Alas, what’s a reality tv fan to do when you reach the finale of your favorite show and *gasp* there’s nobody to root against? No reason to throw things at the tv? No hoping that they’ll come in last so you can secretly enjoy the look of soul-crushing defeat on their faces? They’ve covered 30,000 miles and four continents, and this has got to be one of the nicest, most level-headed, non-bitchy groups to ever reach the finals. With the exception of Ron, of course, and even he seems to have stemmed his stress induced mini-Tourette’s attacks in the last few weeks. Whether it was done through some serious soul-searching or the magic of editing, Ron has become much more tolerable. And I reserve the right to retract that statement if he shows his ass tonight.
The Ninja Lounge
Hopefully everyone packed their thermal undies, as they’re now headed to Anchorage, Alaska for the final leg of the race. First placers Ron and Christina take off first, followed by TK and Rachel, then Nick and Don. Several racers comment that they’ve always wanted to go to Alaska (me too!) as they leave for the airport. As you may imagine, there aren’t a whole lot of flights from Taiwan to Anchorage, and the teams all end up on the same flight. TK stresses out over the fact that Ron and Chris weren’t visible when the rest of them arrived at the airport - the father and daughter were off looking up the address for 6th Avenue Outfitters to save some time once they landed. Somehow Ron got them access to a special “lounge” with internet access just by asking sweetly for a free upgrade.
The others hunt around the airport for Ron and Chris, finally giving up and taking seats to wait for their flight. Rachel plays solitaire while Nick complains that TK is freaking him out with his uncharacteristic nervousness, when - poof - Ron and Chris appear, all smiles. TK lets out a sigh of relief: “Oh, man, I can start breathing again. Thank you!”
They all hop on the plane, and Christina talks about how excited she is to be going to their “final destination.” Has anybody seen the movie Final Destination? Yeah, I would choose my words more carefully if I were on an airplane. Just sayin’. Once they land and everyone is lined up to exit the plane, TK jokingly makes a comment on who the fastest running team might be. The old guys look nervous, but TK says he’s seen Ron “run like a ninja.” I must have missed that clip.
Up Ship Creek Without a Paddle
Ron and Christina find 6th Avenue Outfitters first, picking up their bag of goodies and heading out to Ship Creek Boat Launch. She’s very careful in her pronunciation as she tells the taxi driver where to go. Hee. Ron unpacks their gear in the cab (gloves, fillet knives) as TK and Rachel arrive next. The hippies grab their bag from the counter and hop in the taxi, and proceed to lose precious minutes as the dimwit driver takes them to the wrong place. That’s okay - Nick and Don take the clue only, leaving their bag on the counter. D’oh! Don rips Nick a new one in the cab after they arrive at the creek and realize what they did: “You read the clue but you didn’t understand it, so we’re f***ed.” This isn’t the only time that Don gets bleeped tonight.
And so we reach the last Detour – Cut the Cod or Grab the Crab. *groan* Who writes these things? I feel embarrassed for Phil when he has to spout highly cheesy lines such as “teams with the guts to dig into their work could finish fast.” Or, “teams without fast hands could find themselves in a pinch.” Ba-dum-bump. Anyhow, teams can choose to either wade around in a ship’s hold, picking through a pile of 500 pinching crabs to find the one marked with a special band, or slice open a couple of enormous 50 lb. cod in search of a tiny capsule which holds the clue. The only crabs I want to see are steamed ones, on a plate with lots of melted butter. How can something so ugly taste so good? As disgusting as it may look, I would have went with the fish guts: there are only a couple of places they could have inserted the little capsules, and I don’t think they could have shoved them in too far. And I’ll leave it at that in case any of you are eating.
Ron picks a fish and gets to work, obviously not very pleased at the oozing blobs that roll out of the fish after he slices into it. He struggles with how to cut it up at first, but once it’s open Christina pokes around in the goo and finds the clue capsule pretty quickly. They sprint off to grab a taxi, and I hope they have time to wash up. Phew. TK and Rachel, meanwhile, have chosen to grab crabs and immediately rethink that decision after getting pinched repeatedly. Rachel squeals in pain as the crabs clamp down on her hands. “I don’t know if we chose the right one,” says TK. They continue, and just as they’re about to give it up and change over to the fish, TK extracts the banded crab.
Just in time, too, since Nick and Don show up after having to backtrack and pick up their bag o’ swag. TK and Rachel take off, telling their cabbie to hurry. They’re worried that Don will zip right through the fish, and he does – it just so happens that he’s done it before. But of course. Miner, camel milker, truck driver, printer, fish gutter...he's done it all. He slits the cod open, telling Nick to “get in there and find it.” “With my hands?!” is Nick’s not-so-eager response. No, stick your nose in there and sniff it out, doofus.
