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You know what’s great about the Olympics? You can pick it right up and become an immediate fan, without knowing anything about the sport, and that’s okay. Whereas with other sports (cough, baseball), we’ve got terms like “bandwagon fan”, and then the inevitable scoffing abounds. I don’t know a damn thing about swimming, but I just could not stop yelling in joy at my television last night – and I feel okay about that. I don’t feel like some dude is going to come pelt my house with eggs because he was a fan of Michael Phelps ever since he started swimming as a sperm cell.
Okay, rant over. I will have to put my Olympic-fever-addled brain on hold tonight for an hour, because we all know what’s finally here, at long last: The Mole finale! Let’s recap the events of last week, shall we?We begin in a creepily-lit room. Jon materializes out of the ether and informs the players that this mission is called “Tick, Tock, Boom”. Behind him is a window made of bulletproof glass (or as Jon says, “bulletproof glaaaassss”), and it just so happens to be filled with $50,000. The money is wired to a bomb, and the players, using various items in the room, must diffuse that bomb in less than an hour, or all the money will explode. And that’s it. Jon wishes them luck, then leaves to return to the Matrix.
Okay, let me just say that I LOVE these kinds of challenges. They’re my favorite. The classic ‘throw people in a room with a handful of random crap, and give them a single objective that will require them to use the random crap in order to succeed”. The jail cell mission from Season 2 comes to mind, as well as the mind-blowingly awesome final challenge in Season 1, when the players were locked in separate hotel rooms and had to get each other out using all sorts of Rube Goldbergian ways. Okay, I’m ready for my head to explode. Dazzle me, show!
The players look at the bomb, which has a bunch of different-colored wires sticking out of it, and determine that they must figure out which one to cut. The other things in the room are: a giant clock with a laser attached, a list of world locations with some clocks above them, some letters scattered around the walls of a room, and a big wipe board that has spaces for letters on it. There is also a hidden item, a disembodied Smug Voice tells us, that will be the key to unlocking the puzzle.
Craig (huh, Craig? Really?) finds the hidden item, a time zone map that two players must keep in place while the other cracks the code. They are to add the difference in hours between the location and Greenwich Mean time. Nicole does half, then they switch and Mark does the second half. They get all the numbers, and then…nothing. They can’t figure out what to do with them, or how to translate the work they’ve just done into a message for the board. By this point I am screaming “THE CLOCK, YOU NIMRODS!!”, but it of course does no good. And the bomb, meanwhile, continues to simmer.
After the commercial break, Craig (again, really?) points out that maybe the gigantic clock in the middle of the room wasn’t just delivered by Ikea for decorative purposes, and the players finally figure out that they are to use the location times to turn the clock, which will point a laser at the letters around the room. Once they start getting a few of the letters, they realize that SmugJon the Mastermind hasn’t made it easy for them, as the letters are all out of order and they must figure out the words themselves. I really wish Jon were behind that bulletproof glass, wearing a top hat and cape and maniacally twirling an oversized novelty mustache.
Mark, the driving force behind the descrambling, finds the words “clue” and “use”, but from there they get stuck because some of the letters are wrong. Craig (what is going on?) suggests that they double check the map, so they do, once again foolishly putting Nicole in charge of this. She finds all of her previous mistakes and changes them, all while Mark keeps barking “Is that a mistake, AGAIN?” Haha. I love Mark. Nicole, to be fair, explains in interview that “It’s a flat map, but the world is actually round, and it comes time to deciphering that kind of stuff, it takes me some time!” Wow. I didn’t know that people were allowed to become doctors if they didn’t pass kindergarten.
With the mistakes fixed and five minutes left on the bomb, Mark the Scrabble King is able to gather up enough letters to make out the words CLUE: CUT —- —- IS RED + BLUE. They go to check the wires, and there are, of course, red and blue AND purple. So now, since they don’t have the rest of the message, they don’t know whether to cut the purple, or to cut the red and blue. Much debating commences, and Craig looks just about ready to kill someone. Nicole contributes nothing, while Mark continues to fret over which wire to cut, which Craig (sort of accurately, I have to admit) describes this is as an attempt at stalling. But by now they have less than a minute left, so it’s time to make a decision.
