be such).

Delicious

But… other racers are not the only other people on this show. There’s, you know, a WHOLE WORLD full of people they have to interact with. So if this must be a competition with them and Romber, as Lynn & Alex seemed determined to ensure it must, let’s examine that. On the one side, you have Rob & Amber, who not only graciously thank everyone they encounter (be it someone providing directions, someone at a road block, detour, or mat, or a fan in South Africa), they also frequently shake their hands, ask them their names, even dole out sacred Red Sox caps! I’m not sure any team is as gracious with the people who are just out their living their lives and doing their jobs as has been Rob & Amber.

Lynn & Alex, on the other hand…

Oh wait, this one is about Meredith & Gretchen. So… {dubious thinking face emoji}

Non-Elimination Legs

On the one hand, Non-Elimination Legs are narrative blue balls and I kind of hate them. However, I get the purpose they serve. First and foremost, they’re a way of getting 12 episodes out of 11 teams (with a finale that needs 3 of them). You can’t just add more teams, because that is exponentially more difficult given the logistics of managing the number of people they already have (although I have no idea if they’ve changed the number of teams in the years since I stopped watching). But also, NELs also help with the drama of the finish (while simultaneously killing it once they actually happen), since they encourage teams that might already know that they’re in last to still hustle to the finish line, enabling the show to edit it together like the result is actually in doubt. Because you never know if its an Non-Elimination Leg, in which case, you don’t want to fall too  far behind.

I mean, unless you’re Patrick. Then you just give up.

I wouldn’t have had the heart to eliminate her either.

This season they introduced the extra penalty of losing your stuff along with money, presumably because previous teams would just sell stuff to get money? I’ll say now that I hate both penalties and will talk about more when it comes up again later. I’ll also say that I have no problem with teams that decided to not give their competitors money. What’s the point of having a penalty if it’s up to the teams that could be eliminated by this team to fill in the gap?

Best Move of the Episodes

Uchenna & Joyce ROCKED that balancing things on your head Detour, made more impressive by the fact that Kelly, Rob, Lynn, and Alex all tried it and quickly gave up on it. They did it with such ease that you could almost understand why Lynn said they were “born to do it”.

Runner-up: Ray & Deana at the Fast-Forward. That looked scary as shit.

Worst Move of the Episodes

You know, besides the casual disregard of the sanctity of human life thing I already discussed.

Other than that, the honour goes to every team other than Ron & Kelly and maybe Uchenna & Joyce who chose to pound corn rather than suck and spit water with straws. That Detour was a double whammy: both the obviously more physically taxing task (in the middle of a hot desert, no less), AND one that had a judged component. There’s exceptions to every rule on the Race, but in general, it’s best to avoid Detours that have people judging your output. You don’t need that kind of ambiguity when you’re trying to do something as quickly as possible.

Delightful

Why am I giving Ron & Kelly a pass? Because they got there first. Teams don’t actually get the entire task explained to them before they choose like we do. Just a quick little clue, then you decide. So I’ll allow that Ron & Kelly didn’t know how much harder their task was in comparison to Rob & Amber’s choice. But every other team had the option of looking at people doing both, and they still chose the one that was so much harder that Brian & Greg were able to overcome a car crash by not choosing it. (Uchenna & Joyce get a maybe pass because Uchenna crushed it, metaphorically and literally).

Sure, you don’t know the details before you choose, but there’s nothing stopping you from changing your mind after you choose other than the sunk cost fallacy. These tasks were right beside each other. There was time to bail and go sip water.

Runner-up: But, for real… what were Meredith & Gretchen doing at the spelunking task anyway?

Final Impressions

Susan & Patrick

What a delight Patrick was, huh? Quick to act superior when he thinks he’s ahead, even quicker to give up when he thinks he’s behind. We actually got both in his final episode when he can’t help but gloat about how much better they’re doing than Meredith & Gretchen and Ray & Deana… while on a train that departed after theirs. It takes a special kind of ego to know that you’re sucking yet to still assume that the absence of other teams must mean good things for you. And then there was this (in a game, I remind you, that has Non-Elimination Legs).

I can’t tell you how delighted I am that Patrick, Lynn, and Alex are the avatars for Rob haters this season. How does it feel?

Ray & Deana

First off: Ray is awful and I was delighted to see him fail. One of the underrated pleasures of his final hours on the Race was to see Ray become discombobulated at how frequently Meredith & Gretchen were pwning him.

This is what they call “foreshadowing” in the business.

However, last week I promised a bit of talk about editing when it comes to Ray, so here it is: in his post-Race interviews, Ray did a pretty good job of owning his bad behaviour while suggesting that the show intentionally piled on his worst moments. Now, this is straight out of the reality contestant excuse hand book, but his point was that he understood why they did it, because making him unlikeable results in the moment when he’s eliminated by a dramatic come-from-behind victory by the goofy car crash victims being THAT much better TV. And I have to say… he kind’ve has a point. Because that might have been the best moment of the season.

Which isn’t to excuse his behaviour, because they weren’t inventing it. He really was that aggro and it made me cringe. But I will accept that the show wasn’t exactly motivated to show him in a kind light at all. On the other hand, it’s MORE than telling that his solution to get Deana to do better in the gaucho task was “get angrier at it”.

Metaphors!

PS – Ray & Deana stayed together, got married (with Romber in attendance, as they were at Romber’s wedding… which of course I saw on television, but because my wife wanted to and I already know you don’t believe that but it’s true), and had a kid. They are no longer married.

Brian & Greg

We’ve already complained in comments about how much bunching there’s been this season, both natural and manufactured, mini and major. End of leg positioning hardly matters when so much is reset at the start of the next. But how much did it suck that when they FINALLY had a leg with no bunching whatsoever, it came at the expense of the brothers?

Phil cares not for your silly antics.

