Many thanks to SueEllenMishke for her excellent recap of last week’s show while I was on vacation. I am now back, with about 40,000 bug bites, probably many times more than whiny Katye Fogal got in that swamp, so she can just suck it. Last week the Browns were eliminated, which was really just a matter of time. Who will receive the Cell Phone Call of Doom this week? And will anyone hear it over Katye Fogal’s whining?
Comment Vous Dites “One Group is Screwed?”?
We pick up the action in Savannah. The teams all have a mask they received at the end of the last leg, but no idea what to do with it, nor do they know who the face on the mask belongs to. The usual call from Robohost starts off this leg, as he tells teams they must find and decode correspondence from America’s first spy, the man in the mask. To do so, they’ll have to fly to France and find the historic Catacombs in Paris. Sounds cool.
The teams must book their own flights, which they all do via laptop. Apparently there’s no drama connected to these trans-Atlantic flights, because unlike The Amazing Race, we don’t see any airport footage and we don’t see competing flights and different arrival times. Maybe they’re all on the same flight and the fiction of them booking tickets themselves was just that. Eh, who cares.
Francis, by the way, says he’s never been out of the country nor on a flight that lasted more than three hours. He’s in for a rude awakening, especially if they’re in coach and he can’t sleep on planes. The USA girls, meanwhile, discuss whether the French really drink anything other than wine.
In Paris, the Southie boys quickly discover that the Metro there is more complicated than the T in Boston. But eventually everyone seems to figure out that they need the B train. They jump on in two clumps, one up front and one in the back. On the train, some teams start hitting up two local girls for directions to the Catacombs. Francis eavesdrops. Soon, three teams follow these girls off the subway – the Fogals, Geniuses and Air Force. The Southies can’t decide whether to go or stay, but then the doors close. Katye Fogal loudly proclaims it silly for them to not follow people who know where they’re going, but the train moves on with the Southies, CIA and USA teams still aboard.
Three stops later, those three teams disembark. The Southies say they’re either three steps again, or way behind. As it turns out, they made the right choice – these three teams seem to have fallen out of the subway right on top of the Catacombs, arriving there first.
And Here We Thought Skull and Bones Was Just a Swank Yale Club
Robohost calls with directions: the man behind the mask is on a “gold-laced bridge,” and to find him, teams must send one member into the Catacombs to find the year 1789 – apparently the tombs are organized by year. 1789 is the year their masked man created the modern French flag. And wasn’t that just a marvel of complicated design – three primary colors! Stripes! Who’d have thunk it?
Anyway, one member of teams Southie, CIA and USA descend into the Catacombs, where a sign welcomes them to the “empire of the dead.” “How disgusting is this?” says one USA girl. Ok, sure, the walls are lined with bones and skulls. But see, now, I think this is really kind of cool. Then again, my family is the type that enjoys touring old historic cemeteries. I’ve been to Paris but didn’t go to this, and I’d like to. There’s some interesting history on these catacombs here.
Meanwhile, the three teams that made an early exit from the subway – Fogals, Geniuses and Air Force -- are lost. They’re following these girls, who don’t appear to have a clue where they’re going and who finally ditch the teams and run off down an alley. Sam whips out his laptop to try to find some directions, while someone else asks plaintively if they’re screwed. Probably. The three teams hop back on the Metro, finally, and I think I heard one say they’re now TEN stops from where they need to be. The Air Force girl is bummed, realizing the other three teams now have a sizeable lead.
In the catacombs, the three people from the first teams find the right tunnel and the clue – which reads that a “hero of two worlds” awaits them on the right bank of the Seine River, sword raised, and they must face him. By the way, raise your hand if you already know it’s Lafayette, simply because he’s the only Frenchman you ever hear connected with America’s infancy?
At any rate, these first three teams race off, apparently before the second group finally arrives. Matt from the Air Force team, Pa Fogal and Charles of the Geniuses are the three to go in. Charles says, “it really is astonishing how many people had died.” What? How many people did he think might have died in a major European city since the 1700’s? Someone needs to get his head out of World of Warcraft. Up top, Francis is fretting about how long it’s taking after just 20 minutes. Did he think “underground catacombs” meant “clue is right at the entrance”?
