Purple Rock Watch-Along: The Amazing Race 7 Episodes 7-9

Time to talk about three episodes of The Amazing Race season 7. And a grand total of one elimination.

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.

Recap Episodes

Remember when these used to be a thing? They weren’t that much on The Amazing Race, as this was only the second (and final) recap episode in series history. But they very much were a thing on Survivor, and network television in general. What an odd relic of a time when “we have this spot in our TV line-up to fill, so slap together some content” was a thing. For you kids today, the recap episode is the aggregated blog post of a bygone era.

I didn’t mind this one, particularly from a nostalgia standpoint, as it gave us about 40% new content to get to know these teams and a bit more detail on how the Race works. Probably most revealing was how teams will beg for money basically always, so it’s not just when they’ve been penalized by the show. Most fun was when Rob & Amber stumbled upon a magazine with themselves on the cover while in Africa (which serves as a reminder of a time when Survivor was a much bigger deal than it is now, culturally. Frankly, this was probably the last moment of that era).

If you listen closely, you can probably hear Lynn & Alex’s heads explode as they watch this scene.

Welcome to India

Last week, I wrote about how Killer Fatigue will get to teams throughout the Race. India is where the show MAKES it happen.  In a country of over a billion people, the cities of India can be an assault on the senses for normal travellers (in ways both positive and negative). So imagine what it would do to people competing on a race for television.

Think of what this leg put the teams through: it took over a day to get to Lucknow from Botswana, with a long layover in Mumbai. Once there, they had to hustle to the Roadblock with the fear of the Yield in play. The Roadblock was a needle in the haystack task, which is mostly about luck and can get very frustrating as time passes (especially since the task gets progressively harder as more clues are found). The show goosed this frustration by having dudes randomly bang on metal in the background while they hunted for the clue.

The Detour was a frustrating visit through a Kafka-esque office building. The teams get through all of that just for the show to fuck with them with a non-pit stop and instructions to keep racing. Sending them to a train station that will bunch them all for the night, making everything that came before it meaningless other than the stress endured.

The previously in the following episode really wanted us to believe that Rob & Amber were fooled. But… it doesn’t seem like it?

The train ride takes 24 hours, and they make sure to randomly wake them up at 1:00 in the morning to give them instructions. The Detour is a manic race down a busy street pushing a heavy object. The Roadblock involves unruly animals. The entire leg involved three cities (not including the stopover), two continents, and probably took at least three days to complete. This was brutal, but in the end, it all came down to a taxi going to the wrong palace.

Team Impressions

Uchenna & Joyce

While I await an opportunity to say more about Uchenna & Joyce than “they seem nice”, allow me to go into greater depth about how nice they seem. Because this was the section of the season when most people went from “I like them” to “they are the most lovely couple ever and I hope they win”.

That is not hair you part with easily.

All credit to Joyce for not dithering around and just jumping into her decision to consent to having her head shaved. To be clear, dithering would have been understandable. I’m guessing had Rob & Amber gone for the Fast Forward and learned what it was, they may have been eliminated from the Race rather than being bald for their wedding on network TV. But she made her choice, and dove into it, and then allowed herself to feel the regret as it was happening.

Uchenna gets all the partner points for supporting her throughout, recognizing that she’s the only one taking this for the team. Can you imagine if Ray was in this situation? (Luckily, he never could have been, since they already had used a FFW, but still). This was about her, and he recognized it and was there for her and… goddammit, that shows how good he would have been in the delivery room and now I wish I hadn’t thought of that and I’m really fucking bummed right now.

Also, he’s damn lucky she didn’t “I told you so” him to death.

So, yeah… maybe there ISN’T much else to Uchenna & Joyce other than “they seem nice”, but they seem REALLY, REALLY nice, don’t they?

Ron & Kelly

You know, for a leg designed to break people, was this Ron & Kelly’s most functional leg yet? They stayed in second place the whole way and didn’t fight significantly (mostly just about a transportation decision). Interestingly, this was also the leg when they broke away from the bitter Bettys of the season and hung out with Rob & Amber. Although, I think it may have had more to do with getting to hang out with people that weren’t just each other that probably helped them more than Rob & Amber specifically did.

Their most affectionate scene is still Kelly playfully pushing away Ron’s awkward advances.

Rob & Amber

Another leg, another example of how Romber are easily the best, most interesting team out there. Admittedly, I am pretty biased, so feel free to challenge me on that and be wrong.

Sure, they finished in third place once everything was over (behind Ron & Kelly by a second and Uchenna & Joyce due to the Fast Forward), but they outmanoeuvred Lynn & Alex coming out of Africa, stayed ahead throughout the first half of the leg only to be sent away by Phil at the non-Pit Stop, and stayed comfortably ahead of Lynn & Alex and Meredith & Gretchen due to Rob arranging a guide while other teams were resting over night. Everybody makes mistakes on the Race, but these two minimize mistakes by cooperating with each other, finding edges when they can, and, most importantly, carefully reading their clues.

Indeed it is Amber.
Why indeed?

For all the talk at the time about Rob & Amber bringing Survivor-type tactics to The Amazing Race or how much they benefit from their celebrity or whatever, it seems to me that they’re deploying tried-and-true techniques: work the travel arrangements, seek help from locals, support each other, and READ YOUR FREAKING CLUE. Frankly, I’d say their biggest advantage (besides just being really good at this shit) is that they’re already comfortable with the pressures of television. Which is an advantage that’s impossible to quantify, but could be genuine.

