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Apparently if you live in Canada, you didn’t see this episode. You saw next week’s episode. Well, Canadians, you’re in luck, because that’s what a recap is for – catching up on a show you missed. I’d argue it’s also for reading about an episode you saw, just for the stellar writing and stupendously witty asides, but I might be biased. A little bit.
And, as a reminder -- while part of me can’t wait to see Katye Fogal attacked by a swamp monster – at least, that’s how it looks in the previews – I will smite anyone who tries to tell me or post about it. You just hush, you… you… Canadians.
It’s Only Unfair If It Doesn’t Help You
Anyway. Last week, we saw the Brown brothers get eliminated even after stupendous feats of amazing stupidity by the Hanlons, and a twisted knee for the grad girls. At some point after the cameras stopped rolling, apparently everyone flew to Boston, because that’s where we pick up this week. At a B&B in Boston, the grad girls say the hurt one saw an orthopedic surgeon who advised her to avoid physical activity or find herself having knee surgery with a quickness. She succumbs to the pressure and they all cry as they decide to quit the game. They hobble out to a common area to tell everyone; Pat Hanlon is the first to exclaim and hug them, but then, they ARE pretty girls.
This explains the previews from last week which showed the Browns still in the game; Robohost announces that because the girls are leaving, the Browns will be allowed to reenter the game. I suspect this is because the next leg requires teams to pair up, and they need an even number, but we’ll get to that. As Robohost explains the Browns’ entry over the phone, the Fogals nod in agreement. But the Hanlons – or Pat, at least – go overboard with their disdain. Pat says it’s crap and that the Browns shouldn’t be let back in “because a little girl broke her leg.” This is not the first time this episode that we’re going to think Mulletman needs a filter. He seems to just spew out whatever comes into his head, and no one needs me to point out that the things that come into his head are strange.
Overlooking the Obvious
Anyway, Robohost also offers teams their first clue – oh, it’s 6:30 in the morning by this point. The teams need to find “the secret messages that helped America become a free country,” and the first place they must look is in the Old Burke School, wherever it is.
The teams head off. Most of them follow the Southie Boys, who are on their home turf. But the Air Force teams turns in a different direction. It doesn’t seem to make much difference, since the Southies don’t know where this school is either, and several teams are using their laptops to try to figure it out. The CIA team says the Air Force is a major threat, and they want to beat them.
Somehow, however, the Air Force gets there before anyone else. The six teams with the Southie Boys are nearby, but the Fogals are 25 miles away with their whiny daughter whining that she’s feeling car sick. Whine. The Fogals call the Geniuses to find out where they are, but the Geniuses lie to them. Finally, someone fighting back against the Irreverend Fogal!
The Air Force are the first to arrive at the Burke School. Frankly, I can’t see what historical relevance this abandoned school has, and I can’t find anything about it on the ‘Net, but a little research tells me this – they’re renovating it now to make it into artist live/work condos. No wonder it looked like graffiti-covered crap when the episode was filmed.
Inside the school, a message has been spraypainted on a board – “Look until you can see no more.” The Air Force teams runs around until they find a room in which the blackboard is covered in neatly written facts about the Revolutionary War. They frantically write these down, until one declares that a line about the “shot heard around the world” must be the clue, and he convinces the others to go off to wherever he thinks such a clue would take them.
The other six teams caravan into the school shortly thereafter. Most of them run past the “see no more” sign, and they all mill about in the classroom with the writing until the Geniuses decide that all the American Revolution history must be a red herring. They’re all about to leave until the Hanlon son, once again proving he must have inherited his brains from his mother, notices the light switch is in the chalkboard and wonders why. Although for once, this could prove the Hanlons’ method of literally looking under every rock has prevailed. They turn off the lights and immediately a secret black-lit message is revealed. It says, “Suck it, Air Force.” Haha! No. Not really. On one wall the message says they must go to the old Newgate prison and search the darkness there. On the other wall it directs them to the Wentworth House in Strawberry Banke to find what the Minutemen left behind.
Fogaling and Finagling
With these messages revealed, phones start ringing. Robohost says the Revolutionary War was a time of paranoia, and now teams must decide whether to trust each other. Teams are to pair up, with one going to the prison and the other to the Wentworth House. Both places contain half a clue, and they’ll need both halves to figure out where to go next. This isn’t so much “trust” as it is “mutual dependency”, isn’t it?
Anyway, while these teams are pairing up, the Fogals call from 40 miles away. The geniuses lie to them again – very convincingly, I might add. “We just Fogaled the Fogals!” they crow. The Browns arrive and are let into the group and told the clue without their having to go in. I guess they made the sixth team, and so that just leaves the Fogals and the Air Force out wandering around in Boston alone. No one seems sad about this, as they all consider the Fogals snakes and the Air Force threats. They decide that these six teams will do everything they can to be the first to solve the clues.
