And so, we finally reach the last episode of this Family Edition of The Amazing Race, which has come to nearly define "watered-down". Only one leg of the race has not been on US soil at any point, challenges have been generally lame, and most of it has centered around bickering families in a vehicle. Not good times.
The Amazing Race: Family Edition - Episode 10
By Reagen Sulewski
February 7, 2006
We're first treated to a rundown of our previously eliminated teams, starting with the Black family, who were undone by one of their children falling in a two-foot deep ditch. Next out were the Rogers, who took a scenic detour in the wrong direction when the dad of the team decided no one else in his family was competent. Whoops. The Aiellos were eliminated due to sheer stubbornness at a Detour, literally getting stuck in the mud. The Schroeders fell victim to the hometown overconfidence factor and got lost just miles from home.
After a non-elimination leg, the Gaghans were next out, when their size disadvantage with two rugrats finally caught up to them, along with some plain bad luck at a Roadblock. This is the point where we could have been entirely rid of the Weavers, cementing their status as the Luckiest Bastards in the race. Another non-elimination followed, with the Freakin' Paolos knocked out in the leg after that, falling victim to the all too common fate of getting lost. We'll miss their caustic inter-family harshness. Wait, no we won't. The Weavers were Yielded for the second time in the leg, and faced yet another non-elimination leg, keeping them in despite all sense of propriety, sanity and good taste. Finally, the Godlewskis were knocked out, taken apart by Michelle's domineering personality and Christine's ability to cry at the drop of a hat and bring down morale. We get our dramatic theme music filled with tons of images of places they didn't go in this season, and we're ready for the run to the finish.
The Bransens leave first, at 3:04 a.m., with their clue sending them to Montreal, and the subway system once they get there. Hey look, it's the other country on the continent! I suppose this counts as exotic for this season. Although they're given tickets, they have the opportunity to look for other tickets. Wally wins the trivia prize by knowing that Montreal is a French-speaking city, which is sort of like knowing that Mexico City is Spanish speaking.
The Linzs are just four minutes behind, and the Weavers are last out at 4:02 a.m. Upon reading their clue, Rachel responds with "Canada? Brr!" Let's go through the reasons this is dumb, shall we? First off, this is clearly being filmed in the summer, and according to Wikipedia, we are currently in late-July. Secondly, to fly to Montreal from where they are, they have to fly south, not north. Thirdly, when the only clothes you seem to have brought on the race are short pants that barely count as underwear (I know they were Mugged by Phil, but it's not like they had a ton of variety in their wardrobe previously), you really lose your right to bitch. Rolly is revealed to be the emotional backbone of the team in a confessional by Linda, who states that since her husband died, he's taken over a lot of roles. This explains so much, but holy crap, this kid is 15! Are the rest of you that useless? Wait, don't answer that.
The Bransens take advantage of their lead to switch out their tickets for one that's listed at ten minutes earlier than the original flight. However, and as any Canadian watching would know, flights from Toronto to Montreal are about as frequent as city buses, and landing in Toronto first, then transferring to an earlier flight there is probably the winning move. The Linzs do some phoning from Minneapolis, and find out they can get in an entire hour earlier. Once in Toronto, the confrontation between them and the Weavers turns physical during a race to a ticket counter when Rolly throws interference on Alex by grabbing his backpack. They tumble, and this gets Linda's Mama Bear instincts in gear, yelling at him "No, don't touch him," in an entirely pathetic way. Listen, lady, if you want to pay with the big boys, you need to be able to stand your pwecious getting involved in a little pushing. What, did she think he was going to molest him or something?
Assailing an Air Canada agent, the Weavers are able to snag the same hour earlier flight as the Linzs, meaning they caused all the scuffle for absolutely nothing. Becoming irritating is like their art.
Landing in Montreal, the Weavers manage to get to the taxi stand the quickest, where Rolly blurts out at the cab driver, "el fasto". What the hell, dude? That's Spanish, first of all, or I should say, made-up broken Spanish. Plus, it's not like he can't understand you, as evidenced by his surly response of "I'm not going to lose my life getting you there." Ah, Montreal cabbies (and their notorious impatience for Yank tourists). Gotta love ‘em. After laying down the law with them, he lightens up a bit, and when asked his name says, "They call me Ted." I love me some surly Ted. The Linzs finally get a cab, whose driver definitely is willing to break a few traffic rules for them, or as Montrealers call them, traffic suggestions.
