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We did things as a family … worth more than a million bucks. – The Amazing Race 8, Episode 7


by LauraBelle

I’ve decided the problem with the Family Edition of The Amazing Race isn’t in concept, but just failing to go the way the viewers want or producers planned. The teams that are our favorites tend to get eliminated week after week, leaving us no one to root for. The team the producers seem to want us to root for as an emotional favorite has somehow become the villains.

After entering into a message board debate over the merits of the Weaver family, or lack thereof, I decided to take the issue to the experts. Knowing I couldn’t be alone in my feelings for the Florida team, I posted a yay or nay poll here in this recap space last week.

The results were astounding. There wasn’t one single respondent that posted a “yay.” The closest to it were a few who feared the Weavers were victims of editing, yet still admitted to liking them in the beginning, but now deciding to give them a thumbs down. In fact most agreed to having empathy for the fatherless Weavers that lessened with each week. Many called them hypocritical. Some of the most damaging reviews of the Weavers have been from fellow Christians believing they are being given a bad name by the representation of the Weavers. Yet, there they sit, finding a way to hold on, week after week. One respondent questioned the editing suggesting the Weavers pray for grace or humility instead of divine intervention.

As the teams leave Costa Rica, it is the Paolos that are in the lead position, leaving at 7:27 AM. They are to travel to Playa Maracas where one person from the team will need to swim out to a buoy and retrieve the next clue. Marion has decided to not think about the pain in her legs. Son DJ now admits to total respect for his mother. No matter what happens on this race, this is a very good thing.

The Linzes leave just one minute later with one brother saying he likes to think they are the fastest and strongest team, but he knows it’s not all about being physically fit. The Bransens leave one minute later yet, and Lauren is calling this a team effort with all of them getting equal opportunities.

Tony Paolo decides he is the strongest in his family and swims out to the buoy. DJ questions the decision part way through, and Marion tells him Tony swims well, just takes his time. Nick Linz and Wally Bransen each represent their own families on the way to the buoy. Tony gets to the clue first, but perhaps pushes himself too hard as he then needs to call for the rescue team to come save him. DJ is pissed at his dad for doing it.

Nick and Wally reach the buoy just after and make it back to shore before Tony and the rescue team. Their clue sends them sixty miles to the town of Grecia, to the La Iglesia De Metal church, whey they will need to get a clue from the altar boy. The Linzes try calling for directions at a phone booth, but aren’t able to get through, fearing it’s a language difficulty. The Bransens reach the phone booth, followed by the Paolos with DJ carrying his dad’s backpack. All let Tony make the phone call knowing he speaks Spanish very well. As it turns out the person on the other end speaks English and they get their directions. At two-and-a-half hours away, the Linz family decides on no potty breaks.

The Godlewski sisters leave Coasta Rica at 8:32 AM and knowing they argue a lot, decide they have to pull it together. The Weavers are the last to leave at 9:00 AM. It’s Rolly who makes the swim to the buoy shortly after one of the Godlewski sisters. Hopping in a cab, it’s good to see the Weavers’ Spanish improving as they have changed “El Speedo” to “El Rapido.” They also start a chant in the taxi for their driver, “Go Arnold, go!”

As the Bransens reach the church, they notice a funeral going on and request to each other to remain quiet and respectful. The clue sends them on a Detour – Brush or Barrel. In Brush the teams need to take a taxi to an ox cart factory. They need to finish decoratively painting the cart wheels. In Barrel the teams take a taxi to a sugar cane plantation where they need to load one ton of sugar cane on a cart, then deliver it to the warehouse. Once at the warehouse they need to search in five pre-marked barrels for the next clue.

The Bransens taxi driver gets lost, putting them behind, while the Paolos and Linzes arrive quickly at Barrels. The Bransens find themselves back at the church, while the Godlewskis are arriving there for the first time. The Godlewskis and Bransens both arrive to paint the cart wheels with the Weavers arriving to do the same shortly after.