With 21 seconds left, they cut the purple wire…and nothing happens. But then Mark notices that the bomb has been switched off, so the players celebrate, while SmugJon throws his hat to the ground and screams to the heavens in defeat. Then he casually slips back into his leather and appears out of the shadows to congratulate the players and snidely comment on what the answer should have been. Oh, Jon. Will your diabolical schemes never end?
Afterwards, the players all agree that this was the coolest mission of all. “It doesn’t get any more spy-er than cut the wire!” Mark exclaims in joy. Seriously, give this guy his own game show. It could be called Mark My Words! and he could carry around one of those skinny microphones like Sir Bob Barker.
The next day, Jon meets the players at the Casa Rosada in the middle of Buenos Aires. This mission is called “Three To Tango”. (Cute, but I must admit I’m a little sad that the final challenge isn’t the same one they’ve done in seasons past, where players had to answer awkward and painful questions about each other. It usually ended in tears.) The players each get a different set of clues pointing to different locations around Buenos Aires. Once they figure out the location, they are to call Jon and give them the answer, and then he will give them a task to complete. Once they finish all three clues and tasks, he will send them a picture of their final location. The first player to finish will get to make an important decision. They can either put the $75,000 into the pot, or exchange it for…the Mole’s dossier, which contains information that may appear on the final quiz.
With a rather flamboyant twirl of the finger, Jon begins the challenge. The players take off, and here are their mental statuses: Craig is happy because he’s been doing a lot of research on the city, so he should do fairly well, Mark’s plan is to once again run like the dickens, and Nicole just doesn’t want to play anymore. Way to be the self-proclaimed strong female, NICOLE. Craig calls in with the correct answer to his first clue, and he is now to go into a store, try on a leather jacket, and take a picture. Aw, Jon wants a leather buddy!
Craig is excited by the date as well.
Mark figures out his first clue and gets the task from Jon. Unfortunately, Mark has foolishly placed his faith in the fair citizens of Buenos Aires instead of his trusty map, and thus gets lost immediately. Nicole gets her first location and task, which is to get an Argentinian flag and to take a picture of herself with it in front of an obelisk. She decides to blatantly disregard these instructions, instead taking photo after photo of herself with the flag that’s in front of the obelisk, instead of getting one for herself. Jon attempts to patiently reiterate the clue, but Nicole just gets all pissy and actually hangs up on him. NiCOLE! You do NOT hang up on The SmugJon! What are you, CRAZY?! His personal league of minions will come for you!
After the commercial, Nicole calls back and Jon smarms that they must have lost their connection. Haha. Jon, you snarky little rapscallion, you. Nicole gets her next clue right, but decides that she’s done with this whole “Mole” game thingy and whines that she’d like to go tanning instead. Jon, with a huge shit-eating grin, gives her the clue anyway. Craig is off to his second location, and Mark finally get his first. Gathering together an Amazing Race-worthy fan club of local Argentinian youths, he gets them to buy him an empaÃ±ada, which they all share with glee.
Nicole, meanwhile, has gone far off the deep end and is now prancing through the streets of Buenos Aires and attempting to cheat by buying a hot fudge sundae, instead of a dulce de leche like she was instructed to. The ever-omniscient JonGod tells her to stop lying and do it right. Ha. A mishmash of other things are happening at this point: Mark is running across town, Craig finds his second clue, and Nicole finally gets her damn dulce de leche, and is amusingly force-fed it by the man who bought it for her. Meanwhile, Jon looks just about at the end of his rope.
