Recap: The Amazing Race 17, Episode 5 – “So this Race is our last chance to kinda sleep together, eat together, travel together… pee together.”

Episode 17.05: Tastes Like a Million Dollars

Nat & Kat leave the Pit Stop first at 6am sharp and read their first clue telling them to head to cross the border to Narvik in Norway.  There, they’ll make their way up Fagernesfjellet Mountain for their next clue.

Nat & Kat express how much their relationship has grown, Brook talks about how crazy she is and how calm Claire is, and Michael & Kevin talk about this being their last opportunity to pee together until Kevin leaves home as they all leave the Pit Stop.  Thomas continues harping on about his Notre Dame education.

Nat & Kat get into the gondola that’ll take them up to the top of the mountain and Nat begins crying as she’s afraid of heights.  But they get to the clue and discover the Fast Forward.  For this Fast Forward, teams will take part in a traditional Norwegian Christmas ritual, eating a roasted sheep’s head.  They go for it.

Brook & Claire get into the gondolas, but Gary & Mallory miss that trip allowing their best friends Michael & Kevin to catch up and they go up together.  The non-Fast Forward clue tells them to find the next cluebox at the Skjomen Bridge.  The three teams head down just as Jill & Thomas head up.

Nat & Kat get to the Fast Forward and they hope it isn’t an eating challenge especially since Kat has been a vegetarian for 22 years.  Well… here’s a sheep’s head for them.  Kat pushes through it.

Meanwhile, the first three teams arrive at the bridge and find the Road Block.
In this Road Block, teams will rappel down to the water and signal one of two boats to deliver them the clue.  They’ll then have to use an ascender to get themselves back up.

Kevin and Gary decide to do it and Brook tells Claire to as well.  

Back at the Fast Forward, Nat & Kat finish and they get their clue telling them to head to the Pit Stop, the Ankenes Marina.  Nick & Vicki get to the mountain and the clue and decide to do the Fast Forward.  They think everyone is going to do the Fast Forward, why wouldn’t they?  They get to the restaurant and see the “Fast Forward Taken” sign on the door.  They aren’t sure what that means.   They decide not to wait so they decide to just go do “the other one” as if they had a choice?

But the only Fast Forward winners Nat & Kat arrive at the Pit Stop and check in with Phil, first for the 2nd leg in a row.  They get a trip to Costa Rica.

At the Road Block, Kevin finishes first and opens the clue telling them to find a remote field in the region of Harvika.  Gary & Mallory are right behind them.  But Claire is struggling and feels like she can’t do it.  That allows Thomas to pass her and they’re on their way.  Brook yells down to Claire to find the inner strength of her grandma who had just passed before the Race.  That pushes Claire to finally finish.

Nick & Vicki get to the Road Block and Vicki is excited to do it.  Chad & Stephanie catch up to them. 

Michael and Kevin arrive at the field and find the Detour.
In this Detour, teams will have to choose between work and play, Bike or Boat.
In Bike, teams must choose two mountain bikes and remember the color of their bike lock.  They will then ride a grueling course to a sign where they’ll have to memorize the color coded combination to unlock their next clue back at the start.
In Boat, teams make their way onto a fishing trawler and using a provided map, must direct their captain to the shore where they’ll get off and continue on foot, carrying two large cod and a chainsaw which they’ll deliver to a summer lodge up the mountain.  

Michael & Kevin choose Boat as Kevin doesn’t want his father to get hurt on the rugged terrain on the bike.  Gary & Mallory and Jill & Thomas choose Bike, which they finish quickly and they head off to the Pit Stop.  Michael & Kevin make their way to the top of the mountain and deliver the fish and chainsaw.  They run into Brook & Claire on the water on their way back.

Gary & Mallory go straight to the Pit Stop and with only his eyebrows, Phil tells them they are Team #2.
Meanwhile, Jill & Thomas get lost and end up going back to the bridge.  Katie & Rachel are motivated when they see the teams pass them.  Michael & Kevin catch up and decide to follow them, now both of them lost.

Nick & Vicki and Chad & Stephanie get to the Detour.  Nick, having riding BMX bikes since he was a kid, chooses Bike. But Vicki ends up being the all-star on the bikes, Nick can’t even keep up.  Chad & Stephanie decide to do the Boat.

Jill & Thomas and Michael & Kevin finally find the Marina and they check in 3rd and 4th respectively.  Brook & Claire are close behind, but Brook cuts her face open when she opens the door.  Her eye is bleeding like she’s been in a boxing ring but they are still Team #5 and they laugh it off.  Phil thinks she’s a nut.

Nick & Vicki arrive at the Pit Stop next.  He thinks they’re in 2nd.  They’re actually 6th.

Chad & Stephanie run into Katie & Rachel on their way back in the boats and that pretty much seals the deal.  Chad & Stephanie officially finish 7th and Katie & Rachel are eliminated. 

Episode Thoughts
Another good, fun episode.  Even though there were really no placement changes during the leg, it was still fun and exciting.  Sucks for the back of the pack that the leg was pretty linear (one of the criticisms of most of the first half of TAR16), but the tasks were good and the teams showed nice personality.

It seemed like they were in a very remote area, which is something we haven’t seen a lot of on the Race.  At least, not interesting enough that remote areas are good location decisions.  This leg had teams running around what looked almost like an untouched wilderness.  Very nice.

