(These are the champions, my friends.)
Episode Twelve Fake Title: If We Had One Million Dollars, We Could Get Ourselves Out Of This Dump!
Starting City: Panama Viejo, Panama
Pit Stop City: Hotlanta, Georgia USA! USA!
1st Place: Team Bert & Ernie Reward: $1 Million
2nd: That Other Dating Couple
3rd: Footballers Lives
Roadblock: One team member had to type out the team's next clue by using an old-school typewriter. It had to be free of mistakes and the paper had to have been loaded correctly so the message was straight on the page. The typewriters did not have a 1 key, so the person typing had to figure out that the lower-case l was the same shape. This task was lame. I mean, it was sorta funny to see all the teams momentarily flummoxed by a non-computer typing apparatus. And they did have to figure out that an l looks like a 1, but it's the LAST LEG. Is this a task that's really worth anyone's time? It was kind of a bust.
Also of Note This Week: No actual Detour this week, but plenty of side tasks along the way to the finish line:
That Other Dating Couple and Bert & Ernie, lamented the final US city destination because it happened to be Atlanta, the city Footballers Lives calls home. Marcus and Amani were obviously excited to have it work out as home-field advantage, until they actually got there and almost immediately fell behind.
Once in Atlanta, teams traveled to FlightSafety International, picked a flight instructor and then hopped into a Learjet flight simulator. They had to successfully complete a simulated landing from an altitude of 2,500 feet to get their next clue. One team member was pilot and the other co-pilot. It seemed like this task actually took some time to complete. TODC got things done right on the very first try. It took Bert & Ernie two attempts and Footballers lives got absolutely sunk when it took them TWELVE attempts to get it right. Marcus kept veering off the runway during the landing. Amani remained patient and supportive throughout because she's amazing. Once they got stuck at the flight simulation, Footballers Lives was out of contention for the win for good.
The clue from FlightSafety, told teams to go to "the residence formerly known as 'The Dump'" That's a reference to the house of Margaret Mitchell, which the teams had to figure out on their own, and was the site of the typewriter Roadblock. Somewhat hilariously, That Other Dating Couple actually wound up at a giant used furniture store in Atlanta called The Dump. They spent so much time there that they too fell out of contention for the win. The last few seasons ended in very close finishes, so it was kind of bizarre that it became obvious so early in the hour that Ernie and Cindy were clearly going to win.
After the Roadblock, teams had to figure out the numbers in the typed-out clue had to do with Hank Aaron:and had to go to Turner Field, and the parking lot where Aaron's 715th home run is commemorated. Once there they had to deal with a large vertical map and climb along it, tracing the Race course by looping a rope through a series of carabiners on the map. The countries were not labeled. One team member worked on the map while their partner could shout directions from the ground. Teams were not allowed to use notes while working on the task. Cindy took the task for her team and sailed through it. The other teams were still so far behind that there was little suspense. Man, final legs in previous seasons were MUCH tougher than this.
The Amazing Race editors tried to make the ending look closer than it was by making it seem like Cindy and Ernie were getting screwed up by the taxi driver's constantly recalculating GPS, but TODC were too far behind after their trip to The Dump. So Team Bert & Ernie wins! They plan to use the money to build a company that will save the world. Hooray! The world is saved!
I am actually content with a Bert & Ernie win. I looked back at my early predictions and thought they'd be Top Half, so it's good enough for me!
But... I do think overall this Race was easier than those in the past. I can't recall any needle-in-a-hay-stack challenges (after the very first task), giant puzzles, eating challenges, physical endurance challenges or extreme sport challenges. It was a lot of go from A to B, do something pretty pedestrian, keep on moving. The speed bumps were super easy. The Hazard came and went with little fanfare. It seemed like the Unfinished Business season last Spring was a lot tougher. I mean, I appreciate the Race going to new locations this season, I just wish the actual challenges within the Race were more... challenging. This might be the first season where Killer Fatigue never set in for any team out there. I think that's a sign that the Race needs to take it up a notch for Season 20. I still love the show, and generally enjoyed the season. I think they cast it with very agreeable teams this year. So that's a plus. I have faith the show can recapture the magic of previous seasons. Just remember this formula, Show. Likable teams + varied foreign locations + difficult challenges = a successful season. I will still be watching in the Spring. Onward Racers!