Hip Hip Hooray

Nice guys finish first! Hippies BJ & Tyler pooled their massive
brain power to edge out Frat Guys Eric & Jeremy during the final leg of
The Amazing Race 9.

Thanks to winning the Fast Forward
on the previous leg, the Hippies had a two-hour head start when this
leg began in Bangkok, Thailand. Their lead evaporated when the first
clue sent them to an elephant park that didn’t open until 4 a.m.

All
of the teams grabbed a T-Mobile Sidekick from an elephant (he’d run out
of minutes). The clue instructed them to fly to Tokyo and find the
busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Scramble.

At the
airport, the Hippies were too slow in picking a flight, and they got
closed out of the first flight to Tokyo. They arrived almost 90 minutes
behind the other two teams, but made up time when Ray & Yolanda
struggled with driving directions.

The Frat Guys were first to
spot the clue on one of the dozens of giant screens in Shibuya. It
directed them to “Find Hachiko,” a famous dog memorialized in a statue.
A man on a bench near the statue had their next clue, and they assumed
that he was Hachiko.

The Detour clue gave them the choice of
“Maiden” or “Messenger.” The Frats chose “Maiden,” which required them
to carry a young woman in an ancient transportation device, because
they wanted to see if she was hot. When their passenger popped out of
the cab wearing a French maid’s uniform, Eric said, “This is like a
naughty fantasy come true.”

BJ & Tyler, now in second place,
elected to do “Messenger” and ride bicycles to deliver packages to two
nearby buildings. It was easy for them because Tyler’s Japanese
girlfriend has taught him the language, and he was able to ask for very
specific directions.

Team RaYo didn’t have such luck, as they
struggled to understand the people they asked for directions. When they
finally found their clue, they carried the maiden as well, a physically
demanding task, but one which went pretty quickly.

Upon
completing their Detours, teams were told to find the Capsule Land
Hotel. Only when they arrived did they realize they’d be spending the
night in tiny, stacked compartments.

At 9 a.m., the Frats were
the first team to make their way to Fujikyu Highland amusement park.
Jeremy was surprised to learn that the mountain next to the park wasn’t
Mt. Tokyo, but in fact, Mt. Fuji.

RaYo stopped at the most
American place they could find, Denny’s, to ask for directions. They
still couldn’t understand the man who tried to help them. Things got
worse on the highway when they lost their toll ticket. A tollway
employee was able to help them, and he patted Ray’s behind as a stunned
Ray got back into his car.

At the amusement park, a Roadblock
sent Jeremy, Tyler, and Yolanda on three thrill rides. During the
rides, they needed to look for a man on the ground holding a sign with
the name of their next destination. Tyler enlisted the help of some
cute girls, who liked touching his beard.

The sign read “Lake
Yamanaka,” the sight of their next Pit Stop. The Frats and Hippies left
the park at the same time, and arrived at the lake for the most
embarrassing race to the mat ever. They raced in swan-shaped
paddleboats to a larger swan boat in the middle of the lake, with the
Hippies outpaddling the Frats for first place.

RaYo arrived two
hours behind the other teams but were not eliminated. Instead, they
were stripped of their money and possessions and left to beg in a
country where the language barrier had completely unnerved them.

As
was the case with the Hippies when they lost their belongings, RaYo’s
brush with elimination also removed their fear of losing. They’d been
given a second chance, so they figured they might as well have fun.
They were able to enjoy the remainder of the race without the tension
that plagued them this leg.

Teams left Lake Yamanaka after
midnight but weren’t able to catch a hotel shuttle to the airport until
6 a.m. The Hippies struck a deal with the clerk at the hotel, who then
had this exchange with the Frat Guys:

Eric: “Do you have Internet?”
Clerk: “Yes.”
Eric: “Can we use it?”
Clerk: “We don’t have Internet service here.”

Meanwhile, the Hippies used the hotel’s Internet lounge to research flights to their next destination: Anchorage, Alaska.

RaYo
stopped at another American-sounding restaurant, Jonathan, to beg for
yen on the way to the airport. The intoxicated businessmen happily
doled out cash to Yolanda, because they thought she looked like Janet
Jackson.

Teams took separate flights to Taipei, but all boarded
the same connection to Anchorage. Once there, RaYo fell behind quickly,
as they repeatedly stopped to confirm directions to their next
destination, Mirror Lake.

At the lake, teams had the non-choice
of one Detour task. Due to inclement weather, teams couldn’t
participate in a Detour option that involved flying in a single-prop
plane. So, instead, each of the teams chose to drill 10 fishing holes
through the lake ice, and then push a heavy, wooden shelter over two of
the holes.

While no one had an easy time with the challenging
physical task, the Frats finished first and drove to Kincaid Park to
strap on snow shoes and search for the next clue. RaYo arrived at the
frozen lake just as the Hippies were leaving.

Even though RaYo
were far behind when they found the snowshoe clue that directed them to
the Anchorage Airport, they were able to catch up at the airport and
join the other teams on the evening’s only flight to Denver, Colorado.

After
arriving in Denver at dawn, teams searched for clues in a historical
park. Ray & Yolanda, who reached the park last, took too long to
find a clue in a chicken coop and fell out of contention for the grand
prize. At this point, as it had been for most of the season, it was a
two-team race between the Frats and the Hippies for first.

Eric
& Jeremy left the park with a five minute lead on the Hippies but
got nervous when they reached their final Roadblock at the Red Rocks
Amphitheater — where the season began. In a field full of national
flags, one person had to find a flag from each of the nine countries
they’d visited on the race, and then arrange them in the order they
were visited.

Eric had to gather and arrange the flags by
himself, but Jeremy could offer suggestions. Teams could also use a
placard that had all the correct flags, plus a few red herring flags,
to help. The Frats had hoped the final challenge would require more
brains than brawn, and they now worried that the Hippies Ivy League
educations would give the bearded buddies a huge edge.

The Frats
had good reason to worry. BJ initially skipped the Russian flag, this
season’s second international destination, but properly ordered the
rest of the flags. Meanwhile, Eric & Jeremy couldn’t remember what
the flag of Thailand looked like, forcing Eric to return to the field
to try different flags.

Eventually, Tyler figured out which flag
belonged to Russia, clinching the victory for the Hippies. They arrived
at the mat in tears, where Phil and the eliminated racers waited for
them with open arms. Even Monica & Joseph looked genuinely happy.

Tyler
said that the $1 million meant they might actually be able to do
whatever they wanted with their lives, though he didn’t specify what
that might be. Probably buy a diamond-encrusted hacky sack and some
personal drum lessons from Mickey Hart.

When the Frats finally hit the finish mat, an obviously disappointed
Eric said that finishing in second place meant that he’d probably have
to return to waiting tables. But his share of the Frats’ $100,000 prize
might help him delay that for a while.

Ray & Yolanda beamed
at the mat, having overcome their frustrations in Japan. They said they
were both in love, but when asked if they planned to get married,
Yolanda said, “Not today.”

CBS announced today that TAR 10 will return this fall in another new time slot: Sunday night at 8/7c. That puts it up against football on NBC and Extreme Home Makeover on ABC. However, TAR will get a strong lead-in from 60 Minutes and will be followed by popular crime dramas Cold Case and Without a Trace.

This lineup bodes well for TAR’s ratings. At least it can’t be worse than going up against American Idol. Let’s hope the next season features even more fun and likeable teams to root for. And if you’re interested in being on the Race, open casting calls for season 11 started this week.