Thursday, August 16, 2012

Amazing Race: Australia 2-12 final episode recap

Today marks the end of season 2 for Amazing Race: Australia, which is evidently already confirmed for a third season. But let's not get ahead of ourselves... how does this Race end? We're down to just three teams: twin sisters Michelle & Jo; workmates Paul & Steve; and police officers Shane & Andrew. We left off at the Pit Stop in the Forbidden City, Beijing, China. Shall we begin?

First up, we learn during the Pit Stop, teams were transported by airplane to Guilin, China, which can't have been a terribly restful Pit Stop for them. Why not simply begin the leg with instructions to fly to Guilin? Perhaps they did, but didn't want to bog down the final episode with travel which didn't mean anything in rankings. As host Grant Bowler notes, it's certainly a beautiful locale.

Michelle & Jo begin in first place and their clue directs them to travel via taxi to Lijiang River and find their next clue amongst the fishermen. They'll have to search amongst the fishing boats to find a fisherman with their next clue, but they must ask for their clue in Mandarin. The twins are very happy to be departing in first place. Arriving at Lijiang River, they find the site won't open until 8:30 AM, which is more than three hours away; more than enough time for the other teams to catch up. As Paul & Steve depart, there's a clip of Steve reflecting on how great it's been to have the opportunity to race around the world; Paul is simply looking forward to winning and see how the other teams feel about "being beaten by an accountant and a goofball." Again, whenever Paul isn't in first place he's an underdog.

8:30 comes and the police still aren't there; apparently they fell waaay behind on the previous leg, moreso than I realized. The other two teams head to the river and don fishing gear. Jo notes how serious Paul has become of late: "Just crack a smile, mate!" Each team chooses a boat and begins paddling out to the fishermen. It seems if the fishermen don't have a clue for the team, they have a fish for them instead; Steve is actually quite pleased to get the fish. Michelle & Jo get the clue on their first attempt.

It's now time for the last Detour of the Race: "Teach" or "Learn." Teams must head to a nearby school; in "Teach," they must choose a local student to tutor and teach them to speak 10 Australian words.

In "Learn," teams must learn the same 10 words in Mandarin, as taught to them by one of the students. The twins choose "Learn" and board a taxi. Meanwhile, Shane & Andrew head out to Lijiang River. At the river, Paul & Steve finally luck upon their clue and choose "Teach," then ask a local for directions; they decide to head out on foot. Shane & Andrew arrive at the river and notice the hours of operation sign, which helps them realize they're about an hour behind the others. They soon receive their clue and decide to try "Teach;" they still have their taxi.

Michelle & Jo have a good map, but their driver doesn't know where the school is so they start asking for directions. Paul & Steve are still on foot and beginning to realize they're making a mistake when a local says the trip would take 1.5 hours on bicycle! They befriend a local dog as they jog along. Michelle & Jo finally reach the school and begin "Learn" with a little girl instructing them. Shane & Andrew's driver doesn't know where to go, so they ask a local to join them and translate to their driver; Shane has to sit atop Andrew so they all fit in the cab.

Michelle & Jo fail "Learn" on their first attempt because they don't get "Sheila" or "Bloke." They ask another student for help and while her pronunciations are different from the first, this time they get a passing grade! Their next clue directs them to Baisha Market, where they must sell 10 kitchen gadgets. The twins return to their taxi and head to the market. Paul & Steve find a hotel and ask the staff to call a taxi for them; they're back on track. Shane & Andrew arrive at the school and choose a little boy as their student for "Teach." He seems to be a quick learner and the cops have a bit of fun playing along with him. However, he freezes up when they take him to the test. They decide to give him another chance and resume tutoring him.

At Baisha Market, Michelle & Jo start trying to sell items; they attract many onlookers (blonde hair & video cameras probably help) and soon sell four items. Shane & Andrew bring their student in again, but he freezes up again; they decide to try "Learn" with the same boy as their teacher! At the market, Michelle & Jo sell all 10 items and receive the next clue: fly to Brisbane, Australia!

