The Amazing Race Recap
Huger than Huge
By Daron Aldridge
May 11, 2010

I hope the paint poisoned them and they're slowly dying in a painful way. Yes, I liked the cowboys.

Huger than huge. – Dan on sweet-talking themselves into empty seats in first class to get off the plane first.

We finally have our final three and honestly, we have one team I would love to win, one team I would loathe to win and one team that I couldn’t care less about win or lose. If you have read my recaps, then it wouldn’t be a surprise that those teams are Jet and Cord, Brent and Caite, and Dan and Jordan, respectively.

Phil recaps how well each of these three teams have run the race: Cowboys Jet and Cord kept their cool and stayed positive with one another the entire way, brothers Dan and Jordan were only on the show so Dan could give Jordan his “lifelong dream” of running the Amazing Race, and Brent and Caite essentially stumbled and bumbled their way to the finals with a hatred for another team they had a hand in eliminating. Programming note: It is refreshing that the producers have chosen the last two seasons to only let the finale be an hour, instead of the American Idol art of padding shows.

As we start the final leg, we are reminded that Team South Carolina finished first last leg and gets to leave at 2:37 a.m. And what is the final destination city for The Amazing Race season 16? San Francisco, which is a nice choice because there will be plenty of landmarks to choose from for tasks.

Leaving about 30 minutes later, Jet and Cord rip open their clue. Both Brent and Jet express happiness to finally be coming home to the States. Since they are at the airport several hours before tickets are on sale, both teams take a spot in line and catch some rest.

It’s 6 a.m., and Dan and Jordan leave the pitstop. Of course, Jordan reminds us of his sexual orientation with a “San Francisco is a very gay-friendly place. That’s good for me.” Well, the brothers show up and for a team that has been fairly bland and not making much of an impression on me one way or another, they pull a move that, in my opinion, was not only sneaky but wholly unnecessary. When the brothers arrived, Cord was clearly in line lying on the ground but Jordan took it upon himself to place his backpack between Cord and South Carolina. The fact that Jordan is shown intentionally dropping his bag and then walking away says to me that he knew that he was playing dirty and didn’t want to call attention to it.

This leads to the first time in 12 episodes that Jet and Cord have a conflict with anyone. They call him out on it and he responds with mock-surprised mumbling, “Oh yeah, I am standing right behind them.” Jet calmly points out to Dan, “You guys got here six hours after us and Jordan is going to try to check in before us.” Jordan then tries to rationalize that he put his pack right behind theirs and gestures to another place that the cowboys supposedly had theirs. Since Dan compared this final leg to the Super Bowl, let’s go to the replay. Okay, the brothers arrive. There’s Brent and Caite at the front and a semi-sleeping Cord behind them. What’s he using for a pillow? His BACKPACK. So Jordan’s backpack as placeholder argument isn’t valid.

With a justified air of overall pissed off-ness, Jet tries boring a hole into the back of Jordan’s head with a glare. Jordan incidentally refuses to make eye contact with the cowboys. As Jet reviews the list of things he wants to do but can’t (e.g. grab his backpack and forcibly move him or kick his teeth in), Dan is just standing well behind Jet and Cord. The fact that Dan isn’t saying a single word to defend his brother’s action says to me that he thinks Jordan is in the wrong (which he is). It’s an unwritten rule of the race that Jordan wiped his feet on like A-Rod on the Oakland pitcher’s mound.

Jordan goes on further to say that it’s a game, there is a million bucks at the end and he’s going after it. With a “Hate the game…Don’t hate the player,” the cowboys' eyes are rolling and Dan is still just being a bystander. He knows his brother is wrong and in cowardly fashion, doesn’t call him on it. I wonder if playing dirty was part of his lifelong dream on this race. By the way, Jordan, I do hate the player and not the game because you are the first one that I can recall that has pulled this kind of trick on any season. So clearly, there is nothing wrong with the game only you as a player. To add to the sheer pointlessness of this move, all the teams were going to be on the same flight in coach.

