The teams that moved up played it smart, those that didn’t, well, didn’t. Where did they go wrong? What kind of strategy has been working the best? And was it really necessary to sleep outside in the rain?
The race continues, with an equalizer that grouped the teams together again and put the playing field even. However, the one thing that will always keep the teams separate is their brainpower. Smart teams in focus are doing well, overcoming their mistakes. The others... well, they keep hanging on by a thread.
To begin with, there were really two equalizing things in this week: the Ferris Wheel and the opening times of the various attractions. Getting to the Ferris Wheel early meant you were in position to get the next clue faster. But after 12:30 a.m., it was equalized. Next, you had to know your next stop and take it from there. There was more to strategy at this point, but this is covered in my thoughts on each team.
One thing I need to point out before I continue. There is smart, and there is stupid. There was only one team with any justification for sleeping outside in the rain, and that was the Frat boys. Drew and Kevin wanted that fast forward, and that was needed to insure they got it. From what I can tell, there were only two teams smart enough to stay out of the rain; Team Guido (Joe and Bill), and the mother/daughter (Nancy and Emily). All teams knew their next stop (although one team was misguided). There wasn't any point in getting wet and miserable all night. Joe and Bill visited all night restaurants and old haunts. Nancy and Emily used a hotel (cost money, but there are some places they could have stayed cheap). The others... what did they buy? Minutes? Not worth it folks, minutes are nothing, hours are everything.
So how smart were the teams this week?
Drew and Kevin (Frat Brothers). As I said last time, if they got focused, they were a team to be feared. Consider them feared. Missing out on the Ferris Wheel by minutes, they knew it had cost them hours. They made the smart choice, going for the fast forward. They got it, and jumped to the lead. Later it might hurt them, but for now, they are sitting pretty (er, well, maybe ugly, but their position is pretty).
Frank and Margarita (Separated Parents). This team has improved on all fronts this week. They are getting along better, and their alliance with the lawyers allowed them to tailgate on the shortcut to the rest stop. I'm not yet sure they are an elite team, but they are advancing in my opinion.
Rob and Brennan (the Lawyers). So far, their alliance with Frank and Margarita is one-sided. Still, they are giving a little, and can potentially gain a lot from that. I consider them a stronger team. They have been in the top three teams since the start. They have a great relationship, and it shows.
Bill and Joe (Life Partners, Team Guido). These guys are both very smart and very stupid. They considered a strategy I didn't think of, but should have. This far into the race, they knew which teams are strong, and which are weak. They believe (rightly so) that they are a strong team. Once an equalizer kicks in, they have an opportunity. Let the weak teams tailgate on their knowledge. Bring them along for the ride. Let a STRONG team fall behind or even be eliminated because you are aiding some weak teams. Weak teams can be used to their advantage in this way, and cut loose when it is crunch time. So while they had the right idea, they blew the implementation. Paul/Amie and Nancy/Emily are weak teams they should have shared the shortcut knowledge with. They would have beaten out David and Margaretta if they had. They are a much bigger threat, and may have finished in next to last (and thus in a weaker position) if they had done things correctly. This team is my strategic choice to win, and I hated to see their arrogance and game playing interfere with a smart game.
Dave and Margaretta (Grandparents). This team is smart, and showed it. They have made several mistakes, but they have made up for them. The shortcut aided them well, and let them bypass teams who got a better train. They are focused, strong, and a great team. If they stop making mistakes, they can easily catch up and perhaps even win. They have a kind of sentimental and logical combo that makes me root for them to do well. They have done well in the race, and I don't expect them to be eliminated soon.
Paul and Amie (engaged). They also have improved since the last episode. They aren't fighting as much, and the realize they need allies. The problem is, their best allies are their competition. Lenny/Karyn and Nancy/Emily are the people most likely to be the next eliminated (as well as themselves). Can you be allies when you are in the bottom tier? I tend to think not. When you are this far down, you need to avoid elimination at all costs.
Lenny and Karyn (dating couple). An underdog team as well. But they are still in the race. Not that I think they will last long. I'm certain that they would have been eliminated if Emily had played smart.
Nancy and Emily (Mother/Daughter). This team is my sentimental favorite (and this comes from a guy who isn't easily moved by sentiment). Perhaps it is because they have the most special bond of all; parent/child (I know the person I'd most like to have as a partner in a future Amazing Race would be my father). Or perhaps it's because between the two of them they represent the kind of woman I'd want for a mate; the beauty and strong will of Emily combined with the maturity and family-oriented woman of Nancy. They are still in the race, but for the second time in next-to-last position. They can't last much longer than three more episodes unless something drastic happens. When they get eliminated, I would love to give them a hug, a kiss, and my best wishes for a happy future. It's just sentiment, because I like them. My logical side is fighting this big time. I don't think they can be more than a few minutes behind their immediate competition, but those minutes could have killed them.
Pat and Brenda. What went wrong? Bad information, and two equalizers. They were unlucky enough to have been in first place when a few equalizing tasks nullified that advantage. To compound their problem, they got unlucky in your detour information. I'm not really sure of where to go with this. If they had elected to play it safe with Notre Dame, I would have probably condemned them for not pressing their advantage. If they had gotten their task right, I'd have applauded them for pressing it. As it stands, I really can't find fault with them. Fate conspired against them every step of the way. To them, my best. They were not eliminated due to stupidity (such as Matt and Anna) or arrogance/blindness (the teachers), but due to bad luck all the way around. It was just the luck of the draw. Some get their point, others crap out. They just got a house number.
Jeffrey Clinard is a graveyard shift computer expert working for two major Las Vegas resorts. He has a Master's degree in marketing, a job he could not be paid enough to return to. He makes use of both his intuition and logic in his occupation and in his hobbies of reading detective novels and analyzing reality TV shows.