The Amazing Race 17 Season Finale Rankings

Twelfth episode

“Got GPS?”

COUNTRIES VISITED

UNITED KINGDOM – GHANA – SWEDEN – NORWAY – RUSSIA – OMAN – BANGLADESH – HONG KONG – SOUTH KOREA – UNITED STATES

Previously on TAR: Eleven teams set off on a race around the world for one million dollars. From the beginning, teams sank, crashed, and clashed.

Some got stuck, overheated, and overwhelmed. Along the way they experienced emotional highs and lows. Eight teams came up short.

Home shopping hosts Brook & Claire got off to a smashing pair. Along the way the pair maintained their sense of humour and sense of style as they overcame grueling tasks and the first ever Double U-Turn to secure their place in the Final Three.

In the first leg, dating couple Jill & Thomas won the Express Pass and later used its “game-changing” power (which it wasn’t) to avoid potential elimination. Then on the couple’s athleticism and strategic decisions took them all the way to the Final Three.

Doctors Nat & Kat approached the race with surgical precision using every tool at their disposal. Even in the face of insurmountable obstacles. The pair’s calm and steady attitude helped to earn them a spot in the Final Three.

Coming up tonight: One of these three teams will win the million dollar prize and The Amazing Race.

NUMBER OF EPISODES A TEAM HAS BEEN MENTIONED IN THE ‘PREVIOUSLY ON’ SEGMENT

CHAD & STEPHANIE 7
BROOK & CLAIRE 5
KEVIN & MICHAEL 4
NAT & KAT 4
JILL & THOMAS 4
CONNOR & JONATHAN 2
RON & TONY 1
ANDIE & JENNA 1
KATIE & RACHEL: 1
GARY & MALLORY: 1
NICK & VICKI: 1

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob Eubanks appears in this episode. It aired before he passed away a couple of years ago. ‘Tis an honour to speak about his presence in The Amazing Race franchise. Just like what I have done since my uncle Alvin passed, I hope whatever I do here today provides entertainment, smiles, laughter, and intelligence.

Phil described the Express Pass as a game-changing power. Ugh, whatever you say, Keoghan.

– Phil introduces us to Seoul. Its name means “capital city” (how appropriate and lame),  and with one of the most highly advanced infrastructures on the planet as well as dedicating itself to cutting edge technology.

Within the extremely sophisticated futuristic cityscape, the Temple of Heaven was built for South Korea’s only emperor.

los angeles phil keoghan

You can really hear Phil’s Kiwi accent when he tries to pronounce the word ’emperor’ as ’emperuh’.

– Jill & Thomas, who were the first to arrive at an unspecified time, will depart at 3:57am.

los angeles jill thomas

Thomas’ nerves are getting to him. Jill tries to get him to relax.

los angeles jill thomas 2

los angeles jill thomas 3

Isn’t this an odd situation? Jill is calming Thomas down as if it is his personal fight to ensure an all-female duo does not win this season, and he must serve as the champion for all men and anti-feminists everywhere.

– Thomas reads that they must fly to Los Angeles.

los angeles plane

On Korean Air? Not wise.

– A song plays in the background instantly as Phil talks about Los Angeles being the final destination city. I recognize the song immediately.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F57P9C4SAW4
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Yep, it is indeed Katy Perry’s California Girls.
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I mean California Gurls. I have spent the past five years thinking Katy knew how to spell.

All joking aside, this is important to point out because the TAR 15 finale used another Katy Perry song.

katy perry california gurls

“What? Being the only licensed pop artist in TAR? I wouldn’t dare hog the show like that.”

But she did.

katy perry waking up in vegas

Because Waking Up In Vegas was used when Las Vegas was introduced as the final destination city in TAR 15.

Do Bertram Van Munster and Katy Perry have a secret deal where she makes a hit song about the final destination city for the upcoming season right before it airs?

Although making that song about Wyoming in TAR 8 may have not been a big success.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do California Gurls and Waking Up in Vegas sound very similar to anyone else?

– When they land, they must travel to the Port of Long Beach and find Pier J to receive their next clue.

long beach port

Pier J of the LBC-P, motherf–ker.

– Jill has the greatest opening confessional of the season.

JILL: We have ran hard, worked hard, and played hard.

long beach jill thomas

Why the long look, Thomas?

zoe survivor

You didn’t know you were dating Zoe?

By the way, what is TAR’s obsession with Los Angeles?

Since TAR 11, this has been the first season to not have a LA starting line. We thought “hey, they found cities to use in the US other than Los Angeles”, but clearly if the race does not start in LA then it must finish there.

This will also apply to TAR 25 when they began the race in New York. Sure enough the journey ended in LA just three weeks later.

Ridiculous.

– You know what else is ridiculous? Between using California Gurls at the start of this episode, and making teams travel to Long Beach, production has been trying really hard to force me to reference Snoop Dogg once more.

katy perry snoop dogg

If I had known this, I would have eased off from talking about him both times during the South Korea leg!

2pac california love

If only production chose Tupac’s California Love. It would have been a much better choice than Katy Perry.

wave california

Hell, Wave’s California may have been a bit more bearable too. . .or maybe that’s just my childhood nostalgia coming into play. Wave may have been a one-hit wonder for a reason.

Sigh. I guess I can get over this. Five seconds of Katy Perry is not the worst thing in the world, I s’pose. Shall we proceed?

– Jill & Thomas are shown in the taxi.

THOMAS: I can break out my Spanish skills in Los Angeles finally.
JILL: Yeah.

long beach jill thomas 2

Yes Thomas, you received such a good post-secondary education that you are all too eager to show off your fluency in another language. Not to mention you are bragging about it in front of Jill. We get it. She didn’t go to some high end college to immerse herself in another language that you were privileged to attend.

– Brook warms up her hands as her and Claire depart at 4:23am. They have four hundred dollars for this leg of the race which they can use on all of the hookers and blow that they need to get to the finish line.

long beach brook claire

No wonder Brook is warming up her hands–she is cold from the withdrawal symptoms.

– Brook says her and Claire do well under pressure because that is their daily working environment.

long beach brook claire 2

I have a feeling Brook is having an easier time reading “Go to Long Beach Port” compared to “Drive yourselves to the North Korean border to the tongue rolling bridge, and cross the hagatanakana river.”

– Claire thinks that if Brook and her stayed focus to run a clean leg and use their communication skills, and everything they are blessed with, they will take first place.

long beach brook claire 3

That’s a long list of things to go right for you to win this leg, Claire.

long beach brook claire 4

“Yeah, maybe we won’t be the first all-female team to win. . .”

– Brook has one wish of her own.

BROOK: We need to beat Thomas. He’s just so hungry.

long beach thomas wolfard 2

And smug.

BROOK: We need to be as hungry as Thomas. And I am STARVING.

long beach brook claire 5

long beach brook claire 6

. . .

long beach brook claire 7

We’re not used to this level of competitive intensity from Brook. Energetic is one thing, but outright aiming to eliminate the competition is on a whole new level.

– Nat & Kat depart last at 4:27am. Yes, all three teams begin this round within thirty minutes of each other. That gap is approximately twenty-two times smaller compared to the gap between Nat & Kat and Nick & Vicki.

– They enter a cab as Nat produces the international signal for a telephone.

long beach nat strand

Although she looks more like she is at a punk rock concert at the moment.

– Kat reveals that they both lived in Los Angeles for four years.

hong kong rigged

What? They have a Hong Kong advantage and now they have a LA advantage? RIGGED!
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Actually all three teams are relatively familiar with Los Angeles.

Jill & Thomas: Spending nearly their whole lives in Marina Del Rey.
Brook: Originally from San Diego a.k.a. the second largest city.
Nat & Kat: From Newport Beach and Santa Monica.
Claire: Born in Reno, but has worked with a San Diego sports affiliate for a while now.

Furthermore, Kat explains that they went to UCLA together and that’s how they met. As somebody who went to university in Kelowna, I can tell you that you do not really get to explore the city surrounding your campus due to the lack of time during the school year.

Unless you don’t take your studies seriously, of course.

NAT: Hopefully it’s a sign of good mojo for the rest of the leg.

long beach nat kat

Good mojo?

mojo cry

If I know anything about the history of The Amazing Race, there is no such thing as “good mojo”.

– Kat is used to do bring it at their toughest moments even when tired at their job.

– Jill & Thomas are first to the airport as the sun rises.

long beach jill thomas 3

“Time to do crunches in flip flops.”

long beach turbo

You know you have played too many racing games when you think the arrows on the ground are turbo boosts.

– Brook & Claire enter the airport next. Brook low fives Thomas.

long beach brook claire 8

If Brook was truly starving, she would eat Thomas’ hand.

– Jill pipes in.

JILL: You two look cute in your matching outfits.

What matching outfits? Ugh, let’s ignore what Jill says for now.

QUESTION: What do you call two shopping hosts who intentionally mark up the price for the items they are selling?

ANSWER:
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long beach brook claire 9

long beach brook claire 10

Cheetahs.

– BROOK: Traveling around the world on this race we wanted to leave a little bit of Brook and Claire flair everywhere we went. We decided to bring additional flair for the final leg.

long beach brook claire 11

“Sprinkle some flair here, sprinkle some flair there. . .”

long beach brook claire 12

Yes, Brook even announces their flair. Doesn’t that break some sort of etiquette?

long beach thomas wolfard 3

“This is the team that has been my strongest competition since the start of the race?”

cheetahmen

“A team whose wardrobe for the final round is inspired by one of the worst video games of all time?”

– Nat & Kat are last to the airport. Nat is happy there are two all-female teams at the end.

long beach brook claire 13

In 2015, viewers would find this factoid yawn-worthy.

Given the current climate surrounding feminism in North America, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nat making a remark like that would be deemed controversial as some viewers may get all upset saying “Oh, she’s turning it into a man-hating gender. . .thingy”.

Truth of the matter is that most of the all-female teams in the US version sucked in the first sixteen seasons. I won’t bother rehashing the list of the limited exceptions once more, but it is a big deal that we’ve got teams of Brook & Claire and Nat & Kat’s calibre in the final leg of the race.

oman ida tania 7

If it were the Asian version, it would be a case of “been there, done that”.

– Nat’s factoid turns into a discussion of Thomas being the only guy.

long beach thomas wolfard 4

“What the f–k did I do to you, Nat?”

JILL: You are the last man standing.

long beach airport

If only they sat in a circle like this in Long Beach during the 60s. Hell, you’d probably still have two women in cheetah pants and bows in their hair back then too. It would be a much more interesting experience for Thomas.

– NAT: Thomas is going to have to race his butt off to avoid being beat by the girls.

Am I missing something? Are there additional stakes involved if Thomas loses to a pair of women? Will he have to go through castration?

long beach nat kat 2

Which I guess certainly helps if you have two anaesthesiologists around for the procedure.

– You know it is early in the morning because Jill sounds super stoned. That’s what twelve rounds of the race does to you.

JILL: You’re just one of the girls.
KAT: He’s a girl.
BROOK: So pedicures later?

long beach brook claire 14

long beach brook claire 15

Brook laughing at her own jokes once more.

long beach thomas wolfard 5

“I can’t believe I am thinking this, but I really hoped Connor & Jonathan would be here instead right now. Maybe even that YouTube kid too.”

