The Amazing Race: Ron, reformed?

Ronald_christinahsu_theamazingrace1 It's a miracle! It took nine weeks, but Daddy Dearest finally managed to visit a country without once blowing his top. He still made a spectacular ass of himself on the way out of India, though, so I still hate him.

"Dad! If you keep spoiling..." "I'm not spoiling!" "Yes you are!" 

The teams went from the chaos of Mumbai, India to the completely different chaos of Osaka, Japan. Once there, they had to drive a cab, battle with robots (it is Japan, after all), find a flower, and make it to the park on time.

Team Daddy Dearest had a couple of advantages this week: First, Ron made an effort this leg to control his temper and not blow up at Christina, cab drivers, judges, random passers-by, stray pigeons, and the universe as a whole. Second, Christina actually speaks a fair bit of Japanese, which definitely helps. Still, they only beat Team Odious to the pitstop by a few minutes.

Speaking of Team Odious... all the negative energy Ron wasn't pumping out found another outlet in Nate and Jen. Jen complained how there were no street signs in English... which you'll have in Japan. Then she moans about how no one speaks English in Osaka (more on this later) and talks about her trials in the Roadblock -- and Nate completely ignores her. How dare he not hang on her every word? (Although come on, Nate, how hard is it to nod and smile and fake attention?) My favorite was the snit-fit Jen threw when she accused Nate of pushing her into a cab. Did he? Maybe, but at that point, I'm surprised he didn't push her under a speeding truck -- and I'd someone nearby would do the same thing to Nate himself.

Team Gramps and Skippy was consistently third this time out -- but they managed to keep their cool. Donald is definitely starting to show some wear from all the travels, but he's hanging in there. It was mostly up to Nicholas this week -- he tackled the cab-driving challenge, he coaxed Donald through the robots-playing-soccer challenge, and he carried Don's bag most of the time. "I'll be 69 in a few weeks, I'm 45 years older than just about everybody in the race, and yet I'm still hanging in there," Don says. Good job, Gramps -- you're pretty awesome.

Team Mellow made a strategic error this week: They were first to start, and went directly to a hotel to try to find a flight to Osaka. They asked to get to Osaka the fastest possible way, which the hotel travel guy interpreted as the first flight out. Alas, said flight had two stops, while the flight everyone else took, which left an hour and a half later, had only one stop. That means TK and Rachel arrived in Osaka hours after everyone else, and were pretty much out of the running the whole time. They got to the pitstop at the end of the day a full three hours after everyone else. The good news: It's a non-elimination round. The bad news: They'll be facing the dreaded Speed Bump in the next leg.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends:

  • Quote of the week (and possibly of the year): Don describes how Nicholas is doing most of the heavy lifting: "He's like a bitch for me, it's perfect!" That, my friends, is awesome.
  • Hallelujah! Christina finally snaps back at Ron for all his complaining. If only she did it with a little less of a whine in her voice. But hey, I'll take what I can get.
  • Have any of you been to Japan? When I traveled there, I couldn't go three feet without tripping over someone who wanted to practice their English with me. Granted, I wasn't in Osaka, but it's a big city, and English is taught in just about all the schools. However, at that point, I'd perfected my "Hi, I'm a harmless, friendly and doubtless completely lost foreigner" look, which (along with the "exotic" blond hair and pasty skin) inclined people to want to talk to me. Jen radiated aggravation and hostility, which I'm betting made a bunch of people unwilling to test their English with her.
  • I loved the robot-soccer challenge. Was I imagining things, or did one of the defender robots have swords? That's the way soccer should be played!
  • Did anyone else fear for the poor Japanese taxi passengers our racers were ferrying around? I'd be surprised if Nicholas, Jen and Christina didn't learn a few Japanese swear words.
  • Jen's first reaction on getting in the cab as driver -- check out how she looked in the hat. I loved the eye-roll that her passengers flung at each other. That's understood in any language.
  • Was it just me, or did the "Welcome to Osaka!" lady seem distinctly sleepy by the time TK and Rachel got there?
  • I loved that one of the clue-bearers was a cleaning guy -- that would be a heck of a lot harder to find in any American public transportation station...

Next week, Daniel gets back from his own transcontinental jaunt in time to guide you through the final episodes. I didn't even get a postcard -- did you?