Well, this is it. Another season of the Amazing Race is about to conclude. The hook this week is that there has never been a bigger mismatch in the final three than in season 13. Nick & Starr have won six out of ten legs to date, making them the TAR equivalent of the 2008 New England Patriots...and we all know how that turned out.
The Amazing Race 13, Episode 11
You Look Like Peter Pan
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
December 7, 2008
Speaking of the NFL, seeking to pull off the upset are Ken & Tina, an unhappily married couple who have been attempting to reconcile through the magic of competitive travel abroad. Ken, a former first round draft pick, has been a mostly good guy throughout, although he has shown too short a fuse with his wife on occasion. The reason for that is, well, she can be kind of annoying. A month into this season, we hated Tina's guts. She was exhibiting every aspect of the Ugly American cliche. Over time, we were surprised to discover that she has a generous heart. Whenever any opposing competitor has asked Ken & Tina for assistance, they have been the rare (if not first) team to aid others even to their own detriment. A couple of episodes ago, they were barely ahead of Dan & Andrew, yet they showed the hapless duo exactly how to complete a challenge. Such selflessness is rare on any reality program, and it forces us to reevaluate our possibly incorrect opinion about who Tina is.
We know all too well who Dan & Andrew are, though. The magic word is "pathetic". Readers of BOP over the past few years know that we generally avoid snarky hatemongering in our reality show recaps, but these guys have pushed us to our limit. There just isn't much to praise about them. To date, the highlight of their Amazing Race season is not getting paint bombed as badly as some other teams. Well, that and the fact that they have managed to hold on to their passports, which is not as easy as you might think. They also have some bitchin' new sneakers.
Nick & Starr are the first team set to leave Moscow at 10:56 p.m. Their destination? Portland, Oregon. And isn't it a little bit ominous that the text on the clue says "Fly to your final destination?" Well, there is a sequel coming up in that franchise. The two take a 7:05 p.m. flight on Lufthansa with a stopover in Frankfort. Kim has had a stopover in that airport before. It is not fun.
The second team to depart is Dan & Andrew. They're leaving a full three and a half hours later at 2:28 a.m. The good news for them is that they should expect bunching.
Posted without comment: "Andrew and I deserve to be in the final three. We've been resilient and we've persevered through a lot of tough times. People who just think we're gonna be chicken feed for Nick and Starr and Ken and Tina I think are severely mistaken." Question: Does "Bwahahahahaha!" count as a comment?
Yet another hour and two minutes behind Dandrew are Ken & Tina, who finally are able to depart at 3:30 a.m. Again, we're looking for all of the teams to be leaving at roughly the same time (and arriving in Portland at roughly the same time since there are multiple flights with the same arrival schedule.
And in fact, they are all on the same plane, and are bunched when they arrive in Portland. So, no one will have any excuses - by which we mean Dan & Andrew aren't going to have any excuses. Nick & Starr are the first ones to leave in their taxi, and they were wise enough to do a little online research at the Moscow airport about the place they've been instructed to go. If they lose this race, it really is a miscarriage of justice.
Ken & Tina catch a break when Nick & Starr miss their turn, and this allows the husband and wife to be first to the clue box, which gives them their Detour options. They are "High and Dry" and "Low and Wet". On High and Dry the teams must climb a 40 foot tall tree and then navigate across a small bridge before finally jumping to retrieve half a clue apiece. If they fall at any point (they're hanging by a harness, of course), they must go back and start over from the beginning. Meanwhile, Low and Wet is slower and safer. All it requires is traveling across a floating log bride that is 850 feet long before they can retrieve their clue at the end. It's the slower but safer option, as there is not penalty for falling off.
Ken & Tina disagree with our assessment, as they decide that High and Dry is the better choice. Just as they're off to start their challenge, Nick & Starr arrive, and take the High and Dry option as well. Perhaps they're all Def Leppard fans.
Meanwhile, Dan & Andrew have been reduced to comedy relief much earlier than expected. After arriving in Portland, they somehow manage to find a foreign taxi driver whose lack of English skilled are rivaled only by his lack of familiarity with the Portland terrain. The boys are forced to carefully scrutinize road signs to help the man find their destination. They've lost significant ground while on this desperate search.
Ken has a slight lead over Nick, but neither of them have particular difficulty getting to the end. The only catch comes when they have to jump to retrieve their halves of the clue. Nick pretty much just goes for it and gets them almost caught up. We question Tina's decision to go second, as watching Ken seems to ignite her fear of heights.
We cut back to the comedy relief, where Fate has intervened and determined that Dan & Andrew are completely unworthy of winning (Fate is right, by the way). Team Superbad has called the cabin where their clue is located and asked for specific directions on how to get there. Even after providing their taxi driver with detailed directions, he still somehow misses the Bell Road turn. They request that he make a U-turn, and apparently this complicated driving maneuver is something he has yet to master. After ten episodes of extreme fortune keeping them in the race, it's like all of their bad luck is catching up to them at once.
Ken offers Tina encouragement, and is rewarded with, "Shut up, Ken." Her difficulties with the climb are exacerbated by the strap on her hard hat, which is choking her. Starr fares a lot better and attains a decisive lead. Although she admits after the fact that she was petrified, she's doggedly determined to get the clue and succeeds. Next, she and Nick will need to ride a zip line 2,000 feet down to the island below to receive their next clue. It does not look fun. Or safe.