Back in the air, an extremely unconvincing voice over lets us know that the Bransens have been delayed further, losing them them even their perceived advantage over the other teams.
Reaching the underground terminal, the Weavers convince the cabbie to wait for them, and they run down to try and find the clue box. He looks about as uncomfortable as it is possible to be about waiting, figuring he's seen the last of this crew. If only. They navigate the maze of tunnels relatively quickly, finding the clue box and the Detour. Now, I know they're in Canada, but I'm just wondering what country Phil is talking about in regards to the choice of these tasks. They are led to believe that both curling and some log rolling task are, and I quote, popular sports in this country. Curling, sure, absolutely. This log rolling thing, however, I have never heard of in my entire life.
In the curling task, each team member has to get at least one rock into the "House", which is a pretty simple chore. Trust me if you don't know curling, which is probably a lot of you. The log rolling has them having to navigate four logs along a course, and looks to require more strength. The Weavers go for the curling task and manage to find Ted again. Meanwhile the Linzs have also reached the tunnels, and run completely past the clue box, which is hidden behind a pillar.
The straggling Bransens, who tried to make a move, are finally in Montreal, though with their flight delay they must suspect they're in last place. The lesson is, never try.
The cabbie they call Ted brings the Weavers to the McGill campus and to what he thinks is the arena with the curling rink (look at all the lingo you're learning!), but the doors are all locked, and they have to regroup. The traditional sloppy play of the Linzs makes this less costly than it could be, as they run around in the bowels of Montreal without finding the clue box. Finally retracing their steps, they stumble upon the not-so-hidden location. They choose curling as well, describing it, not all that inaccurately as "shuffleboard on ice". On the drive to the campus, the Linzs note the local color, namely, really scantily clad young college girls. If you've ever been to Montreal, you will know they are not exaggerating.
Both teams' bumbling has let the Bransens catch up and they get a taxi, although with a driver that I'm not entirely sure speaks English, since his only responses consist of "OK" and "Yeah" in that peculiarly unconfident way.
At this point Super-Ted has figured out that the curling rink is located on a secondary campus of McGill, and all the way entirely across the city. He finally gets them there and accompanies them in, presumably for laughs. They make them put on helmets, which is no end of hilarious to me, and they head out to the back to throw the stones (more lingo!). Rebecca makes the first attempt, and despite some valiant sweeping, it falls short. We cut to the Linzs, who despite some local help, have also gone to the wrong arena. Mistakes abound at this point, as the Bransens also overrun the underground clue box.
The Weavers start to get the hand of this curling thing, with Rebecca getting her second try in, though Linda then falls short. There's still time to catch up, people! Mistakes are corrected as the Linzs get some assistance on campus and realize they have to travel across the city, and the Bransens also figure out that they've gone past the clue box. They choose the log rolling task, potentially avoiding the trap of the two campuses.
About this time, the Weavers finish their Detour, capping it off with a draw to the button by Rolly (trust me, this is good). Rolly uses up this tiny moment of shining by butchering the pronunciation of "Montreal", blurting out something like "Motel" or "Montel". Really, how hard is that? On the clue, they're directed to the American Pavilion at the Montreal World's Fair site, which is a giant geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. Even in Canada, they have to stick with American stuff.
Over at the curling rink, Alex hogs his first rock (that's bad), but gets his second into the rings, and they make short work of it after that. Curling has a new group of fans! The Bransens are now at the arboretum where the log rolling is, which might prove to be more difficult and physical than they'd hoped. We'll see if Wally is up to the task.
In a twist that I'm not entirely sure isn't to get a better tip, The Great and Powerful Ted reveals that he's super-religious too, and starts playing it up in every other sentence. This could be a fun (read: irritating) next few minutes. He gets the Weavers to the pavilion, where they end up running around the entire building before realizing that where the stairs come down might be a good place to look. They race up five flights of stairs to the clue box, and they're on their way to the next stop. The clue is, essentially, a French test, determining their ability to figure out that "porte" means door, at a location which is in an industrial park. They're getting to all the big sights!
More fun with language; Alex yells at his cab driver "Andale!" which is, as you're likely aware, is Spanish. Right. Quebec. French. Got it. But hey, it's close, right? Reading that the next location of the clue box was built in 1967, Megan gets the idea to ask "old people" about it. So what, like people at least 27-years-old?
There's little to no chance of the Bransens entering the pro lumberjack tour after their display of log rolling, but they get through without serious injury and are also on their way to the next clue, keeping them in the mix.
