Racer Reports

Racer Report - Episode Four

Team: David and Jeff
The mystery about this team continues, even though they actually spoke during the episode. They left the Austria pit stop and traveled by train to Munich to get their flight to Paris, then traveled to Le Mans. It appears that Jeff did the LeMans roadblock (no drama - barely seen) and drove on to the port gate at Marseilles. Of the teams that spent the night in their cars, they were the first team in the "line" on the shoulder of the highway. They played a role in the arguments shown at gate-gate, and David was seen taunting Reichen and Chip. Tsk. Tsk. Wish we had seen the context for that, as we know how the editors are.

After all the teams got their clue from the lighthouse in the port, they were the first team to actually arrive at the detour, mostly because Reichen and Chip stopped first at the wrong location. While they were the first to take the ropes down the cliffs, they somehow managed to get lost looking for the clue box for the route marker to the pit stop. They must have really gotten lost after that. While they were the fourth team to depart for the pit stop, they were the sixth team to arrive. (Reichen and Chip just for comparison were the seventh team to do and complete the detour, but arrived at the pit stop ahead of David and Jeff.)

It's still hard to judge this team's Racer skills, in part because they've had so little relative airtime, and relatively little internal drama. But it does seem like they can handle the highways of France better than many of the other teams, as they seem to improve their placement in those stretches of the leg. But they are subject to mental errors, so they're not infallible. (That seems to be the watchword of this season. All the teams appear to have a kink in their armor.) Next week, will they come out of their shell? Stay tuned.
–– by theschnauzers

Team: Jon and Al – Team Clown n’ Ball
These two finally had a great leg, although their airtime was cut considerably in comparison to previous episodes. Their alliance with the Virgins was cemented even further, they supported one another, and showed what is becoming their trademark enthusiasm again and again. What made it a particularly solid leg was their improvement in the standings, finishing tied for second overall.
If there is an understanding going in that the alliance can be dropped at a moment’s notice without hard feelings, then I have no problems with it.
Their alliance with the Virgin coalition is the only type that really works in The Amazing Race. Successful teams from previous seasons also formed similar pairings, KennyG with the Wonder Twins, for example. Both sets of teams in the alliance enjoy the other’s company, are not averse to sharing information, but understand that when the shit hits the fan, it’s every team for themselves. If there is an understanding going in that the alliance can be dropped at a moment’s notice without hard feelings, then I have no problems with it. It must be reassuring to teams to have another team right there next to them.

Al has remarked numerous times that he has a fear of heights. He had to know he would have to face it eventually, and he did so admirably on the rappelling. You can tell from the clips that Jon is trying to be supportive whilst also hurry him up. Al’s “Shut up!” was funny in that you knew he appreciated the support but had heard enough and it was probably making him more nervous.

All in all, a great leg. Al’s language skills and European travel experience must have come in handy, because they didn’t appear to have any difficulties at all. This may have led to a relatively conflict free stretch for them, thus the drop in airtime. Their one major mistake? Jumping on the freaking mat with the Virgins. Boys? This is a race. There are no “ties” for a million bucks. Don’t. Do. It. Again. EVER.
–– by MJMarble

Team: Kelly and Jon
Ok, I run so hot and cold on this team. There are things they do that make me smile and things that make me believe them to have a particularly nasty streak.

At the beginning when Kelly is giving her “I want to be 50%” speech again she reiterates that she needs to feel like part of a team and she likes to be part of the team and turns to Jon and says “Don’t you agree?” There is a hilarious pause where Jon is considering that there is only one correct response to this question, like there is only one correct response to the question “Do these pants make me look fat?” and you only get one chance to get it right. He says “Yes” and then smiles a very cute smile and crinkles his eyes in a “boy I sure dodged THAT bullet” grin. Kelly throws back her head and laughs because she knows it was a loaded question.
“Hi, we’re cute and perky and were popular in high school. Tell us what you learned.” I think not.
When they get to the train station, they realize that the Insane/Clown posse (tm Miss Alli) is strategizing and Kelly tries to get some info from them. Millie (who is being portrayed as the lead dog in this alliance) tells her that they haven’t decided yet on Salzburg or Munich airport even though they had. Kelly VOs that Millie didn’t want anything to do with them and she’s super super competitive . Jon says that “you could just tell that they were trying to give us the heave ho”. (Heave! Ha! Good times.) Well, yeah. Those teams were up all night studying maps and had been allied with each other. What did J/K bring to the party? “Hi, we’re cute and perky and were popular in high school. Tell us what you learned.” I think not. They get off in Salzburg and are surprised that they’re alone. Kelly tells Jon “C’mon we’re on our own” Gee, what a way to state the obvious. Later Kelly goes off on “Millie the Mole”, yakking about how Millie was “one of those little cheerleaders in high school that I used to throw spitballs in her hair” You know that just told us a whole lot more about Kelly than it did about Millie. And how many years do you have to be out of high school before you stop looking at everything though that particular prism?