Tina's difficulties with her hat continue and she says that she is petrified, but in the end, she is able to make the jump to her clue on the first try. As Ken & Tina and Nick & Starr speed away to the next task, Dan & Andrew are shown to be finally arriving at the first one. Barring something unseen, they're not going to be a factor at the end, which is honestly as it should be. The other two teams have combined to win nine out of the first ten legs and should be the gold and silver medal winners in this competition.
Once again, cab driver luck plays a factor in determining what happens next. Nick & Starr point out to their driver that he's missed the Bridge of the Gods. As they request a U-turn from their driver, Ken & Tina realize that they again have a slight lead on the competition.
Did we mention Tina is afraid of heights? Walking across the steel bridge makes her realize the magnitude of their upcoming challenge. We're not even afraid of heights and we think it looks pretty grim. In a shocking turn of events, Tina's enjoyment of the ride borders on orgasmic. She becomes a "woo!" girl on her way to the island. Yet again, she has surprised and impressed us.
Right as Ken departs, Nick & Starr arrive on the bridge. The next clue instructs them that they must answer ten questions from the first ten legs of the race. The challenge that ensues is...complicated. To simplify things, let's just say they get game pieces with pictures that correspond to tasks they accomplished in the first ten heats. Part of the task is random, since they have to filter through 150 clue boxes to find the corresponding image, and part of it involves memory, since they have to recall which items were Pitstops, Detours, Roadblocks, etc. We don't think it's as hard in execution as it sounds when we describe it. It does seem to be an innovative way to challenge the teams on their knowledge of what they've done so far.
Ken & Tina have a two answer lead out of the requisite ten. Nick & Starr work better together than Ken & Tina. Tina points this out to Ken as she gets frustrated when he looks at clue boxes by himself and she realizes that they will need both of their memories in order to do the best in this challenge. The race is back and forth for the entire challenge, but Nick & Starr's teamwork pays dividends in the end and they are the first ones to finish. They're instructed to go to the Portland Building and find a green dinosaur. While the editing could be misleading, we don't think Ken & Tina are that far behind. We believe it's ten minutes at the most.
Interspliced in the neck-and-neck competition are clips of Dandrew lagging far, far behind. Ken had noted earlier this season that Dan & Andrew were exceptional at the travel portion of the race, but failed in completing the challenges. At the worst possible moment, this behavior has been inverted. Remember a couple of weeks ago when we said we had as good a chance of winning this race as they do? Heck, our chances may be better since we could still compete on a future season. We don't see them getting invited back for All-Stars.
Our belief about Nick & Starr's lead is justified when Ken & Tina's cab passes theirs, once again flipping the leaderboard. The excitement continues, though, when something as innocuous as a right turn occurs. Ken & Tina's taxi driver goes a different way, which causes both teams to panic that they may be going the wrong way. At this stage of the game, a few lost minutes could be the deciding factor.
Traffic proves to be the thing that decides their fates, as Ken & Tina's driver leads them into a bottleneck. Nick & Starr get doubly lucky as not only have they avoided the traffic, but their driver's approach puts them right underneath the requisite dinosaur. They are instructed to go to Alder Street and find the Russian food cart among the various mobile eating establishments. As far as end-of-game challenges go, we're not impressed. We guess it was either this or shake hands with someone named Bob.
Nick & Starr are first to the Russian food cart and are instructed to find a place where "The Magic is in the Hole", which should take them to a place called Voodoo Doughnuts. They have an indeterminate lead over Ken & Tina, who have found the green dinosaur and are currently seeking out the food cart.
Starr starts to shout, "Does anyone know where the magic is in the hole?" This does make her sound like a prostitute, but you can't argue with results. A random stranger turns to her and says, "Voodoo Doughnuts." He also offers explicit directions that all but guarantees they should finish this portion of the leg much more quickly than Ken & Tina. At this point the race is Nick & Starr's to lose...just like it has always been.
Posted without comment: "Thank God that guy likes doughnuts."
After Ken & Tina find their "magic in the hole" clue, they ask a person who they think is a random woman if she knows where the "magic in the hole" is. What they don't know is that she was sitting there when Nick & Starr got their information. She helpfully tells them that Nick & Starr went the long way and that they can catch up. We spoke too soon. Maybe this isn't the slam dunk we were thinking.
Nick & Starr do arrive first, with Ken & Tina presumably right behind them. Both teams are headed for the Pit Stop, and it will come down to who gets a taxi ride quickest and whose taxi driver is the most competent. The editing doesn't even have to be deceitful for a change. Overhead camera shots reveal the close proximity of the two teams. After 11 legs, a few mere moments will determine the outcome.
And the winner of the Amazing Race, Season 13 is The Good Team. Nick & Starr win their seventh out of the 11 legs, making them inarguably the most dominating team in the history of the competition. While they finish second, Ken & Tina demonstrate a tremendous amount of class and dignity. First, they offer a prayer of gratitude while in their taxi. Then, when they realize they haven't won, Ken proceeds to pull out the wedding rings they had not been wearing and formally asks his wife to recommit. Several of their fellow competitors and possibly even Phil tear up at this. They look like winners, too.
Approximately three days later, Team Superbad crosses the finish line. Dayam, they suck. At least they have a good sense of humor about it. More than anything, we're just surprised they found their way back into the country.
On a personal note, we've enjoyed doing this column, especially since it means that Reagen Sulewski and his wife Marilee could enjoy their honeymoon. Congratulations to them both.
You've made it through another season of The Amazing Race, but how well do you *know* it? Test your knowledge of this season's Race here!
BOP is doing a link exchange with our good friends at Buddy TV this season. For more The Amazing Race info, visit their site.