For my money, Brian & Greg were easily the second-most entertaining team on the Race, and prior to their crash, they were also proving to be pretty competitive racers (after winning their OTHER foot race to the finish to avoid elimination in episode two). Since The Amazing Race looks like it would crazy fun to be on, it’s important to have teams that fight past the stress and fatigue and exude that feeling for us viewers. The brothers did that in spades.

Your Turn

Alright, it’s your turn to sound off on the episodes. As a reminder, we’re keeping these spoiler-free for people who may be watching for the first time. If you want to discuss future events, do so between spoiler tags:

Programming note: The scheduled next three episodes includes a recap/bonus content episode. I will be watching that episode and commenting on its content if I feel it necessary. Feel free to decide whether or not it’s worth your time.

Andy
Follow me

Andy

Co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast and the Canadian of the group, Andy has been watching Survivor continuously since the very beginning and likes to treat that as some kind of virtue to lord over others.

Favourite seasons: Heroes vs Villains, Cook Islands, Palau, The Amazon, Cagayan
Favourite players: Boston Rob, Kim Spradlin, Tony Vlachos, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Rob Cesternino
Andy
Follow me
  • Blurry Denzel

    Lynn and Alex are still assholes who say very problematic shit. Rob & Amber getting on the flight was delicious and I could watch that scene hundreds of times. How bout that, Lynn and Alex!!

    • Purple Rock Emma

      The Compton and Tupac comments were horrifically cringey. They may stop for car crashes, but do they think before they speak?

      • Blurry Denzel

        Their whole attitude to being in South Africa along with their words were awful.

        • Mike Hirsch

          Yup.

        • purplerockandy

          To be fair to Lynn & Alex, Jo Burg is one of the most violent cities in the world, so it might be fair to be a little scared if you ended up in the wrong part of it. HOWEVER, they way Lynn expressed his fear, and they way they continued reacted in South America, shows that it may have been less about crime statistics and more about something else.

  • Blurry Denzel

    The foot race at the end is not only but my favorite moment of the season but to this day it’s still the best ending to a leg of a race ever.

    • Maritimer

      That was so completely satisfying, that they lost in a foot race to the finish, with probably everyone yelling for them. I didn’t even believe they were that close until the end of the detour when you see them together

    • Adam B.

      Watch Season 2, final episode.

      • Blurry Denzel

        Yes!! Also very great

        • Assistant Dragon Slayer

          Season 27, Macau episode, although it’s kind of the opposite of a foot race.

  • Purple Rock Emma

    The elimination of the brothers does show, I think, how at least a little bunching is necessary. Maybe a front of pack/back of pack thing at least. They did screw up a little in their navigation, but considering Lyn & Alex needed two replacement cars and Meredith & Gretchen and Uchenna & Joyce both had to go back to the road block and it didn’t matter, it’s clear that the boys never had a chance to come back. While knowing (winner spoiler) Uchenna and Joyce are the winners and thus weren’t at risk when they had to return, this was one of the least dramatic episodes, especially following such an exciting one right before.

    • Kemper Boyd

      it can;t just be that if you get ahead in an early leg that lead sits there. The beginning of the leg reset by plane can be good for competition but it can’t happen every week or it gets boring (spoiler in modern seasons it happens every week).

  • Assistant Dragon Slayer

    It’s an underreported story how competitive (or, how kind of a jerk; tomayto tomahto) Amber can be when she isn’t having to reel Rob back in. I was going to mention it if you didn’t.

    Also, as someone who came to TAR late, I’m amazed that the penalty for finishing last in an NEL was ever giving up all your money and stuff. That seems crazy and the current penalty (do an extra task on the next leg) seems so obvious. Plus, I’m sure that there’s now a rule against getting help (other than getting directions) from a local person. There have been plenty of situations in recent seasons (e.g., in marketplace tasks) where the obvious move is to give some kid $10 to be your guide.

    Rob and Kelly: This HAS to be a Darrah and (footage not found) loved ones visit situation, right?

    • Adam B.

      Here’s the thing: having to allocate scarce money is realistic in traveling, and makes for good tv. Having to beg for money from impoverished locals is yucky morally and unbecoming.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        Yes that for sure, but also, it just seems fitting that the penalty for finishing last is a big increase in the odds of finishing last in the next leg, then returning to the status quo if you manage to survive. It just seems like Gretchen and Meredith are hopelessly crippled for the rest of the race.

      • purplerockandy

        Yeah, it makes sense why they came up with it as a penalty. It just ended up being problematic in practice.

        • indescribable hat

          Which they should have known since people beg for money when they run out of it. I wish the show would give you more money for a time penalty to discourage that.

    • purplerockandy

      It’s Amber’s cutthroat attitude that won her Shii Ann’s vote (and thus the game) in All-Stars.

      • BadPlayer91

        It also makes sense from a gameplay standpoint. Given Shii Ann’s approach was to remain under the radar (per her argument with Colby), Amber essentially managed a more successful version of that.

  • Mike Hirsch

    I think you nailed it for Gretchen: she seems like the type of person who would go on at length about some vacation she took to look at leaves in the fall in New England. And she’d be overwhelmed and overwhelming in describing everything.
    “The LEAVES. I wish you could have SEEN them! Oh–” *clasps hands over heart* “–Michael, they were ORANGE.”

    (This actual dialogue spoken by a former coworker of mine. We live in Massachusetts.)

    More often than not, the Race tries to fudge the editing so that it always seems like the final teams are stacked close together for the ends of each leg, but every now and then when they actually are like, a car length apart? Holy shit that’s exciting!

    • purplerockandy

      The end game editing makes it fun to notice the start times of teams the next episode.

      • Mike Hirsch

        I’ve often wondered if the next leg starts 12 hours later or 36 hours later.

        • purplerockandy

          Generally 12. I think there have been times when it had to be 36 due to issues.

  • Adam B.

    The rule is that you get a replacement car if there’s a problem “through no fault of your own.” Sure seemed to be some fault here.

    • Maritimer

      I thought that too, but what’s the other solution? Eliminate them on the spot? Makes for bad TV

      • Adam B.

