I was pretty on edge at the beginning of this episode, as my favourite team, TK and Rachel, were so far behind from last week’s episode. But whatever. First off, I should say Happy Birthday to my least favourite contestant, Jen. Yes, this episode takes place on her Birthday — what a way to spend it. The first task is head to the Floating Garden on the top of the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka. The gardens didn’t open until 10am, so all teams except TK and Rachel wound up waiting together for the gardens to open. Once they made it to the top, they found a clue telling them to head to Taipei, Taiwan!
Perhaps one of the highlights of the whole episode happened on the way to the Airport in Osaka when Nate talked about how excited he was to go to Taiwan because he loves Thai food. Switch over to a clip of Ronald talking about how he was a bit worried because they were up against such ‘smart’ teams. Yeah, right.
Anyway, TK and Rachel, who were quite far behind, had a bit of a meltdown finding the floating garden, because they had their minds made up that a garden should be on the ground. Then, when they finally made it to the roof, they uncharacteristically started fighting, and ended up walking right past the clue. I yelled ‘Nooooo’ at the screen, and maybe they heard because they found it moments laters! You can thank me later, guys.
Then, of course, moew airport drama ensued. Christina and Ronald scored the first flight out and convinced the ticket agent to tell Nate and Jen that they were all sold out. Their scheming worked, though–they ended up getting into Taipei before the other teams. And, in an amazing stroke of luck, TK and Rachel caught up with Nate and Jen and Nick and Don at immigration at the Taipei airport. Yay!
The first task in Taiwan was to take a high speed train to Taichung, and then a taxi to Jiji. Once there, they encountered a road block (a task only one team member can do.) This road block involved getting into a car with a stunt driver, who would first drive onto a teeter totter in the air, and after much precarious rocking back and forth, the team member would then have to get into an amphibious car and drive underwater for 17 seconds. Rachel and Nate both had a blast at this task, while Ronald and Don looked like they were going to vomit.
Then came the dreaded speed bump–TK and Rachel had to take a taxi to a field, where they have to don suit and run through a barrage of firecrackers. The key here is they had to run, so the task was completed in no time, and they quickly caught up to the other teams. Jen and Nate were none too impressed with TK and Rachel’s speedy progress this episode, and she made her feelings clear by talking about ‘ripping out his dreadlocks.’ She also lamented the fact that she and Nate had to work so hard while TK and Rachel just ‘slacked off.’ Yikes. Nate and Jen? You should take lessons from TK and Rachel. They still like each other.
Speaking of the other teams, they had to hop back on the high speed train and head back to Taipei, where they had to find a tea house and drink a cup of tea to get their next clue. The clue was written in Chinese on the inside of a tea cup–it was up to them to figure out what the clue said and how to get there. As it turns out, the tea cup was leading them to a popular night market, where they had to find a scary-looking clown on a unicycle for their next clue.
The next clue let them chose between Fire–lighting a spirit lantern and sending it up to the sky (incidentally, nobody chose this task)–Earth–walking a 220-foot stone path in their bare feet, then walking back again. Teams did this with many cries of agony. TK and Rachel got ahead by jogging along the path, and it made me wonder why more people didn’t do that; it seems like it would be less painful that way. Not that I have any experience with stone walking … just sayin’.
The next stop was the pit shop at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. Not surprisingly, Christina and Ronald came in first. But as for the other three teams, it was anyone’s guess. Jen and Nate made an interesting choice on their way to walk the path of stones — instead of taking the usual cab, they decided traffic would hold them back and so they hopped on the subway. It could have been a brillian move, or a fatal one. Ultimately, it was the latter — they were the last team to arrive at the pit stop. TK and Rachel came in second and Nick and Don squeezed into the third spot.
Although I’ve been hard on Nate and Jen, I felt pretty bad for them as they learned their fate. They both started crying, not only about their elimination but also about their relationship falling apart. They acknowledged that they should have spent more time being nice to each other than trying to win, which makes me think that maybe they’re not as dense as they usually seem to be. Plus? It was Jen’s Birthday. Ouch. Now every birthday will be a reminder of the time she blew a chance at $1Million.
All in all? A great episode. Though I wish they’d stop with the suspenseful music already — the show is nerve-racking enough without it.