The Amazing Race: Family Edition - Episode 9 Part 2

The Family Christmas Card

By Reagen Sulewski

February 16, 2006

Gee, I wonder which one will cry this episode?

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We rejoin this leg of the Amazing Race in progress, after Phil tortures our two leading teams, the Bransens and Weavers, at the fake Pit Stop. He then sends our racers to Dubois, Wyoming, and something called Turtle Ranch. Frustration runs high among these two teams, who were clearly ready to wind down for the day.

A fairly inexplicable decision is made by the Godlewskis on the way to the fake Pit Stop, as they stop and try to call for directions. Now, we know that this is just a halfway point, but there's no way that they can know that for sure, and it very well could have ended in their elimination. All the same, it ends up in them dropping to fourth as the Linzs move past them. Moreover, they don't actually get help.

Fatigue may be setting in for the lead pack, with the Bransen girls getting cranky from lack of food, and the Weavers just spacing out in general. Amazingly, they stop at a gas station for directions, but do not in fact get gas, which has been highlighted by the editors for some reason. Hmmmm. I know this isn't the smartest team in the race, but I would hope that they realize that cars require fuel.


The Linzs, meanwhile, look energized by their third place status after almost literally falling off the map in the first half of the day. In the Godlewski vehicle, recriminations and told-you-sos are the story of the hour, with Michelle and Christine (Hi, I cry for attention) at each other's throats, yet again. Tricia, the youngest and relatively invisible sister so far, is a born comforter for her team members with wonderful perspective on the race. I wonder if she's adopted. They get their reprieve from the governor, but it hasn't removed their fighty and stupid; Christine's immediate comment is, "Maybe we have to go eat some turtles." Cause, you know, it's Turtle Ranch. Wow, she's serious.

Upon reaching the ranch, the Bransens find out that they've had the rug pulled out from under their lead, as the ranch is not open to the public until 7 a.m. the next morning. Not only have they had a first place finish ripped away with an extra long leg, but they also get to have all the other teams catch up to them. I realize I may have been too hard on Christine just a few moments earlier, as the Weavers attempt to puzzle out what a "turtle ranch" is. I'll admit the concept of trying to break in wild turtles is somewhat amusing, but they've had special stupid injections today. They then bunker down, isolating themselves from the other teams, just exacerbating any real or imagined separation from the other teams that exists. The Linzs and Godlewskis arrive without incident, and all four teams are starting out even the next morning.

The next morning, it's a dead sprint for four vans to transport them to their next task, with the young and spry Linzs besting all the other teams, though it's really just seconds between them. The Weavers pray to God for wisdom, but if it hasn't worked so far...

It's time for the Detour, which is a choice between building a wagon and building a teepee - in other words, a choice between backbreaking labor and mind-numbing drudgery. They've got it all on The Amazing Race! The Linzs and Bransens head over to the wagon task, with the Weavers and Godlewskis split off to the teepee building. I'm sure the near meltdown on the last task that involved detailed instructions and working together will have no bearing on this task whatsoever. "How hard can it be?" they say. Famous last words. Ever watch a group of people put together a tent when working from two different sets of instructions?

The Linzs leap right into their task, using their brute strength advantage to plow through this job, though nearly dropping their wagon in the process. I'm beginning to think the Weavers have no social skills whatsoever (whatever gave it away, you ask?). Rachel calls the, quite frankly, ancient Native guide "cute", while Rolly runs around the teepee frame with a rope like an idiot, then gets paranoid that he's being stared at. They can't be this dense.

Just about like clockwork, the Godlewskis are falling apart on this task, starting with Christine's over analysis of the project. She tries to make each pole of the frame exactly equidistant, which serves to only piss off the rest of her team, who just want to get building. It's a good thing they don't resort to any racist cliche sayings... oh crap, too late, as Michelle hauls out the "too many chiefs and not enough, uh..." before realizing how dumb she's about to sound.

About this time, the Linzs have figured out that they really do need to use all the parts of the wagon to keep it together, get the horses to pull the wagon, and finish off this Detour. Megan make the most innocuous wave of her hand possible as they pass by the other teams, but at this point, there's simply nothing Linda Weaver can't interpret as malicious. I think another wrinkle just formed in her forehead. The Bransens are close behind, with the next clue sending them to Cody, Wyoming, where they'll have to find a Buffalo Bill lookalike and get their picture taken, old-timey style.

Megan wonders aloud about how they'll find a fictional character, which leads to her brother serenading her with Silence of the Lambs quotes. Somehow this makes her realize she was thinking of Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox. There's a psychology textbook to write about this group.

