LAST EDITED ON 01-09-08 AT 03:42 PM (EST)
Last week we had the continuation of the Non-Elimination Round that wasn't supposed to be. Our Goth Team excelled at completing their "Speed Bump", wherein they turned themselves into speed bumps thanks to the contortions of various Yoga poses, and came out neck and neck with Team Dysfunctional. They could have pulled it off and saved themselves, except Kynt can't follow directions and Kynt decides it's a much better idea to U-Turn the team that's long ago claimed first place rather than the one team they know is still running the race. Missed it? Read all about it in Frisky's excellent summary, here: http://community.realitytvworld.com/boards/DCForumID54/1591.shtml
At any rate, this combinations of events sets us up perfectly for where we find ourselves this week. We're lest with 4 teams: In order, Team Gramps, Team Daddy Dearest, Team Dysfunctional, and TK & Rachel - the only team anyone really remotely cares about any longer. And, this week? It's all about Communication.
Communication takes many forms. One definition of communication is: "Any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person's needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes."
One thing to remember about communication is that there are always at least 2 parties involved. The sender and the receiver. For good communication to take place it is helpful if the sender and the receiver speak the same language, or at the very least, are of similar understanding of the meaning of the symbols language, or otherwise being used to communicate. It is important to remember that communication, by itself, is still successful if it is used to deceive or dupe the receiver in a way that's intended by the sender.
Take tonight's show title: "I Hope He Doesn't Croak On Us". OMG! Whatever could that mean? Is the third racer on the Daddy Dearest Team (Ron's hernia) going to burst, sending him writhing into the hospital, forever to disappear from our, and his daughter's life? Will Team Dysfunctional finally do each other, and us, a favor by getting the inevitable (if they stay together) murder-suicide out of the way? Will Gramps, trying to keep up with his Energizer Bunny Grandson collapse with a heart attack? We could always hope that at least one of the first two occur, but the total lack of any ambulance lights flashing in previews makes any of these scenarios doubtful.
So, what then? Is it just more misdirection on the part of SeeBS to get us to watch a show in which we pretty much don't like anyone anymore? Well, gee. What do you think? We're gullible folks. SeeBS has figured that out. They know we'll forgive them. After all, they gulled us back to their side when they promised there would be no time-wasting (ours, not theirs) NELs this season. And then? Well, we're still watching, aren't we?
So, if communication, in all its forms, is the star of the show, let's see how many forms of it we can find? We'll start at the beginning. Being royally castigated from all quarters over their lack of ability to get this show an the road at 8pm - causing TiVo and DVR users across the nation to weep heartily when they realize they have no clue how any leg has finished SeeBS actually resets the start time for 8:30EST. And, they advertise this. And, viewers rejoice when they check their on-line directories and see that they've been updated to reflect the new start time. And they believe. And, the show starts promptly
at somewhere around 8:45. * Sigh *
TK & Rachel get their directions first. Woo Hoo! They're finally off to a place that everyone can pronounce Osaka, Japan. They head to the nearest luxury hotel concierge desk to book their flight. Good move, you might think. Teams Gramps, Daddy Dearest, and Dysfunctional, with DD choosing to stop at the Foreign Office and Gramps and Dysfunctional heading directly to the bunch point, closely follow. The race is on!
The concierge is helpful. He's pulling up flights right and left. TK is adamant. They need to get on the earliest flight to Osaka they can get. The concierge pulls up more flights. Look! Here's one that leaves a 8:30 tonight, connecting through Hong Kong. Will that work? Well, is it the earliest??? He looks again. Ahhh
Here's one that leaves at 6:30 a whole 2 hours earlier. TK declares that that's perfect! They book the flight, with 2 layovers New Delhi and Beijing and leave comfortable that they've scored big.
At the Foreign Office, Daddy Dearest, wearing yet another of those "Who's Your Daddy?" t-shirts that he seems to have bought by the gross, confesses that he knows he yells too much and that he really needs to change, and best of all he's liking how he changes. Interestingly, he seems to change on a regular basis, as in every one of his confessionals he's wearing a blue WYD t-shirt instead of the red one he's racing in.
