WARNING: Spoiler Alert! Do not read on unless you're caught up on "Canada's Smartest Person." Unless you like spoilers, then go right ahead!
This Season 2 wrap-up was a reminder of just how epic the last eight weeks have been on "Canada's Smartest Person." Thirty-two Canadians battled for the chance to lord it over friends, family and co-workers that they're the smartest person in the country, and the competition ended last night with law student Braden Lauer from Vancouver taking the title.
It started off as most finales do, with a lengthy reintroduction to the final eight competitors (Lauer; Albert Tam, an MBA candidate from of Woodbridge, Ont.; firefighter Chris Tessaro from Mississauga, Ont.; fighter pilot Max Cameron from Calgary; copywriter Mith Das from Toronto; Victoria Leenders-Cheng, a magazine editor from Montreal; Daryl Dillman, an orthopedic surgery resident from Cole Harbour, N.S.; poet Johnny MacRae from North Vancouver, B.C.), but once host Jessi Cruickshank finished up all the mandatory jibber-jabber, the show pushed into hyper-drive.
The remaining time flew by at lightning speed. First, the eight contestants competed in the first qualifying round, with a challenge in each of the six main categories: Social, Visual, Musical, Logical, Linguistic and Physical. They had to be cool under pressure, and whether they were showing off their chopsticks skills or had a great eye for faces, time was of the essence. That round ended with Albert and Victoria being eliminated, Max and Braden in the Top 2 -- going straight to the semifinals, awaiting the two who would survive in the Sudden Death round. Would it be Johnny, Mith, Daryl or Chris?
Split into two groups of two, it was Mith vs. Chris up first, and the first contestant to win three challenges moves on. Simple, right? The five categories were Musical, Visual, Logical, Linguistic and Physical and while Mith started strong, it was firefighter Chris who came back to win. Lisa Kudrow would be proud.
Johnny and Daryl faced the same challenges, and while the Logical category was a close one (a replay was needed to see who solved the Old School Math question the fastest), Johnny won handily over the doc. Aside: old school math (we're talking a chalkboard and a piece of chalk, none of this new rubbish involving Venn diagrams) should be the only math. That is all.
The final four -- Max, Braden, Chris and Johnny -- faced six more challenges and it only got crazier. From the Visual challenge (the Crosswalk, where the guys had look for things that stood out), the Musical, Karaoke Nightmare (which was judged by Canadian opera singer Measha Brueggergosman, as painful as it sounds) to the Social, in which the four dudes had to debate in front of former Ontario premier The Honourable Bob Rae, it soon hit me that you didn't just need smarts to earn the title: you also had to be quick on your feet and very, very, very brave.
After all the points were added up, it was the B.C. boys, Johnny and Braden, in the final. The Super Gauntlet featured a body labyrinth for the Physical challenge, a Visual nightmare called Countdown Explosion which Johnny just couldn't get a handle on, a crossword-like Linguistic challenge, crystal glasses in the Musical round and Stairway to Stardom in the final category, Logical.
Braden flew through the Gauntlet and took the title. Congrats, Braden!