Imagine if you replaced Thomas with Dan Foley from Survivor: Worlds Apart in this situation, and Jill was his daughter?

JILL: You’re one of the girls, Dan.
DAN: . . .
KAT: Oooo, you’re one of the girls.
DAN: . . .
NAT: One of the girls!
KAT: Tee hee.
DAN: Nat.
BROOK: Want to get a pedicure later?
(Everyone laughs but DAN.)
DAN: Brook. I mean it.
CLAIRE: Yeah, time to put on a bra and pick some flowers–
(Everyone laughs again but DAN. His face going red.)
DAN: Yeah, and your mother is a whore too.
(Everyone pretends to think this is not what DAN said.)
BROOK: Then he can go jazzle his va–
DAN: SHUT THE F–K UP, BROOK!
EVERYONE ELSE: Wow, uh. Geez. Okay, Dan.
DAN: I’m tired of being the victim all of the time. You are all promoting misandry and I for one do not like it!

Then Dan watches the episodes at home and becomes the least popular contestant of all time. The end.

– We fast forward to 6:30am. Brook & Claire used some of their four hundred bucks to purchase Starbucks coffee. Everybody is at the Korean Air counter. I am confident they are all on the same flight.

long beach agent

And why does a Korean Air travel agent have a sign by his keyboard with a bald eagle beside the words “We The People”?

– Yep. Everybody is on the same flight. You know that intense close-up they do of each racer as the final plane prepares to take off?

long beach brook roberts

Well, Brook is the first person to have one while wearing a freakin’ bright pink bow on the side of her head like she is a first grade student named Emily.

Be prepared for The Amazing Race Canada 4 when I will be the first to run the final leg with a man bun.

long beach nat strand 2

Nat tries her best with the close-up, but she is clearly uncomfortable.

long beach kat chang

long beach claire champlin

See? Kat and Claire know how to pull it off.

– The flight takes off and. . .

long beach seoul

F–K THIS! Katy Perry’s California Gurls starts playing again. While it’s a ten second segment for the viewers at home, the passengers on the plane had to listen to it for ten straight hours.

long beach seoul 2

Right about here is where the pilot ejected himself from the plane and safely landed on a sand bar in the ocean. Or maybe it was an atoll. I don’t know.

long beach flight

Somehow the flight lands in LA. Nobody flew with Korean Air ever again.

– Apparently it is now time to do some sight-seeing of the Mecca of TAR.

long beach scenery

The infamous traffic!

long beac pier

The Santa Monica Pier where Jim took a nail to the knee and Gredenko lost his arm!

long beach water

japan garrett jessica 3

Ah! The California beaches where countless dating couples on TAR have filmed their audition tape including the famed Garrett & Jessica.

I doubt the water is as fiery as Jessica, ohohohoho!

long beach scenery 2

Oh em gee! The Griffith Observatory AND the Kodak Theatre? These three teams really deserve the red carpet treatment, m i rite?

long beach sunset

And lastly, Sunset Boulevard. All of these iconic landmarks in one city. I feel like a wide-eyed motherf–ker in a candy store just by watching this.

– Teams finally land in LAX.

long beach lax

Where international travel is anything but lax.

– Oh yeah, the Katy Perry song goes on for an awkwardly extended period of time as Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire are running out of the plane and the song is still playing.

long beach brook claire 16

Or that guy is playing the song really loud through his headphones.

– For some reason, the song stops abruptly when Jill & Thomas are shown exiting the plane. The intense TAR showdown music takes over. Thank god.

– Nat & Kat are first into a cab; Jill & Thomas are second. Brook & Claire appear to be a few minutes behind.

NAT: I’m glad you are a fast driver. We really need a good taxi driver today.

No kidding.

THOMAS: Let’s hit this man. Bob and weave, please.

long beach taxi

This is confusing because his real name is Bob Weaver.

– Brook says she would rather be in LA traffic than Bangladesh traffic.

long beach brook roberts 2

These three teams will be the only residents of California who will see a traffic jam in LA and think “you know what? It’s not so bad.”

– Nat & Kat observe cranes and platforms high up in the air as they approach the pier. Nat is starting to put this information together.

NAT: I am wondering if we are going on those platforms.
**Confessional cut.**
NAT: I hate heights. They’re not my biggest thing. It’s my biggest fear.

long beach brook claire 17

Kat expresses great sympathy.

long beach nat kat 3

Look at how much Nat’s tongue is pushed against her cheek. It is ready to burst through to the other side.

– Nat & Kat have their clue. They are welcomed to “the drop zone”. Much like TAR 25’s LA port, we are told this is the second busiest port in America.

the wire pier

Yes, even busier  than the pier in Baltimore.

Apparently over fourteen thousand cargo nets pass through each day. Fun fact.

long beach crane

long beach crane 2

This number is indeed believable.

– Phil says teams will ride a tiny elevator to the top of the crane. Receive a clue, get strapped into a bungee swing, and plummet 150 feet towards the water. Yeah, they won’t even be touching the water. Weak.

– Nat wants to go fast because she doesn’t want to think about it. She reflects on past points in the season where she freaked out about doing the heights task (e.g. only the gondola task).

long beach nat kat 4

KAT: Nat, you’re fine. We’re on a gondola. We’re on a gondola. We’re on a gondola. We’re on an unstable gondola that hasn’t been upgraded in over sixty years in the middle of the Arctic Circle. It is wobbly and if we fall we will certainly die, but you’re fine.

long beach nat strand 3

“Why aren’t Kat’s reassurances working?”

– Nat wants somebody to hold her hand, but nobody does. She says before the race her heart would go super fast even if she thought about a heights task.

long beach nat strand 4

“Should’ve stayed home and had a V8.”

NAT: I really don’t want to think about it because I’ll start losing my mind.
KAT: Take deep breaths Natty, we’ll be fine.

long beach nat strand 5

Or take several rapid shallow ones.

– Jill & Thomas and Brook & Claire enter the pier. Nat & Kat go inside of the elevator.

long beach nat kat 5

hayley helmet

Evidently Kat went to the Hayley School of Helmet Wearing.

long beach nat kat 6

Thankfully Nat also isn’t claustrophobic.

– She asks if she can have her eyes closed when pushed off the ledge. I would be amazed if production is able to find a way to force her eyes open.

– Jill & Thomas are in the cab as they see the cranes. Thomas wonders aloud if it is bungee. Jill doesn’t know, and also panics.

long beach jill haney

long beach jill haney 2

long beach jill haney 3

long beach jill haney 4

It’s like somebody being blue shell’d for the first time.

– Brook & Claire comment on the obvious.

CLAIRE: They’ve got the free falling thing you don’t like, Brook.
BROOK: Oh dear. I think it’s about to happen, and I’m going to have to deal with it.

long beach brook roberts 4

kid nation taylor

“DEAL WITH IT, BROOK!”

long beach brook roberts 3

Geez, Taylor. Tone it down.

– Nat & Kat are on top of the crane. Jill & Thomas are second to the clue box.

long beach clue

Which we get to take a full look at the clue.

– We see a camera operator walking backwards as he films Nat & Kat. At one point we see him have to lift his right leg over an obstacle as he continues to move backwards.

long beach camera

Now that would be a tough task. You sir are impressive.

– Claire screams after Brook reads the clue. They are screaming, and it “hasn’t even started yet”, as Rupert would say.

– Kat is first to walk out onto the ledge. Nat talks about her strategy.

NAT: It’s mind over matter. I’m thinking I’ll be okay. I don’t really believe any of that but I’m trying to save myself right now.

– Jill & Thomas see Nat on the crane.

long beach nat strand 6

Yes, they only figured that out in this moment.

long beach thomas wolfard 6

Thomas has as much sympathy as Nat does.

– Jill hopes Nat can’t do it and they get to bypass her. What are the odds of that?

long beach nat strand 7

Surprisingly high right now.

long beach kat chang 2

“Don’t screw me over a million dollars, biatch.”

singapore hussein sutadisastra 12

I thought a team would never ever quit a mandatory heights challenge in the final leg, but Hussein found a way to surprise us all.

– Commercial break. We resume. Nat opts to take a four hour penalty. Jill & Thomas are now in the lead.

– Nah, just kidding. Thomas promises Jill he will hold her hand during the leap.

long beach brook claire 18

Brook & Claire share a headbutt.

BROOK: I don’t understand this. Do you?
CLAIRE: Does it just drop?

long beach brook roberts 5

“I hope not. . .”

– Nat slowly walks along the platform.

NAT: Can I close my eyes?
INSTRUCTOR: Not yet.

long beach kat chang 3

Kat just hangin’ out alone.

long beach jill haney 5

So is Jill. Only Thomas and Kat are not afraid of this challenge.

– Nat is now hanging on the edge with Kat. How is she doing?

long beach nat strand 8

Wonderful.

it gets better

I wonder if the It Gets Better campaign can also apply to people who are about to experience a bungee jump?

long beach nat kat 7

long beach nat kat 9

The power of friendship!

– The guy counts down and releases Nat & Kat.

long beach nat strand 9

Cue Nat’s eyes being closed.

long beach nat kat 8

beastie boys drop

Mmmmm drop!

– They drop and the bungee begins acting like a giant swing.

long beach nat kat 10

“Weeeeeeeee!”

– The other two teams react to Nat & Kat’s drop.

long beach jill thomas 4

Jill feels even worse than she did before.

BROOK: WHAT?!

long beach brook roberts 6

long beach brook roberts 7

That also applies to Brook.

tyler denk mom

She might be the daughter of Tyler Denk’s mother.

– Nat & Kat are finally slowing down on their bungee swing.

KAT: As soon as we finished, she said “this is the scariest thing I have ever done and I’m not doing it again.”

Producers should make her do it for a second time just for the hell of it. Everyone on the race thinks you  do the jump once and that’s it. Making people do it a second time would be an incredible twist. Potentially boring television if nobody is scared, but still hilarious.

– Nat & Kat land on a tiny square target in the water.

long beach nat kat 11

What is this?

pilotwings land

Pilotwings?

NAT: I didn’t even pee my pants!

long beach nat kat 12

The first sign that somebody peed their pants is if they say “I didn’t even pee my pants”. Fact.

– Jill & Thomas drop next. Producers only show them for a few seconds before Nat & Kat return to the ground. Nat discovers a new love.

long beach nat strand 10

NAT: I’ve never loved asphalt so much.

long beach nat strand 11

Unfortunately Nat will have to wait five years before the SCOTUS ruling will legally sanction it.

– While Kat tries to give a confessional about how proud she is of Nat for doing something she was terrified to do, the serious atmosphere is disrupted by the fact a safety instructor is struggling with a strap around Kat’s crotch.

long beach kat chang 4

Oh c’mon! We know full well he could get the strap off a few seconds earlier. It isn’t that difficult!

– Nat & Kat read a clue which tells them to ride a helicopter to a surprise destination. Nat does not fear helicopters.

– Brook & Claire say their final words to each other before the final drop.

long beach brook roberts 8

Because you may never have the chance to say those words again.

BROOK: I just don’t like free falling. Just to free drop is not my bag.

long beach brook claire 19

I don’t think that’s a saying, Brook.

BROOK: That’s when I just about lost my bananas.

long beach brook claire 20

The constant bright colours, the watermelon to the face, one of them always having a flower in their hair, and now discussion of bananas? I think we are a pineapple and a Don Ho song away from Brook & Claire converting to Hawaiinism.

