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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

Do Nice Guys Finish Last? – The Amazing Race 9, Finale Commentary


by LauraBelle

The question posed here, is if it’s true that nice guys finish last. Which of the three will win? Will it be the Frat Boys, Eric and Jeremy, who have one goal in mind, to win, and will step on whomever is in their way, along with grabbing every piece of ass they can? Will it be The Hippies, BJ and Tyler, who seem to have multiple goals of having fun, reveling in the experience that life has given them, and winning? Or will it be Ray and Yolanda who came on the show to win, but are finding a much better prize along the way, learning about each other, and that although they can get irritated with each other, they’re both in this thing to stay?

Normally I don’t watch Phil’s quick reviews of the following week that Phil shows every week, as I have usually recapped the show and don’t need the reminders, but since Phil was reviewing the entire season, I decided to watch, and found so many fun things I had forgotten about like Fran German dancing. Not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing Barry crack a bottle over her head, but watching her struggle with this was in a mean-spirited way quite fun. Since they left early on, I had forgotten about Lisa and Joni’s driving troubles, and the anger they spewed. I had forgotten about Wanda’s triumph of her fear of diving below the water. I hadn’t forgotten, but had it confirmed that Monica did say after carrying the fish all over Italy that it was the worst thing she had ever done, something she said again last week carrying the pots. I had forgotten how much fun the Trekkies, Dave and Lori, could be as they told the camera, “Nerds rule!”

Leaving the Buddha Shrine in Bangkok Thailand, and headed to the Royal Kraal to get clues in the form of T-Mobil Sidekicks from the snouts of elephants, BJ says he had thought they would always be in first, but they seem to be making the same mistakes others have made. Starting the last leg first, and losing the fear of being eliminated, he says it’s not all about winning. Eric and Jeremy leave a few hours later, and say they’re in it to win, and aren’t going to take second lightly. They haven’t ever seen elephants up close, but have seen them attack on TV, prompting me to think they watch too much Fox and not enough Animal Planet. As they leave the pit stop, Ray and Yolanda set a goal to catch the Hippies and Frat “Girls.” Ray is now realizing a discussion about a wrong turn can now turn into a discussion about their relationship, and he figures it’s turning into The Amazing Relationship Race.

Watching Eric and Jeremy with the elephants is reminding me of them with the monkeys last week, when they were jumping all over Eric. Thankfully, the elephants are not jumping. The Sidekicks given out by the elephants send them to Tokyo, Japan, Tyler is beyond himself with excitement. He has already been there, as his girlfriend, is Japanese, and he speaks the language fluently. The other teams aren’t too excited to hear this. This could be the leg they have been looking for, that finally pays off for them because of their previous traveling experience, and constantly speaking in small Japanese phrases.

Somehow the Hippies always manage to finagle their way through trouble, as Ray points out. The Frat Boys and Ray and Yolanda secure a flight that would arrive in Tokyo at 2:15, but BJ and Tyler find the flight booked. They find an alternate flight with has them arriving 90 minutes later, but vow not to give up, knowing that speaking Japanese is going to excel their progress. This has to be the worst leg for them to not make a flight. Any other leg they would have many more opportunities to make that time up. But somehow, the team that has already experienced two non-elimination legs, I have to think they’ll survive it.

In Japan, the teams reach a Detour which has them either carrying a maiden to a Japanese Tea Garden in a decorated box that is a way they used to carry royalty, or putting together a pair of folding messenger bikes and delivering two packages to two separate buildings. BJ and Tyler decide to use their Japanese language skills to their advantage and deliver the packages, while Ray and Yolanda and the Frat Boys decide to deliver the Maiden. As Eric and Jeremy set the maiden down, they make a comment their naughty fantasy has just come true. The disgusting thing is I don’t think it’s a joke. I’m sure they’ll find a way to work Double D into the fantasy as well. The Maiden just smiles, as I’m sure she has no clue what is being said about her.

The teams have to spend the night in the Capsule Land Hotel, which has tubes for people to sleep in instead of rooms, to house more people and save room. Someone makes the comment that it feels like prison, and I have to agree. Apparently no one in Japan is claustrophobic. They also must not place a huge importance on privacy. Besides, it looks so clean and sterile. And there’s no place for a mini bar.

Heading to an amusement park at the bottom of Mount Fuji, Jeremy sees in the horizon a “big ass mountain” and is shocked to see one in Japan. Eric shoots back, “Dumb Ass, it must be Mt. Fuji.” By this point in the race, we’re not laughing anymore, just shaking our head. However, Jeremy still seems to have more geography skills than Linda Weaver. Ray and Yolanda are lost as well, and try to stop at a Denny’s for directions, thinking they’ll find someone that speaks English. No such luck.

