Just a note before I begin the summary. Since so many people missed this show when it went up against The Amazing Race, I am writing this summary “straight” without a lot of snarky parody. Not as much fun maybe, but I liked this show, and I pretty much liked the people too. It wasn’t perfect but it tried to be honest and respectful of all the contestants while still being good entertainment. That is a rarity in Reality TV.
The finale begins on Necker Island, with aerial views of Branson’s fabulous resort-style vacation home. A voiceover announces “This is it!”
Sara and Shawn, the two finalists are ready to give the “speech of their lives,” and seem very surprised when they realize that they will be giving this speech to all the previously eliminated contestants. Yes, they are all assembled and waiting—even the two Red Virgins—as a barefoot Branson escorts the Finalists in. Candida and Nichole are both wearing straw hats. One of the guys is too—maybe Timl? Branson is wearing a royal blue short-sleeved shirt and rolled up pants. With his bare feet it is a very casual look. Sara has on an aqua skirt with a coordinating aqua pendant, a black tank top and black Mary Jane style shoes. Shawn is in jeans with a dark, button front shirt. They both look extremely nervous.
Sara speaks first. She seems a bit awkward and very emotional as she tells the group about how she started her company, Spanks, and about her commitment to creating opportunities for women. Branson perches casually on a nearby end table/trunk and listens with the others. The audience is very poker-faced and gives virtually no feed-back to either Sarah or Shawn as they speak.
Shawn seems a little more relaxed as he talks about his company Love Sac. He addresses his “cockiness” head on, but he does more pleading than Sarah did and talks about his “dream” and how he wants this prize so much “his teeth hurt.” He also says “please, please, please!”
They then show several of the eliminated contestants stating their take on the speeches. Candida says that Sara was “honest” but didn’t reveal enough “personal information.” Jermaine and Michael thought she focused too much on women. Regarding Shawn’s speech several people, including Tim, are unimpressed and point out that they too have a dream and want the prize so much their teeth hurt.
And after all the hype about “The Most Important Speech of Their Lives” there is no immediate result of this speech. Branson just nods thoughtfully and moves on to the next thing! “Put on your suits” he tells Sara and Shawn “and join me on the beach.” It turns out that the Speech was merely the first of four tests that the two Finalists must endure. Since Branson likes “to mix intellectual and physical challenges” the next challenge is very physical.
It’s a windy day on the beach. I mean serious wind! Blow-your-lawn-chairs-down-the-street wind! Which makes it a perfect day to learn sailing—in Branson’s mind anyway! Shawn has never been on a sailboat, so he is given a catamaran-type sailboat for this challenge. Sara has done a little sailing, but has never been on a kiteboard. Thus she is assigned a kiteboard for the challenge. (For land-locked idiots like me who have no idea what kiteboarding is, here is a brief description. With your feet strapped to a small surf board and your body harnessed to a parachute-type sail far above you, you skim across the water trying to control the sail so that you go fast but not so fast that you actually become airborne. It looks freakingly difficult!)
The challenge for Sara and Shawn is to race out to a nearby reef and then back again using this unfamiliar equipment. And in gale-force winds! Foolhardy fun, Branson style. Branson tells them to get there and back “any way they can.” This gives a loop-hole to Sara who tells Branson’s kiteboard riding expert that the way she chooses to go is on his back! The guy looks very surprised. “On my back!?!” He glances at Branson to see if this is okay before agreeing to the piggy-back ride. Branson laughs and says “outfoxed by a smart lady!” The rules state “any way you can” and do not prohibit piggy-back rides. Shawn appears to miss this whole exchange since he is likely focused on his own hurry-up-and-learn sailing advisor.
They take off. Shawn struggles gamely and manages to move forward in more or less the right direction without overturning his boat. No small feat in the gale force winds! Sarah whips by his boat like it’s standing still! And poor Shawn is so distracted by trying to stay alive that he doesn’t even realize she is piggy-back. He thinks it’s just Sara whizzing past!
Sara hangs on for dear life. No small feat for her, but still? The tough job belongs to the kiteboarder who has to carry her weight while he fights to control the sail. At one point they go airborne and soar yards above the water. Everyone on the beach gasps, but the expert gets control again and brings them back to the surface of the water without a wipeout. Needless to say, Sarah wins the race. And? Branson just says “that was good fun” and moves them on to the next thing while we go to commercial. I guess the challenge was just to try.
It is much later when we return, with aerial shots of Necker at night. That island looks so gorgeous! If I ever will the lottery or find a suitcase full of money floating down the St. Croix River, I am so going to go there for a few days!