The recap only focused on two relationships: The improving one between Ron and Christina, Phil asking if Ron can continue to let Christina step up and take charge. The deteriorating one between Nate and Jennifer, Phil wondering if they can fix it before it’s too late.
Ron and Christina: A Story that Went Too far
Father and Daughter left the pit stop first with Christina saying: “Coming in first place is a testament to our relationship and how far we’ve come. Now that the competition is heating up, it is key that our relationship remains cohesive and strong.” They caught the 5:00AM bus to Split.
All the teams received a text message from home during the drive but only Ronald got a confessional: “That message was very much a reminder of how important family and my daughters are. I just felt immense joy.”
Their car got detoured towards Milan. Ronald told Christina that she did a “real commendable job” navigating them back on course to arrive 3rd at the Roadblock. Not picking up a number cost them some time and, suddenly, Christina wasn’t doing such a commendable job: “Why do you waste time with the same question three times about the fast forward. I told you: No…” It appalled Rachel, who told Jennifer: “I haven’t heard him yell at her yet. I have no forgiveness or respect for the way Ron talks to his daughter.”
Christina and Ronald were in third place at the Da Vinci Museum, surprised that Nate and Jenn had completed the task so quickly. Ronald feared the inventor’s diagrams would be too difficult to follow but the flag dance made him say: “This muscle is not cooperating.” Their dance passed the test on their second try and they left to the sound of trumpets. It probably excited Ronald a lot because he started driving before Christina got on board!
Ronald and Christina always receive a lot of air time but it’s always about their relationship. One could think that getting the only confessional about the text message from home would be a good sign but it was simply another occasion to show Ron in the role of the father rather than the racer. Hearing Rachel tell us that she cannot respect or forgive him for the way he treats Christina was the confirmation for me: Episode # 6 was their zenith but the race wasn’t over yet. Now they should be heading back to the nadir of episode #2. Their relationship hasn’t remained cohesive and strong so their story went too far. The exit has to be coming soon.
Nicolas and Donald: A Story that Never Took Off.
Nicolas started the leg saying: “It’s rough to be #5 out of 5 and it makes it tougher with 4 of the toughest teams left.”
Donald added: “We have to hope that we bunch up someplace.”
Their prayers were answered but we never saw it develop. Since they left the pit stop at 7:06AM, and the buses seemed to run on the hour, they could’ve been 3 hours behind the first groups. The next time we saw them, they were on the same ferry as everyone else.
On the road to Bologna, Donald realized that it was better to wait for the road to open up than wander around at night. Their patience paid off as they reached the Roadblock in fourth place, right behind Father and Daughter. They chose to do the “Fast Forward” instead of the Roadblock.
“We gotta take risks” said Nicolas.
“I’m with you all the way” agreed gramps…until he saw that he had to get a tattoo. “Having a permanent marking on your body, that plays on your mind a little.”
They were the first to arrive at the Pit Stop, the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
After reminding Phil that he had a “PERMANENT” tattoo, Donald told us: “At this point I am totally wrapped up in the race. As the odds get smaller, the odds get better to win a million bucks. I really do think we can win.”
Despite Ronald’s final words, this team has never been presented as true racers. The editors didn’t even bother showing us how they managed to get on a bus “just in time” so they could catch the same ferry as the others. They only have a story of perseverance. They did outlast my expectations but as far as being competitive, their story never took off (just like they never went on the ultralight!) I certainly don’t think they can win.
Thomas Kyle and Rachel: A Story of Problems
TK let us know that the last leg “added some tension.” They were again alone on the 6:00AM bus to Split. The first three teams having gone on the 5:00AM one.
Arriving in Ancona, Rachel spotted the clue before everyone else. They didn’t stay in first place long because they left the clue on a terrasse and had to go back. We saw the tension mount during their search, Rachel saying: I’m frustrated and freaked out because I don’t know what happened.”
Despite the wasted time, their “secret” route west towards Rome enabled them to reach Empoli as the sun appeared. They couldn’t believe that they were #2 and both jumped for joy when Nathan and Jennifer confirmed that no one else had arrived.