The Air Force team has apparently been heading toward a Minutemen statue. However, for no good reason – at least, that editing shows us; for all we know they could have stood at the statue for 30 minutes and then realized no other teams were there – they decide the clue was really in the school all along and they head back. Finally they figure it out, and somehow manage to call the only other non-allied team, the Fogals. Did they ring everyone else first, I wonder? Anyway, since they’re left to ally with the Fogals, Air Force sends the Fogals to the prison and head for the Wentworth House themselves. So the Fogals never actually got to the school at all. Doesn’t seem quite fair.
American History 101, With Bullets
The Wentworth House is in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Robohost says it’s pre-Revolutionary War, one of the oldest houses in America. The teams there are looking for hollow bullets which the Minutemen used to hide messages. He claims they swallowed these bullets if they were caught. Let’s check with Google, shall we? Well, humph. Apparently this is true, although no word on how often it was actually used. Interesting linky here. Also, for background on the Wentworth House, go here.
For an historic house, by the way, it’s very dusty and empty. Please, someone, tell me NBC didn’t drape fake cobwebs over mock-Early American spindle chairs to make it look like no one’s poked through the house since 1776. I wouldn’t put it past them. Anyway, the three allied teams that have come here quickly find their hollow bullets under a loose floorboard. Inside the bullets they find half a message that seems to talk about the Old North Church and the “one if by land, two if by sea” story of Paul Revere. (I assume all of you know what that’s about. The show certainly assumes so, but I’m going to make a concession here to our poor Canadian friends, and provide a link to the Longfellow poem that explains this, here.)
Anyway. As these three teams leave the Wentworth House, the Air Force team arrives. Through a crack in the door they note which three teams are together, and realize there’s a plot of six teams against them. “That’s pretty sick” says the obviously na´ve girl. Don’t these people watch reality TV? Alliances always form, people always try to get the strong teams out. I mean, duh.
Anyway, the Air Force finds the bullet, and they call the Fogals, who are closer to the prison than the other three allied teams are. Air Force warns the Fogals that everyone else is working together, and that the Fogals need to find their clue first.
“It’s war, it's not personal.” <--- what Paul Revere probably said.
Newgate Prison is, Robohost says, a former copper mine that was the first place used as a prison in America – its first prisoner, charged with burglary, was admitted in 1773. It housed Revolutionary War prisoners and others in the old mine tunnels. For more information, try here. Although that doesn’t note that the name is apparently a take-off on the notorious Newgate Prison in London, familiar to any fans of Dickens or of “Moll Flanders”.
Anyway. The teams at Newgate are also looking for a bullet, which they must find down in the tunnels. The Fogals, who do indeed arrive first, find a guard shack which contains a creepy spiral staircase down into the earth. Katye Fogal, of course, whines that it’s freaky. With flashlights, Pa Fogal finds the bullet squeezed into the rock walls, and they leave. A comparison of their clue with the Air Force clue tells them that they must find the Plymouth Lighthouse if by land, and the Boston light if by sea. That means the other teams, who went to Wentworth, are headed for the Old North Church to see if one or two lanterns are displayed.
The alliance teams also go to the prison and also find their bullets. The Browns, who unfortunately got allied with the Hanlons, call the Mullets to share information. The Hanlons start joking around, and the Browns say they just don’t trust the Hanlons. Sounds like some wise distrust to me, as Pat Hanlon is telling the camera that he’s tempted to screw the Browns but is afraid of karma. <--- foreshadowing? The Hanlons are mad that they have to deal with the Browns at all, because the Browns were formerly eliminated. Oh, puleeze. Like Pat Hanlon wouldn’t have leaped at the chance to reenter the game if he’d been (rightfully; 80 miles for a freakin’ hamburger?) eliminated.
Back in Boston, the Air Force team and the Southie boys arrive at the Old North Church cemetery at the same time. An argument begins, because the Air Force are mad the Southies are allied against them. One of the Air Force men says it pisses them off, and the Southies say they don’t understand – it’s not personal, it’s just a game.
Pat Hanlon, Your Darwin Award is Waiting
Anyway. Moving along. The church steeple shows two lanterns, which means they need to go to the Boston lighthouse. The lighthouse is at Pemberton Pier, and someone calls to tell the Hanlons and the Browns, who haven’t combined their clue so haven’t even gotten this far yet. That rather irks me, that some teams can skip tasks altogether and ride on the backs of others.
To get to the lighthouse, however, requires a ferry. The first ferry won’t leave until morning, and teams must take a ticket – first come, first served with the tickets. The ferries hold two teams, so the teams with early tickets can invite another team to share their good fortunate if they wish.
