Previously on The Amazing Race: After many eliminations (and a few too many non-eliminations), only four teams remained, with the powerhouse snowboarding Dudez leading the way. Just when it seemed their victory was inevitable, however, a last-minute stumble knocked them out of the running at the end of last week’s episode. Now we’re left with dating couple Sandy and Jeremy, engaged Ernie and Cindy, and former NFL player Marcus and his wife Amani. Who will win The Amazing Race?
Well, you probably already know the answer if you’re reading this, but let’s pretend there’s still some suspense about the outcome. Having won the penultimate leg, Sandy and Jeremy open their clue to find they are heading to Atlanta, which, according to them, sucks. Granted, I haven’t spent much time there outside the airport, but is it really that bad? Oh, wait—there’s an explanation for their dismay. Marcus and Amani live in Atlanta, giving them, in Marcus’ inevitable words, “home-field advantage.” Now, this may seem a little unfair, but since there’s no way the producers could have known Marcus and Amani would make it to the final three, I don’t think there’s any funny business going on here. Everybody’s from somewhere, after all, and I’m pretty sure there have been teams from the the finish line city before.
As it turns out, the home-field advantage is for naught, as the first task after arriving back in the United States proves to be the downfall of Marcus and Amani. It’s a flight simulator in which Marcus literally cannot stick the landing. It’s as if he’s running for the end zone and fumbles the football, then manages to recover it, then fumbles it again, then kicks it down the field, then runs face-first into the goalpost. Meanwhile, Ernie and Cindy are first to complete the task and are moving on to the next location, a former residence known as “the dump.” This turns out to be the one-time home of Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell, where a Roadblock awaits. One member of each team must type up their next clue using an old manual typewriter.
Ernie types very slowly and keeps making mistakes, but eventually gets it right, even figuring out he has to use the lower-case “L” in place of “1.” (If you knew that already, congratulations: You are very old.) Jeremy and Sandy, on the other, have gone to the wrong dump entirely: a big-box furniture store called The Dump, where they seems to waste a lot of time running up and down aisles of couches before figuring out there’s no cluebox to be found. Marcus and Amani: still crashing into the runway.
The clue to the final task is a good one, but it also demonstrates that cryptic clues aren’t necessarily a test of the teams’ intelligence or ingenuity so much as their luck in finding the right person to ask. In this case, the right person to ask is Google, which confirms that “44-715-74” refers to Hank’s Aaron’s uniform number, number of home runs, and the year in which he broke Babe Ruth’s record. This leads to Turner Field, where the final task awaits. As in many seasons past, teams must reconstruct the race they’ve run from memory. I liked this iteration because it was both a mental and physical challenge; one member of the team had to climb along a giant map of the world, tracing their route with a rope. The countries didn’t even have flags on them; teams had to recognize them geographically. Hey, if you’ve traveled around the world, that’s the least you should be able to do.
Despite the editorial team’s attempt to create some “Re-calculating!” suspense with the cab driver’s GPS, the ending of the race didn’t appear to be very close at all. Ernie and Cindy easily sailed to victory, depriving us of the sort of dramatic finish that might have pushed this season up a notch or two on the all-time rankings. As it is, I’d have to rank this as one of the lesser seasons, probably in the bottom third. Too many lackluster teams and tasks, too many non-elimination legs, and the absence of any compelling heroes and villains all added to a rather disappointing trip around the globe. At least the outcome is one I can live with, even if it wasn’t necessarily the one I was rooting for. And if Ernie and Cindy are really planning to put their winnings toward a charitable endeavor, more power to them.
- Note to Jeremy: There is no “tech support” for a manual typewriter.
- The flight-simulator task was fun, but next season, let’s put the teams in real planes. Come on, this race is supposed to be amazing!
- “Are we idiots and in the wrong spot?” Yes. Yes, you are.
- It’s always fun to see the losers at the finish line and try to remember who they are. The Twins! The Survivors! Boobs ’n’ Brains!