Episode 13 – Race to the Finish — Part 2
Original Airdate: Thursday, December 13, 2001
Phil says Joe & Bill, who were continents away, closed the gap with leaders Frank & Margarita and Rob & Brennan and are only a few tasks behind. Joe & Bill are hopeful those two teams make fatal errors to open up the chance for them to take the win.
Though the Guidos have yet to even finish Leg 12, the leading teams set off on the Final one. Rob & Brennan (who arrived 2nd at the last Pit Stop) depart first at 4:17am.
Teams must put on snow shoes ana follow a half-mile trail through the forest to Takosha Lodge. The lodge opens at 8am, but Rob & Brennan decide to just start now since they have no idea how long it might take.
Frank & Margarita, already geared up with their snow shoes, start the Leg at 5:03am. Rob & Brennan’s batteries have died out, so they wait for Frank & Margarita who they hoped would have a working flashlight. They walk through the forest to the lodge together and are able to wait in the warm lounge until they can get the next clue.
This gives Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita time to reflect on their incredible Race so far.
Meanwhile, Joe & Bill still have to finish Leg 12. They do the blanket toss and then the ice climbing.
Back at the lodge, Frank & Margarita and Rob & Brennan open the next clue revealing that they must complete a Detour in order to reach their next destination: Dog Power or Horse Power. In Dog Power, teams will slowly travel by dog sled, but will only cover 11 miles. In Horse Power, teams will travel over 30 miles by snowmobile.
Both teams choose the dogs and are given instructions on how to get going. Frank & Margarita get out in front, but Frank is somehow moving too slow. Rob & Brennan decide to pass them as their dogs help them get out in front.
At their destination, teams choose a 4×4 vehicle and drive to the next Route Marker near Fish Lake.
And here, teams will face the final Road Block of the Race: Who likes cold water? For this Road Block, teams will participate in an annual native Alaskan tradition. Teams must strip down and plunge into the -40 degree water. After completely submerging their heads, teams will then be able to grab the next clue.
It’s Brennan’s turn so he does the plunge and grabs the clue even before Frank & Margarita arrive. Frank does the Road Block and when Margarita reads the next clue, he is more than excited when their next Route Marker is in his own neighborhood.
Teams must now fly to New York City and head to Vincent Daniels Square. Frank & Margarita are so excited to be heading home and are feeling confident. Frank is already thinking about how to steer Rob & Brennan in the wrong direction since he believes they’ll be following them like they have all Race.
On the way to the airport, Rob & Brennan stop by a gas station to try and ask locals if they can borrow their cell phone for the day. Rob offers $300 for it and promises to mail the phone back to them after a day or two.
Rob calls airlines and finds flights via Seattle and Newark, which they reserve. They realize they could conceivably call and reserve all the remaining seats on the flights so that Frank & Margarita would not be able to book them. However, they don’t want to play “dirty” and “cheap,” even if they do want to win. They do think that Frank & Margarita would absolutely do such a move though.
Meanwhile, Joe & Bill have finally checked-in to the final Pit Stop and are 24 hours behind the leading teams.
Both Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita are at the airport. And though Rob & Brennan try to be stealthy and not have Frank & Margarita find out which flights they’re on, both teams end up on the same flights anyway, arriving in Newark at 6am.
In Seattle, Rob & Brennan do some research by looking through maps and atlases of New York. Frank & Margarita are still very confident about Racing in their hometown and are determined to beat Rob & Brennan who they think haven’t been good sports during the Race.
Back in Alaska, Joe & Bill compare themselves to Bill Clinton having to save his presidency four times over eight years. As they start the Final Leg, they think they can be a trio of comeback kids, two Bills and one Joe.
Anyway, more importantly, Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita arrive in Newark and run to the taxis. Frank & Margarita use their knowledge of New York to map out the best route for their taxi to take. Rob & Brennan have to rely solely on their driver.
Frank & Margarita maintain their confidence. But little do they know Rob & Brennan have beat them to the park. They open the clue directing teams to head to the elevated train station adjacent to the park and take a train to Willets Point-Shea Stadium station and then make their way to Flushing Meadows, the location of the Finish Line.
Frank & Margarita seem to be close behind. But Rob & Brennan are able to immediately catch the first train out.
Frank & Margarita are so sure Rob & Brennan are still behind them as they wait for the next train. Their daughter is a prime motivator for them to take home the win.
Frank & Margarita are already celebrating in the train. But Rob & Brennan have already arrived at the station and are carefully following the flags to the Finish Line.
Rob & Brennan step on the big Mat and Phil officially confirms they have won The Amazing Race.
Frank & Margarita run to the Finish Line and still think they’ve won until they are close and see Rob & Brennan there. They slow down before they reach the Finish Line, disappointed. But finish the Race and are officially checked-in as Team #2.
Back in Alaska, Joe & Bill are about to start the Detour when they open the clue that tells them the Race is over with Rob & Brennan winning.
And the 20th anniversary celebration of The Amazing Race concludes! 20 years ago today, The Amazing Race wrapped up its very first season. On a special night! Airing on Thursday after an episode of Survivor instead of its regular Wednesday slot.