Jet and Cord get their tickets last and the teams board the plane. Dan finally speaks up and says that “this is final three and this is it. No one is going to help anyone.” Of course, big man Dan is saying this without Jet and Cord or Brent and Caite standing near them. At least during this exchange, he admits Jordan played dirty.

While on the flight, Dan has a legitimately smart idea that actually makes a difference (unlike Jordan’s shenanigans). While the teams must only buy tickets for coach, if there is an opening and the flight crew lets them, the teams can move to first class. This would be a huge advantage to getting off the plane quicker than the others. Dan and Jordan curry favor with a flight attendant who lets them move on up.

They land, and the brothers dart out of the terminal and are seemingly in a cab before the others have gotten off the jet way. Brent and Caite are in second and Jet and Cord are in last. All the teams are heading to the Presidio and Battery Godfrey. Unsurprisingly, Dan and Jordan get their first and the clue is a riddle with teams having to figure out a landmark by its date of construction, height and murals painted on it. The answer is Coit Tower for those interested.

The luck of the taxi cab draw is not on Brent and Caite’s side as they once again have a cabbie with no sense of direction. And humorously, even though they are back in the US, they have a driver that has a tenuous grasp of English.

Jet and Cord breeze past them and get their clue/riddle, while Dan and Jordan get the answer from a cyclist. In an airport decision that was second to the brothers’ first class upgrade, Jet and Cord recognize the description from a book about San Francisco they purchased in Shanghai.

Brent and Caite are so frustrated that Caite calls the driver a “dumb ass” within earshot of him. Can we call it being an Ugly American if you are in America? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that Team South Carolina stays lost and in last place - that’s all that matters to me, at least.

Dan and Jordan get to Coit Tower first and face the final Roadblock of using a vertical ascender to go to the top of the tower to get the clue. Dan is nearly at the top when Jet and Cord arrive. Cord is getting geared up as Dan hits the ground with his clue. The teams now have to find a Yoda Fountain, which is located at George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic.

Brent and Caite get their clue and decide to ask a hotel front desk to help answer the riddle as opposed to the cabbie they just spent the last 30 minutes yelling at and insulting. Off to Coit Tower they go.

The brothers roll up on the Yoda Foundation which is flanked by Stormtroopers and Vader. The task isn’t the normal Detour but rather a task that requires one member direct the other one, who is wearing a motion capture suit, through a virtual world to find the clue. For this one, Dan is directing and Jordan is in the virtual world. Cord finishes the Roadblock before Caite and Brent arrive.

I guess everyone in San Francisco knows where George Lucas works because Cord and Jet show up without any delay. As Cord sits down behind the terminal, he can hear Dan’s instructions of “walk forward” and “turn right”. Knowing that it wasn't messing anything up for Jet, who was getting suited up, Cord decides to play a little mindgame by throwing out ridiculous fake directions, like “you need to do four 90 degree turns,” “sashay,” and “back up,” so loudly that Jordan can even hear him through Dan’s headset. Other than a few moments of frustration for Dan, it didn’t really hinder them but it was funny.

Jordan reaches the goal that is on level 2 of the task as Jet is still on level 1. Unfortunately, the clue is swirling text that Dan can’t read and they have to figure out how to either slow it down or follow it. And there's another “unfortunately” for Jet, who is blocked from continuing on because Jordan is just standing there waiting for Dan to get the clue. It is very reminiscent of the airport standoff in Shanghai but with less tension, at least between Jet and Jordan. In the director’s chairs, Cord is yelling to Dan to direct Jordan out of the way and Dan responds with something that is pixilation-worthy. This is the most dramatic and lifelike performance to come from Lucasfilm in over ten years.

Brent finishes his Roadblock and they head to Yoda land.

Dan finally figures out that Jordan has to spin around to slow the clue’s rotation. They get it and head to a restaurant called Tonga to retrieve a steamer trunk. To illustrate how focused they had been on their own task, the cowboys don’t put two and two together that Jet should also spin around like Jordan was to make it possible for Cord to read it. Brent settles into the director’s chair and Caite starts seeking.

