Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Amazing Race - Season 9 - Episode 12 - Finale

It sure is finale week in TV this week. Sunday brought this spring's Survivor to an end with the three hour conclusion, now we are ready to end The Amazing Race with wednesday's 2 hour finale.

To help us rememner our history (so we aren't doomed to repeat it) and refresh our memories of what has occured this season, we start with a cumulative previously with a couple scenes from episdoe.

From Ep 1 (Brazil) - We see the start from Red Rock Ampitheatre, Colorado, USA, then we see the "James Bond" helicopter detour (James Bond says "I wish I had it that easy"), then we see John and Scott get frustrated and bail their taxi without any idea of where to go. The show allows this is the cause they were eliminated.

From Ep 2 (Brazil) - We see Fran have troubles using the ascenders in the waterfall detour, then we see the Glamazons unable to drive stick. Their inability to drive stick and getting hopelessly lost led to their elimination.

From Ep 3 (Russia) - We see Wanda struggle at the high dive roadblock, then we get a taste of the Russian Nesting Dolls detour of Despair, they neglect to mention the fake pit stop.

From Ep 4 (Germany) - We see the Bavarian Film detour, with some teams breaking (trick) wine bottles over each others head, and others trying to learn and perform a folk dance. We also see Wanda and Desiree get hoepessly lost leading to their elimination.

From Ep 5 (Italy) - We see Dave and Lori struggling with the Greek statue roadblock (those extra pieces really confused them), then we see Lake and Michelle Yield Dannielle and Dani, causing their elimination.

From Ep 6 (Italy) - We see the Swordfish detour, featuring the start of Monica's meltdown, we see Dave and Lori check in last, the proximate cause of elimination is they could just not catch up after falling behind in episode 5.

From Ep 7 (Greece) - We see the stop in Rome (Da Vinci Code plug), we then see Eric/Jeremy win the plate breaking fast forward, then we see Ray feels exhillirated by the bungee jump roadblock and Fran terrified by same. Later on we See BJ/Tyler get really lost finding the detour, and despite completing the Herculean Games detour last, they were saved elimination becuase Lake/Michelle managed to get even moe lost than they did. Traingate is not mentioned.

From Ep 8 (Oman) - See see Ray/Yolandas bickering, we also see teams suffer in the extreme heat and sun of the Dig up your dinner roadblock. We see BJ/Tyler get way behind but are saved by non-elimination.

From Ep 9 (Australia) - We see teams help BJ/Tyler financially, and we see them vow to yield teams that did not help. We get footage of Fran/Barry in the Brush the Beach detour, then we see them unable to catch a taxi to the pirson break roadblock. Fran and Barry are thus eliminated.

From Ep 10 (Australia) - We see Eric/Jeremy cancelling teams taxis, and leaving Joseph/Monica the blame. I guess this kind of deceitful behavior is now sanctioned race strategy. We then see BJ/Tyler yield Joseph/Monica, and Monica whine about it. We also see all the teams catch up at the conclusion of the detour, and the three way photo finish at the pitstop. They were nice enough to leave in Monicas "Ha Ha we're stillin and your not" smile of glee and seething anger look as BJ/Tyler are once again saved by the non elimiation.

From Ep 11 (Thailand) - We see Joseph/Monica "receive bad advice from a local" causing them to miss anavailable bus. We see the Cricket Feast fast forward, and Ray/Yolanda conceeding same to BJ/Tyler. We see Eric get frustrated at the "Seve feast to sacred monkeys" roadblock. We then see most teams excel at the Paint your Buddha detour, while Monica prooved inept at the carry clay pots detour option. The show pins detour ineptitude on Joseph/Monica's elimination. We see BJ/Tyler come in first and not win a leg prize becuase the prize was awarded by random draw. Ray/Yolanda won the prize and thus got to spend the night in a luxury resort. We see them enjoy the resort and look up the travel package they just won. (Australia, private yacht,new years eve) - They give suitable cheers to the prize sponsor.

