The Amazing Race 3: Finale
Well, this is it. Twelve teams raced all across the world - okay, they raced across Europe and Southeast Asia, and now it's all boiled down to three teams. After the Zoolander Twins felt the Curse of the Frat Brothers last week (my favorite teams always bite the dust in fourth place three seasons in a row now, so it must be a Curse), it's now down to the bickering miserable Tokens, the valiant and funny Tubby Sibs, and the Tools of Deafness and Pain, Flodungka and the Mumbler.
I'm initially rooting for the Tools. No, this is not a revisionist history thing - I actually rooted for them after the Twins bit the dust, because even Flodungka at her worst cannot get me to throw my support to the Tokens. Really, at that time I found Flodungka a caricature but the Tokens' antagonism are too real for me to be amused at. I actually have a history of being deliberately contrary.
I later changed my vote and threw my support to the Sibs, oh, ten seconds into the show when Flodungka just cannot wait to blow her top off. But it's too late to change my bet in the neighborhood pool now. Damn. Although later, when I claim my winnings, it doesn't seem so bad after all, heh heh heh.
During the last season, I was rooting for Tarable and Wail, believe it or not. Sure, Wail was loathsome but there's no denying that he and his estranged wife were the best Racers in the bunch. It is only the screwed-up design of last season's Race - the too long track race to the finish line caused Tarable to succumb to her asthma and cost them a million dollars. The Boston Bulldogs, in my opinion, are boring coattail-hangers who don't deserve to win at all. They won because of Tarable's asthma and a race designed in a way that it doesn't matter how good you ran in the last ten episodes, you only need to find a cab and run well in the final leg to win.
And before that season, in the first season, I was rooting for Frankenstein and his wife Moggieritta. That season's final leg is well-designed, and it is Team Frankenstein's mistake in asking their cab to take some "short cut" that cost them the first place. That is a Race, if you ask me.
This Season, I'm hoping that the determinant of the Race will be more than finding a cab. How naive I am! This final leg is filled with so many artificial bunchings that any advantage a Team has over the other is rendered useless. In the end, it all boils down to who can get a cab the fastest in Seattle. In this case, Flodungka and the Mumbler are very, very lucky. The Mumbler deserves $900,000 of the prize alone, but $99,999.99 should go to their cab driver. Flodungka can keep one cent and invest in therapy.
Bear with me as I rant. Yes, I rooted for the Tools but I am not too pleased that they won. It doesn't feel right, as we shall see later, that a team that have given up or came in last twice win the money while valiant never-say-die superheroes like John Vito and Rambette Girl, Team Rhino (remember them?), or even the Zoolander Twins have to settle for less. Yes, winning money from the betting pool is nice, but my sense of fair play is injured by Team Tools winning. Something should be done in the next Season to prevent such an obnoxious fluke from happening again. Yes, the Mumbler deserves to win for being such a good sport and super patient dude when dealing with his insane partner, but this is a team race, not a solo effort!
I suggest we reduce the number of artificial bunchings, for one. If there aren't so many bunchings in this final leg, Tools will be left far behind when they reach Seattle.
Anyway, I'm off my soapbox now. Let's get on with the usual slice and dice.
We are now in Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam. Philo Koughie is wearing blue. He looks a little worn out and haggard even. Anyway, if you haven't checked out his official website, philkeoghan.com, you should. My, he's a veritable Kiwi Indiana Jones if his photos and tales of his travels are anything to go by. I'm in love. I'll be the Callista to his skeletal self anyday, anytime.
Anyway, we are down to the last leg, so all the remaining three teams are noticeably tense and agitated. At 5:19 am, the Tokens are the first to be unleashed on unsuspecting Ho Chin Minh. They are to travel 400 miles by train to Hue. There, they must find the clue located somewhere within the vast Imperial Palace. For trivia fans, this palace has been the home of Vietnam's royal family until 1935. Terror pronounces Hue as "Hew" so Fiend corrects her - it's "Hiu-eh".
They go back the same way as they came last night - using the ferry to cross the river ("Good morning Vietnam!" Fiend yells) and walks down the pier. It's a beautiful morning, and the Tokens, no matter how ugly they are, surrounded by so many bicycles - it's a sight to behold. They get a cab (Fiend: "We have to go fast!") to Saigon Train Station. It's now 5:54 am. The train station only opens at 7:00 am.
Good morning, Vietnam.
At 5:58 am, Tools finally start their race. The Mumbler's first words in this beautiful morning is to ask Flodungka to "maintain the focus". He says that they must work together. Her answer as they walk down the streets? "It's the beginning of the end!" She is tired, she whines. Her bones are aching. She is exhausted.
And to think, I haven't even started using her as a punching bag yet.
What is wrong with her, hubby asks. Is she guilt-ridden over her inadvertent aid in the Twins' elimination? (Remember, she and Drew the Blue had a thing going, and as I am writing this, they are still seeing each other. They attended the TARCon in New York together, upon which they take a cab back together. Drew really doesn't know of Flodungka's screechy nature, but he seems undeterred by that. He's either one strong guy or the most pussywhipped twit around.) I don't think it's the guilt - only a man will assume that everything a woman does has to revolve around a man - as much as she is really tired and exhausted. I can understand that. I just cannot understand her letting it get her down, not now, not at this late stage of the race when victory is at sight. That is what I find unforgivable and contrary of the spirit of the Race as set by the long line of never-say-die Teams in the history of this show. Remember Season One's Dave and Marge, the wonderful senior couple? Jill's valiant dash to the Pit Stop in Switzerland? The Twins' finishing the Road Block last episode even when they know they are screwed? To have Flodungka whine now is unacceptable. Shut up, Flo!
