Rachel and Dave: Dave is an absolute jerk to his wife. He’s the worst stereotype of a military man – cold, tough, arrogant, thinks he knows everything and treats his wife like she’s a soldier working under him rather than a partner in life.
Rachel and Brandon: Isn’t it obvious? Rachel cried her way around the world. She’s a whiny little brat, and the fact that Brandon puts up with it means that he has some sick stuff going on in his head as well. They are so annoying, and I wanted them to win the least of anyone.
Art and J.J.: Arrogant, arrogant, arrogant. Yes, they had some funny moments. But it was always undercut with some kind of statement about how they’re better than everyone else. Even when they gave Mark and Bopper their prize money, they did it with smug looks on their faces.
Vanessa and Ralph: This was the team I was rooting for, especially after seeing Vanessa struggle with her sprained ankle. I like Vanessa because I appreciate her sarcastic sense of humor and because I think she’s tough. But they did bicker some, and she was a bit mean (OK, a lot mean, but it was funny) to Rachel. So they’re not the loveliest team one could be rooting for.
This Is A Bad Time ToMake A Bomb Joke
Examples of inappropriate things to say: “This country is bomb!”, “I hope all the other teams bomb this leg”, “I bombed that challenge”, “Our cab driver is so great he’s bombing right through all this traffic”.
Yeah yeah, I’m a horrible person for making those jokes by telling you not to make them. What, you didn’t have those thoughts?
All the teams flew to Hiroshima, Japan on the same flight to kick off the penultimate leg of the race. There were a lot of travel snafus with the buses and trains, and Rachel and Dave ended up falling far behind…until everyone arrived at a sign that said “Your clue arrives with the rising sun.” So none of that mattered.
In the morning, everyone went to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. It was nice, except for when Dave mentioned how a lot of lives were also lost at Pearl Harbor. Sigh. Really? Now, Dave? 90,000-166,000 people were killed in Hiroshima, and 60,000-80,000 killed in Nagasaki. Around 2,400 people were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Still horrible, but not really the same thing at all. That kind of thing just really gets under my skin – I can tell that Dave and I would not get along at all.
Next the teams traveled via bullet train to Osaka, where they faced a Roadblock. One team member would hilariously have to compete in a Japanese game show. This was a jarring change in tone from the thoughts on remembering the atomic bombs, but OK. The person who had to partake in the challenge was pretty much dictated by how many Roadblocks each team member had previously completed. And unfortunately for Vanessa, it was her turn. She’d have to do the very physical challenge with a nasty, swollen sprained ankle.
The Roadblock was pretty easy for Art, who finished before anyone else had even shown up. And since Rachel of Team BB had already done five Roadblocks (that was smart distributing of challenges, I’ll give them that) Brandon also finished pretty quickly. And Blond Rachel, bless her heart, also managed to finish with surprising ease given the disadvantage I thought her short stature would give her.
It was Vanessa who struggled, and even watching her try and compete was painful. Every time she fell on that ankle, I winced. It must have hurt a lot, because it was very swollen and she fell over and over again.
Eventually, Ralph tried to convince Vanessa to quit and take the penalty. I think Ralph meant well, he was worried about Vanessa hurting herself even more, but shouting at her was not the answer. Vanessa is clearly stubborn, competitive, and not a quitter. If he wanted her to know it was OK to quit, he should have spoken to her more calmly. He needed to explain that he was still proud of her, that she did her best, and that there’d be no shame in quitting because she was about to hurt herself even more. But he was too frantic to do that.
Vanessa eventually completed the task, and I don’t think anyone can argue that the girl is a trooper. Seriously, kudos to her – she’s a tough cookie, and after that I was officially rooting for her and Ralph to win. Of course, after that, I also knew that was an impossibility. They’d lost too much time and would never make it up.
The Detour was “Bingo Shout Out” or “Photo Cut Out” and teams either had to play a complicated-looking game of bingo that involved identifying different pieces of sushi, or had to get ten groups of three locals at a time to pose with cardboard cut-outs of sumo wrestlers.
I thought sushi sounded easier, but Rachel and Dave actually shot into first place by opting for “Phone Cut Out”. They arrived at the Pit Stop in first place, tying the record for the most first place finishes ever.