This leads us to the opening credits, and then without a commerical break even we start the new epsisode.

Phil tells s that Bangkok is known for its many Budhist temples, and the pitstop was at an example of one, the Marble Temple.

Teams will start with:
Clue #65 - Go to a certain province in Thailand and find an elephant exhbit. The elephants will be in ceremonal costume, and you will recieve a T-Mobile Sidekick from the elephant. The Sidekick contains your next clue,

We see BJ/Tyler take off in first place, courtesy of the fast forward. Seeing as the Fast Forward got them a secure spot in the finale, it was well worth going for it, even if they didn't know it was the last one. They also appear to gain 2 hours on Eric/Jeremy. Who else thinks the show will do its best to equalize the teams before too long? Yeah, me too.

We see BJ/Tyler have no trouble getting a taxi, and are soon delivered to the elephant pen. They comment that they quickly realize you have to be real careful where you step. You see them apper to enter the exhibit, but as you probably guessed there was a gate blocking the way. Seems the hours of operation are 4:00-6:00. What kind of attraction has those kind of hours, 4AM opening??? I smell hours cooking, and clearly planned to make sure that all teams catch up, but early enough for them to catch some good flights. (Oh, I can name annother attraction that will open at 4AM, we in the Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) area will be getting a Bridge Climb attraction in June much like those in Australia and New Zealand, opens at 4:15am)

So BJ/Tyler take a rest while we see Eric/Jeremy (E/J) and Ray/Yolanda(R/Y) each get leave the pit stop and arrive at the still closed elephant pen. Yep all teams are equal once again.

The elephants are ready to perform and they 'trunk' each team a Sidekick. There is apparently a text message on each Sidekick containing.

Clue #66 - Route Info
Go to Tokyo, Japan and fine Shibuya which is described as Japan's answer to TImes Square, its a very busy intersection and has video boards on just about every flat surface available. One of the video boards will be flashing a hint as to the location of the next clue.

Teams catch taxis to the airport. E/J and R/Y check with information and learn of a good flight to Tokyo. BJ/T decide to head directly to the desk for the Japanese airline. Not a bad theory as they are traveling to Japan, but the wrong theory. Once BJ/Tyler learn that another airline has a better option, the better flight (which contains the other two teams ) fills up. BJ/Tyler are refused tickets on the better flight. We cut to commercials.

We come back, and BJ/Tyler are back to having inferior plane reservations. The lead teams arrive in Tokyo, and learn their rental cars are parked in the lot of a nearby hotel. Luckily the hotel does run a courtesy shuttle and the lead teams collect their cars and are glad to not see BJ/Tyler. The teams head for Shibuya.

We see BJ/Tyler arrive, catch bus to hotel, pick up car. Here is where they tell us, and tell us, and tell us that they have experience with Japan and speak fluent Japannese. Eric/Jeremy find the designated parking garage and head to the square. They look around at the overwhelming array of video boards. The clue says something like "Find Hichaki" which Phil tells us is a statue right in that square of a dog that figures into Japaneese folklore. They make it appear that the status is almost right under the video board flashing the message. The local has an Amazing Race colored scarf, and he hands teams the next clue.

We then see Ray/Yolando get lost (perhaps I should just create a macro that says "Ray/Yolando get lost") How lost did they get? So lost that BJ/Tyler who were on the later flight manage to pass them up and arrive at Shibuya first (or at least thats how it appears) Ray/Yolanda finally arrive AFTER the other two teams have been shown to complete the detour. No teams have much trouble finding the video message or the statue once they find the suqare.

Clue #67 - Detour
Maiden or Messenger
In maiden they take a taxi to a certain park (what about their cars??), then find a maiden in a ceremonial encloded sedan like seat that the team mates have to carry on their shoulders to a tea house. Yep this is the physical task with a defined start and finish.
In Messenger they go on foot to a bike rental place where they pick up folding bikes, they have to figure out how to setup the bikes, then they are given messenger bags, each messenger must deliver a package to a local office building and return the bike and the signed delivery slips back to the bike rental place where they will get the next clue.

