The Amazing Race: I Just Hope He Doesn't Croak On Us

This week's The Amazing Race began at the eighth pit stop of the race -- in Mumbai, India. Because they won the last leg of the race, TK & Rachel were the first team to begin this ninth leg at 1:25 PM. The teams would now have to fly almost 4,000 miles to Osaka, Japan. After landing, they would then travel by taxi to Kishiwada Castle where they would have to search the grounds for their next clue.

TK & Rachel left and went to a local hotel so that they could use the internet and look for tickets. Nicolas & Donald left at 1:33 PM (with only $414 for this leg of the race) and grabbed a taxi for the airport. Ron & Christina left at 1:44 PM and left for a travel agency at the airport. Nathan & Jennifer didn't get to take off until 2:38 PM but it really didn't matter. All of the teams were able to get tickets with ease. TK & Rachel bought tickets for a flight that would be leaving at 6:55 PM while the other three teams bought tickets for a flight that left at 8:30 PM.

The three teams checked in and left on their flight wondering where TK & Rachel were. Nobody had seen them since the pit stop. Well, TK & Rachel had left long ago on their flight but when we were told how many stops they would be making it became quickly apparent that they'd made the wrong decision. TK & Rachel's flight would be making stops in New Delhi and Beijing before landing in Osaka. The 8:30 flight that the other three teams were on would only be making one stop before arriving in Osaka -- in Hong Kong.

As TK & Rachel landed in each of their stopover locations, they wondered where everybody else was at and began getting worried. The other three teams (still wondering about TK & Rachel) landed in Osaka at 2:30 PM and went to work finding a taxi to take them to the castle. Nathan & Jennifer reached the castle first and almost immediately found the clue box. Teams would now have to travel by taxi to JR Noda Station there in Osaka. Then they would have to find the cleaning man who would give them their next clue.

As Nathan & Jennifer left to find the station, Ron & Christina arrived at the castle and began looking inside the castle instead of on the grounds. Nicolas & Donald then arrived at the castle but Ron & Christina were able to make it to the clue box before them. Both of the teams were now on their way to the station, with Donald really gasping for air in his taxi. Nicolas was worried about him but he said he'd just grab some water when they arrived at their next location.

Meanwhile, Nathan & Jennifer found the cleaning man and he gave them their next clue. It was a Road Block asking who was the backseat driver? One person from each team would have to be a taxi driver for this task. They would have to put on a hat and gloves and then transport a local couple five miles through the confusing streets of Osaka and drop them off at a specific address. Once there, the couple would give them their next clue and the team member would have to drive back to their partner before opening the clue.

Jennifer chose to be the taxi driver for her team and was checking herself out in the mirrors inside the car as Ron & Christina arrived at the station. I had to laugh when the lady in the back seat rolled her eyes at Jen's primping! Ron & Christina found the cleaning man and she chose to do the task. Unfortunately for them, Christina is not a good driver. She'd even already remarked on the way to the station that there was no way she'd be able to drive in this city. Too late now Christina! I don't really think it would have mattered much if Ron had chosen to drive anyway.

One thing that confused me on this part of the race is that the teams were told in the clue that they could not have a local lead or help them and that the couple in the backseat of their taxi couldn't help either. I guess asking for directions was OK though because both Jennifer and Christina did that multiple times. As they were beginning their five-mile trek, Nicolas & Donald found the cleaning man at the station and received their clue. Nicolas decided that he would be doing the driving and almost immediately asked for directions as well.

I must say that this task looked awfully confusing and I probably would have completely freaked out! The three drivers though finally figured out that they were needing to drop their passengers off at the Post Office. The three of them seemed to have dropped them off at about the same time (and received their clue) but getting back to their teammate at the station would be a different matter. Jennifer got back to Nathan with relative ease and opened their clue. Teams would now have to travel by taxi to the Kito-Mido Buddhist Temple for their next clue.

