Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce that for the first time in a month, The Amazing Race: Family Edition has finally eliminated another team. That’s right. We haven’t seen any sort of Philimination action since way back on November 8th when the Paolos were unceremoniously dropped from the Race roster. Since then, we’ve had a week off for the Country Music Awards, a non-elimination round in Utah, a fakeout Pit Stop in Wyoming, and now finally this episode. Now, I hate to be a hater, and I’ve never really turned my nose up on non-eliminations in the past (my theory being that anything that prolongs the wonderful Amazing Race experience is always awesome in my book), but I gotta admit that this dearth of activity combined with an already weak season has really depleted any momentum this show had left. I mean, things were picking up in Central America. It almost felt like the Race we knew and love was back. But now that we’ve spent the past three episodes traveling from park to ranch to park to ranch with little else in between, I find myself asking that most derided of road trip questions: are we there yet?Well, for those of you who don’t remember what happened last week, the teams arrived at Phil, and as I had predicted, he announced that the leg was not in fact over. Yes, it was one of those alterna-non-elimination legs — the kind where the producers don’t have to buy a prize for whoever’s in first place. As this week’s episode began, we watched once again as the Weavers and Bransens sprinted to Phil who may or may not have been tethered to a nearby fence. Anyway, FencePhil™ handed over the next clue which told the teams to drive to Dubois, Wyoming and find Turtle Ranch. Oooh! Another ranch! How exciting. I wonder if the teams will take a long, boring stretch of highway to get there!
The Bransens and the Weavers headed off to the next rancho del excitement while the Godlewskis and Linzes continued to make their way to Phil. We then cut to Tommy Linz as he managed to spray semi-chomped cheese doodles all over himself and his sister. And let’s be honest. If there were ever a snack to sum up Tommy, it’s cheese doodle.
Meanwhile, the Godlewskis had no idea where Phil’s ranch was; so they stopped by a pay phone to call information. Of course, since Chrissy spearheaded this tactic, it only took about .347 seconds before those dueling hyenas known as Michelle and Sharon began screaming and complaining. When this minor detour proved to be fruitless, Michelle continued to make a fuss, causing Chrissyrella to suddenly lash out, “Michelle, all you’re doing is complaining. You’re not coming up with any ideas!” Well, this big bad momma would have none of that as she yelled back, “DON’T TELL ME I DON’T PUT ANYTHING IN!!!” Chris, in the future, just give her a pint of Chubby Hubby. That’ll shut her up.
Elsewhere on the open road, the Bransens headed towards Dubois with empty stomaches, causing general crabbiness to descend upon the sisters like a mighty, oversized hat. Now they could only be 120% perky, as opposed to the usual 175%. Before we could really learn the extent of the Bransen’s hunger, the sound of random, European-ish techno suddenly filled the airwaves as we then found the Weavers hunting for a gas station. Why the house music? Were the Weavers about to embark on an Ecstasy-fueled rave for the Lord? Or would Phil be showing up wearing a backpack and sucking a lollipop? WE COULD ONLY HOPE.
Unfortunately, we never really found out how or why that techno made it onto the soundtrack, but it was surely a welcome change from the usual “dunh-dunh, dunh-dunh-Dunh, Dunh-Dunh-DUNH, DUNH DUNH!!!” progression (although, I highly enjoy that too). Anyway, the Weavers were searching for a gas station, but not because they needed gas. No, they needed directions. But hey, why not get gas while they’re at it? NO! Driver Rebecca refused to fill up. Would this be foreshadowing for some sort of gasoline-related vehicular break-down? I was certainly hoping so. Nevertheless, Rachel was not happy with her sister’s executive decision, and when Ma said that it was Rebecca’s choice ultimately, Rachel balked, “She’s not the smartest one in the group!” And in the Weaver family, that’s really saying something.
Meanwhile, the Linzes finally reached Phil, or The Phillinator as Tommy called him. As expected, the fam caught Phil’s curveball with the usual blend of excitement and glee, and as they headed off to Dubois, the Godlewskis approached the ranch. “15200!!! RIGHT THERE!!! Bigger than daylight!” Michelle yelled, adding, “Remember, I’m not contributing anything Chris!” Shut up, bitch. You read a sign. Congratulations.
