Buckle up everyone. We’re taking another ride down the interstate as The Amazing Race: Family Edition, or as I like to call it, The Amazing Race: 50 Nifty United States Edition, heads all the way from… Pennsylvania to Egypt? No. France? No. East Timor? No. BETTER. Columbia! (District of, that is.) Yes, this ever so national race kept things local yet again as the teams headed south to the DC and then off to Virginia. But, for what it’s worth, if you accept that this season will be more on the quaint, non-adventurous side, it still managed to be pretty exciting, especially in the final moments as teams scrambled for the finish line. I guess I can never be too upset with The Amazing Race. It’s like a dog that tracked mud into the house. Sure I’m annoyed, but I love it anyway. Unless it’s a really, really small yapping dog. Then I hate it (I’m looking at you, Breaking Bonaduce).This leg of the race started off in the heart of Amish country, home of Rumpspringa, Witness, and the new sport taking the country by storm: DangerBuggy! Last week, Mrs. Weaver fell victim to the runaway cart. Who would be felled tonight??
Anyway, we quickly learned that teams would be heading to York, PA to find Shoehouse road and a giant, uh, shoe-house. Whoa, that has “Buggy Catastrophe” written all over it. Phil then elaborated for us: “Teams must now drive approximately fifteen miles.” STOP THE PRESSES! Fifteen miles? Let’s not go crazy here. You can’t expect any normal human being to drive that distance, let alone children! This season is crazy hardcore.
The Godlewskis were first out of the gate, and props to them for stopping at Kinkos to get matching shirts with pictures of themselves on the front. To think that I insinuated last week that they were annoying…
Leaving not long after were the Gaghans, featuring Dakota Fanning. Oh wait, I mean Carissa. “They see us as a threat now,” said the mom. Well, it’s understandable. Your daughter does seem to be the devil’s spawn. And speaking of religious figures, the Weavers left next, which meant a small pep talk in the car. “We all need to give 100%,” said the widow mother. Uh, and don’t forget to look out for those runaway buggies. You just know Jesus won’t be happy until he smotes you with one again.
The Schroeders left next, I believe, and daughter Stassi (pronounced Stacy) explained, “We’re not as prepared as we thought we were.” Yeah, seriously. Too bad you didn’t bring along a handicapped kid to stop traffic for you.
Anyway, as the first batch of teams headed off, it took about .329 seconds before The Widow Weaver called upon a higher authority: “Lord, please help us. In Jesus’s name, please help us, God.” Look, last time you distracted Jesus from helping out with Katrina, you got attacked by the Amish equivalent of a Mac truck. Don’t push your luck.
My heart instantly warmed when the Paolos ran out of the gate, and unsurprisingly, they were already bickering. “My mother’s nagging is constant,” complained DJ, “She just drives me nuts.” Yeah, it’s kind of like how America feels when they hear… you. Wow, I really dissed him there.
Well, first to arrive at the shoe house (it was literally a house designed to look like a shoe) were the Gaghans. Dad hopped out of the SUV and ran around to the cluebox, but you know, maybe they should have sent Carissa. After all, she can out-run most adults, DIDN’T YOU KNOW??
Nevertheless, the dad found the clue and learned that teams would now have to travel to DC, find the reflecting pool at the capitol, and search the surroundings for the next route marker. You know, we’ve hit up the Statue of Liberty, historic Philadelphia, and soon Washington DC. After tonight, what other patriotic things are there to do? Go to a veterans hospital? Hit up Disney World? It would be cool if Bertram Van Munster got all European on us and started making scathing statements about American culture. “Teams must now travel to McDonald’s because that’s all American life is: fast food, fat people.”
Arriving soon after at the shoe house were the Weavers, who still seemed to be on God’s good side this episode. Mom sent her son out to fetch the clue, imploring, “Go to the top of the shoe house. Up the stairs, baby. You’ll be closer to Jesus.” Okay, she didn’t say that about Jesus, but you know she was thinking it. Once they opened their clue, however, I started to think that prayers might be in order. Prayers for education. “What state is it in? Washington?” asked one of the daughters. Dear God, when you’re done helping all the hurricane victims, could you send the Weaver kids to a nearby library? Thanks.