Eric/Jeremy take Maiden, and have no trouble finding the maiden, but they do comment on how physically demanding. Upon delivering the maiden and letting her ou of the sedan, they comment that its like a fantasy come true. Character is character.

BJ/Tyler take messenger and are shown to not only know exactly how to use the folding bikes, but they have a working knowledge of the city and are able to make short work of the deliveries.

Ray/Yolanda start bickering more as they have a real hard time finding Shibuya, but once they find it, they have no trouble getting the next clue. They choose Maiden. They appear to have no trouble finding the park, but they also comment on how physically demaning the task was. Yolanda switches from the bash Ray club to the Praise Ray club.

Either way they get:
Cllue #68 - Go to Capsule Land Hotel

They are given the hint the hotel is near Shibuya, and they don't seem to have trouble finding it. When they get to the hotel they learn that instead of merely getting their next clue, they must spend the night at Capsule Land Hotel.

Normally I would dissaprove of mid leg show supplied lodging, but this place is unique. This is one of those concept hotels where they literally cram as many people into the hotel as humanely possible. The way they do this is instead of giving you a room, they give you a capsule, the capsule looks to be barely larger than a morgue drawer. The hotel has rows of the capsules stacked row upon row. The capsules are large enough to hold a bed and a television, thats it, not for the claustrophobia. Sort of like people sized lockers. They have shared bathrooms.

Eric and Jeremy arrive first and get their towels and supplies and a 9:00AM departue time. The look about the hotel and find their capsules.

BJ/Tyler arrive next and get a 9:15AM departure time. They find their capsules.

Ray/Yolanda arrive later and get a 9:30AM departure time. They find the other two teams waiting up in a common room. They chat a little bit, but soon climb into their capsules, and the open ends have a curtain that provides some privacy. And here we have it set so the difference bettwen first and last is 30 minutes.

When they check out in the morning they get their next clue:
Clue #69 - Route Info
Go to Fujiku Highland

It's an amusement park located near Mt, Fuji.

The teams retrieve their cars from the parking garage and head to the amusement park. BJ/Tyler and E/J have little to no trouble finding the park or dealing with the turnpike. In fact the way at which E/J plucked the toll ticket out of the machine without even slowing down seems to indicate thy have experience with toll roads.

We see the two lead teams pull into the amusement park parking lot within seconds of each other. They find the next clue at the park entrance.

Ray/Yolando have trouble both finding the park, then when they prepare to exit the turnpike, they have somehow lost their toll ticket. They decide to park in the toll lane as they do a thorough but fruitless search of their car. They can't seem to find the toll ticket, and really how do you loose a toll ticket?? Cars start piling behind the and then start laying on the horns. The toll plaza staff directes them to pull off the road and Ray/Yolanda are scared they are going to jail. Naw, nothing like that, but they will now be paying what I presume to be the highest possible toll for their vehicle class. They are bickering the whole way of course, and I am sure Ray is taking the blame for loosing the toll ticket. I start to wonder how this relationship is going to last.

Clue #70 - Roadblock

"Whos ready to coast through their day?"

In this roadblock the person has the arduous task of entering the amusement park and riding three rides. (A spinning pendukum type ride, a launched rollercoaster with a near vertical up and down section, and a hypercoaster) (Doponda and Fujiyama) The catch is that somewhere on the ground as they are riding the rides will be someone holding a large sign with a secret message. The contestant has to tell the secret message to the park manager who is waiting for them at the exit to the third ride. If they fail to deliver the correct message, they have to do the task over, including riding all three rides again.

Put me in Coach! This is a challenge with my name on it. Imagine that riding coasters with the possibility of a million dollar prize.