Pictured: the proper way to deal with Boston Rob.

Meredith & Gretchen

What in the blue hell was Gretchen doing up on that freaking elephant? Sure, a guy in the crowd told her to do it, but… he wasn’t a Race official or anything. READ THE CLUE. Failing that, have a look at what the other teams are doing and get the fuck off of it. I get that it’s a race. I get that it can be stressful. Especially in India. But there’s time to take a breath and stop doing something actively harmful to one’s chances of competing. The time they would have lost by stopping and having her climb out of the elephant was probably less than the time it cost them by having to push more weight with one less person. But, hey, at least it gave us a chance to hear her scream at people.

Weird how she’s wearing Amber’s sweater when the edit told us that Rob & Amber were big meanies who didn’t take pity on them for having their stuff taken away.

So, again, I repeat my opinion that while I probably SHOULD give them some credit for being in their sixties and making the final four, it’s so hard to be impressed by a single thing they’ve done other than “not die” (and frankly, that one was touch and go a couple of times this season). These episodes marked the second time they reached Phil in last place only for it not to count. They leaned on Lynn & Alex to arrange all their transportation. They screw up the details, whether it’s climbing on elephants or bringing too many cups of tea up into the building (just like in past legs where they missed clue boxes – twice, followed Ray & Deana PAST the location of the clue they were supposed to be hunting for, or blindly searched the wrong pile of sand). But they’re still here. They’re the Mr. Magoo of The Amazing Race, blindly bumbling along while things hilariously fall into place to just barely keep them alive.

So, sure. Good on them for being out there and competing with people forty years their junior. That they can get up each day and keep it going is an achievement in its own right. But for me, Meredith & Gretchen’s ultimate contribution is to reveal just how much luck dictates outcomes on this show.

Also, it was really unfair for them to use their celebrity status to get help from locals.

Caution: Yield Ahead

One of the best moments from these two episodes was Alex being utterly dumbfounded when Rob & Amber didn’t Yield them. It was The Amazing Race equivalent of this:

Now, the recap episode showed us that Rob actually DID want to Yield Lynn & Alex at one point in the Race, supposedly because he thought they were the biggest competition, but I’m guessing mostly because they annoyed him. But, it’s important to note he had two opportunities to do so, and each time decided they weren’t worth the trouble.

The other thing he did was provide a solid distraction to prevent Ron & Kelly from Yielding them. Except… I don’t believe that Ron & Kelly had any intention of doing so, nor should they have. I’ll talk more about optimal Yield strategy next week, but for now, I’ll just say that you’d need straight ice water in your veins to Yield someone to their face. Despite his bravado, I don’t believe for a second that Rob & Amber would’ve Yielded them if they’d arrived there seconds earlier.

There’s just no way.

Best Move of the Episodes

Rob using the downtime in Jodhpur to secure a guide for the next day. When watching, it was tough to say how much an advantage this gave him, as there didn’t seem to be a particular spot where Sanjay helped them more than normal. Except that R&A and R&K were ahead of Lynn & Alex and Meredith & Gretchen the entire time (with Uchenna & Joyce using the FFWD), and L&A were eliminated when their cabbie screwed up. So, it probably helped.

It’s also emblematic of the difference between Rob & Amber and every other team. He’s always looking for an edge, even during downtime. Which isn’t to take anything away from Lynn & Alex creating lifelong memories dancing with the locals in a wedding (a legit cool and joyous moment), but it shows what Rob brings to the Race and reality competition in general. And it didn’t seem like his celebrity had anything to do with it.

Runner-up: Joyce shaving her head was the moment of the episodes, but as far as moves go, it ultimately was just about sitting there. Also… they only finished two minutes ahead of Ron & Kelly and Rob & Amber. They are so bad at finding places.

Worst Move of the Episodes

Lynn & Alex’s continued insistence on helping Meredith & Gretchen and Uchenna & Joyce, to the detriment of their own Race. They’d have you believe this is because they’re people first, racers second, but I think L&A were trying to herd goats to the finale. Between that, alliance-making, and targeting of threats (first Romber, then R&K), I think it was actually L&A who brought Survivor-style tactics to the Race, only to find them ill-suited to the show. Because they were so determined to find a flight for themselves and their co-horts, they had to take the word of someone on the phone, unlike Rob who found the better flight by looking at the screen. Then, when they get to Lucknow, Lynn is trying to find cabs for he and Alex AND Meredith & Gretchen. Fuck that. Run your race.

Yeah, about that…

Runner-up: Gretchen on that damned wooden elephant.

Final Impression

Lynn & Alex

First, some positives: throughout the entire Race, they were nothing but supportive of one another. Think of how Lynn gently encouraged Alex through the driving Roadblock compared to how Kelly and Gretchen hectored their men. They were also fairly good racers (when they weren’t being needlessly distracted) who had some incredibly bad luck throughout (broken boat, two broken cars, the cabbie).

On the other hand, they didn’t get Yielded. LUCKY!

