The Amazing Race, Episode 13: And the Winner Is...by Susan Schechter -- 07/10/2002
From last week – The lawyers, Rob and Brennan are in first place
The season’s last show does not disappoint. The people at CBS had a brilliant stroke of genius to place it right after Survivor; I understand its ratings were outstanding. And well they should have been!
The show opens up with gorgeous shots of Alaska, where all the teams are at this point, and the one state in the country I am dying to visit. (I love winter and cold weather). Team Guido (Joe and Bill) are a few tasks short of the other two teams, but Bill is still optimistic he can win this thing. Last week they told the viewing audience they were the underdogs. But let’s face it, they aren’t. To the right is Underdog; to the left is Guido; anybody can plainly see the difference. For these two to win they would need a miracle, or an airline strike. Bill is correct to point out each team has made near fatal errors before. It can still happen. But, if it does, Satan will be riding to work on a snow plow….Wait! This is Alaska. It could happen.
Rob and Brennan depart at 4:17 am from their last pit stop. The Route Information envelope says, “Put on your snow shoes. Follow flags to Takosha Lodge.” The teams must now follow a half mile trail of yellow flags through the forest to the lodge. According to the instructions, the lodge opens at 8am. The laywers decide at 4:30 to walk to the lodge. They put on their snow shoes and they are off.
At 5:03 Frank and Margarita come out to collect the route information. Margarita says “It’s ON baby.” Now wait a minute. Monica, a houseguest on CBS’s Big Brother 2, used that phrase a lot too. She was from Brooklyn. Margarita is from Queens. I was born in the Big Apple, living in New Jersey, and I have never heard that phrase before. Can someone enlighten me what exactly “On” means?
Frank and Margarita encounter the lawyers outside, where they have no flash light. So the lawyers follow Frank and Margarita, causing Frank’s ire to start to bubble. What’s going to happen when it explodes? “They’re always following us,” he complains to the cameraman. The four of them arrive at Takosha lodge, but it is closed. There is a place next to it that is open, and it looks quite rustic and cozy. The teams chill for a few hours and have some juice and coffee. Frank teases Margarita about her legs, which look fine to me, but then I don’t usually notice other women’s legs unless they have a run in their hose. More quotes from various teams about how hard they have worked to get where they are, how they have pushed themselves to the limit, etc. Yes folks, you have worked hard, but now is not the time to rest on your laurels. And now… lest we not forget, here is a clip of Team Guido. They do the blanket toss, which I described in last week’s episode. They find out they get to go ice climbing. Whoopie!
Cut to dogs on sleds. Did I not say last week there would be a dog sled race? No, I did not accidentally turn on the Iditorod. I’m good with some predictions, dang good with others and on others… Well, you will see at the end of the article. Keep reading.
The next envelope is a detour. “Dog Power” or “Horse Power.” If the teams pick the Dog option, they get to go 11 miles to the next stop on a dog sled. The dogs may go slow, but it’s only a short distance. “Horse power” is a snow mobile, which is faster but the trip is 30 miles. Both ways will take the teams to the next stop, which is a four-wheel-drive vehicle. They have to drive to a route marker. Both teams choose the dogs and I concur. The dogs are so cute! My cat did not think so however, and their barking caused her to start marking her territory. Can I send CBS the bill to get my carpet steam cleaned?
And they’re off! Rob has one of the best lines in the show, he quips that it’s like a “Chinese Fire Drill” trying to pass Frank, who is in the front. Now, anyone out there who has not done a Chinese fire drill, it’s a harmless thing to do in high school or college. Ideally you should be slightly drunk when doing this. If you are sober, it’s not so funny. But I am digressing, something my editor is constantly bitching to me that I do. (He cracks a mean whip to get his writers in line, he does.) I feel sorry for Frank’s dogs. Apparently either Frank got the slowest dogs, which if true could be one of the most talked about thing on the Reality TV message boards since the second gun theory on the Grassy Knoll, or he is too heavy and the dogs are struggling to pull his weight, as Margarita thinks. All the dogs want to pass Frank’s dogs. Frank is yelling to put on the brakes? Do dogs come with brakes?