B/T and E/J send their representatives in toether and they perform the task together. They don't see anything on the Giant Frisbee ride, and move on to Doponda. Tyler claims to have seen a message while riding this ride, which pus Eric/Jeremy at unease. They ride the third ride and the message is pretty obvious. They both respond to the park manager with the correct message, get their clues, return to their partners and head back to the cars.

Ray/Yoland arrive at the park much later, and owing to not planning the roadblocks well, Yolanda is forced to take it, but she has no trouble with amusement rides. She was about ready to strangle Ray before she entered the park, but she was much happier and less stressed after the rollercoasters. The curative powers of coasters, perhaps. I know I was once on a family trip where there was bickering and such going on. We were in a tourst trap town, and I saw a rollercoaster at a go-kart place, tell you what two rides on that rollercoaster and I was a happy smiling camper again!

I did not that it seemed like Yolanda got to read a sign with much larger font, and with red letters on a yellow sign, ver eyecatching. The guys had black print on a white sign.

Yolando also gets the message on the first try. The message happens to be the name of the lakethey are headed to.

Clue #71 - Route Info
Head to Lake Yamaka(?) and find the sawnboat. - Caution this is a pitstop.

Okay the swanboat is a tourist attraction and is a large boat in the middle of the lake that is shaped to look like a swan. To get to the boat they have to ride out in pedalboats which also look like swans. Very cute adorable looking boats.

BJ/Tyler and Eric/Jeremy discuss Tylers little move, The hippies are laughing at the little misdirection about saying they saw the clue on the second ride, the frat boys (Eric/Jeremy) have lost their sense of humour and are taking it way too personally.

BJ Tyler get parked at the lake a few miutes before Eric/Jeremy ad grab the swan boat at the far end of the pier (and closer to the big Swan boat) Eric/Jeremy are close behind, and it looks like swan boat racing, except BJ/Tyler are much faster at it, and thus arrive at the pitstop first.

"BJ/Tyler you are team number one - and you have won Sidekicks with three years service" Yeah, that was the leg prize, Phil even had to tell them "This is where you are supposed to jump up and down and be excited".

Eric Jeremy are close on their heals and check in,not looking too happy. They then have the nerve to try to tattlle to Phil claiming the Hippies were dishonest to them. The hippies explain the ride message ruse, and take a Machavelian posture "Any means at our disposal", Eric/Jeremy vow revenge. I find it amazing that Eric/Jeremy have the nerve to question anybody's ethics after the cab cancelling incident. Eric/Jeremy aren't graceful losers.

Arriving at the Giant Swan much later are Ray/Yolando. Phil tells them they are in third place, but this is a non elimination round. He takes their money and posessions. (I was waiting for Phil to say "What's this toll ticket?") Phil then tells the teams there are no more eliminations, everybody is now in a three way race to the finish. (Silly Phil there were no elminations after Marble Temple)

Phil tells us to stay tuned to find out who wins the Amazing Race when te next leg starts in just a few minutes.

Teams start the final leg on the dock. The get:

Clue #72 - Route Info, Fly to Anchorage, Alaska, once they get there they will take a rental car to an ice fishing area.

BJ and Tyler return Yolanda's favors by dropping 2000 Yen off at Ray/Yolandas car before leaving for the airport. Eric/Jeremy, as you might expect, are in competition mode and leave nothing. The two are hot on each others tails on the highway, but at a fork in the road there is a disagreement and they each take a seperate fork.

Bj/Tyler arrive at the hotel first. Its the same hotel they picked the cars up at, so I suppose they are going to drop the cars off at the same point (Maybe the hotel has a rental car dealer). They learn the first courtesy shuttle to the airport isn't till 6:15. They ask about public internet access and are directed to the business center on the second floor. They tell the front desk clerk to not tell the other teams about the internet access point. BJ/Tyler locate a flight and book it online.

Eric/Jeremy arrive at the hotel, find the shuttle times, go inside and ask about internet. The clerk is a bad liar, first he says "Yes", then he remembers his promise and then changes his story to "No, we don't" I call this payback for the taxi episode except that Eric/Jeremy book an even better flight over the phone. BJ/Tyler even turn the lights off in the business center so it doesn't look so obvious.

