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Ok, first apology – I really thought this week was the finale. Truly, I did. All the previews seemed to say so. So, if you read my recap, and tuned in solely to see who won “millions” of something, oops. Sorry, my bad. They’re stretching it out over two hours, yes, but also two weeks.

Which leads me to my second apology – this recap is going to be a lot longer than it needs to be. Because as it turns out, the entire recap could go like this:

The teams go to the Library of Congress, find a book, print a map, sail around the Baltimore harbor, go into an abandoned building, and look for a spooky hidden room. Geniuses are in first, Southies last, and it’s not done yet.

And boom, there, it could be done. But it’s not quite that easy, because I’m supposed to provide details. *sigh * So, here we go. An hour of, basically, filler, leading up to next week’s finale.

We begin this week with a flashback to the beginning of the race, when there were something like a dozen teams – I don’t remember. Now we’re doing to the Southies – who, Robohost says, doubted themselves at first but have recently begun to take charge; the “Geniuses,” who were slowed by physical tasks but stayed in the game thanks to their high IQs (seriously, that’s what the host guy said. You know I wouldn’t say anything about their IQs at this point.); and, team Air Force, the team to beat, the team that comes in first nearly every time.

Tonight, those three teams will find the seventh and final artifact that’s supposed to lead them to some fantastical treasure that NBC has yet to define. Maybe NBC is waiting to see how much they’re making off this show before they set an amount to give away.


What Card Catalog?

Anyhoo, the three teams wake up in Philadelphia, where they finished last week’s challenge and where the CIA team lost by a whisker. Everyone knows it’s the last morning, and Team Air Force says they’d be thrilled to finish first, much less win a prize. The Southies say they’re just agog over their exotic travels, and the Geniuses think the money could open up a lot of opportunities for them. I just know one of them would use the cash to buy an exotic sword.

The three teams gather for a conference call with Robohost, who says tonight, one of them will find … *drum roll * … the treasure. They have their maps and all their other clues, and must find the code to open their cryptex again. Their search will start in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and they cannot use their laptops. That’s fine for some, who haven’t been making good use of the laptops anyway. *coughgeniusescough*

The teams head out, with the Air Force going over their clues in the car and noticing a shipping theme. They can hear something rattling around in their cryptex and think the Library of Congress contains a clue on how to open it.

The teams arrive in Washington at night, and while D.C.’s streets can be confusing, they all do manage to find the Library of Congress without getting lost. The only way I can do that is if I take the Metro in. I hate driving in D.C.

The lead-foot Southies get there first, and Robohost calls to explain the situation. There are 530 miles of bookshelves in the Library of Congress, but only three books that can help them in their quest. They can find any one of these three books, but looking through the massive, room-sized card catalog will be quicker than just searching the shelves.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. They put three blockheads in a library,” grumbles one of the Southies. Surely it can’t be that hard to look up a library book, even for those who rarely darken a library door?

Apparently so. The geniuses and Air Force arrive in short order, and while the Geniuses (Charles, at least) bats down the idea of the card catalog, team Air Force heads straight for it. (by the way, surely the Library of Congress has its holdings indexed on a computer? Even my local library doesn’t do a real, physical card catalog anymore.) The Southies begin following the other teams, trying to figure out what they’re doing. “We’re dumb, but we’re not stupid,” they say.

In the card catalog, the Air Force figures out where to look for the three books, and goes off to the stacks. The Southies stay behind, trying to figure out where exactly the Air Force was looking.

The Air Force find a book, and take it out to a reading room, but there’s nothing in the book. Then the girl remembers that the clue said the book “covered” the clue – they head back to the shelves, and discover another book, hidden back in the shelf. They drag it out and it seems to be mostly about the American flag. Robohost calls and tells them it’s the 7th artifact, and that the clue has been in front of them all along.

The book’s last page is blank, and there’s a line at the bottom that says it was printed on an old printing press in the Library of Congress. So team Air Force heads off to find the printing press.

The Southies are still wandering around, writing notes on their own arms. “I should have went to the library in school,” one says. Yeah, and to grammar class, too.


The Dawnzer Lee Light

Team Air Force has found the printing press, and figures out pretty quickly what to do – there’s a metal plate into which the silver parts of all their previous clues will fit. They fit everything in, and then roll ink over it, to print over the blank map that was one of their first clues. They’re worried they’ll screw it up, and they only have one shot to get it right, and they’re reading directions from a manual. But they manage to get it, and realize they’ve printed what’s essentially a map of the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. They decide to head for Fort McHenry at the Baltimore harbor.

