We’ve reached the final legs of this season The Amazing Race, which has been one of the most competitive, entertaining and just plain fun seasons of the show to date.
The Amazing Race 7: Episode 11
6 Continents, 25 Cities, and More Than 40,000 Miles
By Reagen Sulewski
May 12, 2005
All three remaining teams are guaranteed to get the finish line (well, kinda. Remember Season 1?), so the gamesmanship and smack talking comes out for a visit, with Rob asking the other teams who’s up for finishing second. Ah, he's so modest.
Leaving from London at 2:47 a.m., Rob & Amber fly directly to Kingston, Jamaica, making a huge leap back towards the United States and the eventual finish line. The clue is at a beach called Frenchman’s Cove. In their taxi on the way to the airport, Rob displays his brilliant Jamaican accent that will have him fitting in with the locals in no time. Tell them how you love Bob Marley, too. The flight they see leaves at 12:40 in the afternoon and an Internet search reveals this to be the fastest way to get there, which means we’re back to a bunching point.
Ron & Kelly leave in second place at 4:26 a.m. Money issues could be key with this team, although they feel they have enough to splurge on a taxi. The barely disguised hatred between these two will also play a part, with Kelly telling Rob that he’d better figure out what he wants soon or he’s gonna lose her (don’t all stampede at once, guys), and Rob saying that in the Army they didn’t have all these emotional issues but that’s part of dealing with her. No, Ron, that’s part of being a member of the human race, you doof.
Uchenna & Joyce are last out of the gate at 4:41 a.m., though it’s obviously not going to be much of a handicap. In contrast to Ron & Kelly, these two really appear to have grown closer together. It’s shades of Frank & Margarita from season 1.
At the airport, Ron decides that what his race strategy is really missing is some more backbiting, and complains again about the cost of the cab ride over. Then he gets a glass of milk, spills it on the floor and cries about it. Okay, that last thing may not have happened, but it could have. What does happen is a rather brutal conversation between them about their relationship, with Ron dismissing the idea of them getting married, at least soon, and Kelly trying to push things along. Not that Ron should decide to marry Kelly, because clearly these two should stay far away from each other after the race, but his complaining about the Army controlling everything he did but then not wanting to deal with emotions is about as naïve a view of relationships as it gets. Good luck with that after you’ve outed yourself as an emotional cripple on National TV.
All three teams get taxis at the Kingston airport, with Uchenna & Joyce getting off first and Ron & Kelly last. Ron fulfills the Ugly American quota for this week, commenting on the “smell of a third world country”, but with just one set of clothes, that’s probably just Ron’s own smell.
Reaching the cluebox, it’s the Roadblock, which has the teams compete in a limbo contest. Instead of just rewarding those that get through the fastest, the lower a team can go, the faster their departure from the beach the next morning will be. This one’s geared towards the small and the agile, which makes Joyce a natural choice for her team. Amber must perform it as Rob has already run into the six Roadblock limit. When we get to Ron & Kelly however, we have what sounds like yet another of Ron’s barely disguised digs at Kelly. Responding to the clue’s question of, “How low can you go?”, he says to Kelly, “I guess that’s you.” Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the most Freudian man on Earth.
Amber proves to be the most agile of the bunch, getting the fastest 8:15 a.m. departure time after just five tries at the limbo stick. Kelly does likewise, putting them in a temporary tie for first. Joyce, however, fails on her final attempt at that mark, leaving them to depart at 8:30. Faced with this daunting handicap, Uchenna tries to play up the difficulty, but really, we know that 15 minutes can get eaten up like that in this race.
The cluebox, at a rafting company on the Upper Rio Grande, is the Detour. Either you propel a bamboo raft eight miles down the river, or actually build one, cross the river and climb a hill to the clue box.
Rob & Amber decide that the river is too slow to bother with and choose the building option. After Ron initially decides the same, Kelly thinks that they should do the opposite of Rob & Amber. Bad strategy all around, as you need to run your own race at all points and not let other teams get into your head. It also leads to yet another argument, as Kelly snaps at Ron to just make a decision – um, he did – while apparently still reserving the right to bitch about it later. I suppose that’s fair payback for the cab to the airport at the start of this leg. Ron reserves his weasling rights by saying he’s never built a raft before, and the whole conversation has me wishing they fall in the river.