The Man in the …. Easily Broken, Non-Iron Mask
Meanwhile, the first three teams have found the correct statue, remarkably easily. They’re told they’ll need to find this masked man’s American contact, and that the clue to that contact’s identity is there somewhere. The statue is, of course, of the Marquis de Lafayette, and there is a mask in front of it just like theirs. Except this mask is cracked. Hm, I wonder what that could mean? The teams confer and decide to crack someone’s mask to see if there’s anything inside. Sure enough, they discover a medallion with a ship on one side and the words “Dover Castle, the arrow points the way” on the other. Team CIA helpfully notes that Dover is in England, and they, the USA girls and the Southies head off to get a ferry across the English Channel.
I have no idea how the first three teams found that statue so easily. Because the last three are running around Paris like chickens with their heads cut off. The Air Force team ditched the others, but are still lost, they’re just lost alone. They say it’s the lowest point of the race thus far for them. The Geniuses, assuming Air Force is ahead, say they need to eliminate the Fogals because in a physical race, the Fogals will win.
The Geniuses find the statue, and figure out the clue. The Fogals and Air Force aren’t far behind, although the Fogals take some time reasoning out loud. “The mask is broken. Why is it broken?” Pa Fogal says. He wants to break theirs, but Ma Fogal objects. She’s surprised when it actually works.
The Air Force team arrives during this, and Katye Fogal says she never expected to be in last place with the Air Force team. Her father doesn’t like being pitted against the Air Force, since they’re a strong team.
I’ve Been to Harlem, I’ve Been to Dover, I’ve Traveled This Wide World All Over, Over, Over, Three Times Over, Drink All the Brandywine and Turn the Glasses Over.
Meanwhile, the first group is landing in Dover. They spot the castle from the ferry and hasten in. It’s nightfall by now, and I was expecting some sort of bunching maneuver like the castle being closed till morning. But it’s wide open and deserted, and teams CIA, USA and Southies clamber all over the place, poking through every room, in search of any sort of clue. They can’t find it, and the Geniuses are landing in Dover and the Air Force and Fogals are on the ferry. The Fogals are suggesting they work together, and the Air Force is leery – as the girl, Brooke, says, the Fogals have gained a reputation from the other teams of being out just for themselves.
At the castle, the first three teams decide to try the roof. From there, one of the Southies spots an area of land that looks like an arrow. He urges the others to go there, and eventually they do, but they’re all grumbling and not at all convinced that this boy has found it, because apparently people think the Southies are stupid. As a CIA guy says, the Southies are “one generation removed from cave paintings.” But they all troop outside, with someone muttering, “If this doesn’t work, I’m going to town and get a sixer.” And sure enough, he’s right – they find a pile of rocks hiding documents. Take that, CIA boys. “They underestimate us, they think we’re these dumb jocks,” says one of the southies, adding that they’re happy to take it and then go for the knock-out punch.
The phone rings, telling the three teams that the parchment they’ve found was created by “America’s first spy.” It holds the clue to the fifth artifact they have to find; they must figure out who that was and where he learned ways to conceal information in documents. Luckily for them, on the back of the document is a clue – it says “Samuel Palmer Printing Press, London.” Teams quickly deduce that they’re going to London; a few mouse-clicks later, they realize that Ben Franklin is the American spy in question. I can only find a passing reference to “Samuel Palmer” as a printer – apparently he’s more well-known as a painter. But anyway, Franklin certainly learned printing techniques somewhere – he worked at a printer’s in London in 1725, and he did do some spy work, although that was likely much later, so let’s just go with it.
Lost in the Nave. Or is it the Apse?
We’ll leave the first three teams en route to London for a moment, and go back to the last three. The Air Force and Fogals split up in the castle, promising to whistle for each other if they find something. Good luck with that – Ma Fogal looks straight at the arrow from the rooftop and turns away. The Geniuses are wandering in the dungeons, or in the vast network of tunnels under the castle (check the Wikipedia link above) and bickering. “Don’t throw hissy fits,” one tells Charles. “You shut the hell up,” he says. What, boys, unable to resolve conflicts without a light saber?
