The Bransens Will Betray Us (Episodes 8-12 and 8-13)

A predictable victory by the athletic Linz siblings brought an end to a disappointing season of The Amazing Race last night. The next season of The Amazing Race airs in February with two-person teams. February can’t come soon enough to erase the bad memories of the Family Edition.

In its defense, the finale of the Family Edition did have a few good moments. The episode began with footage of the teams eating dinner at the final Pit Stop. The Bransen and Linz families ate together, joking about the meal being the “last supper” and wondering who at the table would betray someone. Meanwhile, the Weavers sat silently at a separate table, cursing the infidels for their sacrilegious banter.

When the race resumed, teams were given airplane tickets from Billings, Montana to Montreal, by way of Minneapolis and Toronto, but were told they could look for better flights. Airport jockeying is one of the hallmarks of the race, and while reserved seats made it easier on the production staff, it eliminated the possibility that a team would be left behind.

Upon arriving in Minneapolis from Billings, the Weavers and Linzes found an earlier flight from Toronto to Montreal. The Bransens, who started the episode in first place, fell behind as their direct flight from Minneapolis to Montreal arrived late.

In Montreal, teams searched The Underground City, which was just a disappointing bunch of hallways and not a cool city of the future, for a clue. Teams chose between curling and log rolling at this Detour. The Weavers completed the curling activity first, although the Linzes seemed to particularly enjoy playing the Olympic sport. The Bransens completed the log rolling task and all teams went to find a bunch of acrobats in a warehouse.

Inside the warehouse, one member of each team had to complete a trapeze maneuver known as a catch. Rolly, the nimblest Weaver, finished quickly. The Linzes brought out their best material as they ridiculed Alex, who had a particularly difficult time executing the maneuver. He attributed his troubles to nervous perspiration; his siblings thought his weight was the problem, helpfully calling him “fatass” as he struggled. As Alex completed his catch, the Bransens arrived. Beth nailed the move on her first try, and everyone headed to the Stade Olympique.

This is where the Weavers lost their will to win. Even though they arrived well ahead of the other teams, they lost time struggling to find the stadium entrance. Inside the stadium, they were instructed to find one of three departure times for a charter flight hidden somewhere amongst the 58,500 seats. When the clues weren’t easy to find, Linda Weaver climbed on a cot and took a nap.

While she slept, the Linzes found a way to the arena’s upper level and found a departure time. The Bransens followed the Linzes and finished the task as well, but not without some serious grousing from Wally. “Walder” channeled the father from A Christmas Story, muttering curses under his breath as he searched for the clue. But persistence paid off, and the Bransens got the first scheduled departure.

As the other teams settled in to get some sleep, Rebecca and Rachel Weaver moped, and a frustrated Rolly couldn’t convince them to wake their mother up. Linda eventually did wake up, but by they time they found their clue, they had to leave immediately for the airport. Even though the flights left only five minutes apart from one another, the Weavers bemoaned being the last to leave.

After flying to Toronto, the families rode an elevator to the top of the CN Tower and used binoculars to search for a flag. The next Detour required them to either climb the rigging of a ship to retrieve a flag or search among 100 barefoot women in a shoe museum to find the one woman who fit a particular pair of shoes. The Linzes completed the ship task first, followed by the Bransens, who chose the shoe task. The Weavers completed the ship task next, but couldn’t catch up to the others.

Teams rode in a jet boat and crossed the border into the U.S. for their last Roadblock. The final task: complete an oversized puzzle of North America. Yep, a Kindergarten level puzzle was the glorious final mission. To be fair, Wally Bransen was competitive with Nick Linz, but the Linzes triumphed. There was mercifully little footage of the Weavers for the last 15 minutes of the show. Production must not have wanted to embarrass the geographically challenged Weavers — who, earlier in the season, didn’t know that Pennsylvania was a state — as their puzzle performance wasn’t shown.

The best moments of this episode came courtesy of the Bransen family. It was hard not to tear up listening to Wally talk about how lucky he felt to have spent so much time with his adult daughters. It was a nice ending to a season filled with lame locations, lame challenges, and lame teams, for the most part. But Wally Bransen, the every-dad, was the quiet hero of the season, much like dads are in most families.

How do the Linzes plan to use their winnings? Look for the Linz Family Curling Rink to open soon in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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