Uchenna & Joyce also pick the building task, and display smarts early, grabbing the provided gloves. This is apparently an affront to Rob’s manhood, and he throws them away, even after cutting his finger. That’s it, get angry at the inanimate object instead of changing your thought process. That’s sure to work.
The task really demonstrates the different levels of cooperation among the teams. Uchenna & Joyce work as a real team, with a definite strategy. Rob & Amber aren’t quite as organized and are bickering a little, but Ron & Kelly seem to be going in a random order for building their raft, with Ron barking at Kelly at various intervals. By pointing out that other teams are doing better than them, Kelly has brought into direct question his manhood and he responds with, “when you figure out how to build one of these, you tell me." Let me help you with that cross there, buddy.
Uchenna & Joyce and Rob & Amber get their rafts approved at about the same time, with Ron & Kelly falling to last place again. They’ve actually wired their raft to the ground, which might present a small problem.
Rob & Amber make it to the other side of the river first, and he scrambles up the hill to get the clue, with Uchenna in hot pursuit. The trip down the hill proves treacherous, with everyone falling at one point, and Amber taking a spill on the raft. Rob & Amber get back across first as well, although Rob nearly loses a shoe and gets speared by Uchenna & Joyce’s raft in the process. The clue is the next Pit Stop already, at a plantation in Montego Bay, 80 miles down the road.
Ron & Kelly have just gotten their boat in the water at this point, while Uchenna & Joyce get out to a lead in the taxis, having done the smart thing by holding their taxi prior to starting the Detour. We get an interesting situation down the road with Rob & Amber and Uchenna & Joyce’s taxi drivers, who are apparently best buds. A level of détente is reached and both stop at the same time for gas. Uchenna & Joyce get away first, and in the meantime, Ron & Kelly have caught up and also stop for gas. Rob & Amber get away first but it’s closer than it might have been awhile ago.
The taxis hit a traffic jam (the first in the history of Jamaica?), and Rob & Amber get stopped at a police check point, dropping them to third spot. Maybe he just wants an autograph, Rob. As Rob puts it, “this could cost them a million dallahs."
There could be trouble ahead, however, as Uchenna & Joyce’s taxi has a tire that may be about to pop. After some expert driving, Rob & Amber’s driver catches back up to be right in the convoy. Rob hopes for the flat – ah, such good vibes being sent out among the teams. Meanwhile, the tire on Uchenna & Joyce’s cab does blow, and they fall significantly behind. Ron still hopes that they’ll be able to catch up after fixing the tire and pass Rob & Amber, which goes to show how much of an alpha dog Rob is perceived to be by everyone left.
Entering Montego Bay, there’s a top road and a bottom road, which leads to a split in the two lead taxis. Ron & Kelly’s driver picks up, and Rob & Amber’s driver picks down. Obviously someone’s right and it looks for a minute like Rob & Amber might be lost, and allowing Uchenna & Joyce to get back in it.
It’s a legit race to the mat, with Ron & Kelly beating Rob & Amber by less than a minute. Uchenna & Joyce stroll in for third, but as if we’re surprised, it’s the last non-elimination leg. They do suffer the ritualized mugging by Phil, which means they’ll be traveling light but poor for the final leg.
Now, onto the final stretch. Ron & Kelly leave at 2:37 in the morning, a time of day when it’s not that easy to find a cab. Oh look, Kelly’s crying again. I’m not sure what’s keeping either of these two in a relationship other than stubbornness and deni… oh. This might be the first relationship in history where both partners can do better. The clue has them find an onion shack, where they’ll grab a bag of onions, take them to a chef and chop them up. They… they’re not really trying anymore are they. Seriously, this is the most exciting thing to do in Montego Bay? Really? OK, chopping onions it is. Guess I’ll go put on some coffee.
As they leave the complex they’re in, Ron & Kelly ask the security guard not to call a cab for any other teams. So, he says, you want to cheat on the race? Hee. Leave it to the last leg guy to not want to play along with the shenanigans.
Rob & Amber catch up to Ron & Kelly catch up to them at the bottom of the hill, and when a taxi does show up, Rob offers to split it. Kelly sees through this clever ruse and refuses it. Although Rob asks the driver to call for another one, after they’ve left, Ron tells the driver not to. Oh, such devious gamesmanship.