Speaking of the hurricane, Team Louisiana, a.k.a. The Rogers family, headed out to DC, but we knew problems were ahead when dad instructed his son to take 30 East to 83 South. Suddenly, there was a random SLOW-MO OF DEATH which meant that this would lead to certain disaster, or the editors were just bored and toying with us. Sure enough, it was the former as every team found 83 South except the Rogers. This made Dad very upset as he scolded his son, “You’re responsible for finding 83 South.” Or else? Will he be fired from the family? Nevertheless, Brett or Bo or Brick or whatever his name was told his dad “We didn’t pass it though… I did not see it!” Well, then clearly you didn’t pass it. Everyone knows you only pass things you see.
Actually, it turned out the son was correct. It was dad who was in the wrong. They should never have taken 30 East, I think. Luckily, pops owned up to it. “We took our eye off the ball. We said 83 south to the driver, and we passed up the exit.” The driver? You mean your son, right? It’s okay. You don’t have to protect his identity. We saw the whole thing.
Suddenly we cut to a giant road map of America, and the sad realization hit me that this was what would have to pass for the much-loved airport diagram. Honestly, it’s just not as fun. Anyway, the Gaghans arrived at the reflecting pool first and began scouring the area. “We need some good eyes,” Mom told Carissa. C’mon, you know she only responds to “WHEELS!! WHEELS!! WHEELS!!!”
Meanwhile, in the Weaver vehicle, the sad state of American edumacation became even more apparent as one daughter looked out the window at the capitol and asked, “Is that the capitol?” No. It’s just a really ornate Cheesecake Factory. Seriously, how could you not know the capitol building? I really might have to pray for these people after all.
Well, after seeing the Weavers flip out over a parking spot, we then learned that after receiving the clue, teams would have to rendez-vous with a limo on Third Street, receive a suitcase from an unseen contact and then… assassinate someone? No. Just take the briefcase to the Tidal Basin for the next clue. The Weavers were on top of this like Jesus on a cross, but less successful were the Gaghans who couldn’t even find the initial clue box at the reflecting pool. That’s because they were at the Washington Monument Reflecting Pool, not the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Gotta read those clues carefully. Luckily, Billy Gaghan had a hot lead. “Wait a minute! What’s that?” he asked optimistically before retracting with, “Oh, that’s a no smoking sign. Never mind.” See, this is why kids shouldn’t be allowed to go on the race.
The Schroeders quickly figured out that they were at the wrong reflecting pool, but when they passed by the Gaghans, they merely threw up their hands as if to say, “We don’t know either.” It’s one of my favorite Amazing Race techniques. It’s always good for some confusion and usually works wonders on old people too. I think Gretchen and Meredith fell for it about three times an episode last season.
Paolo Update! As expected, the entire family was bickering, mostly because Ma kept harping on the need for gas. This of course led to a near-WWIII situation as everyone yelled and screamed in the car. Even Dad, who had spent last week mostly silent, was making noise tonight. I couldn’t help wondering though: where was Marion’s fancy neck kerchief? That bad boy better come back. Oh, and if this team loses because they didn’t get gas, I will be very unhappy.
At the Tidal Basin, it was time for the first Roadblock of the season, and it was pretty hilarious. Participants had to take their briefcases and search the area for “spies” carrying identical briefcases. Unfortunately, even though there were many people dressed like spies, only ten were “confirmed” spies. Furthermore, Roadblockers had to say, “The sky is blue,” and if the person responded with “The sea is green,” a briefcase exchange would take place, and inside the new case would be the next clue. Okay, I give this challenge five minutes before Homeland Security ambushes it.