But the crazy part of this leg was Nick & Vicki at the Fast Forward!  Wow.  Did they not read the TAR Rulebook?  The Fast Forward is still one of the basic TAR fundamentals really.  They seemed to think that all teams could just go and get one.  It was really hilariously tough to watch!  Never have I seen a team like Nick & Vicki.  Not even Dandrew was this clueless.

But overall, a good, solid leg.

Leg Five Itinerary
Norwegian Border
Riksgränsen, Sweden

Narvik, Norway

Fagernesfjellet Mountain
Narvik, Norway

Skjomen Bridge
Narvik, Norway

Narvik, Norway

Ankenes Marina
Narvik, Norway

Departure Times

Norwegian Border
Riksgränsen, Sweden

Nat & Kat 6:00am
Gary & Mallory 6:04am
Brook & Claire 6:05am
Michael & Kevin6:30am
Jill & Thomas 6:48am
Nick & Vicki 7:11am
Chad & Stephanie 8:12am
Katie & Rachel 8:34am

Who Did the Detour?
In order of completion



Nat & Kat used the Fast Forward.

Road Block Count
In order of completion; Italics indicate who did this week’s Road Block

Strength, Stamina, and Guts. You gotta have all three
2 Nat Kat 2
2 Michael Kevin 3
3 Gary Mallory 2
2 Jill Thomas 3
2 Brook Claire 3
3 Nick Vicki 2
4 Chad Stephanie 0
3 Katie Rachel 2

4 Connor Jonathan 0
0 Andie Jenna 2
1 Ron Tony 0

Order of Finish
ff1st Nat & Kat (=)
2nd Gary & Mallory (=)
3rd Jill & Thomas (+2)
4th Michael & Kevin (=)
5th Brook & Claire (-1)
6th Nick & Vicki (=)
7th Chad & Stephanie (=)
Eliminated Katie & Rachel (=)
My Subjective Team Rankings for Leg 5
Gary & Mallory Gary & Mallory – They’re definitely setting themselves up as one of the top contenders.  Their strength and Mallory’s very infectious jolly attitude will take them far in the Race.  They encourage each other and are confident in each other.  All they need to do is avoid making the costly mistakes and they’ll go far.
Nat & Kat Nat & Kat – Many other teams would’ve easily quit that Fast Forward.  (see: TAR7’s infamous Rob-led Road Block quitting spree)  For Kat to complete that Fast Forward despite her lifestyle shows their strong competitive spirit and determination.  They won’t back down from anything and that is definitely a good sign for them moving forward.  Hopefully they can keep that up and they’re good to go.
Michael & Kevin Michael & Kevin – A mostly good leg for them, some nice funny moments too.  But this leg exposed two possibly problems for them.  First, them getting lost and deciding to follow Jill & Thomas was probably not the best idea.  Especially when Kevin thinks his father can’t do much of anything, they will lose in a foot race against probably most teams if it comes down to it.  And second, the bigger problem, their always choosing the slower Road Block will catch up to them sooner rather than later.  Kevin needs to stop being too overprotective of his father and let him do his thing.  Kevin should believe in his father more or it could cost them the Race.
Brook & Claire Brook & Claire – Despite Claire struggling at the Road Block, they didn’t let their spirit go down and they quickly got back on track.  That’s definitely a good sign.  Hopefully though Claire’s attitude at the Road Block isn’t a sign that she (or Brook) will give up easily in the future.  They’re still a strong team.  
Chad & Stephanie Chad & Stephanie – Almost invisible this leg.  It definitely didn’t help that they started out the leg an hour behind the next team.  Next leg looks like teams will get back on equal footing.  They’ll have to find a way to get themselves to the front of the pack or they could just as easily get eliminated.
Katie & Rachel Katie & Rachel – Well, they pretty much eliminated themselves in the last leg.  The only team they needed to and conceivably could beat was Chad & Stephanie, but they couldn’t make up Chad & Stephanie’s 30 minute lead.  They’ve been very underwhelming the entire Race and didn’t show signs of getting themselves into the top.  Oh, and the attitude.
Nick & Vicki Nick & Vicki – What is there really to say?  You wonder how they make it through the legs.  They seem like nice enough people and Vicki was definitely an all-star for their team this week, but they are so overly prone to making simple, costly mistakes that they are perpetually in danger.
Jill & Thomas Jill & Thomas – They seem like a total mess.  Thomas’ self righteousness about his incredible Notre Dame education continues to grate and it certainly doesn’t help boost Jill’s confidence in herself.  That and a lackluster showing in tasks and getting themselves lost are not good signs.
Quotes from Episode 17.05

Kevin: “I gave you the clue, I promise.”
Michael: “I don’t have it.  You are asking an old guy.”

Michael: “So this Race is our last chance to kinda sleep together, eat together, travel together… pee together.”

Claire: “Oo, it’s giving me a wedgie.”
Rappel guy: “What’s a wedgie?
Claire: “It’s like when it goes up your butt.”
Rappel guy: “Ah, okay.

Gary: “My balls are already getting it.”

Phil:  “You’re a tough nut aren’t you!?  Nothing but blood gushing out, you’re just standing there talking away normally, you’re ready to sell jewelry.”

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