With tensions running high in the Godlewski SUV, Christine began crying in anticipation of elimination. But lo! Phil turned that frown upside down. The Desperate Housewives zipped off to the next destination, leaving Sir Keoghan to call out “You’re still in it, guys! Don’t stop racing!” At which point Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” popped into my head, except with Phil on vocals (and tambourine. Because you know he totally loves to shake the tambourine).
Well, the Bransens arrived at Turtle Ranch first, and guess what, folks? It was closed for the night. Who would have thunk it? Yes, that’s right. The gates wouldn’t open until 7 AM which meant err’body would be all tied up again. Ain’t that convenient? That’s okay. If it means that the Linzes can rise to the top of the pack again, I’m all for it.
As the Weavers approached this next destination, Rebecca asked, “What is a turtle ranch?” Normally, I’d answer “The name of the ranch you are going to,” but instead Linda had a more interesting response: “It’s where they make lots and lots of turtles.” I couldn’t tell if she was joking or not, but given this woman’s track record (Washington DC is in Washington, Pennsylvania is a city, Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana is a Great Lake), I’m gonna say she was serious. If it’s true that these Weaver kids are home-schooled, then I sincerely hope there’s a teacher’s strike very, very soon.
Once the Weavers arrived at Turtle Ranch, they crawled into their camper and isolated themselves from everyone else. “I don’t want to see these other people,” Linda said. Rebecca echoed her by saying, “They’re not really the kind of people we want to hang out with.” Yeah, all their edumacation and stuff is weeeird.
Speaking of weird, the Linzes approached Turtle Ranch with expected levels of ADHD. “This is EXCIIIIIITING!!” Nick Linz yelled, causing Tommy let out a bizarre “BLEHHH!” noise. I can’t really describe it. Basically, it sounded like a billy goat or something. And like a cheese doodle, I think a billy goat is an appropriate way to sum up Bone.
Eventually, all four of the teams met up at Turtle Ranch, and as everyone congregated outside, the Weavers continued to hole themselves up in their trailer. “Everyone’s out to get us, it seems like,” Rebecca said. “I know, I don’t get it,” added Linda. Yeah, why would everyone be gunning for them? Just because they’ve been rude and obnoxious and holier-than-thou and downright strange doesn’t mean they should be ostracized. I guess that’s just what happens when you’re the only team trying to lead a good, honest Christian life (when it’s convenient).
The next morning, the show suddenly turned into a beef commercial as violins soared and horses ran free like the mighty untamed beasts of yesteryear. The teams all huddled by the Turtle Ranch gates and were told to sprint to a set of SUVs all the way across a field. But lo! Would this be a field of TURTLES? Sorry, I was asking on behalf of the Weavers. Anyway, at the stroke of seven, the gates opened, and suddenly it was a mad dash across the Wyoming terrain. As she got into her SUV, Linda Weaver immediately called upon her buddy in the sky, saying, “Dear Lord, please give us wisdom.” Hey, why start now? ZING!
Well, the SUVs all headed up into the hills of the ranch, and then with a mighty “Whaa-aaa!” that might be more reminiscent of a ninja movie than rural Wyoming, we found ourselves facing a Native American chief standing by a teepee. Yes, this was the Detour, and holy shit! Is that a peace pipe in your pocket or are you just happy to see us? I’m not one of these look-at-Phil’s-package people, but my oh my, he was quite the bulging superstar, wasn’t he? I’m pretty sure he stuffed a sock down there that morning.
Anyhoo, back to the Detour. This week’s choices were “pioneer spirit” or “native tradition.” In “pioneer spirit,” teams had to find four wagon wheels, affix them to a wagon (natch), attach some horsies, and then take a quarter-mile ride. In “native tradition,” teams had to build a teepee, a process with many steps. The Bransens and Linzes opted for the “pioneer spirit” while the other two teams got all “native tradition” on us. As the Weavers ran to their teepee setup, Linda spied the tribal chief and declared, “He’s cute.” Why, that’s not patronizing at all!