The lawyers decide to pass Frank and the dogs seem happier, running. The lawyers are yelling “mush” and “Yehaw!” to the dogs. The must have been in California too long. Or they are getting the Western “Come on you little DOGIES” mixed up with “Come one you little DOGGIES.” The lawyers get to the SUV first, with about a 10-15 minute lead over Frank and Margarita. They have to go to Fish Lake, and they arrive there first as well. The next envelope brings a road block. They have to join “The Polar Bear Club,” plunging/diving into cold water in the winter. I am a member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. I think it would be neat to do this in Alaska though, and I am envious of these teams. Brennan decides to do this, jumps in the water and jumps out before he realizes he forgot to collect the next envelope. Back into the cold water. D’oh!!! Frank and Margarita arrive at Fish Lake as Brennan is getting dressed. They have no idea why Brennan would be getting dressed. Frank goes into the water as the lawyers drive away. Margarita reads the next task from the envelope Frank just got. Head for the route marker at Vincent Daniels Square, 51st and Roosevelt in Queens, New York. The separated parents are thrilled. Apparently this is the neighborhood where Margarita’s father lives. Their daughter is six blocks away from this next stop. Note to readers, Frank says “my” daughter, not “our” daughter. Now this could mean one of three things. One. Frank has another child by another woman other than Margarita. Possible, but unlikely. Two, Frank’s daughter has been cloned. Impossible unless this show was shown on the SF network. Or three, what he really feels about his relationship with Margarita. Just something to consider one night if you are bored and ponder the meaning of life or the lint in your omphalos.
On the way to the airport, Frank decides to do what Frank does best, plot. He tries to think of different ways to throw Rob and Brennan off their trail. Frank says he will deliberately mislead them to get them lost. Rob, in his car, decides to use that legal cunning he has and goes to a convenience store offering everyone and anyone he sees $300 to borrow their cell phone to call for plane reservations. He eventually finds a blonde who is willing to give him her phone. I’ve heard of asking a girl for a phone number, but a phone? Rob then calls the airlines to get a flight from Anchorage to NYC. He mentions all three airports. Dude, I have to interrupt this commentary to give you a piece of advice: No one flies out of La Guardia. Stick with Newark or JFK. (Trivia: What was JFK airport called before it was named after President Kennedy?) Flights never leave La Guardia on time. Trust me on this one. The lawyers debate booking eight seats on the flight so Frank and Margarita cannot fly at all. They decide against it. They both say that Frank would resort to this tactic, but they want to win fair and square. Score one for the lawyers in my book. I’ll hold off the lawyer jokes for the time being as to show my appreciation. (Trivia answer: Idlewild).
Cut back to Frank, who is complaining. What a pill. This is getting real old, Frank, real fast. I’ll leave him for now, I want to go to the forgotten team, Team Guido! They are at the ice wall. Bill climbs it, they get to the snowmobile, and get to the cabin for a 12-hour rest. Of course being Team Guido, they cannot resist putting in a barb about the other two teams – “Maybe the other two teams fell off their Skeedos (brand of snowmobile) and froze in the snow.” This is not nice. Nor is it a particularly pleasant way to die. Now just to keep everyone aware, Bill and Joe are approximately 24 hours behind the other teams. This is the bottom of the ninth for them, the bases are loaded, the batter has two strikes, they are behind… and they need a better miracle than this. They still think they have a chance. Maybe the other teams are hung up at the airport. Maybe. We shall see. Anyone besides the Guidos’ mothers thinking their sons can win?
Back to the airport. All teams are trying to get flights back to NYC. Some minor chicanery from both teams in a subtle sabotage, nothing major. Both teams are flying from Anchorage to Seattle, Seattle to Newark (NJ) on the redeye. Nice work, I have taken the redeye from the West coast to the East coast. Arriving to Newark’s terminal C (it’s a continental flight) at six in the morning is brilliant. No one will be at the airport. I guarantee it. They should be able to get a cab with no problems, and just beat the New Jersey commuters into the city. But I am getting ahead of myself here. Kudos, to both teams for this brilliant move.
At the Seattle (Sea-Tac) airport, Rob and Brennan use their free time to look for maps of New York and Queens so they will know what they are looking for. Frank and Margarita are optimistic, it’s their home turf after all. And with their optimism, they are getting cocky, and cockiness can lead to sloppiness.
More quotes from the teams on how much they want to win. Tell us something we don’t know!
And a commercial for Vanilla Sky, the new movie with Tom Cruise. Shameless plug, I saw this already, at a preview. Great movie.
Back to poor Team Guido. And a quote from them which will live in the annals of reality TV history along with Susan Hawk’s “Snake and Rat” speech. Guido says “I have likened myself to Bill Clinton’s presidency. Bill Clinton had to save his presidency and pull it out no less than four times over the last eight years. Bill Clinton has termed himself the comeback kid.” Earth to Guido: Bill Clinton was IMPEACHED for among other things, “whipping it out.” Ugh! Then again, considering what many people think of Team Guido, maybe it is an apt comparison.