But whine she does, all the way to the Saigon Train Station. The Mumbler's eyes are becoming more stony and his face more and more tight and pinched as her list of complains grow, and I am surprised she makes it alive to the station without him choking her to death.
At 6:13 am, the Tubby Sibs finally leave, stepping over the metaphorical corpses of the Twins, as they run in short comical strides down the street. They say that they must catch up. As brothers, they deal with each other better, they tell me. It is funny when they find themselves stuck in a ferry filled with people who can't understand English when the Sibs try asking for directions to the Station.
They get a cab driven by a recklessly fast guy. Hee hee, the Sibs go, and I have to chuckle at them. They really are funny.
Naturally, all teams meet at the Station well before 7:00 am. I'm quite annoyed, even as I am glad the Sibs are saved by this bunching, because this means that the Sibs' near fatal mistake (saved by the Tools' unwitting aid) will not affect them in any way. Too much bunching makes everything a team does in the past meaningless, and I don't like that at all.
Flodungka goes into screech mode when she learns that the train ride will take almost a day. She declares that she cannot board that train. "I'm not! I'm not!" she screeches in that ear-splitting voice of hers. "Because it's torture!"
Yeah, like this Race is a luxury cruise she has signed up for?
The Mumbler looks around him helplessly as Flodungka goes into a meltdown.
Watching this, Fiend smiles smugly. If the Tools quit, it'll be good for them (the Tokens), he says, pointing out that he's not a quitter because it's not his way. No, his way is to whip his wife along like a donkey. He also has to mention that he's twice Flodungka's age. I swear, if Fiend plays the age card one more time, I'm going to kick his ass in the eye (as the Cow would say in Survivor Thailand).
The Mumbler looks on, dazed, as Flodungka declares shrilly that she wants to quit. At that moment, tacky music comes on. Flodungka says in a voiceover that it's "disco music", but to my ears, it's more like pop music. The Tools move to another part of the station where the music is not so intrusive, and Flodungka curls up on a seat to sleep off her inner banshee. The Mumbler sits behind her, looking ahead, stoned, probably secretly wishing that Flodungka somehow wakes up mute.
"What a wimp," hubby tells the TV.
"He's just pulling together for one last trip before the race ends," I suggest. "He'll probably slap a restraining order on her afterwards."
Meanwhile, the Sibs finally waltz into the station. "Where's Flo and Zach?" they ask as they meet up with the Tokens. Boys, you don't want to know, trust me. The two teams buy tickets for their upcoming train ride. They get sleeper class tickets.
Ten minutes later, the Mumbler comes in, alone. Has he finally murdered Flodungka and stuffed her body into the toilet? The Sibs ask him if he's okay. "Define alright," he answers wearily.
There is no sleeper class tickets left. "If it has no air-conditioner, she'll kill me," the Mumbler spurts out to the ticketing gal. At this point, I really feel sorry for poor, harrassed Mumbler. Whether he is a doormat or not, he really doesn't deserve getting this much crap heaped on him. Lucky him, the seating class coaches are air-conditioned.
Hearing that there is air-conditioner, Flo finally rises shakily to her feet. The Mumbler rubs his face wearily when she is not looking. "My foot is asleep," she complains loudly.
"Good," he tells her. "The more sleep the better."
There are so many ways to interpret that remark. When it comes to passive-aggressive warfare, the Mumbler performs it to an artform.
Finally, all aboard! Flodungka is still at it, wanting to quit, blah blah blah. Poor Mumbler is bewildered. He tells the camera that they have come this far so "it's a terrible feeling wanting to quit!" Amen, dude. That's why your partner is insane and should be committed for the sake of society.
The Sibs are enjoying their sleeping arrangement. So are the Tokens. They point out that poor Tools are forced to sit all the way to Hue, it must be uncomfortable. We then see the two sleeping on their seats, and I hope a cockroach finds its way into Flodungka's snoring mouth.
It's a beautiful morning in Hue as the train rolls in. Flodungka wakes up. As usual, it's whine for breakfast. "I have a horrible night. I feel as if I've been hit by a truck." And the world sighs in disappointment when it becomes apparent that she hasn't been hit by a truck. The Mumbler stretches and yawns. "Good morning sunshine!" A perfect sight after Flodungka's pity party. This guy is so upbeat and apparently unfazed by everything, he should be elevated to sainthood after what Flodungka has put him through.
Flodungka just sits there, sullen and miserable, staring ahead, while the Mumbler looks out the window along with the Sibs and the Tokens, taking in the scenery outside. "I feel like I'm in hell," Flodungka says bitterly as we see the Mumbler's animated face as he takes in Vietnam in morning. Years from now, he can tell his kids of the sights he has seen today in Vietnam. Flodungka can only regale her kids how much agony and pain and misery she has endured, oh why don't the world loves her why oh why oh why oh why and her kids immediately petition the courts for a gag order.
The Tokens says a very well-done statement about how they hold no grudges against today's Vietnam. Vietnam has changed, they say, and despite the pain they have endured when Fiend fights in this country in the 1960s, they know today's Vietnam is not that Vietnam. They can move on, and they hold no grudges. In this, I soften a little towards them.
When the train stops, everybody dashes down the platform and later into cabs. Even the Sibs look serious. Wait, did I say "everybody"?
"I'm sick. I'm gonna throw up, et cetera." Guess who says that.
The Sibs reach the Imperial Palace first, but they soon realize the enormity of their task - just where is the clue stand? The Tools reach the Palace second, the Tokens third.
"Let's go. Let's go, Teri! COME ON!" Yup, he's back. The Fiend and his dog are back in the show. "TERI! JUST RUN!" Oh shut up.