Senor Ted Stupendo turns on the God charm with the Weavers, crediting religion with even the mundane task of finding an address. Give it up, Ted, we know you're angling for a big bonus. At this point, the Weavers are suffering from lack of blood sugar or some other sort of deficiency, as they decide that Ted calling the place "stupid" is the funniest thing they've ever heard. It's a nice little mutual admiration society going on there.
The clue turns out to be the Roadblock, in which a team member has to perform a trapeze maneuver and be caught by a stuntman. Since Rolly is the only one on this team that can do anything, he gets the call. He's able on the first try to get caught, and they are done. At this point of the race, well in the lead, the Weavers are flying high. They then have to go to Stade Olympique, also known as the Big O (or the Big Owe, for its cost – you're getting value for your money here), where their next clue will be located.
The Linzs have reached the Roadblock, and since this task has a significant cool factor, there's a moment of tension as they have to decide who gets to do it. Alex wins out, but as the heaviest one of the group, this might not have been a great choice. He misses his first attempt, rather badly as well as his second. By this time, the Bransens have caught up completely. He hits his third try and thus, the Linzs are not forced to take turns.
Meanwhile, the Weavers could use some Ted super skills as they search for the entrance to the stadium. Linda offers this little bit of "Huh?" when she says that they should always be going left, since right is most common. Maybe you can parse that one.
Elizabeth makes it on her first attempt at the trapeze for the Bransens, tightening the race considerably. They worry that they're running for second at the moment, as they think the Weavers should be very far ahead. As we cut to...
...The Weavers, trying to ram a door open with their golf cart. Careful, that building's infamous for chunks up and falling off it. On second thought, ram away! Their bungling has let the Linzs and the Bransens get back in it. Megan tries to locate the "Stand", which sort of eats back all her cool points for chewing out Alex for yelling in Spanish.
Finally, after what appears to be hours of searching, the Weavers find the way down into the stadium and get their next task. And boy, is it a doozy. There are three boxes with departure times taped to the back of one of the over 50,000 seats in the stadium, each five minutes apart, securing their flight to a "mystery destination". The Weavers groan, but start to hunt.
Meanwhile, the Linzs and Bransens bumper car their way onto the floor of the stadium, announcing their arrival loudly to all and sundry. This pisses of the Weavers something fierce, and causes Linda to respond, "We got here first and they know it." Er, huh? So they should just defer to you because you beat them to this one task? You had a lead and blew it, and you know it.
A brief pause in the action occurs as all three teams realize they forgot to pay their cab drivers, which could definitely get expensive at this point. This leads to another confrontation as the Weavers try to squeeze the Linzs off the sidewalk. One makes a comment about Rebecca (or Rachel, I'm not really sure), and yeah, name-calling isn't the most mature thing ever, but can the Weavers actually think they haven't done the same through the entire race, with the dismissive nicknames? Or perhaps it's not rude if you do it behind their back. Or, uh, on the Internet. Anyway, I think my point was that the Weavers seem to have some sort of clue stick immunity. They continue to call them "sore losers", but there's a tiny problem with that stance in that they HAVEN'T LOST YET!
This task could be the breaking point for teams, with both the Weavers and Bransens feeling the stress. Wally in particular is unhappy with walking around on concrete stairs for hours, and gets downright petulant. The Weavers are meandering aimlessly, hoping that the box will fall out of the sky for them. It's not a pretty sight at the moment. Only the Linzs seem to have any energy right now.
They have seized on the idea of going where the other teams aren't, which is a risk, but a calculated one. The Bransens follow, but the Weavers stay put. And I mean stay put as in stop searching. An... interesting strategy, but it seems unlikely to work. Rolly alone seems to see the flaw in the plan, and pleads and begs to be able to search (he can't go on his own due to the rule about teams needing to stay in contact).
When the Linzs do find a time in the upper deck of the stadium, recognizing the needle in the haystack nature of the task, just go ahead and grab it, securing a spot at 5:50 a.m. The Bransens also find a time shortly after, which happens to be 5:45 a.m. If you were paying attention earlier, you'd know that this was the first slot, thereby guaranteeing the Weavers the third departure time... that is, if they don't up and quit.
Linda seems to be in total meltdown mode, with her daughters not helping much. Quoth Rebecca, "Look at how many chairs are up there, I can't even count that high." I have no problems believing this statement. As both the Linzs and Bransens bed down for the night, Linda has completely collapsed. Her children remain, and bicker, and rationalize. According to Rebecca, not accomplishing the task doesn't mean she hasn't accomplished anything. It's the task that's stupid and lazy, not her! HEY! Did you, or did you not come here to try and win a million dollars? I mean, I don't want to see you win it, but at least give me an effort, OK?
