As usual, at the opening of tonight's finale we get the kind of epic end-of-season previouslies that make you wonder if you really needed to watch the whole season at all. In fact, they not only cover this season, with high-speed eliminations of Amanda and Kris, Mel and Mike, Jaime and Cara, Margie and Luke, Ron and Christina, Jet and Cord, and Kent and Vyxsin; but previous seasons, with reminders of how the final four got eliminated their first times around. That means Zev and Justin's vanishing passports, Jen's ill-timed pit stop before the Pit Stop, Gary and Mallory's wandering in the desert in Oman (they never mention that they still came close to catching that season's eventual winners that leg), and the Globetrotters' quitting in Prague. Now one of those teams is about to win an historic do-over. Not that those were Phil's exact words.
Uncharacteristically melancholy music accompanies sweeping shots of the frozen Swiss Alps -- that is, until the Matterhorn comes into view yet again and the music kicks into high gear. So does Phil's narration, welcoming us back to the town of Zermatt, the tenth Pit Stop. Remember how Flight Time and Big Easy won the previous leg? We win the chance to watch them looking at their trip online. Good deal for them, raw deal for us. Flight Time gets a little jealous of the gnome sitting in Big Easy's lap, telling the little painted lump of plaster that Flight Time, not the gnome, is going on the trip. I'm sure there will be plenty of other gnomes on the Travelocity-provided trip they'll be taking anyway.
So then they get to start the leg first as well, at 7:12 AM. The clue tells them to get to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I hope the part of the episode set in Rio is better than the movie I recently saw with that name. Phil says that once they get to Rio, they'll board a tram that will take them on a five-minute ride up a hill to Escadaria Selaron, a famous staircase decorated with thousands of ceramic tiles. Among these are several Amazing Blue Route Info tiles, with the next clue pasted on the back. Walking away from the Pit Stop, the Globetrotters speculate that they'll fly through Zurich, because they are globetrotters, after all, with all the geographical knowledge that implies. Big Easy admits that in their first race, this very leg was their undoing. "The race was in my hands and I fumbled the ball," he says with his usual gift for mixed sports metaphors. Flashback to the Kafkaesque Road Block that so flummoxed Big Easy that he took a four-hour penalty rather than continue it, and he says, "until we get over the eleventh leg, we haven't done anything yet." That's a pretty high standard there, especially considering that nobody who's been eliminated yet had a higher overall ranking than they did the first time around. Obviously that'll change tonight, no matter what happens. At the train station's ticket window, they learn about the 7:39 to Zurich just as it pulls in. Already a strong lead!