Marion must still be worried about Tony after his swim as she keeps monitoring him with an, “Easy, Ton!” The Linzes finish the Brush first and sitting atop the sugar cane on the way to the factory, one of the brothers makes a comment that he has sticks going up his butt. They also make a comment that they feel like they are looking for pumpkins. As the Paolos ride atop their sugar cane, Tony sings the Frito Bandito song.

The Linzes find the barrels first and try opening them the hard way to get the clue before they realize their mistake and get the clue. The Paolos follow shortly after. The clue asks the teams to fly back to the states to Phoenix, Arizona where they need to drive to Bondurant SuperKart School. Marion asks what they hell they are going to Phoenix for. She wants to go to New Zealand.

The Weaver sisters argue about the pattern being painted on the cart wheels as do the Godlewskis. The Bransens finish painting the wheels, followed by the Weavers. The Godlewskis are clearly taking too much time as one sister says she uses the skinny brush to outline the pattern, then the fat one to fill it in. They wonder if their constant perfection is what keeps killing them. They eventually finish, and their wheels look quite lovely.

The Linzes arrive at the airport first and feel safe with a few connecting flights that will get them to Phoenix by 9:35 AM. The ticket counter closes before the Paolos can get tickets and Marion tells her sons it’s because of their nasty mouths, but going to another counter they improve on their flight time with a 9:20 arrival. The Weavers, Bransens and Godlewskis all arrange for the same flight.

The Weavers corner one of the Paolo sons and ask why they were Yielded. He explains it’s simply because they were in last place and they were trying to knock a team completely out. All the Weavers gasp at the thought. Linda says to him that they like him and have been nothing but friendly to him. She then gets two inches from his face and says, “You don’t have any Yields left, and we do, Sweets!” Nice. Just think that mouth was probably praying for God to help her moments earlier.

On the connecting flight for the 9:20 arrival, the Godlewskis’ reservation has been lost. They take a chance and catch a cab to Newark for a different flight that is supposed to arrive at 9:20 just the same. Their flight somehow arrives forty-five minutes early, and they get a head start on everyone else. Driving through Phoenix they decide it’s “hotter than snot.”

As the others arrive, Marion thinks it’s best not to run in the airport, thinking the airports would frown on that. The Paolos then get lost in the parking lot, not being able to find their arranged car. Meanwhile the Linzes’ flight arrives and they get their car, placing the Paolos at the back of the pack. As they find their car Marion tells DJ she hopes to God he never gets married as she thinks no one else would put up with him. She can’t figure out why Tony doesn’t knock DJ’s head off his shoulders because of his attitude.

Reaching the Bondurant SuperKart school first, the Godlewskis find a Roadblock. One of them will need to complete fifty laps in a gokart with a mandatory pit stop at lap twenty-five. Michelle will try her luck at this. She has a good lead before Wally Bransen gets on the track behind her. It’s just the Weavers’ dumb luck to find a second race track challenge on the race. Linda tells the workers there her husband was killed on a race track and that she needs some compassion. Her daughters are crying again.

As the Linzes arrive at the track, Tommy decides to race as they make jokes about him not even being old enough to drive. He has no fears on the race track as he makes up some time, nearly catching up to Linda Weaver. The Bransens feel badly for the Weaver kids and tell them their dad would be proud of them. The Paolos arrive finally and DJ does the driving, with his mom thinking he is going too slow.

Michelle Godlewski finishes first and receives a clue to drive thirty-two miles to Fort McDowell to an ancestral tribal land, the pit stop for this leg of the race. Once back in the car the sisters argue about directions once again. Everyone gasps as Tommy’s gokart runs into Linda’s on the track, but everyone is okay.

Wally, Linda and Tommy finish with Linda looking quite haggard. Driving, she and her kids pass a garbage truck and laugh saying maybe it’s the Cleaver family, their pet name for the Paolos. The Bransens stop for directions at the Ramada Inn, and Wally gets upset with his daughters for rushing him out of there before he could find good directions. The Paolos finish on the track.

The Godlewskis arrive at the pit stop in first place, which I think might be their first time since the first leg of the race, and win a trip for four to Belize on behalf of Travelocity. The Weavers arrive in second place, saying every day they are conquering new things. The Linzes come in third.