The other teams all went for sushi, where Rachel whined and threw tantrums while Vanessa laughed and got excited about getting to eat the sushi. (When you had “bingo” you ‘had’ (got) to eat the five pieces.)
There was some editing to make it look like Art and J.J. and Brendon and Rachel might be lost at the Pit Stop, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough for Vanessa and Ralph to make it into the finals. They arrived in second and third place, and Vanessa and Ralph were eliminated. I was sorry to see them go, after Vanessa dug so deep to complete the challenge, but them’s the breaks. I think if they’d been in the finals they might have had a shot.
And with that, I became even more disinterested in the outcome of the race. I had to root for Rachel and Dave because they were the most deserving. I liked Rachel once upon a time, but Dave’s toxic personality brought her down over the course of the race and they fought a lot in these last few legs.
The final leg began with a loooong flight to Hawaii, and then was riddled with mistakes from each of the three teams. It was embarrassing.
Mistake #1: Art and J.J. Edition
Art and J.J. got lost on the way to the twin towers, where both team members would have to ascend and rappel the side of one of the tall buildings. And the worst part was why they got lost – they had no idea where they were going to begin with, and opted to just have their cab follow Rachel and Dave’s. Of course, Rachel and Dave knew that and bonded with their ex-military cab driver and got him to lose the other cab. Wasn’t this the very kind of thing Art and J.J. ridiculed Team BB for doing all race? For not doing the work themselves but just following everyone else? Hmm…
Had Art and J.J. begun this task at the same time as everyone else, they probably could have completed it faster. It required arm strength, and two guys usually have more of that than a guy and a girl.
Mistake #2: Brendon and Rachel Edition
After rappelling the building, teams were instructed to travel on foot to their next location, where they’d go for a beautiful helicopter ride. That’s where Brendon and Rachel made the amateur mistake of not reading the clue thoroughly, and they grabbed a cab. They realized the error in the taxi, Rachel threw a temper tantrum, and they had to backtrack. They fell into third place and never caught up.
There was a mini task involving rescuing a swimmer, but it was pretty unimportant. And then the final challenge, which I thought was a huge let down. But first…
Mistake #3:Rachel and Dave Edition
Teams were supposed to be looking for the final challenge, when Rachel and Dave made a crazy huge (though ultimately non-consequential) mistake. Their cab dropped them off at a slightly wrong location, and instead of it being the Roadblock it was the Finish Line. They followed the marked path, paddle-boarded across a lake and ran to the finish line with all the other teams cheering, thinking that they’d won, only to be told by Phil that they hadn’t done the Roadblock. It was amazing.
They had to paddle back across the lake and run half a mile to the correct location, where Art and J.J. had already been furiously working on the disappointing final challenge. It was craziness, especially to see Art and J.J. realize that they’d somehow been wrong and still had a fighting chance.
It’s All Downhill From Here
Unfortunately, the Roadblock was The. Lamest. One team member would have to sled down a hill on this skinny pole that warriors use, and then roll a ball into a target.
So…sledding and bowling. That was what we got instead of some kind of epic puzzle or map forcing teams to recall details from previous legs. What gives? I know that teams have come to predict what the final challenge will be, and the smart ones take notes along the way to help them out in the end. But I still like that as a final challenge. This? This was just stupid.
Art couldn’t keep his body on the skinny sled long enough to make it all the way down the hill. He wasn’t keeping his body taut enough or his legs close together enough, and he kept falling. But tiny Rachel got it on what looked like her second try, and she wasn’t bad at bowling either. She finished the Roadblock and she and Dave hopped on a provided ATV and took off for the Finish Line, this time for real. Oh, and Rachel cried about having to get so muddy. She ended the race how she ran it – sobbing and whining.
So, Rachel and Dave won the million bucks. They also now hold the record for most legs won, with eight out of twelve possible first place finishes. You can’t deny that’s admirable, but I just wish I’d liked them (or him, anyway) more. Art and J.J. finished in second place (I wish I knew how many attempts the Roadblock took) and Brendon and Rachel, thank god, in third.
The fact that Mark and Bopper got to say a few words before the season was over gives me high hopes that they’ll be back for an All-Stars season too. This wasn’t a particularly well-cast season, so I’m glad to be moving on. What did you guys think of the finale? Happy with the outcome?