With that out of the way, fuck these guys and good riddance. There must be something to the fact that several of Rob’s TV  haters have proven themselves to be massive hypocrites. I’ve pointed out in past posts how that related to Lynn & Alex during the Race. Now let’s examine post-Race.

So Lynn & Alex, scourge of fame whores everywhere, defenders of the purity of those who get only one chance to be on TV, followed up The Amazing Race by getting married (yay!) in a ceremony sponsored by a Canadian Radio Station (so… nothing like Romber televising their wedding, right?). They regularly appeared on a Fox Reality Network show called Reality Remix to talk about TAR (while Romber had their own show on that network). They also appeared on a Dr. Phil episode to discuss problems in their relationship, which I’m sure was only for therapeutic purposes and not a desperate attempt to cling to any form of continued relevance.

Jodhpur cabbie… you the real MVP.

Also, these fuckers basically spoiled the end of the season in their exit interviews. Fuck them.

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:

Andy
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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
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  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    The head shaving episode is exactly why I love Uchenna and Joyce so much. Joyce is a badass for jumping in immediately to let them shave her head and Uchenna was a sweetheart the whole time. Also, Joyce really looks beautiful bald, with her well shaped head and dainty features. Not a lot of other women could pull off that look.

    • Mike Hirsch

      The head shaving thing: if Uchenna wasn’t already bald, they would have wound up in third place at least. I wonder how dramatically lost they ended up getting.

      • purplerockandy

        They were only nine minutes ahead of Meredith & Gretchen.

        • Maritimer

          I had no idea they all ended up so close at the end of the episode. I figured there was a big gap between RK/RA and Meredith and Gretchen. Makes that FF barely worth it for Uchenna and Joyce

          • purplerockandy

            Could’ve just kept their hair and waited for Lynn & Alex to get lost.

          • Mike Hirsch

            Weren’t they first to the clue with the FF? Not that it necessarily would have stayed that way, but they were already out in front at that point, I thought.

          • Maritimer

            Uchenna and Joyce? Yes, they were. But they barely finished ahead of the other teams. It was their fault for getting lost twice, so it would have been just as good doing the normal tasks. I guess the one benefit is preventing the other teams from doing the FF

          • BadPlayer91

            That is interesting to consider. Is the Fast Forward as good as it seems to be? When you are at the front of the path, there is the least risk in taking it, because it’s less likely someone else has, but it also benefits you the least, because even if you finish a few hours before anyone else, bunching will probably bring you back into the group anyway. And anyway, if you are toward the front and don’t absolutely fuck up some of the challenges, you should at least stay toward the front.

            Then, for those in the back of the pack, they could make up lost group by doing it, but they would run the risk someone else already did it, and they waste more time and doom themselves further. And weighing that potential, it seems common that no one further back would risk trying to take it.

            So, it really best benefits those in the middle, who could go and get the advantage and make up the difference to ensure they don’t fall to the back or get a boot. But I think even this group is probably unlikely to take it given the potential someone at the front will.

            I think you hit the nail on the head, taking it is partially just a reassurance that no one else will and jump in front of you. Also, it could be a good way to get some rest and just avoid a bunch of tedious challenges that may injury, exhaust, or strain your team. Which isn’t a bad idea.

            Wow, too much typing, lol. Anyways, I guess my point is, in this season the FF’s have been just another route to the end, but not really a ‘shortcut’ by any account.

          • Maritimer

            I mean, it’s a risk, but it did work out for Ray and Deana (temporarily at least). But like you say, they were bunched back to the group pretty quickly. It’s basically only worth risking if you’re the very first person to the clue box and you know it. Otherwise, it’s a pretty colossal risk that I don’t think is worth it, as Romber nearly found out the hard way

          • BadPlayer91

            Yeah, exactly. Ray & Deana got bunched back to the group, and Joyce & Uchenna lost a ton of time finding the place. In both cases, the FF wasn’t a shortcut, so much as a different path to the mat. Based on that, the FF is less a shortcut, more a booby-trap. You could get lost, take longer, or you get there and someone else already took it. Keeping with the regular challenges means you are part of the pack and regularly aware of where you stand, so it’s far less a risk.

          • Maritimer

            Yeah it seems more designed to have someone mess up and fail then to actually gain advantage

          • StormofCuteness

            Hmm, I’ve seen countless examples of the FF saving a couple’s ass so not my take at all.

          • BadPlayer91

            I haven’t watched any other seasons of TAR, so I note my lack of knowledge. I was mostly just thinking through the dynamics of it and why it really hasn’t been a huge factor thus far in Season 7.

          • StormofCuteness

            Sorry, I know you’re just processing as a first time viewer. It’s just hard not to want to note where your thoughts run counter to a more representative view.

          • BadPlayer91

            No, that’s okay. You should note that. I was bringing this up more as a question about FFs and if what’s happened in this season is representative of the rest, or if FFs aren’t really all that great a thing. I’d definitely be interested to here instances where they have proven more helpful, particularly as that’s how they are supposed to function, heh.

          • StormofCuteness

            I think FFs are a crucial element of the game because they add a strategy element as well as being a game of chance. In later seasons there are far fewer available, but more often than not, they can take a team from the back to the front. But I like them and the bunching up because of the not knowing involved which forces all the teams to never give up and keep trying (for the most part).

