It's finale time! Make some party noises, put on some party hats, drink some party beverages, whatever floats your finale boat. I'm gonna dive in because of all the stuff that is happening, but I will foreshadow that this ending is not as predictable as you would think. Unless you actually predicted it.
To start off, the teams fly to Japan. They're en route to an island, and things are already crazy. Big Brother misses a bus, but then they catch up while Team Army misses a train, which causes them to miss the last ferry of the night. We get lots of Army Dave scowling and pouting while Army Wife tells him to get over it. Finally, he tells the camera, "I won't dwell on errors of the past." "Two hours of dwelling is enough?" she snarks back. I think I'm finally understanding how Army Wife puts up with him -- she just laughs.
Japan is solemn
The next clue doesn't arrive until the morning, so all teams are bunched up in Hiroshima. They visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, which is the remnants of a building that was destroyed by the atomic bomb. Everyone pauses for a moment of reflection.
Japan is also wacky
Then it's wacky game show time. First it's cab vs. subway time, which cab wins until cab stops at wrong place, then subway pulls ahead except subway is at the wrong place too and it turns into cab. The end result is that Art and JJ get to the Roadblock before the other three teams.
Do you remember "Eat the Wasabi," the last Japanese game show task? This game show is called "Bring the Chicken Home Game," and it is better than wasabi roulette. It is giant treadmills, rubber chickens, and a pit of balloons. Run on the fast treadmill, jump up and grab three hanging rubber chickens, then run to the end of the treadmill and jump off -- do not dive off. If you fall, you land in balloons, but you will still hurt. Go!
Still-pertinent fact about Vanessa
That girl is tough. She twisted her ankle on the last leg and it's all swollen. But she has to do the Roadblock to keep things even, so she runs that treadmill. And falls. And runs. And falls. And runs. Ralph yells at her to quit and take the penalty, but doggone it she keeps trying until she finishes.
Japan is not finished being wacky
The Detour is a choice between taking pictures of strangers with their heads in life-sized cutouts of sumo wrestlers, or playing sushi bingo. Army Wife tells Army Dave to use charisma to convince strangers to pose for pictures, and it turns that out he actually has some. They finish the Detour first and make it to the Pit Stop for their seventh first-place finish. Not that they're counting.
The other teams take sushi bingo, which is like another game show with cheering crowds and a host with a megaphone. The game is almost too complicated for JJ and BB Rachel, but they pull through. Ralph and Vanessa almost catch up, but not quite.
Where is Phil?
Phil is in a park. The park is large enough that no one can find him. The excellent editing almost has me believing that the last three teams are running around at the same time, but it seems Ralph and Vanessa's cab just couldn't catch up. They are eliminated. Ralph cries because Vanessa is so awesome that she ran a treadmill catching rubber chickens on a sprained, swollen ankle, and that is reason enough to love someone.
Stuff gets real, Hawaiian-style
The final leg sends the teams to Honolulu. I wondered how it would play out -- relive the history of the race with a mental challenge? A footrace? A cab race? The dreaded "eat the pizza fast" challenge? This part is always so exciting.
Everyone gets on the same plane and all teams grab cabs at the airport. The clue is two Hawaiian names which refer to two towers. The Army cab figures out the clue, and so does the BB cab, but the Art/JJ cab does not. They opt to follow the Army cab, but Army Dave has worked Army magic with the Army driver, so they lose the tail and Art and JJ are left driving the streets without a destination.
Desperation makes you a little desperate
You know I broke up with Art and JJ, right? So I was perfectly happy to watch them getting flustered because they didn't know where to go. Then they went to a hotel and asked a stranger who directed them to some statues on a beach. Statues on a beach! They lost a lot of time, and I was happy. I guess I hold a grudge.
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Host Phil Keoghan (right) speaks with Army couple Rachel and Dave. (Monty Brinton, CBS)