Uchenna & Joyce are just ten minutes back at the moment, but they find a slight problem when they read the clue, which requires them to take a taxi, and well, they generally expect to get paid. It’s a bit like running a race when someone tied your shoelaces together at the starting line. Begging will even be a big problem, since it’s the middle of the night. They end up having to go the wrong way first, to the airport, where there will actually be people. Not that getting there will be easy.
Rob & Amber finally get a taxi just as Uchenna & Joyce are coming down the hill, but luckily for all other teams, Ron & Kelly have run into the relaxed island attitude. Their driver isn’t quite sure where he’s going, so he just keeps driving, and then dawdles after stopping for directions. Rob & Amber take advantage of this and get to the onion shack first. A few minutes later, Ron & Kelly find it. I bet watching this now, they wished they’d split that cab.
Uchenna & Joyce find someone to take them to the airport, but they’re still left with the difficult task of begging. Irrevelant time of year clue: there are some obvious Christmas decorations hanging above the entrance way to the airport.
Now onto the hot onion-on-onion action. Let’s see, there’s chopping, dicing, mincing, even some julienning. This is the kind of stuff you win Emmys for. Take notes, people.
Begathon 2004 is underway at the Montego Bay airport, where Uchenna tries perhaps a bit too hard with his spiel, and comes off just a touch like a con artist. Sorry, it’s true. They get rebuffed by their first potential marks, er, I mean benefactors, and Joyce starts to cry. Really, the begging on this show has got to go somehow. It comes off as tasteless and ugly, and when it happens in a third-world country, it’s twice as bad. Make them perform another task or figure out something else, because this concept just isn’t working for we, the viewers. It’s not fun to watch people with a broken spirit, unless it’s Deadwood.
Finally they get enough to get a taxi, and they’re off, several hours behind. The great chopping contest has been won, by Rob & Amber (I hope you bet wisely), and they’re now off to Rose Hall, a former plantation house. Ron sums up his position in the race thusly: “Rob’s got fear in his eyes (producer’s note: cut to grinning Rob), you could see it the last couple days. I mean you’d have to be an idiot not to know you have competition at this point of the race. So maybe Rob’s an idiot.” Let’s not be too hasty in talking about awareness of other’s situations, Perception Boy.
Uchenna & Joyce are starting to lose their spirit and are definitely showing some fatigue as they try to find the onion shack. Again, not really fun to watch.
By the time Rob & Amber reach Rose Hall, Ron & Kelly have caught up to them, to which Ron credits his onion chopping skills. At last we learn the truth: Ron was really a mess hall clerk in the Air Force. The clue is the Detour, which offers a choice between horseback swimming, and golfing. Both teams choose golfing (which seems by far the easier thing to do), and have to hit a green 140 yards away. That’s about an 8-iron, I’d say. First they have to change into golfing clothes, and we get to see that Rob can turn anything into a competition. Dressing faster than Ron, he tosses off a snide little, “See ya later, buddy” at him. Yeah! You kicked his ass at Clothes!
Uchenna & Joyce stumble upon the onion shack and their spirits pick up visibly when their driver says he knows their next location. To reiterate once more to the producers, Happy racers = fun to watch. Unhappy racers = painful and makes me threaten to switch to American Idol. And neither of us wants that.
Out on the driving range, both teams are doing their best impression of the old couple from Caddyshack, not getting their shots even in the same direction as the hole. Rob & Ron get most of theirs off the ground, at least. I’m surprised in the commotion that no one gets decked with a club. Rob finally gets one to stick on the green and collects his next clue. The directions are to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and find a seaside fort. Rob has gotten hold of a flight schedule and notes that there is a flight out in 20 minutes, if they can somehow catch it.
Uchenna & Joyce are busy with their onion chopping fest, whee! Yeah, that’s about all that scene deserves. You’re killing me here! The word onion is starting to lose all meaning.
Kelly finally gets a ball on the green, and she and Ron are free to go. Ron displays a rare moment of humility, saying he needs a pickaxe through the skull for his poor golf skills – careful who you say that to, I think I know a volunteer.
Getting to the ticket desk, Rob & Amber run into an agent with a serious grudge against humanity, and refuses to let them on the plane, for security reasons. Make a note of this fact, okay? A second agent at the main booth also refuses them, and Rob starts to boil over a little. Amber says they’re “screwed”, but that’s just a bit of melodrama.
Trying another airline, a flight has been delayed and leaves shortly (at 9:54 a.m.), which they can get on. Now don’t you guys feel silly for raising a stink? OK, probably not, as Rob has had his shame surgically removed, but it was worth a shot.
