The Reality TV Guru

The Football Players team races through the rapids in tonight's episode (photo courtesy ABC)

After the departure of the California Girls last week, five teams remain in Expedition Impossible. They are the Gypsies, the Fab 3, the Football Players, the Cops and No Limits. Ike was having serious problems even walking on his foot, so will he be able to heal up enough to literally stand the rigors of another long day of hiking and challenges?

The sun rises bringing a new day as teams wake up in their mid-desert makeshift camp. You can imagine these folks are ready for a nice soft bed, a hot shower and a full continental breakfast. But none of them want these luxuries now, not while they’re still in contention to win Expedition Impossible. Teams gear up and gather at a small village out in the middle of nowhere for the start of the competition.

We’re told that the last team to finish today will leave and the remaining four teams will compete in the 10th and final stage of the competition. Teams will start by hiking to the river where there will be a guide and raft for each team. They will raft down the river to the next checkpoint along the river.

The Gypsies (as usual almost all season) start first with the remaining four teams taking off soon later as a combined pack. The Gypsies reach the river first, but the No Limits team is already trailing in last place with Ike’s foot in a cast. They’ll have to make up time on the river because they’ll lose time during any hiking.

One after another, teams push off from shore and raft down the river. Lo and behold, No Limits catch up with the other teams on the river and move up from last to third in short order. The Cops steer into a rock and get trapped against it, taking on water into the inflatable raft as the Football Player pass them by. It takes the Cops a while to pop their raft out of the trap, putting them well behind the rest of the teams.

Meanwhile, the Gypsies reach the first checkpoint. In the next stage, teams must hike up to supply cases up on a hilltop. There, they must solve a riddle in order to unlock an alphabetically coded padlock to open the case to retrieve their next set of instructions and additional supplies.

The riddle is “Sometimes you pass by them, and sometimes you go inside them. However, lately you have been spending a lot of time between them. What are they?” Hmmm… what would you guess? Hint: There are five letters on the combination lock, so it’s a five letter word.

The Gypsies think the solution has something to do with “canyon”, but that’s not it. As they are fiddling with their padlock, the Fab 3 team shows up. Fab 3 thinks it’s a plural word that ends with an ‘s’ because of the clue containing the word “them”. So, now we have a 5-letter word ending in an ‘s’. Care to guess now before reading on?

The Fab 3 first thinks “Lakes” while the surprisingly quick No Limits appears on site in third place, followed by the Football Players. The Cops are nowhere to be seen, probably still on the river. Still none of the teams seem to have solved the puzzle, with all padlocks still unopened. The Gypsies finally open their padlock with the solution: Banks. (Well, I could think of better riddles for this word, like “What interests the government, what gives you interest, and what interests the media by crashing the national economy?” But I digress.)

The case seems to have some freeze-dried food packets, crackers, cups, a sterno, and what appears to be two very welcome bottles of wine and/or water with a cork on top. The instructions have the teams return to their rafts and continue downstream to the next checkpoint. The Fab 3 are the next to solve the puzzle and open their case as the last-place Cops finally beach their raft and head to the checkpoint.

In a surprising move, Kari of the Fab 3 walks over to the Football Players and tells them the answer to the riddle. Recall the Fab 3 and Football Players agreed to help each other, but this assistance goes beyond physical help and gives the Football Players a distinct and sizable time advantage over the remaining No Limits and The Cops teams. Is this “cheating”, even if it’s within the rules of the game? You make the call.

The Gypsies apparently see this and decide to help No Limits with a clue, too. But instead of giving the answer outright, they give them another clue: “Where do you keep your money?” (Ah, hah, my riddle becomes relevant after all!) The Cops show up and find out the answer, too. Thus, the help the Football Players got from the Fab 3 becomes neutralized and the playing field is leveled between the teams.

The Gypsies are first to hit the river, with the Fab 3, No Limits and the Cops right behind them. The Football Players end up being in last place as all the teams navigate and paddle down the river. At the checkpoint, the river is a mucky thick mud bank that’s difficult to paddle through.

From this checkpoint, teams must climb up over a canyon cliff to the other side and board a traditional boats (made of what appears to be corrugated steel roofing) and paddle 1.2 miles across open water to the next checkpoint. This is bad news for Ike, given the rocky ground and difficult climb. Somebody from the Cops team drops a life preserver and the last Football Boys guy picks it up. The Cops stop and look for it, with one of the guys, Jim, throwing a rock to the ground in frustration.

The gypsies reach the rickety looking rowboats first, with the Fab 3 and Football players next. No Limits are in fourth with the Cops finally catching up in last. The teams paddle down the river, with the better paddlers making good time while teams like the Football Players flounder around in the water. Upon reaching the next checkpoint, it’s the Gypsies, No Limit, Fab 3, Cops and Football Players in that order. From this checkpoint it’s a two-mile hike to a lake. Again, not good news for the No Limits team as they do well on water but poorly over land with Ike’s foot.

During the hike, the Football Players are running hard and pass by The Cops, who in turn eventually pass by the No Limits team, putting them in last place once again. The No Limits team realizes unless “something crazy happens” they’re going home so they need to be ready for the eventuality that they’ll be going home. But the expedition is not over and they haven’t given up.

At the next checkpoint, teams will rappel down a cliff face, where there is a cave embedded. They’ll have to crawl into the cave and find a pot that has the same symbol as what’s on their instructions. Inside the pots are the instructions to reach the finish line. In order going into the caves are the Gypsies, Fab 3, Cops, Football Players and, believe it or not, the No Limits team reaching the cliff top before the Football Players have made their way down.

The Gypsies, Fab 3 and Football Players find their pots and instructions, which reads “Find the wheat fields, find the finish”, and move on. The Cops, however, make a blunder by keeping the pot and forgetting to look inside for their next instructions! The Gypsies are not far behind them as they find their pot and instructions. The Cops, meanwhile, still don’t know where they’re supposed to go. They were not too far behind the Football Players, but the Football Players took a detour along the road that both teams were walking on and suddenly the Cops lose sight of them. Now the Cops don’t know what direction to go and don’t have a team to follow. It’s been a bad, bad day of miscues for them.

Meanwhile, the Gypsies (as usual!) cross the finish line, earning their spot in the 10th and final stage. The Fab 3 show up next not far behind in second, with the Football Playes cruising in for third place.

So who will finish in fourth for the final qualifying spot? The Cops are “running around like chickens with their heads cut off” while the No Limits team was “hobbling along, licking our wounds” and suddenly they encounter each other. Based on where the No Limits team was heading, the Cops figure the direction and make a dash for it.

So now it becomes a foot race to the finish line, one team going without directions and one team going without an able-footed team member. It looks like it’s going to be close as the camera has both teams in view with No Limits slightly ahead. The other teams are cheering them on! No Limits reaches the finish line ahead of the Cops! Wow!

And finally the hapless, mapless Cops come in fifth, little realizing the very map they needed was in the pot they found. “We were so close to the finals…” So close, but so far, guys. Enjoy the helicopter ride.

Amazing. No Limits survives yet another week to make it to the final stage. It’s not likely they’ll win it with Ike’s foot in the condition it’s in, but they’ll have a shot. A long shot, maybe, but a shot.

Who will win the final stage of Expedition Impossible?

Stay tuned next week for what should be an exciting finish!

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