Welcome dabeat! Michel's editing thread for TAR was what pulled me out of lurkerdom a few seasons ago too.
What a great episode. The producers have picked some good locations this season and we’re seeing the local culture and not the inside of some office buildings. There was some fun team dynamics too.
Rachel and T.K. finally lived up to their potential and finished in first. It also made me wonder if the editing is deliberately playing up their weaknesses (they are bad with directions) and hiding what they do well. As Michel said several weeks ago we always see them when they’re having trouble, and not when they are successful. This week they were successful, but they didn’t get a lot of screen time. However, TK was the spokesperson for the race in this episode. He had two key quotes. This week I thought that they could possibly be the winner and the editing is trying to hide them. TK also struck me as an alpha male this week, the only one left in the race, and we all know that alpha males tend to do well.
Rachel commented when they left the pit stop, “This place was kind of humbling. It was the first time we’ve been in the lower group.” TK added, “The competition is fierce so we need to change our game accordingly.” The problem is, I didn’t see how they did anything differently! They are the last ones to the internet kiosk, but because there was only one computer, they wander off and we don’t see what they do. However, at the airport, TK has what I think is the quote of the night, “Someone used the U-turn and it’s not a big group of happy campers any more. The ones that stress out and waste too much energy don’t make it to the end.” Nate is focused on here, and the comment points out that these two teams operate in opposite ways. Rachel and TK were happy to catch up to the first airplane, but Rachel didn’t want to do the roadblock, “I think my mind is too confused from looking at maps.” The editors cut out TK proactively asking a Lithuanian to go with him to show him the way, but just showed his reply to TK, “yeah, let’s go.” TK is strong but we don’t see it. Rachel is being edited as a ditz, and I’m not sure she is. After their mat chat TK says, “As we were alone today throughout most of the day, we thought we were lost, it just goes to show you never know what’s going on in the race.” Since there isn’t one really strong team left in this race, I could see a lot of movement between the teams and where they finish each leg.
Kynt and Vxysin had another strong leg finishing in second. Their warm welcome from an African village along with Kynt’s quote about seeming like aliens dropped from the sky into Africa was highlighted during the recap. Kynt does most of the narrating about their Goth lifestyle. He said, “I’m a very controlled person. I’ve always wanted to go to Romania or Transylvania – someplace with spooky architecture. I wouldn’t say I control Vxysin. I try to guide her. This confessional was obviously chopped up. The last two sentences were an odd juxtaposition; perhaps to hint at some conflict to come. In the taxi, Kynt says, “I smell first place, Vxysin!” Not this week, but perhaps some foreshadowing. Kynt loved the festival saying it was his favorite moment thus far in the race (they counted together and confirmed every 100 posts – now that’s good thinking and teamwork!). Kynt did say, “Oh its stupid TK and Rachel.” (OK maybe my analysis above is wrong! ) as they race to the finish line. Kynt and Vxysin have showed us good teamwork without much drama. We were reminded of their Goth adventures in Africa and now in Lithuania. The editing has given us no reason to think they won’t be around for a while. Like Dustin and Kandice last season, they are the featured players this season. They are racing hard and enjoying the experience. If they were to win, it would be icing on the cake.
Ron and Christina are also hitting their stride as racers and their story continues to focus on how they are connecting with each other. Christina says, “My Dad and I are working out how we can communicate better (cut to Christina saying, “Good job Daddy! I love you!” as they hail a taxi) and so I say, “I love you consciously to my dad. It makes him uncomfortable, but I still do it.” Christina the diplomat gets the tickets at the airline office, but Ron isn’t happy with the results. He wants her to push harder, “Christina is somewhat naďve. I want to teach my daughter how to deal with various kinds of people.” We are seeing the relationship growing. In this case Ron was trying to get his daughter to change too. It is no longer a one way street. Later when she hires a taxi driver to follow in Vilnius, Ron gives her kudos for a good idea, “I didn’t think of that.” At the mat Christina reiterates her opening statement, “I’m so proud of my dad. He’s my superman because he has a hernia and he’s running with the pain. He’s changing key qualities in his personality for me and this race.” Their story wasn’t featured in the recap or in “next week on…” but when they are again, I’d say their story will come to a close. They’ve had a nice story arc in learning to work together and appreciate each other.
