As the two-hour season finale begins, it’s both a blessing and a curse to realize I’d be just fine with any of the four remaining teams winning. (Yes, even Gary and Mallory, despite all the jokes I’ve made at their expense—or maybe because of them.) While it’s a relief knowing that no team I despise will walk away from this thing a million dollars richer, not having anyone to root against saps a bit of the drama from the proceedings. This means I’m going to need a lot of distractions to get me through the next 120 minutes—I’m talking mermaids, graphic hair removal, blurry thong bikinis, awkward samba dancing, plastic pink flamingos, and at least 100 tasty alcoholic beverages.
Fortunately, the Amazing Race finale offered all of the above, so while it may not have been the most exciting finish ever, there was usually something entertaining happening onscreen at any given moment. Essentially two episodes crammed together, with an elimination at the end of the first hour, “This Is Where It Ends” concluded an uneven season on a generally high note. My biggest complaint about it was not a new one, and I’m a little surprised the producers still haven’t figured out a way to compensate for it. I’m referring, of course, to the disproportionate role the “cab of doom” plays in determining the winner of the race.
For a while, it looked like taxis were going to be a major factor in the penultimate leg, as Flight Time and Big Easy caught a cab just slow enough to cause them to miss a tram that the rest of the teams were already on, forcing them to wait 30 minutes for the next one. Fortunately for the Globetrotters, Zev and Justin, having won more legs than anyone else, suffered a meltdown into ineptitude, beginning with Zev’s inability to perform a samba dance while dressed as some sort of Sun King. Zev’s herky-jerky jig was only the beginning of their problems, because even though they finished the task still ahead of the Globetrotters, they somehow got lost on the way to the next task—a 15-minute Brazilian wax.
Given how hirsute both Zev and Justin are, it's no surprise that this turned out to be a very unpleasant interlude for them, although I was a little shocked at how forcefully Justin announced that he wanted to punch his (female) waxer in the face. I know he wasn’t serious, but still…that was uncool enough for me to feel a little better about what already seemed an inevitable elimination. By the time they left the waxing station, the other three teams were already well into their Detour task, preparing 100 caipirinha cocktails (but, sadly, not subsequently drinking them). I don’t blame Zev and Justin for choosing the other Detour option—it was their only strategic play at that point—but despite what you’ve heard about the fun-loving people of Rio de Janeiro, they don’t love fun enough to change into bikinis on a crowded beach, particularly if they’re already wearing bikinis.
And so, the now slightly-less-hairy guys are eliminated, leaving the remaining three teams to fly to Miami for the final leg. And it happens once again: Gary and Mallory get the whammy cab, and they’re basically out of the race as soon as they’re out of the airport. I really think the teams should be under their own power for the final leg; leave them rental cars at the airport, and you increase the chances of all three teams being in it until the end. And if a team does fall out of the running, at least it’s their own dumb fault, not the random chance of choosing a clueless cabbie. Anyway, this is the point at which Mallory finally leaves her happy place, and although it was temporary, it was sort of a relief to see her in non-giddy mode for a change.
So now it’s a two-team race, with a whirlwind of activity before the finish line: using a forklift to transport a boat to a storage rack; piloting a personal submarine around an underwater band while searching for a clue; assembling a trailer park lot to match a brochure picture; and finally riding giant tricycles across Old Seven Mile Bridge to the final pit stop, where the eliminated teams await. It pretty much comes down to the trailer park task, where both teams make the same mistake in arranging their picnic table condiments. Kisha and Jen recover first, however, and their Business is no long Unfinished as they cross the finish line. All-female teams have now won back-to-back seasons, which is something when you consider that no all-female team won any of the first sixteen seasons. So good for them, and good for this season, finishing (mostly) strong after so many lackluster weeks along the way.
- It figures that Gary and Mallory would win the leg of the race taking place in the city with the world’s largest Jesus.
- Just as I was making a 40 Year Old Virgin reference in my notes, Justin was right on cue with a hearty “Kelly Clarkson!”
- Did you notice Gary pushing Mallory through the airport on a luggage cart? Come on, Mallory! Don’t be such a Kent!
- How about that redneck music playing as the trailer park denizens observed the final task? Sheesh, Race.
- Mel White! Still alive!