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The Amazing Race: Season 29, Final Four, Korea, 5/25/17

May 29th, 2017 · No Comments

by Lyn Jensen

When The Amazing Race began Season 29, the concept was to take 22 strangers and make them into teams. As the race enters its final legs, the time has come to ask if the strangers that have developed the best teamwork are going to win. Teamwork isn’t the only factor that determines a winner, however, and the final four teams still have to work through multiple variables.

The four teams that finished the last leg in Vietnam now must travel to Seoul, South Korea, where they’ll spend time immersed in Korean pop culture:

  • Champion snowboarder Matt Ladley and one-legged vet Raymond Ramos (The Boys)
  • Crochet artist London and medical device salesman Logan (Team LoLo)
  • Army officer Tara and police officer Joey (the oldest racers, the others call them “Mom and Dad”)
  • This season’s Bickersons, Scott and Brooke (Team Will and Grace)

All teams catch the same flight from Hanoi to Seoul, where once they arrive, they’re to make their way to a university in the Gangnam district. They may travel by subway or taxi. The boys opt for the subway. Everyone else takes taxis. The boys must make a subway connection, and they miss it.

Joey/Tara reach the university first, followed by Brooke/Scott and LoLo. They find a stage show going on. Four women are singing and dancing “Gangnam Style.” The dancers hand over clue envelopes, which direct the teams to take their taxis to “the Olympic gym” at Hanyang, another university.

With the boys still negotiating the subway, this is turning into a three-team race. Joey/Tara are the first team to get to the gym. They find it’s filled with children whose fingers are blurring as they perform competitive cup-stacking–and thanks to whoever designed this season’s course, cup-stacking is this leg’s 1st roadblock. One person from each team must start with a set of twelve disposable plastic cups. Arrange the three stacks into three pyramids,  then re-stack ’em–and do the whole sequence in less than seven seconds. Whoever does this RB can’t do the next one.

Joey starts stacking and re-stacking the cups for his team. Almost immediately Brooke/Scott arrive and for once Brooke finds something she’s confident she can do. Team LoLo arrives, too, and Logan does the cup-stacking for him and London.

When Matt/Redmond get to the dance show, Matt’s got a bad feeling because he notices the dancer that hands over the clue envelope is the only dancer who has one.

Taxi rides haven’t been much of an issue this season, but suddenly bad taxi luck arrives. The boys catch a taxi and tell the driver to go to Hanyang University, to the Olympic gym. The driver misunderstands, mistaking Hanyang for another university with a similar name. When the driver realizes much later he didn’t get the name right, he tells the team he’ll give them a discount, but the correct university will take about twenty more minutes to drive to. So that puts the boys at least twenty minutes further behind. “Not a lot of room for mistakes,” Matt comments.

Brooke finishes the cup-stacking, then Joey, then Logan. Next destination is a cultural center where each team is directed to make six servings of Korea’s national dish, kimchi, fermented cabbage. The three front teams arrive all fairly close together. (Their taxis raced each other along the route.) Everyone has a few problems with the cabbage preparation, but Joey/Tara finish 1st. Brooke/Scott bicker but finish 2nd. Team LoLo are third.

While the three front-running teams are finishing the kimchi, Redmond is at the Olympic gym, stacking his twelve cups in less than seven seconds. Although no one mentions Redmond’s one leg, cup-stacking doesn’t require two legs, and the team doesn’t know what the next RB may require.

The three front teams are in taxis, heading to “the e-stadium,” a major video-gaming venue, where they find the next RB requires playing video games against superstar pro gamers–guys who can beat you while literally blindfolded with one hand behind their backs. You want to be one of the final three teams of TAR 29? You have to go through these guys.

Scott, Tara, and London have to perform this RB and Scott’s the only one with any video-gaming experience. He used to play Nintendo. The martial-arts fighting game being played here must be a version of Nintendo, because when racers select their avatar/character, he selects a character that he’s familiar with.

If you don’t beat the pro gamer after ten rounds, he’ll play with one hand behind his back. If you don’t beat him after twenty rounds, he’ll play blindfolded and with one hand behind his back. Scott, London, and Tara all lose their first twenty rounds.

The boys make their kimchi. They talk about how this is a hard leg to make up time on. They head for the e-stadium.

London has to play at least 21 rounds before she wins one. She gets the clue for the pit stop. As Team LoLo get ready to leave, Scott wins, so he and Brooke head for the pit stop, too. The two teams that have never won a leg are now competing for first place. They run out of the e-stadium and catch taxis. Their taxi drivers do not misunderstand the directions.

Phil and the mat are atop a floating building (about four stories high) on the Han river that runs through the heart of Seoul. Phil tells the camera that the last team to arrive will be eliminated. (Some seasons have featured a twist that sends four teams to the final leg, but not this time.)

Brooke/Scott are the 1st team to hit the mat. There’s no prize for winning this leg, except to race in the finale. Early in this episode Scott said he and Brooke hadn’t won a leg, but there have been teams that won the season without winning any early legs. Now Scott can’t say he and Brooke haven’t won a leg. However, Team LoLo, who’s the second team to hit the mat, can still say they haven’t won any leg, and they’re in the final three.

Now the best Matt/Redmond can hope for is to elbow out Joey/Tara for 3rd. Tara’s having to play more than thirty rounds and is beginning to wonder if she’ll have to play all night against a one-handed blindfolded pro.

Matt/Redmond arrive, and Tara’s face gets longer. Matt–who has to do this RB–has experience playing video games. He asks the gamer to go easy on him, but the gamers aren’t going easy on the racers. It’s champion snowboarder against champion gamer. After the first round, the pro gamer admits, “He’s good!”

Tara needs at least 34 rounds–but she scores a win before Matt does. He finishes right after she does–he only needed about 12 rounds. He beat his gamer after the one-hand rule took effect, but well before the blindfold was called for.

Tara/Joey have a slight delay getting a taxi but their driver understands where to go. The boys catch a taxi, too, and appear to be right behind. At the building the teams try different strategies–Tara/Joey take their chances with the elevator while Matt/Redmond take their chances running up four flights of stairs.

Brooke/Scott and Team LoLo are still on the mat when Joey/Tara arrive. Minutes go by before Matt/Redmond arrive. Phil states the obvious, that they’re last to arrive and have been eliminated. Matt looks crestfallen. He didn’t want to go out here of all places. Redmond says, “We wanted to show the world that nothing could bring you down.” Phil agrees, “Redmond, you did that.”

So goes The Amazing Race. The season’s strongest and most athletic team was a victim of bad taxi luck and a course that didn’t allow much make-up room. I’ve been disappointed by how many interesting teams have gone out early this season, but here’s who we’ll see racing in Chicago next Thursday:

  • Sentimental favorites Tara/Joey, who are the only dominating team left.
  • Bickering schemers Scott/Brooke, who share characteristics with some other surprise winners.
  • Lurking dark horses London/Logan, who’ve had a season of never being either first or last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Amazing Race

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