Previously on "The Amazing Race," there were so many teams! And they were so happy! Until Phil sent most of them home. Last week, Leo and Jamal came in last place. Tonight, we find out who wins.
Here's the part where I tell you that my professional recapping skills failed me. My Tivo did not record! I was lollygagging around my house, fixing school lunches, talking on the phone, planning vacations, giving myself a delayed start so that I could skip all the commercials. I turned on my TV about thirty minutes into the episode only to discover my worst nightmare.
So, I missed some kind of airport drama. According to Twitter, the top three teams conspired against the Afghanimals somehow. I don't think it worked. Everyone flew to Tokyo, and they had to make a phone call underwater and there might have been a Detour option involving cats.
The other Detour option was a wacky Japanese game show, featuring the same host (in the same suit) from Season 20's classic, "Eat the Wasabi!" I loved that game. Tonight's game is a version of human bowling, with one person sitting in an innertube and the other person shoving them down a ramp into some pins.
I caught up with Tim and Marie alone at the game show, probably right after their dark moment. Marie pushed Tim down the ramp and he knocked over all the pins, but they were in last place. Oh no!
Before the next task, the Afghanimals have a Speed Bump where they have to become apprentice zookeepers by pretending to capture an escaped rhino. The "rhino" is a giant puppet carried around by two people, and a mob of zoo keepers surround it with nets.
Phil informs us that this is really how they practice. Luckily, Leo and Jamal capture the fake rhino and put it in the back of a truck, where it will live to escape another day.
Teamwork: Yay or Nay?
The next task is a Roadblock. One third of the world's robots are made and used in Japan, so the task is to build a robot out of very large cardboard tubes. The finished robot is about eight feet tall. The example for them to follow is about four inches tall. Oh, sneaky.
Amy and Nicole decide to work together, so they run back and forth between their robots, building them simultaneously. It's physically tough, the pieces are tricky to fit together and the giant robot body is hard to maneuver.
Leo takes the task for his team, noting sarcastically, "That's cute, they're helping each other."
Tim and Marie get there and are surprised to see the Afghanimals are ahead of them. Marie takes the task, but she can't find the example robot. She asks the others, but Amy and Nicole ignore her. Leo finally points it out.
Now, Marie always proves herself, so she catches up to the others fairly quickly. Nicole takes to ordering Amy to focus, "Do not look at Marie."
On the sidelines, Jason says that he and Travis are frustrated because, as manly men, they would have been done by now. Get over it, Jason.
Leo finishes first, but he's told that it's not correct. Amy notices that his torso piece is backwards. Then she and Nicole finish, but they aren't correct. Helpful captioning shows us that their robot hips are where their robot shoulders should be.
Marie finishes, and she nails it on the first try! She runs off, shouting, "Thanks for not helping me, guys."
Jason and Travis say rude things about their women.
Amy finally realizes their problem, so she and Nicole take apart their robots. They rebuild them separately, Amy finishing first. She passes. She helps Nicole for a few minutes, knowing that Leo still hasn't figured out his problem.
Travis is left alone to say awful things. "Come on, Nicole, it's not rocket science. I'm not used to this. I usually know that I can rely on me, and Nicole is showing me she's not the same as me. She needs to be confident and decisive."
When she finishes, they run off together and he yells, "You gotta learn to build stuff." Nicole probably appreciates that helpful tip after she's already built stuff.
Even More Robots!
Teams pick up their next clue from a roaming vending machine in Shibuya Crossing, the famously busy intersection downtown. From there, they walk to the Konno Hachimango Shrine, a thousand-year-old landmark. Phil is waiting there, wearing a nice black shirt, standing next to a human robot.
Tim and Marie find Phil first! Phil says, "Marie, this is the happiest I've seen you! You're almost in love with him right now!"
Tim corrects him. "She did the Roadblock, she's in love with herself right now." Marie just smiles.
Jason and Amy get to the Pit Stop soon after.
The third team to race for the finish line is…Travis and Nicole! Nicole tells the robot that she doesn't like it.
Sorry, Afghanimals, you are eliminated.
In Which We Discuss Money
At the start of the next leg, Marie explains that she made a contract for Tim to sign before the Race, which awarded her 60 percent of anything they might win. She explains that she did a lot of legwork to get them on the Race and he did nothing. Hey, he signed it!
Later, Tim says that Marie threatened to not go on the Race at all if he didn't agree, and he figured the Race itself would be reward enough. Tim is a rock, you guys.