– Brook screams and screams and screams and screams as they swing. She manages to hold the note of her last scream for a good four seconds.

clue scream 2

If Brook was Mrs. Peacock from Clue, Mr. Green would have been inclined to slap her in the face by now.

long beach brook claire 21

I love how she tries to use her right hand to control the speed of the swing. Ain’t gonna happen, Brook.

– Jill & Thomas are second to have their clue and read that this is to beat the freeway traffic. They start running.

long beach jill thomas 5

get to the choppa

“RUN! GET TO THE CHOPPA!”

They are in California and refuse to use the former governor? Disappointed.

long beach brook claire 22

Brook & Claire bond together as they also land on the square target.

BROOK: I thought I was gonna die! I’v never been so happy to see a dingy or a Scuba Steve in my entire life!

long beach brook claire 23

A Scuba Steve reference?

scuba steve

While I may have referenced Scuba Steve a couple seasons earlier, Brook is the first TAR contestant to do so. Big Daddy was already well over ten years old by the time TAR 17 aired.

– Claire is shocked to see they will be riding a helicopter.

long beach brook claire 24

Oh snap.

– We now cut to the helicopters.

long beach helicopter

Helicopters tend to be occasionally used during a TAR finale. I am sure somebody out there knows the exact count. Off the top of my head I think of TAR 11, 17, 20, and 24.

Okay, maybe not that many.

– Nat & Kat say they have never been in a helicopter before. Jill & Thomas are next.

THOMAS: I wonder where we are going.

long beach jill thomas 6

It’s almost as if it is a mystery or a surprise destination.

– Brook & Claire are loving this more than any other round (even though they are last).

– That classical soundtrack you hear in every movie when a military marches or a space ship blasts off begins to play. Jill & Thomas attempt to solve another mystery.

long beach helicopter 2

long beach helicopter 3

What do you know?

long beach nat kat 13

This is what a team looks like when leading during the final leg of the race.

long beach brook roberts 9

I love how Los Angeles is treated as the only city in all of the United States on The Amazing Race.

long beach helicopter 4

Don’t we have a finale to get to or are we going to watch helicopters for the next thirty minutes?

– Nat & Kat observe that there is a stadium up ahead.

long beach stadium

“You’re going back to the TAR 4 starting line!”

– Nah, just kidding. It’s the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena. Nat & Kat figure out that’s where they are.

long beach rose bowl

I wonder if there is a Goodyear blimp constantly hovering above the Rose Bowl. How else would they get this shot of the helicopter?

– Nat & Kat disembark and run to an unusual clue box.

long beach abc

I think it’s the first time that teams show up and have to pick from A-B-C. Apparently it is easier than the traditional 1-2-3.

– It’s the final Roadblock.

long beach nat kat 14

I think it is long established that I would prefer the Sir Richard Rose Bowl.

rose

Although the prize money is substantially lower.

– Phil explains to us that the Rose Bowl is one of the most famous stadiums in the world (I know that is not true because I never heard of this place until today), and the beloved Tournament of Roses parade is a beloved New Year’s Day event for over one hundred years.

long beach rose

New Year’s Day and no snow? This is a strange sight for a Canadian like me. Maybe it was just an unusual year.

long beach rose 2

A super creepy float, but no snow here either.

long beach rose 3

Dang. There’s never any snow on New Year’s? Bizarre.

– Phil says teams will be facing a task that requires mental and physical stamina to complete this difficult feat. What is this task, exactly?

long beach phil keoghan

Building dreams, friendships, and memories. The hardest thing to do in life.

– Just kidding. They have to decorate a float that would normally take ten thousand man hours (what about woman hours considering who the Final Three is?) to complete, but instead all they have to do is decorate three sections of an official float in the Tournament of Roses competition. Once the floral designer approves of their job, the 2009 Rose Queen will give them their next clue.

long beach person

That is not the type of person I picture to be a floral director.

long beach queen

rose mcgowan

I really wanted her to be the Rose Queen.

rose mcgowan 2

Although I am afraid she would have kidnapped Brook for being Ms. Popular and have her in the trunk of her car.

“They were just going out for breakfast on her birthday! The jawbreaker was just a mistake, I tell you!!!!”

– Nat is observing what the expert is doing on the other float as an example.

First step: Glue the flowers onto the edge of the float.

long beach rose 4

It is boring to watch people glue flowers on a float as the final Roadblock of the season.

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The contestants get the short end of the deal as their assigned section to glue forces them to crouch or kneel.

Second step: Putting sticks into holders then place it into styrofoam on the float.

– Nat says this is not her thing because she is a left brain person.

– Jill & Thomas arrive at the task. They have had a strategy where the Roadblock count for their team is designed for Thomas to do the final task.

long beach roadblock

And leave it to a season with five female racers at the end where the lone male is stuck with a Roadblock hint that says “Who’s bright enough to float?”

This is by far the most feminine final Roadblock they have done in TAR history. Jill & Thomas regret their strategy immediately.

long beach jill thomas 7

Woops. My bad.

long beach thomas wolfard 7

The Tournament of Roses: Destroying Thomas’ Dreams, Friendships, and Amazing Race Memories

– Thomas says he is not crafty or a decorator and would have been better for Jill to do.

long beach jill haney 6

If only Thomas didn’t drop An Introduction To Float Decorating 111 in his first year at Notre Dame.

– Jill observes Thomas’ lack of craftiness. They talk about how it was a mistake. Jill was hoping for something involving upper body strength.

– Brook is in the helicopter and identifies the stadium.

BROOK: I LOVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!!!

long beach brook claire 25

Americans and their obsession over football. Something I will never understand.

– Brook opens the clue. You can identify the exact microsecond where she comprehends what the Roadblock task is for today.

long beach brook claire 26

BROOK: . . .

long beach brook claire 27

long beach brook claire 28

BROOK: !!!!

long beach brook claire 29

long beach brook claire 30

Geez. Brook is going to be the first person to have a heart attack on the race out of pure excitement.

long beach brook claire 31

She might also be the first person to start freakin’ dancing with the clue.

long beach jill haney 7

“wtf brook?”

CLAIRE: That had Brook all over it. I’m like “there’s the crown, there’s the sash”. Go ahead. This is all Brook. It’s what she does in her free time.

long beach brook claire 32

“Go play with your friends, but remember to be home by six.”

long beach brook roberts 10

Who puts mustard on a petal?

– Brook talks about her history of being on floats and her “float brigade”. These are her people.

long beach thomas wolfard 8

These are not Thomas’ people.

– Nat continues to copy the example. Thomas is going as fast as possible to make sure he is doing everything correctly. Not sure what that logic is, but whatever. Nat asks for a check. Everything is good except her flowers aren’t prepped correctly.

– Intense music begins to play. I don’t think flower decorating can be seen as exciting no matter how hard you try.

– Nat’s float is now approved.

long beach nat strand 13

Yes. See our supreme leader.

long beach nat strand 14

When I think of supreme leaders, I think of Alanis Morisette. I guess this is close enough.

– Nat opens the next clue after a brief hug with Kat. It’s a riddle. Who jumped over the candlestick?

long beach question

No, it’s a bit more difficult this season. Teams must answer these three questions and combine them to create their next route marker location.

– Nat & Kat run away to the row of taxis waiting for them.

long beach final

“Good luck!”

long beach jill claire

“Bastards.”

– Nat & Kat decide to only go with a taxi driver who has an iPhone. Wow, this really is 2010.

long beach nat kat 15

Did producers arrange for exactly three taxis to show up to the Rose Bowl? If so, wouldn’t it be unfair if one of those taxi drivers really sucks at their job?

– The first driver doesn’t have an iPhone. There is actually a lot of taxis waiting. They enter the second cab.

(NAT is holding a Motorola Razr in her hand.)
NAT & KAT: Sancho Panza?
DRIVER: Yeah.
KAT: Do you know or no?
DRIVER: . . .

long beach nat kat 16

. . .
.
.
.

long beach nat kat 17

“Linguistic barrier within Pasadena? Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

long beach man

“What the hell did I do?”

– Lots of cheering. Nat & Kat have yet to find a cab. Commercial break.

– We resume. Nat & Kat approach a driver.

NAT: Who is Sancho Panza?

long beach nat kat 18

I bet cabs have a tough time wrapping their head around being asked a ‘Who?’ question rather than a ‘Where?’ question. That’s not in their job description. Maybe they should ask the police officer who Sancho Panza is. He could be some sort of Pasadena bandit.

– Thomas is second to complete the Roadblock. Brook clearly didn’t make up any time.

– Nat & Kat get into a cab and use the cell phone to call an information centre and ask them to use Google. Jill & Thomas are in the same situation with their cab driver.

long beach jill haney 8

After he couldn’t answer the questions himself, of course.

– Nat is using the cell phone as she awaits her Google request.

long beach nat kat 19

Ouch.

NAT: Please, I’m in a race for lots of money. It’s very important.
DISPATCHER: Okay. What’s my cut?

long beach nat kat 20

“Er, the prize is in Canadian money. It’s not worth much, trust me.”

long beach nat kat 21

Note to all future racers: Say it won’t be long and exploit the foot-in-the-door approach as much as possible.

long beach jill thomas 8

It’s stressful Jill & Thomas’ driver is hesitant to give up his cell phone.

– Jill is given the cell phone and begins speaking to dispatch.

long beach jill thomas 9

long beach jill thomas 10

But those privileges are immediately taken away.

long beach driver

I think he needs some Sancho Prozac.

– Back at the Roadblock, Brook praises the adhesiveness of some of the material before finishing the task. She skips and hops when she sees the princess.

BROOK: Ah! It’s a princess! Hi! I love your crown!

long beach brook roberts 11

Yippeee!

– Thomas is on the phone. The dispatcher does not have Internet or Google.

long beach jill thomas 11

What business in 2010 doesn’t have Internet? Incredible.

long beach nat kat 21

Nat’s dispatching service, however, does. Geez, I wonder which one does better financially?

– The dispatcher HANGS UP on Thomas and Thomas starts badgering the driver.

THOMAS: Does anybody not have Internet at their house?

long beach jill thomas 12

“And if you say they don’t, I will start wiping your car seats with my rose hand.”

– The driver does not fully understand what is going on, but tries to be helpful.

long beach jill thomas 14

GPSs might be smarter than you think, Thomas. In forty metres, turn right onto Panza’s master.

THOMAS: No sir, sir, listen, listen!

long beach jill thomas 15

The GPS can talk to the rose hand because Thomas don’t wanna hear it.

– I am pretty sure the guy’s first language is Spanish. For some reason Thomas is not showing off his espanol skills.

THOMAS: Listen to me. I need. Somebody. To do an Internet search for us.

long beach jill thomas 17

I feel bad for the driver who has to listen to Thomas wile trying to not think about the dead body Thomas appeared to chop up with his demented hand.

andross

Even Andross’ hand raises fewer questions from the taxi driver.

THOMAS: A Gooooogle search.

long beach jill thomas 16

Goooooooogle. You know, like the first million dollar question on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?

– The taxi driver responds in a way that confirms this guy must be fairly old.

long beach jill thomas 18

lol

– In the clue at the bottom has three blanks followed by Studios. Nat pieces this together and asks the dispatcher if there is a place called Quixote Studios.

