Here’s how tonight’s two-hour finale went down, after the requisite review of the season:
Teams left from Montana in the middle of the night, heading for the next stop in Montreal, Canada. While teams were provided with tickets leaving in the morning, they are allowed to trade up for better flights. The Bransen family found a flight leaving from Minneapolis that arrived in Montreal 10 minutes ahead of the original flight plan, but the Linz and Weaver families both grabbed an Air Canada flight that arrived almost an hour before that one. At the airport, Rolly Weaver and one of the Linz men get into a minor scuffle; Megan Linz says “things are getting personal.” Well, a million dollar prize will do that to people.
Once in Montreal, teams must search the extensive tunnels in what is known as the “Underground City” for a clue under the CDP building. The Weavers grab the first taxi out of the airport, arrive first, and grab the clue in first place. We see the Linz family close behind, but unable to find the clue. Meanwhile, the Bransen family who gambled on an earlier flight are actually an hour behind…then their flight is delayed another 25 minutes.
The clue under Montreal is a Detour: Slide it or Roll it. Teams must find an ice rink at McGill University and do some curling (each team member must put the stone into the target) or travel to an arboretum and roll four logs over a 100-ft. track. The Weavers and the Linzes both do curling while the Bransens roll logs. Team Florida finishes first and head off to the next clue at the American Pavilion on the site of the 1967 World Expo. Here they are directed to the unglamorous location of a shipping bay somewhere in Montreal where they must find Door J. (Huh???) Team Cincinnati is close behind while the late-arriving Bransen family struggles with log rolling.
At Door J, the Weavers discover the Roadblock: one team member must perform a flip on a trapeze. Young, light (and male) Rolly Weaver performs this task on his very first attempt and Team Florida heads out. They’re followed by the Linz family who allow Alex to give it a try; he struggles after a couple of attempts and suddenly there’s the Bransen family, all caught up and waiting for their turn. While these teams are flying through the air without any ease, the Weaver family is heading off to Parc Olympique where they must use a golf cart to find the entrance to the stadium.
(Running back to my computer after the last commercial break).
OK, Alex Linz finishes his trapeze act on the third attempt and Beth Bransen is close behind after one try. Essentially, all teams arrive simultaneously at the stadium and they discover that they must search among the 56,000 seats for three clues which will determine their departure time on a charter flight the next morning. This is just a sheer luck draw since teams finding a clue will take it and not search for a better time. The Linz family strikes first, claiming the flight leaving at 5:50 the next morning. Team Cincinnati tells their allies in Team Powerpuff that the clues are located on the back of the seats and the Bransen family finds the next ticket for a flight leaving at 5:45. As we go to commercial, the Weaver family appears to have given up, with Mama Weaver sound asleep on a cot on the football field. Nevermind: after the commercial break, the Weavers find their tickets for the 5:55 flight.
With three flights leaving within 10 minutes, this is essentially a “bunching” moment as all teams arrive at the “mystery destination” of Toronto, Canada within a couple minutes of each other. At the airport, they find the clue directing them to the CN Tower where they must take an elevator up 346 meters to an observation deck and use a pair of binoculars (one per team) to find a yellow-and-white Amazing Race flag somewhere on the ground. All three teams scan the ground and (eventually) one of the Bransen girls finds the flag, followed closely behind by the Linz family. As the other teams leave the tower, Mama Weaver starts in with her “help us God” bit which is sooo tiresome. Eventually, they find the flag. Praise Jebus!
Teams are now racing to the flag they just found on a pier and this is another Detour: Ship or Shoe. They may either take a sailboat to a larger ship (the Kajama) and climb 100 ft. up to grab a flag, or find a shoe museum and then do a Cinderella routine by finding one woman among 100 who can fit into a particular shoe. This seems like a no-brainer, but the Bransens do the shoes while the other teams take the straightforward ship Detour. Well, who can tell? In any case, the Linz family gets to the ship first and grabs the flag while the Weavers watch them from across the harbor. The next clue directs the teams to Queenston, below Niagara Falls, where they must take another boat trip and grab the next clue from a buoy below the Falls.
The Detour completed, the Linz, Bransen, and Weaver families are racing to Queenston (in that order) to find the boat launch. Team Cincinnati asks for directions from a jogger and then several minutes later the same jogger is pestered by the Bransens. (He says: “I just told your friends.” If he only knew). Teams take a speedboat to the buoy and there’s little surprise here: Linz, Bransen, then Weavers several minutes behind the pack. The clue on the buoy directs teams to tell their boat captain to take them to Lewiston, New York which is the “final destination.” Is it a race to the mat?
No! After teams land on shore, there’s a Roadblock: one team member must complete a huge jigsaw puzzle of North and Central America before heading to the finish line. Nick Linz starts out for Team Cincinnati and Papa Bransen is only seconds behind. Although the editing was surely slanted to make this look closer, it appears to be a real horserace. We’re briefly reminded that the Weavers are still on the river before Nick Linz slams his last piece into place, dislodging another piece, which he then puts back. Team Cincinnati sprints to the mat where Phil is waiting to announce that the Linz family is the official winner of the Amazing Race.
Epilogue: the Linz family says nice things about the Bransens and vice versa. The Weavers arrive in third place to perfunctory applause and their statements are mercifully short.
Best of all: coming attractions for the next Race indicate there will be eleven teams of two racing over 60,000 miles in strange lands (I see Russian flags) while bungee jumping. Sweet.
Extra – This space reserved for fellow TAR fans Kris and Pat. Hooray!