Flodungka asks the Mumbler whether he knows where they are going. He says he has the map. "Whatever," she says in a tone that suggests that the world conspires just to make her miserable.
"This way!" the Tokens call to the Sibs when they are sure that they know the way after asking the locals. The Sibs, however, run another direction. As it turns out, the Sibs find the clue first. It tells them to a village called Nam O Da Nang, some 60 miles away, and then find the bridge in the village.
So off they go. They get a cab, and Fatty Sib says that his Vietnamese is getting better. If he says so, who am I to question him?
The Tokens, never a strong team when it comes to navigation, are lost, as usual. They soon meet up with the Tools. The Mumbler remarks to the camera that Fiend's strategy is to play the village idiot. Flodungka says without irony that Fiend should just shut up. How amusing then that it's Fiend's loud voice when the Tokens find the clue stand that lead the Tools to the correct place. As they all make their way to look for a cab, Flodungka asks snipily at the Tokens why they bother to run, "I don't know why you guys persist on running. There's no point. I hope you get real tired out." Fiend answers, never stopping in his run, "Already tired out." His wife/donkey chimes in, "Can't be anymore tired out, Flo." "Good," Flodungka answers.
It's quite funny, actually. Terror can be very nasty in an amusing way.
The Tokens' cab driver is talking on his radio. Fiend isn't amused. After all, his cab driver has just radioed the driver of the Tools' cab and inform the driver to follow Fiend's cab driver to the village. But the Tokens say that this is an act of God. I don't get it - so they're saying even God is against them? Cool!
The Sibs reach the village and asks their cab driver to wait for them before they run to the bridge. They find a detour. They must either perform "basket boats" (cross the river to the clue across it in half-spherical shaped boats - not easy to navigate) or "basket bikes" (get onto bicycles loaded with five hundred pounds' worth of shrimp basket and cycle down one mile to the clue - not easy to balance).
The Sibs choose the bike. Whoa! Fatty Sib is having trouble balancing. In fact, he breaks a pedal. Oops. He falls. A watching kid laughs out loud. He's not the only one.
The Tokens too choose the bike. Heh heh heh. Everybody gather to watch as Terror just cannot get her balance. "Ian! Eeeeeye-aaaan!" she screeches as Fiend cycles ahead, leaving her behind. When Fiend doesn't look back, she says a very audible "Schmuck!" under her breath. Marriage counselor, Tokens - see one today, please. It's classic TAR3 though, watching her struggling, her helmet askew, as the people around her laugh uproariously.
In the meantime, the Tools choose the boats. They have troubles navigating, but they would be okay if Flodungka at least tries to paddle her boat. The Mumbler is calling out directions, but she just yells back at him to help her. "You must help me, Zach!" she screams, drowning out the very fact that he is trying to do just that - telling her how to paddle correctly. Then again, this is the Flodungka we are talking about. "Help" to her probably means the Mumbler carrying her on his shoulders while he run the rest of the Race carrying her, a dead weight that screeches aspersions and complains all the way to the finishing line. Oh wait, he's already doing just that. Poor Mumbler.
The Sibs are still stumbling, until finally, Fatty Sib offers cold hard cash to the locals to help him. This they do, propping him up and pushing him all the way down the street. At this point, the Fiend catches up, cycling gleefully, almost crashing into Fatty Sib after having forgotten his struggling wife behind him. Isn't Fiend a lovely husband? First he gives his wife a broken bicycle back in Geneva, and now he is ignoring his wife who is having troubles. He'll probably yell at his wife to run faster to catch up with him even when her hair is on fire and she is being chased by wolves. The Tokens may run a strong race - if weak in the navigation department - but they are still unpleasant sourpusses in my book.
The Mumbler could have made it across the river by now, if not for Flodungka throwing down the paddle to weep in her boat. "I want out of this game. Out!" she whines.
"I can't! I can't! My arms are so tired, boo-hoo-hoo!" that woman continues. Then as she tries half-heartedly to paddle, "Zach, I'm not moving!" she wails. "Get me to the shore. I'm serious!" Her voice at this point is a glass-shattering hysterical pitch.
"For goodness sake, why can't they walk right in and boot this team out," I mutter under my breath, referring to the TAR production teams. "If she wants to quit, then kick her out. I can't take this anymore. I want a gun to shoot my TV screen to smithereens."
Fatty Sib remarks that he must come back here one day to practise on his biking as he and his brother finally reach the clue. Heh. The clue tells them to take a new bike (without the shrimp baskets now) and head on down to Boat Guay in the town of Hoi An twenty miles away, find a sampan, go down the river, and find the next clue. But first, the locals mob them and only leave them be once they are paid. What enterprising bunch these people are. Communism has its rewards. The Sibs cycle off, and to the incoming Terror, propped up by locals just like Fatty Sib was, they say, "You go, girl!" Go where?
Still stuck at the River of Flo's Shrieks of Doom, Flodungka is in full-blown meltdown. She wants to quit, she screams - I'm not joking, she is really in a hysterical meltdown. They trudge down the river bank to the bike detour. The Mumbler actually looked angry for once - good for him! As they walk back where they started, Flodungka having cost them precious time, the Mumbler tells me that it's his responsibility to keep her okay. Is he serious? Good grief, talk about a man with doormat issues. To her, he tells her that this is also his game, so she should discuss quitting with him too. He sounds like a man unused to talking like this, and she's not listening. It would be easier, if you ask me, to just knock her out cold and sling her over his shoulder, but I guess the Mumbler is a better man than me.
