The Amazing Race, Episode 12: Homeward Boundby Susan Schechter -- 07/10/2002
Much to my chagrin, this was not the last episode of The Amazing Race. I really thought it would be over this week, but no, the finale is next week AFTER Survivor, and opposite Temptation Island 2. Now don’t get me wrong. I like this show. I really do. But this time of year, work is a very demanding mistress, and I just don’t have time to watch TV like I used to. And I think I am still hurting from Drew and Kevin, the Frat Boys, being eliminated.
As presenter Phil Keoghan opens this weeks episode from the Great Wall of China, he reminds us yet again that “time is running out and everyone is primed for action. Every second counts.” And this episode, seconds really will matter.
Things are not going well for Frank and Margarita. They are having a spat. Frank, ever an Alpha Male if there was one, wants to know why Margarita is making decisions alone, rather than as part of the team (I will tell you why, Frank. IMHO, she’s a smart woman, and you should listen to her, not dis her). Margarita makes a face. Believe it or not folks, they are disagreeing over TAXIS! The game then starts for them, they leave the park at 11:14 pm, and get the clue, “Go to Tiantan Park. Find Kites.” The hours of operation for the park are 6am –8pm, so they find a hotel to get some Z’s. Frank then teases Margarita again about taxis. Oh he is a real pill. All that nice feelings they had in Thailand have evaporated, or maybe it’s just because they are so close to a million dollars, they are squabbling. After all, aren’t the two major disputes between married couples money and sex? (And who’s hogging the remote?) Rob and Brennan leave at 11:25 pm, 11 minutes later. They realize the park does not open for six hours and get a hotel room as well, but not before we are treated to a quote from Brennan, who says that the lawyers just wanted to finish the race, now they are focusing on 1st place. Victory. They do not want 2nd place.
Rob and Brennan leave the hotel at 4:45. (Do these guys pay for their rooms by the whole day, or by the hour?) Frank and Margarita leave at 5:15. Both teams are trying to figure out the best entrance to the park. Rob and Brennan decide to hide in the shadows so that Frank and Margarita cannot see them. Frank and Margarita are up to a quick start, getting in the park five minutes before the lawyers, taking the lead. When Margarita asks if she can get in early, and they are let in, she again proves she is a smart cookie. Frank should be listening to her. They find the Echo Wall first, and get to the kites and collect the next place to go. The clue is to find the Great Wall of China at Juyung Pass, lower level. To get there, teams can only travel by public bus. And they are off, to take a taxi to the bus stop. Rob and Brennan still cannot find the kites. I have to say, up to this juncture, Frank and Margarita have been clever, and Rob and Brennan just lucky. I have a gut feeling this will change.
Frank and Margarita get to the bust station and arrive to the Great Wall before the lawyers. Frank figures out “upper and lower” incorrectly, and decides to hop over a pedestrian fence. I just found out Frank and Margarita are from Manhattan; have they ever jumped the turnstile? Better yet have they ever gotten caught and paid the 75 dollar fine? You can take us New Yorkers out of the Big Apple, but you cannot take the Big Apple out of us New Yorkers, I guess. Margarita does not look to happy at the prospect of climbing fences, but she does. Cut to Rob and Brennan, who have found the kite clue and are sitting in a taxi on the way to the bus, cool as cucumbers. They are thinking that perhaps Frank and Margarita are no more than 10-15 minutes ahead, so they are doing well. Indeed they are, but the other team is acting stupid, stupid, stupid! By the time Rob and Brennan get to the wall, they ask directions, find where they have to go and find the yellow and white flag way before Frank and Margarita, who are still hopping fences to get into areas because they have no idea in heaven where they are going .
The task that Rob and Brennan get is a detour. They have to make their way to one of two Pavillions along the Great Wall of China. They can choose the steep path, which is all steps, but fairly short. Or they choose the flat path that is much longer.
The lawyers go with the steep option. Frank and Margarita still have not found the yellow and white flag. The lawyers find the second flag, open the envelope, and are thrilled to find these words, “You are expected at the North County Bed and Breakfast, Scotty Lake, Alaska.” Hurray! They are going home to the states. Well one of them anyway. The B and B is 4,000 miles away from China, and a two-hour drive to get there from Anchorage, Alaska. As they are about to depart to flag a taxi and get to the airport, they go to where the first flag was and see that Frank and Margarita still have not gotten there yet.