They both at times seem to like calling people names. Kelly called the ATCs “BFGs” for big fat guys, although I’m not totally certain it was meant nastily. Kelly called Jon a “freak.” Jon called the French “idiots.” This one was the worst. How dare the French speak nothing but French in their own country!? Why, it’s as though they don’t recognize English as the default language. Sacre Bleu!

At one point, because Kelly needs to feel she’s 50%, she insists on doing the next roadblock, clue unseen. Maybe because she’s now in a figurative hair-pulling cat fight with Millie, and Millie is 79% of her team, she needs to take more control. Whatever. She gets Jon to agree that she’ll do the next one. When time comes for that, she finds out that she has to change out all four tires. Ha! She looks sidelong at Jon and says “Oh God.”. She mumbles as she’s putting on her jump suit “first freakin’ road block mumble grumble…”. Jon is overheard laughing at her. He compares this roadblock to an orgasm and that’s all I have to say about that.

Jon gets one great moment when after Kelly INSISTS that they are going the wrong way looking for the lighthouse, he says “Kelly, how many times do I have to prove you wrong?” Many more times I’m sure, Jon. In the end, Kelly obsesses a little more about Millie (bad thing to waste time and energy thinking about other teams), they do the rappel, and are in 2nd place, then drive to the pit stop and come in 7th.
–– by emjaytee
Kelly blamed Mille for being both too competitive and too happy, both of which are useful traits in a race, and Kelly might want to consider them, since whining doesn’t seem to be working that well for her...
Team: Millie and Chuck
Millie and Chuck were the fifth team to leave Seeschloss Orth at 4:43AM, nearly 20 minutes before other teams that had arrived on the same train. As they opened their first clue, Millie expressed a wish that the destination would “please be warm.” Her wish was partially granted, as the TARacers eventually arrived in Southern France during a leg that tested their airport and navigation skills. Millie and Chuck appeared to have allied with Jon and Al to some extent, and these teams took the train to Munich and then flew from Munich to Paris. Kelly was unimpressed that Millie was withholding information, but I would tend to agree with Millie that it acceptable to do so during the race, both ethically and competitively. Kelly blamed Mille for being both too competitive and too happy, both of which are useful traits in a race, and Kelly might want to consider them, since whining doesn’t seem to be working that well for her (but if there is a task requiring name calling and spitballs, she’ll be ready).

Millie and Chuck arrived at the Cercle Bugatti Roadblock, which Chuck took as Millie was still having asthma issues. After changing the tires and climbing into the race car, Chuck began having issues of his own, namely with claustrophobia. Some people have questioned how he could feel this way in an open–topped car, but I suspect it was the multi–strap restraint/seat belt system that caused him to feel trapped. Millie appeared frustrated by the delay, urging Chuck to “hustle.” It would have been nice to see her being a bit more supportive of her teammate, as with JVJ and the archery roadblock last season. Chuck was able to complete the roadblock eventually, after praying that God would help him overcome his fear. My view on this reality tv prayer is that while God may not choose to help a certain competitor win a reality show, helping one of His children overcome their fears would be of interest to Him both in the Race and in ‘real life.’

The slight delay at the racetrack had little effect on their overall standing, as a 556 mile drive to Marseilles and hours of operation bunching came into play. Mille and Chuck were one of the teams that parked on the shoulder of the highway overnight, but they avoided becoming involved in the ‘who’s in first’ argument the next morning. They appeared to be the sixth team to find the lighthouse at the Marseilles Porte 4, and they made up some time on the drive to the Gorges Du Blavet, where they were the fourth team to complete the Ropes Detour option (again, Millie was impatient with Chuck’s rappelling speed). I was amused again by the Amazing Music Editors, who added a rattlesnake–style rattling to the soundtrack as the Lost Boys attempted to find the trails. Unlike other teams (for example Jaree, who very astutely remarked that “this is not America” while attempting to navigate) and despite the apparent windstorm, Millie and Chuck seem to have found their way to the Pit Stop at the Chateau des Alpilles without difficulty, tying with the clowns for second place.