– Thomas makes one last plea.

THOMAS: The Internet? Do you know what the Internet is?
DRIVER:. . .

long beach driver 2

“Do I?”

long beach driver 3

Wow. Fifteen years since a computer with Internet became a household fixture and this guy has yet to be exposed to it.

Can you imagine if he tried to understand Nat & Kat’s request for an iPhone? That might take an additional fifteen years.

– Brook & Claire enter a taxi. Claire instantly declares they need Internet.

BROOK: Can you take us to a place that has Internet? We need Internet.
DRIVER: . . .

long beach brook claire 33

Yes?

long beach man 2

“Inter. . .what?”

– Nat and the dispatcher are working together as she tells her there is a place called Quixote Studios. She directs Kat to tell the driver to go there.

long beach nat kat 23

We have nine people working together on these clues and Nat is the only one making any progress.

NAT: Can you take us to Quixote Studios?
DRIVER: . . .Hotel Studios?
NAT: Quixote Studios.
DRIVER: Quixote Studios????

long beach driver 4

So let me get this straight. We have five out of six racers who have a great familiarity with Los Angeles. Three taxi drivers who also have been driving around town for years. This is 2010, and they have all of the technology in the world to either figure out this puzzle or know where Quixote Studios is.

The fact very little progress has been made is amazing.

– Brook & Claire go the safe route as they ask their driver to take them to a hotel.

– Thomas’ driver is using the cell phone. Thomas begs to use it again but refuses to give it up. Wow.

JILL: Oh my god. This is crazy. This is crazy. We need to get off.

long beach driver 5

This is the part where he automatically locks all doors.

long beach jill thomas 19

Jill tries to give sign language a shot.

long beach jill thomas 20

Jill is frozen as she maintains the pose hoping the taxi driver understands what she wants and gives her the phone.

long beach driver 6

And this is why I will never ever say Gino & Jesse have had bad luck with taxi drivers.

long beach jill thomas 21

Jill stabs her hand with a pen just to stop herself from uttering a ‘F’ bomb or throwing the taxi driver out of the cab to make it an impromptu self-drive leg.

long beach jill thomas 22

I am surprised they have not opted to go with a new taxi yet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you recall earlier how I thought it was suspicious a bunch of taxis were waiting outside of the Rose Bowl? Well, many places online firmly believe non-English speaking taxi drivers were dispatched to the Rose Bowl. This explains why all three teams have been struggling to communicate with their driver.

In other words, they are bound to be in better shape if they jump out, right? Not necessarily.

Pasadena’s demographic is 33% Hispanic. Therefore, they have a one-in-three (or higher since minorities tend to be taxi drivers) of finding another driver who may not speak fluent English.

– Nat fires away her next question of “I am the place to hear the Symphony in the Glen”. The dispatcher instantly answers with Griffith Park.

– Brook & Claire arrive at the hotel.

long beach brook roberts 12

The twist: The hotel only has dial up.

– Just kidding. They enter a room with a computer and two attendants. Brook shows her short list of trivia questions.

long beach brook roberts 13

It’s 2010. Nobody reads books anymore.

long beach brook claire 34

Claire isn’t checking answers, by the way. She is logging into her Facebook. It has been three weeks and is suffering from major social media withdrawals!

– Jill & Thomas’ taxi driver continues to be hilarious.

long beach driver 7

JILL: No. We need to go to a computer.
(DRIVER points to his GPS.)
JILL (recycled audio clip from earlier): No, that’s your GPS. That’s not a computer.

long beach driver 8

JILL: No.
THOMAS: All we need is somebody with a phone.

I bet this would be solved if Thomas started speaking Spanish which he loves bragging about.

long beach jill thomas 23

JILL: No, that’s not a computer sir! Thank you for the offer.

long beach jill thomas 24

I am amazed Jill & Thomas have not tried an alternate strategy yet.

long beach driver 9

“I don’t get them. When I go out, all I need is a Swiss army knife and a GPS. After that I can survive for at least a month.”

– We cut to Quixote Studios.

long beach quixote

If Phil says this is the most famous studios in the world, he deserves to be kicked in the kiwis.

– Nat & Kat only needed the answers to the first two questions because they already knew Monroe’s Year of the Itch was seven (The Seven Year Itch).

When combined, the answer is Quixote Studios Stage 7 in Griffith Park.

Yes, floral design and Marilyn Monroe trivia on the final leg of the race. Did we mention how this season is dominated by all-female teams?

long beach nat kat 25

This is a rare finale where the same team has held onto the lead from the moment they enter the final destination city.

KAT (reading clue): Hat’s entertainment!

– Phil chimes in that since the invention of television, Hollywood game shows have tested people’s knowledge of trivia. After twelve exhausting legs, teams will be tested if they have been paying attention to everything around them.

And by everything around them, it is just the pit stop greeters.

long beach price

“Get your Plinko board sprayed or neutered.”

long beach card

Card Sharks?

– Anyways, what should have teams been paying attention to?

final hat challenge

Well, this wall is a big hint. There is the Croatian greeter from TAR 12 just above the woman from the TAR 4 beach round in Malaysia (I think). I think the guy below her might be from TAR 14’s India round (the nose flute guy).

So do teams have to know every pit stop greeter in TAR history?

– Flashing high above the teams are pictures of 48 different people wearing hats.

final hat challenge 2

Which includes the TAR 11 Chile construction guy in the Valley of the Moon and the TAR 10 Vietnam lady, I believe.

final hat challenge 3

Eleven of these forty-eight people are greeters from this season who welcomed them into the pit stop (Phil leaves out that the other thirty-seven are greeters as well).

The guy second from the top left corner in the red hat was the second pit stop in TAR 4. The guy in the second row and third from the left was the greeter from the Sphinx.
The guy in the top row one spot away from the top right corner was the Australia greeter who saw BJ with no pants.
The guy in the third row and second from the left was the Kazakhstan greeter in TAR 13.
Oh, and the guy in the bottom right corner is definitely from TAR 7.

– Using the control pad in front of them, teams must type in the number assigned to the hat-wearing greeter and select the eleven greeters and put them in the correct spots.

final hat challenge 4

Well, that makes things a bit easier. Plus it has a GPS.

final hat challenge 5

When done correctly, this is what their final board will look like.

NOTE: There is a Wiki page which lists all of the greeters in TAR history divided by season. It should be noted I was right on the six or seven I committed myself to guessing in the past few minutes.

ANOTHER NOTE: It would have been much funnier if they included Ian and his hat and pretend he was a pit stop greeter.

ian fish

See?

– Once done correctly, legendary host (and presently dead) Bob Eubanks will give them their next clue.

long beach bob eubanks

wayne newman

What is with TAR 15 and TAR 17 picking people who they thought were going to die in the next few years to give out the final clue for the race? Did they scan through a list of ageing beloved American entertainers and decide “hey, let’s give this guy a shout”?

paul begala

Am I the only one who thinks Paul Begala could be Bob Eubanks’ long lost son?

long beach bob eubanks 2

Give it twenty years and maybe Paul Begala will get a call to do the TAR 67 finale.

– Bob has to do a promo for a show that he doesn’t even host.

BOB: I’m Bob Eubanks. This is so exciting! Watch!

long beach bob eubanks 3

Which is also the same word he used to introduce his own sex tape.

long beach bob eubanks 4

Geez, they even give Bob the sparkly tooth treatment? Who the hell does he think he is?

jim misti raman

Jim & Misti?

swanky kong

Did they all think “let’s just copy Swanky Kong’s style?”

– We get one more glimpse of the board before we cut to Nat & Kat. It turns out they play each pit stop greeter’s intro in full motion video for a second before the monitors switch.

long beach man 3

This guy has issues. Apparently he is from the eighth round of TAR 2.

long beach bob eubanks 5

It is Bob Eubanks’ first bit of exposure to sunlight all day long.

long beach nat kat 26

Bob keeps up a steady jogging pace as the silhouettes run to their appointed station.

mario party 5

I haven’t seen silhouettes run around this much since I had to choose a save file for Mario Party 5.

long beach bob eubanks 6

In a jerk move by production, the leading team is assigned the station furthest from the door. The other two teams are able to make up five seconds just like that because they will have to run a shorter distance to their stations.

long beach bob eubanks 7

Evidently, Bob Eubanks is assigning himself the middle station. Perhaps he is such a big TAR fan that he can complete this task through process of elimination because he recognizes the other thirty-seven greeters.

– I can’t imagine Jill & Thomas’ taxi driver being able to operate the control pad. Nat & Kat try to look for the Eastnor guy.

long beach eastnor

“Welcome to Eastnor. Normally I would show off my long flowing hair underneath, but producers insisted I wear this ridiculous helmet! I said give me a few extra pounds and I’ll don this costume.”

long beach nat kat 27

Nat points him out on the board.

long beach eastnor 2

“Here at The Amazing Race, you’re not just a number to us! . . .Actually, you are.”

– Kat is certain when she sees the Accra lady. It turns out it is the rural Ghana lady.

long beach nat kat 22

Don’t trust a zombie on a task like this.

– Nat says the Accra round was in a market and the other was a school. Kat realizes their error and makes the swap. The background likely helped.

long beach ghana 2

Market lady.

long beach ghana

School lady.

It should be noted Nat & Kat have yet to find the market lady. Nat is overwhelmed.

long beach nat kat 28

Bob should start imitating Jeff Probst and constantly comment on Nat & Kat’s progress.

In fact, he should have copied Jeff Probst’s commentary in Survivor: Fiji’s day 27 immunity challenge by saying “Nat & Kat switch the market lady into leg three. . .and it’s a good thing they did, Nat & Kat win the clue!” or something like that.

– Nat & Kat go with who they think belongs in leg 2.

final hat challenge 6

Oh my word. That’s the greeter from the very first pit stop in TAR history. Nat & Kat just mixed up an Africa leg in 2010 with an Africa leg in 2001.

He started the hat-wearing trend of pit stop greeters. Hey Bertram and Elise, give this guy his goddamn royalties!

KAT: I don’t remember seeing him, but okay.

Eh, it was only nine years.

– Brook & Claire are researching the final answer.

long beach man 4

When a camera is pointed at your face, I guess you have no choice but to do your job for once. Why is the camera filming this guy rather than Brook & Claire who are doing the task?

long beach brook claire 35

Maybe because Claire is picking her nose. Ewwwwwww.

long beach brook claire 36

You really do forget the cameras are there after three weeks of running the race.

long beach seven

If you could access Google, this challenge was really easy. It didn’t cure Claire’s Seven Year Nose Itch, though.

– Brook & Claire re-enter their cab and say they were fast. Of course it is going to be quick. I used to play in online versions of Survivor which had live trivia challenges, and I know one guy who only needed ten seconds to Google an answer. Knowing it off the top of my head only gave me a six or seven second advantage.

long beach brook claire 37

It would have been funnier if their taxi driver asked “What is Griffith Park?” to keep up the unhelpfulness of taxi drivers.

long beach spiral

One day I will see roads like this.

– Troubling music plays as Jill demands they exit the cab.

JILL: We need to get out of this cab. We need to get off–
THOMAS: I KNOW! WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?

long beach man 5

At least the muscular dude is having a good time on the billboard.