Well, teams began filtering in, and we watched the awkward display of racers telling strangers “The sky is blue.” I would have loved it if there were an actual spy walking around, waiting for that exact code phrase to be spoken to him. Hmmm… average guy approaches a spy because he thinks he’s part of a reality show, then gets recruited into an international scandal? Sounds like we got ourselves a sequel to The Man! And you thought Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson would never revisit those roles.
Eventually the Paolos arrived at the Roadblock, and as DJ headed off to find his spy, Marion said, “Take your time, relax.” This prompted her son to yell, “MOM! PLEASE!” Seriously, that gentle, caring encouragement was totally ridiculous on her part. She should really learn.
Anyway, the Godlewski family was the first team to make contact with a spy, and wait, was that Nina from 24? Must have been wishful thinking. Anyway, we learned that teams must now head off to Middleburg, VA and find an old antebellum estate called Welbourne Manor. Wow. This episode went from PA to MD to DC to VA. Three states and a district! This season is en fuego!
Later, DJ Paolo finally got a clue from a black guy, causing the punk to happily say, “I love you, my brother.” It’s a good thing he didn’t add, “And I can say that because I know a Black family.” Sorry, I’m going to milk that joke for as long as I can. It’s not fair we were robbed of it so early in the season.
Back at the wrong reflecting pool, the Gaghans may have had WHEELS, but they certainly didn’t have a clue. Literally. They were still poking around. In a similar situation were the Bransens, who were slowed by patriarch Walter, or WalDER, as the kids call him. C’mon WalDER. Don’t disappoint your hottie daughters. Meanwhile, now that the Paolos were back on the open road, their gas situation had become significantly more dire. “I guess they don’t pump gas in freakin’ VA,” yelled DJ. How about you shut up and listen to your mother when she tells you to get gas. But at least they weren’t as screwed as the Rogers, who still hadn’t even arrived at the reflecting pool. Man, a lot of dumbness tonight.
Well, after the commercial break, the Bransens finally realized they were at the wrong place, and as they headed off, the Rogers arrived and talked with the Gaghans. Big mistake. The Louisiana family basically tipped off the Gaghans that they were at the wrong location. Both teams headed to the other reflecting pool, but the Rogers got lost for the umpteenth time, firmly placing them at the back of the pack. Oh, and the Paolos finally got gas. Yay!
Over at the Roadblock, the Gaghans made up huge amounts of time. Momma Tammy headed out to find a spy, which she did very quickly, and I was fairly amused by her quiet whisper, “The sky is blue.” Um, this isn’t a real spy mission. You know that, right? As for the Bransens, even though WalDER could hardly keep up, the girls still let him do the Roadblock, which probably would rank as one of their “blonder” decisions. And speaking of dumb decisions, DJ Paolo had somehow gotten the fam all turned around because before they knew it, they were passing the Pentagon again and heading back into DC. This prompted a minor Marion outburst as she yelled, “None of you ever EVER EVER listen to me!!!” Not as good as last week’s insanity but still worthy of a fond place in my dreams tonight.
Our weekly Marion fix.
Well, we may not have airplane drama this season, but at least we’ve got more traffic to contend with, and sure enough, the highway to Welbourne Manor was clogged with commuters. It was the great equalizer, as one woman called it. Most people just sat in their lanes, but crafty teams like those Cincinatti Superstars, the Linz family, snuck off onto local roads and significantly boosted their position. Meanwhile, the Rogers daughter completed the Roadblock, and if Tammy Gaghan was a bit too quiet, this girl was the exact opposite. She jumped up and down in joy and jubilation, thus proving that she would make a terrible covert spy in real life. Unless, of course, she was a real spy posing as a reality star so she could pass important documents over right under our very noses. BEST SPY EVER!
The Weavers and Godlewskis arrived at Welbourne Manor first and soon encountered this leg’s Detour: “Heat of the battle or heat of the night.” Basically, a giant Civil War reenactment was raging in the house’s backyard, and teams had to decide between two common battlefield tasks. In “battle,” teams had to rush onto the field with stretchers and carry injured bodies over to a surgical tent. In “night,” teams had to roll an oil barrel to a work station, fill up twenty lamps, brings them to a table, and light them all. At the end of either detour, teams would then have to carry a flag down a road, at the bottom of which they’d find the next Pit Stop. Phil elaborated: “And they’ll find me, here in this meadow.” And what a lovely thing to find in a meadow! An errant Phil Koeghan, grazing in the wild!