        Make them seek aid. I think back to an early episode in Spain where teams weren’t putting the right gasoline into their cars (“DIESEL FUEL ONLY”), and they each ended up finding different ways to get help from locals.

        • Maritimer

          Yeah, that makes sense. I’m just not sure it works here, when they seemed to be kind of in the middle of nowhere, with little realistic chance of locals coming by (mind you, my TAR experience is limited so their may be things I don’t know about)

        • purplerockandy

          I think the issue was that for this leg, they were in a closed off area. No aid was gonna come that wasn’t brought by the show itself.

        • Ms. Sweaterfan

          That’s an awesome episode 🙂

  • sharculese

    “Rosebud was his sled.”

    Tell that to Gore Vidal: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1989/08/17/rosebud/

  • Maritimer

    I’m back and forth on the driving by the accident. On the one hand, its like driving by an accident on the highway when there are already other people stopped: what are you gonna do to add help? Rob and Amber know that if it was truly serious, the race would have been stopped. On the other hand, you can at least roll down your window and call over, y’know.
    I totally saw what you’re saying about fatigue, and it seemed to me to be really noticeable after the night they all slept outside, which makes sense.
    I was also stunned at how many people took the corn pounding task. The water one seemed so, so much easier

    • Blurry Denzel

      Yeah, I wish Rob & Amber would’ve at least made a brief check in during the accident.

      • purplerockandy

        They didn’t even know which of the two teams had crashed.

    • BadPlayer91

      I guess I don’t really land very heavily on either side. Should they have stopped? Yes. Does it make sense that Rob wouldn’t? Yes. Are Lynn and Alex ultra eager to bring it up to ANYONE who will listen and point out how awful and terrible Rob and Amber are? Yes. It all seemed shitty, but at least no one was permanently injured in the crash.

      • Maritimer

        Lynn and Alex fascinate me, because they are clearly the kind of people who once they develop a hate for someone, anything they do will amplify that hate. They would say something like “Oh, Rob stopped to kick a ball at the orphanage for a minute? Clearly only looking for screentime”. Their focus is actually kind of hilarious.
        I’m actually kind of surprised Rob didn’t stop. It doesn’t quite fit the persona he’s created for himself, which is “strategically focused dick, but still a genuine human being.”

        • BadPlayer91

          Yeah. Lynn and Alex’s fascination with beating Rob and Amber is pretty disappointing. They forfeit any semblance of a “For the Gays” narrative in favor of “Bitter boyfriends out to destroy an engaged couple” which, while showing that even gays can be assholes too, also reinforces stereotypes that gays hate straight couples and want to ruin the American family.

          • Maritimer

            I take it as a “we’re bitter and jealous that they’re going to get more screen time. We thought we would/should be the stars of this season, because we’re funny.” The way they play basically every negative gay stereotype about being bitter and catty drives me up the wall

        • purplerockandy

          The way you describe Lynn & Alex’s all consuming hatred of Romber accurately describes some commenters on the TWoP boards back in the day. I’d not be surprised if that exact soccer ball comment was posted somewhere.

          If I ever seem overly defensive of Rob, it’s because of the battles I lived through with the haters back in the day.

          • Maritimer

            I missed all those battles because I was like 13 and had dial-up. But I can tell from the TWoP write ups that she’s responding to some pretty serious hate, so I’m not surprised it was that bad. I vaguely remember people HATING Rob after All-Stars. I get the defensiveness.
            Side-note: I’m reading the TWoP recaps as I go, and really enjoying the gratuitous shots at Lex’s bitterness throughout.

          • purplerockandy

            Ms Alli (AKA Linda Holmes) was so great.

            And the hate was HUGE. I think even more so from TAR fans, who were very protective of their little ratings-challenged show, than Survivor fans even. Romber were the barbarians at the gates.

          • Maritimer

            She’s amazing. I’ve read all her Survivor stuff too.

            TAR fans were being protective of their show by…hating on people who probably brought more ratings? People are stupid

          • purplerockandy

            It’s the whole mindset of “things that are popular are stupid”.

          • Maritimer

            Ah, pre-hipster hipsters. Makes sense.

          • indescribable hat

            Ugh they are though. I can say that because I got into Survivor around 2007.

          • indescribable hat

            I love her. The only time I’ve ever gotten really annoyed with you guys on the podcast was when you disagreed with her sexism piece.

          • purplerockandy

            I stand by whatever it is I said.

          • indescribable hat

            I could definitely angrily rebut it right now but I’ll spare everyone.

      • the sky is falling

        So, it was rude for Rob and Amber not to stop, but the show has
        tons of production people cameramen, etc. working for them. To me, it’s on production to ensure the contestants safety. It’s not like the boys were out there on their own, There’s
        nothing other contestants could have done to help.

        So yes, I would be a villain on the show.

        • purplerockandy

          Although there are fewer production people around during the travel portion of the show. This isn’t Survivor with a slew of people around a challenge beach.

          • the sky is falling

            Still I place the responsibility on the show, not contestants. Like I said, I’d be the villain.

          • indescribable hat

            Still, the production people who are there are the ones who can summon more help, not the contestants who have no phones.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      I think considering that they knew they were in the front of the pack, and obviously there are two teams guaranteed to be behind them now, you gotta at least do the window roll down like all the other teams did.

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      Teams’ choices in the water vs. corn pounding task were mind boggling. I couldn’t believe so many teams chose so poorly. I’ve been trying to think of any possible explanation – was the corn thing visible from the clue box while they had to go find the water? Maybe they assumed they’d have to be running back and forth from the spring to get the water?

      • purplerockandy

        I have another theory: they didn’t want to be around Rob & Amber.

        • Max_Jets

          Ugh, Rob and Amber are in this?

          • purplerockandy

            I can see how’d you’d miss that.