At the amusement park the teams find a Roadblock, where one person from each team has to ride three consecutive thrill rides while looking for a message someone on the ground is holding. If they miss it, or guess the wrong one, they have to start all over with the thrill rides. As Tyler and Eric are doing the rides, Eric complains he has snot coming out of his nose. I think I’d have puke coming out of my mouth. Honestly between that and the bungee jump a few weeks back, I don’t know which would be worse.

Tyler tries to trick Eric to make him think he saw the message on the second ride, even though it doesn’t show up until the third ride. Eric starts to think he will have to do it over again, but once they both see it on the third ride, he realizes he was fooled. He is extremely upset about Tyler trying to trick him, but who was it that cancelled the cabs a few weeks back? It was the Frat Boys. It takes a lot of well, y’know, to have the gall to now be upset at Tyler for this.

The clue has them going to Lake Yamanaka, where they will paddle duck paddleboats to the big swan boat. I’m not kidding. That’s what they have to do. This is the pit stop. Yes, the pit stop is the Big Swan boat. It makes you wonder what they were drinking and smoking when they planned this, and Jeremy pretty much answers that when he jokes he was the captain of the swan boat team in high school.

The Hippies reach the duck boat first, with the Frat Boys right behind. They keep their pace, and the Hippies go on to arrive on the mat in the Big Swan boat, I’m telling you I’m not kidding, in first place. They each win their own T Mobil Sidekick with free services, and I’m wondering if they’re the same ones that are covered in elephant snot. The Frat Boys start whining the minute they hit the mat about the Hippies playing dirty. The cab thing is mentioned, but the Frat Boys disregard it. Phil shoots a little smoke up the butts of the Frat Boys, by asking how it is that the Hippies beat them in the physical paddling part of the race, and wonder if they’re sure they’re ready for the last leg of he race. Gotta love that Phil.

I figured this had to be some type of elimination, as the Race wouldn’t be heading into the second hour of its finale with only two teams, and sure enough, Ray and Yolanda arrive late, but get a non-elimination pass, losing their money and all all their possessions. This will be a hard leg, though, to start with no money, and having to waste time trying to beg.

The teams leave the next morning, and find they are now flying back to the United States, headed to Anchorage, Alaska. BJ and Tyler say they have been training for this race their entire lives. As they leave a gift on Ray and Yolanda’s windshield, the Hippies say they approach their lives with wide-eyed enthusiasm and joy, and I believe them. The Frat Boys are just trying to kick anyone’s ass, and Ray and Yolanda are determined to get into first place, despite starting today in last place with no money and possessions. BJ and Tyler have left them with an envelope that says, “Be Mine, Love, The Hippies.” Inside the envelope is $20, and a note that says if Ray and Yolanda win the million, they expect to be paid back.

I just have to say this was the point of Fran and Barry and Ray and Yolanda helping the Hippies out with a little cash when they were out before. So many people questioned why anyone would wan to help another team out. Well, this is why. There might come a time whey you need help, so if you help others out, they’ll repay the kindness. $20 isn’t going to hurt anyone, and it gives them just a little to get by until they can get more. Sure, you can be selfish and say no, but then everyone has the right to do the same to you later on.

The Hippies and Frat Boys keep up their trickery of each other. As they return to the Hotel Nikko to wait for a shuttle to the airport, BJ and Tyler go upstairs to use the internet, and tell the desk personnel to tell anyone else that arrives that they don’t understand English when asked the same thing. Eric and Jeremy arrive and are told there is no internet, and use a phone to get earlier tickets than the Hippies are finding on the internet. From hereon out, it’s just going to be them trying to trick each other. That’s all that’s left.

Ray and Yolanda head into a restaurant to beg for cash, and Ray wears a sign that says, “Yen?” The businessmen that are dinging there think it’s hysterical and Yolanda says if y’all think it’s so funny, give us some money. Leaving with some cash, Yolanda decides all they found were businessmen that were there to “get lit.” They have to go here for this; there’s no mini bar in the capsules.

At the airport, as the Frat Boys get ready to board their flight that has a layover in Taipei, and will get them to Anchorage by 7:50, BJ and Tyler decide to check into other flights. They find the other flight that the Frat Boys are going to be on, but find the flight is closed. They head to China Airlines and find a flight that will connect to the same flight in Taipei that the Frat Boys will be on. Ray and Yolanda arrive just after, and even though the flight has been closed, they get them to hold the flight, and end up on the same flight with the Hippies.

Waiting at Transfer Counter D to see if any of the other teams are going to make it, the Frat Boys are quite dismayed to see not only the Hippies, but also Ray and Yolanda arrive. In Anchorage they receive a clue telling them to drive to Mirror Lake where the find a Detour where they either need to drill ice fishing holes or deliver medical supplies in an airplane. With the airplane grounded due to the weather, the Hippies and Frat Boys decide to drill the holes. Ray and Yolanda are lost yet again. They can’t seem to catch a break.

