The Amazing Race 12 Episode 10
Sorry, Guys, I'm Not Happy To See You
By Reagen Sulewski
January 17, 2008

She's actually trying to strangle him.

With four teams of racers and just two legs of The Amazing Race left, one team has to go. Please let it be the annoying one. (What? You need that narrowed down?)

We return to Osaka, Japan and the suddenly surprisingly competent Ronald & Christina in first place as winners of the last leg. Okay, Christina is competent. Ron just yells at people until stuff happens, then takes credit for it. But he's getting better, really!

Their first clue actually takes a modicum of brainpower, which is rare for the race these days. They must find the "building with a hole in it", then The Floating Gardens. It's not exactly the New York Times Sunday Crossword, but at least it's not "go here, do this". This turns out to be some really tall building in Osaka with, what do you know, a hole in it, and a garden at the top of it - that floats. But it's not 100% obvious, at least.

Nathan & Jennifer are next, and say that enough is enough, there's no more time for "nice Nate and Jen". Now, don't be confused, you out there in TV-Watcher Land. You might have missed the ten seconds where they were nice, so don't feel bad about it. Nathan says this new phase of their racing will involve ripping their shirts off like The Hulk, which would probably move this show into a later time slot. We also find out that it's Jennifer’s birthday, and nothing bad happens on your birthday, right? Right?

Nicolas & Donald are third out of the gate, although if it were possible for Donald to be third and a half, he would be.

All three of these teams find their way to the appropriate building, only to find that the elevator to the top doesn't open until 10 a.m., which conveeeeniently, is right about the time that TK & Rachel are going to start their day. Although really, it's not like bunching points aren't a tradition of the race.

The other three teams get a little bit of a lead on our favorite slacker team, finding the clue at the top of the building that directs them to Taipei, Taiwan, and guaranteeing that this season will never be shown in mainland China. Relieved that they don't have to jump off the building, the teams then head down and try to secure cabs to the airport. Donald's foul mouth is apparently rubbing off on Nicolas, as he derides the character of all the remaining teams as "bitches" and says they've been racing like "pussies". We may get that later time slot after all.

About this time, TK & Rachel are leaving the mat for the day, but struggle with the clue a bit. Rachel is stuck on the idea that the garden has to be on the ground, leading them to wander around the grounds a bit.

As the first three teams head to the airport, we get to find out the total of Nathan's knowledge about Taiwan - which is to say, none. He expresses his affinity for Thai food and mentions a couple of his Thai friends - oh, do I ever hope he's just being funny, but I doubt it. Meanwhile Jennifer adds that they're going in "cold blinded", which almost sounds like a thing, but really is just gibberish.

Even after discovering that the Floating Gardens is in an observatory, Rachel still seems stuck on the idea that the garden is on the ground, though luckily TK just soldiers ahead and does all the decisionatin' for them. She's cute, but this isn't her finest moment. They do discover at this point that they're not that far behind, noticing the time of operation of the elevators.

At the Osaka airport, the teams start with the jostling for flights, with Ron & Christina locating a flight that leaves at 1 p.m. and securing tickets for it. They're actually given upgrades to first class, because they paid full fare, though rule watchers will note that they did pay for economy and aren't about to be Hendekeaed. Christina tells her agent to deny the other teams from this flight, and either Japanese women are really compliant, or they got lucky and it's one of those weird Amazing Race planes with only two seats on it, as she walks over to Nathan & Jennifer and tells them it's full.

As Christina gets a Cheshire Cat grin, Nathan & Jennifer revert to their natural state of bickerdom. This is probably the best result possible out of this maneuver, as getting these two pissed off at each other causes them to go all something-something. They end up on the same flight as Nicolas & Donald, at 1:15 p.m.

TK & Rachel are now hustling to the airport to try and catch up, though Ronald & Christina seem to have jumped out into a sizable lead. Nathan & Jennifer, apparently operating under the "no man can stop me" doctrine, duck out of an insanely long immigration line to change money. Meanwhile, TK & Rachel's secret teleportation power comes in handy, as they manage to get ahead of Nathan & Jennifer in the line, leading Rachel to do a weird little high kick, and Jennifer to start stewing over the fact that the other teams are actually daring to compete with them. For the crime of catching up, Jennifer says that TK deserves to have his dreadlocks ripped out. That seems fair.

Ron & Christina make their way to the Taipei rail station, and are directed to take a train, then a taxi to a town out in the countryside call Jiji, with Christina making a smart decision to ask for a timetable. Christina can also speak pretty fluent Mandarin, so these last two legs have played right into her strengths.

Speeding ahead, they've secured at least a small lead on the other teams. Nathan & Jennifer reach the train terminal first, leading to a hilarious moment when they try and hide from TK & Rachel, who are right behind them. You're at a train station, buying tickets, all to the same destination. Oh no, they've discovered your secret "buying tickets for the train" strategy!

Also, the camera crew following you is probably a bit of a giveaway.