The Linzes, meanwhile, went running into the field to find wagon wheels, causing Tommy to yell, “Time for Bone. Sun’s out, thumb’s out, baby!” I didn’t really understand what it meant. Was it some Ohio thing? A hitchhiker’s term? Or maybe just some typical Tommy babble? Probably the latter. Well, the teams found their wagon wheels, but they were heavier than expected, causing one of the Bransen girls to let out her patented, “Eeeeee!” Over at the Weaver teepee, Rolly ran around the frame with a rope, quietly singing a tribal chant and making a tomahawk gesture. Just some more of that wonderful Weaver class! Suddenly, however, Rolly stopped and looked at the chief. “He’s looking at me,” he complained. Yeah, well, maybe it’s because of that whole racist tomahawk thing. Doesn’t he realize that the only acceptable place for such actions are at baseball stadiums? (Or “stadia” as per the proper pluralization. Try that one on for size, Linda.)
Over at La Teepee De La Godlewski, Chrissy was buggin’ her sisters by insisting that all the poles should be four foot-lengths apart. As expected, Michelle and Sharon freaked out on her, and after a spate of bickering and shouting, Michelle finally sneered, “Too many chiefs and not enough, uh, what’s the saying?” And with that, Michelle then smiled and put on her “Hug Me, I’m Ironic!” t-shirt.
Well, the Linzes finished their task first and headed off to Cody, Wyoming where they’d have to find the Irma Hotel. Once there, they’d have to get dressed in period clothes and take a picture with a Buffalo Bill impersonator (and no, I’m not talking about one of those old ice cream bars. Anyone remember those? I personally enjoyed the Fat Frog ice cream bar. It was shaped like a frog and had M&Ms for eyes, chocolate on the back. Anyone? Anyone?).
Before I totally go off on a vintage Good Humor quest, let’s get back to the race. Well, the Godlewskis were nearly done with their teepee of squabbling. All that was left was to insert a few pegs through some slits. Unfortunately, those slits happened to be high up, which meant the girls had to pile onto Christine’s back. As the cameraman shot from a highly suggestive low-angle, Michelle dependably scoffed at the whole operation, saying, “There goes the teepee.” Really? Because I think the cameraman just pitched a tent. Boo-ya! I’m on fire!
“Stap looking up my shirt!”
Out on the open road, Megan Linz struggled to jog her Buffalo Bill memory. Was he a tall tale? Did he have an ox? No, silly. That was Paul Bunyon. Buffalo Bill was a real person — as well as a scary bad guy in Silence of the Lambs. And just in case we didn’t realize that, Tommy and Alex piped up with “Puts the lotion on the skin! Or it gets the hose again!” Unfortunately, the line sounded less menacing and more mentally challenged. One word: cheese doodles.
Meanwhile, the Weavers completed their teepee and offered it up for inspection, but not before telling the chief, “You’re cute.” At which point the chief then said, “And you’re all IDIOTS.” Okay, he didn’t say that, but I so wish he had. As he checked out the handiwork, the Godlewskis still struggled, with Sharon unable to get her damn peg in the teepee hole (pausing to snicker). C’mon Sharon. Poor Chrissy’s holding you up and you can’t reach that extra inch? There best not be any complaining coming out of your pie hole. Oh, what am I saying? Of course there’ll be complaining. “Chrissy, why couldn’t you have been a foot taller? CHRISSY! GROW!!!”
Eventually the Godlewskis finished their teepee and left in last place. As for the Linzes, they showed up at The Irma hotel first and got into costume. The Weavers, meanwhile, suffered from hunger cravings on the road as they salivated for Pizza Hut and other fine establishments. “I love to go to the buffet,” Rachel said. The Buffet of Jesus, that is. Hallelujah!
Well, the Linz fam emerged in 19th century Wild West garb, much to the delight of the waiting Bransens (except Wally who impatiently bristled, “Take the photo.”). After some general guffawing and Blue Steel poses, the Linzes then zoomed off to the next clue on the tenth tee of a golf course in Montana while the Bransens took their turn with Buffalo Bill, or as I like to call him, that creepy guy at the bar someone put a hat on. Surprisingly enough, the Bransen girls were all about complaining as they balked at how hideous the dresses made them look. Hey, it’s a costume, not a prom dress.
Up in Montana, the Linzes arrived at the golf course where they found the next Roadblock. Phil came out to tell us about the next challenge, but my god, the man still hadn’t flogged his dolphin. I’ve never seen Phil have such bulging issues before. I’m surprised CBS didn’t apply some pixilation. Nevertheless, the thoroughly aroused host told us that for the next Roadblock, two people from each team would have to hop into Buick Lucern golf carts (rolling eyes) and search for four golf balls of the same color on the back nine (that’s golf lingo for “second half the course”). And because a testicle innuendo needed to be said — especially in the wake of Phil’s elephantine package — Megan then asked, “All we have to do is search for balls?” Ah yes. Scrotum humor. I am satisfied.