As an added bonus, I thought I’d add a few comments on this team’s racing to date. Overall, I still feel that Millie and Chuck are a strong team. They have done well on the physical tasks as well as the mental ones, having done well with flight/travel planning and navigation to date. Millie’s competitive nature is an asset in the Race, but in terms of an ongoing real–life relationship, I would hope that she can develop a bit more consideration for others and be more supportive of her partner. They have made some alliances, most recently with Jon and Al (who also have been fairly strong Racers to date), and seem to understand the temporary nature of alliances. Their main weakness appears to be Millie’s asthma, and it remains to be seen if this condition will improve or deteriorate as they head towards warmer climates later in the Race. Next week, see teams test their relationships in the canals of Amsterdam (there seems to be a bit of a canal theme this year).

–– by Kanuck

Team: Monica and Sheree
Another week, another great leg. The Supremes are racing strong and, more importantly, steady. While I remain convinced that bad luck can wipe out even the best teams, the ladies are racing smart, and that never hurt anyone.

Racing smart includes things like checking for better train times, which they did. Team Supreme arrived at the Le Mans raceway a full hour ahead of the next two teams, and astutely noticed that having the Roadblock before the Detour was a change from the norm. You think maybe they watch the show? It took Monica a while to get the hang of changing the tires, but once she figured it out, her adrenaline took over and she quickly finished the job. This task showed how both Monica and Sheree are excellent narrators – both pay attention to detail and describe their environment well. The show is lucky to have them for that reason alone.

This team is cagey, too. There’s no official alliance, it seems, but they know who their friends are and take advantage of that whenever it’s reasonable. On the other hand, they haven’t alienated the other teams, which in this petulant bunch is quite an accomplishment. And not we’ve seen not a single cross word exchanged between them, which makes them a welcome presence on my TV each week.

They lost time by not taking the expressway to Marseilles, they weren’t major players in “Gate-gate,” they asked God for strength but not a pony at the rappelling detour, and they made up time driving to the pit stop, arriving fourth. That’s two fourth-place finishes, one second, and one tenth-place. So far, so good. If they can avoid the petty squabbles that seem to characterize this race, they should stay in it for quite a while.
–– by Daria for RLB

Team: Reichen and Chip
The boys leave the Seeschloss Orth in 3rd place at 3:53 am. They head directly for the airport in Salzburg by taxi. Given that a number of other teams determined that Munich was a better option, it seems that they are still not ‘mingling’ much during the ESM time periods. Ironically, the voice− over as they get in the cab has them saying that they need to be more aware of what happens around them. But, because they are the third team out, they make it to Salzburg in time for an early flight to Paris via Frankfurt. In fact, they just make it on the plane. Also, the other teams were wrong about Munich being faster.

Now, remember a couple of episodes ago where I said Chip was the more careful racer? Apparently Reichen booked the plane tickets, and ended up buying business class tickets to Paris from Frankfurt. When they get on the plane and are seated in business class, Chip insists they get off the plane because teams are not allowed to travel on business class tickets. Obviously, he was paying close attention to the rules. They are lucky that they are only delayed by an hour and make it to Paris still in third place. I don’t know how the mistake was made in buying the tickets, but Reichen seems very discouraged. Chip really helps Reichen after he made a couple of mistakes. Moments like this make me feel really good about this team - they work very well together and have a good mix of strengths.

Chip does the roadblock at Le Mans. The race between him and Tian to finish first was very entertaining. Chip did get into the car first, but not by much. The Chipsters seem to have no trouble driving to (or pronouncing) Marseilles and are the first team to arrive. Thanks to more pre− arranged bunching, the port doesn’t open until 9 am, so they decide to head to a hotel after being told they cannot wait in the car. When they come back the next morning, the rest of the teams are really angry because they decided to spend the night in their cars. That’s their own damn faults if you ask me. I can see that if you’ve spent the night in your car, you’d be very tired and irritable, but they’re all acting like children. In the long run this latest argument will only encourage the Chipsters, so the other teams can hate them all they want. It just makes them more determined to win.