The Fiend is standing like a lord at the clue stand, just watching as Terror finally stumbles and catches up with him, propped by money-grubbing kids and adults who should know better. "The whole town helps her," he says. "God bless her." And you, sir, is an asshole. He'd still be waiting impatiently right there until sunset if nobody helps his wife. And that, if you ask me, makes him an asshole. Asshole.
At this point, Flodungka catches sight of the bikes. She - well, you guess what she does next while I go get a thesaurus to see other words I can use to substitute "whine" and "scream" and "complain" and "shriek". I think I have never used these words so many times at one go before. The Mumbler hands her the helmet she should wear for the bike thing. Her volume goes higher and higher and higher as she staggers. Both are having a hard time, but we don't see the Mumbler complaining. He's trying. She, however, good grief. If I have any more blood vessel to rupture in my head, she will drive me into a stroke. The Tokens cycle past them on their way to Hoi An, and the Mumbler, panicking, fumbles at reading their clue card once more. He knows they must act now - they are trailing behind. But Flodungka wails that she won't do this biking either. When the Mumbler suggests the boat once more, she shrieks no to that either. The bike is too heavy! She can't get it to turn! "Do you want me to get hurt?" she screeches at the Mumbler.
The Mumbler laughs weakly in a he's-losing-it-way. Get in line, dude. Hubby and I have been laughing in that way the moment your psycho bitch partner begins her meltdown at the beginning of this show. Flodungka is insane. She's psycho. Why haven't they sedated her by now? Do they really hate us and the Mumbler so much? Shut her up, Bonghammer, SHUT HER UP BEFORE I GO ALL FLODUNGKA ON ALL OF YOU! SHUT HER UP NOOOOOOOOOOOWWW!
And because we can't say it too many times:
SHUT UP FLO!
"I want out! I want out! Boo-hoo-hoo!"
Shut up Flo.
"You wanna go to the boats?" the Mumbler tries again.
"I wanna go home!"
Shut up Flo.
In his voiceover, the Mumbler says that he doesn't know how to deal with Flodungka, but someone has to stay stable in this situation and shower her with positive thoughts. Flodungka falls on her bum and weeps. Pathetic. Finally, the Mumbler approaches some locals and offer them money if they can paddle the both of them across the river. Hearing that someone will be doing the dirty deeds for her, Flodungka immediately cheers up. When asked if the decision is okay - Mumbler, why are you asking for her approval? - she answers him, "Okay".
Just when I am starting to think that this show has been kidnapped by aliens and is replaced by the Psycho Drama Queen Show, I am presented with the Tokens and the Sibs trying to outrace each other's cab. "Number one!" the Tokens cheer as they overtake the Sibs. Then - kapoof! The Sibs' cab gets a flat tire. No problem, the Sibs say as Skinny Sib immediately gets down to business with the cab driver - not that way, eeeuw - and change the tire. Fatty Sib supervises, and he's very good at it, as he'll tell you. Heh. Bravo boys! In a short time, they're on their way again.
Finally, the Mumbler staggers onto the island where the clue is found. Flo sags back on her boat, clutching a can of Diet Coke to her chest, and asks her boatman to go back. "I feel like a dead rat," she complains as one parting short before we shift to the Tokens.
At this point, the Tokens have reached Boat Guay and they quickly get a sampan. They find a buoy down the river and Terror grabs at it and unfastens the clue. It's a road block. One of them has to get onto a traditional fishing platform and use their legs to paddle the heavy winch to raise the net from the waters. Entangled within the net is their next clue. Fiend does this, and Terror, on the boat in the river, plucks out the clue. Even as she does this, Fiend is yelling at her, "Come on, girl, get the clue!" Well, that one isn't as bad as some of the things he has yelled at her. Then again, they're leading, and when they are leading, the Tokens are noticeably more pleasant to each other. They're sad that way.
They must now take the sampan back and then make their way to China Beach, the American R&R base during the Vietnam War. Fiend should be familiar with that place now, shouldn't he?
The Sibs pull up at the sampan dock just as the Tokens are leaving. Sibs call out if they have seen the Tools. The Tokens answer that they saw Tools back at the biking detour spot. The Sibs noticeably breathe easier at the answer.
In their cab, the Fiend says that he has been hard on his wife, but he's proud of her. Eh? Firstly, that statement makes it seem as if it's okay for him to whip her around and her reward is his being proud of her. What a freaking asshat. Earning his pride? How much does that worth? How about her pride?
Fatty Sib does the pedaling of the fishing platform. But they rather stupidly wait until Fatty gets back on the boat with Skinny before they get the clue. Time ticks by as they try to entangle the clue, and then they are off to China Beach.
Anyone else having Diana Ross' Reflections in the head? You know, I really missed that TV show China Beach. It was very good when it was good. The later episodes are off, but the early ones are very good drama. Dana Delaney is so cool back then.
It's pretty much an anticlimax to see the Tokens step onto the Victory Mat in first place. Then the asshole Fiend has to tell his wife who is running ahead of him, "Don't outrun me!" See, he can scream at his wife to run faster, but heaven forbid her to actually run faster than him! I'd expect him to be happy that she's doing just that - running her ass off, but no. Our asshole must always be first, and even better, she must hold his hand so that they can step up to the Victory Mat together. As if I will be fooled by this show of affection. Terror and Fiend still suck life from every scene they are in.
They win yet another cruise, this time to Alaska. That's nice. The further we send them from civilization the better. Isn't that right, Philo, you sexy Livingstonian stud you, huh?
The Sibs are lost.
The Tools finally reach the fishing platform. Guess who did the pedaling. Guess who then has to go down and collect the clue. "I'm such a professional," the Mumbler declares, and yes, you patient saint of a man, you are a professional. Doormat, guru, and saint - we salute you. Now get rid of the ugly headband and I will even love you.