The race is on between the Paolos and Bransens. Marion, knowing they are last, and not knowing that the Bransens got lost, hopes for a non-elimination leg and tells her sons to put all their clothes on. DJ says he will look ridiculous, and she says she doesn’t care. As they stop to dress, the Bransens arrive. With their extra clothing halfway on, the Paolos then rush to the pit stop realizing they’re not last. This has to be the funniest thing I have ever seen on TAR, as Marion is running pulling her big lady panties up over her clothes as she goes. Tony has huge whitie tighties on over his clothes as well. Phil gets quite a laugh and tells them they look ridiculous and that they are team number four. He quips to Tony, “I was wondering what kind of support you had on this race.”

The Bransens, knowing for sure they are last, stop to put all their clothing on as well, hoping for that non-elimination leg. Luckily for them Phil does indeed inform them it’s a non-elimination. He strips Wally and his daughters of all their money and possessions. They aren’t deterred, saying they don’t need money, clothing or personal items to win.

Tonight happens to be our lucky night, as the show’s not over yet. We have another whole hour of TAR tonight. It could last another six hours and never amount to the entertainment from the last five minutes, seeing Marion Paolo running in pulling her big panties on.

The Godlewski sisters leave this pit stop at 11:43 PM, with instructions to drive to Mesa, Arizona and find the Fighter Combat International Airport. They note it’s getting down to the nitty gritty, and the strong teams are going to emerge. Leaving at 11:48 the Weavers believe the other teams don’t like them because they’re different. Or perhaps it’s because you threaten young boys, Linda. Just a thought …

Taking off only three minutes later, the Linzes are cracking jokes again, saying they have heard there’s rattlesnakes out in these parts. On a more serious note, they mention the mistakes they have made, and say they may have lost the battle, but not the race. Leaving at 12:06, the Paolos say they feel the pressure all the time and take nothing for granted.

The Bransens, leaving at 12:14, feel they’re in a good area to beg for money, not getting any this leg due to it being a non-elimination the time before last. They plan to go sit outside the casino. Wally has no luck and lets his daughters do the lion’s share of the work. The three attractive young ladies have no trouble rounding up some cash.

On the way to Mesa, the Godlewski sisters are arguing about directions … again. The Linzes ask for directions from a cop and decide later it probably wasn’t very smart to tell a police officer that they were racing other cars. The Weavers arrive at the airport first and grab the #1 ticket right away. The Linzes are right behind them, followed by the Godlewskis. Linda wishes there was a Yield here, assumably for payback to the Paolos who arrive next. The Bransens bring up the rear, picking up #5.

At 4:30 AM the teams head out to the runway. One member of each family will go up in a fighter plane, do aerobatics, and maneuver the plane into doing a 360°. The first three up will be Meghan Linz, Sharon Godlewski and Rolly Weaver. They each complete their 360° on their first attempt, and receive a clue telling them to drive to Lipon Point in the Grand Canyon.

As Brian Paolo and Lauren Bransen prepare to go up in the fighter planes, they give each other a good luck hug. Both of them miss the 360° on their first attempt, and DJ gets pissed at his little brother for missing it. Both Brian and Lauren make it on the second try.

Linda notices no one driving behind her on the way to the Grand Canyon an Rolly decides it’s because the others are “stupid.” Once other teams catch up to them, the Weavers then throw garbage out their window at the Godlewskis. The Bransens and Paolos have trouble finding Lipon Point and the Bransens ask at a gas station.

When the Weaver vehicle is stopped to pay a $20 fee entering the Grand Canyon, Linda tells the person taking the money to give the next car a full history of the Grand Canyon, saying she knows they want to hear the whole thing. She figures this will slow them down. Yet once the Linzes arrive at the window to pay their vehicle fee, the man in the booth just tells them that the car in front of them is talking smack.

The Weavers go on to arrive at Lipon Point first and receive a clue to travel to Paige, Arizona and the Glen Canyon Dam where they will choose a guide to take them to the top. As the Linzes arrive they think maybe they should block the Weavers in with their car so they can’t leave, but decide against it. The Godlewskis arrive just after. The Bransens arrive in fourth place and the after getting stuck in a traffic jam, the Paolos reach what DJ refers to as the largest pot hole in the world, in last place.

