Monday, May 09, 2011

Amazing Race Round-Up, Finale

Technically, it's the last two episodes crammed together in a not-at-all-blatantly obvious fashion, no siree! Much like Riding With Death and the Master Ninja series, CBS has seamlessly blended these two episodes into a two-hour extravaganza so brilliantly that you can't even see the join! (I suspect it was somewhere around the Pit Stop at the halfway point, but that could just be crazy talk.)

In any event, at the start of the first, first half of the episode, the four remaining teams (Flight Time/Big Easy, Zev/Justin, Gary/Mallory, Jen/Kisha) are still in Switzerland. They all head to the airport to get their flights to Rio de Janeiro, and the Globetrotters luck into a flight that seems like it will give them (and Zev/Justin, who were tagging along with them) a seven hour head start over the other two teams. This good fortune lasts until Mallory asks Flight Time, "Did you find anything better?", at which point his eyes widen like he's just seen an oncoming train, his mouth hangs open for a long moment, and he finally says, "Um, no! We were looking to see what y'all got!" Unsurprisingly, his devastating poker face fails to fool Mallory's razor-keen intellect, and soon all four teams are booked on the same flight.

Once they get to Rio, a little taxi roulette and a trolley schedule give the other three teams a half-hour lead over the Globetrotters, which is pretty much entirely eaten up for Zev and Justin when they choose Zev to do a dancing challenge. I'm not going to say he has the worst rhythm of anyone ever on the Race, because I know better, but his lack of dancing skills combined with his social disorder lead him to a) get through the challenge very slowly, and b) slap one of his instructors on the ass, which made me wish she'd have returned the favor on the back of his head. Mallory and Jen cruise through the challenge looking like they had a lot of fun, though.

Then everyone gets fifteen minutes of body waxing. For some, this meant they came out perfectly smooth. For Zev and Justin, it just meant that the waxers managed to get the first couple of layers of fur off. (The timer elapsed before they could get the machetes and flamethrowers to really slash and burn.) After that, three of the teams did the drink-mixing half of the Detour, while Zev and Justin basically said, "Nah, we don't want to be in the Final Three anyway!" and went to go sell bikinis on a beach. Because nothing works like having two white guys, one of whom has a social disorder, wander up and say to random bikini-wearing women, "Hi! Take that off and pay us money to model one of ours!" Needless to say, the first half ends with Zev and Justin getting eliminated. Honestly, they only had one or two genuinely bad legs this time around, but when they were the 10th and 11th, that was all that mattered.

The second, half...begins with the teams heading back to Miami for the final leg of the Race. There's a lot of chatting, recapping ( anyone could make that interesting...) and general catching-up to get people excited for the final trek to the Finish Line...and then Gary and Mallory get a genuinely incompetent taxi driver and don't even see another racer until the last challenge. So this is pretty much a two-team race, here. (For the record, I agree with everybody else who said, "Gary and Mallory should have realized how bad their driver was very early on and ditched him for another instead of sticking with him until it was too late to make up the time." But hindsight is 20/20.)

The other two teams face two Road Blocks in a row (one of those little "gotchas" I appreciate, because it means that teams who strategize all the way through the Race to make sure that their strongest Racer gets the last Road Block wind up having to put their weaker half in for the very last one) and a challenge that was annoying due to wind and weather and the need to be super-attentive to detail. No Detour, though. Come to think of it, there wasn't one last season, either. Maybe they just want to make sure everyone has to do the exact same challenges for the final leg. (That also seems to be the motivation for the obvious bunching for the final leg.)

Then finally, in one of the nastiest final tasks I can remember, they have a seven-mile bike ride to the Finish Line. It's close--the Globetrotters actually have Jen and Kisha in sight as they trek across Seven-Mile Bridge--but in the end, Jen and Kisha become the second all-female team to win the Amazing Race. (Which should, by the way, shut everyone up who claimed that Nat and Kat won by beating a "weak field of Racers"; Jen and Kisha beat several teams that finished in the Final Three on previous Races, and were one of only two all-female teams this time out. And frankly, I think if this Final Three had been put on Nat and Kat's race along with them, they would still have beaten out all five of the other teams. But that's unprovable.)

And that's it for another season of the Amazing Race! As always, I'm looking forward to the next one.

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