Though the move gave the show a bit of a boost, it would still keep the show on the bubble for at least the next two years. But anyway, let’s talk about this Final Leg instead.
To be honest, this episode was mostly of teams talking about they felt. It was Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita talking about each other being their competition. And Joe & Bill hopelessly thinking they actually still had a shot. (And complete with a random comparison to Bill Clinton. Lol)
But this is the kind of Final Leg we would see for many seasons to come. One positive looking back is that TAR has managed to design much better and more exciting Final Legs and Races to the Finish Line than these early seasons. (Though it would seem they are regressing after seeing that atrocious TAR32 Final Leg.)
First up, it was funny to see Rob & Brennan worried about having no batteries and a flashlight when their crew had a huge, bright light with them the entire way. Kind of stands out when the rest of the episode was similarly uneventful.
The Detour and Road Block were easily Route Markers instead of difficult tasks. And the episode just sped through them without much excitement or drama.
I did like the scenes of Rob & Brennan going around asking to rent out people’s phones. That Motorola phone with snap-on case is definitely a throwback! And what an interesting idea to pay someone to take their phone and then mail it back to them. It didn’t really do anything to help them win, but I guess it was just some creative thinking on how to potentially get ahead. Being proactive is not a bad thing, after all.
But after those tasks in Alaska, the rest of the episode was a tedious plane and train ride to the Finish Line. Especially those final 10-15 minutes of already knowing Rob & Brennan have won and Frank & Margarita kind of cringe in how confident they were of winning.
I think if this episode was paired with Leg 12 and maybe edited as a true two-hour episode (especially with Joe & Bill being so far behind), it would’ve been much better. Have some of Leg 12 seep into this second hour so as not to have so much talking later on. Even though Episode 12 was a bit of a filler too.
It’s actually quite a contrast to the rest of the episodes where teams were doing lots of things all the way through. Even if they were still simple tasks.
As much as I remember the moments in 2001 when I first watched these episodes, I don’t quite remember watching the finale or my feelings back then. I guess I was happy Rob & Brennan and won. But not overly excited since Nancy & Emily was definitely the team I was rooting for back then.
Still, I guess my comments for this episode can only be from a 2021 lens. It’s crazy to think it’s been 20 years already. And to see how far TAR has come since then. (Also in some ways, how far it has declined as well.) But as TAR returns in just a few weeks for its COVID season, it is still cause for celebration that a show like The Amazing Race was able to come into existence 20 years ago this year.
My FINAL Subjective Team Rankings
Doing my final rankings here instead of in the Season Wrap-up which ended up being more of a reflection on 20 years of TAR. But anyway! Here they are and remember, from a 2021 lens.
Dave & Margaretta will always be a sentimental favorite. All-time fave too. Especially looking back, how amazing for a pair of grandparents to have traveled the world and competed for one million dollars like this. They were like everyone’s grandparents and how could you not root for them.
Nancy & Emily were kind of similar. A mother and daughter team who seemed like underdogs you want to root for. But watching them again, I was surprised by some of the not-so-heartwarming moments between them two as well as between them and some locals around the world. I remember them clashing with each other, but not some of those other moments that would definitely fit the Ugly American stereotype. Nevertheless, I’ll ignore those moments as well as their quitting and instead remember them being fun underdogs. Lol
I guess I was happy with Rob & Brennan winning. Back then, I might have been turned off by Frank & Margarita‘s overconfidence. And it’s a reminder too that the TAR hometown curse really did start with season 1. Both teams deserved the win though. And either would’ve been a good first winner of the franchise. As a whole, it was them two who were consistent all Race-long. Back then it might not have been too predictable. But still, the right two teams made it to the end.
For Joe & Bill, that random Bill Clinton comparison was hilarious! What in the world! Lol Other than that, they were again irrelevant this Final Leg. Which is kind of a shame considering what huge characters they were this season. I might have hated them back then. But with the 2021 lens, I must appreciate the drama and comedy they brought to the Race. They served up a template for future villains to come.
I honestly remembered Lenny & Karyn to have been much more explosive than they actually were. Maybe back in 2001, their relationship was so shocking to see devolve on TV. But in the 20 years since, we’ve gotten much worse things on TV. So I guess the 2021 lens has desensitized me on such dysfunction. lol
I might not like Kevin & Drew that much, but like Joe & Bill, I appreciate what they brought to the show. The Fat Bros definitely solidified their worth in this season. Even if there were also some moments that are certainly not worthy of remembrance.
And then we have the rest of the teams, who, even after having just watched this over the last few months, I’ve already forgotten. Perhaps Paul & Amie are the least forgettable if only because their relationship was much crazier and more dysfunctional than Lenny & Karyn’s. I think the Race would’ve been completely different had they survived.
Matt & Ana, Pat & Brenda and Kim & Leslie were fine teams. But looking back, you can definitely see how they might be perceived as “fodder” teams. As nice as they might have been, they were the right teams to go first I guess.