It was all about reversals of fortune this week on The Amazing Race. Leads were squandered, clues were lost, tires were blown, and previously perky attitudes were smashed to smithereens. Plus, some of the big bads just got easier to hate!

Look, a postcard from Daniel! "Greetings from Spoilers, wish you were here."

Our intrepid teams journeyed from stunningly gorgeous Dubrovnik to absolutely beautiful Florence, by way of twisty roads and a couple of gnarly challenges. For a while, everyone was on equal footing, as they all ended up on the same ferry from Split, Croatia to Ancona, Italy. But oh, those driving legs can bite you in the butt. However, this provided valuable lessons for future competitors:

Keep your Clue in your hand at all times. Rachel and TK stopped for directions, chatted to some lovely people in a cafĂ© — and left their clue card on the table. Yipe! That led to the tearing apart of the car, the tense standoff between the teammates, and TK almost — almost! — getting snippy. ("I’m too mellow to handle this," TK sighs when they get going again.) Fortunately, said lovely people were still there, and had the clue in their possession, so all was well. Plus, they gave the duo decent directions.

Weigh your options at roadblocks. No, I’m not talking about the game-provided roadblocks, I’m talking about the literal closing of the roads that happens when there’s a horrific accident between you and your destination. Ronald and Christina, Kynt and Vyxsin, and Nicholas and Donald were all taking the same route, and they all got slammed by a major road being closed. Nicholas and Donald elected to wait it out until the road opened rather than risk getting lost on the back roads. The other two teams decided to take their chances — and it didn’t work out too well for Team Perky Goth. The more lost they got, the more they started falling apart. It wasn’t pretty.

Keep your eyes open. Poor TK: He and Rachel were the second pair to reach the first challenge, but they were the last to leave. Why? Because TK was physically incapable of spotting the clue from the air. I don’t know what the problem was, but he circled and circled and circled in that ultralight, and team after team left him in the dust.

Keep your yap shut. I’m talking to you, Jen and Ronald. Good god, people, can you do nothing but criticize and complain? Even Jen’s compliments were catty — "I was really impressed that Nate really listened to me…" the subtext of which is "because I’m awesome and he’s an idiot and I’m always right." Gah!

Remember: The Fast Forward comes at a price. Nicholas and Donald elected to go for the Fast Forward rather than try the challenge — and that Fast Forward involved getting tattoos. Donald was shocked that he’d have to put something permanent on his body, but Nicholas apparently told him (off screen, alas), that a million bucks will pay for a very effective tattoo removal, if he so desires. I loved that both of the guys went through with the inking, and as a result, they bypassed the rest of the challenges and came in first.

Keep your cool — but if you can’t do that, keep trying. Oh, poor Team Perky Goth — Kynt doesn’t drive stick, and Vyxsin just kind of lost it after driving all night. They were at each other’s throats by the time they got to Vinci. "Like, honey, like what did you do to the damn car?" Vyxsin growled when the car wouldn’t move after Kynt attempted to drive. "Shut up. Just shut up, for once today…" Kynt snarled in reply. It was looking pretty bad, but when they finally got going again, Kynt came through: "You’re beautiful and you never give up.. never give up." Nice save.

That wasn’t enough to keep them out of last place (despite TK and Rachel blowing a tire on the way to the pit stop!), but maybe that moment of harmony swayed the karmic balance in their favor — this was a non-elimination round. But Team Perky Goth will face a new wrinkle next week — a speedbump, a task only they will have to complete. "[It’s like a] three-headed serpent that at any moment can spring forward," Vyxsin says. Come on, you’re Goths — three-headed serpents should be right up your alley!

Other thoughts:

  • TK and Rachel may be my current favorites. They were patient — or at least not openly contemptuous or screaming — of each other when things were rough (when Rachel left the clue, and when TK couldn’t spot the town name), and they were supportive and worked together well when they tackled the invention challenge. Not bad.
  • One question, though — was it illegal for TK to tag out and send Rachel up during the ultralight challenge? Because after the second flight, I would have been begging to switch places.
  • Jen drives me crazy — "We should have taken the Fast Forward! Nate did the wrong thing! Other people might win, and it will be all your fault!" Shut it, sister.
  • Also crazy-making — Ronald. He barked, he bullied, he demeaned and disrespected. He needs a serious kick to the backside, and I’m guessing there’s a line of viewers who would volunteer to administer it.
Posted by:Sarah Jersild