The question now remains whether Ron & Kelly can make this flight. They discover the delayed flight, but also the most pessimistic ticket agent ever, who tells them they’ll never make it. I mean, why even try? Just lie down in the airport and cry. It’s the best possible thing you could do at this point. They don’t in fact make it, and get booked on a flight three hours later.
Uchenna & Joyce are finally finished with the onion chopping task (seriously, Worst. Task. Ever.) and are still chugging along. It’s not unheard of for a team to be an entire day behind at this point (see: Season 1) so there’s no guarantee they’ll catch up. Of course, knowing the show, anything can happen. Meanwhile, Rob & Amber have already landed in San Juan. Reaching the Detour, Uchenna & Joyce choose golf over the horses.
Rob & Amber find the castle with their clue in San Juan, but this is just a tourist stop, or should I say, a time wasting stop, and they have to turn around and find a sugar factory in Aguadilla, about an hour and a half by Google Maps.
Ron & Kelly finally board their (disturbingly empty) flight to San Juan and are on their way to possibly catching up. Meanwhile, Uchenna makes short work of the Detour, getting it on the green with his third shot, if the editors are to be believed. Getting to the airport once again, they book a flight at 4:58 p.m. that afternoon, and decide to work the crowd for more cash. Learning the lesson of this morning, Joyce goes directly for the direct approach, with no convoluted story to offer. “We need some cash.” She might be ready to mug someone at this point.
The trip from Kingston to Aguadilla has eaten up almost the whole day, and this proves crucial, as the sugar factory is only open from 7:30 to 4. This severe a bunching point on a final leg is seriously lame, guys. At this point, it should be all about who can actually race the best. Then again, the non-elimination mugging right before the last leg is equally lame, if not more so. Rob & Amber find a hotel for rest, and both Ron & Kelly and Uchenna & Joyce decide to sleep in their cars. It’s all completely square again, for better or worse.
The next morning finds all three teams bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they dash through the factory grounds to the clue box. It’s the last Roadblock, which involves a jump off a 30-foot bridge, a 90 yard swim to a buoy, then a short swim to a boat that will take them back to land. Ron & Uchenna choose to take the plunge for their teams, while Amber has to, due to Roadblock restrictions. Rob has a mental lapse, and walks back down the marked path instead of following the big sign marked “Jump” (Another hint: walk towards the water, dumbass), leaving Ron & Uchenna to grab a lead. Rob once again declares, “that could have cost us a million bucks” – careful, at this rate, you’re going to owe the show money.
Ron reaches the shore first, and he and Kelly are off to Miami, the last stop of the race. Uchenna is not far behind, and they pass Ron & Kelly back to the vehicles. Amber seems wiped out by the swim, so Rob cowboys up and piggybacks her back up to their vehicle. Not that she weighs anything mind you, but it’s a noble gesture nonetheless.
They haven’t lost that much time, really and they end up in a convoy coming up to the San Juan airport. Rob gets lucky with choosing a toll booth lane and manages to pull out into the lead, with Ron & Kelly second, and Uchenna & Joyce pulling up the rear once again.
Remember Ron’s comment about Rob maybe being an idiot? The irony fairy heard that one and is clearly pissed. Rob makes the comment that following the airplane signs to the airport is pretty easy, while Ron & Kelly do their best Cletus & Brandine impression, slack jawing and missing the turn-off altogether. This leads to another chorus of their hit song, “Shut up/No, you shut up”, sure to be a #1 platinum single when it’s released after the show.
Uchenna & Joyce have had no such problem, and are hot on Rob & Amber’s heels. They both take an 11:15 a.m. flight and are informed that a 10:00 a.m. flight is already boarding and is closed. Rob is not satisfied with this, and walks directly over to the American Airlines counter. They also have a 10:00 flight that is boarding but the agent puts them on the standby list. Crucially, Uchenna & Joyce don’t see them.
Hustling to the gate, they manage to get on at the final call. Rob asks a flight attendant if it is officially closed, and gets an affirmative. The clock now reads 10:04 according to Joyce as they spot the same flight that Rob & Amber just got on. Reaching the gate, the desk agent tells them the flight is closed and that Rob & Amber did just board. It looks like this is an insurmountable lead, and the walkway is actually retracted from the plane. This really should be a dead issue now but… suddenly they’re going to check with the pilot and he says they can get on.