We don't really see much haggling about flights by either DD or the other teams strategically placed at the bunch point. They all just seem to accept whatever flight they are first offered. The one leaving at 8:30. We don't know why they aren't bothering to look further like TK & Rachel did. They just don't. Is this the point where the race will break wide open and the one remaining favorite takes a commanding lead? Is it? You really believe that?
Since TK & Rachel leave a whole 2 hrs. earlier, and from another concourse, they never see any of the other teams. They don't think that's at all strange until they land in what appears to be a completely deserted airport in New Delhi. There's no one around. It would be a perfect bunch point, except there doesn't seem to be anyone around to bunch with. Not even airport workers. It suddenly starts to dawn on TK that maybe, just maybe, the concierge didn't quite understand the concept of "earliest" the way TK meant it. Just maybe he should have expanded his vocabulary to, at least once, include the word "fastest", or "arrival"?
While all bunched together on the same flight, Gramps and the Bunny get some shut-eye, while the stress of not having any task to fight about overcomes Team Dysfunctional. Jen just has to have something to whine about, so she starts whining about how far ahead TK & Rachel must be. When Nathan tries to shut her up (good luck with that), telling her that for all they know TK & Rachel are off doing something stupid. (Little does he know.) Having no comeback for that, she switches to whining about how Daddy and Daughter Dearest, being Asian (She noticed? Someone other than herself? Wow!), may have an advantage because they may know the language.
Little does she know. We know, though. Because we were told. As Kynt and Vyxsin pointed out, we're omnipotent. Way back at the start of this leg we saw Daughter Dearest jumping for joy and patting herself on the back for having had the presence of mind to take a crash course in Japanese. And, in case we missed it, the immediate cut to a shot of the Daddy Dearests, smiling smugly in their seats, should have been a tip-off.
As the later flight arrives earlier at the Osaka airport, we cut to TK & Rachel sitting on the earlier flight as it cruises at high altitude somewhere over the vast ocean or China or somewhere. We don't know where they are, it doesn't really matter where they are they aren't where everyone else is. And, its the last we'll see of them until the end of the race. They have become superfluous. Watching them would simply be a waste of our time. And, as the race starts to wind to the finish we just know that BvM isn't going to make us waste our time. Right?
Where everyone else is, is in taxis racing through a series of confusing one-way streets to find a clue box somewhere on the grounds of Kishiwada Castle which is also a museum. Knowledge of Japanese doesn't seem to have helped any, as Dysfunctional is in the lead. Jen takes a moment to exclaim how nice it is to be in a beautiful, clean, country for a change. Just another example of how caring and compassionate she is.
Having pushed their taxi driver to drive ever faster in their quest to be first in the search for the red, green, and gold Team Dysfunctional arrives enough before the others that have a chance to get that precious slip of paper and be on their way again before anyone else sees them. And, nothing is going to get in their way. Not even their poor taxi driver who sits slumped, groaning and wheezing, in his seat, apparently having a heart attack.
"Gee. I hope he isn't going to croak on us", says the ever-thoughtful Nathan as they push their way out of the taxi and run off without a backward glance. Yes, children. That's the sum total meaning of our title. And, in a way, it communicates the definition of this leg perfectly. It's completely meaningless. And, in another way, it communicates something else. Perhaps, these two souls were meant for each other, after all. Two such compassionate people shouldn't be wasted on anyone else. (Or, should that be "foisted"?)
Proving, at least, that they can correctly interpret the written word (as long as it's in English) they run around the grounds, find the clue box, and escape back to their taxi before the Daddy Dearests can see where they came from. Proving that sometimes being able to read English trumps being able to speak Japanese, the Daddy Dearests promptly decide to skip the grounds and search through the museum, proper. Belatedly realizing their mistake Daughter Dearest decides to make the best of the situation and runs to the high spot to search the ground from above, finding the clue box in short order.
Meanwhile Gramps and the Bunny arrive and Bunny immediately decides to follow suit, dragging Gramps up, and then down again, three flights of steep stairs at top speed.
In short order all three teams are back in their taxis heading for the subway station to look for a cleaning man who's about to make a whole bunch of overtime waiting for TK & Rachel to show up. During the ride we're treated to more confusing, one-way, streets along with statements from both Jen and Christina along the lines of how glad they are that they don't have to drive here and how they never, ever would consider driving here. Anyone see what's being communicated this time?
