The recap reminded us of TK and Rachel’s “calm and steady attitude”, while stress brought other teams to the breaking point, meaning Jenn and Nate who were shown on screen and Ronald who “reverted to his old ways”. The Goths’ huge mistake set up a showdown with Jenn and Nate.
At the start of the episode, Phil wanted to know if TK and Rachel could stay at the front of the pack and if senior citizen Don could continue to keep pace with the younger racers.
In this episode, 3 teams got Tribute edits, while, for Nate and Jenn it was another One of These Days.
Ronald and Christina
Christina told us in confessional: “When I opened up that clue, I was pumped because…I spent half a year in Japan learning Japanese.”
From a separate confessional spot, Ronald told us: “I tend to get too explosive in situations and I have to admit, it isn’t right…I need to continue on this journey of change. I don’t want to falter.”
Despite those words, Ronald had another small explosions at the ticket reservation counter when he argued about the difference between a “non-stop” and a “direct” flight.
“Leave me alone” responded Christina…finally!
Ronald was even worse when the taxi driver didn’t leave them at the right door for the entrance to Air India.
From a confessional, Ron said: “I’m an old fart that just rides on emotions…I’d like to be a father that would change overnight but it’s not easy with the intensity of the race. When we get to Japan, I need to change because it is so important for my relationship with Christina.”
In Japan, Nicolas asked his Gramps if he thought Ronald and Christina could speak Japanese. Donald answered that Chris probably could because she had gone to some big falutin’ college, Princeton. Note that this was said as we saw Christina mistakingly entering the museum rather than searching the grounds. Editors love irony! Still, Ronald and Christina were second to the temple and also second to the Noda Station.
On the way, Christina made the comment: “I’m never driving in Japan.” That, of course brought us to the Roadblock where she chose to do the task before realizing she had to drive a taxi! (The guy that plays the sound effects to underline nuttiness had a lot of work in this episode.)
Christina commented: “When we ripped open the roadblock, both of our hearts dropped.”
Ronald added: “Christina is not very good at driving. She doesn’t have a good sense of direction.”
After Nate told Ronald that “it’s up to the ladies now” we had a funny montage with Jenn struggling with directions and Christina struggling with the car. I certainly hope their rides weren’t expecting a fast drive. (TAR should have asked the couples to say “Rapido, Rapido”. That would have been hilarious.)
After completing the task, the ride to the temple was done in a “real taxi” but Christina had a new reason to worry: “Are you Okay?” she asked her wheezing taxi driver.
“Is he having a heart attack?” asked Ronald. He added: “I hope he doesn’t croak on us.”
They arrived at the Detour clue box right behind Nate and Jenn. Not being a “gameboy person” Ronald suggested the flower shop.
Arriving second at the shop, Christina explained their strategy in a confessional: “We went to the second floor…we decided not to retrace their step.”
Showing more organizational skills than Nate and Jenn, Ronald said about Chris: “I’m giving her more encouragement so she doesn’t feel demoralized by an old man that is dragging her down.”
They still were second to find a real flower. Chris was elated: “You’re awesome, daddy!”
In the taxi to the Pit Stop, she said: “Nate and Jenn were not in there so they either found their flower or they changed detour, we’re not sure. We could be racing them to the Pit Stop right now.”
Chris was happy: “You’ve been great all day…This is the first leg that you haven’t lost your temper.”
Phil, with a smile as he saw them approaching, delivered the good news to which Christina told him: “He did not lose his temper once this leg. Not once…He’s improving worlds. I had just a blast today cause we didn’t argue.”
In confessional, she added: “The fact that my dad and I got along today helped us come in first place, without a doubt.”
Ronald shared his thoughts: “These are critical times so we definitely want to keep on being a cohesive team and finish the race as number one.”
As was the case with the other 2 harmonious teams, much of the discussion we heard from these two is often only heard during a team’s last leg. All was rosy and they praised each other. I know I’ve already said that their story appeared to have reached its zenith but, this time, it looked like the last chapter. All that could be left is the curtain call. However, compared to the other two 'nice' teams, this duo has finally been given hooks to the end game, something that made me think ‘Hey! They could win this’. It didn’t come from their own story, which has remained exclusively about needing to get along to succeed, but from their rivals’ story which opened a door. More on that later…
Nicolas and Donald
Nicolas confided at the start of the leg: “It’s a big responsibility being the leader…”
Ronald answered: “I think I’ve done well but Nic is hard to keep up with. I’m pressing as far as I can and it’s rough.”
Nic added: “This guy can’t run around everywhere, he’s not 23 but he continues to push himself and I think he’s done a good job.”
In the taxi we learned that Donald was in the service and wanted to go to Japan. “This is like a dream come true” he said.
