The two-hour season finale was basically two stand alone episodes fused together to bridge the gap between last week’s Good Wife finale and next week’s Survivor finale. But that’s ok; any excuse for a two-hour block of racing is fine by me. I only wish I hadn’t chosen to see a later Avengers show on Sunday night, requiring me to stay up late watching the Race. I also had to improvise my note taking on the cardboard of my legal pad as I ran out of paper.
But, really, why should you care about that. You want to know who brought that chicken home.
I’m going to divide this column up between two sections – Bring That Chicken Home, focusing on the incredible first half Roadblock and the final elimination, and Holy Crap, We’re In The Lead, focusing on the run for the finish. Because while there was a lot going on, to me, the main parts to these two hours were the insanity of that Roadblock and the unexpected drama which compounded the last challenge.
Bring That Chicken Home – Our Final Four departs India for Japan, and to sum it up, I really couldn’t care less who won. Of the final eight Racers, I only like Army Wife Rachel who I found to be a fascinating character. She uses humor as a crutch, a weapon and as a coping mechanism. I can relate to that. She is racing with a man whom she clearly loves, but who talks to her in ways that I find to be demeaning to both of them. She is also a very solid Racer who, very quietly, excelled at virtually every challenge put before her this season. I really did not want to root for Dave, but at least I like Rachel quite a bit. Art and JJ were frustrating to me – the first half of the season, they were one of my favorites, but they became insufferable with their trash talk and bragging in the second half. Brendon seems like a decent guy, but he started and ended this Race essentially a blank slate. I got no real sense of who he is and what makes him tick. He is instantly dragged down by the walking psych case study he’s chosen as his mate. Few Racers have been more annoying or frustrating as Baby Rachel – she’s truly in a class to herself.
As for Stalker, I disliked their back story, and really never warmed to them. They just felt insincere, unnecessarily mean, and incredibly fake. Vanessa’s cattiness to Baby Rachel actually made me feel bad for Baby, and for that, I cannot forgive Vanessa. That said, I owe Vanessa an apology – something that I am sure is somewhat foreign to her. Last week, I downplayed her injury from her tumble in India. It was a legit injury, as we see her bruised and swollen ankle. And it becomes a major issue in the Race.
Because the Roadblock in Japan was another Japanese game show. If you remember back a couple of seasons, we had the “Eat the Wasabi” game in Japan which remains one of my favorite Roadblocks in recent seasons. We are back with another Japanese game show – this one the aforementioned Bring That Chicken Home. It is a simple, if insane game. Contestants run on a narrow treadmill, which has varying speeds, and have to leap to grab three rubber chickens hanging from the ceiling. They then have to jump feet first onto the mat at the end of the tread for the win. Clearly, hilarity was about to ensure.
JJArt got there first after Army Wife and Baby Brother took the subway to the studio and fell behind, while Stalker’s cab went to the wrong building. Art took the Roadblock – a phrase that would spell doom for the team about an hour later in show time – and set the stage for what would come later. Art got one, he fell, and JJ laughed. He got two, and three and then proceeded to fall again and again as he tried to reach the end. As he did we got glimpses of the other teams trying to get there and Ralph’s inadvertent foreshadowing, “we’re all acting like chickens with our heads cut off.”
The other three teams all basically arrive at the same time, with Brendon, Army Wife Rachel and Vanessa taking the Roadblock. Vanessa was forced into this one because Ralph already had done five, and with the double Roadblock in the final leg, I’m sure the show informed them that they had to get to even footing on this one. This means that she had a running and jumping task to do on her bad leg. This was going to be a bad one.
The three started running at essentially the same time – all looking like rejects from Spaceballs. Brendon got two chickens quickly. And Vanessa fell. And fell. And fell. Brendon landed on his head. Rachel gracefully grabbed one, as Brendon got his third and spectacularly wiped out. Rachel got her second one and falls very hard. Brendon jumps at last and barely survives. Rachel gets her third and wraps it up – she did the best of all four of them. Vanessa finally gets one and crashes. She is banged up and a mess.
Ralph, in what was by far his best moment on the Race, pulled her out and told her to stop apologizing for failing, and that she does not have to keep doing this. He was willing to take the penalty and go out on a high note. More importantly, he would rather lose a million dollars than see his lady get hurt. Maybe there’s hope for them after all.
However, Vanessa did not want to quit. She went back out there and fell again. Then removed her sweatshirt. Why? I don’t know, I guess she was looking to unleash the power of the boobs. All that did was remove some padding for the next faceplant, and this one knocked off one of her false eyelashes. And…wait a minute, false eyelashes? Why is she wearing false eyelashes on the Amazing Race? Shouldn’t she be spending more time studying guidebooks rather than primping? Can you picture Tara, or Margarita or Joyce, or even Flo doing that?
Anyway, Vanessa manages to do it and more power to her. That was tough. The consequence of the challenge is that they wind up far behind. They sort of catch up to Baby Brother at the Detour, but too much time exists between the two teams and Team Stalker earns the Cha Cha Cha Honorary Fourth Place slot. Only not nearly as cool as the boys.