I'm always loath to try and rank seasons, and I won't do it now, but I do agree that insofar as the route, tasks, and the course construction by WRP in general this was one of the best seasons since the early era of TAR (generally those seasons where the fast forward was not limited in its availability).
It has that feel to it the entire season, and the task designers did a really good job in making the tasks non-generic and difficult, thus forcing many teams to think through their choices.
Casting is a flavor of the month sort of thing, what some people like about some casts may be the reason why others don't like the same cast from the same season. But what we can comment on is how teams are edited. I've never been a fan of the editing as heroes or as villains in some seasons; I don't like the editors trying to force an opinion on me about the teams, and I've always been more partial to teams who competed well, and earned their way into the final legs; and I also like to recognize good teams who run into terrible luck.
By that standard I am grateful that the editors seemed to have mostly stepped away from that cartooning of teams this season, although I think they did pour it on a little too much with Mark-Bopper and Rachel Reilly-Vanessa, when we and they didn't need to do so. Otherwise, this was a quite competent cast, and it was a change to see a boot order that almost paralleled the average placement performances of the teams. The consistency of the teams after the second leg to the end of the Race was really unusual, but it's nice to know that it is possible to have teams sort themselves out by their own competence. So on that basis, I am pleased with the fact that the best three teams were the final three, and that Rachel-Dave got the opportunity to show how good as Racers they are by making an unprecedented mistake (although inadvertent) and still recover from it to win. As I alluded to in a post last night; while they are the first team to win eight legs (67% by a different measure), and the best performing winners ever, they still didn't quite catch Eric-Jeremy's record in TAR 9 for the best performing team placement average. (The difference -- Rachel-Dave's 6th place finish on leg 3; whereas Eric-Jeremy only had one finish as low as 4th their entire season.) But they deserve kudos for working through their circumstances and re-discovering how to really work together as a team, and for their consistency; not to mention setting that record of being the only team to finish a leg without finishing a task and without being eliminated. A very remarkable team; no doubt about it.
I was never surprised by Rachel Reilly's meltdowns over the course of this season; after watching her do this during the last two seasons of Big Brother, I would have been surprised had it been any other way. But kudos to her and Brendon for realizing what it is for what it is, and working beyond it, and those two, after all of the challenges they've imposed on themselves in the last two years in the eye of the camera, have certainly earned respect for being able to handle each other. It certainly is a better outcome than some other male-female teams that endured meltdowns and that did not survive over the long term.