The final four leave Cochin for Japan. There's a lot of frantic dashing around Hiroshima by night, and Other Rachel and Dave miss the last ferry of the evening. Which unsurprisingly ends up being for naught, as everyone else had to wait overnight for the next clue anyway. In the morning, everyone undergoes a little forced contemplation of the tragedy of Hiroshima before getting on a bullet train to Osaka, where they participate in a fake Japanese game show. It's simple enough; they just run along a treadmill to try to catch chickens dangling overhead. But remember that Vanessa hurt her ankle in the previous leg, so a running challenge is nearly a deal-breaker for her. After Art, Brendon, and Other Rachel are long gone, she's still there, but she sucks it up and manages to finish.
The other teams proceed to a spectacular observation deck atop a skyscraper to choose their Detours. Other Rachel and Dave are the only ones to select the one where they take pictures of passersby posing behind cutouts of sumo wrestlers, while the rest of the teams opt for a complicated sushi-based game of Bingo. Which turns out to be the right call for Other Rachel and Dave, because they win their seventh leg of the race and are looking forward to their eighth. Meanwhile, the Border Patrol and Team Big Brother muddle through the sushi task with varying degrees of bickering, then have trouble finding the Pit Stop on the vast grounds that host it this leg. Vanessa and Ralph smoke the Detour and have good taxi luck, but the damage is done; Art and JJ and Brendon and Rachel will be the other two teams in the final three.
In the second hour, the remaining three teams fly back across the Pacific to Honolulu. They're supposed to find a pair of twin towers going only by their nicknames, which proves to be not enough information for Art and JJ. While the two Rachel teams reach them quickly, use ascenders to climb 45 stories to their rooftops, spot their next destination from there, and "rappel" back down face-first (actually they "dangle" more than "rappel," but that can wait), Art and JJ engage in a classic final-leg flail before getting back on track. Soon Dave, and then Brendon, are hard at work making 14 quarts of shaved ice. Other Rachel and Dave hold into their lead, then get to hop into a helicopter to be flown to the next task. Art and JJ catch up to Team Big Brother just before Brendon finishes, but then the latter team misreads their clue and takes a cab all the way to Aloha Stadium instead of going on foot to the helicopters right there in the park. Cue meltdown.
On the other side of the island, Other Rachel and Dave use a Wave Runner and a rescue sled to fish a swimmer out of the surf, just like a real rescue but with no actual danger. Then they take a taxi to what they think is their next stop. Seeing an Amazing Sign instructing them to ride stand-up paddleboards across a pond to the dock on the far side, they do just that. Once again they're the first team to reach the mat, but it's not what they expected; Phil tells them they missed a Roadblock and have to go back.
Art and JJ, however, are already at that Roadblock, having hired a better cab driver. Art has to ride a narrow sled down a grassy hill, but it's just not happening. He and JJ think they're out of it anyway -- until Other Rachel and Dave show up. That means they're still in the race -- until Other Rachel successfully rides her sled on the second try. She gets to move on to the second part of the Roadblock, a rock-rolling challenge, which she completes while Art is still plowing up that poor hill with his elbows. Looks like all they have to do now is paddle back across the water and check in at the Finish Line for real.
Art is so miserable at the sledding that even Brendon and Rachel catch up with them, and Rachel succeeds on her second try as well. But Art finally manages to tame the sled before Rachel succeeds at the rock-rolling -- and he succeeds at the rock-rolling too.
But this is all a formality, because despite having to loop back around on the course, Other Rachel and Dave get to the Finish Line first again. That makes them the record-holders, with eight victorious legs under their belt. Which says more about casting and leg design than it does about them, if you ask me, not that anybody did. Art and JJ come in second, and JJ has to walk back a lot of his big talk about winning, and finally Brendon and Rachel drag themselves in at third. And then there's the celebration and the hugs and the farewell from Bopper and Mark, who after all were the only team on tonight's two-hour show that anybody was still rooting for.
A two-hour finale always feels like spending a week cramming for a final. But at least I've been to all the classes this semester.