In Osaka, Don told us: “Nic is quite strong, he carries my bag, he’s like a b*tch for me, it’s perfect!” We then had a shot of Nic laughing to show the joke behind Gramps’ comment. Don had another confessional at the castle about his problems with keeping up the pace. Later, in the taxi, Nic said Don looked exhausted. “I need water” he told Nic who said they could get some at the station.
I don’t know if Japanese taxi driver wear their cap backwards like Nic did but the funny scene came from Gramps and Ronald, waiting at the Noda Station while sharing snacks and drinks as if watching the follies along with us. We had the usual “I’m lost” moment from Nic. This time he even added: “It’s easier to land a plane than to drive in Osaka” and we saw Gramps worrying that ‘This could really cost us”. The segment ended with Nic causing a major traffic jam in downtown Osaka. He still returned only10 minutes behind the two women according to Gramps.
“I stink at these things” said Nic. Although we’ve had many occasions to see that he was right, I wonder if this problem returns later on to cause their loss?
After the trip to the temple, they ran to the “Sense of Touch” detour with Don telling us: “One thing I’m afraid of is letting Nic down.”
Nick responded by saying: “I don’t want to let myself down and I would feel like I let myself down if I didn’t help my Grandfather.”
The Robot soccer players were fun to watch even if Gramps said: “My six year old grandson can beat me on video games.”
After Donald finally learned how to bend it like Beckham, he received an enthusiastic call of ‘gooooaaaaal’ from the referee. They were off to the Pit Stop with Gramps saying: “Nic is an intelligent, headstrong guy. I don’t think I could have done this with another partner.”
They were third at the pit stop with Ronald telling Phil who was rightly impressed: “I’m a little tired…I’ll be 69 in a few weeks. I’m 45 years older than just about everybody on the race but I’m hanging in.”
In confessional, he added: “I’m gonna to do what I physically can to be that aggressive to win that million bucks.”
This odd couple has run a very good race. Their story was always one of perseverance and they have accomplished their journey. If, at the start, one could wonder how this rugged, old geezer could work well with his gangly nerd of a grandson, one can’t help but be impressed. Gramps saying: “I don’t think I could have done this with another partner” is typically the tribute we get to hear after an elimination so this also makes me say they have written their final chapter. We will see them reaching the final mat to applause but those won’t be saluting their victory, only their nice showing.
TK and Rachel
They were first to leave Mumbai, with Rachel saying: “Self-confidence is definitely an issue for me. It’s kind of impossible to trust yourself, to trust your emotions but with TK, I don’t really have fears. So during the race, I’m definitely able to feel more self-confident.”
On their own, they made reservations to travel to Osaka on the earliest flight leaving Mumbai.
Despite the “positive thoughts” TK had promised to keep on departing from Mumbai, we heard him say: “Somethin’ just doesn’t feel right about this” when they arrived in New Delhi. He added: “We have no idea where the other teams are. We could be way out in front, we could be dead last, you just never know.”
They disappeared for the better part of the episode. We saw them arriving in Osaka as Nic was trying to finish the Roadblock but the arrival time of their plane wasn’t shown. We lost sight of them again, right after TK said “It feel like we’re back on the racetrack.”
After the third team had already reached the Pit Stop, we saw TK and Rachel reach the first clue box. We had glimpses of them at the different tasks with Rachel commenting as they went along: “It starts to become obvious that we’re last because no one’s around, the areas that we are going to, look like they are pretty desolate….Before I met TK a year ago, I had a lot of negativity around me all the time (On cue, we heard a ‘good job’ from TK as she finished the cab ride) TK was really like a beam of light coming down to save me.”
TK’s comments were interspersed: “I definitely didn’t join the race to have a miserable time at any point so I’m not going to allow myself to freak out about anything. We’ve already got to experience all these incredible things, we’ve already been on 9 legs of the race…Rach and I have concentrated on being ourselves and the fact that we are still together as strong as we were, I think proves this was meant to be. I couldn’t be happier than being with Rachel.” We saw them laughing in the taxi about just how Rachel pulled the real flower like it was nothing.
When they heard it was a non-elimination leg, we saw them hug and TK summed up the situation: “Knowing that there are teams in front of us and that we really are on the chopping block now, we definitely are going to try are damndest to catch up to the other teams and beat ‘em.”
A tribute edit is one when someone’s valor is shown independantly of how well they perform. It is more about a person's character rather than their results. The end of this episode was a tribute to TK and Rachel. We finally got into their story on a personal level with that poignant “beam of light” comment from Rachel. We see that they have already won something more important than the race. If they do get eliminated during the next leg, I think we will have been right to consider that their lack of airtime during most of the season was a way for the editors to spare us a bigger heartbreak.
