The Amazing Race: Thinking Smart in The Final Legby Jeffrey Clinard -- 07/10/2002
Three teams remain. Only one team will take the million dollar prize waiting for them at the finish line. How did each team do in the next to last episode, and what do they need to do to cross the finish line first?
First, a perspective. The game started with the teams segregating themselves into three groups, based on their initial flights out of New York City, and checked into Songwee Village in the following top three order: Rob and Brennan, Joe and Bill, and Frank and Margarita. The three remaining teams, in order, are: Rob and Brennan, Frank and Margarita, and Bill and Joe. Coincidence? No. All of these teams had the mental, emotional, and physical strength to pull this far in the game. All of them have made mistakes, but in the end, smart play has led them to overcome the problems of the race and make it to the finals.
Here is how the teams stack up.
Rob and Brennan. The lawyers have finished both the first and next to last leg of the race in first place, only minutes up compared to their nearest competitors, Frank and Margarita. Their strengths have been communication, teamwork, and persistence, even when things got rough. Their worst move was using the Fast Forward in episode one. To think smart and get to the finish line first is to play to these strengths in the final leg. Calm reasoning and cooperation, playing each remaining task and obstacles in a calm manner, and perhaps a foot race at the end could get them to the finish line first.
Frank and Margarita. More than any other team still in the race, their relationship has wobbled quite a bit, starting out rough, getting better, and now getting worse as the million dollar prize suddenly becomes a very real possibility. What has carried them through is the sheer energy of Frank, coupled with the quiet diplomacy of Margarita. Frank has taken charge in the tasks to complete leg-to-leg, but Margarita has been the one making most of the flight arrangements. It's a wild tag-team combination I didn't think would work as well as it has. It's a bit hard to say, but that is what is needed for them cross first and win the million dollar prize. It's playing to the strengths of the team to do that, and if it means Margarita working with a ticket agent while Frank storms off in a corner, and Frank literally pushing Margarita to the end, it could be the key to the win.
Joe and Bill. I've never counted these two out of the race before, because they have always been a smart racing team, even if some of their tactics were nasty. Well, I've counted them out now. They are 24 hours behind the leaders, and everything is against them from now on. In North America, it's unlikely a language or cultural barrier will jump up to stump the leading teams, and air travel provides many choices. Gaining that much time with so little race left is unlikely.
Their problems really all happened in India. Taking cheap transportation cost them six hours when they missed a train by minutes. That was the first part of their downfall. The second part was their complete squandering of the Fast Forward pass. They made an incredibly foolish move of assuming they'd get to the finish line fastest by taking the direct bus, and wasted eight hours. From there on out, the hours of operations of the tasks conspired to delay them even longer.
The Final Way to Thinking Smart. Unless there are travel restrictions (and I rather suspect there will be), air travel might be the deciding factor in the race. Now more than ever the hours must be weighed against the minutes. The team that crosses the finish line first will be the one who successfully does that. Good luck, and may the Smartest Team win!
Jeffrey Clinard has a Master's degree in marketing, a job he could not be paid enough to return to. He applies logic and strategy to the events of reality TV shows.
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