      • Maritimer

        From the Greg and Brian v Ray and Deana footage, they were basically side-by-side. I don’t know if they thought the eggs would be more fragile, it would be more tricky, or what, but Rob and Amber and Greg and Brian both clearly gained a ton of time by picking water. As Andy notes, its one of the stranger groupthink decisions so far

    • indescribable hat

      Yeah, I’m kind of inclined to feel like stopping at the accident is a meaningless gesture that you do more because it seems like the “good person” thing to do than because it actually is. If you don’t have any particular helpful skills and there are already plenty of people at the scene, you have nothing to offer by stopping. And yes, the decision to keep the race going through this accident was made by whoever makes that call for the show. If you want everybody to put aside the game and focus on the fact that someone is injured, you can do that, but it’s kind of bullshit to keep the clock running but get all moralizing about it on TV.

      • the sky is falling

        It’s comparable to on a Survivor challenge. when someone is potentially injured there, the game stops.

  • Max_Jets

    Rob and Amber making the early flight was the highlight of my week. I’m full of such glee whenever they piss off Lynn and Alex. This season has already made me such a Romber fan that I didn’t even care when they passed the car wreck. This might be more relevant for the first few episodes, but all the different tactics we see Rob use makes me wish we had seen him as more of Malcolm-like figure on Survivor. Perhaps for all winners…

    Let’s pour one out for Susan. I wasn’t caught up to join the comments last week, but Susan telling Patrick that she would throw up at the meat challenge was great and her positive attitude was admirable in the face of her son’s unbelievably shitty attitude.

    • BadPlayer91

      I agree, Susan with a different son could’ve been charming. With her actual son, she was just the victim of an attitude that didn’t seem well fitted to the race at all…

      • purplerockandy

        I like how Patrick doubled down in his post-Race confessional about how his negativity is just realism and is good and necessary. Friggin Millennials.

        (Wait… is he?)

        • Blurry Denzel

          He is not. 38 years old now.

          • purplerockandy

            Wait, wait, wait… so are you suggesting that many of the complaints about millennials are really just complaints about people in their 20s? That doesn’t seem right…

          • BadPlayer91

            ……………………………………..yes

  • Adam B.

    I just keep having to remember that for Ron and Kelly, holy fuckballs does it get even uglier in the final episode, with the whole conversation about “commitment” and his POW status.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    So….we’re supposed to be inspired by Gretchen smashing her face? Because I laugh every time I think about it. I should probably talk to someone about that….

    • purplerockandy

      The recovery, Ms. It’s the RECOVERY that we’re supposed to be inspired by.

    • Maritimer

      It can be two things

  • BadPlayer91

    So, I finally finished All-Stars, and given Andy’s post and Boston Rob Fan Friction, I’ve got some thoughts that I think are generally relevant.

    All-Stars marked me as a season defined by unseen relationships. I don’t mean unseen as in edited out, but rather, they happened outside the game. Obviously, pre-gaming was a big part of it, but also, as Kathy alludes in her FTC speech, these players were all friends. Most of them had become close or at least good friends between their season and the start of the season. And thus, heading into All-Stars, there was very much a fun, game-amongst-friends vibe.

    As the ultra-bitter FTC began, a lot of it felt pretty confusing. It seemed odd that Lex was so unbelievably hurt and angered by Rob playing him to keep Amber alive. Sure, anyone would be upset by that, but Lex acted as though Rob had done some horrible, unspeakable thing. Kathy’s speech I think is the key to that FTC. She talks a lot about friendships before the game, and shows that her emotions, as well as those of Lex, Alicia, and Big Tom to some degree, were based on relationships from outside the season. In most cases, they were shocked and disgusted that Rob would put winning Survivor before their friendships.

    I think that this compounded the normal amount of bitterness that is common at an FTC. It wasn’t just some guy you met 39 days ago besting you, it was your good friend stabbing you in the back when you trusted him with your life! Because they saw the game as fun among friends, anyone who prioritized winning over friendship was never going to get their vote, not matter who that person was.

    I know a common knock for Rob’s game in all-stars is his social game, and I will agree with that. However, I think it is that he plays TOO WELL a social game. By the end, most of that jury is brought to tears, because they all cared about him TOO MUCH, that when he betrayed them it felt like the worse thing in the world. The phrases ‘like a brother to me’ and ‘like a son to me’ were uttered about Rob. That isn’t a guy without social skills, it’s a guy who was so good at making people his friends and feel trusted, that when he beat them, they were crushed.

    Overall, I think that Rob’s biggest issue in winning all-stars was the cast. He needed (as shown) a season where he didn’t have existing relationships with people, so his skills at maneuvering through the game would be appreciated, rather than railed against as being heartless and mean. But personally, I think that anyone who masterminded this season, even if Lex had ended up at the end, would have gotten railed against in that FTC. Due to circumstance in which this season was developed and played out, I don’t feel these individuals were ready to accept another loss, particularly not from those they considered their friends.

    So, wow, there is a novel, right on brand. I know I’m super late to the game on this, so if there is extra info revealed that would better inform all the FTC, please let me know! Overall, I really enjoyed All-Stars in a way I wasn’t expecting, and I think it’s going to take me some time to unpack it all.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      Who knew Boston Rob and Dawn had so much in common?

    • Maritimer

      The thing about All-Stars and Lex in particular, is he’s a fucking hypocrite. The speech he gives to Ethan before booting him is exactly right, but apparently Lex didn’t believe it should apply to himself. God it bothers me. Also, apparently, there was a plan between Big Tom and Lex that Big Tom would flip to Lex’s side at the merge and they’d run the game with Kathy, but then Lex voted out Jerri as a favour to Rob, so the numbers weren’t there. Which also makes Lex a hypocrite because he clearly planned to screw Rob. I get that they were all friends, but I’m with Rob, when I play games with my friends, loyalty doesn’t matter, I’m in it to win it. Their issue is that they didn’t get a million dollars, not friendship.
      (If you’re interested in the outside the game goings on at the time between players, pre and post season, the old recaps by Miss Allie over at Television Without Pity are very informative)

      • BadPlayer91

        oooo, i’ll have to give those a look.