Ice Age Nuts
Ron and Chris are off to 20 mile glacier next. They enjoy a high speed boat ride through the gorgeous scenery to get there, while the hippie’s cab driver once again proves that he doesn’t know where the hell he is going, having to call for directions to the boat launch. TK is losing his trademark cool, quickly. A very yummy looking Phil tells us that the teams will have to climb the “primordial ice” to reach their next clue, placed on top. As soon as he said primordial I pictured the little squirrel from Ice Age popping out to look for his acorn. Proving that I watch way too many silly movies.
Ron and his pet hernia do amazingly well, climbing up the ice wall without too much trouble. Christina is the one who has problems, unable to swing her crampons up over the ice ledge. No, that’s not a feminine product - crampons are the wicked looking spiked footwear they’re wearing. It's a good thing Nate and Jen are gone, they really didn't need deadly weapons in their possession while they argue about how Nate isn't man enough to climb the ice correctly. Christina is still struggling as TK and Rachel arrive, but finally gets her feet up there. Upper body strength was definitely a factor, as both women have to fight their way up the ice.
After a helicopter ride to an airfield and a taxi ride to Goose Lake Park, teams encounter their last task: the final Roadblock, and it’s an ass-kicker. Teams are given a pile of fifteen objects that they encountered on the race, and they had to pick ten to place on a stage, one for each leg. Sounds easy? Yeah, it was until they added these stipulations:
1 - only one item from each leg of the race
2 – three items must be animals or animal by-products
3 – one had to be a U-Turn
4 – two had to be items brought to or already at a Pit Stop
5 – two items had to have wheels, one of which was used at a Detour
6 – one had to be an item of transportation in the shape of a stick
Ow, my head. I’m glad I get to just sit back and watch this crazy mess. We’ve got chickens, bikes, donkeys, rifles, sticks, stilts, U-Turn stands, camel milk, tea cups, propane tanks, BlackBerries, and even a bored-looking Japanese guy with a cleaning tank on his back. Ron defers to Christina on this one, saying that he has “senior moments” and her memory is better. Rachel wants to try, and TK sends her off with a kiss while Nick gets the nod since Don thinks he’d “be there for a f***ing year.” He might regret not doing it himself.
Chris places her items on the stage, and waits for the clue to pop up. It doesn’t. She only has one wrong, but she has no way of knowing that. She asks the guy if he’s considered an animal (he doesn’t respond) and changes several things around, making it worse and getting frustrated in the process. Poor Chris even channels Jen, saying “frickin’” this and “frickin’” that. Rachel gets three wrong at first, but keeps a cool head and figures out what she had wrong. Up pops her clue, and she bounces out to a celebrating TK. Christina tearfully finishes second. Nick is having trouble. Much trouble.
The next clue sends TK and Rachel off to find a statue of Captain Cook. Thankfully, they have a new cabbie that knows his stuff. The clue at the statue directs them to find the Salmon Hooker. It’s, well...a salmon statue dressed as a hooker, complete with a leopard skin outfit and garish lipstick. Those crazy Alaskans. The hippies find the fish after running the streets asking for directions, and rip open their final clue directing them to the finish line. TK is visibly shaking as the cab takes them to see Phil. Ron and Christina are right behind them, and Nick and Don...I have no idea. They never showed Nick completing the Roadblock, so I assume he didn’t get it and they just told them to head on to the finish.
All of the teams are standing around the finish line, clapping and cheering at the first team to arrive - it’s TK and Rachel! They cut to Jen, a big phony grin plastered on her face. I love it. TK says it doesn’t seem real, holding his head in his hands. He and Rachel share some love and a big smooch on the Amazing Bathmat as Ron and Chris come running up, in second place. She gets teary-eyed as she tells Phil that she’s just glad to have had the chance to run this with her dad, and Ron talks about how much he’s changed - let’s hope it sticks. “For once in my life, when I say I love you, I really mean it,” he confides. The more I think about it, the less nice that sounds. I’m sure he meant well, though. Nick and Don straggle in third, as Don gets applause for being the oldest person to have made it this far in the race. Props to Don!
Hugs, kisses, and congratulations are passed around the group, some of whom I can barely remember. “Nice guys can definitely finish first,” TK tells us. “Being able to do the entire race, not compromising our relationship in any way, and in the process making great friendships just makes winning it that much sweeter.” Amen, brother. I’m off to light some incense and wait for the next Race.
Congrats and good luck to the final three! waywyrd@fansofrealitytv