Not that their next adventure is any indication of their ability to win. After finding the lighthouse clue and getting out of Marseilles in good time, they proceed to get completely lost in the Gorges du Blavet. They decide to park beside a little tiny route marker, on the shoulder, something that looks nothing like a parking lot, I’m afraid. Reichen makes that point at the beginning of walk on the road to nowhere. I sincerely thought they were up for Philimination, because it seemed that even the BFG’s had a good head start on the rappel. For the second time this episode, this team demonstrates how they work together and stay positive. Even though Chip has completely screwed up, he graciously admits that he should have listened to Reichen and not wasted two hours (two hours?!?) wandering down the wrong path. Somehow, despite the missed parking lot saga, they complete the rappel, the hike and the drive and make it to the mat at the Chateau des Alpines in 5th place. Astonishing. They are either the best navigators in the race, or Chip’s regard for the rules went out the window and they were speeding.

Next week? Amsterdam, manure, and more fighting.
–– by devajd

Team: Steve and Dave
Aaaaaaand…..they’re still in it.
But not before one of the funniest edits I’ve seen in awhile – a quick cut from reading the clue to a shot of Dave making like a sausage with the racing jumpsuit.
The “B.F.G.’s” provided one of my laugh-out-loud moments this week when they read aloud the clue at the Le Mans race track. Which one could best fit in a tight space? They appreciated the unintended humor of that requirement as well and, as it turns out, all things are relative and Dave squeezed himself into the itty bitty race car. But not before one of the funniest edits I’ve seen in awhile – a quick cut from reading the clue to a shot of Dave making like a sausage with the racing jumpsuit. Very funny.

And what is with the B.F.G. label anyway? Kelly is the only one heard to use the “nickname” in this episode, and she used it twice. Now, is that a derogatory label invented by Kelly (or her famously fat-phobic fiancé) – or is it something that perhaps Steve and Dave self-deprecatingly labeled themselves? That’s entirely possible, what with all the whale jokes and whatnot. But so far, all we know is that Kelly calls them that, so I think it’s kind of sucky.

For all their self-awareness in some areas, Steve and Dave clearly did not grasp the irony in their assumption of the role of Line Police in Marseilles. They took a leading role in confronting Chip/Reichen and Tian/Jaree and did not realize how hypocritical their posturing might (did) appear, having famously benefited from the very first instance of line-jumping in this race. If I were Steve and/or Dave, I would have quietly stepped back and let the others take on that battle.

When they did the rappel, I don’t know that they actually did “rappel.” Being lowered to the ground a semi-sitting position kind of misses the point of “rappelling,” but ultimately was probably easier on Dave’s knee than “slopes” would have been. Dave, by the way, says his knee is back to the point it was “a week ago.” That remark can be taken a couple of different ways – not being entirely sure of the time frame, it could mean that it’s back to where it was when the race started, or it hurts like hell again.

At the mat, Steve and Dave checked in as Team Number Eight. I was sure that Phil had lost count.
–– by Tribefan

Team: Steve and Josh
When Steve and Dave became the last of the non-philiminated teams this week, I couldn’t understand how they weren’t last. I was sure that all the teams had checked in! Turns out I completely forgot about Steve and Josh. Why should I be paying attention to them after all? I’m only supposed to report here about them weekly. Well, I guess it’s a good thing that they were philiminated, because I have apparently lost all interest in them.

Here we have yet another instance of first-to-worst in one leg. How many times has that happened now, anyway? Hmmmm. I’m going to have to think about that one. Anyway, this is the episode where Steve and Josh bitterly bickered throughout, and then said “all the right things” about each other at the mat and in their post-mortem interview. I really would like to believe that the Race brought them closer than before, and it very well may have, but their words did not completely match what we were shown on the screen. I didn’t see them grow in mutual respect and understanding. I saw a surly, rebellious teenager and his overbearing father. But then, this may very well be the way they communicate for the rest of their lives.

Steve needn’t bother berating his son, Josh does a good job of that all by himself, referring to himself as a “big dumbass” and admitting “you see how bad I am with the frigging map.” I really did get the sense that, while he did want to win, Josh was more upset with himself for not proving himself right and worthy to his father. Steve’s ending comment about how he let Josh take the lead in this race and tried not to be controlling would explain why he didn’t argue for too long about the taxi vs. train decision. He did, however, spend a whole lot of time telling Josh why his decision to take the train was wrong. He should have spent that energy on logically stating his case BEFORE the final decision has been made. Don’t “let him take the lead,” but then berate him for his decisions. What’s “not controlling” about that?