        Yeah, I pretty much agree with you. It also makes Big Tom a hypocrite, down to the last. Even in the reunion he won’t admit that he considered plotting against Rob. They were all doing the same things as Rob, but none of them were as successful.

        My main argument though, is that because of their good friendships and preexisting relationships, they could wrap their failure in a blanket of ‘you put money before our friendship’ and claim that Rob was the devil. I think those previous relationships are what screwed Rob, because they allowed the jury to get all worked up about hurt feelings and ruined friendships rather than just rewarding the money to the right person.

        • Maritimer

          Yeah, Big Tom might even be a worse hypocrite, since he planned to full on betray Rob, and admits it in a post-show interview.

          I generally agree with your main argument, I just got sidetracked slamming Lex. The previous relationships, combined with the giant egos of the players, certainly led to them convincing themselves that they were massively betrayed by Rob. Rob has the persona where he can make you feel like you’re his best friend, and if that existed outside the game, I can see how it would hurt. But on the other hand, get over it. Its a game. You lost. I get being pissy out of the gate, but Lex had like 2 weeks to get over it, and he didn’t (probably still hasn’t). And its because he’s sore he lost $1 million as much as it is the betrayal, I think.

          • BadPlayer91

            Yeah. The Reunion was actually super entertaining because of that. Like, Jeff basically calls Lex on his shit, and then Hatch piles on.

            It was really interesting that Jenna was so pro-gameplay at the end. Based on her first season, her personality, and her loss to Amber and Rob, I assumed Jenna would be pretty bitter at FTC. Instead, she seems pretty at peace. She was happy to have made it to final 3, and willing to appreciate Rob’s gamestyle. Shii Ann as well, though I think Shii Ann’s preferred strategy in the game more closely mimicked Amber’s, thus she was more likely to reward Amber.

          • Maritimer

            Of all of them, Jenna really seemed to get it was a game. Whether that’s a lack of pre-existing relationships or what, she understands. I can get Shii-Ann’s vote. She intended to be Lex’s Amber I think so I’m with you, her vote for similar play style makes sense

          • indescribable hat

            Jenna was also voting for someone who pulled off what she was trying to do, that is, came in with less of a reputation as a threat and really upped their game in All-Stars. She doesn’t have the same ego about Survivor as people who were the should’ve-won person in their first season.

          • BadPlayer91

            Jenna has such a weird narrative in All-Stars, but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. She starts very bitter and super anti-winner, but once most of the winner’s are gone, she definitely calms down. Then the edit shows how awful she is to live with, which may be true, but clearly it wasn’t terrible enough for anyone besides Shii Ann to try and take her out. And by the end, she is appreciative of how far she made it, oddly accepting of her loss both at FIC and subsequent boot, and willing to allow gameplay and not emotions guide her FTC vote. Maybe some of this is because she seems too tired to argue or care in some cases, but I definitely left All-Stars with a more positive outlook on Jenna then I thought I would.

          • indescribable hat

            I think she used the winner thing pretty savvily to rally people in the beginning of the game. She certainly ran that tribe. I think she’s someone who would get a different (and better) edit now.

          • BadPlayer91

            Agreed. If she got a mild to bad edit on Borneo, she got a mild to good edit on All-Stars, and I think would get a much more positive edit on a third go. But I don’t think it likely she ever will.

          • indescribable hat

            Oh I meant if All Stars were being edited now she’d get a better edit. I’d love to see her play again, but I agree it’s not super likely. She wants to though! I can see them throwing her in if they do another fan vote season.

          • Maritimer

            My understanding is that at least part of her whole anti-winner thing was because her and Ethan had relatively recently had a bad break-up and she wanted him gone.
            I think she could accept her position because she took a gamble voting Rupert out and fully knew it. She had no expectation of Romber taking her to the end if she didn’t in that FIC, so she didn’t really have anything she could be bitter about.

    • BadPlayer91

      I’ll also give a cheers to Rob for having the last word. His proposing to Amber right BEFORE the reading of FTC votes was a genius middle finger to all those who gave Amber the money. A big fuck you that assured them no satisfaction, even in giving Amber the money, Rob still wins.

      After Tom’s fucking ‘high five, too slow’ at FTC, I was ready for it…

      • indescribable hat

        “Wuhst case scenario, we’ll be spending huhs.”

    • Blurry Denzel

      The pre game relationships I think hurt All Stars but are also the most fascinating aspect of the season. I definitely think Lex is a hypocrite here because he just a gave Ethan a business not friendship speech and now it’s a problem when Rob does it. Lex was self interested in winning the game, which is fine. Rob got him first.

      Going back a little, Lex’s failure is his own fault. There is no reason to cut Ethan. He is never betraying you, will always be a bigger target and can help in the premerge game. You have to cut Amber over Jerri. You can sell that to Rob that there was nothing you can do. You could flip Big Tom easier with a weakened Boston Rob. Lex lost All Stars before his torch was snuffed.

      It is an interesting case though. By all accounts Rob & Lex weren’t just friendly or had an alliance but they were extremely close. I wonder how I would react if my close friend asked me for a favor then immediately betrayed me afterwards. Part of me would imagine that I could write it off as just a game move but in reality I would be extra hurt, maybe even heartbroken about it. I think eventually I would could grow from the situation and be friends with the other person but it’s definitely going to be worse when it’s someone you have such an emotional connection with. Survivor isn’t just a game but there is aspects of life in there. It makes the concept better IMO. I think Lex is right about that but not about their situation

      • BadPlayer91

        Yeah. Survivor is a game, but the most essential part of that game is real people. Balancing gameplay while understanding these are people is the struggle that would define many seasons to come.

        I think that All-Stars is at the perfect (and worse) cross-section of early-seasons alliances and relationships with newer-seasons cutthroat gameplay. Rob played a very good, much more modern game, but those around him did not seem prepared for the idea that alliances and relationships would be broken in favor of winning the million. When the same or similar things happened in MvGX, they were shrugged off because those players understand and respected them as part of trying to win.

