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Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Amazing Race Family Edition Finale

From the ranch where the last Pit Stop was, the families have to make their way to Montreal. They are given tickets but are also free to change their reservations if they see another route. The Bransons apparently steal a march on everybody by getting a flight that arrives ten minutes earlier, at 5:00. But the Linzes and Weavers do better, with a flight that gets them in at 4:10. Then it turns out that the Branson flight is way behind schedule, and will get in at 5:25, over an hour after the other teams.

They are travel to the underground city in Montreal, where they have to search the CDP tunnel for a cluebox. The Weavers manage somehow to commandeer a cab, while the Linzes are waiting in a line. They quickly find the cluebox, which is concealed from the obvious direction, but right out in the open if the teams double back. The Linzes and the Bransons both miss it the first time and have to retrace their steps.

Detour: Slide It or Roll It. In Slide It, each member of the the teams has to slide a curling stone into a scoring zone. The Weavers are in love with their cab driver, Ted, even though he at first misses the location of the arena where they are to attempt Slide It. However, apparently this is a common mistake as the Linzes end up in the same place.

The Weavers handle Slide It well, and leave the arena before the Linzes arrive. Meanwhile, the Bransons have chosen Roll It, which requires them to roll a log along some wooden rails with the help of a special tool.

Next stop: the American Pavillion at the Montreal Expo. I visited the Expo around 1976, and the American Pavillion at the time was considered too dangerous for people to approach or enter; apparently it was falling apart. However, somebody must have fixed it up, because the teams have to enter it and climb five flights of stairs to the top. The Weavers arrive first, followed by the Linzes and Bransons.

From there, the teams head to an industrial building and enter through Porte J. Of course, being fluent en Francaise, I know that Porte J is a door. Sadly, this does not seem to confuse anybody, so I wouldn't pick up any time on them. Porte J turns out to lead to a trapeze artist academy, where one member of each team must do a little aerial maneuver to be caught by a professional trapezist.

Of course, here is where Brainster would say to somebody else in the family, "Why don't you do it?" Not afraid of heights, but I am a big man and this calls for somebody lighter. The Weavers pick Rollie and he aces it, completing the maneuver in one attempt. He really has performed terrifically in this race, handling everything with apparent ease.

The Linzes pick somebody else (Alex?) and we hear numerous discussions of how fat his ass is. Sure enough he can complete the maneuver, but never quite gets caught. The Bransons catch up, but unfortunately they are watching as the trapezist and Alex finally get it right. The youngest Branson daughter tries and apparently aces it.

Next stop: the Stad Olympique, which is (I believe) where the Montreal Expos used to play before they moved to Washington. Teams must drive golf carts around the stadium to find the only entrance that a vehicle can make it through. Once again the order is Weavers, Linzes, Bransons. But the clue here is very tough; find the three departure times scattered throughout a 55,000 seat stadium. The teams spend some time searching, then realize that this is going to be a long effort and they need to pay off their cabbies.

The Linzes find their departure time first: 5:45. The Bransons find theirs: 5:50. The Weavers appear to have given up in discouragement, but that's just to carry us through the break. Sure enough, when they come back the mother gets up and the family starts looking again and Rollie (you da man!) finds their time: 5:55.

They get on little commuter airplanes leaving at those times, and head to Toronto, where they must find the CN Building. This is one of the most distinctive buildings in the world, a tall, elongated pyramid building with a bulge near the top:

Very reminiscent of the Space Needle in Seattle. Once there, the teams must search the city below for the next Pit Stop. The Linzes and Bransons leave simultaneously, while the Weavers are a little behind at this point.

Next stop is a waterfront cluebox. Detour: Ship or Shoe. In ship, teams sail (with the help of a sailor) to a ship, where they must climb the rigging to the top to get a pennant. In Shoe, they visit a shoe museum where they must try to find the one barefooted woman out of a hundred in the museum whose foot will fit the shoe they have picked. Phil emphasizes that Ship should be faster, but for teams without nerve the Shoe might work out.

The Linzes and Weavers pick Ship, while the Bransons pick shoe. We see the Linzes and Weavers making good time; at one point the sailor says that the Weavers have done perfectly. The Bransons meanwhile are despairing of ever finding the woman they're looking for. Could they have made a mistake?

No, it's just another psyche to get us through a commercial. The Linzes get their pennnant and the next clue. The Bransons finally find the right woman and get their clue.

And the Weavers apparently drop off the radar screen for no apparent reason. After being reasonably close on the sail to the ship, suddenly they're far behind. Rollie (great job kid) climbs the rigging and drops the pennant. Fortunately it lands on the dock and there's no penalty (apparently).

They're off to Queenston, where they board extremely fast boats that take them to the penultimate cluebox. There's no real challenge here, and teams arrive and depart in pretty much the same relative time situation, but it is apparent that the Weavers have fallen far behind. Next stop: Lewiston, New York, the final location in this race.

The Linzes and Bransons appear to be neck and neck. The final Road Block is to assemble a map of North America. Wally goes against one of the Linz boys. It appears very close, but Wally leaves one piece out and must run back. Meanwhile the Linzes make their victory run to the grand prize. I'd have to look back at the previous recaps, but I don't think they ever won a leg before this.

I am disappointed; I really thought the Weavers had overcome a lot. The Linzes still seem like ciphers to me; I could walk down the street past them and not realize who I was looking at. I liked the Bransons; the girls were cute and old Wally came through when he was called upon.

Still it was a terrific season and an entertaining trip around North America. It was cool that they hit upon so many areas where I had been; I really don't consider myself much of a traveler, but my mom loved to visit new places and I occasionally joined up with her and my dad for the trip to Monument Valley, for example.

As always, check out Viking Pundit's race recap for more. Eric was rooting for the Linzes, but even he says "Who Dey?"

And kris at Dummocrats apparently saw the unrated DVD edition:

Megan Linz balling at the finish line.
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