As he always does, Phil began this season of The Amazing Race with the words ”The world is waiting.” Well, the world finally got what it was waiting for, and it was another couple of hippies: TK and Rachel won. And it wasn’t just another hippie who emerged victorious, but another two-initial-named hippie, à la BJ. At this rate, H.R. Pufnstuf will walk away with the million bucks next season.
Ron and Christina, who had evolved into this season’s strongest racers, seemed to have it all locked up in the beginning of the finale. They could do no wrong: They left the Taipei pit stop 45 minutes early, and when they were at the airport — booking flights to Anchorage, Alaska — Ronald thought to ask if they could use the airline’s lounge for Internet access. This just proved that Amazing Race contestants are given special consideration at the airports: Ronald — flying coach — gets access to the magical platinum club just by asking nicely? Coach fliers don’t get that kind of freebies: Hell, when I just ask for a tiny bag of pretzels, the stewardess looks like she’s about to Taser me for my hubris.
Upon arriving in Anchorage, the teams had to stop at a camping store to get a bag of supplies and then take a cab to the Ship Creek boat launch. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought Phil called it ”S— Creek” and then said to myself, ”I sure hope they have a paddle!” But no, it was Ship Creek. Ironically, however, Nicolas and Donald did end up on the other creek after they somehow forgot to pick up their supply bag and had to go back and get it when they arrived at the next clue empty-handed. ”You read the clue, but you didn’t understand it, so we’re f—ed,” Donald grumbled at Nicolas. And he should know: In between mining for gold and driving a truck in the late 1960s, Donald spent two years being professionally f—ed.
The detour at Ship Creek was either ”Cut the Cod” (disembowel a giant fish, looking for a tiny clue in its guts) or ”Grab the Crab” (wade in a tub of 500 live giant crabs, searching for one with a tag on its claw). The cod thing looked truly disgusting: When Donald (who — go figure! — had done this before) and Ronald sawed through these enormous beasts, out popped a pinata’s worth of innards. It looked as if the producers had hollowed out these fish and stuffed a couple of cows inside.
I was surprised at what a relatively easy time the teams had finding the thimble-size clues, but I was also stumped as to how the producers got the clues inside. When the fish were alive, were they fed the clues? Or were the clues just poked through their skin after they died? Either way, it gave me pause: I’m the farthest thing from a vegetarian, and I don’t think twice about eating meat, chicken, or fish, but I do draw a moral line at using dead animals for reality-show competitions. One can rationalize killing an animal for food: It’s the cycle of life. But reality TV isn’t part of the cycle of life. (Well, maybe indirectly. When, say, American Idol makes gobs of money, much of it goes into the pockets of the Beelzebubian Simon Cowell, which allows him to afford his steady diet of baby kangaroos. Did you know that’s what gives him the magical ability to spot the X factor?) Look, as an animal, it’s bad enough to be killed. But to not even be used for food but rather have your insides tossed around like party favors by someone searching for a tiny note that some producer shoved in your colon? That’s just rude.
The ever-humane TK and Rachel opted to try to fight the crabs, who, with their constant pinching, seemed to have learned an important lesson from their poor humiliated cod brethren: Don’t go out without a fight. I’m not sure, but I think just before Donald sliced into his cod, I heard it whisper to the crabs, ”Earn this.”
From there, after what looked like an exhilarating speedboat ride, the teams had to scale a glacier with ice axes and crampons. (Come to think of it, I heard the phrase ”up Ship Creek without a crampon” once on an edited-for-television movie on AMC.) I think Ronald was getting addicted to personal-breakthrough moments: After many episodes of him talking about how he was trying to be a better father to his daughter, he now tried out the old ”I am afraid of heights, but I must conquer my fears” chestnut. Jeez, what’s next with this guy? Thank goodness this was the end of the series: One more episode and he’d be droning on about world peace and how he realizes that we’re not so different after all.
NEXT: A random roadblock