        • Blurry Denzel

          MvGX was a perfect atmosphere for that play because of all the super fans on that season. I would fare much better losing a season like that than All Stars.

      • Maritimer

        I thought about that too. I tried to imagine a couple of my different close friends voting me off and how upset I would be. We can armchair that it’s like Monopoly, but it would sting. I like to think I could get over it enough to reward my friend though

        • purplerockandy

          Another element for All-Stars is that they increased the take for the non-winners (so second place got more than a hundred grand, extrapolate on down). So people also got extra salty for being cut earlier than expected.

          • Maritimer

            True too. Losing out on extra money can make one salty too. Still though, none of this really excuses Lex (which I know you agree with)

        • Blurry Denzel

          I think I would be to able to reward my friend even if I was still hurt about what happened.

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      I’m glad you enjoyed All Stars! I’m higher on All Stars than many around here so it’s nice to be reminded of what’s unique and interesting about the season. Sure, there are some dark spots, but the dynamics are fascinating and Rob (and Amber!) played a great game.
      As for the bitterest jury ever, I think there are two factors to blame. First, as you mention the players are all friends. But not only are they just friends, it’s the first time ever that people with pre-existing relationships had played together. Also, the group of Survivor alumni was much, much smaller back then so the odds of the chosen players having close friendships going into the game was higher. So heading into the season it’s completely unprecedented and then you’ve got the second factor: Rob is just playing a completely different game than everyone else. I think Rob’s gameplay has to garner at least as much blame for the jury’s reactions as their own faulty expectations do. I mean, it’s worth mentioning that Rob has honed and matured his social game since then (it’s hard to remember right now since his behavior is possibly even worse on TAR, lol). He was careless with the emotions of people who loved him and never saw it coming. You might argue that he wouldn’t have made it to the end without making those precise game moves, but he could have put more effort into softening the blows or at least trying to repair relationships after the fact.
      And alas, in a way all of that is moot because he actually managed to secure the grand prize and runner up money because his one true alliance was so tight, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      ETA: if you have extra time on your hands, I highly recommend the Survivor Historians’ coverage of All Stars. They have tons of insider info on the season and also talk a lot about reception at the time.

      • purplerockandy

        Yeah, it’s two things: they shouldn’t have been so bitter and he shouldn’t have made them so bitter.

        A plague on both their houses!

        • BadPlayer91

          Agreed, but I honestly don’t have any idea on how he could have made them less bitter. Like, with Lex he was upfront with him about his boot. He could have left it and let it be a surprise at tribal, but that doesn’t seem like a better option. It seems to me like Rob played the game he needed to make it to the end, but that naturally disabled him from winning. Because no one believed Amber was calling any shots, they were willing to give her money. I have no ideas for how Rob could have convinced them he wasn’t the mastermind.

          • purplerockandy

            I wonder if keeping Tom around longer than Rupert would have done it.

          • BadPlayer91

            Maybe. But he might run the risk of losing Rupert and Jenna’s votes. Cause, a big part of getting those votes is that he was technically honorable to their original alliance of ‘make it to 4, then fight it out.’ If he went back on that, he could have upset everyone and lost 2 more votes from his core alliance. Maybe he picks up Big Tom, but I don’t think he get’s Alicia, Lex, or Shii Ann, so it would all be down to how Jenna and Rupert respond to that, and if they perceive it as an unforgivable slight or superior gameplay.

          • purplerockandy

            Also, I’m guessing Tom would still resent choosing Jenna over him.

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            This is a fair point. Rob def made things worse but I’m not sure he could have done anything to avoid the bitterness altogether (besides getting voted out early, I guess)

    • Super duper fan

      I think I made my feeling about All-Stars clear. I think this season has a lot of things that are the worst that can be the worst about returning seasons: the season was ruled by pre-game alliances and relationships,and because of that, most times it feels like there were a lot of things we didn’t see; the people targeted anyone who had some kind of a name for himself.

      And that’s why probably I am not as impressed with Rob and Amber’s game as most. I just felt that the reason they even succeded was like “hey, congratulations, you were the MOST terrible at the game in your seasons, so thanks to that here is your free pass to FTC”, because why WOULD you vote off someone who hasn’t proven that they’re good at the game, and it was also the reason Rob was even IN a pre-game alliance.

      Am I not giving enough credit for their game? Of course! I’m sure of it. It’s just like that for me: “Yeah, they played a great game, BUT…”. It’s the same thing with Rob’s game in RI. He played a great game filled with “buts” (and this current season of BB also doesn’t these “buts” in the positive light). It sucks that Rob’s two best games are like this, because I’m sure he would prove me otherwise, but I can’t help my feelings.

      And with that, and it having the worst episode in Survivor’s history, it being a straight pagonging for most of the season, everyone besides Amber being a massive down-grade from their original season (most would say that Rob was an improvement, but I personally prefer his Marquesas version, plus Amber wasn’t even THAT much better than her original showing), it having a terrible boot order, and people generally not having any fun out there, it makes me not a big fan of All-Stars.

      But I can say, that it’s a very important season is Survivor history, and along with Fiji, it’s a season that I’m willing to change my opinion on. If/When I decide to rewatch it, because I wasn’t so down on it directly after finishing it, but only after thinking about this season more, so it’s very possible that my original feelings will come back to me.

      • BadPlayer91

        I can’t and don’t really want to defend from most of your points. I agree, this season has a lot of things going against it, but one of the biggest draws for me has always been the ‘social experiment’ side of Survivor, and this season has that in spades. The conditions were and till now, are, super unique from any other season, and it results in a season that is completely distinct from anything that would follow. For me, that is a big plus, even if it has some cringe-worth episodes.

