The Tip Sheet
With a couple of legs in the bag, this season's teams have had a good opportunity to show us what they are made of. There have been a couple of surprises, some demonstrations of strength and some surprising weaknesses. It's too early yet to make any firm top four predictions, but I think we can refine the odds a bit.
Probably the most surprising performance for me. I thought they could place well; I didn't expect them to do it so effortlessly. Good racers who are good to each other, keeping calm under pressure... how rare is that? They are probably one of the most physically balanced teams on the race as well - the Bowling Mom's roadblock rule won't be a problem for them. I called these two out in four or in until the end; you can strike the first part of that. I think they'll be with us for a while yet.
Oy. They might look a bit Jill and Jon Vito, but the dynamic is pure Itchy and Scratchy. That isn't necessarily fatal (hi there, Tara and Wil!) but it certainly doesn't help. They're decent racers, so they are still in it, but I think the friction will take its toll eventually.
Father and daughter
What did I say? "Potential for personal growth and renewed respect." Well, given the total lack of respect he's showing for her, you can't argue there's a lot of potential to improve it - it isn't like it could get worse. More worrisome than the Daddy Dearest deal is Ronald's inability to make a decision and stick to it. On leg two, he seemed to be suggesting that they do neither Detour choice. That isn't an option, I'm afraid. Don't get too attached to these two - I still expect them gone in 4.
Another surprising team. I can't say that I really like them - I don't like the "million dollar shopping spree" attitude, or the lines about flirting to get ahead - but they have performed well. And that flop into the muddy ditch? I'd be lying if I didn't say I watched that one five times. On slo-mo. I don't think they have what it takes to be the first female winners, but I think they'll make the top half.
Another team that did better than I expected - or for these two, even better, as I thought they'd do alright to begin with. They aren't setting the world on fire, but they are solid and steady, and they seem to be getting along. Should go far.
These two are the pick of the litter right now. There has been a bit of tension, but nothing that seemed to throw them. And when the chips have been down, they keep their heads and get back in the game. Very good racers who should go all the way to the end.
Grandfather and grandson
I like these two. I really do. Grandad alone probably required WRP to hire two additional bleepers - and if he keeps stripping down, they'll need to borrow some pixellators from Survivor as well. So it pains me to say that they won't be with us much longer - but they won't. They are one of those teams that just bleeds time, not through any serious errors but from an overall lack of drive. Not long for the race.
Not doing as well as I expected, certainly not outperforming the other team of young ladies on the race. I don't know what it is, but they seem to have been stuck in first gear so far. I think they have potential to do better, but they need to start living up to it if they want to break into the top half.
By the numbers, these two are trailing the rest of the young couples, but I have faith. In the early going, what is important is to not be last, and while they haven't been leading the pack, they haven't been dragging behind either. This is another team that seems to be getting along with each other and handling the setbacks calmly. (Yeah, I know, I count four teams that fit that description - what's up with that?) In the long run, that will serve them well.
Oh, Ari and Staella, rarely have I felt so good about being wrong. While they weren't in for the long haul, I expected them to make it at least half-way. Really, I'd expect one jackass to be able to relate to another - sadly for them, that wasn't the case. And I emphasize - for them.
The second team out was the opposite of the first in many ways; these are two people I'd be happy to have at my house for dinner. Nice, respectful, and you have to love the whole "God doesn't care if we win the Race" thing. That said, with their engines set permanently on "Amble", it looked like they didn't particularly care either, and that never ends well.
I'm off on my own mini-Race for the next week so it will be another two episodes before I check in again. I'm gone temporarily; in my absence, expect Ronald and Christina and Nicholas and Donald to take a more permanent leave. (Though don't count out the possibility of a race-ending Jennifer and Nathan melt down - the cracks are showing.)