Still, the Sibs reach the Pit Stop second.
It is nightfall when the Tools finally make their way to the Pit Stop. Flodungka now that she has escaped elimination once again - I've run out of "damn" after the three millionth exclamations I made at this point - claims that she is finally "rejuvenated". She says that the Diet Coke is the only thing keeping her sane. How nice of her. How tragic for us viewers that she has driven us all up the wall and down the other side. How nice that she is rejuvenated now, after she has wrung out all joy from us, leaving in stupefied in horror that she is still in the race after her unforgivable meltdown earlier in the race. I say we should all band together and file a mass lawsuit at her for traumatizing us viewers beyond recovery.
Anyway, the Mumbler, ever the optimist, is really confident that Flodungka will pull through for the next leg of the race. Flodungka promises that she will never break down again. Oh, that's reassuring. I still say we sue her ass off for forcing us to see her disgraceful drama queen temper tantrums.
It's the dawning of a new day in Vietnam, and our Racers are finally heading back to ol' USA, where one team will win a million dollars. In Season Two, we have Team Sparkly White Teeth squaring off with the Boston Bulldogs and the Tarable Wail Duo. Team Sparkly White Teeth could use the money to get some therapy on how siblings shouldn't be that creepy, the Bulldogs should get a personality, and Tarable Wail could really use a formal divorce to end their misery. In this season, it's like having two Tarable Wail Duos squaring off with the Tubby Sibs. Apart from the Sibs, the other two teams could really use the money to admit themselves into a long stay in a lunatic asylum. In case you're still unsure, Flodungka and her punching bag win this race. Flodungka has quit her job as public relations associate as I'm writing this - and no, I am not joking about the PR thing - and she wants to break into TV. She does have her moments when she is not blooming insane, but I cannot say for certain that I won't smash an umbrella through the TV screen if I see her on TV. Then again, she can read the weather news. I never watch the weather news anyway.
It isn't shown, but all three teams are given an hour time penalty for doing their detour wrong in the previous hour. All of them hire the locals to help them, and it's not allowed according to the wordings of the detour instruction. So if you are the type who keep accurate timelines in this show (and there are those who do, believe it or not), you'll notice that all teams start out twenty-five hours after they arrived at the Pit Stop instead of the usual twenty-four hours.
At 5:35 am, the Tokens are off. They will find the next clue at the Guange Mihn Temple in the city of Danang. It's located at the Buddha's feet. Fiend tells Terror that today, they must make a dash for it. As usual, Fiend is playing the age card. I kick his scrawny ass in the eye. Okay, I wish I could. When he's at it again - "Go fast! Go fast!" and this time to the cabdriver - I really wish I could.
At 5:52 am, the Sibs take off. They are sure that their sibling bond will get them through this. If they don't hurry, I don't think so. Run, guys, run!
The Tokens reach the Buddha statue first and get the clue. They cheer when they realize that they must now go to Honolulu, Hawaii. But first, they must get a train to Hanoi (17 hour journey) and get a plane from the Noi Bai Airport. Ah, but here's the catch: you need a ticket to get into the airport. They must get their tickets from an agentin Danang. I wonder what the agent has to do to get such prominent placement on this show. Maybe he or she is Bonghammer's mother-in-law.
At Honolulu, they must get a blessing from a kahuna guy. But that's in the future. Now, the ticket.
So the Tokens charge into the travel agent in question. Fiend wants a fully refundable ticket, just in case. The poor gal doing the counter work doesn't really understand him, and our hero is getting increasingly rude and nasty. Even Terror asks him to calm down, to which he answers, "Don't talk to me that way!"
At this point, the Sibs happily walk in, having completed their clue-hunting. "Oh boy, here comes O Brother," Tokens say to each other.
Fiend actually goes behind the counter to loom over the poor harassed counter gal. Er, Fiend, I don't think you're supposed to do that. That's rude. That's invasion of one's personal space, especially when you are terrorizing the gal who is looking more terrified by the minute. The Sibs exchange a look and roll up their eyes. Terror crosses her arms and stares stonily at her husband and tells him to back off from the poor gal, but Fiend just keeps on doing what he does best: being an ugly tourist and a rude and obnoxious man.
At 8:02 am, the Tools finally kick off their race. Flodungka is looking perky today. Which, for her, isn't much. "I already feel better knowing that this is the last leg. I can go back to functioning at 100 percent." Which, as we will soon see, is more like 0.01%.
Back at the agency, the Sibs finally decide to step in. They all but push Fiend down on the chair before flashing their charms on the gal. Fiend crosses his arms and looks murderous. "Before you came in, we were holding hands," he keeps insisting to those who would listen (read: nobody). Yeah, holding hands, with a knife in her other hand, you asshole.
Finally, the Sibs get both teams tickets to Hawaii via Japan. As the Sibs get into their cab, they look at each other, shocked and bemused. "Oh my God, I think we have an alliance with Teri and Ian. How did that happen?"
The Tools walk into the agency much later. The gal sees them, and her look of pure terror is pitiful. "Have anybody..." the Mumbler starts to ask, and the gal snaps, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" There are no more economy class seats left, however.
Here I think I should clarify something. It is in the TAR Rulebook that Teams can only purchase economy class air tickets. I think this rule is implemented after four teams tried to pool their money together and charter a private plane in the First Season. So in this instance, if there are no more economy class tickets out of Vietnam, the Tools are really screwed.
One Hundred Percent Flodungka, predictably, doesn't take this news well. As she blows off about why these things keep happening to her (well, maybe it's because they were slow yesterday, thanks to her?), the Mumbler looks over at the computer register and notices that the other two teams have secured economy class tickets. One Hundred Percent Flodungka goes into another Lament of Bitterness.
