Yeah, I know. I lied. Work and 150 hours of Survivor just got in the way.
The Two Hour Finale was basically structured as two stand-alone episodes linked as one. I’ll sum it up as one episode – albeit one with an unexpected elimination halfway through the leg.
For me, this was a fun finale – made more enjoyable by the romp through the city where I work each day. I’ve often wondered why the show hasn’t come back to Washington – with just a leg during the Family Edition taking advantage of the many interesting locales in DC. But we sure got a nice tour of the city, and just outside the city in Virginia, and for me, left the season with a really fun ending.
The leg begins with the Newlyweds leaving Belfast to ride on the nicest ferry in the history of ferries. I mean, it makes the Staten Island ferry look like the poop cruise. Slap Shot left eight minutes later and comment about how much the Moms scare them. I can imagine hockey players being afraid of moms. They hit the first train. 90 minutes later Underwood leaves and the Moms two hours after them. Boy, how can the Moms make up a three hour deficit? A ferry departure time bunching, of course. Underwood and the Moms get lost in Belfast and that allows the Newlyweds and Slap Shot to show up at the Roadblock first. They get to bog snorkel first.
What is bog snorkeling? It’s something very bored and lonely – and likely drunk – people do out in the hinterlands of Ireland. You have to strap on a mask and snorkel, cannonball into a bog and “swim” 100 yards in mud in four minutes. Needless to say…this is rather strange. Anthony talks about squeezing his junk before doing the task in just over two minutes. Katie’s mask gets fogged up and has no idea where she is – but she does it in just over three minutes despite clocking the clock. Meanwhile, Mona complains about being cold and in dirty water…she has no idea what’s coming. When she goes, she whimpers throughout the task and does it quicker than Katie. She ends by desperately begging her partner to unzip her.
Jennifer is the one who struggled. So much so, that it is this task which led to their demise. She does the course incorrectly and fails to get it done in four minutes. She fails a second time, and barely makes it the third time around.
At the Detour – they have to Tray it or Spray it. Tray it takes them to dry dock and the berth which once housed the Titanic. They have to serve five of the Titanic courses to costumed actors. One member preps the plates; the other runs the tray from one end of the berth to the other (it was far). They had to get all five courses perfectly accurate. The problem is – if they don’t notice the course order sheet, they are screwed. The second form indicates who gets what dish for a couple of the courses where the “guests” have ordered different choices.
Katie shows how good she is at this race as she figures it out early. Anthony does not. Max says the team does well when Katie thinks and he does the bull work. At least he realizes it now. That marriage may work after all. Anthony figures out his problem with the second course and the missing course order. Mona doesn’t get it right for a long time. Beth winds up doing a LOT of running for this task. Bates does too, and boy, he gives Anthony an earful. Especially after Anthony is unable to determine what constitutes a chartreuse shaded dish. As if Bates would have gotten that.
The other task has them go to a skate park and have to recreate some graffiti art. Eventually Underwood gets there, but not before getting lost and winding up at some henge, but not THE henge, of course.
The show edits it to show Underwood finishing the task first, but I never believed it for a second. The Moms, however, had no idea they were not in last. They grab the third slot in the Finale.
Roadblock 1 – Bog Snorkeling. Katie, Anthony, Jennifer, Mona
Detour 1 – Titanic is all Newlyweds, Moms and Slap Shot. Underwood is graffiti.
First Order of Finish – Newlyweds (trip the D.R.), Slap Shot, Moms, and Underwood (ELIMINATED)
Penultimate Route Markers
• Max complains about being followed. This dates back to the first season, teams bitching about being followed. There is nothing you can do about it – you just have to hope that each time a team chooses to follow rather than do the work themselves that the gamble will backfire. And if you are the follower, if you lose the lead team, you are screwed. If the lead team is wrong, then you just managed to put yourself far behind the rest.
• Was it tasteless to have a guy dressed as the ill-fated Titanic captain handing out Race clues? I felt it might have been – even though the dude has been dead for 100 years.
• How about if I add the graphics showing the Titanic crashing every time they fail? Tasteless now?
• Con some? Really Beth? Never heard of consommé?
• Get a glimpse into the Battaglia household many years ago as Bates glared at Anthony while the little bro struggled with the menus?
• Bates can spin plates. What an odd skill set this guy has!
• I was surprised the Moms didn’t switch roles or even flip tasks after failing so many times on the task. They were lucky Underwood was so far behind.
They leave Northern Ireland, but stay in the UK as they take the ferry over to Liverpool, and then to London. They go to the Huston Tap and order a pint. There they learn the final leg is in Washington DC. We also learn the Moms were only 43 minutes behind the Newlyweds. Bates played for the Capitals in the NHL, so he is familiar with DC. Just what these guys needed…a power play opportunity.