Without much trouble, Dan and Jordan figure out that the sticker on the truck is sending them to the Great American Music Hall but the trick is finding someone that can tell them where it is.

It dawns on Cord to have Jet spin but Team South Carolina blazes through the challenge and gets the clue at virtually the same time because Brent paid attention to Cord's directions. I begrudgingly give him credit for that move. That performance is negated by the fact that one of the two Gamecocks forgets their money and documents at the task, so they have to backtrack.

Dan and Jordan get to the final task and Jordan’s dedication to the show benefits them because he wrote down all the teams in order of elimination. They quickly assemble the poster puzzle in the right order and get the final clue, which says, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, to find the finish line, jump over to _____.” Possibly the easiest clue they could have had, as Dan quickly realizes the finish line is at Candlestick Park.

The cowboys are working through the challenge, while the brothers can’t find a taxi. Where are Brent and Caite? Who knows but I assume they're still looking for their stuff at ILM. The editing gives the impression that the cowboys get a cab only minutes after the brothers. After some frantic cab rides, we cut to Phil and all the eliminated teams on the 50-yard line.

Out of the tunnel runs…Dan and Jordan. They are the winners of The Amazing Race 16. They hug and Jordan gets weepy. Guess what he reminds us? This was his lifelong dream! While extremely cool and it would undoubtedly be a blast, to label this your one goal in life seems odd and superficial.

Since we haven’t seen Brent and Caite in the last ten minutes, cue up the western music as Jet and Cord run to the mat and take home second place. Finally, Brent and Caite stroll up to the mat. We don’t even know if they completed the last challenge or got sent to the finish by their cameraman.

All the teams are giving the congratulatory applause except for bitter lesbians Carol and Brandy, who just stand there with her arms crossed while Carol does the slow golf clap. Phil decides to make things awkward after Caite says how proud she is of the fact that she finished the race. He points out that Brandy and Carol are seething. Here is the exchange:

Caite (to Brandy and Carol): “Guys, I’m…”

Brandy: “I don’t want to hear sorry from you.”

Caite freezes with an awkward expression and Carol even turns her eyes away in apparent embarrassment.

Brandy: “You purposely whacked us. You said you wanted to be the last woman standing and you are. Logically, you U-Turn teams that are stronger. The cowboys should have been U-Turned. You can’t seem to think logically. I don’t want to hear sorry from you.”

Caite: “Maybe you should have treated people a little bit nicer.”

Brandy: “Hey, I’m sorry you can’t handle it.”

Caite: “I can handle it. Obviously, I’m the one standing here and not you.”

And with that the season comes to a close. They try to wrap it up in a nicer tone with kind words from Louie and Team Big Brother but that whole exchange between Caite and Brandy left a cloud over the finale.

All in all, my thoughts on this entire season are positive, but the finale itself disappointed me for the second season in a row. The last one was because the Globetrotters were eliminated in the next to last episode and this time it was just boring and with an ugly finish.

Recently in an interview, our good host Phil sold up the finale as a very tight race to the finish line but that wasn't the case despite trying to edit it that way. The brothers took the lead when they landed (once again thanks to the first class seat switch) and never were in danger of losing that lead. They were always almost a full task ahead of the cowboys.

Also, I am completely apathetic toward the brothers. I just don't care about them as much as the producers tried to get me to. At least if the cowboys would have won, I would have been very happy and if Brent and Caite would have won, I would have been pissed but that is at least an emotional response.

However, the most detrimental thing about the finale that I couldn’t put my finger on (but BOP’s Tony Kollath perfectly summed up) is that Brandy spewing hate at the finish line was really unsavory, which goes against the usual feel-good mood of accomplishment that the Amazing Race is so great at delivering. Clearly, the producers made the decision to include this because it could have easily been cut.

Oh well. I will just do my best to forget that poor judgment call and think back fondly about the cowboys and Team Super Fuzz. Hehehe...“If I could find crack in someone’s rear end…” I will miss you, Michael.