Eric/Jeremy ask why BJ/Tyler are coming down from upstairs and BJ/Tyler lie that they were just spying on Eric/Jeremy. Both teams catch the same shuttle to he airport. Eric/Jeremy do some quick footing and hide so that BJ/Tyler dont follow them.

Eric/Jeremy leave Japan on the better flight alone.
BJ/Tyler check in fo their flight but ask if better connections are available, and wind up booking a deal that will have them connecting to the same flight as Eric/Jeremy in Taipei. Ray/Yolanda arrive at the hotel late enough where they just get right on the shuttle. Ray/Yolanda get even worse advice from the information desk, but they don't just blindly trust the info desk, and check at the internet kiosk. They find the same flights BJ/Tyler have but by the time they go to book it the flight is closed.

Cut to commericals, come back from commericals and suddenly everything is smoothed over, and Ray/Yolanda get the same flights as BJ/Tyler. Suspicous?

Meanwhile, Eric/Jeremy are sitting in China (Taiwan) and are closely eyeing the transfer terminal to see if any other teams come. They are relaly hoping no other teams make it in time. They are therefore less than excited when BJ/Tyler and Ray/Yolanda arrive and they are all therefore on the same flight to Anchorage, Alaska. Note here that all teams are even again!

Ther arrive in Anchorage and are really glad to be back in the Unted States of America. They get their cars and drive to the ice lake. When they get there:

Clue #73 - Detour
"Drill it" or "Deliver it"
In Drill it, they take an auger and drill out ten holes for an ice fishing camp, then they drag an ice fishing shack over and when it is setup at least two holes have to be accessible in the shack.
(Physical, defined task)
In Deliver It - they load first aid supplies onto a primitve airplane, and then using a map guide the pilot to an airfield about 75 mile s away, they unload the plane, deliver the supplies, and fly back.

Eric/Jeremy choose "Drill It", and BY/Tyler hot on their tails chooses "Deliver It", but upon talking to the pilot they learn that the weather is currently unsafe to fly his little plane, he also can't give them a good idea of when it will be clear. (I really think they should be thanking this pilot right about now)

They decide not to wait, and take Drill It (not so much of a detour now, is it) Eric/Jeremy are faster at the drill it task, but BJ/Tyler leave soon thereafter and are still pretty much right togehter going pn.

Ray/Yolanda managed to get lost again so arrive a bit later than the lead teams, they opt for Drill It, and they get the fast forward edit where they seem to finish up in record time.

Clue #74 - Go to some chalet, and don snowshoes and skipoles and navigate through snow trails to find your next clue.

Eric/Jeremy arrive at the chalet, spot the equipment sitting out in front of the chalet and get started with the challenge. BJ/Tyler arrive but they have a Fran/Barry momentand walk around the snowshoes multiple times and start exploring the chalet looking for a clue.

Cut to commercial, come back and the staff member inside the chalet is telling them where their equipment is waiting. A big DUH! moment ensues, and Bj/Tyler hit the trails, BJ/Tyler make a coupl wrong turns on the trials but the two lead teams get their clues.

Ray/Yolanda arrive soon thereafter, and are not even shown doing this task. Yep they are getting the Edit of the team that isn't really in the race.

Clue #75 - Route Info
Fly to your final Destination City - Denver, Colorado, go to some historical/cultural village and find your next clue. What I dont get is they are told to lock thier keys in their car, and catch a cab to the airport. Huh? Why?

They travel to the aiport. Eric Jeremy arrive at the airport and find a redeye flight to Denver, BJ/Ty;er borrow their cabbies cell phone and make the same booking. When both teams find themselves in the airport they try to fool each other, by doing stuff like going to the International Terminal , and they don't trust each other to reveal their own arangement, so they say they are going to say at the same time on the cout of three and then both give bogus information. Maybe they are friends outside the context of the game as BJ/Tyler asks flat out, "Is it the million dollars that is getting between us?" and Eric/Jeremy allow that it is. Ray/Yolando arrive at the airport and make the exact same booking.. Note then going into the final ity, all teams are dead even.