On the choice of doing the Roadblock or the detour, all we heard was TK saying: “It could be too risky going for the FF.”
Rachel was excited to see TK take off and we heard him say: “Being up there was incredible.” That was during his first attempt…Things were about to sour. Rachel saw Nate come back first so she hoped TK would be back soon. He disappointed her by saying he hadn’t seen anything. From there on, we saw many close-ups of Rachel as she saw Christina come back with the answer, Vyksin have time to go out and come back while TK continued to miss the clue.
“Please TK, Please. I don’t want to go home…I’m really afraid.”
TK had to land a third time, telling Rachel: “I don’t know what to do. This could be the most heartbreaking thing I ever had to do.”
It took him one more try so they left in last place. In Vinci, they were the only team to choose the nearby “Invention” Detour and stick with it. TK worried that “Things only fit in certain places, I bet” and “Da Vinci must have been buff, man!” but they completed the fun task before the Goths even started their flag dance.
Showing that logic wasn’t only useful in building cranes, TK commented after spotting the Goths: “We are in front of them so we aren’t in last place”(!)
They started rejoicing too soon because TK then said: “We finally get going and we blow our tire out.” At least, he was faster with car repairs than spotting clues.
They completed their “leg from Hell” in 4th place.
TK told Phil: “Today was nuts. The fact that we’re fourth is just…” “Unbelievable” completed Rachel.
It has been a pattern for these two that the editors only showcase them on the legs where they’re in trouble. We had key moments in this episode where a confessional would have enhanced their story but we only had details on their adventure when they were in trouble. For example, we had no confessionals to explain that mom was the only one to call her son Thomas Kyle, nothing when they were in a surprising second place in Empoli, nothing concerning Rachel’s feelings regarding the Fast Forward, nothing on Da Vinci’s crane even if they were the only one to do it and nothing on repairing the flat tire except the few comments done on the spot. If it is only a story of keeping a good attitude in the face of problems, it suggests that it will be one of eventually falling short. The only positive was the number of close-ups Rachel received. We felt her anguish but wouldn’t it have been appropriate to have her tell us about it in a private setting? Are they in confessional quarantine?! It’s almost as if we were being told: “Don’t get too fond of them.”
Kynt and Vyksin: A Story that Took a Wrong Turn
Vyksin was enthusiastic before leaving the pit stop: “The Pink and Black Attack is doing pretty awesome…We don’t let each other be less than our very best. That has been an asset and probably the only reason why we have come as far.”
Kynt was happy to go to a country were fashion was important and they spent their time on the ferry redoing their make-up while we heard Vyksin say “This is the time to get serious.”
In Italy, Vyksin drove the car because “Kynt is a freshman in the school of stick-shift driving.” Being detoured away from Florence, the duo drove though the night with Vyksin getting confused: “It was just this brutal drive. I started getting this sinking icky feeling.” She told us that she had been driving for 30 hours so finally Kynt took over the wheel.
They arrived in last place at the Roadblock where Vyksin told Kynt she’d “love to do it actually.” She found the clue on her first trip, moving ahead of TK.
They were still in 4th when they arrived at the “Invention” detour but Vyksin said: “This could be too hard.” They switched to “Tradition” but got lost along the way.
“Stop this car, Vyksin” yelled Kynt, showing his anger for the first time.
“If you want to drive, you can drive” said Vyksin, getting out of the car.
“You can’t be throwing your little temper tantrums” argued Kynt before stalling the car.
Vyksin got frutrated that the car wouldn’t get into gear to which Kynt told her to “Shut up.”
They eventually ran to their detour, their misfortune enabling TK and Rachel to catch up and pass them.
The Detour was easy for them and they were off to the Boboli Gardens, Vyksin saying: “We’re pretty sure we’re last but we didn’t come here to quit.”
“Never give up” urged Kynt.
Indeed they were saved by a non-elimination leg but now face a speed-bump, a “three-headed serpent that could…halt us in our tracks.”