The plane lands at Newark. For those who think NJ is just exists on the turnpike or parkway, Newark is exit 13A on the turnpike. Right near Ikea. Frank and Margarita think the lawyers are scared. The lawyers were shown throughout the flight looking at maps. Clips of both teams in terminal C. Ah fond memories of that terminal for this reporter. Frank says he knows ways to throw (the lawyers) off their trail. He will let them have a cab first, because he knows faster routes. Rob and Brennan take a yellow cab, and Frank and Margarita go into a private car ( a taxi that is not a yellow cab). The lawyers are off and Frank figures out his cabbie has no idea where to go so they remove their lugguage and hail a yellow cab. Frank barks directions at the poor cabbie. “GWB (George Washington Bridge), to Triborough (Bridge) to the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Express).” Rob and Brennan just hope the cabbie knows how to go. And for the first time in the race, Rob and Brennan get a good taxi driver. They pass the sign for Jersey City, and Frank and Margarita think they are playing it better than Rob and Brennan going around Manhattan via the bridges. (For those who may have forgotten, New York City is composed of five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. The outgoing mayor of New York, Rudolph Guiliani, and the incoming mayor, Mike Bloomberg (no relation to David, although he’s still checking), will be mayor of all five boroughs. )
The lawyers go via the Holland Tunnel. Frank and Margarita get off at Northern Blvd., near Shea Stadium. I’ve never been in this neighborhood, my Pop is a Yankee fan, and being caught in this neighborhood would be sacrilegious.
Vincent Daniels Square in Queens is the second-to-last stop on the race, and the place where the last route marker envelope is. The lawyers get there first (surprise!) and the directions say to take the “El” train to Flushing Meadows. The El train is the elevated train, but this is not a nice train, like the LIRR or Amtrack. It’s the subway. The way it’s edited, Frank and Margarita arrive to the envelope as Rob and Brennan are buying tickets. The lawyers luck out. The train comes in as they get there and they just make the train. Frank and Margarita think they are ahead of the lawyers and wait for the train, not realizing they just missed the vital train they needed. They assume that because they do not see Rob and Brennan, the two lawyers must be behind them. As the old saying goes, “Don’t assume. You make an Ass out of You and Me.” In this case, however, the assuming only affected the assumer. If anyone out there reading this should decide to write a piece on what future Amazing Race contestants should have learned (like the one David Bloomberg wrote for Survivor), please make it a rule to never assume.
So the lawyers are now ahead by a whole train. The next train should be about 10-15 minutes later, and this is enough to pull out a huge lead. There is some interesting stuff going on between Frank and Margarita here; let’s just say that a psychologist would have a field day with their body language and their talk. It’s really amazing.
The viewer gets some lovely shots of a New York City subway car. It shows the world what dumps they are compared to the subway system of Washington, D.C., or London’s Tube. Cut to Frank and Margarita; they are happy, he is telling her to shut up. Lots of cuts back to the various two teams. Frank and Margarita cocky, Rob and Brennan determined. The lawyers get off at the Willets point/Shea Stadium stop; Frank and Margarita are still on their train. These two teams are separated by 10-15, minutes at most. This is a nail biter.
And without any more summary , Rob and Brennan get to the finish line. And there is Team Guido in front of them! Sorry, bad joke. Rob and Brennan get there first. All the other teams who have been eliminated are cheering for them. Rob and Brennan won. They thank the other teams, and are thrilled and astonished. Nice cut to Frank and Margarita at the park, running, hearing the cheering and thinking they are in first place. Their faces fall when they see Rob and Brennan with Phil at the finish line. But there is no shame in coming in number two.
Cut back to the Guidos, in Alaska, finding out that Rob and Brennan won, and to the happy smiles of all in TV land, as they get their comeuppance.
And now I have to get mine as well. I really thought, by a red herring clue by CBS, that Team Guido would win this thing. I was lambasted by my colleagues and friends here at RNO. But I stuck to my guns and was sure they would win. Of all the e-mail I received, all of it, running from fellow RNO writers, to other reality writers at other sites, all said Rob and Brennan would win it. Even the Unbelievable Bloombergini and the Manly Man were in accordance, the Lawyers would win.
So, here I am eating crow. I was wrong. But at least the Guidos didn’t win.
Susan Schechter is an aspiring novelist in the NYC area.
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