          • the sky is falling

            Keep in mind there is a reward, often significant, for finishing first in an individual leg. Sometimes as much as 20,000 cash, but usually just a trip from Travelocity. If you can guarantee getting to FF first it’s worth it. FF is rare nowadays i think.

          • purplerockandy

            Not every leg has a prize for first though.

          • BadPlayer91

            This is a fair point. I think thus far Romber has won two trips (so, double Honeymoon?) and Ray & Deana won cars? So at least that makes winning a leg a little more of an incentive.

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            Fun fact: in very early seasons there was an FF opportunity in every leg, but each team was still only allowed to take one. FF’s were used more often by teams at the back of the pack in those days to make up ground, but in the same vein that meant that a team who used their FF early was probably doomed.

            Also, I recall at least one season where a team did the FF and still got eliminated in that very leg. In the particular case I’m thinking of they never even explain what went wrong – they just show the team completing the FF challenge and then at the end of the episode they show up to the pit stop last and get eliminated. That episode has always really bugged me.

          • BadPlayer91

            That sounds infuriating. Both in terms of the FF challenge just being a trap, and also the editing not making it more clear where everyone was in reference to each other.

          • Adam B.

            I think I know exactly what the episode was, and it’s not quite that. Season 1, Joe & Bill (older gay couple) won a FF in Thailand, but instead of renting a car to haul ass to the pitstop hours and hours away, they took a leisurely train ride there and would have been eliminated but-for another team (Nancy/Emily, mom-daughter) having quit on a task earlier in the leg and suffering an insurmountable penalty.

            The Wiki adds other examples: “After winning the Fast Forward on Leg 3 (Mexico-United Kingdom) of Season 3, Dennis & Andrew were still eliminated due to their late arrival into England. After winning the Fast Forward on Leg 10 (India) of Season 20, Bopper & Mark were still eliminated due to their late departure from the pit stop.”

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            Were Joe and Bill also known as the Guidos? I think that’s one of the examples I was thinking of. The most frustrating one for me was Dennis and Andrew I think (were they father and son?) That’s the one where I felt like they were just separated from the rest of the racers the whole time and you just watch team after team check in as they’re still in the car heading to the pit stop. My suspicion was always that the FF was really far out of the way and that’s just never mentioned, but I also think you’re right that they arrived pretty late.

          • Adam B.
          • StormofCuteness

            Oops, my bad, you’ve already been discussing this. Umm, it was actually pretty clear in the edit. Maybe your memory just got fuzzy?

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            Most likely – I have a terrible memory for TAR even though I’ve watched each season many times, haha

          • StormofCuteness

            Mine is so bad that I wasn’t even sure I’d seen Season 3 at all (I had, when it aired…so pretty much like a 1st time watch again now). 😂

          • StormofCuteness

            Just watched it so I can help you out. They were an entire day behind because of trouble getting plane tickets. Which is why, even with the FF, they couldn’t make up the time. But also, this was a rare circumstance where after the FF, they had an 8 hr drive to the pit stop. All the other teams had to take buses for that drive, but were a day ahead. It was sad.

      • StormofCuteness

        That’s the beauty of the head shaving…it really wasn’t necessary. That’s.the.whole.game.
        Schadenfreude!

    • It’s honestly the only thing I clearly remember about this season, besides who wins.

      • Adam B.

        I absolutely remember the airport gate shenanigans in the finale, which always seemed to be producer-manipulated.

        • Purple Rock Emma

          Oh, yeah that’s really the other thing I remember, but I relate that to who wins.

        • the sky is falling

          That moment sticks in my mind as a top 10 all-time ‘Hey, wait a minute. WTF.’ shenanigan for this show.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            I think of it whenever I see those things. (Feeling too lazy for spoiler tags.)

        • Ethan Kyle

          For the Record Rob has repeatedly said in interviews that there wasn’t any producer manipulation in the “Airport Fiasco”

          • Adam B.

            Well, at the time he was more conspiratorial. From Linda Holmes’ recap:

            At the San Juan airport, we watch as Uchenna and Joyce watch the jetway actually pulled away from the plane they’re trying to get on. And I will tell you that I have watched seven seasons of this show, and I have never, ever seen anybody get on a flight after the jetway was pulled back. Ever. But all of a sudden, they’re calling the pilot to see if he’ll come back. And of course he does, and all of a sudden, you’ve got a two-team race to the finish line rather than the landslide victory that was about twelve seconds from occurring.

            I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and I absolutely don’t believe that anybody at the show ever favors one team over another — I just don’t believe it, and I’ve never heard a convincing argument for why they’d do it. But a convincing argument in favor of intervening to avoid a team winning by an hour? Yeah, that’s very easy to come up with. Do I believe producers have the ability to fix this kind of thing? No. Do I believe they have the ability to pull strings with American Airlines? Probably not. Do I believe that it would have? Oh, my, yes. I don’t think the show favors teams over other teams, but I do believe it favors two-team finishes over one-team finishes, which is why the insistent bunching appears over and over and over again throughout the final leg. There is no way they want a one-team finish where nobody’s within an hour of the lead team, and I believe that all possible efforts would have been made to avoid it. We’ll never know. But it’s highly suspicious to me, and it certainly is the biggest and unlikeliest single stroke of luck of the entire race.

            http://web.archive.org/web/20070208052332/http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com:80/articles/content/a1509/index-16.html

      • Purple Rock Emma

        Me too!