The pre-credits recap of the season so far is oddly heavy on alliteration. And also oddly heavy on Bopper and Mark, considering Team Kentucky isn't even in the race any more. They lasted so long it's easy to forget that they ultimately came in fifth out of eleven teams. But then the Amazing Editors make up for it with a high-speed montage of Rachel's many crying tantrums all over the world, as Phil narrates that she and Brendon "felt the pressure of the race early -- and often." It's interesting to learn that she always cries in the same key, though.
After the opening titles, which feature a half-dozen or more ex-racers I don't even remember any more, Phil starts out the episode proper by telling us that Cochin, India is known as the city of harmony, which explains why all the teams have been getting along so well. We're reintroduced to the giant Chinese fishing nets on the shoreline, a location that Phil reminds us is the start of the eleventh leg. Because Other Rachel and Dave won the previous leg, as usual, they're leaving first -- this time at 1:51 PM. After they rip their clue, they'll take a flight of nearly 4,000 miles to Hiroshima, Japan and then get themselves to Miyajima Island to receive their next clue. Dave interviews that winning is important, but his relationship with Other Rachel is more important. From what we've seen all season, it seems like achievement of the one is necessary for the survival of the other. They head into a travel agency and as Other Rachel sits down across from one of the many travel agents behind the counter, Dave orders Other Rachel, "You work that to completion." I think she was going to, Major. The agent asks her how his country is and she says they love it, it's very nice. "Rachel, please don't distract, let him work," Dave dicks at his wife for politely answering a question. He interviews that he doesn't see Other Rachel as his wife, but as his equal and as his teammate and his peer, while Other Rachel keeps correcting, "soldier" until Dave finally agrees. I was going to say "piss-boy," but I'll allow it. They learn that they'll be getting into Hiroshima at 8:10 tomorrow night and that's the earliest flight available. In other words, everyone is going to be on the same plane, as usual. Yes, Other Rachel, the producers obviously work very hard to make that happen. Try to keep up.
Since everyone will be flying out together, the Amazing Editors apparently decide that there's no point in going over the other three teams' rankings or departure times. So the first time we see Rachel & Brendon (Rachel says that with only four teams left, one mistake could be it for them), Art & JJ (JJ maintains that they're the best team, all evidence to the contrary) and Vanessa and Ralph (Vanessa's ankle looks swollen and purple after crashing and burning in the previous leg) is when they're already on the plane. Now that we know who everyone is, an Amazing Red Line swoops east-northeast across the sea and south Asia to Japan. The teams land at night and some wander through the terminal to a row of bus ticket vending machines with touchscreens that they have to figure out. Art and JJ end up being the first team to get on a bus, but Brendon and Rachel go straight to the bus and ask the driver where to get tickets, while the Border Patrol quietly mocks them. "I don't even think they read the clues," JJ says. "I just think they run." In the seats behind them, Ralph and Vanessa snicker as JJ goes on, "It's staggering that they're still here." I said that for two seasons of Big Brother, dude. Soon both teams with Rachels in them are trying to puzzle out the touchscreen vending machines, with the help of locals. Other Rachel and Dave end up being the next to board the bus and JJ refers to him as "Private Dave." Clearly JJ was so offended by the U-Turn kerfuffle that he's arranged for Dave to be busted down ton an enlisted man. By now the three teams on the bus are encouraging the driver to get going already. And indeed, the door closes before team Big Brother is on board, a development for which Rachel blames Brendon for not listening to her. Even when they get on the next bus, which seems to arrive almost immediately, she bitches, "From now on I'm not making any decisions. You can do them all." Mature as always. She continues yelling at him across the aisle for not listening to her, while simultaneously not letting him talk. I'd say she's demonstrating a cleverly thought-out point by demonstrating the behavior to which she is objecting so he'll know how it feels, but we all know she's just being an asshole as usual. Brendon lectures her about yelling on the bus, so she starts bitching sarcastically at a lower volume about how he thinks he's so smart. Well, she's got a point there.