However, there actually does appear to be a tiny bit of advantage to be gained here, as TK & Rachel discover that there are ticket vending machines that are faster than waiting in line. It probably doesn't make a difference for them in getting on the train, but it's useful information. They, Nathan & Jennifer and Nicolas & Donald all make the same train, though the latter team just makes it on. I fully expect Nicolas to strap Donald to him at some point in this leg.

Ronald & Christina find the cluebox in Jiji, which reveals the Roadblock. There's basically no skill in this one, beyond the power to not freak out. A team member will have to ride in a truck that's being driven back and forth on a teeter-totter, than take a 17 second ride underwater in an amphibious vehicle. Ronald, afraid of heights, is apparently the natural choice for a stunt Roadblock, for some reason that I'm sure will become apparent later. At least he doesn't have to do anything. He gets through it without too much difficulty (beyond hyperventilating a little) and this team is back on the road. They're sent back to Taipei to find a teahouse, for their next clue.

The other three teams arrive after they've left at about the same time, though the Roadblock is first come, first served. Rachel, then Nathan, then Donald go in order for their teams, with TK & Rachel discovering that the Speed Bump is waiting for them at the end. They'll have to run a gauntlet of fireworks about a mile away, then be doused with water - I suppose in case they're on fire at that point.

This lets Nathan & Jennifer jump into second place and head back to Taipei, or as Nathan continually refers to it, Tahpie. At least he's not trying to get to Bangkok. Nicolas & Donald move up to third place.

TK & Rachel reach the Speed Bump site and get decked out in full fireproof gear (I'm assuming) and a motorcycle helmet and run through the Field of Doom. It's not difficult at all, though it does take some nerve. With the two teams ahead of them having missed an earlier train by minutes, there's a shot for them to make back up that time. It's hard to tell if this made a difference, but TK buying tickets from the machine appears to have gotten them a spot on the same train as the other two teams, just in time.

Jennifer once again stews impotently at the temerity of them for not rolling over and dying. She interprets that fact they don't freak out every ten seconds as "not trying", and that they're doing a bunch of hard work and sweating, so of course they deserve to win. I wonder if it ever occurred to her that a calm attitude to the race might just be a winning strategy? But hey, keep the yelling idea going. It may pay off eventually.

Ron & Christina have made their way to the tea house back in Taipei, discovering the clue written in Mandarin at the bottom. Christina deciphers it almost completely, discovering that they need to go to a nearby night market, needing help only to determine that they need to find a clown there for the next clue. The clue is the Detour, which has them choosing between setting afloat 20 "sky lanterns" by light fires under them, and traversing a rocky footpath barefoot "to reduce stress". Oh, you wacky Taiwanese!

This seems like a pretty simple choice, depending on your pain tolerance. The 20 sky lanterns look like a pretty time consuming task, while the rocky path is just about mind over matter and can be sped up at will. Although Christina complains quite a bit about the path, they get through without much trouble and receive their final clue of the day, sending them to the Pit Stop at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Plaza. This is really never going to be shown in China.

The other three teams are making their way to the market at this point, with Nicolas & Donald getting their first, TK & Rachel second, and Nathan & Jennifer last, Jennifer momentarily misinterpreting "clown" as "cow".

All the teams choose the rocky pathway option, turning the Detour into a literal footrace. However, the tide is turned here when Nathan & Jennifer get some unfortunate advice from a local, who advises them to take the subway to the park with the footpath, with the other two teams taking cabs. The reasoning is that traffic will be bad, which has some potential merit, but it's late evening, and a look around reveals that that just isn't so.

Nathan seems to question this all the way, wanting to ask about cabs, but Jennifer dismisses it. Once they reach the surface again, Jennifer wants to proceed by bus, with Nathan pleading to consider a cab once again, though indecision rules between these two. Jennifer asks Nathan to "make a decision" and "be a man", which is pretty rich after shutting him out for the past however many minutes. Nathan is then briefly possessed by the spirit of everyone watching the show and replies, "Honestly, Jen, I can't stand you." Amen.

We switch over to a non-dysfunctional team, Ron & Christina, who make their way to the Pit Stop in first place, in one of the strongest, mistake-free legs this entire season. They move on to the final, and are awarded with a trip to Curacao as the bonus prize.

TK & Rachel rush past Nicolas & Donald on the rock path, while in the background, an aged Chinese lady bangs a gong with a fervor resembling Animal from the Muppets. These two teams are now heading to the Pit Stop, although not without a little bit of difficulty in finding cab drivers that can find the plaza. This seems a bit like a New York cabbie not knowing where Times Square is, but perhaps standards are different there.

The question will be if it's enough of a difficulty for Nathan & Jennifer to make up that time. The answer is... well, no. TK & Rachel are second for the leg, fending off their double secret probation, and while the producers try to drum up some drama, Nicolas & Donald wobble in for third place.

This leaves Nathan & Jennifer in last, and there's no non-elimination to save them. Ultimately, these guys couldn't work as a team, and couldn't handle other teams being ahead of them, proving that there is such a thing as being too competitive for your own good on this race.