      • Maritimer

        Me too

      • Honestly before this recap started jogging my memory it was probably the ONLY thing that I remembered. In a season that featured two of the biggest reality TV stars in history the enduring image of TAR7 is that sequence with Joyce.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      Joyce really does pull it off really nicely. And I had the same thought as Andy regarding Romber if they had done the FF. With a wedding coming up, I don’t think Amber would have been so willing, and I can’t say I’d blame her.

      • StormofCuteness

        I seriously don’t think I could do it, and it kinda freaks me out because I’m not even someone who is girly-girl or spends any time on my hair.

        • Purple Rock Emma

          I would look terrible bald.

          • StormofCuteness

            Me too…so so so bad.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            My head is shaped like a house.

          • StormofCuteness

            Well, a house can be a home. 😉

        • Ms. Sweaterfan

          It’s one of those things that I’ve secretly always wanted to do but I would never do it on my own without a reason, if that makes sense. Basically, if I were on TAR and got this FF, I would totally do it. Otherwise, nah.
          BTW, I’m fairly certain I would also look terrible bald, lol.

          • StormofCuteness

            I remember idolizing Sinead O’Connor in college, and even then, just couldn’t. I admire your willingness to almost do it. *grin*

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        Honestly, going into the episode my memory was that Romber went for the FF and Amber refused because of the wedding. I have no idea why my brain created that memory but when they decided not to even go for the FF I was like ~record scratch~

        • Super duper fan

          Maybe you’ve mistaken it with season 5, where one of the teams were dating, and they didn’t do a FF, because they were both models, and that most likelyresult in that they would be fired. It wasn’t about the wedding, but there was in both of them a “situation outside of the game, where it would be not really a good idea to do a FF”, so it’s at least close enough

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            Yeah that makes sense since I did just recently watch that one

        • Maritimer

          I have the same vague memory. It may be what @superduperfan:disqus said, having no retained memory of most of the TAR I’ve seen. I also wonder if its possible she says she wouldn’t have done it in a confessional (or whatever they’re called on TAR) next episode

        • purplerockandy

          I had the same memory. Weird.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            There was this sauce…

    • Saturday Night Palsy

      I agree. Joyce looks gorgeous with a shaved head.

  • Mike Hirsch

    Gretchen on the elephant and Rob and Amber’s reactions to that: priceless.
    I feel like Lynn and Alex were totally ready to be all “This Yielding is a badge of honor.” Rob and Amber torpedoing their chance for righteous indignation was delicious.
    Uchenna and Joyce are very pleasant racers.

    • Maritimer

      Why would Rob and Amber Yield Lynn and Alex? Their thought process fascinates me. Romber wasn’t going to Yield them just because. I know Andy is going to get into Yield strategy next week, but I don’t think you need to Yield when you’re at the front of the pack. Its a much more useful tool when you’re in the trailing pack

  • Maritimer

    I don’t know a lot about TAR but that seemed like a pretty egregious example of bunching to me. It made the entire previous episode feel like a massive waste of time. Doubly so since with so few teams left there’s a bit more content that feels like filler.
    Lynn and Alex’s focus on Rob and Amber clearly was their undoing. I think its apparent that the key is what Rob and Amber and Ron and Kelly are doing – which is run your own race and don’t really worry about what the other teams are doing. Working together is fine, but being so focused on stopping or slowing another specific team will end up hurting you.

    Also, Andy, Miss Alli covered Rob and Amber’s wedding and listed it as part of this season of TAR over on TWoP. Just saying.

    • BadPlayer91

      Agree about the bunch. I just typing-catted a whole bunch about that…

    • purplerockandy

      Oh, I’m well aware that she covered the wedding. I might’ve done a cursory search to see if there was a way I could rewatch it now.

      • Maritimer

        So we’re not getting your liveblog of the wedding then?

        • purplerockandy

          Tbd

  • BadPlayer91

    The train bunching was BY FAR the most infuriating thing for me in this season. It made an entire episode and everything that happened in it completely irrelevant. Why even bother to show us them rushing around if in reality they had almost 12 hours to complete these tasks before the train left. When I realized this I literally said out loud “Then why am I watching this?”

    I get the ‘everything is close, anyone could win’ edit and the logistics of moving a lot of people across the country, but it just felt cheap. Further, it felt like a weird ‘twist’ at a detriment to the viewers. Why not just have this be a non-elimination leg? The teams basically got a rest period on and before the train, so even though they were ‘still racing’ the only difference is they didn’t take all of someone’s money and stuff. I assumed the big reason is that production wanted a cliffhanger mid-season that will make sure viewers ‘tune in next week’ However, the nature of this show means that anyone invested enough to be intrigued by a cliffhanger will already want to tune in, just to see what happens and who wins. The combination of bunching and a semi-fake out pit stop meant that entire episode felt like wasted time to me.

    At the very least, I think they should have made the mid-leg check in have some sort of advantage or option. First person gets some advantage or can skip a task, last people have to do an extra or take a later train. Something, anything, to make getting ahead actually count for anything (which, obviously, it didn’t. Romber are in first at the stupid check-in, and come in third at the real pit stop).