At this point, the Sibs and the Tokens wait at the train station, pleased that the Tools are behind. Their pleasure will soon bite them in the ass.
While One Hundred Percent Flodungka is screeching foul, the Mumbler is thinking hard. He purchases business class tickets for the both of them, hoping that once they are in the airport, they can exchange these tickets for economy class tickets... somehow.
So there they go, tickets in hand.
The online boards have made some fuss about the legality of the Mumbler's actions after the finale is aired, saying that the Tools should be penalized and the Tokens should be the real winner. I don't care one way or the other - either team as winners makes me feel ill inside - so I won't touch on that here. I just wish next season's last leg will be better designed.
They head off to the train station, where - surprise - they meet the other two teams. I am really pissed here. That means that One Hundred Percent Flodungka's meltdown last night will go unpunished and everybody is now at equal footing again. Damn this race! Damn!
But the other two teams have one thing over the Tools: tickets to Honolulu, which the Tools just don't have.
During the train ride, the Mumbler goes around asking for cellphones until he finds one, and then proceeds to call a tour agent in Hanoi. "I will love you, sir!" he tells the owner of the cell phone - he is so goofy at times, I tell you. Miraculously, the agent he calls in Hanoi actually have seats available in economy class for an earlier flight than the Tokens and the Tools'. They will meet at a hotel when the representative from the agency will swap their tickets. One Hundred Flodungka is overjoyed. "How does no one know of this flight?" she wonders before telling the Mumbler that he has saved them. She rewards him by putting her feet on his lap. That is so wrong in so many ways.
Maybe it's a Twilight Zone thing and the plane actually goes straight to hell. Hey, I can wish, can't I?
In Hanoi, they wait at the lobby for the rep. He's already there, and the Mumbler goes "Awesome!" as he takes those precious tickets from the man. One Hundred Percent Flodungka smiles - it's a very nice smile - and says hello in a sweetness one would never expect after seeing her non-stop meltdowns. She is certain that they will win now. They are the luckiest team in all Vietnam!
Er, no. The Mumbler is the unluckiest man on earth to be saddled with you. What's this nonsense about the luckiest team in Vietnam?
All three teams meet at the airport the next morning. Surprising, huh? One Hundred Percent Flodungka tells the Mumbler to keep quiet about their earlier flight. The Sibs, sensing something is wrong, goes to the Important Offices upstairs, meets a nice Airport Officer, and what do you know, they too get tickets for the same flight as the Tools! Now that's what I call the luckiest team in Vietnam.
The two teams depart at 6:30 am flight, leaving the Tokens to stare daggers at them. Their 7:45 am flight doesn't seem so cool now. The Tokens try, but there aren't just enough seats for the two of them. One Hundred Percent Flodungka giggles as they leave the Tokens sitting disconsolately at the airport floor. As Terror says rather bitterly that they aren't smart enough like the Sibs, the Tools are walking down the departure hall of the Narita Airport in Tokyo. "Let's go home?" One Hundred Percent Flodungka says, actually calm and composed for once. The Mumbler, his bedhead hair a terrifying sight to behind minus the headband, actually smiles at her and nods, "Yeah, let's go home." Again, I see glimpses of why these two can be the best of friends for almost ten years. I actually soften inside and later, when I hear that these two are still cool together, I actually feel glad for them.
Yes, I'm such a softie.
But they are met with terrible news. Their flight will be delayed by one and the half hour. Eek! This gives them, in the end, only a five minute headstart on the Tokens. Evil is looking out for the Tokens, I tell you. That's why I love this show. It's so unpredictable and sometimes things people say come back to bite them in the most hilarious irony.
At next morning, 7:55 am, they finally reach Honolulu! Aloha, Racers! Everybody runs out and squeals when they see shiny Mustangs waiting for them. The Tools ooh and aah over their car even as the Sibs roar into the road. One Hundred Percent Flodungka sits at the back like some road princess and calls "Bye, bye!" to nobody in particular as the Mumbler kicks the car into action. "Let's push it, Zach. Let's not be like Driving Miss Daisy here," she orders her hapless chauffeur. Hey, this is her One Hundred Percent, so don't laugh, people.
They zoom past the Sibs. No problem, the Sibs say. One wrong turn and hopefully the Tools will be lost.
The Tokens, in the meantime, have problems with their Mustang. Actually, they act as if they have never seen one before. He snaps at her, she snaps back, same old story, fast forward, somebody!
Well, the Tools aren't lost. They get to the kahuna dude's hangout easily. One Hundred Percent Flodungka jumps up and down and actually pounces on the hood of the Sibs' Mustang before telling them flirtatiously, "I'm so hungry!"
"Don't whine," Skinny Sib tells her to the vigorous applause of the entire grateful world.
Then comes the Tokens. Sigh.
See, the kahuna guy only starts blessing at 10:00 am. Look, do we need this bunching? This is ridiculous. Bonghammer, you ass, it is one thing to bunch at airports and train stations, that's inevitable. But bunching at cafes and now this kahuna thing? This is nonsense! Everything the team does before is nullified. The Mumbler's ingenuous if legally dubious act of getting them tickets is made useless. At the rate this Race is going, why even bother being first? (Unless you want to win those cheapass Kodak cameras, that is.) Just stay within the race, whine and moan and give up twice like One Hundred Percent Flodungka did, and it'll still be okay because Big Poppa Bonghammer will make sure everybody bunches every three seconds until the final mad dash to the finishing line. If this is what the next season is going to be, I will not watch anymore, because this isn't a Race then as much as it is a "Who Can Get A Cab The Fastest In An American City?" fiasco. Bonghammer, fix this now. I insist.
