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Amazing Race 20 – Ep 11 & 12 – Bring That Chicken Home

Holy Crap, We’re In The Lead – The Final Three is sent to Honolulu for the Finish Line, perhaps only for CBS to place a Hawaii Five-0 actor in the show as a crossover. And as a fan of that show, I am not happy with crossovers, as when I DVR the show and find out midway through that it’s a damn NCIS: LA crossover. Grrr.

But back to this show, the Race is down to three teams – two of which had won all but one of the previous legs. JJArt won Legs 3-5, and Army Wife won all of the other legs except for Team Bopper’s Leg 8 Fast Forward win. The season was dominated by these teams on the racecourse. Team Baby Brother dominated the season on the drama side of the ledger. Surprisingly, their Race performance was not bad this season, they were never really in danger of elimination, but never really did well either.

So that’s our Final Three. Team Army Wife was playing for the Show record – eight wins. Before anyone gets too excited, Nick/Starr and Meghan/Cheyne held the record. If you ask Race fans who the best teams were, I am not sure if anyone would lead with those two. Good teams, no doubt, but their dominance of their seasons was much more of a testament to the lack of major competition. Meghan/Cheyne beat the Sam/Dan brothers, Brian/Ericka, Globetrotters, the father/son team. Not really Murderer’s Row. Nick/Starr beat the former NFL dude and his wife, Dandrew, Toni/Dallas, Terence/Sarah…again, not the strongest season.

This season is no different – Army Wife and JJArt had to beat Baby Brother, Stalker, Bopper, Feds, etc. Not great. However, you cannot blame them for that. You can only play who’s on the schedule. Personally, not for a minute did I think Baby had a shot at finishing first, even when they were even with Army Wife and JJArt was lost with the bad taxi driver. The team that earned it the most this season was going to win.

And it seemed as if Army Wife was well on the way to doing so. After Baby screwed up and took a taxi instead of walking at one point, Army Wife had a comfortable lead. JJArt moved into second place, but unbeknownst to both teams, JJArt actually had stumbled into first place as Army Wife made the first huge mistake. They went to the wrong entrance of the park and managed to find the final clue directing teams to paddle across the lake to the Finish Line. However, they had failed to find the marked path leading to the final Roadblock. This was a disaster and tragedy unfolding before our eyes. It reminded me of Margarita jumping up and down for joy on the subway assuming that there was no chance at all that the boys from California could have navigated Queens better than them.

We saw in the previews that someone was showing up at the Finish Line having messed up a task. With the Final Four that we got, I would NOT have guessed Army Wife would be the one to make the error. The looks on their faces were priceless when Phil told them. It looked as if they thought he was joking, Rachel even doing that hysterical thing she does when nervous. She’s a giggler. They must have thought they were doomed – they had no idea that Baby had screwed up already and was having a patented meltdown, and that Art was once again struggling badly with a task.

Army Wife retraced their steps and found Art attempting to ride that narrow sled down the hill. He had failed 14 times before Army Wife arrived. Just then did JJArt realize that they, in fact, were the frontrunners and that the game was on. If only Art had managed to succeed in one of those 14 attempts, they could have won the grand prize. As it turns out, Rachel, yet again, rocked a challenge and completed it with only two attempts. This was a challenge designed for smaller people, and Art struggled as a result. After Army Wife managed to score a goal in what was basically a tiny hockey rink, with no ice or sticks, it was all over.

Army Wife sets the record and wins the Race. They certainly deserved it and I am glad that Rachel earned the victory. She even broke her tough exterior at the Finish Line and broke down describing life without Dave during his deployment. Dave may have been a bit of a dick when he talked to his wife, but his service to our country deserves respect. And what the spouses go through back home is really tough and doesn’t get enough attention. Good for them.

And regarding these teams that I lost patience with a while ago. Once again, this was a mere snapshot into who they are – and a distorted snapshot due to fatigue, stress, etc. I am sure if I worked with JJ and Art they would be different guys closer to the early leg guys than the later legs. I am sure Brendon and Rachel are good people, who just have some serious need to therapy. Dave is probably a good guy who really should watch these episodes and rethink how he talks to the woman who loves him. This is reality TV, not reality.