You know, it’s surprising that Jerry Bruckheimer, being a big-shot Hollywood producer and all, can still find time to be a pilot for American Airlines. The fix is in, folks, it’s as in as it’s ever been. Vince McMahon would have rejected this plot twist. Rob puts on a brave face but is rightfully disgusted at this turn of events. Ron & Kelly stroll up to the ticket counter just as the plane is taking off, and they are basically relegated to third.
There’s still race left to go, though. The first two teams land in Miami to an oddly familiar tune (Jan Hammer’s lawyer will be in touch), and catch cabs to the Rickenbacker Causeway, the location of the next clue box. Ron & Kelly’s flight was delayed to 11:40, and these two look about as happy as Pat Robertson at an Indigo Girls concert.
Rob & Amber get to the clue box first, where they’re directed to go to Little Havana, and find a cigar shop known as The King of the Havanas. Notably, the clue is in English although the sign on the store is in Spanish. Uchenna & Joyce officially have the grumpiest cabdriver in history, who it seems doesn’t actually want to take them to Little Avenue. Although they’re ahead, Rob & Amber ask for directions in English, but Uchenna & Joyce’s cabbie asks in Spanish and gets more accurate directions.
They find the cigar shop and get the final clue of the race, the Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale, a good 30 miles away. Rob & Amber are struggling to find the right place and are basically running down Miami streets, with little success.
Some potential drama develops in Uchenna & Joyce’s cab, as funds become critical. They may not have enough to pay the fare. In an honorable but insane move, Uchenna tells the cab driver this while they’re still only halfway there. It’s surprising he doesn’t kick them out right then and there.
About this time, Rob & Amber have found the final clue and are on their way, but will Uchenna’s fund trouble delay them enough to let them catch up? They’re actually at the Bonnet House, but get into an argument with the cabbie. Instead of just running to the finish line, Uchenna starts begging again to get the full fare (about $50 short, apparently).
Ron & Kelly are bravely fighting to the end although there seems to be virtually no chance of them winning. It’s not over yet for Rob & Amber, though, as Uchenna & Joyce are running into troubles raising their cab fare. A clearly desperate Uchenna hits up everyone passing by (if nothing else, it’s changed his willingness to approach strangers) and starts collecting a bit at a time. A kindly old woman puts them over the top, and wonders just exactly what it is she’s donating for. Joyce manages a nervous chuckle… “we’re racing,” she says. Man, if you have to cut all these people back in on your million, there’s going to be nothing left.
The cabbie finally lets them go (if he only knew…), but have Rob & Amber caught up? We soon find out… no, as Uchenna & Joyce come up the garden path, to a heavy round of applause, clearly the favorite of the previously eliminated teams.
A more jubilant victory celebration you’ve never seen, as Uchenna nearly crushes Phil in a bear hug, then does the “In Your Face” Dance. The producers certainly get the ending they wanted, with Uchenna bringing up the in-vitro fertilization plans that were their goal from the start. This is the most I’ve seen a team come together during a race, and it’s hard to imagine what problems they thought they had with each other. Despite the hinkyness of the planes in San Juan, you can’t help but be happy for these two extraordinary and decent people. Aside: what the hell is that on Brian & Greg’s face? I predict the reverse goatee style will not come into style anytime soon.
Placing a strong second, Rob & Amber make it in shortly after. They’re disappointed but watching the show will certainly see what had to happen for them to lose. And hey, they’re getting their windfall anyway from their wedding special, and their relationship is still strong.
Clearly not as strong is Ron & Kelly’s relationship, and they stroll in for third. Who’da thunk that an commitment-phobe with Peter Pan syndrome and a passive-aggressive prima donna would be a bad match, anyway? Phil probes the issue further, and Kelly essentially calls Ron out, saying she wants to get married as soon as possible (to whom, it doesn’t seem to matter so much). That they did manage to make it to third after being seconds away from losing in the first leg is something of an achievement, though.
This is one of the more uplifting endings of an Amazing Race ever, and man do I hate quibbling with this result, but why oh why did we have to have that fishy business at the San Juan airport? Uchenna & Joyce ran mistake free for the first time in a long time, but Rob & Amber still should have had them beat at the airport. Then again, they did have their chance in Miami and screwed it up there. Perhaps all in all, it was the best ending for casual fans, but this is going to leave a bad taste for awhile.