The Amazing Race 2020 Recap
Episode 12: Now It's About Winning
By Kim Hollis & David Mumpower
December 26, 2020
Previously on The Amazing Race, DeAngelo & Gary were eliminated as the other three teams ganged up on them and worked together to solve a challenging puzzle. Like us, DeAngelo soured on the show and experience.
This has been one of the worst seasons of The Amazing Race in recent history. Fortunately for us, The Challenge has just recently restarted, so we’ll have something good to watch!
The worst thing about this final episode is that Will & James have a 33% chance of winning - and perhaps better, as even though Hung & Chee started decently, they haven’t legitimately been competitive since early in the race. Overall, brothers Maddison & Riley have dominated, but Will & James have killer instinct and are 100 percent prepared to be mean. We don’t like the boyfriends much as the Race has represented them as every terrible cliche in the book. Presumably, we can blame this on the show, as they have to edit in some conflict.
Anyway, let’s wrap this up.
Our teams will begin the final leg by departing Manila in the Philippines to head for New Orleans in the good ol’ US of A. This was filmed well before the pandemic, so we feel okay calling it “good ol’” for the purposes of this article. All three teams will be on the same flight (airport drama is rarely a thing on the show now), so their first challenge will be to head to the French Quarter after they land.
Maddison & Riley feel good about their position, as they’ve now won three legs in a row AND making the final with their three-team alliance intact. Will & James say the money would be life-changing for them and the children they hope to adopt someday. Hung has been reminded of what caused her to fall in love with Chee in the first place, so no matter what, they’ve won by reaffirming their feelings for each other.
The teams appreciate their upgraded seats with copious legroom on the flight to Louisiana.
Upon arrival, the teams sprint for taxis and tell their drivers that they need to go to Louis Armstrong Park. The brother’s driver proves less aggressive than the other two, as both teams pass them on the way.
Teams now have the privilege of participating in a long-standing N’Awlins tradition. When parades go down Bourbon Street, people LOOOOOOOOVE catching the necklaces thrown by the revelers. The Racers must catch 50 red and 50 gold necklaces before they can acquire their next clue from the Grand Marshal.
While the boyfriends and Hung & Chee quickly collect the clue from the park, the volleyball brothers’ driver tries to deliver them to North Rampart street instead of South Rampart Street. They optimistically state that they’ve come back from last place before, but this is an inauspicious start.
Once they get to the parade, the teams take the clever strategy of having one team member gather red beads while the other gathers gold. Much easier to count and keep track that way.
Maddison & Riley are still lost over on North Rampart. A kind stranger eventually takes pity on them and points them in the right direction, but the other two teams are a significant number of bead necklaces in the lead already.
However, Hung & Chee soon realize that they’ve been doing it wrong. The Marshal is only accepting necklaces of a certain size. They must have large ones in the proper color to gain his nod. To their credit, the brothers recognize this as soon as they arrive.
Soon, Will & James see that they are also collecting the wrong sizes as well. This has been the season of not reading the clue, as it told teams to find the ones that match what the Marshal is wearing. The boyfriends do catch the mistake quickly enough to finish the task in first place, and they receive they next instructions.
The next New Orleans/Mardi Gras tradition involves King Cakes. If you’ve ever had one - or probably even if you haven’t - you’ll know that a tiny toy baby is baked into the cake, and the person who gets the baby in their slice will have luck in the near future. The teams must dig through a big bunch of cakes to find one of the few babies available, so we’re looking at a needle in a haystack challenge. Not our favorite for a final leg.
Also, along with finding the baby, the teams must eat a half a dozen beignets before they will be awarded another clue.
It’s not called Fat Tuesday for nothing, people!
Oh, and for some reason they also have to put on a washboard to play with the band that will walk them to Cafe Beignet.
When Hung & Chee get their clue that asks, “Who will be left holding the baby?” Hung answers that he will, because it sounds heavy. (The baby is plastic and about four inches tall.)
Since Will is familiar with King Cake (he says he’s had it every year of his life), he has developed a strategy for finding the baby before he even arrives. He pushes on the edges, knowing that’s where you typically find them. While he looks, an employee wheels in two more carts of cakes that might contain a baby. He’s frustrated, because he wants to find the baby before another team arrives.