– They decide to stop in the middle of what appears to be a red light. Jill is able to get out on her side.

long beach thomas wolfard 9

Thomas not so much. What is with teams not being able to open passenger doors this season?

– Thomas grunts but nothing changes.

long beach thomas wolfard 10

Looks like an upper body task involving opening doors would have worked better for Jill as well.

– Jill & Thomas check out a place for Internet. Were they smart and go to a populated area where plenty of people have smart phones or a location likely to have a good computer?

long beach jill thomas 25

Nope, they choose a skilled labour shop that deals with repairing televisions (those still exist?).

THOMAS: Hello. We need to use your Internet. Desperately.
LADY: . . .

long beach jill thomas 26

Judging by how she is blurred, there is a good chance she may not speak any English.

Furthermore, Thomas better not leave the clue on the counter as he reads the sign that the shop is not responsible for goods left behind in the shop.

JILL: This couldn’t be worse.

long beach jill thomas 27

The million is slipping. History will be made. . .and the lady on the computer couldn’t have a more boring pose.

– Nat & Kat recognize the Korean greeter.

long beach nat strand 15

“There has to be a way to make this task easier.”

final hat challenge 7

long beach kat chang 5

Kat remembers this guy because of his inability to grow a proper moustache.

long beach board

The board is slowly coming together.

– Nat reveals that her and Kat took several notes during the race. This is what several teams have done since the logic puzzle in TAR 12. In fact, memory challenges will get increasingly more random in subsequent seasons and using notes will become forbidden.

long beach nat kat 29

Perhaps Nat can’t read her own writing. A true doctor.

long beach notebook

blues clues notebook

“It’s time to use our handy dandy notebook!”

Yes, Steve from Blue’s Clues would ace any final memory challenge in TAR history. The guy keeps track of everything!

– Kat checks her notes and sees the lady from the Accra market. The Zambian greeter has been dethroned. They find the lady on the border and “the guy in the sweater”.

– Jill & Thomas find somebody out on the sidewalk.

THOMAS: Do you have the Internet we can use really quick?

long beach jill thomas 28

THOMAS: THE INTERNET.

long beach jill thomas 29

The person he is shouting at sounds like they are fluent in English, by the way. At this point I am convinced all of Pasadena is screwing with Jill & Thomas.

JILL: We need to get out of here. This is like the worst area. What are you doing?
THOMAS: I don’t know what I’m doing.

That explains a lot.

– Nat & Kat try to nail down the Russia rounds. The guy from leg 6 does not come to them.

long beach jeremy

How do you forget Ron Jeremy on The Amazing Race?

long beach guy

Instead they choose the guy from the second Russia leg in TAR 13.

long beach nat kat 30

It’s the mutual thinking pose.

– We cut back to Brook & Claire in a cab.

BROOK: Literally we could be first or last. This could go either way.

long beach brook claire 38

Actually, you’re second. Fail lol.

– Do you know the crazy wailing Sydney guy from TAR 2 that I was making fun of earlier?

long beach board 2

Well, he’s an honourary Russian now.

– Nat & Kat start doubting themselves that the guy from Australia may or may not be Russian.

long beach nat strand 16

long beach nat strand 17

I know that look. Nat is stressin’ and counting down the minutes until the next team shows up.

– Commercial break. We resume. Nat & Kat finally plug in Ron Jeremy for leg 6.

long beach bob eubanks 8

Shhhh. Don’t disturb Bob. He is sleep standing.

– Leg 7 is trickier as they initially choose the Get Out of Jail free card.

final hat challenge 9

He is from the seventh round of TAR 15. You know, the one where Maria & Tiffany cried as they quit the race.

final hat challenge 8

“Forgetting my hat is a capital offense.”

– They erase the Dutch guy quickly. Nat skips to the Hong Kong and Oman rounds where they identify the two people fast.

long beach board 3

Repeating the same city in the following leg truly is as forgettable for the racers as it is for the viewers.

– This is coming down to the nitty gritty. Nat & Kat are about to submit a guess, but need to bet on who the seventh pit stop greeter was during the race. If they are incorrect, it could prove to be very difficult to know not only which one is wrong but how many as well.

In other words, it could be the perfect window of opportunity for Brook & Claire to steal it away from them. If this were a modern season, a hashtag would appear at the bottom of the screen.

long beach kat chang 6

Like this one, for example.

– Nat identifies the correct Russian guy.

long beach bob eubanks 9

Perhaps Bob Eubanks saw him and blinked twice as a tell.

– How do teams know if they are right?

long beach board 4

New school logo. . .

long beach board 5

. . .becomes a clue envelope graphic.

– Nat & Kat run over to Mr. Eubanks.

NAT: Can we hug you? I’m all sweaty.

long beach nat kat bob eubanks 2

If this were a present-day season, we would have yet another hashtag on screen.

long beach nat kat bob eubanks

Seems legit.

– Bob presents them with their next clue.

long beach nat kat bob eubanks 3

While Nat is the one who wants to hug, Kat is the one he has his eye on.

long beach nat kat bob eubanks 4

Even if Nat is ready to go in on the attack.

long beach nat kat bob eubanks 5

I never thought I’d see the day where an all-female team would be in first place heading to the finish line as they hug Bob Eubanks in front of 48 pit stop greeters on a digitized board.

BOB EUBANKS: This is a good job.

long beach nat kat bob eubanks 6

Now Bob is just making it awkward.

– Nat & Kat read they must travel by taxi through LA’s congested streets to the finish line–Greystone Mansion. We learn nothing about this mansion. Only that the first team to check in wins the million dollar prize.

long beach greystone mansion

Greystone Mansion–known most for hosting the finish line for The Amazing Race 17.

– Bob plays favourites as he wishes them good luck. Nat & Kat hop into a cab.

long beach nat kat 33

And right back on the phone they go for directions.

– For the second season in a row, a team completes the final task before any other team shows up. It’ll take a flat tire for this to have any suspense.

long beach brook claire 39

Brook & Claire are likely accepting this as their fate as well.

– They arrive at stage 7 and read the clue. What do two home shopping hosts on television think when they realize they will meet Bob Eubanks?

long beach brook claire 40

They go straight in for the hug as if they are Dr. Evil and Bob Eubanks is Scott.

“I’m not freakin’ Frankenstein, give your home shopping hosts a hug.”

BOB: Come with me!

long beach brook claire 41

Not happening. Brook would rather strangle a beloved TV host. So that’s how he died.

justin timberlake my love

Between Nat insisting to hug Bob while she was sweaty, and Brook & Claire flinging themselves onto him upon entering the studio, you would think they are wearing beer goggles which mistaken him for Justin Timberlake.

CLAIRE: Good ol’ Bob is just standing there and I’m like. . .

long beach brook claire 42

Say whaaat.

– Brook continues to hop and skip in the shadows. She adds in a few incomprehensible words but the editors picked out a couple pieces of it.

long beach brook claire 43

BOB: Good, you’re my idol too.

long beach brook claire 44

I doubt Brook & Claire playing at a station closer to the door will not make up enough time to catch up to Nat & Kat.

– Brook & Claire talk out the task.

BROOK: The first place we went to. . .was the UK. So who was in hats that we saw in the UK?

Considering the UK has thousands of years of history, you may have a lot of options.

BROOK: This is gnarly.

long beach brook claire 45

Uh oh, this is the second time Brook has gone into Bethany Hamilton mode. I guess the bow in the hair may have been responsible for her new Hawaiian lingo.

gnarly

Perhaps they both grew up playing Super Mario World. Who knows.

long beach brook claire 46

– Brook tells Claire to look like a guy who looks like Eastnor Castle. I am pretty sure she is implying someone who looks like they fit in with medieval times rather than someone who physically resembles a castle or a battlement.

CLAIRE: It’s 27! He’s in the knights thing.

Armour? Armour is the thing?

brenchel 3

No, not Under Armour, Brenchel. Give it a couple years.

– You know who would hate this task?

men without hats

Them. They would have never been featured in this task.

– Brook & Claire lock in their first answer.

BROOK: Why didn’t we pay attention to the hats people wore?!

long beach brook claire 47

Because nobody ever asks for a kiss on the hat, Brook.

– Claire knows the second greeter was the market lady; Brook identifies her. We cut to Nat & Kat a couple of times as they sit in traffic.

NAT: They could completely pass us right now.

long beach nat kat 34

Wow, Nat and the editors. You guys are doing SUCH a good job at making this suspenseful. I am so convinced Nat & Kat are going to blow a forty minute lead because of traffic jams. *eyeroll*

long beach traffic

I doubt “It’s kind of trafficky” will be a leading team’s final words before losing The Amazing Race.

– Brook & Claire are almost done the challenge.

final hat challenge 10

#7 and #14 need to start their own sitcom together.

– They put in Ron Jeremy as the leg 6 greeter. All they have left is the woman from leg 4. Seconds later they find her and lock in to answer correctly.

long beach brook claire 48

Nobody has the heart to tell her she is out of the running for the million dollars. Just let her have this moment, guys.

– Brook & Claire run up to Bob Eubanks. Brook tries to pry the clue away from Bob’s hands, but she is stuck waiting for him to say “here is your next clue”.

long beach brook claire 49

“You’re my idol et al, but could you hurry it up, Bob? We’re trying to have the only international season in TAR history to have all-female teams finish in 1st and 2nd before you’re gone.”

– Brook opens the clue as she reads it along with Claire and Bob.

long beach brook claire 50

You’re not fooling anyone, Bob. We all know you need your reading glasses to see the clue.

long beach bob eubanks 10

“I didn’t even get a sweaty hug.”

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“What up wit dat?”

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“Sigh. Jill & Thomas aren’t coming, are they?”

– Brook & Claire jump back into the cab. They yell at the driver to go super fast but he hasn’t paying any attention to them.

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Cell phones truly are distractions for taxi drivers this round.

– Claire hopes the other teams get lost. This leads to Jill & Thomas’ concession speech.

JILL: This is brutal. Seriously brutal.
THOMAS: We should’ve gotten another taxi. Get back to the States and we have more of a language barrier than out of the country.
JILL: This totally screwed us.

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“At least we’ve got GPS.”

– Thomas attempts a romantic moment which Jill is not too thrilled about.

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hank corner gas

It is about as romantic as Hank’s advances from Corner Gas.

– It is tough to screencap it, but during the kiss Jill does this weird twitch as if she is trying to get away from the kiss. You won’t catch it on a first viewing, but when you do notice it the comedy of this scene skyrockets.

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Editors re-emphasize how big Los Angeles is.

– As expected, Brook & Claire’s taxi knows exactly where he is going. They start getting excited.

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Eeeeeeeeek.

CLAIRE: We get to step on the mat and meet Phil!

– More traffic showdowns.

BROOK: Can you make us win? Go faster. We’re gonna win!

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Brook uses every psychological trick she can.

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Don’t worry, sir. They are equally crazy in both English and Spanish.

KAT: I’m having heart palpitations.
NAT: Don’t be afraid to honk. We like honking.

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Kat is visibly wincing. Three weeks of living off of energy drinks to keep the fatigue away has really strained her heart.

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If the driver was on a game show, it would be “Which Request Should I Be Listening To?”

– Nat praises the driver’s honking abilities.

NAT: Nice move.

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Some people prefer a mate who is smart, funny, and/or good-looking, but not Nat.