    *I didn’t realize till I started typing this out, the pent up rage I apparently have. I am enjoying the show, lol

    • Maritimer

      The only reason I don’t share this pent up rage is that I was kind of doing something else during the episode and only half paying attention, which worked out quite well for me

      • BadPlayer91

        I was baking cookies for half of it. In that time, I was able to rage, complain to my boyfriend, then box it all up and forget about it, until now. The release is real.

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      It’s okay, this is a safe place 😉
      I mentioned last week that I prefer the ‘keep racing’ legs to non-elimination but the train ride sort of sucked some of the drama out of it.

      • BadPlayer91

        I think I agree, in that I prefer ‘keep racing’ to non-elimination, but I prefer elimination to both. But in this case though, the ‘keep racing’ was fake. They didn’t really keep racing, they had a ton of rest time and a bunching that was as close to a pitstop as can get without being one. I’d prefer a ‘keep racing’ that allowed those in front to maintain their lead or at least gave them an advantage for being in front, lol.

        • StormofCuteness

          Have you watched other seasons of this show?

          • BadPlayer91

            NOPE!

            I’m enjoying this watch-along, but in full honesty, I don’t think it super likely I will continue to watch more seasons after this.

          • StormofCuteness

            Ah, well. I love TAR, and I love getting to explore all these parts of the planet I have not been to (or even those I have). I particularly like when Americans are forced to confront their biases and do work that people do daily in third world countries. I’ve learned just how much I didn’t know about the modern world and how stuck within pop culture assumptions I had become. *End soapbox*

          • BadPlayer91

            I definitely like the premise and am enjoying watching it, so i’m not throwing shade at the show. Just haven’t gotten the thirst and undying need to watch more as I do for Survivor, thus i’m not planning on watching more in the near future. Maybe down the road, we’ll see…

          • StormofCuteness

            I getcha, but if you have Amazon Prime, after you run out of Survivors, there are over 20 seasons free to watch when you need an easy binge.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            I think you should at least give a more recent season of the show a shot. I’ve only watched from season 25 on, and watching season 7 it really feels like a partially-formed version of the current show. It’s a bit like Survivor in that, while Pearl Islands is one of the show’s best seasons, it’s still a very early season, and in some ways even a middling recent season like San Juan del Sur is better at the basics of being a TV show.

          • BadPlayer91

            This is fair. I’ve watched a few episodes, I think of whatever was the most recent season (They were running around in Norway collecting fireworks from trolls?). Anyways, as I’ve said, I haven’t completely written it off, just not feeling a burning desire to dive into more of it yet. (Particularly not mid-Survivor completion quest).

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            Yeah, thinking more specifically, I think they’ve gotten better at casting (or it may be that current applicants have seen a lot more TAR), at designing the route to get the racers into more varied locales, and at designing challenges. And it might seem trivial, but I think HD really benefits a show like TAR far more than it does Survivor.

            That might not be fair though, since I’ve seen five recent seasons and only three-quarters of an early season.

          • BadPlayer91

            Yeah, I mean, with modern technology, I would assume that helps make filming and other tech issues a little easier, and thus better routes.

            Also, interested to hear from people with more knowledge, how does this TAR route compare with others? My overall impression is that they have made a tiny blip in Africa and India after trogging across the majority of South America. I don’t know how that compares, and also if the reason for such a huge South America leg was because that continent was underrepresented in the previous seasons?

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            I don’t know much about early TAR, but I have to assume that even in s7 the show is visiting countries or regions for the first time in a lot of cases. Now I imagine that’s rarely the case. That may be another reason the show just feels more like a well-oiled machine now.

            I feel like in recent seasons there’s always one or more huge north-south jump, so that they’re mountain climbing one episode and crossing the desert the next, for example. Three consecutive episodes in not-Brazil South America (or whatever it was; I don’t want to look it up because somehow I’m still not spoiled about this season) is definitely not something the show would do now.

          • BadPlayer91

            They were in Chile and Argentina for I think at least 4 episodes (also don’t want to look, because also mostly unspoiled kinda…)

          • purplerockandy

            This was TAR’s first time in Peru and Chile, according to the Wiki (which kinda sucks, btw). Botswana too, along with some locations we’ve yet to visit.

          • BadPlayer91

            Maybe part of it is that i’m not good at keeping track, or maybe the show isn’t good at reminding us well enough this early in the show’s history, but I had completely forgotten about Peru and Botswana. But still, 3 countries in South America seems like a lot…

          • forever1267

            TAR is travel porn, so HD is enormously helpful in my vicarious travels around the world.

          • Adam B.

            I strongly, strongly disagree: the earlier versions of the show — when airport strategy mattered a lot and teams could be separated more often, and before they started spoonfeeding transportation and fear-factoring the tasks — was a lot more fun.

          • the sky is falling

            whoops, just said a similar thing above.

          • StormofCuteness

            Two of us, two of us!

        • Maritimer

          This is what I don’t get. I think they could just add a couple teams and scrap non-elimination legs

          • indescribable hat

            I think increasing the cast size is a bigger expense than on something like Survivor (where the standard cast size has grown over the years) because of the separate production people needed to follow each team around, and of course air fare for all those people.

          • BadPlayer91

            this!

          • Maritimer

            That makes a lot of sense. I wonder if non-elimination legs are the result of the budgeting decision or if they were added in later.