Most teams run right to the ticket dispenser, but the Hanlons, displaying intuition and intelligence on a par with their previous displays in this race, poke a stick at a milk jug floating in the water. They manage to walk past the ticket dispenser not once, but twice. Even so, they manage to snag a ticket before the Browns, who are in last place again and getting rather tired of it. They want to pair up with a different team.
The teams spend the night at a bed and breakfast, and in the morning, every team takes their partner team from the day before, with once exception, which we’ll get to shortly.
Roman Numerals Are So Post-Revolutionary
First, let’s follow the front-runner teams to the Boston light, which was built in 1716. According to Robohost, it’s America’s first lighthouse, and retreating British troops burned it. Hidden here are seven artifacts. There are eight teams. Do the math.
The lockboxes containing the artifacts are easily found – they’re scattered all over the grounds. But they’re padlocked, and clearly finding the combination is going to be the challenge. After a while of working fruitlessly on the combination, the geniuses notice a bunch of rocks strewn around the area. They go up into the lighthouse to get a better view, and realize the rocks are placed so as to spell out Roman numerals. The geniuses shout down to teams CIA and USA to explain the clue, and warn them that the boat with the Fogals and Air Force is on its way.
Back on the dock, the Hanlons are preparing to board their ferry. But unlike all the other teams, they won’t let the Browns ride with them. In fact, Pat tells the Browns they’re lucky to even be here. Didn’t I say earlier that Pat needs a filter? Yeah. He also needs to remember that pure luck alone has let the Hanlons be here, and they’re pretty damn lucky to have not been eliminated already by their own idiocy.
The Browns are infuriated, and one of them lets loose with an assessment of the Hanlons that is just priceless. “There probably have not been a collective three minds on the face of the earth more devoid of any intelligence than those three right there,” the Brown brother says. Amen, man.
To further prove his point, as the Hanlons sail away, Pat calls back, “goodbye, clowns, I mean Browns.” Oh, I’m sorry, is this third grade? No one told me. The Browns say Pat “has stepped on the wrong side of me.”
Slow and Steady Beats Loud and Obnoxious
Back at the lighthouse, the geniuses are the first to find the artifact – a little engraved box. We also learn that some of the locked boxes have rocks in them, to throw off treasure-hunters who are smart enough to shake the box before opening it. Teams USA, CIA, and Southies all get it. Urged on by a Genius, they relock their boxes as the Fogals and Air Force come into view.
It doesn’t take long before the Fogals notice the rocks, and the Air Force thinks to go up on top of the lighthouse. In her sole contribution to the race, Katye Fogal knows that “L” is “50” in Roman numerals. The two teams solve the puzzle, get their artifacts and head off.
That leaves the Hanlons and the Browns in a grudge match. Mullet’s first response to the locked box is, of course, “got a hacksaw?” Sure, that’s the solution, Einstein. Whatever. The Hanlons get into the lighthouse but stop to examine historical artifacts that are on display downstairs. This is what they’re doing when the Browns arrive.
The Hanlon son goes up to the top, as does one of the Browns. To the Hanlon son’s great credit, he apologizes for the Hanlons’ behavior, saying that it was wrong, and that a lot of people helped them the day before and they didn’t help anyone today. It’s very good to know he doesn’t take after his daddy. The Brown brother accepts the apology.
The Brown up in the lighthouse also realizes the pattern of the rocks. He goes back down, and the Browns get a box open, but alas, it contains only a rock. However, the Hanlons realize the Browns know the combination to the lock, and here Pat proves he can sink even further – he runs off to watch the Browns open the next box. They call him “scum” and hide what they’re doing, to the point that Pat is lying on the ground under one of the Browns’ butts, trying to cheat. The Browns are having none of it. “You wouldn’t let me ride on a boat, now you want to ride on my back,” one says.
In the midst of all this, I think the Hanlon son says Pat’s behavior isn’t the way to do this. But it doesn’t matter – the Browns open a box with an artifact, and they win. The Hanlons lose. “It’s called karma,” Pat says morosely. You’re damn skippy, mulletman. He rambles about how the race is really about finding yourself, and I can only hope that Pat will find that A) his intuition sucks, B) he shouldn’t screw people over and C) he should count to ten before voicing any thought in his head. Oh, and D) CUT THE MULLET. I'm going to miss the Hanlons for their entertainment value, but honestly, they were getting painful to watch.
Teams travel to New York to look for stuff underground, and there’s a meltdown in a swamp, which appears to involve whiny Katye Fogal, a crying Ma Fogal and an ambulance. Dude. I want the Fogals to be smited by better teams, not by swampy circumstance. They better not grad-girls themselves out of there.
I’m only teasing, Canadians. Really. I swear. firstname.lastname@example.org