Another Sad Travis Roadblock
Everyone flies to Juneau, Alaska! And then, after some running and attempted stealing, everyone is in a cab to a harbor. They rush to marked boats, and Amy slips on the wet dock. It's cold and rainy in Alaska!
After a boat race, they get to a Roadblock. They must simulate a supply drop from a bush plane: flying 150 feet in the air, they must drop a bag of flour onto a target. The three women take the challenge.
Travis tells Nicole that it's redemption time for her. Way to not pressure her, Travis!
Nicole drops flour first, and misses. Amy goes next, and misses. Then Marie misses. Their planes circle around again, because they have a lot of bags of flour in their planes.
Amy hits the mark on her second try! Jason didn't even get a chance to say that he could have done it better!
Meanwhile Nicole and Marie try and try again. And again. Travis, surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes, says, "Sometimes not being very successful is a hard pill to swallow."
Marie makes it on her 12th time, frustrated at being in second place.
Nicole finally makes it on her 18th try. Travis is mopey on the ground, knowing that it's too late. They take a helicopter to their next clue and he won't even look at her because he's busy being disappointed.
Working Hard for the Money
After the flour drop, the teams ride in helicopters to a glacier. They choose a mountain guide, cross part of the glacier, then have to chip a clue out of the ice.
This is real ice climbing, not pretend. They cross a crevasse by rappelling down one side, walking across a horizontal ladder and then climbing up the opposite side with two pickaxes. Yikes!
I have to point out that Amy's hair is in its usual tall bun, and her helmet is perched on top of her bun so high that it won't help her at all if she falls. Luckily, she doesn't.
Jason and Amy cross first, and then they hike through an ice tunnel. Jason is the most excited I've ever seen. Then they're at the wall of ice where there are several clues, most of them fake. It doesn't take long to chip out a clue, but it does take a while to find a real clue.
Tim and Marie are close behind, and even Travis and Nicole are still in it. Until Nicole slips on the horizontal ladder and drops one of her ice picks. She climbs up the wall with only one pick, which is hard-core.
After finding the ice clue, the teams have to kayak to a marked island. Luckily it's pretty visible, and they don't kayak forever. Jason and Amy are still in first, followed by Tim and Marie, then Travis and Nicole.
After the kayak, they helicopter back to Juneau and take a cab to the Blueberry Hills trailhead, where the final task awaits.
Don't you love the final task? It's always a memory challenge, and through the seasons the teams have taken more and more elaborate notes. One year it was about the hats that the greeters wore, one year it was about the different languages for hello and goodbye that they heard at each Pit Stop. This year it's about the currency of each country they visited.
They traveled to nine countries. The trick is, they have to assemble totem poles to spell out the currency vertically. Like past final challenges, this assembly has an element of danger. They have to slide pieces of the totem pole up a metal spike, holding them in place with a pin until they have all the pieces in place. A few fingers are pinched along the way.
Overachiever Amy informs us that she took notes on a hundred different things throughout the race, but not the currency. They have to wing it.
Tim and Marie get there and claim to remember everything except for Abu Dhabi.
Travis and Nicole get there, and Travis just mumbles how they've "always" been out in front, except for the last four legs when a Roadblock *cough* Nicole *cough* held them back.
Jason and Amy manage to finish first, getting the clue on their first try. They sneak out of the park quietly, and Marie's heart breaks. She and Tim finish soon after, and it almost looks like a cab race.
Travis tells Nicole that she's not helping, again. That he's doing all the work, again.
And the winners…
After four continents, nine countries, 35,000-plus miles and six second-place finishes, Jason and Amy are the winners! They're kind of so cute! Amy is pretty much in disbelief, but she's smiling really big. She says that this is the beginning of her happily ever after.
Tim and Marie are next. Phil takes the opportunity to tell Marie that a lot of guys on the Race feared her. Then he asks why she chose to come with Tim. She says that she applied at the last minute, and Tim was sitting next to her when she did it, and she knew he'd be a great partner even though he did no preparation for the race.
The crowd of eliminated racers starts to cheer for Tim. Aww, Tim, always in Marie's shadow. He's a good guy.
Travis and Nicole come in third. Phil asks what their five children will think when they see the race. Travis forgets all the bad things he's said and answers that the kids will be proud. Nicole points out that Travis gets hard on her, but he cuts her off and says that he loves her no matter what, it's just a race. I hope he means it.
That's it! All the teams get onto the giant mat and cheer. The Afghanimals are reunited with the Pink Ice girls. The Beards say that they wouldn't trade it for anything, except another chance. Amy is still really happy.