Craig and Mark race to their third locations, take the necessary pictures, and call Jon at almost the exact same time. He sends them the picture of their final destination: the Calatrava Bridge, where he has been playing telephone operator all day. Craig is psyched because he’s been wanting to see this thing ever since they arrived in Buenos Aires, and knows exactly where it is. Mark also knows this, and amusingly cries out “It’s that stupid bridge!” Relax, Mark. Don’t give yourself a nosebleed.
Craig and Mark fly through the streets, and Mark arrives first. I really want Jon to say “Mark, you’re the first to arrive,” atop a map of the world, with a random Argentinian welcoming him to the country. Alas, no map, and Jon remains eerily silent as Mark begs for the results. Instead, Jon takes him on a romantic stroll to the middle of the bridge, where the dossier awaits him. Mark can’t believe that he won, and is understandably thrilled. Jon gives him until the other players arrive to make his decision.
Craig shows up a couple minutes later, and is pissed. Nicole, who didn’t even bother to finish the mission and who could very well just have gone shopping or something, is sent for in a car and picked up. LAME. Jon calls Mark over, and after a moment or two of grumbling, he informs everyone that he has decided to take the dossier. Ooh. I’m conflicted on this one. I totally buy that Mark is desperate enough to win this game to keep $75,000 out of the pot, but that is a really huge sabotage, for lack of a better word. I’m 95% sure that the Mole is not Mark, but if it is, this would be the most damning piece of evidence.
So the grand total prize money is $418,500, but Jon bumps it up to $420,000, just for shits and giggles. Haha. Some poor intern just lost their stipend, all thanks to Jon and his insane whims. At the relatively uneventful last pre-quiz dinner, Jon tells them that the final quiz will be twenty questions instead of ten. They look surprised, for some reason, even though this has happened every season. Do your homework, people!
Before the players take the quiz, we get one last dose of insanity for Nicole, saying that she is a “physician, poet, Renaissance woman,” and I can practically HEAR the cameramen rolling their eyes.
The quiz begins, and it goes allll the way back to the beginning, asking all sorts of impossible questions that no one in their right mind could possibly remember. I’ve got to hand it to whoever wins here, because it’s going to be tough. All sorts of questions about money earnings, line placements, and of course the requisite fashion questions about pant color and shirt collar status. There’s also a question in there about what the Mole put on their player application, which was probably in the dossier that Mark got. $75,000 for one little question. Costly, but could be worth it.
And that’s it until tonight! Before I give you my final thoughts, I’d once again like to give a shout-out to Jon Kelley, who more or less proved with detailed accuracy last week that he does in fact read these here recaps. We love you, Jon! Hope you saved some of your finest smug for the finale!
Okay, here’s what I think:
Craig – seems to be the Mole favorite. A lot of signs have pointed directly to him, and with the three that are left, he makes the most sense. I still don’t feel like the producers would choose someone so out of shape and therefore risky to the production, and he did pull out a lot of mission-saving ideas to diffuse the bomb, but with what we’ve got left and the mounting evidence, it’s hard to deny that he’s probably it.
Nicole – too bat-shit crazy to be the Mole. Of course, that could be part of her plan, but she’s just been SO obvious ever since the beginning, and that’s just not how the Mole is supposed to act. So it’s either just a terrible strategy, or a really clever ruse. Also, Nicole would be a definite change from the lily-white Moles of four years past, but I used that theory in the last season (“they would never pick two models in a row to be the Mole”) and that was dead wrong.
Mark – ah, Mark. If Craig is the Mole, I’ll begrudgingly accept. If Nicole is the Mole, I’ll probably feel unsatisfied. But if Mark is the Mole…damn. This will go down as one of my personal most shocking reality moments ever. Because he would have had me completely fooled, since I’ve been almost positive from the beginning that it was definitely not Mark. I’m also torn, because I really want Mark to win the money, because I think he’s such a good player. But part of me, the part that absolutely loves a complete surprise/blindside, is secretly hoping for Mole. Except for the fact that my mother will have been right all along, and she’ll never let me forget it.
AHH! We’ll see what happens! Any last minute guesses, folks?