She digs a guy who knows how to honk and bypass LA traffic congestion.

BROOK: Are we almost there?

long beach short

CLAIRE: Maybe this is a shortcut!

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They really made a leap from such a vague statement.

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Nat can’t stop stressing out.

– Claire does the most inaccurate impression of Phil.

CLAIRE (serious tone and with BROOK joining in at the end): Brook & Claire. You are the. first. female team. To ever win. The Amazing Race.

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Nat & Kat could win the race, but Brook & Claire could effectively brainwash Phil with this technique and reverse the outcome of the season.

– We wait until a taxi pulls up into the mansion.

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What good is showing the door opening if we can’t see who is inside?

– But who we do get to see is all of the teams cheering in a fast motion clip which shows Chad clapping at record speed.

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“Slow down, buddy!”

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There is one person who isn’t clapping, though.

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It’s Phil. He couldn’t care less about who wins.

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He just wants to show off his damn eyebrow raise. You think after 17 seasons he would learn a new move.

– We finally see the team running into the mansion.

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I would say Nat & Kat’s win is a certainty at this point, but then I remember the Misa & Maiya incident. If only they had made it to the finish line of TAR 20.

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The final tricky task is that these are switching staircases like in Harry Potter. A beloved addition to Greystone Mansion.

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Why are Gary & Mallory specifically being shown?

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Oh. Uh, welcome back guys.

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Contrary to what other teams feared at Elimination Station, Katie & Rachel did not in fact tackle Nat & Kat or Brook & Claire if they were the first team to arrive at the finish line.

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Phil offers up a low five, but Nat & Kat are too pumped to even notice.

NAT (jumping up and down): Are we first are we first are we first?

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Geez. I forgot how short Phil is.

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PHIL: Four continents, thirty cities, 32, 000 miles, Nat & Kat, you have made Amazing Race history as the first all-female team to win The Amazing Race.

FIRST PLACE: NAT & KAT

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“Really? I thought it’d be Andie & Jenna.”

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Okay, maybe Katie & Rachel aren’t as excited once they hear the news verbally.

PHIL: And you have won the one million dollars. Congratulations.

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“But you aren’t even listening, so we’ll keep the million here at CBS headquarters.”

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“Can we have it so we can pay off our student loans?”

PHIL: Can you believe it?

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Ron & Tony approve of the victory.

– Phil asks a boring relationship question about Nat & Kat. Then he wants to talk about diabetes. You can probably fill in what Nat says (she wants to show diabetics they can be active).

– Kat knew Nat had strength, but amazed by the degree of her strength and how she never complained.

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“Except when it comes to heights.”

– Brook & Claire run onto the mat.

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Connor tries to taunt Brook with his flexibility.

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It’s okay, Nat & Kat. You’re allowed to hug losers.

PHIL: You’re the second team to arrive.

SECOND PLACE: BROOK & CLAIRE

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“And brought great shame to the home shopping industry. Seppuku with a katana, now on sale for just 39.99 where you only have to pay for shipping and handling, is your only way out!!!!!”

– Phil can’t help but out the feat.

PHIL: Another all-female team. One and two for the women. Congratulations.

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Lost the title by mere minutes but has already recovered enough to dance.

– Phil asks them about how much fun they had.

CLAIRE: We literally laughed our way around the world.
PHIL: I know that.

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Wow. Phil totally dissed Claire. He is essentially telling her that she stated something so painstakingly obvious.

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“If you lean just a little bit closer to Phil, I can start a new Slap Count.

– Brook said Claire shocked her including taking a watermelon to the face or scaling a canyon.

BROOK: The ideal of being a strong woman either means that you are Grumpy Boots or that you’re this really masculine gnarly chick. No! You can be feminine and still tap into that femininity while being a strong woman.

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There’s nothing wrong with being a masculine gnarly chick though. . .right, Brook?

– A minimal reaction occurs as Jill & Thomas jog onto the mat.

THIRD PLACE: JILL & THOMAS

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Phil tries his best to not laugh at them.

PHIL: You were so consistent.
JILL & THOMAS: Yeah. We know.
PHIL: You’ve made a few mistakes along the way, but nothing like today.

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“Thanks for reminding us, buddy.”

– Jill is trying to talk about the experience in a confessional.

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JILL: This has been–

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Hold up!

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JILL: I don’t even know why I am crying. Why am I crying?

Because something else needs to happen when you don’t have Carol & Brandy to yell at all of the female racers that are at the finish line.

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Can you imagine what would have happened if Nat & Kat U-Turned Carol & Brandy instead of Chad & Stephanie? An all-female team victory wouldn’t even be a topic at the finish line.

BRANDY: Why did you U-Turn us? It’s obvious you should have let Brook & Claire go as the bigger threat.

NAT: But we won–

BRANDY: I don’t wanna hear it!

– Jill & Thomas talk about how this was a special experience and loved it.

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And I will never speak of them again.

– Just like the trend which started in TAR 16, some of the eliminated teams get some final words. Mallory says she is the youngest of four and happy to spend time alone with her dad.

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The cameras don’t even bother trying to include Gary.

She starts crying and asks if she can race again.

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A request she will make one too many times, unfortunately.

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Oh, and Stephanie wants to tell her future kids about this experience.

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It makes you realize how much editors and producers wanted to push Chad & Stephanie as the new stars of TAR–it just didn’t quite happen.

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Somehow Nick & Vicki had enough time to get to the finish line despite checking into the South Korea pit stop twelve hours after the Final Three teams.

– Nat & Kat get the final words.

NAT: It’s about time a girl-girl team won The Amazing Race. We’re just proud and honoured to be that team. It’s probably been one of the best experiences of our entire lives. Kat and I both think it’s life changing.
KAT: It’s just priceless. It really was.

Yep. Linzes still have it covered for the best final words to end the season. Now I don’t think there is anything else but to finally close this season out.

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Yep. It’s over. See you in September for the next–

PHIL: And now for a special sneak preview of next season’s Amazing Race!

I am nervous.

– Commercial break. We resume with the sneak preview.

Next Time on TAR:

PHIL: They are some of the most memorable, dynamic, and interesting teams to ever run the race.

unfinished business clip

Nope.

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Nope.

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And nope.

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Gary is dynamic?

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Nope.

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Somewhat true.

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They needed to show seven past teams, but one finally fit the description.

PHIL: They didn’t come in first, some didn’t cross the finish line, but you loved them anyway.

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I loved Nick & Vicki, but I don’t think any other fans really did.

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The ORG community does not love him.

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lol

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Yay! Somebody else who fits the description.

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They’re back just one season later?! Hooray!

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Michael & Louie? F–k me.

PHIL: For these teams, The Amazing Race competition has always been unfinished business.

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Unfinished motherf–king business, that is. This is serious stuff.

PHIL: Now they’re going to get another chance to run the race again.

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Another motherf–king chance.

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We get it. Returning players.

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NO!!!

PHIL: Dig deep and prove they are the best.

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Only if you were in Bali for TAR Asia 1.

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The best? But none of them won. Therefore, nobody is the best. And I doubt “the best” will be going to the Egyptian Pyramids during the middle of the Arab Spring.

Or maybe they are just trying to copy the Endurance logo.

PHIL: What will it take to win a million bucks?

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Huh. Mount Rushmore nor the White House has been a route marker location in TAR.

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“We’ll do anything to whore ourselves out on reality televisionnnnnn.”

PHIL: You’ll find out when your “favourite” teams return to finally finish what they started.

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My favourites! The favourite f–king team  and definitely most memorable out of all 21 international English-speaking seasons are coming back!!! They get shown for a total of 0.1 seconds compared to everybody else who is prominent being shown for up to two seconds, but it still counts! (Seriously, I’m not joking about their lack of screen time in this preview.)

PHIL: And prove they deserve another shot. The new Amazing Race–in high def. The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business.

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“Coming this spring–you finally notice my botox shots!”

– Tragically, the preview does not end here. One team in TAR history is hired specifically to do this commercial. Can you guess who it is?
.
.
.
JET: This is amazing. Logan will be pissed.
CORD: That’s exactly what I was gonna say.

unfinished business jet cord

In the previous sixteen seasons of TAR US, the winners always get the final words.

However, in a season featuring the first all-female winners in US history, the final words go to. . .the f–king cowboys? Ugh. That’s already one strike against Unfinished Business. It invaded a very special moment for TAR.

TAR 17, perhaps the greatest US season since TAR 12, has its final moments overtaken by a lousy preview for the upcoming season. Why did they have to do this to us?

But alas, it is time to wrap this season up.

CONFESSIONAL COUNT

BROOK ROBERTS.CLAIRE CHAMPLIN 6.4
NAT STRAND.KAT CHANG 10.8
JILL HANEY.THOMAS WOLFARD 4.5
MALLORY 1
STEPHANIE 1
JET.CORD 1.1

Team Averages

Below is a list of all teams from seasons I have blogged to date, ranked by racing average.

e.g. Don & Mary Jean finished 9th, 8th, 8th, 8th, and 8th. Add up the numbers and divide it by the number of legs they have played.

Because of how long this list has become, I only show the relevant section where the eliminated team from this episode has fallen amongst the ranks of what TAR history has to offer.

Therefore their average is 8.2.

