By Janell Sutherland
7:45 AM EDT, May 6, 2013
Back in February, before we knew about crippling fears of water and low likeability factors and One Mullet to Rule Them All, 11 teams began a race around the world.
Stuff happened with cheese and haggis. Alliances formed, craziness surfaced, teeth detached. And now it’s time (cue Phil’s eyebrow) for the finale of "The Amazing Race" (cue music).
The top four teams leave Scotland and all take the same ferry to Belfast, Northern Ireland. While driving themselves to a park, Max and Katie’s instincts tell them to turn around. Bates and Anthony follow them while Mona and Beth and Caroline and Jennifer keep going. The Newlyweds and the Hockey Brothers get to the Roadblock first.
Quirkiest sport on earth?
Phil tells us that, once upon a time in Ireland, some folks decided to go bog snorkeling. I guess they were jealous of other countries with their nice beaches and pretty things to see under the water. “You know what,” said one drinker in Ireland, “we’re going to snorkel in a bog. Because we can. Probably. We haven’t tried it yet.”
The sport has been modernized in that a path has been cleared in the bog, so they’re just snorkeling in really muddy water. First they have to cannonball into a puddle, climb out, jump into the path, swim a hundred yards down and back, climb out, and touch the finish line in under four minutes.
Who’s good at bog snorkeling? Anthony and Katie.
Mona makes shrieky sounds the whole time because two of her least favorite things are dirty water and cold, and bog snorkeling has both of those things. She pretty much has a panic attack afterwards, yelling at Beth to get her out of the wetsuit. But she finished on the first try.
Jennifer can’t swim and she climbs out of the bog when she doesn’t need to, so she misses her first try. Then she says she can’t do it again, so Caroline spends a lot of time coaching her. Jennifer tries again but stops in the middle. On her third try she manages to relax and breathe and finish, but they’re pretty far behind.
By the way, there was a lot of talk about claustrophobia during this part. Someone tweeted to Phil that, “Claustrophobia is a fear of snakes, right?” And he answered, “Yeah, when you’re in a box with one.” Phil is such a comedian.
Best detour ever aka Chartreuse!
Tray It: Descend into the dry dock where the Titanic was built and where some actors are pretending to be First Class passengers awaiting their five-course dinner. Serve them. How hard can it be?
The task gives them a seating chart where guests have selected two of the five courses, but there’s also a main menu listing all five courses. If you don’t read the main menu, you’ll miss the first course.
The food isn’t labeled, you just have to guess, put it on a tray, and hand it to your teammate who will descend a lot of stairs into the dry dock and run across to the eating tent and serve the people. If it’s not right, “This is not what these people ordered.”
I love this task because it’s mental and physical. Noticing the main menu is a key factor, and the trays are heavy. No one is perfect, and I love it.
Max and Katie figure out the menu before they start serving, so they breeze through until the final course when they need to serve chartreuse jelly.
When I was a child, I would take my mom’s box of food coloring and mix different colors in water according to the directions. Why? Because it was there. Back in my day it was either play with food coloring or go outside and find a stick for entertainment. Kids these days have it so easy. Anyway, with the food coloring, you could make orange, turquoise, purple, and even chartreuse. Chartreuse was the worst name of any color, and it was green and yellow and it looked ugly, and I remember being flummoxed as to why anyone would want chartreuse anything. Now, thanks to this Detour, I know that chartreuse jelly used to be A Thing.
Would you like another chartreuse story? Okay. This one is for the parents. In an episode of "Blue’s Clues," Joe (Steve’s replacement after Steve went to college and NEVER CAME BACK not that I’m bitter or anything) enters a world of color mixing and he sings a song, and there’s an awkward line that goes, “Chartreuse, a color that I have not seen ... looks to me like a yellowish-green.” He had to mention it because it’s on the color wheel as a product of two other colors, you can’t just not mix yellow and green. But when you do, it’s so unsatisfying.
I mention all of that to prove my superiority because Bates and Anthony and Max and Katie do not know what chartreuse is. Ha. I’m not sure about Mona and Beth because they took so long to figure out the menu that we didn’t really see their ending.
Chartreuse causes Bates to turn all alpha-big-brother, because Anthony hands him a red jelly and the people reject it and Anthony is up on the landing saying, “Bates is gonna kill me,” and Bates is down in the tent saying, “I’m gonna kill him.” It’s awesome.
When flirtation fails
When Caroline and Jennifer finally get out of the bog, they ask a shop owner for directions to the next stop. He helps out, and then says, “You’ll never meet a man like me.” These singers just collect men everywhere.
Alas, he has sent them to a field in the middle of nowhere. When they finally get the Detour clue, they choose the other option, which is to head to a skate park and fill in a graffiti picture. They do it, probably using a can of chartreuse.
When flirtation fails again
Max and Katie make it to the Pit Stop just a minute before Bates and Anthony. Mona and Beth are about forty minutes later, and they believe they’re in last place. When Phil tells them they’re third, Beth has a hard time believing him. They cry. I cry.