10:00 am comes too slowly for these Racers. They sit down and drink some potions, upon which the Kahuna blesses them, probably muteness (for Flodungka and Fiend), spine (Terror and the Mumbler), and victory (the Sibs). Then he gives each team a clue: they must now go to Kauai by plane, take a car, and then follow some arrows until they reach the next clue.
If I hear another "bunching" word again, I am really going to kick Bonghammer's ass in the eye. I mean it this time.
The Sibs now see the Tools as a threat, since One Hundred Percent Flodungka's heart is back in the Race once more. That woman doesn't want to listen to Fiend talk anymore. And we want you to shut up, Flo. So please shut up.
All three teams catch a short and uneventful flight to Kauai, and then they get into their cars and start driving. Where? Where? Follow the arrows, that's where! Voom, voom, voom, and as usual, the Tokens get lost soon after and has to turn to a friendly cop for directions. Finally the Sibs find their clue: detour. They first have to buckle up what seems like gear to wear for bungee jumping. The Tools come up to them then. Bungee jumping and One Hundred Percent Flodungka? I reach for ear muffs there and then.
Philo shows up for the first time this hour to explain the detour. He is wearing the same "I'm A Very Thin Oak Tree" brown shirt that he wore in the Singapore leg. Hmm, how much is he paid anyway? He just shows up and talks for ten minutes per show and then just stands there at the Pit Stop to eliminate the Racers' sorry asses. There are worse ways to earn a living. Hey, Bonghammer, where do I send my audition tape? I can say "You're Phil-iminated!" like the best of them.
Anyway, here's the detour. "Quick drop" means a 160-foot tandem drop down the Wailua Falls. "Slow walk" means a slow trek down an uneven jungle path. How nice that they don't even bother to make sure these last detour options rhyme. "Quick drop" and "slow bob", for example, sounds nice.
"We're gonna be fine, Ken. We're absolutely nuts, but we're going to be fine." The sibs jump. Aaaaah! Splash. You guys are so cool.
One Hundred Percent Flodungka says, "Oh, detour! Do whatever, whatever, whatever! Fine!" as the Mumbler reads out the detour instructions. They too will jump. As she says, this is the last detour, may as well do something risky for once. I like this attitude. It just screams "Sporting Winner". And she won. Excuse me while I go kick Bonghammer's ass in the eye.
"I'm holding for dear life," she continues, demonstrating it by hugging the Mumbler in a terrifyingly tight embrace. "With my eyes closed. Don't - let - go!"
She then whines whether he is proud of her. Oh give me a break! People have bungee jumped and rappled and skydived and you want people to give you a standing ovation because you finally consented to do one teeny-weeny drop? *&^% off, Flo!
The Mumbler tells her that he is proud of her.
Then... aaaah! Splash. One Hundred Percent Flodungka says that she is so excited and she is so proud that she did that. Yeah, yeah, whatever.
After some squabbling, the Tokens reach the detour last. Fiend is scared of heights, so Terror waits as he finally decides to jump too. Later, he will say that it is a wonderful experience and he will do it again. Terror is proud of him, but he just has to tell her that he never think twice about jumping - he only hesitated twice. Like I said, a creep to the core, that Fiend.
The clue after the detour asks all three teams to go to Kerry Park in Seattle. The Sibs and the Tools are in a full-blown duel of the Airport Mojo as they try to secure seats on the earliest flight to Seattle. How about the Tokens? Will they miss the flight?
Let's just say I owe Bonghammer six, wait, seven - oh, let's just say if our paths do cross, I'm gonna kick his ass in the eye until my legs can't take it any more. Creep! Bunching! I hate Bonghammer!
"Do you think we will let you get away without saying goodbye?" Fiend tells the other two teams, upon which the Sibs and the Tools take out their forks and stab the bastard to death. The cops come in, arrest everybody, and the winners this season are the Crack Whores who made one million grand defending the losers.
Oh my goodness, did I want the Crack Whores to win? Let me slap myself and we'll proceed with the show.
On the plane, all contemplate the final dash to the finish line, no doubt anticipating a long dash like last Season's cracked leg. The Sibs seem to be praying. They should. I can't see Fatty Sib outrunning the Mumbler. Then again, I don't think Flodungka can outrun anybody, while Terror may fumble as well. I'm not trying to be sexist here, but let's face it, those two women haven't demonstrated their ability to run long races, unlike, say, Rambette Girl. You can argue that the final dash favors the young and the athletic, and I'll tell you that this show isn't called a Race for nothing.
Anyway, once they leave their airport, it's a mad dash - a desperate one - for cabs. "Taxi! Taxi!" all the way. Even the Tokens are putting more force in their paces than before. A million dollars can make people do fantastic things.
It's only 15 miles to Kerry Park. Come on, come on!
A red light gives the Sibs a head start on the rest, but then their cab begins to slow down (the driver starts to talk into his phone). Bye, bye, the Tools say as they zoom past the Sibs. The Tools get a few minutes head start as they read the next clue: they must now find the International Fountain. Go! The Sibs are hot on their tails.
The Mumbler believes that they must head towards the Space Needle to find the Fountain. Alas, they overshoot the location of the fountain, an action that cost the Mumbler an earful of One Hundred Percent Flodungka's nagging. That gal is really giving this her one hundred percent, isn't she? Atta girl.
As a result, they miss the Sibs and the Tokens, the two teams now dashing to their next destination - Lincoln Park.