        I will say, while I think your comment on Rob’s game is good to put his play in context, it isn’t like Amber and Rob were completely overlooked. I think not being seen as very big threats (particularly with 4 winners in attendance) helped them build alliance and take control of the game early on, but that similarly helped the majority of players who made the merge. However, Shii Ann says at the reunion that everyone (including Mr. I-Was-Always-Loyal Big Tom) talked about booting off Rob all the time, but when it came down to it no one would. I don’t think his ability to survive post-merge was simply because there were bigger fish to fry. I would say it’s because he was able to convince multiple people that they were his core alliance, so much so that no one ever wanted to risk a move against him.

        • Super duper fan

          I agree that Rob and Amber’s game is a lot better than I am giving them credit for. A lot of it is definetely my bias for the “better” players of that season. They played their cards the best they could, and I can’t really fault them for that, even if I don’t like it. I do maintain that a lot of their succes resulted from them not being big names in their original seasons, but most of their succes was because they were legimately good, rather than bad.

          • purplerockandy

            I think Rob, Amber, and Jenna Lewis were freer to work in the early portion of the season than other players due to their lack of reputation. I also remember that before the merge even happened, Rob’s team was bending to his will to the point that they strategically dove off a challenge to let him run it again and another team openly discussed how damaging it could be to them to piss Boston Rob off.

            So, yeah… I don’t think he was under the radar for long.

            Also, I hope you similarly ding the gameplay of Parvati, Sandra, and Sarah Lacina for similar reasons.

          • Maritimer

            Honestly though, I think the fact that their reputations weren’t as big going into the season is part of what cost Rob the win. I think the players were doubly bitter that they got outplayed by this guy that didn’t make the jury last time

      • purplerockandy

        “I think this season has a lot of things that are the worst that can be the worst about returning seasons: the season was ruled by pre-game alliances and relationships”

        This is a common refrain when speaking about All-Stars specifically and returning seasons in general, but… is it true? Isn’t Lex’s entire fucking problem with how things worked out that the season WASN’T ruled by pre-game alliance the way he expected it to be? The final four of the season was a guy no one had ever met, two women who share an ex-boyfriend, and a guy who fell in love with a woman he barely spoke to before the season.

        More and more I feel like pre-game alliance analysis is a thing smart Survivor fans engage in as way of feeling smarter than casuals.

        • Blurry Denzel

          I do think pregame alliances and the breaking of them brought the worst out the season. I do think Rob & Amber benefited from their past game reputations and was able to not be looked like as a threat, similar to Sarah in Game Changers. But they all deserve props for using that to their advantage.

          • BadPlayer91

            To relate this back to TAR, I think their low profile going into All-Stars is the same as their fame going into TAR. Sure, their fame can be an advantage, but it is part of the deal. In All-Stars, they were not the only ones with low profiles, they were just the most successful of that bunch. In TAR, everyone has something that could give them an advantage. Just as Romber’s fame helps them get around, so does speaking Spanish when in South America for Debbie & Bianca (for a bit). If you can speak fluent Spanish, good for you, but I wouldn’t see it as ‘unfair’ that they have that advantage. It is just something they bring with them to the game.

        • Super duper fan

          I didn’t really meant that there was a pre-game alliance running the game (because that obviously isn’t true, like you’ve pointed out), and I don’t think there really was a season that the pre-game alliance run the game to the end. What I was trying to say, is that the DECISIONS were made because of these pre-game alliances. Like, it’s very unlikely that Lex would’ve still voted off, if he didn’t have a pre-game with Rob, I’m not saying impossible, but still unlikely.

          And my problem with pre-game alliances, is that because of them, we can’t see the full reasoning behind decisions in the game. The biggest example of that is in Blood vs. Water: the show was telling us a story, in which Vytas outmaneuvered the women in his tribe, by surviving despite being the only person from his original tribe besides Katie, but who had a loved one on their tribe to protect her. But in reality, he and his brother had a pre-game with Katie and Tina, and wasn’t never in any real danger, and this alliance was very likely not even his idea, but rather his brother’s. I’m not an expert in sport, but it’s like a soccer team winning in a blowout, but then it is found out that they won, because they bribed a goal-keeper. In my opinion, because of them, we can’t ever really get a true story of what was going on in the season without checking the post-game interviews, and impacting the in-game decisions despite them very rarely working out.

          And time to put my conspiracy theory: Did Rob and Amber REALLY became a thing during the game? It just felt that their relationship has grown unnaturally quickly in there. But hey, that’s JUST a theory. A REALITY TV THEORY. Thanks for reading.

          • purplerockandy

            FWIW, I also question whether or not Romber just became a thing during the game.

        • indescribable hat

          Tbf, everyone shares that ex-boyfriend.

  • Super duper fan

    I think everyone else told everything there is to say about not staying over to help. I get both sides of the argument. Personally, I would prefer them at least lowering their window, and asking, if they can somehow help. And them being wishy-washy in the fast forward wasn’t a good move either, but it’s still not the ‘completely stupid move’ that I’ve mentioned before, so it is still to come.

    I don’t know if there was a better episode in the 9 seasons that I’ve watched, in that there were a lot of really solid episodes, and they all kinda mix together for me. But one of the better ones that I’ve watched, and which I can remember from the top of my head, is the episode in season 6, in which there were these really hot soups (I won’t say more, to not spoil someone).

    My stance on the locals helping contestants is the same, as it was week before. I can agree that because they were “celebrites”, they had a LITTLE easier time, but it didn’t mean that others couldn’t use the same strategy also. Plus I can bet most people had a problem with it, because it helped a team they didn’t like.