The Bransens arrived at the golf course soon after, and when Wally chose the color purple (Oprah would be proud), his daughter snipped, “No, we’re blue, dork!” Hey, don’t be mean to WalDER!!
Meanwhile, the Weavers came and left their photoshoot, and while Linda and Rachel argued for the title of “I looked worst!”, the Godlewskis showed up and got randy with my homeboy Buffalo Billdizzy. Chrissy and Tricia performed some sultry dancing, waved their boas around, and then shimmied up on the guy, with Christine saying, “Hey there, Buffalo Bill.” Oh my gad! What a slut, doncha think? I know the girl playing Irma thought so. She looked pissed. Irma HATES waiting around!
Anyway, the Linzes had a strong lead at the Roadblock, but when Nick and Alex missed a ball hidden in a hole (darn it!), the Bransens assumed the lead and departed for Larry Arnold’s Green Acre Ranch for the next Pit Stop. A ranch? What a great idea! Let’s go to five more!
The Weavers showed up at golf course next, and not too long later, the Godlewskis arrived as well. Michelle and Sharon volunteered to seek out the balls, which of course meant that bickering would soon follow. Sure enough, the two sisters were a mess out on the fairway, and instead of keeping an eye on the prize, they spent half their time arguing about whether or not Michelle had started driving before Sharon was even fully in the Buick Lucerne golf cart. Totally exasperated, Sharon then jumped ship and decided to jog around instead, thus totally wasting even more time. By the way, was this like one of the worst golf courses ever? I’ve never seen a green that looked so yellow.
Well, the Weavers finished the Roadblock next, and as they headed off, Linda said, “I pray those sisters take a while.” Yes, praying for the downfall of others so that you can partake in riches. That’s like page one of Jesus 101.
Anyway, the Bransens arrived at the Pit Stop first, asking “Is it for real this time?” Oooh, snarky. But seriously, Phil. Tell us it’s for real. Indeed, it was. And as the family celebrated, Wally remarked, “Buick is a great vehicle.” Wow, an unsolicited testimony. That’s convenient because Bransen family, you just won A NEW CAR!!! (R.I.P. Rod Roddy). Yes, the Bransens won a Buick Lucerne, a.k.a. reality show vehicle du jour (see The Apprentice: Martha Stewart). And don’t worry — they got the real version, not the golf cart.
The Linzes showed up second, which meant it was down to the Weavers and the Godlewskis. Sadly, there was no way the bickering sisters could catch up, but we did hold out brief hope when the fuzz pulled over Rebecca for speeding (I bet Rolly never put on his seat belt so fast in his life.) Sadly, the cops only gave the Weavers a warning — of course — and even though Linda warned her daughter not to drive over 25 mph and even though that gas gauge was now near empty, we knew this was all misdirection. Sure enough, the Weavers persevered and arrived third, thus ensuring their role in the big two-hour finale next week.
Amazingly, when the Godlewskis showed up, Christine wasn’t even crying. In fact, the person who was most teary-eyed was… Sharon! Yes, that battle ax of a woman quietly attempted to hold back her emotions, but we could see the tough exterior melting away. Hey, maybe she’ll say something nice about her sister. “I love my sister Chris,” she said. Aww. Oh wait, there’s more. “It’s just, we don’t click, and I don’t expect that this experience will change that.” Oh. Okay. Then making what might have been her very first interview was Tricia who commented, “I definitely came into the race thinking that we were all going to learn to be more accepting of each other, but that’s not the way it turned out.” Wow, this is actually really depressing.
“Oh my Gad! We lost, girls!”
Then, as per Amazing Race tradition, we then saw a nifty montage of the final three teams talking smack. You know, stuff like “We’re here to win” or “We’re unstoppable” or “It’s not over until it’s over.” My favorite, of course, was Rachel Weaver who simply stated “I think it’s God’s will that we’re here.” Well, technically, couldn’t you say they’re all there because of God’s will? Let’s not get too high and mighty. Again.
So what do you think? Who do you think will take the cake? Everyone’s feeling Linzes, but I’m sensing an upset. I say Bransens, Weavers, then Linzes. What about you?