Vyksin was in tears when she told Phil they got lost so many times, that they didn’t want to go home and feel like they wasted their chance.
In confessional, she added: “Today, was one of those rare days…It was a meltdown, we were bickering and not in a loving, fun, cute way...”
Kynt agreed: “We finished our leg beaten, downtrodden moreso than we ever been.”
I always take it very seriously when the editor lets us hear words that are contradicted by actions. Hearing Vyksin say that it was time to get serious while Kynt is shown applying lipstick isn’t a good sign. Having a story take such a sharp turn isn’t good either. Going from not letting “each other be less than our very best” to “Shut up” in the same episode is a very sudden change. Winners usually have consistent edits. The change could be to let us doubt that they can win but it is a little early for that. A confessional by Vyksin telling us about her thrill to go up in the ultralight and actually passing TK could have been included to soften the rough episode but we weren’t shown anything of the sort. Their story could still be that of the winners but it took a bad turn this week. Is it only a detour? We can still hope but I'm having serious doubts. Hopefully Pepe and others saw better signs!
Nate and Jennifer: The Story of the Season?
Nate told us that: “We had difficulties on the boat” We even saw a replay of their naval battle!
Jenn added: “Once we get riled up and we can’t just stop…” She repeated her worries for their future.
Once in Italy, Nate got the best directions of all the teams by going towards Bologna but turning towards Firenze at Forli instead of going all the way to the capital of Emilia-Romagna. As the local said: “Another solution: Go to Bologna but from here now, no good.”
Nate found it insane that only TK and Rachel had joined them waiting for opening hours to the Roadblock. Even if Jenn had to slow Nate down by reminding him that he had “a team mate back here”, they were first to the clue box. Was it the thought of flying in the Ultralight that motivated Nate? All we saw was that he didn’t want to even consider doing the “Fast Forward” irritating Jenn once more: “We could just do the Fast Forward and go.” Nate decided they didn’t need the FF. As he got ready, we heard Jenn talking to Rachel: “I think it might’ve been a mistake that we didn’t do the Fast forward but Nate is a little stubborn sometimes. Hummmpf!” Her pose, with arms crossed showed her displeasure. However, as soon as Nate took off, she had recovered her smile and waved an “I love you” to him.
While the girls were having fun on the ground, we heard Nate say: “I felt like a bird up there.”
Two teams arrived in the mean time and it was Jennifer that we saw and heard saying: “Oh! My gosh!” when Nicolas convinced Gramps to go for the FF.
She commented: “I’m really upset right now because Nate and I have won no leg. This could have been ours.”
Nate found the word “Vinci” first so that got him a cheer and a “Good Job” from Jennifer. As they got in the car to head to the town of Vinci, Nate still had to explain that “Some Fast Forward don’t work out.”
We saw them run up to the Da Vinci museum. Jenn told us: “Nate and I made a huge mistake; we ran up the hill instead of drove. They could be catching back up to us right now.”
They were the first at the Tradition” Detour where Jenn used her dancing experience to learn the choreography.
Nate had a confessional: “Jenn is the ultimate competitor. She’s only 5’2” and she’s little but she has the most competitive side I’ve seen in anybody.”
Even if Nate has no rhythm and the lead flag-bearer first gave them an emphatic “NO!” on their first try, they finally got a resounding “SI!”
Jenn in confessional: “I was really impressed that Nate actually listened to me. That made me feel really good. We really worked together as a team.”
They easily made the pit stop in second place.
This team has sometimes finished close to the top, on other occasions at the bottom of the pack and even in the middle but they always receive a large share of the airtime. They have a disastrous leg like the previous one or a good one like this one, it doesn’t matter. They hate each other, they love each other, we get to know about it. They choose a detour or analyze the situation like the Fast Forward, we get a confessional to explain their strategy. Their relationship is central to their story but that is not the only thing we hear. Take the “ultimate competitor” confessional for example. It may scare some people but I consider that as the edit of winners.