Indeed, Chee is able to start looking before Will finishes, and Maddison arrives as well. Even so, Will finds his baby, which means that James can join him for beignets. I guess there are worse things to binge…
... Or perhaps not, as Will whines that he can’t eat another bite. James’s eyes grow huge as he asks, “You’re gonna make me eat these?”
“I might throw up,” Will responds. He retches. James looks annoyed, but continues taking small, reasonable bites. Since he’s pacing himself, he’s not feeling badly. He’s also super money focused, realizing that beignets=money. Will whines at him a bit more, and James holds up a beignet and says, “You need to eat that.”
At least his lack of compassion is consistent.
After grabbing his last cake, Chee is demoralized at the fact that he seems to have missed the baby somewhere in one of the other cakes.
Will chokes down his last bit of beignet and the boyfriends receive a clue. James does pause to tell the Cafe Beignet team that they were delicious. Now, their instructions send them to the Convention Center and Hall H, which they must find via taxi.
Back at the baby hunt, Hung can see Chee’s baby sitting near the top of the table, but she can’t help him. Every instant puts Will & James closer to the win, our nightmare scenario but the one that seems most likely at the halfway point of this leg.
Maddison has gotten near the end of his cakes and has the sinking feeling he’s going to have to start over, too.
Next clue asks “Who wants to take a swing at this Roadblock?” The question is rhetorical, though, because whichever teammate did the baby challenge sits this one out. The players will have to go underneath the Crescent City Connection bridge, walk out on a beam, and dive out in the dark to grab their clue. The bridge spans the Mississippi River, and the task is daunting and scary. We know Hung isn’t good with heights, so she’s going to struggle here.
James hates them as well, but Will provides encouragement. “I didn’t want to fumble through cakes, either,” he claims. James sourly responds, “Your eyes lit up at the idea of a cake.”
Right after Hung says she’s telepathically indicating the baby’s position to Chee, he finds it. Nicely done, Hung! Maddison is trying to systematically go through his cakes again. He hadn’t realized the baby would be so small.
Amusingly, Hung & Chee don’t have a problem with their beignets. Hung, tiny as she is, even seems excited.
“It’s not looking good for us,” says Riley. Especially not since we have 20 minutes remaining in what looks to be a super non-competitive final!
When he learns that he’ll be swinging 180 feet from the bridge, James grumps at the operator. “Oh, my life is terrible. I’m totally about to win a million dollars and stuff with very little competition. Woe is me.”
Riley is in despair, and so are we.
After James completes the challenge (was there ever really any doubt?), the teams must next rappel down to a ball that they will apparently roll to Mardi Gras World, a huge warehouse of parade and celebration supplies.
Once they arrive, Will & James use their giant ball to complete a puzzle of the world. They have to find their puzzle pieces through the warehouse, but this is no difficult task since they have clues that tell them what to look for. They build the puzzle and then roll it onto a float, the final bit of the challenge.
The judge tells them to try again.
You might imagine this would give Hung & Chee a chance to catch up. You’d be wrong. Will & James recognize that their globe is just a bit sloppy. They fix it, roll it back onto the float, and ask for another check. They pass.
The final clue directs them to “Where the Saints March in,” also known as the Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints. No other teams even arrive at Mardi Gras World before they leave.
Will & James run up to the Pit Stop and are declared the winners. DeAngelo fake smiles, first because he probably hates these guys, second, because he has to stand here in the stadium of one of his team’s former great rivals.
While Phil lauds the duo, the editing team is very judicious about the finish line teams they choose to show clapping (and occasionally dabbing tears from their eyes). DeAngelo & Gary are not one such team. Leo & Alana do seem genuinely happy for the guys who U-Turned them, though.
At this point, Phil asks Will what’s so special about James. His response is “Everything,” and he gets down on one knee to propose. The two of them ugly cry, but five good minutes at the end of a season isn’t really enough to turn one of the most irritating teams in some time into good guys.
(Even if they almost certainly are.)
Annoyingly, the judge at Mardi Gras World makes the brothers do their task a second time. Seriously?
So, they finish third, behind Hung & Chee.
Fittingly, this final episode was one of the most anticlimactic on one of the worst seasons in some time. Phil does share one cool stat - with this season, the race has rolled over one million miles run.
Even DeAngelo smiles at that.