Finally, however, Katye Fogal spots the triangle out in the grass, alerts her parents, and calls in the Air Force. Her mother points out that the Fogals could have quietly slipped out and gotten the clue but they didn’t, they kept to their word. Obviously screwing over the Air Force occurred to them, however. Nice.
The geniuses spot the arrow not from the roof, but from a map of the castle complex that probably all of them ran by on the way in. So now all teams have the parchment and are headed to London.
There, the first group has somehow connected Ben Franklin and Samuel Palmer to St. Bartholomew’s Church in London. How, I don’t know, because it took me some creative googling. But as always, a call from Robohost when they arrive tells them they guessed right. He says Franklin worked in a printing press in back of the church, spied on the British, and developed methods of encoding and hiding information. Teams must uncover one of those methods to find the fifth artifact. There are six teams, five artifacts, someone’s going home, etc.
The first three teams begin wandering the church, “just looking for something that looks fishy,” as someone says. They say they’re not moving too fast because they have plenty of time. Flash forward three and a half hours, and CIA/USA/Southies are pretty discouraged. They’ve found nothing, they think they may be in the wrong place, and they’re expecting the last three teams to burst through the door at any moment.
Who Wouldn’t Associate “Printing Techniques” with “Flame”?
We viewers get a shot of a clue, which I don’t know if the teams see or not – it says “In burning light, a plan was laid.” So there’s fire involved, apparently, and finally someone wonders aloud if the clue has anything to do with the candles burning all over the church. After a few tries that produce nothing, it’s the USA girls who hold their parchment over a flame long enough for it to start bringing out a map hidden on the parchment. The map is over the church; there are circles marking where artifacts are hidden. In short order, the CIA, Southie and USA teams find these artifacts, which are keys. They’re sent off to rest.
That leaves us team Air Force, Fogal and Genius, none of whom arrive before daylight. Pa Fogal stands in the church muttering, “think of printing, printing, offset,” which will do him absolutely no good. The Geniuses, arriving last and realizing it, charge around the church on their own. “Man do I hate Fogal-Force,” one says.
The Air Force actually tries holding their parchment over a flame, but when nothing happens immediately, they give up. Someone starts trying to drip wax on their parchment, and I’m starting to wonder why the curators at St. Bart’s decided to allow a crowd of Americans to come in and burn papers in their church. Did they just re-up their fire insurance and need some quick cash? Because it’s looking like they’re about to get it.
Team Genius has figured out the candle thing too, but they’re hampered by the blatant spying of the Fogals – while the Geniuses are huddled over their candle and parchment in a remote corner, Ma Fogal marches up to see what they’re doing. They quickly retreat, pretending it didn’t work, and bitch that the Fogals and Air Force always do that, trying to piggyback on their work. They go off to hide in an even more remote corner, but a Fogal notices they’ve taken a candle. Not quick enough, though – the Geniuses get the clue, and the key. As they leave the church, it dawns on them that either team Air Force or the Fogals are going home – two teams they most wanted gone. They’re elated.
Behind them, the Fogals and Air Force are both working frantically to get their map to appear. It’s a close one, but Air Force comes up with the winning box and the last artifact. Yay, the Fogals have been Fogaled!! The Fogals wait dismally for their goodbye call to come.
Ma Fogal says it was a good time to be eliminated, in a church. “That’s a good thing, because that’s my home,” says this preacher’s wife who thought nothing of cheating and lying on every other leg of the race. Let’s see, you did all that, and then got eliminated in a church. Think it’s a sign, maybe? Rev. Fogal says he never wanted to have to compete like that against the Air Force team, because they’ve bonded. It might also have been because he knew he’d lose, but whatever.
Teams must unlock the code to a secret society and climb a mountain, in what the voiceover says is the final two episodes before the finale. What? He had just better be kidding. I cannot take two episodes of this show in one night, even if it is tanking in the ratings.