The Weavers, Linzes and Godlewskis all arrive at the Glen Canyon Dam around the same time, but the Weavers hold back to use the restroom first. Once at the top of the dam the teams find a Detour. They will travel Horseshoe Bay by either Bearing or Bailing. In Bearing the teams will board a motorized raft and follow cards with compass coordinates to three separate locations. In Bailing the teams will find a submerged boat and use their hands and the tools provided to bail out the boat until it is light enough to carry to shore.

Linda tries for a high five as the other two teams pass them, and when she is snubbed, she wants to know why the others are so nasty to them. I don’t think anyone has time during the race to sit down and detail every reason to her. The Linzes and Godlewskis Bail and the Weavers do the Bearing. The Paolos are lost, following the wrong directions from Tony. Brian thinks it’s possible for them to catch up. Watching the Bransens drive, I could swear one of the daughters is eating her chap stick.

The Linzes finish bailing their boat quickly, but the Godlewskis are struggling. The Linzes clue sends them to Antelope Point at Lake Powell.They will get on a boat and search the lake for the house boat which is the pit stop for this leg of the race. As they pass the Weavers only having found 2 of their three compass points, the Linzes yell out, “We beat the Weavers!”

The Bransens arrive at the Dam and start Bailing. The Godlewskis have a hard time tipping their boat over and the Weavers finish finding all their compass points, making them think they can still beat the Linzes. The Godlewskis finally get their boat tipped over and finish. As the Linzes pull away from the Dam they see the Paolos just arriving. They then see the Weavers do a U turn and go around in the other direction. Linda stops to ask a truck how to get to Antelope Point, and does another U turn to go back the other way again.

The Bransens finish bailing just as the Paolos are arriving to begin Bailing. DJ tells his mother it’s a big river and he will drown her with no one finding her body as they argue about turning over the boat. They finish and leave, hoping to catch up to the Bransens on the drive to Antelope Point.

The Linzes are looking for marked boats and realize they should be looking for a marked path. Once they reach the path and the correct boat, the Godlewskis aren’t too far behind. They both search the lake, with the Linzes calling out, “Phil, where the hell are ya?” Eventually the Godlewski sisters do the unthinkable and pass up the Linzes, landing them in first place on Phil’s boat. He tells them they have won a Jayco Travel Trailer.

The Linzes arrive just after to take second place. Phil appears to be playing matchmaker between the Godlewski girls and the three Linz brothers. The Weavers arrive on the boat for third place. Rachel Weaver calls all the others on the race classless, saying they are the only family trying to live a Christian life. The only family. Does she mean the only family in the world or the only family in the race? Either way, I think that’s a far more classless thing to say than anything done to them on the race.

The Bransens are seen driving in their slow boat to get to Phil, but here come the Paolos with Tony zipping through Lake Powell, and Marion yelling, “We’re comin’, Phil!” But is it enough to overtake the Bransens?

The next team to step onto the mat on the houseboat is the Bransens, arriving in fourth place. DJ is in the boat yelling at Tony for his boat driving and yelling at Marion to not tip the boat over getting out. Stepping into last place and being eliminated, Tony says it’s a hard place to find, them says he had a ball and that they enjoyed every single moment of it.

Marion says people will think they’re killing each other, but the bottom line is they are still together, and no one is going to take it from them or break them apart. DJ, with tears in his eyes, says his mother impressed the hell out of him. When she said she was giving up, deep down she didn’t. “Some of the thing things she did amazed me. We did our best. I’m proud of her.” He also says the race showed him a different side of his mother. Tony says, “We did things as a family that were unbelievable, and worth more than a million bucks.” Amen.

How nice it is that they are honoring each other instead of trashing the other teams. I know they fought like crazy, but deep down this family has a lot of love for other. I’m venturing to say that seeing each other in a different light will go on to change their lives together. My mom and I used to play a game when I was a teenager deciding which famous people we would want to invite to our parties. The Paolos are good people, and I know they would be at the top of my list.

What do you think of the final four? Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com


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