Frank and Margarita finally find the first envelope, and Margarita wants to check her backpack, like you would check your coat at a restaurant. Frank does not think it is a good idea, more squabbles and a great line from Frank:
Whoa! I thought that line only works with children. I didn’t know you could use it on another adult. I hate to say this, since I loved these guys last week, but it is painful to watch their squabbles. I want to jump into the TV set and yank them, to stop them from bickering. Please guys, play nicely, and you can have milk and cookies. Cut to Rob in a taxi, once again wondering in the great scheme of things in the universe, why he is always blessed with slow taxi drivers. The lawyers are optimistic they will get on an earlier plane than Frank and Margarita, allowing them mega distance in the lead spot, instead of minutes. Cut to more bickering from Frank and Margarita at the Great Wall. Margarita is in better shape than Frank on the stairs, and I look at my legs and think “Gym. Stairmaster. Hurry.” They find the clue and are off to collect their things and get to the airport. We next get a clip of them in the taxi on the way to the airport, strategizing. Rob and Brennan get to the ticket counter and are told the best way to get to Anchorage is from China to San Francisco, to Seattle, to Anchorage. After some time between them and the ticket agent, they get their tickets. Margarita and Frank arrive and there is a bit more squabbling between the two of them, but Margarita gets them on the same flight as the lawyers, but they get to fly business class for economy price. I said it before, I’ll say it again, Margarita is one sharp lady. She also realizes that they performed so poorly as a team because they were not working as a team. They have to start working as a team NOW.
Meanwhile, Team Guido is preparing from their release at the Pit Stop. Before you comment on these words, they were not mine. That was what the announcer said on the show. We get some travel tips from Joe, which are interesting. Joe tells the camera the reason they always look so good is that they roll, not fold, their clothing; you also get more clothes in there. Honestly, I will try it the next time I go anywhere, which will be next weekend. Joe also then says something, a comment which slipped over my head, but rankled a couple other writers here at RNO. Joe says, “Everyone loves to see the Underdog win.” So let me set Joe straight, (oh, pardon the pun!). You are semi-correct. Everyone loves Underdog. Why not? He was a great superhero, and a terrific float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But that Underdog was kind. We may like underdogs, but if we had our druthers, we wouldn’t want to see Team Guido win because of the nastiness in your play. And the way this race is winding down, it’s thankfully becoming more and more unlikely that it will happen anyway.
So Team Guido leaves at 10:51 pm. We don’t know if they get a room or what. We see them at 6:00am at the park. They find the kite, (one of the most beautiful kites I have ever seen, but I am digressing). They get to the clue and are off to the Great Wall of China. Cut to the two teams in the Seattle airport waiting to get their plane to Anchorage. Cut back to Team Guido at 8:18am. They find the detour early, and go with the “steep” option. They find the flag fairly quickly, since they are in great shape as well on the stairs, and are thrilled to know they are going to Alaska. And by now, yeppers, the other two teams’ plane has landed, and they are in Alaska.
Rob and Brennan are a bit behind now. Both teams were on the same flight, but Rob and Brennan got very last row in the back of the plane. They are “pissed” about it as Margarita says. Can’t say I blame ‘em.
As they said in the opening, minutes matter. And now a small handful of minutes are all that is separating both teams. Frank and Margarita find a Jeep Cherokee and are off. They are being driven to the bed and breakfast. Rob and Brennan are minutes behind them. And of course, as the teams arrive in Alaska, Team Guido is at the airport, getting tickets for the exact same flights the next day.
Frank and Margarita arrive at the B and B first, and get the next route info, “Experience an Alaskan Blanket toss. While in the air look for the next clue. Hours, 8 am-8pm.” They spend the night in the cabin. The lawyers arrive a few minutes later, and have to spend the night in the same cabin with Frank and Margarita, who they see are already in bed. No... get your mind out of the gutter, again this is not Temptation Island. They were trying to sleep!
