I have to admit that I was confused after watching the last episode. Over the season, I had misjudged Ron and Christina’s edit a lot and to a lesser extent Rachel and TK and Kynt and Vxysin, so I went back and rewatched the first episode. It took me a while to puzzle out how I think things will end up (and I could still be wrong! ). The top five’s stories were laid out for us in the first episode: Jen and Nate have relationship problems and they are very concerned with what place everyone is in; Ron and Christina’s story is all about family bonds; Kynt and Vxysin are cartoon characters; Rachel and TK’s story is about how they are the right people for each other and Don’s expertise in leading the donkey foreshadows how his life experience will help them persevere over many teams. With that in mind, I’ll comment on the remaining teams.
Rachel and TK as Michel noted, received a tribute edit. Rachel commented at the beginning of the race that “it was love at first sight with TK; I want to spend my life with TK.” This is nicely bookended by their confessionals after this leg. Rachel compared TK to “a beam of light coming down to save me.” TK added, “I definitely didn’t join the race to have a miserable time at any point…. We’ve already got to experience all these incredible things…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.” Their mellow strategy has kept them together and they should “live happily ever after.” They’d have to be very lucky to overcome the speed bump. A few episodes ago I commented that it seemed like TK and Rachel and Jen and Nate were competing for first place. With Jen’s comment in the previews that she wants to rip the dreads out of TK’s head, perhaps they are racing each other for elimination.
I had also noticed earlier that TK at the end of the legs in Vilnius and Dubrovnik said that they were racing “alone,” that they didn’t see anyone all day. At the time I thought it was an odd comment because they had been with other teams occasionally. I never made the connection that they would go as far astray as they did! After winning the leg in Dubrovnik, 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.” There’s a little 20/20 hindsight foreshadowing for you. I did laugh when Nate commented they could be off doing something stupid. And I am a bit concerned that if they do get eliminated next that my favorite team has just missed the Final Three four seasons in a row!
I don’t have much to add concerning Don and Nicolas. Don remarked on two different occasions that it’s been a dream of his to go to Japan; chock up another life experience for Gramps. He said, “I’m not as strong…but I’m going to keep on running” at the beginning of the leg and ended it by saying, “I’m 45 years older, but still hangin’ in.” It seems clear that they will make the Final Three and what an accomplishment that would be for them. Don would become the oldest racer to make it that far. On a funny note, the first confession of the race is Nic as they’re leaving the Playboy Mansion, “I don’t know where I’m going right now.”!!
Like you Michel, I started to think that maybe Ron and Christina might win it all. When you go back to the first episode, Ron and Christina are the stars even though they came in 7th place. It isn’t until the second episode where we start to see Ron’s warts. Their story hasn’t expanded to let us know much about them outside their relationship, but the editing spent a lot of time showing us how important family bonds are (remember the alliance with Azaria and Hendekea and sharing a bedroom with them because they had the same family values). For the past few weeks, the behavioral stories of Jen and Nate and Ron have seemed to be intertwined. One goes up when the other goes down. They’ve raced Jen and Nate for first place twice now and beaten them both times. I think they’ll fall short of the million dollars though, but will still consider themselves winners anyways because of the time they spent together. In Ireland, after the bike roadblock (with Ron singing Danny Boy), Ron states, “I didn’t want to disappoint you,” and Christina says, “You never disappoint me.” At the mat chat she says again, “you never disappoint me.” Finishing the race together with all they’ve accomplished is their story and they won’t be disappointed in their experience. Their story was nicely wrapped up too, but Rachel and TK’s had a bigger sense of finality to it.
This week Ron has his best week ever (in Christina’s eyes). Their story was how they’ve come together as a team; finishing first again was almost an afterthought. Ron had several confessionals on how he’s trying to be a better father. He says, “I tend to get too explosive in situations…I need to continue this journey of change and I don’t want to falter.” Christina has also learned how to shut her father up when he’s picking at her, “Just leave me alone…stop wasting energy complaining.” Later he says, “When we get to Japan, I need to change, it’s important with my relationship with Christina. I would like to be a good father, but it isn’t easy with the intensity of this race.” In Japan when they’re in the lead Ron says, “I’m now giving her more encouragement…not demoralizing her as an old man that is dragging her down.” She tells Phil, “He did not lose his temper once this leg. He’s improving worlds! I had just a blast today because we didn’t argue.” Later she added, “The fact that my dad and I got along today helped us come in first place, without a doubt.” And 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.” Their journey is almost at an end and so is the race. They’ve turned into such a strong team that I would be surprised if they didn’t make the Final Three.
We also see a bit of foreshadowing perhaps. As they leave the airport in Osaka, Jen says, “We’re happy to be first out of the airport. It’s time that we started to kick these old people’s asses.” We cut to a taxi where Christina says, “I think that Jen and Nate think they can beat my dad and I and Grampa, but little do they know…” It happened this episode but it could also be predicting our final three teams.
If Christina and Ron were all light and sunshine and positive energy in the first episode, Jen and Nate were the nasty, battling Bickersons. But Jen and Nate were all over the premiere. The camera focused on them twice while Phil was speaking (and didn’t focus on three of the teams at all). We heard comments from Jen the entire way to the airport including calls on what place they were in and that continued throughout the episode. They called Kate and Pat bitches and Kynt and Vxysin freaks, and let’s not forget Nate’s, “you are the worst person I’ve ever met” comment! They certainly made an impression on us. Ron and Christina had a winner’s aura around them, but TAR editing doesn’t try to portray the winners well and this could be like last season. Christina and Ron are like Dustin and Kandice: the big sympathetic story. Jen and Nate, like Eric and Danielle, could come on strong in the last leg.
Jen and Nate have learned to work better together (it’s all relative to where they started!) and they know what they have to do. Jen comments, “Nate and I always say we’re going to stop arguing and now the biggest obstacle is doing what we’re going to say we do.” Early on in the race Jen compared their race to a Donkey Kong game: overcoming obstacles and their biggest obstacle is communication and teamwork. Even though they are still arguing, they finish a close second. Nate comments to Phil, “We want to finish first so bad to prove that we can do it.” Later Jen is passionate when she says, “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.” The editing has been pointing to them not winning anything until the last leg since they raced Azaria and Hendekea to the mat in the fourth episode! If they stop wasting time arguing over if Nate pushed Jen or not (!), they could pull out a win. This was emphasized when Nate slipped, “The best team is gonna finish last and that’s gonna be Jen and I.” Jen whipped around to look at him, “We’re gonna finish last?” Nate corrected himself: “I mean we’re gonna finish the last leg, first.” It could be irony, but it’s been their story their entire race and I think it’s going to come true.
The last piece that I don’t know where it fits in is the rivalry between Ron and Christina and Don and Nic. It was shown early on and then Christina reminded us of it at the Yield. I shall have to wait to see how that plays out.