Nathan & took off in a taxi while Christina arrived back at the station to pick up her dad. Nicolas was totally and completely lost while TK & Rachel were finally landing in Osaka. I loved the little snippet with Jennifer trying to tell Nathan about her experience as a taxi driver when he just cut her off and said that he couldn't listen to her because he was watching the driver. Wow! How nice Nathan!

Nathan & Jennifer were the first to arrive at the temple and get the next clue. It was a Detour - Sense of Touch or Sense of Smell. In Touch, teams would have to make their way on foot to the Shimojima Building where they would have to play a game of soccer with mini robots controlled by cell phones. Once each team member scored a goal against countering robots, they would receive their next clue. In Smell, teams would make their way to a two-story flower shop, that only sold artificial flowers, and use just their noses to identify one real flower hidden among the thousands of artificial ones. After they found the real flower, they would receive their clue from the shopgirl.

Nathan & Jennifer tried to determine which place was closer but when a local told them they were both ten minutes away, they decided to do Sense of Smell. Ron & Christina also decided to do Sense of Smell. Meanwhile, Nicolas found his way back to the station to pick up his grandfather who told him that they were about ten minutes behind the other teams. Nicolas and Donald decided to do Sense of Touch and began making their way to the Shimojima Building.

Nathan & Jennifer and Ron & Christina were both overwhelmed by how many flowers there were in the shop and began to doubt if they'd made the right choice. Putting their hands behind their backs, they decided to make a go for it with Ron & Christina on the top floor while Nathan & Jennifer went to sniffing on the ground floor. After Nicolas scored his first goal with his robot, we were shown TK & Rachel in a taxi leaving the airport in Osaka. (I must say that the robot task looked completely awesome!)

After having no luck on the first floor, Nathan & Jennifer go upstairs to begin sniffing. They find their flower before Ron & Christina and get their next clue. Teams would now have to travel by taxi through Osaka and find Tempozan Park where they would find Phil for their next pit stop.

Ron & Christina found their flower and received their clue while Nathan & Jennifer were still looking for a taxi driver that even knew where Tempozan Park was. They jumped in a taxi and, with Christina's ability to speak Japanese, were on their way while Nathan & Jennifer begin falling apart yet again. Finally, a local helped Nathan & Jennifer out by telling a driver in Japanese where they wanted to go. When they got into the taxi, Jennifer accused Nathan of pushing her in (which he clearly did not do when they showed the replay). Back at the Touch task, Donald finally got his goal and they received their clue. They were off to the pit stop now themselves.

Even though Ron & Christina's driver had to stop and ask for directions, they still arrived at the pit stop first. (Phil was so perfectly deadpan when he told them!) Each one of them won an electric vehicle for coming in first. Nathan & Jennifer were the second team on the mat and were frustrated because they haven't won a leg of the race yet and because they continue to bicker between themselves. Nathan said that the best team would wind up finish last and that it would be them! Jennifer quickly corrected him. Nicolas & Donald were the third team to reach Phil and were very happy to still be in it.

TAR hurried us up through TK & Rachel's tasks since we knew they were well behind the other teams and would definitely be the last team to arrive. (Rachel did the taxi Road Block and they did the Sense of Smell Detour.) When they finally met up with Phil, he told them they were the last team to arrive but that this leg was a non-elimination leg. (How convenient!) He told them they were nearly three hours behind the other teams and that they would have to overcome a Speed Bump in the next leg of the race. I don't see how in the world they're going to make up the ground unless one of the other teams really mess up (like they did this time) or they get saved by everybody waiting around for a flight or for a place to open.

Next week, we'll find out who the final three teams will be. Jennifer says she wants to rip the dreadlocks out of TK's head (I wonder what he did to her?). At an airport, Christina told a counterperson to tell the other teams that the flight was full. Jennifer told the counterperson not to listen to them as we get a glimpse of Christina's evil smile!

So what did you think about this week's episode? What do you think about this leg being a non-elimination? Do you think TK & Rachel will be able to overcome their hurdles in the next leg? And what about those streets of Osaka! I don't think you could pay me enough to drive over there.

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