Of course! It's time to play taxi driver. In this roadblock, which is a task that only one team-member may perform which effectively means it is a task that Christina will perform. One member of the team will don a hat and white gloves and deliver a couple to their destination which is written in Japanese then return to their partner at the subway. The couple cannot help them, and they cannot recruit a local to go with them.
Jen sets out first, followed by Christina (of course) and, shortly after, Nick. The most important part of this task is, of course, to make sure you look good in your uniform which both Jen and Nick confirm via the rear-view mirror, much to the amusement of their passengers. The second most important thing is to determine where you are going which, in Christina's case, poses no problem because she can read Japanese. They're going to the Post Office she informs us smugly. Oh, yeah. I forgot. Maybe the second most important thing would be to find out how to get there?
Communication in this leg consists of lots of pointing as Jen bypasses Christina's need to know the actual destination and starts showing the paper to random passersby in hopes of getting help. It seems that in all of Osaka no one speaks any English. Curious, given that English is a required subject throughout the Japanese school system, but that's the way it goes. (I wonder how much BvM had to pay people to get them to "forget" any English they know when talking to any gaijin they might encounter at the subway that day?)
While Jen gets literally pointed in the right direction, Christina decides her best bet is to follow a postal truck. Luckily for her it was returning to the post office instead of setting off on its rounds because she completely misses the fact that the Post Office which is right in front of her - has a huge sign on top of it that reads, curiously, in an area where no one speaks any English, "POST OFFICE". Meanwhile, Nick decides that the comfort of his passengers s paramount and turns on the air conditioner for them. Such a nice boy.
Couples delivered safely, our intrepid, pretend, taxi drivers make the return trip to the subway. At this juncture having a better memory trumps all other forms of communication as Jen flawlessly retraces her steps while Christina can see it, but can't figure out how to get back, and Nick gets totally lost. Is this the point where the bunch point is finally broken? Nah. It's merely the point where the insurers for this leg of the race get to take a deep, yet temporary, breath of thanks. After all, as Nick makes his way back to a worried Don we see TK & Rachel's plane finally touch the ground in Osaka. Then we promptly forget they exist again.
Next stop on this waste of time is a Buddhist Temple where they receive their next detour. The choices are to either rely on your sense of smell or your sense of touch. Nathan calls Jen a Bloodhound, or maybe she calls herself a dog no matter, it's one of the nicer names she's ever been called and they set off in first place for a flower shop that sells plastic flowers. All they'll have to do is find a real flower, with a real scent, hidden amongst the fake flowers none of whom have any scent, at all. Did I mention that this is a two-story flower shop, every nook and cranny piled high with flowers? Oh, and the front door is open to the outside. No extraneous smells there. Jen returns Nathan's compliment by telling him to blow his nose and they get to sniffing.
Close on their heels are the Daddy Dearests, who arrive to find Jen getting lightheaded from the effort of breathing through her nose. They decide to start on the second floor so they don't have to breathe the same air Dysfunctional is. Consequently, Dysfunctional decides to follow them, evidently reasoning that it would be better to start over in a place where no noses have gone before than to keep methodically searching the area they've already partially covered. After all, with all the flowers down here, how many more can be up there, anyway? Um
lots. Despairing of ever finding a real flower, and second-guessing themselves about choice of task, both teams promptly find a flower.
Meanwhile, (relatively simultaneously?) Nick and Don are attempting to play soccer using robots and cell phones. Each must score 1 goal against defenders being manipulated by Japanese gamers. The controls are complex, but Nick, being a charter member of the video game generation, soon figures them out, scores his goal, and talks Grampa through scoring one of his own. This is made easier by the fact that the defender's robots fall down almost as often as Nick and Don's robots do and the defender falling down whenever the offense gets within reach of a goal seems to be written into the rules somewhere.
All three of our teams are now searching for taxis to take them to the pit stop at Tempozan Park. Oops. Did I say earlier that they were finally in a place where they could pronounce the place names? I lied. Jen couldn't pronounce it correctly if it was written phonetically and, instead of communicating by showing the drivers the clue, she chooses to spend her time fighting with Nathan and whining that none of the taxi drivers know where she wants to go. (No, but I'll bet that they'd like to tell her where they'd like her to go. Away, comes to mind.)
