Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Amazing Race finale – The Hippies prevail!

After an extended recap of the season past, the final three teams started out from Bangkok, Thailand and had to travel 75 miles by cab to a town to find an elephant. In another product placement, the teams needed to get a T-Mobile Sidekick from the elephant for the next clue. Predictably, the elephant park doesn't open until morning so it's a typical Last Leg bunchup before the final sprint.

The clue directs everybody to the Shibuya which is the Times Square of Tokyo, Japan. Tyler is stoked: he has a Japanese girlfriend and appears to speak fluent Japanese. Unfortunately for Team Burning Man, the other teams grab the last seats on the first flight from Thailand to Tokyo. Team Frat Boys and Team Volcano arrive a couple hours ahead of the hippies and take a marked car to the "busiest intersection in the world" where the teams must search the flashing billboards for the next clue. The clue says "Find Hachiko" which is a statue of a dog in the square with the next clue.

This is the Detour: Maiden or Messenger. Teams may either travel to a tea garden and carry a women a couple hundred yards in carrier and then engage in a tea ceremony, or play bike messenger and deliver a pair of packages. The hippies figure they can find the buildings fast with their language skills and they may be right. The Frat Boys struggle under the weight of the wicker carrier while Ray & Yolanda haven't even gotten to the Shibuya yet as we break for commerical.

Eric & Jeremy finish the Detour first and the next clue sends them to the Capsule Land Hotel where people sleep in little pods because space is so limited in Toyko. Jeremy actually says something funny and not sexist: "I hope we don't wake up and it's 1972." A Futurama reference would have been better, but hey. BJ & Tyler arrive next followed by Ray & Yolanda. In sequence, the teams receive cards informing them that departure times are 9am, 9:15am, and 9:30am.

The next morning, the teams head to an amusement park on the foot of Mount Fuji. The next clue is a Roadblock: one person must ride on three different thrill rides and look for a man holding a yellow-and-red sign pointing them to the next destination. On the last ride, Jeremy & Tyler both see the sign for Lake Yamanaka which is the next Pit Stop. There the teams must take a pedal boat shaped like a swan to a bigger swan hotel boat. The hippies pedal fast and arrive as Team #1; they win T-Mobile Sidekick and 3 years service. Hooray. The Frat Boys are bitter at their #2 finish and warn the hippies they're playing for keeps. Ray & Yolanda come in last but it's a non-elimination leg meaning they'll be penniless and language-challenged heading into the final leg.

[Extra long CBS commercial break. They're really milking it tonight.]

The final leg starts and the teams start out in the middle of the night for Anchorage, Alaska. It looks like BJ & Tyler left Team Volcano a couple of bucks and they pick up a couple more yen at a local restaurant. Team Frat Boys and Team Burning Man head to the airport after some Internet shenanigans at the hotel. The hippies get a later flight to Anchorange but make a switch at the airport back to the same flight as Eric & Jeremy. Ray & Yolanda sneak onto the plane also so everybody is bunched up again in Taipai waiting for the flight to Anchorange. Even again.

It's cold in Alaska. Teams must drive to Mirror Lake some 10 miles from the airport. Strangely, Team Volcano and Team Burning Man, who were both supposed to have "just the clothes on their back" due to non-elimination leg penalties have winter coats. Hmmmm....there must be some kind of survival rule on the Amazing Race. At the lake, it's the Detour: Drill it or Deliver it. Teams must drill 10 fishing holes in the ice using a hand auger then set up a fishing shack OR they must deliver "medical supplies" to an outpost via ice plane. Nevermind option #2: the pilot informs the teams that the weather has the planes socked in so everybody chooses to drill ice holes. The Frat Boys finish first and head to the next clue at Kincaid Park.

All three teams are now heading towards the park where they have to don snow shoes and find a chalet. The Frat Boys head out first while BJ & Tyler walk right past the snow shoes propped up on a ledge outside. Eric & Jeremy find the clue first: fly to the Race's final destination in Denver, Colorado which is where the Race began. So this is truly a race completely around the world. Unsurprisingly, there aren't many flights from Anchorage Alaska to Denver and all teams are together on the final flight of the Race.

Teams neeed to find a clue at a park in Golden, Colrado and the Frat Boys find it first: head to Red Rocks amphitheater and (another) next clue. The Frat Boys and then the Hippies arrive very close together and it's a Roadblock: one team member must search among 285 flags in a field and find the nine national flags from the countries visited on the Race: Brazil, Russia, Germany, Italy, Greece, Oman, Australia, Thailand, and Japan and then place them in the order visited. The other team member may assist, but cannot help physically. BJ does the Roadblock for the hippies. Both of them have their flag order completely wrong. Meanwhile, Ray & Yolanda are still back in Golden.

The hippies have their flags all in the correct order but shifted over by one because they couldn't initially find the Russian flag. Eric & Jeremy keep asking the judge if their flags are correct (they aren't) and then get desperate and start swapping flags indiscriminately. I think they tried an African flag and this might be the only Race ever not to go to Africa. Eventually BJ discovers his error and places the Russian flag after Brazil then shifts all the other flags down. The judge gives the thumbs up and they race to Phil and the mat.

And there they are, all by themselves, as the eight other teams before them applaud their finish. Team Burning Man, the hippies, BJ & Tyler arrive first and win the Amazing Race.

Final standings:

Winners of the Amazing Race 9 - Team Burning Man - BJ & Tyler
Prize: $1,000,000

Second place: Team Frat Boys - Eric & Jeremy
Third place: Team Volcano - Ray & Yolanda

Editorial comment – The best Amazing Race ever? Well, I think I missed one season but this one was darn good. Super sites from nine different countries, excellent competition, likable teams, Phil’s arching eyebrow – this one had it all. The cherry on top was watching a dejected Frat Boy gripe: “I guess I’ll have to go back to waiting tables.” That’s right, chump! T-TOW!

Extra – This spot reserved for Kris and Pat. T-TOW! to them too!


Pat said...

Great season; the Hippies definitely were entertaining.

I noticed the Parkas as well; probably sensible given all the running around the teams had to do, but it does undercut the penalty for finishing last on a non-elimination leg.

In addition to the Frat Boys going back to waiting tables, did you catch Monica's little grimace? Loved it!

Dr. Eirik said...

I beleive I've read at some point that they would all be given appropriate clothing for unusual circumstances. I suspect the reason is, otherwise you'll have the risk of people freezing to death in order to avoid lugging a parka all over the Sahara desert.

And now that you've said "t-tow", please never say it again. :-)

My big question is, how on earth did Ray and Yolonda get so far behind in both Alaska and Denver? Do they drive like three miles an hour?

Anonymous said...

Saw the finale last night & liked it. The Hippies were the best we've seen since the show began. Which raised a thought: What's happened to the previous winners?
It'd be interesting to see what's happened to everyone. Or, to have a Champion's Race. That'd be cool.

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