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            If memory serves, non-elimination legs have always been part of the race. Some seasons feel like they have more than others somehow, even though over the course of 29 seasons they’ve been remarkably consistent with having 11 teams each season. Also teams almost never quit or get medevaced.

          • Maritimer

            Makes sense. I assume that even if a team quits/gets medevaced that’s just the elimination for that episode?

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            Yeah, especially since quits most often take the form of giving up in the final challenge before the pit stop.

          • BadPlayer91

            I wonder if add the additional camera men and cameras is cost preventive? or something about the logistics make it difficult? But yeah, I think the show believes there is more ‘mystery’ added with the non-elimination legs, but it’s nominal IMO.

          • indescribable hat

            Jinx!

          • BadPlayer91

            lol

    • StormofCuteness

      Hrm, I feel like they’ve always done this on this show, and so I don’t get that annoyed by it. In fact, I see it as part of the psycholigical toil of the game which is truly the hardest part.

      PS In no way did that train ride seem restful!

      • BadPlayer91

        As a first time TAR watcher with this season, i’m sorta learning what I do and don’t like about the show. And bunching is probably the main thing I really don’t like.

        Yeah, that train ride looked not-restful, but for TAR teams, I assume at some point any place with a bed is restful. I mean, think what a day 35 Survivor tribe would do for a ride on that train? Unspeakable things. Disgraceful things.

        • StormofCuteness

          A 24 hour train ride in India would be suitable for a plotline of a horror movie to me so ymmv. *wink*

        • the sky is falling

          As a long time Amazing Race watcher, I think you may be watching it wrong. The bunching is a bit annoying, but at least personally, I watch TAR mostly to see cool locations and interesting challenges. There’s really not much strategy involved usually besides picking the right challenge and following directions.

          Rob and Amber are two of a handful of competitors imo who successfully out-strategize the other teams.

          • BadPlayer91

            I think it’s less that i’m watching it wrong, more that it isn’t the format I would want for these things. I love seeing the interesting locations, but they are really just touch points for the show, and don’t go into the depth I would like. I’d rather watch a travel show instead. And the race format puts me in the mindset for reality TV type competition and Survivor-esque gameplay, but that isn’t really what TAR is about. Again, i’m not saying I dislike TAR, just getting the feeling that when competing with a lot of other things I want to watch, this is a lower priority.

          • the sky is falling

            It’s definitely an inferior show to Survivor. But also one I’d much rather play. It was always a nice show to catch on Sunday nights. It’s definitely missing a certain must-see-tv aspect that Survivor has. Above, I was mostly saying that you can’t watch it the same way as Survivor.

          • BadPlayer91

            That’s very fair. And obviously, given the watch-along was inspired by a Romber Survivor-TAR connection, that is bound to muddy my impressions.

          • Adam B.

            It was a better show than Survivor when Survivor was in a Pagonging rut. Other than Pearl Islands, I think TAR was a better show post-Borneo, pre-Hantz era.

          • purplerockandy

            That might be what you like most about the show, but I don’t see how it can be wrong to watch a race and hope the competitive elements of it matter.

          • the sky is falling

            Well I guess not so much wrong as that TAR seems like it would be a bit of a letdown if the main thing you are looking for is strategic play. Requires a different way of analyzing than Survivor

      • indescribable hat

        Really? I find those little train bunks super compelling and I think I would sleep OK on them.

        • StormofCuteness

          I’ve travelled all over the US by train, and I have to tell you that what I’ve seen/heard about Indian trains makes me fear the worse. Of note, I am now 50 and fat. Probably wouldn’t seem as awful if I was in my 20s.

          My longest trip was over 48 hrs straight, btw.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            I once traveled by train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in a 3rd-class car (no AC, no bunks) to save a few bucks. I can’t not recommend that enough.

          • StormofCuteness

            *shudder* Nightmare inducing!

          • indescribable hat

            Oof.

    • the sky is falling

      “anyone invested enough to be intrigued by a cliffhanger will already want to tune in”

      This is a major gripe I have with most reality shows. The cut to commercial mini cliffhanger or ‘to be contunued….’ is almost always unnecessary. There cant really be that many people who say, ‘well, only 4 contestans left, I’m good’ Survivor is mostly good about not resorting to this,
      but its an annoying ploy, I agree.

      • Maritimer

        The one bad example I remember from Survivor is when Jeremy stood up to play his idol to save Stephen. They’ve also done it for rock draws and re-votes though I can’t remember specific ones

        • the sky is falling

          But it’s not as rampant on Survivor as on other shows. Any other show would cut to commercial every time Jeff says, “3 votes x, 3 votes y, one vote left.”

          Or it would be “And the 4th person voted out is…..” commercial

          • Maritimer

            Oh absolutely. Survivor is far less guilty of it than almost any other show. It just makes it stand out all the more when it happens

          • forever1267

            Change a few words, and you’ve got Ryan Seacrest on “American Idol”.

  • Purple Rock Emma

    Re: Rob’s edit. The “previously on” for the last episode also made the slight confusion over who to give the tea to into a way bigger deal, while Gretchen telling a man “Shame on you!” gets no mention.

    • BadPlayer91

      Yeah. Though it was hard to tell if these guys were trying to ‘pull a fast on’ on them and get some tea (or TV time) vs. just super confused by a bunch of white people and a cameraman running around their office.