They catch taxis from the airport to the histrocial/cultural village. There is no clue box they have to search the ground for loose clue envelopes. And apparently this challenge favors lead teams as there are three clues in progessivley harder locations.

Eric/Jeremy arrive and seem to have no trouble
They leave just as BJ/Tyler show up.

BJ/Tyler have a little bit of trouble but Tyler sees it out of the corner of their eye in a hollowed out log looking thing.

They leave just as Ray/Yoland arrive.

Ray/Yolando have big trouble finding thier clue, and it takes them an awful long time to find it hidden in the henhouse.

Clue #76 - Return to Red Rock Park
Eric/Jeremy blurt out the clue before BJ/Tyler even find it.

Eric Jeremy arrive at Red Rock Park first, soon followed by BJ/Tyler

Clue #77- Roadblock
Its a memory challenge, the person seleced goes into a snow covered field that contains over 200 world flags on flagpoles (I wonder if they bough a complete UN flag set and then extras of the flags needed for the challenge) What they have to do is search through the flags for the 9 flags of he countries they visited (Brazil, Russia, Germany, Italy, Greece, Oman, Australia, Thailand, Japan), but not onloy that, they have to set the poles up into flagpole holders so that the flags are arranged in the order they visited the different nations. The USA flag has been setup at the start of the row for them. (And therefore their flags will follow federal flag code by having the American flag to the flags own right) To "help" teams flag reference markers are setup near their workstations. Phil tells us though they will find little help from the reference plaques as they flag icons on them are unlabeled, and they contain flags of nations they did not visit, and they don't contain all the flags they will need. In other words do it on your own. Oh and the other partnet can advise the person doing the roadblock, but they can't physically assist. Which means they aren't totally powerless watching, but they can't touch the flags. Not much of a roadblock,

Again Put me in coach! World Flags, I am somewhat of a flag fan!

Eric Jeremy get started first, soon followed by BJ/Tyler and both teams get Brazil easy enouh, but stumple on Russia when it isn't on their reference marker. Oman also causes them grief and I adit I am not exactly familiar with that flag myself.

Essentially it takes both teams several wrong guesses. It looked as if Eric/Jeremy had the series but they had one missing (Russia), where BJ/Tyler had them all jumbled up. In other words I don't think finding the right flags was the problem (and there were lots of flags of irrelevant nations in the context of the game scattered in the field) it was getting them in order.

I did want to slap BJ/Tyler when they were holding the Russian flag and didn't know where it went, one said "Just drop it on the ground", and the other did! I admit I bear no ties to Russia, but there should be some respect and decorum when dealing with world flags, even if they are for other countires than your own. Remmebr, that flag means something to somebody, I'm not asking you to salute it, just don't treat it like its merely a worthless scrap of cloth.

Anyway, I started cheeringas soon as BJ/Tyler completed their flag puzzle first. Another row of flags marks the runway from the roadblock to the finish line. Wee see BJ/Tyler race to the final mat. Much hugging and cheers from the other teams ensue. When Phil regains control he gives the usual speech and awards BJ/Tyler "You are officially the winners of the Amazing Race", and they will win the million dollars. Phil remarks how they always smiled at the ptstops, be it first place or last place. They remark that its all in how you treat others.

Yeah BJ/Tyler!!!!!

We then see Eric/Jeremy finish, and they are NOT happy about being second. Philtells them they are the second place finishers andthey just stand their with blank stares. (It came down to a mental challenge, and they beat us" Talk about your sour grapes.

Ray/Yolanda are next seen arriving at the finish mat, no flag challenge for them, and are awarded third place.

We get the usual parting words from the three teams and thats it. Not even a preview of next season.


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