At the school, Shane & Andrew get "Learn" on their first attempt and wonder why they didn't try it to begin with; they head to Baisha Market after giving their "teacher" a toy kangaroo. Shane & Andrew see Paul & Steve arrive and realize they're not in last place; Paul & Steve begin "Learn." Michelle & Jo arrive at the Guilin airport and hope to get on their flight before the other two teams arrive. Paul & Steve mess up their first try on "Learn." At the market, Shane & Andrew start selling items to locals. Paul & Steve get "Learn" on their second attempt and head to the market, realizing they're in last place. Shane & Andrew soon sell all of their items and leave the market for the airport.

Paul & Steve arrive at the market just as Shane & Andrew leave. Steve realizes the locals won't understand him, so he emphasizes being entertaining to them to sell his wares. Shane & Andrew arrive at the airport in time to catch the same flight as Michelle & Jo, with just 20 minutes to spare! At the market, Paul & Steve finish selling their items and head to the airport. They arrive 6 minutes before the flight departs; they make it too. Man, talk about luck! Michelle & Jo are "devastated" to have been caught up to.

In Brisbane, teams race out to find marked cars waiting for them with the next clue, but Shane & Andrew take a moment to buy a good map. They're directed to find Kangaroo Point and start driving. Paul & Steve decide to follow Michelle & Jo's car because they've had trouble with directions while the twins have been very sharp. Both teams arrive at Kangaroo Point at once, with Shane & Andrew close behind. The next clue directs them to Boggo Road Gaol, a notorious prison in Brisbane, where the warden has their next clue. Jo asks a pair of locals for directions, while Paul & Steve stand over her shoulder and eavesdrop; Paul & Steve are still following the twins. While they travel in a pack, Shane & Andrew break ahead on their own.

The cops arrive at the jail first, beaming for having thought of taking a map. It's now time for a challenge to see how well they know each other; one team member enters the jail alone and arranges photos of which team members best fit certain descriptions:

  1. "Which team would lend you a helping hand?"
  2. "Which team would lie to you?"
  3. "Which team worked best together?"
  4. "Whose relationship do you envy?"
  5. "Which was the unluckiest team?"

The other team member will have to match their partner's answers without knowing who they chose (it was used on the previous season). Andrew goes first and chooses Michelle/Jo, Paul/Steve, Shane/Andrew, Sticky/Sam & Adam/Dane. Shane begins matching his answers. Michelle & Jo arrive, excited to be on a "twin challenge"; Jo chooses Shane/Andrew, Joseph/Grace, Shane/Andrew, Tarryn/Ross, Adam/Dane. Paul chooses Lucy/Emilia, Michelle/Jo, Lucy/Emilia, Sticky/Sam & Adam/Dane. Jo & Paul finish and Michelle & Steve take their turns. Jo is irritated that her next door cellmate is Paul.

Shane finally figures out Andrew's answers and heads out; their clue directs them to Archerfield Airport, where a charter flight will bring them to Fraser Island. At the prison, Jo starts getting angry with Paul, who wonders why she's upset; "Because you're so rude," is her answer, but I don't think knowingly lowering oneself to this level does her any favours. Paul doesn't initiate any of this, which serves to make Jo look even worse. Paul does stand up for himself, wondering aloud why Jo is lashing out at him now, of all times. Paul tells the camera he's only ever had nice things to say about Michelle/Jo's game play, which is true.

Michelle is also stressing out at the challenge, thinking her sister has given "stupid answers." Shane & Andrew board their charter plane and head out to Fraser Island. Steve seems to get some of Paul's answers right at different times, but never all at once. However, he finally gets the challenge correct and departs with Paul for the airport. Seeing them leave increases Jo's frustration. Michelle finally gets the challenge right when she realizes "she doesn't realize what 'envy' means," as Michelle assumed Lucy/Emilia were the team to envy. Jo despondently remarks, "I just lost us Amazing Race: Australia."