Rolly convinces them to give it one more shot and after stumbling around for awhile, they grab the final, 5:55 spot. They proudly announce they are the first team to leave the stadium, but that's not really the important bit, is it? Fatigue seems to be hitting these guys extra hard.
All three teams are soon on their way to the mystery destination, the exotic local of... Toronto! Because you really need a charter flight to get to Toronto from Montreal. Wally wins the detective award for this leg, after determining their location by the CN Tower. I bet he could totally tell if you were in Paris, if you spotted him the Eiffel Tower. The tallest structure in the world is in fact their next destination, although it's given as "La Tour CN", a clever code. This is translated for them by a local, who certainly got a nice "dumb American story" out of this, and they're off into the city.
The Linzs and Weavers are close behind, and closer than they'd like to be to each other. Rebecca wonders how you'd say, "Where is" in French, though Linda, slightly more on the ball today, knows they're not in Frenchland anymore. I'd like to see the reaction of a Toronto store clerk to being spoken French to, frankly. Linda scams a map from a convenience store because it's ripped(!) and plays off the clerk's Hinduism for sympathy. Yay you!
At the top of the CN Tower, the Bransens have to scan the city skyline to spot the location of the next clue, with binoculars. They're quickly joined by the Linzs and the Weavers, though there is some obvious teaming going on, as they don't hide it much from the Linzs when they spot it. Both these teams leave on the same elevator, leaving the Weavers alone at the top.
This next clue turns out to be the Detour, which is a choice between climbing the rigging of a ship to retrieve a flag, and searching a shoe museum for a model wearing the right sized shoe. The choice seems fairly obvious to me, in that the rigging is completely under your control, while the shoe museum has a needle in a haystack quality to it, but the Bransens take that path anyway. The Linzs, their eyes glazing over at the mention of the word shoe (even Megan, I'm guessing), head for the ship. The Weavers are finally down from the tower and also go for the ship task. Rolly attempts to be cool with a jump over a barrier, but is defeated by its massive, three foot or so height. Whoops.
It's a lovely day to go sailing for both the Linzs and the Weavers, and the Bransens are already starting to regret their decision once they hit the shoe museum, which looks like the set of some Cinemax movie, with 100 barefoot women in cocktail dresses walking around. Add in some synth music and Shannon Tweed, and you've got yourself a good time.
Tommy's the resident climber for the Linzs in this task, and he makes short work of the rope ladder, grabbing the flag. Once they're down, they receive their next clue, sending them to Queenston, near Niagara Falls. Once there, they'll take a power boat ride into the Niagara Whirlpool and retrieve a clue from a buoy. This nifty performance has put them well out in front at a crucial time.
Even though the Weavers are quickly approaching the boat in Toronto Harbor, the Bransens catch a major miracle by finding the woman that fits their shoe, and vaulting themselves into second place. We'll see if they can hold onto it. Rolly clambers up the ship's ladder and although he drops the flag, is able to get down and get the next clue.
We're down to the nitty gritty here, with the Linzs getting to Queenston first and finding the boat launch, although the two leading teams are more or less in visual distance of each other at this point. Some terrifically fun looking white-water waves get the teams soaked, and then, when they pick up their clue, they get the message that they've been waiting for for days; they are about to reach their final destination! It's uh, Lewiston, New York. Did Schenectady turn them down?
The Weavers have finally arrived in Queenston, but they have some major catching up to do, since both teams ahead of them already are on their way across the border. Awaiting them is their final task, the final Roadblock. It's a great idea for a Roadblock, as they'll have to complete a map of North and Central America, including all countries, states and provinces. In other words, the fix is in, and the Weavers aren't winning. Hooray!
It's up to Nick and Wally, who are virtually even at the beginning. It's virtually impossible to write this compellingly, though there are some moments to be had as these two struggle with just where in their country all those funny shapes go. In the end, it comes down to the tiniest state of all, Rhode Island, which Wally temporarily misplaces, allowing Nick to zip ahead. The Linzs are off like a shot, and simply will not be denied, hitting the map in first place, and win the Family Edition of the Amazing Race. Now, let us never speak of this again. Some final flirting between the Linzs and Bransens, and we're out, with the Weavers finally strolling in for third, and more than likely spared the geography puzzle. Now that's the footage I'd like to see.