Christina finally gets her knowledge of Japanese to pay off and she and Who's Your Daddy ride off in first place, for a change. Ron gets a redemption edit when Christina tells us how proud she is of him since they didn't argue at all on this leg.
Eventually, Jen and Nathan find someone that can't pretend not to understand her any longer if for no reason other than to stop the shrieking. He promptly regrets this as Jen precedes Nathan into the cab and starts shrieking that he pushed her. The instant replay shows that he did no such thing, but that won't prevent us from hearing about it all next week. They come in second place in what Phil tells them was a very close finish and Jen continues to shriek. Joy.
Team Grandpa comes in third and sobbing can be heard throughout the land. Some people are crying because they just came to the realization that, once again, they only got the first 45 minutes recorded and don't have a clue how it's ended. Others are crying because they do think they know how it ended.
This is it? These are our teams? This is what we have to pick from? A couple, both of whom we'd cheerily throw to the sharks vs. a couple, one of whom we'd cheerfully toss in after them vs. a couple who are, well, okay
But, really? We have to root for them?
Any moment now Phil should be sending the rescue squad out to pick up TK & Rachel. That's how it works, you know. That's how it always has worked. If a team is soooo far behind that they have no chance at all Phil always calls them in. He wants to get some sleep, too. And, host greeters start to get testy when they have to stand all night in the cold and damp in ceremonial garb.
But, wait! What's this? We see TK & Rachel at the flower shop finding their flower. We see them getting their taxi. They know they're last. They're talking about what an amazing experience this has all been. How they've loved the different cultures and the amazing sights. They're not crying. They're not blaming each other for their fate. They're smiling. They're holding each other tenderly. They reach the pit stop and approach it hand in hand. Smiling. Facing their fate bravely. Expecting to hear the words "TK & Rachel, I'm sorry to tell you that you have been eliminated from the race."
Phil looks serious as he informs them that they "are the last team to arrive." There's a pregnant pause. Anybody see it coming, yet? "However, I am happy to tell you that this is a non-elimination leg. You are still in the race"
Yep. The second NEL back to back with the first in a race where no NELs were supposed to happen. Won't the others be surprised when they find out? Won't the conspiracy theorists erupt as they point out the coincidence of two, reportedly nonexistent NELs, being positioned in such a way as to give a second chance, at the end of the race, to each of the two remaining teams left that anyone really likes?
Didn't I tell you that the title communicated it all? It doesn't matter that it still didn't start on time. It doesn't matter that Teams Dysfunctional, Daddy Dearest, and Gramps are still in it. It didn't matter at all. Any of it.
All that matters is that TK & Rachel still have a shot at it. All that matters is that somehow they manage to set up the bunch points at the proper time, and set up a speed bums that only TK & Rachel would have a prayer of finishing and in good time, too. (Let's face it. Do you really think the Yoga task was set up before BvM knew who would have to do it? Was there any other team in the running that could have completed even one of those poses successfully? Yeah. Right.)
So, next week on The Amazing Race, TK & Rachel will have to complete a Speed Bump that no other team will have to complete. And, they can't come in last, because if they do they will be eliminated. Or, not. But, probably. Maybe. Guess we'll just have to watch to find out. Along the way other stuff will happen. TK & Rachel will continue to snipe at each other. Probably. Daddy Dearest will have a relapse. Probably. I have no clue what will happen with Nick & Don.
Actually, I have no idea what will happen at all. You see there are many kinds of communication. Some communication is purely on a hardware level. Like when your television signal communicates with your recording device. And, communication of all types, as we've seen this week, is subject to all kinds of interference and misinterpretation. And, where hardware communication is concerned one type of interference can be atmospheric. That kind of interference can completely wipe out or scramble even communication that previously took place without a hitch like when it completely wipes out or scrambles everything that your television signal previously communicated to your recording device. Just like it did to me last night.
So, my thanks to the Canadians that gamely kept up the ECST while the rest of us were still watching football. And, my thanks to webby for the link to the recap, which helped to prompt my memory of the order of things. And, my thanks to the readers that have read this far even if my memory may have had some lapses. And, finally, my thanks to BvM for making this leg totally meaningless. I could have simply made it all up and it wouldn't have mattered any more than it did - which is to say - not at all.
ETF Blame on correct producer