Meanwhile, the Geniuses find the book too, and get a call that tells them to go to the old printing press. Is it just me, or did the Air Force have to figure that out on their own? I guess we’re just seeing some selective editing. The Southies watch them go, getting a little desperate. They start arguing over whether to quit, which I think is ludicrous at this late stage of the game. It is not hard to find these books! I don’t even see the Southies trying! Ugh. I’m mad at them now.

The Geniuses find the press, print their map, and head for Fort McHenry. After more grumbling, the Southies actually look for the clue, which leads to them actually finding it, which leads them to head for Baltimore as well.

The Air Force has managed to get lost. I’m not sure where, but I know it’s tricky to get the right road out of D.C. and into Baltimore (do you need I-495? I-395? East or west? I don’t know, it’s a ring road, it goes in a circle! Ack.). They stop at a fire station to ask for directions, and the firemen use the Internet to help them. Is this a no-no, or are they just banned from using their own laptops? Who knows?

The Air Force also picked up the information that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while on board a ship in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Well, technically it was 1814 by that point, but whatever. The Air Force thinks this will be important.


Adrift

However, while they were finding this out, the Geniuses shot by them. The geniuses arrive at Fort McHenry first, head for a dock, and get in one of three waiting boats, pointing its skipper to the map and vaguely directing him south.

“We’re so close to the money, we’ve got to win this treasure,” says a Genius. Gee, is that like when Francis said they’d have an advantage in Philly and they got lost? I’m a reality TV veteran, and when someone says they’re going to win, they usually are about to fall flat on their face.

The geniuses are looking for a ship out in the open water, presumably the ship – or a replica thereof – on which Key wrote the lyrics to the song. They’re calling it the “Truce Ship.” Team Air Force is 45 minutes behind them, and they’re irked. “We could have been here an hour ago,” says the girl. They want their boat to go faster.

The geniuses find this truce ship and climb aboard. After some searching, and fretting that any minute the Air Force will arrive, they go downstairs and find a glass case etched with their map. Inside are three boxes; they take one and find a star coin and a map inside.

Robohost calls – they have such wonderful cell coverage everywhere on this show, I want their provider – and says the treasure isn’t on the ship, but the answer is right in front of them. They’re looking for the site of the former Lazaretto Battery, which was across the bay from Fort McHenry but doesn’t exist anymore. Where it was, the treasure is waiting. Mystified, the Geniuses return to their boat and start cruising the harbor, trying to figure out where they’re going.

“We’re so close to this treasure, I can taste the metal in my mouth, and I know it’s not the metal fillings,” Francis says. If he doesn’t stop talking big, metal fillings are all he’s going to get, if I know my reality foreshadowing.

The Air Force finds the truce ship and the clue. The geniuses debate searching from land, but realize the Air Force has to be somewhere behind them. Both teams wander while the Southies finally arrive and launch their boat.


Oh, Say Can You See… The Big @##$# Lit-Up Sign

We keep getting shots of what they’re looking for – a big building called “Key Industries” with a flag on it. Finally the Geniuses spot this, and head for it. Once they land, they get another call – they must search this huge abandoned building for a hidden room buried within. There, they’ll have to solve a clue that will point them to the treasure. Yes, yet another clue to solve before we have a winner. Can we say “dragging this out to fill two hours”?

By this point, the Air Force is expecting a call any minute that tells them the Geniuses have found the treasure and the game is over. But the Geniuses are nowhere close. They’re in the building, climbing a huge set of stairs, opening doors in an atticky-looking place. “What are we missing?” they keep saying.

Meanwhile, the Southies are catching up—they’ve found the ship and the clue there.

Finally the Geniuses spot a door in a big pipe, and inside is a winding staircase going down. At the bottom is a fake-stone tunnel, so apparently this is the secret room, or the door to it. They can’t get the door to the room itself open, but finally realize their star token is basically a toll – they put it in the door somewhere – it wasn’t clear where – and the door opens.

Inside is a room covered in glyphs, drawings and various symbols. The geniuses turn around in dazed circles, baffled as to where they should even start.

Out in the water, the Air Force spots the Key Industries sign and heads for the building, and behind them, so do the Southies. A call from Robohost reminds them that only one team will get the gold. Or whatever it is.

Both the Air Force and the Southies are now in the building, climbing stairs and wandering around, etc. And Team Genius is in the hidden chamber, trying their cryptex based on totally random guesses.

“We’ve got to think,” Francis says. “This is killing me.” Not as much as it’s killing me, Francis.

And…. To be continued. Bah.


Next week:

Finally, the live finale. All the teams are supposedly going to be back, and there’s some mention of a lockdown, so I guess that whenever all three teams get in that room, they won’t be allowed to leave. But then how is it … live? Have the NBC crews been shoving food in through slots for the past year? Eh, it’s probably something lame like they open the cryptex and it says, “You’ll receive your final clue on live TV.” Anyway, tune in, if you’ve nothing better to do.