Paul & Steve take the second charter flight, with Michelle & Jo close behind. At Fraser Island, Shane is a little airsick as they arrive and find 4x4s waiting for them to drive on the beach; they follow a marked route along the beach. Michelle also gets airsick during their flight. Paul & Steve land on the island next, with Michelle & Jo's plane landing just behind them. However, the twins don't know how to drive a manual 4-wheel drive.

Shane & Andrew reach the next clue box: it's a Roadblock! One team member must venture into the water where a long row of clue boxes await them. Each box contains a multiple choice question about some aspect of the Race thus far with 3 colour-coded options; they'll have a set of matching coloured rings to wrap around the clue box, indicating their answer; they need five questions correct. Andrew opts to take the challenge, having planned to keep him in reserve because he has a great memory and the last task of the Amazing Race is usually a memory-based challenge (like the flag arrangement task of last season).

As Andrew works, Paul & Steve arrive and Paul begins the Roadblock. He and Andrew are both given pause by one question about the Pit Stop in Jaipur. Andrew gets all five of the needed and they're told to travel on foot down the beach and dig up a treasure chest which contains the $250,000 prize money! They'll have to carry the chest with them to the Finish Line on the opposite side of the beach at McKenzie Lake!

Paul gets two of his Roadblock questions wrong, just as Shane & Andrew start digging up the chest. Michelle & Jo arrive at the box and Michelle takes the Roadblock. Paul fixes his answers, but gets some wrong again; he fails on the third, fourth & fifth attempts as well and begins to forget which options he used before. Michelle gets the Roadblock right on the first attempt; she and Jo head to the digging area, leaving Paul at the Roadblock. Paul finally gets the Roadblock on the sixth effort; Paul grants the others a "well done" for outperforming him when he normally gets Roadblocks done correctly on the first time. Paul & Steve head to the digging spot. Michelle/Jo & Paul/Steve both start digging for chests and Michelle gloats about beating Paul at one of "his" challenges.

At the Finish Line, all eight eliminated teams (arranged in order of elimination) high-five Shane & Andrew as the duo run to the mat with their chest; Grant confirms: they've won the Amazing Race: Australia and the chest of $250,000 is theirs to keep! Grant wonders what they'll do with the money; they both intend to fund their children's schooling and take some holidays; Shane really wants to revisit Canada (good choice!). They dive into the lake and leap about, celebrating their victory.

At the dig site, Steve finds the chest. Paul does tell the twins to keep trying and finish strong; Michelle & Jo do locate their chest soon after. Paul & Steve claim 2nd place at the Finish Line; Paul congratulates Shane & Andrew (saying they were "beaten by the best"), while Steve thanks all of the eliminated teams for running a memorable Race and he hopes to "have a beer with them" in the future. Of the others, Paul states: "I respect every one of them, even though they might've think I'm the most unfriendliest, stand-off guy, no, it has been a honour racing with all of you. Thank you so much." Paul actually succumbs to tears as he and Steve embrace and congratulate each other; Paul's proud of himself for racing "with integrity, with honour."

Michelle & Jo pull in at 3rd place. The sisters are proud of each other and Jo takes a lot of pride in herself for pushing outside her own boundaries. In closing, Shane states he just hoped to get as far as he could and perform as many challenges as possible; winning the Race was more than he hoped for.

Right, that's over with; it was a pretty good finale, I think. Shane & Andrew's key play seemed to be purchasing a map - otherwise, the teams were always within a few minutes' reach of each other. It was disappointing to see Michelle & Jo give vent to their frustration at the end of the Race, after being pretty classy for most of the season. Paul & Steve became more likable with time - Steve, as we learned more about him, Paul, as he stopped being his own press agent (show, don't tell - he had plenty of show in him).

Shane & Andrew stalled out a lot during this Race, but they were never in the back for long and gradually moved their way to the front. They seem like a couple of good blokes with a strong relationship of mutual respect with healthy careers and family lives; good people to win the Race!

Tomorrow: Yeah, I'm not done yet; tomorrow, I'll look back over the season and discuss how I feel overall about the route, the tasks, the racers and the host. Why stop blogging now?

1 comment:

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