Amazing Race Canada: Week 10

Amazing Race Canada - The Family Race Off, Episode 10 (Photo: CTV)
Amazing Race Canada - The Family Race Off, Episode 10 (Photo: CTV)

What a journey it’s been. The inaugural Amazing Race Canada began for us viewers 10 weeks ago in Niagara Falls, and has allowed us to tag along through seven provinces and three territories, visiting corners of our vast country many of us will never get the chance to see with our own eyes. Along the way we met nine pairs of ordinary Canadians who have showed us extraordinary guts and guile—there have been heroes and villains, challenges and triumphs, and at the end of Monday’s episode, one team to call Amazing Race Canada champions.

rom nine teams we’re down to our final three—father-son team Tim Sr. and Tim Jr., brothers Jody and Cory, and sisters Vanessa and Celina—who begin the final leg with a departure from Cape Spear, Newfoundland to Toronto, Ontario. The Mitic brothers leave first, just before 3 a.m., with $400 on their Interac card—anyone who’s been to Toronto knows they’re going to need it.

Of course, all the teams end up on the same flight again, negating any head start, but they’re happy to share a flight as long as they’re all enjoying a feast in first class, courtesy of Air Canada.

Once they arrive at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, they rush off in search of a woman wearing a baseball cap with a maple leaf on it who’s holding their next clue. There’s no advantage to be had, just a foot race for the clue and the chance to luck out and get a skilled taxi driver who knows the way to the L Tower.

All the teams reach the tower at about the same time to find their first Road Block: a member of each team has to rappel down the face of the building—all 44 under-construction stories of it—to earn a clue. It’s the second in a series of bottlenecks, where leads and deficits are erased and there’s no way for one team to force themselves ahead of the others. They all take the same elevator up, each get hitched to a safety harness and start their descent at the same time. While Jody launches himself fearlessly over the edge, his speed is governed by whoever’s holding the other end of the rope so his bravery gains his team nothing.

After everyone’s back on the ground, the next clue leads them to the Cadbury chocolate factory. The sisters, relying on the kindness of strangers as has become their M.O., waste no time asking a passerby to Google the address on their smartphone—I know the teams aren’t allowed to use that kind of technology themselves, but isn’t asking someone else to push the buttons flouting the rules just a little? The brothers get smart and go into a nearby hotel to get the address, but Tim Jr. stays just close enough to overhear and gets out the door to grab the nearest taxi, sending Cory into a froth over how sneaky the Tims have been.

The sisters get to the chocolate factory first, where they’re put in front of hundreds of boxes of Caramilk bars they have to search through, one bar at a time, to find a golden bar. It’s surprising that both challenges so far in the final leg have had almost nothing to do with ability or effort—the Caramilk challenge is reminiscent of when the teams had to dig through truckloads of lentils in Saskatchewan, a task that required effort but depended almost entirely on luck.

Vanessa and Celina seem to have a stunning amount of difficulty getting the chocolate wrappers open—Vanessa is forced to wear gloves because she has nail polish—giving the other teams time to catch up. Cory and Jody tear open their bars like a disassembly line, accumulating a heap of chocolate as the sisters continue to struggle. Jody starts chirping at them, “I’ve been unwrapping chocolate since before you were born,” perhaps as a tribute to the recent departed Jet and Dave, but Vanessa fires right back, “I was born chocolate!”

Tim Sr. also has difficulty as his Parkinson’s starts to flare up, but Junior keeps him calm and focused—there’s no sense getting worked up because any bar could be the golden bar they’re hunting for.

And they do find the first one, letting out a brief cry of triumph before hustling it upstairs, where they meet the Cadbury president (who inexplicably dresses like a Willy Wonka-impersonator) and trade the bar for the key to a safe and their next clue: they’re going to the Toronto Zoo!

The brothers and sisters begin to fret about getting waylaid by rush hour traffic—if there’s one thing worse than Toronto prices, it’s Toronto traffic, and even if they don’t realize it yet, they’ll face plenty of traffic on their next trip. After more than an hour and a half Vanessa finds the next gold bar, and the brothers aren’t far behind. Both teams head straight into traffic to slog their way to the edge of the city.

The Tims have had plenty of time to admire the animals but still haven’t found their next clue, and while their wild goose chase starts to become desperate, Celina and Vanessa’s taxi driver unknowingly gives them a crucial hint: “Those little bears from China, the pandas, that’s the big attraction here.”

The brothers have also deduced that the clue could be near the pandas and both pairs reach the clue box and learn they’re going right back into traffic to get to the Evergreen Brickworks. The sisters offer up some comic relief, insisting, “They followed us all the way there ‘cause our brains are good, we knew it was koalas.” As they take off again the Tims are still circling the zoo, having walked past the panda exhibit what must have been an hour earlier without going in to look around.

The sisters and brothers get stuck in more traffic—at least they’re getting an authentic Toronto experience!—but it doesn’t matter much as they arrive at the final Road Block of the race. They’re faced with a map of Canada and tasked with matching provincial flags and flowers to each of the places they’ve visited. They all claim to have been paying attention to the flowers worn by each of their greeters and the flags prominently displayed on their clues, but on Cory’s eighth attempt he’s only got half of his map right and Celina only has one out of ten after her 11th try. The Tims are still nowhere in sight and the sisters are positive they’ve already come and gone, while Jody is sure they’re still behind. Celina tries to convince Vanessa to take a time penalty because she’s so hopeless, but Vanessa won’t hear it. When the Tims arrive everyone else breathes a sigh of relief.

That relief is painfully quick, though. Tim Sr. has been studying up on the flags and flowers because he was expecting something exactly like this challenge, and while it’s hard to believe it’ll make much difference, it takes him just two attempts to complete the puzzle and start the dash to the finish line on Toronto’s Olympic Island.

The Tims leave everyone in their dust and, while the show’s producers try valiantly to create a little last-minute tension over and eight-minute wait for the ferry, it’s pretty clear who our winners are.

They didn’t feel much like the protagonists of the race, and at times they played villains—ending Hal and Joanne’s game with a U-Turn, coming last in both of the non-elimination legs—but somehow the Tims feel like deserving victors. As Tim Sr. put it, “In this race you only have to win one leg,” and they took advantage of breaks until the final challenge, which they dominated. It couldn’t have been easy for Tim Sr. to battle through his Parkinson’s, so to overcome that and finish the race is a feat in itself.

And thus marks the end of the first season of Amazing Race Canada. There’s still so much more of our vast country to explore, so here’s hoping we have the chance to watch more Canadians pair up and embark on their journey in season two!

Drew Berner

Drew Berner is a freelance writer born and raised in Toronto and specializing in entertainment, sports and politics. He occasionally collects vinyl records, enjoys hate-watching the Blue Jays, appreciates good beer and great scotch, and goes to sleep each night with 120 lbs. of Great Dane draped over him (it’s a lot more comfortable than it sounds). Follow him on Twitter @DrewBerner for photos of huge dogs, observational humour and assorted sports rage.

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