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        I agree – I was wondering the whole time if the other office workers who weren’t part of the challenge were even aware of what was going on. Having a bunch of Americans run through shouting random names in your face while handing you tea (and then snatching it back) has got to be both confusing and annoying.

        • BadPlayer91

          I want to believe that someone must have checked in and made them all aware when scouting locations for the race, but given the country, i’m not overly convinced. I mean, I don’t think those men were receiving any company wide emails.

          Also, even if you were aware that filming was happening at your office, think how confusing it must be to explain. Your manager rounds everyone up and says “Some American show where people race around the world will be coming by today. There will be big cameras and people shouting some of our names, and they will offer you tea. If they give you tea, give them your business card” ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • Mike Hirsch

    I know this is a few episodes late, but I was thinking back on Brian and Greg vs Ray and Deana for close finishes, and season 2 had a ridiculously close finish in the final leg which was also pretty fantastic.

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      I was trying to remember which season that was when people were discussing close finishes. You’re right – that one was a nail biter. There’s also the bike race to the finish line in Unfinished Business, but in my memory that one went on a little too long and they got really tired and slow so the excitement wore off.

      • Mike Hirsch

        Season 2 was a great season as far as I can remember, with teams both great and awful. And some great strategy, some of it poorly executed.

        • Adam B.

          FOLLOW THAT PLANE!

          Season 2 is astoundingly good. Loved the snow globe challenge in the finale.

  • Adam B.

    going through my old blog posts; here’s some of what I wrote in 2005:

    ep 8: “An interesting episode of the Race, exposition-wise, but it wasn’t much of a competition. Somehow, a ten-minute lead established early is never overcome, and while comedy ensues at times, there’s not much tension — unless you count the gritting of my teeth every time Gretchen opens her mouth. Oh my God! One thing: if you’re doing tasks in India, why not look at modern India? Have the teams type up five minutes worth of dictation from American executives. Let them operate a Dell call center and let them explain to senior citizens how to ALT-CTRL-DEL their way out of a jam.”

    ep 9: “I loved how our last-place team again prepared for a non-elimination leg, and hated that all that separated them from their standing was a random error. Disappointingly, there didn’t seem to be anything that any non-FF team could have done in this leg in terms of Detour or Roadblock skills to really improve their standing. (Still, this basic Race rule: if you see that all the teams are doing one Detour choice, switch to the other — it’s your best chance of passing them.)”

  • StormofCuteness

    Ummm, I’m going to guibble. I’m currently watching season 3, and they were already doing a bunch of teams unite against a single team. IE Buying plane and other tickets together. So, Lynn and Alex were actually utilizing tried and true TAR maneuvers.

    I know you hold a personal grudge because it was agst your favs, but it was nothing new and actually more reasonable than in many seasons.

    • purplerockandy

      It’s actually more because the only season I’ve seen before 7 was the first one.

  • StormofCuteness

    Meredith and Gretchen: It was adorable how beloved they became by the locals in India, and their reaction to it was a refreshingly non-bigotted embrace instead of frustration/overwhelm (which I’ve seen numerous other times on TAR).

    • Maritimer

      For what I figure was a couple cast to be an early elimination, they’ve done well and carried themselves quite well, even if she is a bit annoying

      • Purple Rock Emma

        I like that they seem to genuinely love each other. It speaks to me and my broken home.

      • StormofCuteness

        Exactly this.

  • indescribable hat

    Begging at the airport: the least gross Amazing Race begging, because at least everyone there can afford air travel.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      And at least Uchenna was offering a show! Those backflips were pretty impressive.

      • indescribable hat

        Such a tall man! So much to flip!

    • purplerockandy

      I read somewhere (AVC perhaps) that begging in American airports is against the rules now. Maybe it’s against the law?

    • This is part of the reason why the whole “when you’re last at a non-elimination leg, we will take all of your shit besides the clothes on your back” rule out the window. A few seasons after this one, TAR went to a country that banned panhandling, which caused them to look at this rule and realize how dumb it is. It becomes especially dumb when you realize that it is easily broken.

  • indescribable hat

    Thanks to the edit-reading skills I learned from you people, I knew Lynn and Alex were being set up to be eliminated by the team they thought they could bring to the end for an easy win.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    You guys I haven’t listened to a single podcast all summer but now I’m back at work and catching up on everything. What’s the deal with Josh Wigler’s “First One Out” podcast? It’s so earnest and sincere that it makes me uncomfortable 😐

    • indescribable hat

      It’s making me appreciate the TAL house style so much. You’d think it would be easy to ape, but even though I’m quite fond of Wigler as an RHAP contributor I think his soothing narration is falling short.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        I don’t know if he’s necessarily aping TAL (or Radiolab, Serial, etc.), but I love the idea of a Survivor podcast that’s something other than simply people talking into microphones. I’m more than willing to give him a few episodes to work out the kinks.

    • purplerockandy

      This is no shade on Wigler, who somehow managed to find a new angle in the completely oversaturated market of Survivor podcasts. But a series focusing on a bunch of people who have yet to play Survivor couldn’t possibly be less my thing. I only watch cast videos because people for some reason decided that they moderately enjoy hearing me talk about people in the pre-season.