Phil and his new sidekick, Jed.
Well, the Godlewskis opted for the triage while the Weavers headed to the lanterns. Odds that a random buggy will steamroll the Weavers? 2 to 1.
Anyway, the Linz family arrived third, clearly benefiting from some backroad navigation. Just another example of how unpredictable and wonderful this show is, even in this watered-down season. The Weavers seemed to be doing well with the lamps, although they did face some setbacks: “How do you light ‘em?” asked a daughter. Duh! Through the radiance of Jesus, of course!
Well, Jesus walked with the Weavers this time around as they took first place. Amazingly, Rob and Amber still managed to win a prize. Okay, okay, I’m just kidding. The Weavers snagged themselves a nifty trip to Bermuda, and honestly, that was pretty cool for them. We may joke a lot on this site, but the poor kids lost their dad, and at least now they have something to show for their Amazing Race trip.
Weavers First! Superstars! Do you think they’re what they say they are?
Now, I wish I could sit here and continue to be nice and everything, but I had a pressing question: WHERE ARE MY PAOLOS?? They were still on the road, I guess, but for now we can focus on the old men, who were struggling with the Detour. First, WalDER could barely hold up his end of the stretcher, and then Tony of the Aiello family announced that he was “wicked tired.” What really made this sad, however, was that the Gaghan family pushed their robotic children to do the triage option with them. Has the notion of “too much” ever occurred to these parents? Amazingly though, the Gaghans rocked this challenge. Carissa didn’t really do much (she’s more Cheetara, less Panthro), but the other three picked up her slack and managed to eventually deliver five “patients” to the surgical tent. As for the team standings, the Linz family arrived second place on the heels of the Weavers. In third were the Godlewskis, followed by the Schroeders, and the Aiellos. Despite WalDER’s huffing and puffing, the Bransens placed sixth, followed by the Gaghans at seventh.
Now it was time for things to get really exciting. The Paolos finally arrived at the Detour and were followed (according to the editing) by the Rogers close behind. Here’s the thing. The Rogers have little to no personality. If they beat out the Paolos, ensuring my second of three favorite teams going home in a row, I’d be very upset. A lot hinged on this Detour. The Paolos opted for the Heat of Battle, and so did the Rogers, but they eventually switched after their mom said she couldn’t hack it. Also having problems was Marion Paolo, causing her husband and boys to alternately spur her on with more yelling. Look, if the Gaghans can do this with essentially two adults and one child, I think the Paolo men can somehow compensate for Ma’s shortcomings.
The action then kicked into overdrive as we cut back and forth between the two families. Who would win? The Rogers seemed to have the lead (eighteen, nineteen, twenty lamps lit), but the Paolos got the official “Task Complete” title first. Would this be a foot race? It sure looked like one, although, a keen eye could tell there was a lot of nifty editing going on. Still, you never know, and as the Paolos lightly jogged down the road, I began to share the yelling dad’s sentiments. RUN DAMMIT!
Well, luckily for me, justice reigned, and the Paolos arrived first. And, for once, one of the Paolo kids had something nice to say about his mother. Kind of. “She’s a fighter. She complains about everything, but she comes through in the clutch.” For the record, that wasn’t DJ who said that. Also for the record, it seems like DJ is the prime douchebag of the two.
Sadly, at least for them, the Rogers were eliminated by MeadowPhil, causing tears and disappointment by all. Brock was especially disheartened, mostly because he felt no one in his family listened to him or showed any signs of flexibility. And by “no one,” he clearly meant “my dad.” Oh well. Sorry guys, but you just weren’t very interesting, even despite your potentially controversial gender outlooks. What did you think? Were you sad to see the Rogers go?