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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
 
The Amazing Race Finale--Turning Japanese/T'Tao!

In the first part of the show, teams must travel to an elephant park that opens at 4:00 AM (?). Of course, this acts as a bunching maneuver, as all teams arrive before the opening. They receive T-Mobile Sidekicks with the next clue. Fly to Tokyo!

The Hippies are elated because Tyler speaks Japanese and so they feel confident they can get an advantage. But almost immediately that hope is dashed as they fail to get the first flight, and so must make up almost an hour and a half.

The next task is to go to the Times Square of Tokyo, where they must look for the next clue on one of the video boards. Find Hachiko, a statue of a dog. This does not appear to pose much of a challenge, but by this time the Hippies have passed Ray & Yolanda.

Detour: Maiden or Messenger. In Maiden, teams must carry a woman in a sedan chair to a tea ceremony. In Messenger, they must deliver packages to two office buildings. The Hippies take advantage of their familiarity with the language to choose Messenger, while the other two teams carry the Maiden. It seems to work out well for all concerned, but Ray and Yolanda have clearly fallen behind the other two teams.

Next task is to find the Capsule Land Hotel, a place where you can stretch out in the comfort of a capsule instead of an actual hotel room. Teams are given staggered departure times. The Frat Boys check in first, Hippies next, Ray and Yolanda last.

The next morning they must find their way to Fujiko Highland, an amusement park. There, they have to ride three rides while looking for a man holding a clue. As usual with these segments, the challenge is not that great and everybody sees the clueman the first time through.

The next stop is the Pitstop at Lake Yamanaka. Teams must paddle swan boats out to a a larger boat in the middle of the lake. The Hippies arrive with a slight advantage over the Frat Boys, and manage to maintain that. They win T-Mobile Sidekicks and three years' service. The Frat Boys arrive next, followed by Ray & Yolanda. But... non-elimination leg. They lose their money and possessions.

The finale follows. Teams must fly to Anchorage, Alaska. The Hippies help Ray & Yolanda with some money, but they also beg. Apparently the Japanese think Yolanda looks like Janet Jackson, so they are generous.

Lots of drama about the plane connections, but in the end everybody gets into Anchorage at the same time. The Hippies do manage to convince a hotel clerk to pretend there's no internet access, but it's all in vain as the Frat Boys get their plane by telephone.

So all teams are even as we return to the US. They dash out to SUVs which conveniently include parkas, so there's no real disadvantage to BJ & Tyler and Ray & Yolanda.

Detour: Drill or Deliver. As it works out Deliver is ruled out by weather, so all teams must drill 10 holes through the ice, then move icehouses out to reveal at least two of the holes. The Hippies and Frat Boys start this one neck and neck, but Ray and Yolanda are behind again.

The Frat Boys take the lead here. Next stop is Kincaid Park, where teams are required to find a cluebox on a snowshoe trail. The Frat Boys get out on the course fairly quickly, while the Hippies apparently hose themselves by walking right past the snowshoes twice. Ray and Yolanda continue to slip further behind.

Now teams must fly to Denver, to a cluebox in Boulder, and then return to the Red Rocks amphitheater for the final challenge. They must find the flags of all the countries they visited, then place them in the order they were visited. Although the Frat Boys come close, the Hippies eventually work the puzzle out and dash to the mat, $1 million richer.

Comments: Great and entertaining season. The Hippies are two of the best characters the show has had at least in the three seasons I've been watching. They dominated the competition except, ironically, in two of the three non-elimination rounds. They played fair except for with the Frat Boys, which nobody can blame them. I was pleased to see Monica give a little pout at seeing them win the race. I was very glad not to see the Frat Boys win; they were grating.

Ray's got something going on with his eyes. Not sure if it's a walleye or a lazy eye or a glass eye, but it was noticeable tonight.

As always, check out Eric's terrific Amazing Race recap as well.
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