In the end, train vs. taxi was irrelevant, and it was bad navigating skills that ended their run in the Race. How lost did they get on the drive to the Ropes/Slopes detour? I’d like to know how far behind Steve and Dave they really were. It was mighty dark out. I generally like to watch the parent-child teams, but it was painful to witness their interaction during this episode. Friction and tension throughout. Which just made the mutual love and admiration comments at the end seem kind of weird.

Bye-bye Dad and Josh. Try not to kill each other in Sequesterville.
–– by Tribefan

Team: Tian and Jaree
Since my other team, Get-That-Loathsome-Tool-Off-My-Television and Cindy, was eliminated last week, MJ graciously said I could have this team to myself from now on. Thanks, MJ! Plus, his social life was busier than mine, at least on the weekends. And Tian and Jaree have become hot – almost too hot to handle.

Jaree’s backpack now has its own thread on Television Without Pity, possibly the first time an object belonging to a racer has gained such a grand distinction. While we’ve had fun imagining what is in the backpack, I have a thought on what should be in it: injectable Valium, to use on Tian while she sleeps. If she sleeps. Which I’m starting to think she never does. And I say this as someone who likes Tian! Calm. Down. Tian.
While lacking the fizz and finesse of the champagne/waltz FF in Vienna, this FF was subtly charming, and the girls fit right in to the museum environment.
I thought Team Tangerine was pretty cool this week, actually. Without their bulky winter coats, they were both quite attractive, which I discuss in this week’s Fashion Report. Tian charged into the Roadblock and attacked those tires with energy and enthusiasm. She also changed them rather quickly. Falling behind later on, and with no way of knowing that Weezer and Geezer were taking an unscheduled car tour of France, the models wisely opted for the Fast Forward. This involved assembling about 20 segments of a wall-sized picture to match a smaller photograph of the upcoming pit stop. While lacking the fizz and finesse of the champagne/waltz FF in Vienna, this FF was subtly charming, and the girls fit right in to the museum environment. They took first place for the leg, dashing to the Amazing Bath Mat during a windstorm that knocked down tree branches. I hope the production crew kept the picture of the pit stop and gave it to them after the race ended. And I hope Tian and Jaree didn’t fight over it.

Oh, what’s that? Gate-gate? Yeah. I’m taking Tangerine’s side. They did what they were told, twice. First, they were told to go away, which they did. Second, they were told to park by the gate. Which they did. In previous races, the other teams would have figured it was just dumb luck, let them go through, and planned to surpass the team at another point in the leg. But this is the whiny-fussy-baby-behavior-at-least-when-it-comes-to-lines TAR. So when Tian explained what happened, no one listened. Because five-year-olds don’t listen. This was a case where Jaree’s “roll with it” philosophy was the most pragmatic approach to take, because if you’re dealing with irrational people, you can’t win them over by being rational. After Tian calmed down a bit (yay!) and saw the wisdom of Jaree’s suggestion, she used humor and sarcasm to wave in the other teams. It made for good theater.

Next week – they bicker! They also breathe air, walk upright, and obey the law of gravity. And probably place pretty well, too.
–– by Daria

Host: Phil
Week 4 was Phil Pfashion Week. Both sides of the Phil coat debate will be happy with tonight's episode - we had scenes both with and without the coat. Since its Phil Pfashion week, we had a few different outfits from Phil. We first see Phil modeling a gray and white sweater, wearing the coat, as he tells us what happened last week and the cliffhangers for this week. Our next viewing of Phil is at the Gorges du Blavet where we see him wearing a red turtleneck, white pullover and jeans, while strolling fearlessly among the cliffs. At our first viewing of the pit stop at the Chateau des Alpilles, he has the coat back on but removes it for his fast forward segment of the evening.

But back at the pitstop, the coat is back on, which seems to be a smart idea since it looks as windy as the Wizard of Oz during the storm that takes Dorothy and Toto to Oz. As Phil greets the teams, he has to give the hands off signal to the Clowns/Virgins since they almost run into him (or are Phil's true feelings showing there?) and Monica and Sheree get a smile. This week, he messes with the minds of two teams - Kelly & Jon and Steve & Dave and then says goodbye to Steve and Josh.
–– by M. Darcy