2nd Pamela & Vanessa 3.92 TAR Asia 2
4th A.D. & Fuzzie 3.90 – U-Turned and saved by NEL once TAR Asia 3
5th Gary & Dave 3.89 – FF TAR 2
6th Sunaina & Dimple 3.875 – Used Yield, U-Turned TAR Asia 4
2nd Kelly & Jon 3.85 Saved by NEL twice TAR 4
2nd Michelle & Claire 3.81 Used U-Turn and Yielded TAR Asia 4
1st Zabrina & Joe Jer 3.77 saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
2nd Sandy & Francesca 3.77 – Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
4th Diane & Ann 3.75 – Yielded TAR Asia 2
4th Jon & Al 3.73 TAR 4
6th Charla & Mirna 3.71 TAR 5
–B+–
3rd Blake & Paige 3.69 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 2
5th Millie & Chuck 3.67 FF TAR 4
5th Kynt & Vyxsin 3.63 Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR 12
1st Eric & Danielle All Stars 3.62 – Yielded Twice, saved by NEL once TAR 11
4th Mardy & Marsio 3.58 FF, saved by NEL once TAR Asia 1
6th Mel & Mike 3.57 TAR 14
5th Ethan & Khairie 3.56 TAR Asia 4
6th Jonathan & Victoria 3.56 TAR 6
3rd Ida & Tania 3.54 Saved by NEL twice TAR Asia 3
4th Joseph & Monica 3.50 – Yielded TAR 9
3rd Andrew & Syeon 3.46 TAR Asia 1
1st Freddy & Kendra 3.46 – Used Yield and Yielded TAR 6
2nd Ronald & Christina 3.45 TAR 12
4th Nathan & Jennifer 3.40 – Never finished in 1st TAR 12
1st Chris & Alex 3.38 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 2
1st Chip & Kim 3.38 – Used Yield TAR 5
6th Steve & Allie 3.38 – TAR 16, and ain’t got no clothes.
4th Kevin & Drew 3.36 – FF TAR 1
3rd Brandon & Nicole 3.31 Saved by NEL once TAR 5
5th Terence & Sarah 3.25 TAR 13
1st TK & Rachel 3.18 Saved by NEL once TAR 12
4th Godlewski Family 3.18 Saved by NEL once TAR 8
4th Dustin & Kandice 3.17 – Used Yield, saved by NEL once
–A minus–
2nd Sam & Dan 3.17 U-Turned Pointlessly TAR 15
2nd Brook & Claire 3.17 U-Turned Once TAR 17
7th Peter & Sarah 3.17 TAR 10
3rd Weaver Family 3.15 – Yielded Twice, saved by NEL twice TAR 8
1st Reichen & DK 3.15 – FF TAR 4
1st Uchenna & Joyce 3.15 FF, saved by NEL once TAR 7
4th Toni & Dallas 3.10 Still in Russia TAR 13
4th Derek & Drew 3.10 – FF TAR 3
2nd Geoff 26 & Tisha 31  3.09 Used Yield and U-Turn TAR Asia 3
4th Herb & Nate a.k.a. Flight Time & Big Easy 3.09 TAR 15. Znarf!
1st Nat & Kat 3.08 – FF and Used U-Turn Once TAR 17
2nd Rob & Kim 3.08 – FF TAR 10
3rd Ron & Kelly 3.00 – Yielded, saved by NEL once TAR 7
3rd Jill & Thomas 3.00 – Used U-Turn once and Express Pass TAR 17
6th Azaria & Hendekea 3.00 – TAR 12
4th Hayden & Aaron 2.92 – Saved by NEL once TAR 6
2nd Dustin & Kandice All Stars 2.92 – Used Yield TAR 10
2nd Bransen Family 2.85 – Saved by NEL once TAR 8
1st Linz Family 2.77 – Used Yield TAR 8
3rd Joe & Bill 2.76 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 1
–BEST OF THE BEST–
3rd Margie & Luke 2.75 Used U-Turn once TAR 14
5th Henry & Bernie/Bunn-Eh 2.75 – Yielded TAR Asia 3
8th Rob & Amber All Stars 2.75 – Used Yield, Choked TAR 11
1st Flo & Zach 2.69 – FF, saved by NEL twice TAR 3
3rd Ken & Gerard 2.69 – FF TAR 3
4th Oswald & Danny All Stars 2.67 FF x2, Used Yield, saved by NEL once TAR 11
2nd Ken & Tina 2.64 – FF, saved by NEL once TAR 13
2nd Jet & Cord 2.58 – Saved by NEL once TAR 16.
2nd Colin & Christie 2.54 – FF, Yielded, and saved by NEL once TAR 5
2nd Tara & Wil 2.53 – FF TAR 2
1st Rob & Brennan – 2.46 FF TAR 1
1st BJ & Tyler – 2.46 FF, Used Yield, and saved by NEL twice TAR 9
1st Vince & Sam 2.45 FF TAR Asia 3
1st Nick & Starr 2.45 FF TAR 13
1st Tyler & James – 2.38 FF TAR 10
2nd Frank & Margarita 2.38 – FF TAR 1
2nd Kris & Jon 2.38 TAR 6
1st Tammy & Victor 2.33 Used U-Turn Once TAR 14
2nd Rob & Amber 2.31 TAR 7
1st Richard & Richard 2.27 FF TAR Asia 4
1st Adrian & Collin 2.23 FF TAR Asia 2
1st Meghan & Cheyne 2.00 FF TAR 15
2nd Eric & Jeremy 1.69 FF TAR 9
lol 3rd Marc & Rovilson 1.46 Used Yield and Yielded TAR Asia 2

Rank the Teams

1) Brook & Claire

HOW THE F–K WERE BROOK & CLAIRE NOT INVITED BACK FOR TAR 24?!

TAR 17 is the final of the three non-returnee seasons that I had yet to watch in its entirety. Therefore, over the past five years I have been repeatedly told that Brook & Claire are not only one of the best teams to ever race in any international version over the past five years, but a contender to be ranked with some of TAR’s legends from the early years.

For those of you who do not know, Brook & Claire were invited for TAR 18 but Claire was pregnant. In fact, they talk about it during their appearance with Nat & Kat on The Early Show after the season finale aired (Harry WhatsHisFace asked to see her baby bump during the interview).

Fine. Producers did not exactly fail when it came to re-casting Brook & Claire for TAR 18 since it was out of their hands.

However, where the hell were they for TAR 24? There has been absolutely no evidence to suggest they were called to appear for TAR 24. Neither Brook nor Claire were pregnant at the time. In fact it wasn’t until as of a few weeks ago it is now Brook who is super pregnant. She probably had the child by now. I mean, she looked super pregnant.

As I have mentioned numerous times throughout the season, only TAR Asia was capable of producing awesome all-female teams. In America, we barely have a few that meet the standard after sixteen freakin’ seasons.

Brook & Claire and Nat & Kat nearly doubled the number of great overall all-female teams on that list. I would even add Katie & Rachel, but their bad luck with a flight to Europe and their lack of air time doesn’t allow them to quite make the cut.

I hate the idea of labelling Brook & Claire as “mactors” because of their careers in television and also because I can’t think of a single home shopping host or on-field sports interviewer who has a mainstream following. So Brook & Claire are just regular people to me.

Well, not so much regular people as they are what I picture human versions of Odie and Garfield would be in real life. I find it impossible to watch Brook and not think of it being what it was like if Odie’s personality was thrown into Samantha Jones’ body.

Despite all of the jokes we can make about Claire being not quite in perfect shape, taking watermelons to the head, vomiting in a Hong Kong bathroom, and being stuck with crappy Roadblocks, her and Brook were fast. Brook’s energy was definitely infectious.

Claire always had this attitude of “It sucks” but then the competitive spirit within her to have something to prove overrode that saying “You shall not lose” all season long.

They were the first team since Brian & Greg since TAR 7 to intentionally choose outfits that they knew were hilarious. This was frequently referred to as “Brook & Claire Flair”.

But praising an all-female team just because of their choice of outfits would be downright insulting. No, they are much more than that. They were rarely in danger for the first eight rounds of the race to the point they intimidated Jill & Thomas. Jill & Thomas didn’t even hesitate to U-Turn Brook & Claire during the Double U-Turn in Bangladesh. Never forget teams were more threatened by Brook & Claire than they were of Nat & Kat.

Claire wasn’t the only one susceptible to ridiculous injuries. Remember when Brook sliced open her eye on the car door when running to the pit stop in Norway and merely found it hilarious? It’s that bizarre sense of humour which kept us watching them every round.

Also, I need to re-emphasize how the watermelon incident video did go viral before TAR 17 started. This reached to people in the world who aren’t fans of competitive reality TV–it may have been six months since I mentioned this, but dudes I knew in high school who did nothing but play Starcraft still talk about this video five years later. I bet they are unaware this was from a show called The Amazing Race.

These are all contributions Brook & Claire made to the series in just twelve episodes. Nowadays we have teams who are unable to do anything in thirty-one episodes of TAR.

I doubt you would see Flight Time & Big Easy start kissing elderly Korean taxi drivers.

In conclusion, I have one thing left to say: Out of all of the teams to play the US version of TAR, I will go on record to state I believe Brook & Claire are the team I not only want to see play for a second time more than anyone else, but think they would really lock down a similar mainstream legacy which Charla & Mirna held for a few years–except this time it is a legacy that will not polarize the audience.

Seriously, producers. What the hell were you smoking when casting for TAR 24?

2) Nat & Kat

DISCLAIMER: Zabrina & Joe Jer were the first all-female team to win in The Amazing Race franchise.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Nat & Kat as the first all-female winners in the US and comparing them to Zabrina & Joe Jer.

Zabrina & Joe Jer did not impress the audience on a regular basis and were never dynamic enough (along with much of the tasks and route in TAR Asia 1) to be cemented in the viewers’ memories. Partially because Zabrina already worked in television from a production standpoint, and Joe Jer was a mild-mannered DJ.

There were fewer teams (ten) and a whopping five NELs (one of which saved them during a round where they had bad luck), and did not win any of the first twelve legs, thus taking a few points away from the history they made.

Meanwhile, Nat & Kat had a bit more personality, connected with the audience in a much more substantial way, was never saved by a NEL, and won five out of twelve rounds. Holy cow.

Nat & Kat are pretty much the prototype of a the all-female team I expect to do well in The Amazing Race. This is why it is no surprise that a team like them was never cast in the first sixteen seasons.

An all-female team that is well-educated in the sciences, make an effort to keep fit, sharp when talking to others in a social setting, not particularly focused on being flirtatious, and in their late 20s to early 30s will create  very dangerous team. Nat & Kat covered all of these to be a well-rounded team without any major weakness during the race.

Perhaps the only weakness is that they are not truly Type A personalities. Of course, anyone whose primary relationship on the race with Brook & Claire will probably not seem very Type A.

However, this was supported by the fact that the two times Nat & Kat were in danger came during the two Ghana legs where Kat was not aggressive when selling sunglasses, and the other being when Nat & Kat id not speak up more to their crappy taxi driver in the following round.

Nat & Kat’s well-roundedness is why they were the first all-female team to win a season rather than a team like Lyn & Karlyn who, while being the first all-female team to make it to the Final Three, never really had a shot at winning. No matter who you are, you can make it to the end with a “just don’t be last” strategy by being logical, but you also need to have skills and abilities to put you in the winner’s circle at the end of the season. This is coming from someone who loves Lyn & Karlyn.

I am very happy with how Nat & Kat were portrayed. Editors could have easily turned it into a sob story of how Nat is a diabetic. As someone who works in a pharmacy, I get a glimpse into how much a condition like that can occupy what you do in your everyday life.

Just imagine if Bethany Hamilton had Type 1 Diabetes. You can just picture millions of people saying “omg, it doesn’t matter what she has done, she’s so inspirational omg omg omg”.

With Nat on the race course, I love how it’s “I don’t give a f–k what you think about my Type 1 Diabetes, I will kick your ass no matter where we go as long as it’s not Accra”.

I love the focus and intensity Nat & Kat had all season long as well. As somebody who has been a vegetarian for seven years, I love how Kat threw her 17-year meat restriction out the window and chowed down on a sheep’s head. Nat was -terrified- of heights, but didn’t let that slow her down as well.

In addition, Nat & Kat outwitted producers by asking a local to use his own money to buy a map for them. You can’t beg for money on the race, but they figured out you can ask others to spend cash for you. Brilliant.

They were also the only team out of the top seven to never receive a penalty all season long. From the Jumba Wumbas and onwards, everyone else screwed up reading the rules at least once (although there is a rumour floating out there that Nat & Kat may have made the same mapping error as Gary & Mallory did–I believe Mallory said that in an interview, actually).

We should also give credit to Nat & Kat for saving Brook & Claire from elimination in Bangladesh. Nat & Kat were not U-Turned when they reached the Double U-Turn board, and could have easily done nothing and let Brook & Claire die that leg. Fortunately, Nat & Kat decided to not only rescue them by U-Turning Chad & Stephanie, but also produce Chad’s hilarious reaction of “Big smart doctor can’t put a bicycle together; how is that Ph.d treating ya?”

Nat & Kat’s competitiveness and ability to kick ass was so strong that they are partially responsible for making the final round a no-contest, and to my knowledge, their driver didn’t have the mystical powers of a GPS like Jill & Thomas’ did.