The Singers are never able to catch up. Too bad they couldn’t stick with their Hockey boyfriends for this leg. They are eliminated, and they tell Phil that they’re going to go home and write songs about all they’ve been through.
Have a pint for me
Moving right into the next leg, the teams are sent to Liverpool via ferry, they’re all bunched together. Then they have to go to a certain bar and get a pint of beer for their next clue. The top three are friendly on the ferry, and they even toast each other at the bar, but then it’s game on as they’re sent to the final destination city: Washington, DC.
Photo with the President
In DC, first they have to stand on the step where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech. They take a moment to visualize, and it is quite moving, even in the short time allotted.
After that, they’re sent to 1100 Pennsylvania Ave to meet with the Secret Service and get a photo with President Obama. Yes, that’s what it says. Max and Katie are wary, because Max is so Republican. Bates and Anthony are in disbelief, and Mona and Beth are overly giddy.
Now, the White House is at 1600 Penn. You’d know that if you saw the movie. Or if you just learned it somewhere. 1100 Penn is like a back door to a mall. Due to faulty direction-giving, Mona and Beth are dropped off at the White House and have to walk a few blocks down. They finally get a second cab the rest of the way, but they are the last to get there.
Oh, look, Secret Service guys! With their sunglasses and earpieces! Max and Katie are first to be ushered through the mall and into a novelty photo store, where their photos are inserted into a background so it looks like they are shaking hands with the President. It’s actually a good-looking picture. Max is totally relieved not to have to shake hands with a Democrat.
Bates and Anthony are disappointed that it’s not a real picture, Bates even took his hat off!
Mona and Beth are also disappointed but they realize that the President probably had better things to do than wait around to get his picture taken with them. I don’t know, if I were president I would do it! If it meant I got to meet Phil.
The spy who loves you if you say the right thing
Next is a Switchback Roadblock. They’ve played the spy briefcase game before, but I can’t remember the exact season. Phil tweeted that the last time they were in DC, they were shooting in standard definition, not high def, so that gives you a clue.
So one person gets a briefcase and then walks around the tidal basin trying to find the correct agent out of fifty by saying a secret passphrase.
Max starts first, but he’s not so lucky. Bates gets there next and finds his agent. The key to opening the briefcase is the order in which they finished in New Zealand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Cool, a research question!
All the teams have been keeping notebooks full of trivia, so they are able to get their clues. Bates finishes first, then Beth and Max. While waiting for Max, Katie informs the camera that he is an idiot who has no idea what he’s doing. There’s that newlywed spirit!
Go baseball team!
The teams head to Nationals Park where the Nationals baseball team plays. A lot of big-headed mascots are running around on the field. For the task, one person ziplines across the field. The other person is on the field wearing an inflatable baseball and a giant hat, so they have no depth perception and they can’t move their arms that well. The flying person drops a baseball, and the field person has to catch it. If not, fly and drop again. Seems ... practically impossible to me.
Anthony flies and throws to Bates. He misses at least one time, but then catches the ball and they are out of there before the other teams show up.
Katie flies and drops for Max. He misses a lot, falls down a lot, she gets mad at him. Of course. He catches the ball just as Mona starts flying for Beth.
Beth misses the ball four times. Seven. Ten. The bigheaded mascots come up and pat her inflatable ball costume. Mona tells her to focus, and Beth is all, yeah, thanks, that means a lot from the person who couldn’t read a giant menu right. She catches it on the seventeenth try.
Even more balls
The final task is a giant ball pit! It’s filled with inflatable globes, each with a country circled. One team member dives into the pit and finds balls to represent the ten countries they visited. The other team member arranges them in order to get their next clue.
This challenge isn’t the worst final challenge. I think last season’s “Hello, Goodbye” in different languages challenge was pretty terrible. In comparison, this isn’t a Roadblock, they can work together and even switch positions.
Have you been in a ball pit since you were small? I didn’t even do ball pits when I was small, I don’t think they were invented. Well, it’s difficult to move around in a ball pit when the pile of balls is taller than your head.
Despite the trickiness, Anthony and Bates manage to finish the challenge before the other teams arrive! They are on a roll.
Katie and Max do it quickly, after Katie tells Max to go faster. For a while, Mona and Max are in the ball tank together, but then Max and Katie finish.
You are the winners!
Nothing unlucky happens on the way to the finish line, so Bates and Anthony, you are Team Number One! You win a million dollars! Anthony head butts Bates right in the stomach. Bates says that he lost the Stanley Cup, so he’s happy to finally win something.
Max and Katie are next, and Max tries really hard to look happy.
Mona and Beth are third, and Phil tells them that they finished the Race, so they should be pretty darn pleased with themselves.
We get a little update from Dave and Connor -- Dave went home and had surgery on his Achilles tendon, and just got his stitches out. He’s wearing a boot and will start rehab within a week. Sure, they wonder, “What if?” But at least Dave didn’t lose a foot or anything.
The Singers are happy that Bates and Anthony won. Really? Really.
And then we get fireworks! And lots of cheering! You guys, nobody evil won! Yay! See you in the fall!
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