This one requires a cab to get there but getting a cab in this area can be harder than finding people who will give you a thousand dollars just for the heck of it. In this case, the Tools are luckier than the other two, but not so for the Mumbler, as Flodungka continues her one hundred percent ripping-him-a-new-one in the cab. "Stop giving directions if you're not sure, Zach!" she goes on and on and on.
The Tokens try to stop a cab, but upon seeing Fiend, the cab zooms away for dear life. Smart cab driver. The Tokens look on, frustration etched on their faces.
The Tools trample down Lincoln Park, where they find a road block. The Mumbler - any doubt he will be doing this? - must go to a totem pole and rotate the pieces on the pole so that the animal faces on one side is arranged in a chronological order in which the Racers encounter them in the duration of the Race. Let's see, it should be donkey first (remember the Crack Whores falling flat on their faces?), then dolphin, horse, goat and finally manatee (Terror in a bra, eeeuw!). The correct order will let the clue fall into the slot at the bottom.
While the Mumbler is trying to think, up comes the Tokens. Eh! Where are the Sibs?
"I love you!" That's One Hundred Percent Flodungka's words of encouragement to the Mumbler. My husband says that if she tells him that, he'll freeze up and goes into terror-induced shock at the spot. The Mumbler's a strong man indeed.
The Fiend is still trying to tackle the totem pole when the Mumbler solves the puzzle correctly and gets the clue. One Hundred Percent Flodungka stops the Mumbler from reading it - Terror is within earshot - and as Terror stares coldly at their backs, they dash away to, yes, the finish line. At the Gas Works Park, a million dollars await the first team to reach it.
"Taxi!" the Tools scream.
"Sir, I'm never so happy to see you," they babble to the cab driver that stops for them. "As fast as you can go without getting into trouble."
The Fiend finally solves it, and as they dash away, the Sibs run up to the totem poles, screwed by a cab driver who talked into his phone too much. "Good luck guys," Terror calls after the Sibs.
Anyway, soon the Sibs are off too. It's now all on the cab drivers now.
See what I mean? Doesn't this suck? No matter how well you have ran the race, it all boils down to cab drivers deciding whether they want to hand you the victory or not?
But I must admit, it makes good TV nonetheless. Damn, we Giggles are at the edge of our seats as the camera switches from each Team's faces as they yell (Tokens), pester (Tools), or bribe (the Sibs) their cab driver to go faster, faster, faster!
At the finish line, the great Philiminator himself, Sir Koughie de Manboobs, await, along with all the other teams who have been brought out from Sequesterville (it's near Seattle) to cheer the three teams running along the finish line. Then we see a cab stop, and we hear the sounds of doors closing. Who is it? Then - no! We actually scream in horror as we see the Mumbler and the One Hundred Percent Flodungka running down the grass.
"This can't be happening!" I shriek.
Okay, Drew the Blue is noticeably very excited, but it's funny to see Team Rhino shaking their heads at the sight of the winners. Wait, maybe Flodungka will do a Tarable and somebody, hopefully the Sibs, will do a Boston Bulldog.
"No!" No indeed as they make their way to the Grand Victory Mat with no problem. Along their way, they seem certain that the Sibs have beaten them, and I can hear Flodungka saying that it's okay, the Sibs deserve to win. Damn right, woman! Now get a leg cramp and wail while the Sibs overtake you.
But no. "We won? Shut up!" One Hundred Flodungka screams at Philo. Um, that "Shut up!" is supposed to be my line, bitch. Shut up! "I can't believe it," the Mumbler exclaims. "Are you sure?" Flodungka chimes in.
Yeah, are you sure, Philo? Please tell me this is a joke and that I've just spent the last three months watching a Candid Camera stunt on One Hundred Percent Flodungka.
A few minutes later, the Tokens run up. "We're coming! We're coming Phil!" Fiend yells. Okay, I confess that with the slow-mo music and all, it's quite... okayIshedatearbutdonttellanyone. Anyway, "You're all great," Fiend says. And you suck, asshole. Use your prize money and get some counselling.
Then, a few minutes later, the Sibs run up. They give a classy speech: "I was just so thrilled to come into that finish line and see all those other Teams cheering for us. I sort of forgot that we didn't win the million dollars. We made it to the final three and that's heaven. It's not a million dollars, but it put me on the moon." That's Fatty. Skinny, "Even though I was disappointed in not winning, I still felt real good. Also, my relationship with Ken has really improved and I think that's something we'll carry for the rest of our lives."
Meanwhile, One Hundred Percent Flodungka offers an apology to the Mumbler. "Zach is wonderful. He has miraculously been able to keep it together and keep me together. Had he not done as much as he did, I would not be here right now." She will keep apologizing even now in her post-show runs, and I would like to believe that she really means it. As she says in an interview after the race, she is embarrassed by her actions, but she says, "I'm 23, I can change."
Is anyone disturbed by how the Crack Whores throw themselves at the Mumbler? Flodungka jumps up and down and hugs Drew the Blue. Call me shallow, but they make a very attractive couple on the eyes.
So okay. Whatever. Good luck to you, Florinka Pesenti. Good luck with Drew and Zach. I'm going to pretend that this very unsatisfactory conclusion to an otherwise enjoyable season never happened, because while the Mumbler deserve something for putting up with his partner, none of them deserve to win this thing. All they did was to get a fast cab. That's not a race, that is luck of the draw. So yeah, the winning team of this season, just like the one in the previous one, isn't worthy in my opinion.
I hope they iron out the kinks in this race. I want to see a more balanced race that doesn't overly depend on luck to determine its winners. This is The Amazing Race, not the amazing roulette wheel.
Anyway, that's over and done with. See you guys when The Amazing Race 4 rolls in!
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