They started out the season by being a team where the only competition they could win was Kat in the Smelliest Shoes challenge, but they really nailed this season.

If you want an all-female team who specializes in humour, crazy antics, and entertainment value, Brook & Claire would be your weapon of choice.

If you want an all-female team that is a bit more subdued, but have a scary level of focus, intensity, and overall competitiveness, Nat & Kat would be your team.

Some say it is a letdown that Brook & Claire did not win, but I don’t see it that way at all. I mean, it would have been hilarious, but we can’t have everything in the TAR universe.

Especially when it comes to casting choices for Unfinished Business, and the overall promotion of the season in the TAR 17 finale drawing attention away from Nat & Kat’s win.

P.S. Katie & Rachel tackled Nat & Kat once the credits started rolling. They forced an ankle lock on each of  Nat & Kat until both agreed to verbally assign their TAR 17 title to Katie & Rachel, thus becoming the true first all-female team to win the race.

3) Nick & Vicki

4) Gary & Mallory

5) Chad & Stephanie

6) Connor & Jonathan

7) Andie & Jenna

8) KevJumba & Michael

9) Jill & Thomas

I would have ranked Jill & Thomas one spot below Katie & Rachel, but thought they deserved a slight bump up due to circumstances of pity.

No matter how you slice it, any co-ed or all-male team in the Final Three against two all-female teams will have a negative reaction from the audience and claim relatively few fans as their own.

Jill & Thomas became the first team to earn the Express Pass in TAR US history, but also demonstrate how useless and irrelevant the twist is. Fast forward five years later and producers have yet to learn this lesson.

Because nearly every team around them was far more dynamic and entertaining, we learned very little about this couple. They got along well, they had a consistent pace throughout the race, and had a few lucky breaks go their way. This team was never really in trouble all season long.

They can be grateful for leaving a couple of legacies behind for future seasons besides being the answer to a trivia question.

Whenever I see somebody trying really hard to bite into an apple, someone who brags about their strength in an obscure subject during their university days, those who struggle to close their mouth after receiving surprising news, or a couple who just loves some Bangladeshi sugar cane, I will always think of Jill & Thomas.

And for a couple that is otherwise too normal and bland for television, this is all they can really ask for in a season like TAR 17.

10) Katie & Rachel

11) Ron & Tony

Rank the Legs

1) Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA -> England, United Kingdom, London (according to Nick Decarlo)

2) St. Petersburg, Russia -> Muscat, Oman

3) Dhaka, Bangladesh -> Hong Kong, China

4) London, England -> Accra, Ghana

5) St. Petersburg, Russia -> St. Petersburg, Russia

6) Muscat, Oman -> Dhaka, Bangladesh

7) Accra, Ghana -> Riksgransen, Sweden-Norway Border

8) Accra, Ghana -> Accra, Ghana

9) Riksgrandsen, Sweden/Norway -> Narvik, Norway

10) Seoul, South Korea -> Los Angeles, California

I hate putting the season finale of TAR 17 in such a low spot, but compared to how well many of the other rounds were put together during the season, I think this is a worthy ranking of it.

Perhaps my two biggest complaints about this round is that not only did they choose to go to the overused city of Los Angeles, but they also had the Rose Bowl float as the season’s final Roadblock.

Furthermore, a season where teams were frequently on an even playing field turned into a rare blowout where Nat & Kat had an early lead and nurtured it to grow and grow until everyone could forecast their victory by the halfway point of the episode.

In addition, it has been unofficially confirmed (but heavily speculated) that production intentionally sent non-English speaking taxi drivers to wait outside of the Rose Bowl. On one hand I appreciate the difficulty for teams to communicate with their cab, but on the other hand it feels like it is bordering the realm of tampering with the race.

Although if producers did not do this, we would not get Jill & Thomas’ driver bragging about how his GPS can do everything including shining your shoes, fixing your computer, and cooking microwave popcorn for you.

Lastly, another annoying part of this round is producers sullying the celebration at the finish line by focusing on the promotion of Unfinished Business. That’s a pretty giant “f–k you” to a season that had been incredible over the past twelve weeks. Especially when Unfinished Business’ quality will come nowhere near to TAR 17.

We did have an awesome final task as we saw 48 pit stop greeters wearing hats over the past decade, and a Bob Eubanks cameo. It just would have been much much much better if Nat & Kat and Brook & Claire entered this task at the same time and ultimately be a battle of who can pick out Ron Jeremy in Russia faster.

The finale simply couldn’t reach the bar that the past eleven rounds had set for this season.

11) Hong Kong, China -> Seoul, South Korea

12) Narvik, Norway -> St. Petersburg, Russia

******************

Season Rankings Updated
—-

Spoiler alert: You won’t have to scroll much before you see TAR 17.

1. The Amazing Race 5 – 9.2/10

2. The Amazing Race 12 – 9.0/10

3. The Amazing Race 7 – 8.8/10

4. The Amazing Race 3 – 8.7/10

5. The Amazing Race 17 – 8.65/10

If producers of ageing competitive reality shows need to know what it takes to make a strong season after being on the air for a decade and having done so many seasons before, this is the quality you are still capable of reaching.

When I was in high school, a mark of 86% or higher was considered an ‘A’. I think TAR 17 is worthy of this grade.

The only reason I put this above TAR 9 is because while Eric & Jeremy vs. BJ & Tyler may be one of my favourite rivalries with an overall fantastic conclusion as the hippies take the prize, TAR 17 had a bit more depth to its cast.

Brook & Claire, Nat & Kat, Nick & Vicki, Chad & Stephanie, and Gary & Mallory with a couple of other teams in the supporting role makes for an insane cast to have squished into one season.

With only one team going on record to return to play again, this makes TAR 17 an overall hidden gem of the series. There is so much more to it than just being “the first time an American all-female team won”.

Visits to Ghana, the Arctic Circle, Bangladesh, and a hilarious round in Hong Kong made for the best route designed since TAR 12. Seriously, TAR 14-16 had the least inspired race courses, and TAR 17 decided not to fall into a rut.

Watermelons to the face, car slices to the eye, apples being bitten, shoes being smelled, testicles being crushed, butts falling on ice, and YouTubers having dreams crushed all made for a hilarious season.

There was also a high level of penalties this season which is unusual for TAR US. Heck, it is in that mid-range of penalties with TAR Canada 3.

So why does this season not get ranked any higher regardless of a great cast, worthy all-female teams, and a wonderful route?

Well, there is a couple of mistakes producers make.

a) The start of the modern day Express Pass. It was irrelevant in TAR 17, and am happy people like Hamilton & Michaelia are saying it is also irrelevant now.

b) The first leg in St. Petersburg was such a mess for producers to the point they intentionally equalized everybody in the following round, and erased Nick & Vicki’s Speed Bump. That is sloppy for TAR standards.

c) The last couple of legs were not exciting, and Los Angeles is a lousy place to finish a season.

Overall, this is the last truly great season TAR US will produce for a long time, and thank god we had something to break the awful trend of seasons between TAR 14-16. Ratings were at its lowest point after TAR 16, and TAR 17 is exactly what was needed for the series to be recognized as a mainstream hit. The praise for TAR 17 will be so strong that the audience will continue to follow the series until producers lose their trust with TAR 24.

It is amazing to think out of all twenty-six US seasons that this is the season I followed the least during its original airing. Oh well. That’s what happens when TAR 14 and the premiere of TAR 15 temporarily killed my spirit.

6. The Amazing Race 9 – 8.6/10

7. The Amazing Race 2 – 8.5/10

8. The Amazing Race 11: Real All Stars – 7.2/10

9. The Amazing Race Asia 2 – 7.19/10

10. The Amazing Race (1) – 7/10

11. The Amazing Race Asia 4: “The Race of a Lifetime” – 6.81/10

12. The Amazing Race 13 – 6.8/10

13. The Amazing Race Asia 3: Toughest Race Ever – 6.7/10

14. The Amazing Race 10 – 6.5/10

15. The Amazing Race 4 – 6.25/10

16. The Amazing Race 16 – 5.8/10

17. The Amazing Race 15 – 4.9/10

18. The Amazing Race Asia 1 – 4.55/10

19. The Amazing Race 8: Family Edition – 4.0/10

20. The Amazing Race 6 – 3.9/10

21. The Amazing Race 14 – 2.5/10

Conclusion

That does it. My longest review of any season to date is over. Sorry it took me so dang long to blog about this season, but I am happy I treated this season as something special rather than glancing over it briefly like I used to do in the past.

TAR 17 reinvigorated the audience again after a bad spell in the TAR timeline. Producers have the buzz that they want, but what can they do to keep it alive?

Well, why not another all-star season? TAR 11 did a better job with its all-star version compared to Survivor and Big Brother. They are capable of doing it again, right?

Unfortunately, times have even changed for TAR, and a golden opportunity to recreate past glory will instead descend into some of the most biased and questionable casting decisions ever made in any returnee season of a reality show.

That’s right. I get to talk about one of my least favourite pre-season stories in TAR history that surprisingly few people have heard about.

P.S. TAR 18 is the very last season to air before I started this rankings blog nearly five years ago. Can you believe it?

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3 Responses to The Amazing Race 17 Season Finale Rankings

  1. Hugo says:

    Do we get rank the teams and rank the legs listings with explanations for all entries?

    P.S. Yes, the casting for Unfinished Business was terrible, in my opinion, but I also think that the season improves from that point onward. At least after the first leg and a bit.

  2. Josh says:

    Who do you consider as the strongest all female team to ever run the 26 season of the US Amazing Race?? I really don’t know if it is between the chipmunks or Nat and Kat…..maybe the chipmunks because their average is higher perhaps? I don’t know…..I also agree about Brook and Claire matching the legacy of my Goddesses Charla and Mirna though. However, it is quite sad that Charla and Mirna did not receive too much credit from casual TAR fans, especially Mirna, who I thought worked the hardest on the show….I dare say she matches Zach and Margie for being the hardest worker…I still consider Charla and Mirna a strong all female team despite the fans calling them the “lesser team” to most of all female teams…I really wanna know if you think Charla and Mirna is a strong, average or a weak team because for me, I consider them a strong team maybe slightly above average because Mirna’s airport savvy is a HUGE and MAJOR factor of the game, and it has always been….

    • I remember reading somewhere online a couple months ago that people thought Mirna was a jerk for insinuating she has to “work harder than anybody else because Charla is a little person”.

      Regardless of how uncomfortable that statement may be, it is true. When you look at how much Mirna did in every task and pursuing the best flights possible, her work ethic is undeniable, and it got them all the way to Final 3 in All Stars, and one bad flight is the only reason why they were eliminated halfway through in TAR 5.

      So yes, I definitely consider Charla & Mirna a strong team.

      As for who may be the strongest between Nat & Kat or the Chipmunks. . .well, Nat & Kat haven’t had a chance to play for a second time yet.

      The Chipmunks weren’t exactly huge threats in TAR 10, and were more like social outcasts. They were also prone to making minor mistakes in both of their seasons.

      Nat & Kat never truly screwed up during TAR 17, and also didn’t have anybody who wanted to U-Turn them. Unlike the Chipmunks who were going to be Yielded three times if not for their insane luck in each of those legs.

      I have to say Nat & Kat are the strongest. They won a ton of legs, won the freakin’ race, rarely made stupid errors, and got along with everybody well.

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