The final four teams run the penultimate leg in Tokyo, where things get surreal. Because Tokyo. Tim & Marie, Jason & Amy, and Travis & Nicole pledge early on to stick together throughout the leg in order to keep Leo & Jamal out of the final four. But the Afghanimals are not only not on board with that plan, they mess it up pretty badly by getting on an earlier flight than the other teams. This causes that alliance to fall apart almost immediately, even as the other three teams hilariously end up in three cabs that refuse to separate at first. They wanted an alliance, they got an alliance.
The first stop is a temple overrun with ceramic cats, where a Detour offers the choice between becoming a human bowling ball and listening to an underwater phone call. Leo & Jamal opt for the former, and find themselves visiting the race's recurring Japanese game show host, pushing each other on inner tubes down a bumpy ramp to try to knock down giant bowling pins. It takes a few tries, but they hold onto their lead even after taking the time to fold up their clothes in order to make any teams behind them think they're lost.
Meanwhile, Tim & Marie have predictably split off from the ER docs and the dating couple, both of whom quickly complete a Detour in which they have to use phone booths that were converted to fish tanks for their original purpose. By the time Tim & Marie finish the Detour, they have no idea they're in last place. Now all the teams proceed to a park where Leo & Jamal's bizarre Speed Bump requires them to help capture a fake rhinoceros in an emergency zoo drill. Nicole & Amy start working together on a Road Block, in which each of them has to construct a giant, saxophone-playing "robot" (actually more like a semi-abstract sculpture) out of colorful cardboard tubes. This partnership works well at first, but the pressure on both of them mounts when Leo starts on his robot -- and when Marie, despite showing up last, proves to be a ringer at this kind of thing. In fact, she's the first one to finish, much to the frustration of the other teams. From there, she and Tim have to hunt down a wandering vending machine (not a typo) at the city's iconic Shibuya Scramble pedestrian crossing to get their clue to the Pit Stop. At which they are team number one, so each of them will get to enjoy one of the two trips they won…separately.
As for the other teams, both Leo and the Amy/Nicole alliance struggle with the task, repeatedly missing details they got wrong. Amy finally figures it out, but stays behind to help Nicole with hers -- again -- while Leo continues to flail. Jason & Amy finish second, and Travis's frustration with Nicole threatens to boil over, but the ER docs beat the Afghanimals to the Pit Stop and clinch the last spot in the final three. And the Afghanimals have the nerve to be disappointed and not just fall-down grateful at lasting longer than they ever should have.
The final leg starts in earnest the minute the teams land in Juneau and engage in a desperate scramble for scarce cabs. Then it's a damp motorboat race across the harbor to Grizzly Bar (a landform, not a tavern), where they have to simulate a supply drop by releasing a back of flour from a small plane onto a target. Amy, Marie, and Nicole take this for their teams and get it in two, twelve, and -- wait for it -- twenty-one attempts, respectively. Don't worry, Travis is as cool about it as you would expect.
From there, they take a helicopter rode to Norris Glacier, venture across a crevasse, climb the ice face, spelunk a frozen tunnel, and use an ice axe to dig out their next clue. The tricky part is that many of the yellow envelopes hidden in the glacier are duds, and the exes and even the ER docs are closing in behind Jason & Amy. But the dating couple manages to hold onto their lead as they kayak to a marked island.
And then Nicole drops one of the ice axes she needs to climb with, and makes the climb with just one axe and her crampons. Travis is as impressed with her perseverance as you would expect. Meanwhile, the lead teams take another helicopter back to Juneau and the Blueberry Hills trailhead, where they're faced with a memory puzzle in the form of totem poles that they have to assemble to spell out the currencies for each country they've been to, in chronological order. Jason & Amy are not prepared for this challenge, and the exes quickly gain ground. But not enough, and Jason & Amy leave the Road Block first, with Tim & Marie breathing down their neck all the way to the Finish Line. But this leg becomes Jason & Amy's second win, after six second-place finishes over the course of the race. Tim & Marie come in second, so at least he doesn't have to split the million 60/40 with her the way she forced him to agree to before the race. And Travis finally berates Nicole across the finish line and turns the giant mat into couples therapy. Yay? And we get official confirmation that the show will return in February with another all-star season. As always, the definition of "all-star" is up for debate, but I have a sinking feeling it's going to include Brendon & Rachel. Again.
After the end-of-season super-previouslies, in which Phil's got everyone's number, he rattles off another one: "Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands, all part of the volcanic Ring of Fire." After we get a look at a few of those 17,000, we're back at last week's Pit Stop as Phil goes on, "And cascading almost 300 feet, the Cimahi waterfall will now serve as the start of the eleventh leg in a race around the world." Jason & Amy, who won their first leg ever just last week, are starting this one at 1:25 AM, and are pretty happy to be kicking things off in first place for once. Their first clue tells them to fly to Tokyo, which Phil helpfully informs us is a "modern metropolis." After landing, they'll have to find their way to Gotokuji Temple, "filled with hundreds of ceramic cat statues, a popular Japanese lucky charm that invites happiness." I say that many nearly identical grinning, waving cats invites nothing but creepiness. But that's where they'll find their next clue.
Before heading out, they find a hotel lobby with an internet terminal to do some research, and Jason interviews that their strategy is to continue to work with Nicole & Travis. "All we need is one first place and that's the last one." At the computer, Amy tells us that they've found two possible flights. One lands at 6:10 and the other at 6:20 "tomorrow morning" -- which is to say, more than 24 hours from now -- and they have connections through either Hong Kong or Bangkok, but she's not saying which is which. Her main concern, as they get in a taxi to a travel agency, is staying with the group. Bold approach, that.
Tim & Marie open their first clue an hour later, at 2:25 AM. "What's with the cats?" Marie asks after reading the clue, even before seeing the overwhelming crowd of them that lies terrifyingly in wait, like we already have. Before leaving the mat, Tim says the million dollars is theirs for the taking, and he's convinced that they're the strongest team. "We're not just an athletic team, we're smart," Tim says, though Marie appears to be the dysfunctional brains of the operation. They get in a cab to the travel agency rather than spending time on research.
Nicole & Travis are leaving at 2:26 AM, since they arrived at the mat at almost the same time as the exes. Travis is still clean-shaven as he interviews about how close they are to getting into the final group. He also adds that he grew up competing, and he's very tenacious and doesn't like to lose. Nicole says things come easy to him, and he gets frustrated when she doesn't have the same experience. "But we've been together for thirteen years and that's who he is." In other words, it looks like she's going to keep taking it.