Trickery is afoot again, as Tyler tries to convince the Frat Boys they are farther ahead with drilling the ten holes than they really are. Eric and Jeremy finish first, and find they need to head to Kincaid Park to go snow shoeing. The Hippies, of course, are right on their heels, as Ray and Yolanda are just arriving. Ray is a little ticked with the cold weather, saying that having a Florida boy in weather like this is like taking a fish out of water. I live in Chicago, and grew up here, so I can only imagine not being used to the cold and snow. Then again, I’m still not used to the cold and snow either. So it must be completely worse.

The Frat Boys get their snow shoes and take off on their trek. BJ and Tyler arrive, but can’t find the snow shoes leaning against the front of the building. They keep walking right past them. It seems they’ve caught some of Ray and Yolanda’s luck. It doesn’t get them down though, as once they find them and are out on their trek, Tyler eats snow that is falling off the tree, catching it in his mouth. They all find a clue sending them back to Denver, Colorado, where they started the race five continents and nine countries ago. Watching the Hippies, I have to wonder, where did they get their coats and long pants? They had their stuff taken away twice now in non-elimination legs. Perhaps they are still given coats and long pants, though, when they need them in inclement weather. Yet they weren’t going to give BJ and pants on the last race, thinking he didn’t need those?

The Frat Boys get to the airport first, and find a flight that leaves at 11:10 PM. BJ and Tyler use their driver’s cell phone to get the same information. Ray and Yolanda, always a step behind tonight, even after equalizers in the race, are just getting their snowshoes. They arrive at the airport in time to book the 11:10 PM flight, but I’m just waiting to find out what will happen next to cause them to fall behind again. It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry was always Even Steven. No matter what happened, he always held the same place, on even ground, while George always had negative things happen, prompting him to decide to do everything backwards.

Everything stays the same at the Clear Creek History Park in Denver. BJ and Tyler arrive just after Eric and Jeremy, and Ray and Yolanda are running a distant third. All the clues are hidden in different places, unlike the obvious snowshoes. The Frat Boys find theirs in a shelter, the Hippies in a snow-covered log, and Ray and Yolanda find theirs in a cabin. Everyone heads to the Red Rocks Ampitheatre where they Race first started.

At Red Rocks, it’s still the same with the Frat Boys leading, and BJ and Tyler close on their heels. Ray and Yolanda haven’t arrived yet. Eric and Jeremy find their last Roadblock. One person needs to run into a field with 285 country flags, and find the nine flags from the countries they visited on the Race and put them in order. They have a cheat sheet, but there are extra flags on there to confuse them. Their teammate may give them guidance, but may not physically help. Beyond this is the pit stop, with all the Philiminated teams waiting.

Eric tries it multiple times, and can’t figure out where he is going wrong. BJ couldn’t find the Russian flag, so he skipped it. When he was off at the end, he knew he had to go back and find the Russian flag. After he finds it, he has to painstakingly move all the flags over one spot, one by one. Meanwhile, Eric keeps saying he’s done, while the guide keeps telling him it’s wrong. BJ gets it right, and he and Tyler run onto the mat, and are greeted by Phil and his eyebrow. Do you think that thing collects a paycheck?

BJ and Tyler hug each other, then hug Phil, as he pronounces them the winners of The Amazing Race 9. Phil mentions they started the Race as brainiacs, and in the end, it came down to their brains. That’s how they won. They don’t want to look at it that way, and just say this has shown them you can do what you want to do in life. Phil also mentions that the Hippies came to the mat every time with a smile on their face. They call this a life-changing experience, and say it’s the best thing you can do with a relationship, calling it great couples’ therapy. Huh? Something we don’t know about? Phil wonders aloud if now that they are successful, if they’ll stop dressing like hippies. They believe they became famous as hippies, so they may as well stick with it.

Eric and Jeremy run in to take second place, and are clearly not happy with the results. Phil tells them without a doubt they are one of the most competitive teams ever on the Race. They say the Hippies are smart, and they ddn’t know the last one would come down to brains. Phil asks where the nickname the Frat Boys came from, but he never receives a clear answer, and in fact, Eric and Jeremy admit to being college dropouts. Ray and Yolanda run in, and Phil is pleased to see them smiling still. Yolanda confirms she is not moving out, but also says it will not be today they are getting married. They are so glad to have run the race together, learning about each other, and saying they wouldn’t have waqted to do it with anyone else.

BJ puts the whole thing into perspective, and says being cerebral or intelligent doesn’t count as much as being in the moment and enjoying the competition and friendship, as that’s what got them through. That’s what makes me glad it was them that won. They have their heads and their hearts in the right place. I think they would have felt the same way had they won or lost. I know many people were irritated with them throughout the Race, but I found myself entralled with the spirit of what it should be all about.

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Comments? You can email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com


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