The Godlewskis are struggling mightily to close up their teepee, while the Weavers have managed to complete theirs. Linda makes some weird comment about inviting him a normal set of human emotions, so it's tough to read these people. Eventually the Native chief gives them their clue, mostly I suspect just to get the crazy lady away from him. Christine Godlewski, apparently in hero mode and trying to prove something to her sisters, tries to lift two of them at a time. It's a remarkable but pointless demonstration of just how difficult she's willing to make things for everyone else.

We get to see an almost textbook example of acting without thinking once we hit Cody. The Linzs stop and try to figure out exactly which hotel they're supposed to go to (named after one of Buffalo Bill's daughters) when the Bransens blast right past. Only once that happens does Lauren suggest it might have been a good idea to figure out where they were going first. But they're making great time! The Linzs repay the favor once the Bransens have to stop to ask directions and make it to the Irma Hotel first.

It's quite the scene as the Linzs come out to the lobby in their tuxes, and in the case of Megan, prostitute dress, to get their photo taken. The Bransens are stuck waiting until they finish, but it looks like the girls are not that broken up about the scenery. A light bulb seems to be going off in Wally's head (wait...three daughters, three boys *counting on fingers* that matches up!) and he gets a look on his face like he wishes he'd remembered to bring his gun.

After finishing their debut in modeling, the Linzs get their next clue, which sends them to Red Lodge, Montana and a local golf course. I think they're recreating the Lonesome Dove trek. They go back to change and make way for the Bransens. Wally makes a surprisingly realistic looking old West hand, and his daughters look real purty too.

We follow the Linzs to the golf course, which finds them at the Roadblock. Two members of the team have to get on a golf cart (conveniently branded by Buick, and I'm just sure no money changed hands here) and find four colored golf balls along the course. Nick and Alex get out on the course for the Linzs. The Bransens are hot on their tail, and Wally and Elizabeth are their participants for the Roadblock.

Back at the Irma, Linda Weaver is ready for her close-up, but we aren't quite in that same category. However, she does look startlingly well-suited to be an extra on the cast of Deadwood at this point.

The Sisters Behaving Badly team is now into Cody, and the developing feud between Christine and Michelle has degenerated into playground taunting. Christine spots the hotel out the other side of the vehicle and takes the opportunity to sing-song this information, to the great disgust of Michelle and the rest of her vehicle. It's good that they have their priorities straight. After getting their picture taken, they spend an inordinate amount of time fooling around in that uniquely middle-aged "I think this is what flirting is" way with Buffalo Bill and their costumes – er, I'm all for enjoying local color, but have you completely forgotten this is a race? An absolutely priceless aside follows from a long-suffering assistant at the hotel, who rolls her eyes at these antics. She really just wants to get home and watch Veronica Mars.

Someone warn Montana, the Weavers have arrived. More of their deductive ability is on display when they figure out that a clue at a golf course probably has something to do with golfing. You just can't pay for that kind of knowledge.

Out on said course, the Linzs have found three of four golf balls and after discussing the possibility that the last one might be in one of the holes, forget just what it was they were talking about. Nick runs up onto the last green but doesn't check inside of the hole, which Ironic Cam proceeds to show us is exactly where it is. This lets the Bransens, who have since found all four balls, surge ahead. They get the clue, which tells them to go to a cattle ranch in Absarokee, Montana, which we are promised is a Pit Stop, fer real, no foolin'. A second go around lets the Linzs correct their mistake on the course, but they have potentially cost themselves here.

The Godlewski sisters have finally arrived, with Michelle and Sharon out on the course. They are still in it, provided they can work together. Uh oh. Michelle makes a wild turn out on the course, nearly throwing Sharon out, which leads to yet another snit fit for this team. Sharon gets out and runs the course, with the two sisters doing a lot more bickering than looking. Not one single member of this team, with the possible exception of the invisible youngest sister Tricia, is more interested in finishing the race over simply proving her other sisters wrong about something. It's a fascinating meltdown to watch. Meanwhile, the Weavers complete the course without much incident.

Both these teams are finally on their way, and there are two distinct packs on the road. The Bransens and Linzs lead the way, and the Weavers and Godlewskis bringing up the rear. There are no tricks and no mistakes, and the Bransens do claim first spot for this leg, with a bonus prize of a full-sized Buick (what a coincidence!). The Linzs stroll in just behind, giving them a respectable finish, though they really need to stop making mental mistakes.

The great fist of karma (does karma have fists?) tries to give a smackdown to the Weavers, as they are nabbed by a speed trap entering Absarokee. This threatens to let the Godlewskis back into it, but they're let off with a warning. Dreams of them being the first racers to be detained by the authorities since Colin are just not to be. The producers do their best to create drama, but the Weavers do find their way to the mat in third. We really must have done something wrong to deserve this.

We know what this means next, as the shrieking and bickering Godlewskis are officially eliminated. The real moral of the story here: make sure you like the other members of your team before entering The Amazing Race.



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