After a long commercial break, the viewer is treated to a breathtaking sunrise over Alaska, a moose in the snow and an aerial shot of the B and B. Breathtaking. But as Lou Reed sang, “It’s so cold in Alaska!” The viewer then gets a brief history of the Alaskan blanket toss, not to be confused with a baked Alaska. Back in the olden days (when mom and dad went to school with the dinosaurs), Alaskans would use a blanket to toss one member high in the air. Once they were airborne, they could see animals in the distance and know where to hunt.
Wait a minute. It’s not a blanket – it’s a makeshift Trampoline! Where’s Will from Big Brother 2 now that we need him?
The teams should be able to see the clue from the air. Because Frank and Margarita came in before Rob and Brennan they go first. Frank goes on the blanket and sees the clue. The route info envelope tells them to “Proceed to Matanslea Glacier.” They will find the next set of instructions at the ice wall. The lawyers go next , and find the clue as easily. Once again, a handful of minutes separate the teams. Both teams get to Waisilla, the town next to the Glacier. Rob and Brennan are right behind, perhaps ten car lengths. And they see that the park is closed. Rob and Brennan stop off at a Quick-E-Mart type store, get directions and are told to ignore the sign the park is closed. Which they do. And they get to the park a few minutes ahead of Frank and Margarita. At the park is a road block. This is perhaps the hardest road block they have done. One member has to climb the glacier ice wall to retrieve the clue on the top.
Rob’s going to do it. I guess his finger has healed. While he learns how to climb a glacier, Frank and Margarita arrive (after stopping at the same convenience store). Frank decides to do the road block. Rob is starting while Frank gets kitted out with proper gear and learns how to do it. It is semi-close between the two men, Rob has a nice little lead, and Alpha Male Frank cannot seem to get the gist of it. Margarita is on the ground cheering Frank on. Another RNO writer pointed out that Margarita didn’t seem to be too enthusiastic with her cheering. I wouldn’t have been if my ex was dissing me in China. Frank finally figures out how to do this correctly, and arrives at the top, but again a few minutes after Rob. Teams are told to drive to mile maker 131 on the highway and ride snowmobile sleds to the Pit Stop.
And when both teams arrive at the pit stop – Rob and Brennan first, and Frank and Margarita minutes later – they are greeted by two out of work actors who got lost from L.A. Now, that is not true, but these guys have the most to say out of anyone yet on the show. “Welcome, you are first place.” The other one chimes “Use our Mushers cabin.” (Folks, this is a clue! I hear its going to be a dog sled race in the next episode.) And what would the race be without another quote from Rob, who is just waxing eloquent with the quotes this episode. “Smell that dude, that is Victory, one leg away.”
And the segment ends with these teams, and Rob saying ominously, “It’s going to be a great race man.” Don’t go away.
The show cannot go on without a shot of Team Guido! They deplane in Alaska and get to the B and B. They are perhaps 12 hours or so behind, now that they are all in the same time zone again. They say they love the cold weather. They get to the B and B and get the clue for the Blanket toss in the morning.
The show then ends with some vignettes.
Team Guido (Joe): “We’re still pretty confident to win this show. And it will be a real dramatic for a team to come from way behind and pull ahead and have a squeaker. And that’s what I predict will happen.”
Frank: “I do feel that we are going to win. I just have this gut feeling that we are destined to win this thing.”
Rob: “Frank and Margarita are the people we have to beat. We’ll try our damnedest to do it.”
Margarita: “We’re going to win. That’s it.”
Rob: “It’s time to focus on the victory. It’s time to win The Amazing Race.”
And on next week’s finale (after Survivor, in case you have forgotten): Frank and Margarita worry about Brennan and Rob. Rob and Brennan worry about Frank and Margarita. But should they be worrying about Joe and Bill? Which of these three teams will win The Amazing Race?
With that said and done, if anyone has any last-minute thoughts, please post feedback to the site. I am between ISPs right now but I would love to see which teams everyone thinks will win. I hope it is Frank and Margarita, but I have a gut feeling it may be Team Guido. Don’t ask me how, because I can’t explain it. Ah well, we shall see when it’s all over, but until the Tiffany network has Reality Thursday, stay warm, keep reading RealityNewsOnline, and pass the popcorn.
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