Nate and Jennifer
After receiving a kiss upon leaving, Jennifer told us: “Nate and I always say we are going to stop arguing with each other so the biggest obstacle we need to overcome is actually doing what we say we’re actually gonna do.”
Nate said: “Jenn and I need to pull together as a team because we haven’t won a leg yet and it’s really painful not to.”
I found the juxtaposition of these two confessionals very interesting. Winning a leg is also an obstacle, and that is another thing they have talked about but haven’t overcome yet either. What if they really can’t do what they say they’re gonna do?
We saw Jenn’s smile as they arrived in Osaka: “We’re really glad to be the first of the three teams out of the airport. It’s about time we start kicking these old teams’ asses.” It seemed that Jenn was about to smile at her own comment. It could have softened it a bit but we weren’t meant to see it as the camera cut away from her.
Instead, we had Christina’s response: “I think Nate and Jenn think they can beat my dad and I and Grandpa but little do they know.” Very interesting comment from Christina. It was foreshadowing for the result of this episode but it could apply also to the last leg. Added with Nate’s fantasy about tripping the front runners before the mat and this race now seems destined to come down to these two teams.
Nate and Jenn were dancing in the taxi as they were first at the “beautiful” Kishiwada Castle and their clue. As they left, they crossed Ronald and Christina, Jenn commenting: “I’m really glad we left before they saw where we were coming from.”
Driving to the Noda station, Jenn remarked that there were no signs in English, to which Nate commented “That’s why we’re not driving.” That would soon change!
Despite of confusion during the ride, we saw Jenn kept her enthusiasm throughout the task, from receiving the hat and glove, to seeing if she looked good wearing them, to finding the Post Office. She was even jumping up and down as she let her couple out of the car. Seeing that she made it back to Noda Station ahead of everyone, she hardly could believe it: “Am I the first one back? Are you kidding me? OMG!”
They were off by taxi to Kita-Mido temple, sharing another kiss and Nate repeating: “We might actually be first today.” Jenn tried to tell her taxi driver that they were in a race by pumping her arms as if in a sprint. (I wonder if the taxi driver thought she wanted to fight?)
Arriving first at the Detour clue box, Jenn decided to ask where each task was in order to pick the closer one. Told that both were 10 minutes away they headed for the “Sense of Smell” Detour because, as Jenn explained “I have the freakin’ nose of a bloodhound.” Nate found that funny.
On the way to the flower shop, Jenn urged Nate to run: “We are neck-and-neck with Ron and Chris. We cannot let them beat us.”
We had some funny shots of them sniffing the flowers and then Jenn said: “Sniffing, sniffing…I was getting light headed. I started looking up…I thought I was hallucinating like I was in a Pink Floyd music video.” Nate also found that funny.
(The background music was rock but, unfortunately, not Pink Floyd.)
Jenn thought doing this detour was a mistake but Nate said: “We’re battling for first place.” Just then Jenn smelled something, found a flower and they were able to sneak out of the shop without being noticed by their opponents.
They were first to head out for the Pit Stop in Tempozan Park.
“We’re gonna make first place” said Jenn.
Nate added: “We want to finish first so bad to prove to ourselves that we can do it.”
They couldn’t find a taxi driver that knew where they were going. They finally found a local who offered to tell a taxi driver where to take them.
If harmony reigned in Ron and Chris’ taxi, we saw more frustration from Jenn as she accused Nate of pushing her in the cab.
Nate objected that he didn’t push her.
The editors put the play under review. After looking at the video replay, the call by Jenn stands, Nate did push her in the cab.
She then told him that it would cost them first place.
He said it could not have cost them.
Phil, his smile gone, greated them in second place, with Nate telling the host “We want it so bad.”
In their last confessional, Jenn said: “After Nate and I came in second place, it is ON. Today we had first right in our hands but we’ve been bickering at each other, so we need to learn our lesson and I think we’re learning it the hard way.”
Nate had a funny slip: “The best team is gonna finish last and that’s gonna be Jenn and I” (!!!)
We heard the sound of a needle scratching a vinyl record and Jenn’s head spun around: “We’re gonna finish LAST???”
Nate corrected himself: “I mean we’re gonna finish the last leg, first.”
Isn’t Nate slip an editor’s dream? One hope for those who don’t want to see this team win is that they aren’t able to do what they say they are going to do and what they have said they want to do, besides getting along, is winning a leg. It could be that they never win a leg, that Nate cannot trip up Ronald in the final sprint. At this late stage, I say that these comments were all chosen for misdirection. We saw too much of their turmoils, both in the race and between them, we heard to much of their strategy and their plans not to be the team that wins it in the end.