I was very disappointed with this season, mainly due to the casting. Teams were either unbearable or wildly incompetent. I beg CBS to stop casting teams from Big Brother. Begging pretty please. Keep mining Survivor for teams, but no more Big Brother. And now, some thoughts on the rest of the episode.

Route Markers
• In case you didn’t know Bopper was the star of the season, they get the full recap treatment and didn’t even get to the finals. And they were the only team to get to speak at the Finish Line once Baby jogged in as the third place team.
• Add the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to the show’s past historical side trips – along with the slave port in Senegal, Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, and the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. I like the addition of these locations as part of the show – as a learning experience for the viewers and Racers – but they are certainly boring to recap. And no one’s reaction could beat Gus’ in Senegal.
• First Baby meltdown after missing the bus in Japan – “Maybe you should’ve listened to me!” It would have held some water if we actually heard her suggest something. Meanwhile, not listening to Rachel, Brendon managed to find a Fern (another Cha Cha Cha reference!) and enabled them to catch up properly. Just followers, right JJ?
• Dave fails to get his train ticket to work and misses the last ferry as a result. We get to see dramatic waiting as teams sit on the ferry anticipating its departure. We get to see Dave pout and play “what if” – long enough for Rachel to ask him if two hours was enough to dwell on things.
• Of course, an equalizer awaited them – and we all knew it was coming. The clue arrived at the Rising Sun – so, Dave was able to “take off his poopy pants” according to Rachel. Awesome.
• Conan and Kardashian? Where was that nickname for Stalker all season long?
DetourPhoto or Sushi. Take 10 photos of three people at a time with cutouts of sumo wrestlers or play a bizarre game of sushi bingo with conveyor belts, labeled sushi and pseudo bingo cards. To me, sushi seemed the obvious choice – plus you get to eat – since you did not have to deal with the general public. However, Army Wife (of course) picked the correct choice by doing the photos. They use the Detour to speed out in front and win the leg.
• However, they do have one more huge bicker and Dave does one of his patented “Silence is Golden” lines on her. Rachel earns my utmost respect by screaming back, “Then why don’t you shut the BLEEP up!” HA!
Order of Finish – Leg 11 – Army Wife (and a trip to Phil’s house), JJArt, Baby and Stalker (ELIMINATED)
• JJ – Second place almost feels like a waste. Instantly I predicted a second place finish for them.
• Loved how JJArt was forced to follow Army Wife out of the Honolulu airport. After bitching about Baby following them all season long, it was great to see that happen. Again, guys, sometimes on the Race you have to follow. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Team Task – Use the Colin Ascender to go up a 45-story tower and then rappel down face first. Army Wife and Baby are there at the same time, with Army ahead. Meanwhile, JJArt are on a wild goose chase to the beach.
• Awesome blank stare from terror on Baby’s face after the tower task.
Roadblock – Shave an ice block with a samurai sword. Dave, Brandon and JJ take the task and it really wasn’t all that exciting.
• Nice shout out for Mission Impossible 4 by Art.
• Teams are supposed to go to on foot to helicopters – something that made Dave awfully happy. But Baby took a cab and instead of choppers, they found a huge fight.
• The shot of the chopper up in the air that looked like it was sitting atop a rainbow…amazing.
• While Baby failed to read the clue, Army Wife Rachel did read it and avoided the cab mistake. Another stellar Race move from her.
• Brendon – “I don’t want Crazy Rachel.” Trust me, no one does.
Team Task – One drives a wave runner, the other trails behind to “rescue” a swimmer. Army Wife drives, even though Dave’s Y-chromosome has a hard time letting her drive. And where did the taxis come from? Didn’t they take a helicopter there?
Roadblock 2 – Art, and the Rachels have to take it. It’s old school Hawaiian games – sleds and hockey pucks used to break ankles.
• At least we got one last shot of Baby falling off the sled even though Army Wife had already won.

Order of Finish – Army Wife WINS, JJArt, Baby.

Next week – Nothing – Amazing Race 21 coming in the fall.

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