Last night’s episode of The Amazing Race, “I’m Surrounded by Ninjas” had some fun aspects to it, but because of Nick and Vicki’s huge deficit, was more like the final leg of the Tour de France. Everyone was racing for first place, but no one was worried about being eliminated. Despite the producers best efforts to make it seem that way.
With Nick and Vicki’s easy elimination, we’re left with the final three teams racing for the one million dollar first place prize. Even more interesting is the 66% chance that an all-female team wins The Amazing Race for the first time in seventeen seasons. With little to discuss from last night’s episode, let’s just dive in to a preview of next Sunday’s finale.Jill and Thomas
Strength: With the only male left in the race, Jill and Thomas’s biggest strength over the remaining competition is quite literally strength. It’s not that Thomas is especially strong, but as the only remaining male, he’s naturally stronger than any of the remaining females. If there’s a Detour option that rewards physical prowess, the pair could get an edge.
Weakness: Thomas tries to take control of the team and push Jill to background during the course of the leg. This has led to bickering and squabbling with the pair throughout the race. Thomas has even admitted that he needs to respect Jill’s opinions and thinking more often. As the stress ramps up over the last leg, if Thomas tries to take control and Jill balks at his stubbornness, the pair could spend too much time bickering and not enough time racing.
X-Factor: It’s hard to deny Jill and Thomas’s success throughout the race already. They won four of the eleven legs including the last two. They would have won a fifth were it not for a cab error they made in Oman. The dating couple have been very consistent the entire race and a threat to win every leg.
Nat and Kat
Strength: The doctors have displayed a very level head throughout the race. Whether finishing in first place or struggling towards the back of the pack, Nat and Kat have never let their emotions get the best of them and impact their ability to race. As recent finales have shown, the last leg can be very dynamic with teams switching positions frequently. Their ability to stay level-headed throughout the process is vital to their success.
Weakness: The times when Nat and Kat have gotten into trouble are when they’re too stubborn to admit their own short comings as a team. Often his has been situations when they are driving somewhere and trying to read a map. They’re confident they can read a map and navigate themselves. However, the race has shown that sometimes the best solution is to ask for directions.
X-Factor: Undoubtedly the smartest team left in the race, the final leg always seems to have a very difficult mental challenge to it. If the doctors can zip through that challenge faster than their competitors, they have a good chance to win.
Brook and Claire
Strength: Of the final three teams, Brook and Claire have the best relationship. This has enabled them to easily weather situations where one offends the other (usually Brook asking for too much from the less athletic Claire) and avoid the bickering and arguing that has sank numerous other teams. Additionally, they have a pretty good structure where Brook is the main decision maker, but Claire is involved enough where she doesn’t feel ignored.
Weakness: Despite seeming like a very strong team, the pair has only won one leg, the second leg in Ghana. Small things have derailed their ability to finish in first place, such as this week’s error in reading the clue and suffering a 30 minute penalty which allowed Jill and Thomas to win. While the goal of the first eleven legs is to not get eliminated, now the goal is to win. Brook and Claire need to avoid those small mistakes in order to win.
X-Factor: Do not underestimate their ability to add humor to any situation. Brook and Claire almost never seem stressed out and truly seem to be enjoying everything they’re doing on the race. This type of attitude keeps a team light, making quick, smart decisions.
My pick for the winner? I’m going with the underdogs, Brook and Claire. It feels like we’re finally going to break through with an all-female winning team and no all-female team deserves it more than Brook and Claire. They’re one of the most likable teams in many seasons of the show and would certainly be on another all-star edition, if the producers decided to try one (hint, hint!).
Thoughts from this week’s episode:
- How cool was it that they drove the teams to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. The trepidation in the racer’s voices was phenomenal. Kat: “When you land, drive yourself towards the North Korean border. Really?” Hilarious.
- Vintage socks for Brook and Claire (see above). Loved ‘em.
- What was with Nat and Kat begging the gentleman in the airport to buy them a travel guide? We know they had money; they just got some at the start of the leg. Were they just trying to save a little bit of money? Or, as I theorize, they exchanged all of their money and had no Chinese money left.
- Brook really outdid herself at the Detour when she jump kicked the small portion of the board that remained after the soldier kicked it.
- Speaking of the soldiers, how awesome were the tae kwon do moves that the soldiers did to kick the boards?
Who will win The Amazing Race 17?