Azaria and Hendekea recover from Hendekea’s problem at the roadblock to finish in fourth. They had a solid leg throughout but were not given much attention, very similar to episode two when they weren’t winning. Azaria comments at the beginning of the race, “Most of the time I don’t believe I have a quick temper, but when I’m dealing with my sister, I tell her right to her face.” This is hinting at the problems we saw in the previews of next week’s show; they didn’t argue this week. Are they the next team to become unbalanced and lose? I don’t see another story for them. We haven’t seen them develop any animosity towards other teams. They even worked with Jen and Nate at the internet shop and Jen and Hendekea seemed like buddies, so there is no story there.
Nate and Jen finished in fifth, but started the show off salivating by how much they want first place. “We have come so close to first place. We want this so bad. Our eyes are full of fire right now and we’re going to use that ball of fire to rage through!” Those are fighting words, but after the display of ugly, ugly behavior they showed this week, I would be surprised if they don’t self-destruct before the end. Jen does have a great joie de vivre for the race, “This is fun, like hunting for Easter Eggs!” Their story continues to be their quest for first place: when and will it happen and their volatile relationship. Nate complained to Jen about stressing out (among other things!) when they were lost, “I love you, but you need to stop stressing…it’s a lot easier when people don’t stress out at the start.” They are strong racers, but I don’t know if they can keep their emotions under control. A potential story could be being set up between the calm and unstressed Rachel and TK versus the crazy and passionate Nate and Jen.
Donald and Nicolas were saved from elimination only because Shana and Jennifer kept getting lost. They have a quirky relationship but so far it’s been balanced. Nick is clueless a lot, but Gramps saves him and vice versa. Don says, “Traveling with family, we can reconstruct this at least for our family,” and Nick adds “but my grandfather can’t remember where he put two hats in two days let alone remember what we’ve done on the race.” We see several shots of Nick trying and failing to get a taxi while Kynt and Vxysin come along and hop right in one. Nick is not aggressive; when Don takes over they get a cab right away. Don was the first one to spot the parking lot at the Vilnius Airport where the TAR cars were parked and so they got to the roadblock first (where Nick’s cluelessness struck again.) Their story seems to be how Gramps life experience and sharp eyes are keeping them in the game even though the odds are not in their favor.
Then there is another facet to their editing that interests me. This leg saw another example of Nick trying to get airline tickets. I pointed out last week that a friendship seemed to have developed between Nick and Christina. Well in the race to the internet, all bets were off. Christina says to her dad, “Let’s go before Nick and Don see us.” They meet up later in the ticket office where Nick says to his grandfather, “Don’t help them!” Christina says to her dad, “Nick and Don, Shhhh!” as they try to avoid them. The memory of their altercation on the way to Amsterdam is still fresh! I think I was the only one who questioned why Ron went off on Nick then. I found the way Nick was edited interesting again this week. There was a long delay in getting their tickets but we still only saw a small portion of Nick’s actions, and not enough to explain why the ticket agent gave him a lousy flight. I think Nick could’ve been edited in a far more negative way. I think we are meant to like this team. Except for these two airport scenes, the Nick we’ve seen has always been extremely polite. After Don and Nic left the ticket office, Azaria says to Nate, “Karma, that was Karma” to explain the bad tickets they got. It made me wonder if there are more dynamics between Nic and the other racers that we don’t see. I’m probably making too much of it, but I find it odd. Don and Nick have worked well together, and have exceeded everyone’s expectations. If Ron and Christina and Azaria and Hendekea are the next teams to be eliminated, that means they sneak into the final four! (This could also explain why I feel their editing is a bit manipulated.)
I was surprised Shana and Jennifer were eliminated. It seems all the talk about their U-turning someone was much ado about nothing, but I will still be interested to see who uses the U-turn next time and how it affects the outcome. There was too much time spent on it not to be a factor next time around.
Christmas cookies with Sharnina