They land at Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia. They have to cross the Potomac and get to the Lincoln Memorial. Amazingly, I have yet to go there. Time to correct that omission. The Newlyweds are the first there and find the MLK plaque marking the spot where he delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech. Some random dude sidles up to them and gives them the clue. How utterly strange. Not even wearing Race colors!
They are told to go to 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue and meet up with President Obama. All three teams are geeked – even staunch Dittohead Max – to meet the POTUS. So many things should have clued them in. First, why would Obama be doing this? Sure, Michelle went on the Oscars, and the Prez has done stuff with the Super Bowl, etc. But those get some massive ratings. Amazing Race gets nice ratings – but not enough to squeeze into the busy schedule of the President.
Also, isn’t it fairly common knowledge that the White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? Didn’t NBC recently name an awful sitcom after that address? And, I hope they gave more info because there are four different 1100 Pennsylvania Avenues in DC – because this city was designed while on opium or something.
Anyway, the Moms go to the White House instead of 1100 Penn. The others make it to the right spot and run into some fake Secret Service agents. Inside they find no President, but a cheesy gift shop that makes photoshopped pictures of tourists with the Prez. Clever.
Next, they go to the Tidal Basin and find a marked car. Knock three times on the window if you want me. Then get a briefcase and a clue. We have ourselves a Switchback task.
In the Family Edition, teams had to find a spy. The Show had about 50 guys in dark suits and shades wandering the grounds. You had to approach one and utter your code phrase and hope you get the proper response. Essentially, it is a needle in a haystack task, but one where the needle keeps moving around. Max starts off first – and it is here at the Tidal Basin that the Race is decided. The codes:
Max – Where can I get a good half smoke with chile?
Bates – I did not dress warm enough for this weather.
Beth – The Cherry Blossoms are beautiful here in April.
Max agent – I’ve heard there’s a great place on U Street.
Bates agent – Perhaps you’d like to borrow my gloves.
Beth agent – I’ll have to bring my mother next spring.
Truth – these would be the most conspicuous agents in the history of espionage.
Max can’t find his agent, while Bates gets his rather quickly. The lead changes here. The clue to opening the briefcase is to remember what place your team finished in the New Zealand, Indonesia and Vietnam legs. Nice. Beth is so happy to finish when she does she offers to kiss the agent. And now we are into “Homeland” territory.
Next task – go to Nationals Park and take a zip line across the stadium. While one does that, the other dons a goofy baseball costume and has to catch a dropped ball. The trick? You really can’t see in the suit. Joining them will be Screech – the Nats’ mascot Eagle – along with the Presidents who race in the park in the fourth inning every home game.
Anthony zips and Bates catches. It takes a couple of tries. Katie zips and Max catches. It takes six tries. Mona zips and Beth catches – it takes 17 tries.
Next stop – Hains Point. A nice recreation area not far from the stadium. Here one member goes into a giant ball pit. Bazinga. They have to find the globes marking the countries they visited. The other member puts them in the correct order. Anthony finds all the globes and they leave with a comfortable lead. Max has no geography skills and thinks they went to South America. Katie replaces him. And I am resisting insulting Republicans. Mona and Beth switch off time in the tank.
We see Slap Shot heading to the finish line at Mount Vernon – George Washington’s estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Hains Point to Mount Vernon is not tough to get to – just getting to the George Washington Parkway basically. I assume the teams are doing these tasks at the crack of dawn on a weekend or something because we see no people in DC and there is no traffic. Two things that NEVER happen. Anyway, we see the boys curving on the highway. I know that curve. They are going the right way. They arrive at the grounds and win the Race. Newlyweds second and the Moms in third.
It was a solid Race – not spectacular, but solid. I thought Slap Shot was the favorite to win from the start and they did. My time has been stretched thin this season, I am unsure if I will be continuing with Race commentary next season – at least not on a week to week basis. Laura does a bang up job anyway – I’ve just been adding to it because I love the show. If this is it, it’s been a pleasure. If not, then we’ll talk again during Season 23 in the Fall.
Switchback – Max, Bates and Beth.
More Route Markers
• Glad Max respects Obama’s election. Jeez. What a national crisis we would have had to endure if he didn’t.
• Anyone else predict an appearance by the Family Edition? Ever? I assumed that was filed away in a giant End of Raiders of the Lost Ark room somewhere
• The great place on U Street? Ben’s Chili Bowl. And it is great.
• Katie is really smart, but boy, she has no patience. “We’re gonna finish in last because he’s an idiot.” I hope she regrets the things she says.
• Bates admits he would have no idea where the countries were before going on the Race. The Amazing Race. Teaching geography to jocks one by one.
• Nice use of “Ride of the Valkyries” as the Moms zip across the baseball stadium. I love the smell of horsehide in the morning!