    I don’t participate in the watch-along, but from what I remember, these episodes were also really good, in this really good season of reality TV, and it’s fun to reminisce it.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    Stray thoughts after reading the article:
    -I’ve never had a handle on the extent to which the NELs are pre-planned vs. spontaneous, but I’m tempted to call shenanigans on this one. It seems a little too convenient that it pops up right when it looks like Romber might be screwed (and LOL that this alleged production interference ends up saving frikking Gretchen and Meredith)
    -Speaking of NELs, I much prefer the “keep racing” legs, which I think might be a more recent invention? There’s no penalty because they’re essentially just a double leg so the episode feels like it’s “to be continued” (they’re even better when it’s a double episode as well)
    -I think Romber might be at peak attractiveness in this season of TAR. They both look better off island, and I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit I was digging Rob in that knit hat.
    -I believe that editing always plays a role in how we perceive certain players, but Ray just has a super mean face, IMO.
    -Lynn & Alex’s comments in South Africa were super uncomfortable, but after recently watching season 5 season 6 nothing quite compares…. :/

    • Super duper fan

      You meant season 6, right?

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        yes, oops 🙂

    • Super duper fan

      I think this it a bit of a spoiler, but it doesn’t spoil something major. You can look, but I will put spoiler tags for someone who doesn’t want to be

      Actually, this season is the very first season where the “keep racing” leg has been used. It will be in one of the future episodes.

    • purplerockandy

      This one felt completely pre-planned to me, given the structure of the next leg. M&G barely needed money in the next leg, since they were provided vehicles, stayed inside a closed reserve, and the leg finished in the early evening.

    • Figaro

      I’d be surprised if the NEL’s were spontaneous due to the planning and logistics that the whole race requires, and also if they were you’d think production probably would have jumped on the opportunity to save Greg and Brian – both because they’re an enjoyable, fun and competitive team, and because watching them run an entire leg in swim suits and silly hats would have been super entertaining.

  • StormofCuteness

    Romber not even stopping to roll a window down was, for me, the worse thing they did all season. Also, if that fast forward was them at their worse as a couple, I am hella jealous! No wonder they’re still together. Seriously, in all TAR seasons I’ve seen, they are very high up on the “treat each other well through-out” list.

    I clearly have far more sympathy for Gretchen and Meredith than you meanies. I was truly freaked out when she fell and was bleeding. Head wounds are scary. These two are in their late 60s. It amazes me that they’re in this at all. I also HATE the take your things and money bit, and clearly so did everyone else because I have never seen it in another season. If it is in some, please tell me which ones so I can avoid them like the plague.

    I hate the “edit excuse”, and it makes my skin crawl to know Ray and Deana actually married/had a child after this. How could she have watched this season and felt that was a good call? Makes me sad, and I’m glad she’s out now.

    Your screenshots for Lynn and Alex were what made me angry at them. Disliking Rob and Amber makes sense to me, but clear racism/classicism? Ugh.

    • Max_Jets

      I love Gretchen and Meredith and I won’t stop loving them!

      • the sky is falling

        Yeah, they were great, plus Meredith is like a friendly Larry David, Andy must not watch Curb

        • StormofCuteness

          He really is supportive of Gretchen and super chill.

      • StormofCuteness

        Hoorah! I am not alone.

        • Super duper fan

          Count me in as a another fan!

    • Adam B.

      Their worst moment was not that they drove by, but that they were proud of themselves for doing so.

  • indescribable hat

    The Michael Trucco brothers, that’s what I’m going with. You’re right, they were having a good time, and that’s fun to watch.

  • indescribable hat

    “Kind’ve?” Kind have?

  • Ethan Kyle

    Thats very eell and good but wheres the HHH fantasy league

    • purplerockandy

      John is currently in Ireland.

      • forever1267

        The poor dear….

  • indescribable hat

    I love when the contestants enjoy the scenery and support their partners, and I hate when they use “he” to refer to the goat they’re milking.

    • NearlyNina

      I know right!!!! It’s almost as bad as when they keep the roosters on Survivor, so they can make eggs.

  • Carrots

    Aside from the way he treats Deana, I think the worst thing about Ray are his comments about Meredith and Gretchen. At one point he said something that made me think, “So, are you not planning on getting old, Ray?”

    Also, as much as I like the brothers Smith, I like Meredith and Gretchen more (I’m a sucker for underdogs), so the last elimination wasn’t such a blow for me.

  • forever1267

    Well, I was absolutely positive that the Brothers were in the Finals this season. So now I’m not sure if they returned, or if I’m thinking of some other Bro-Team.

    They are fun, and like the best teams, enjoy the experience and the lucky chance to try this crazy looking game.

    • NearlyNina

      Same. I actually recognized them, so I assumed they got far.

  • NearlyNina

    Ughhh the men in these episodes!

    Lynne and Alex’s comments were terrible. And it’s not like it’s the first time they’ve behaved like shits to the locals. Yelling at the fish vendors, aggressive driving against “bitches”, whining about the buses, etc. It’s the whole I’m a flamboyant gay, so therefore, I can say whatever I want and it’s hilarious shtick.

    Ron was terrible and good on what’sherface for sticking up for herself and not taking any shit.

    The brother’s whining that they were losing because the tasks weren’t “manly” enough and were instead little farmer women jobs. Really made me not at all sad that they were leaving and they’d been in my top three prior.

    Ray is an abusive shit and I was really hoping Deana would kick him to the curb after the show. He whines and complains that Deanna needs to have more confidence in herself, but how is she supposed to when he’s constantly berating, belittling, and blaming her? Also I found it really interesting, although not surprising, that with all the complaining Ray does about Deanna’s performance and spirit he didn’t choose to take on more of the load of the challenges. Deanna did all but one of the roadblocks (?) and she’s the one who was always driving. I’m just saying, it’s pretty easy to criticize from the backseat…

    As for the whole Rob and Amber not stopping thing. I’m not too bothered by it honestly. If they had been the first ones on the scene, or if it had been a different situation, I would probably have felt differently, but what was the point of stopping? What could they have done? They drove up and could see a whole lot of people standing around doing nothing. What benefit would there have been in also standing around or even stopping to chat? They’d made a little shelter for the cameraman and protocol in the case of broken vehicles is to wait for help, which they were doing. Maybe it’s just the Slytherin in me, but, I’m not mad…

  • the sky is falling

    Hmm, seems like season 30 of amazing race would be a big deal, but there is currently no release date for next season. Should we be worried?