The Amazing Race: Death by Taxi

It’s a weird feeling to be simultaneously happy and disappointed. Since I loved all four teams going into Sunday night’s The Amazing Race finale, there was no way I couldn’t be happy with the result, but there was also no way I wouldn’t be disappointed to see teams lose.

When the teams were announced, I was excited about Gary and Mallory, the Globetrotters, and the sisters returning. I’d loved them all on their original seasons. Since Justin and Zev didn’t last very long on their original season thanks to the passport mishap, I wasn’t sure how they’d do. I mean, losing your passports is a pretty huge mistake on The Amazing Race. But they quickly proved they were in it to win it and their great senses of humor made them one of my favorite teams. It was sad to see them go out in fourth place, but I was going to be sad to see a team go no matter what.

All the teams wanted to win really badly, and at the beginning of the episode it was anyone’s game. Justin and Zev were looking the best with four first place finishes. Jen recalled her previous mistake and said “I will pee my pants to make it in the final three.” The Globetrotters recalled how many times they’d gone from worst to first, and Gary and Mallory had a few first place finishes under their belts as well.

Dance, Dance, Repitition

The leg kicked off with teams flying to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a place everyone seemed very happy to be traveling to. Wouldn’t you, after spending the last leg on a treacherous snow-covered mountain? In Rio, the only danger was that some of the ladies might be men – as Big Easy joked to Mallory, don’t forget to “check the neck!” All teams eventually made it onto the same flight (thanks to the Globetrotters’ adorable inability to lie well), and there was a mad dash for taxis when they landed. The Globetrotters unfortunately landed with a crappy taxi driver – which, any TAR fan can tell you, is often the cause of undoing in the final legs – and missed the tram everyone else caught by seconds. They were so close they could see it, but the setback cost them half an hour. Not a good way to start off the leg.

The clue directed them to a Roadblock, where one teammate had to strip down into a Mardi Gras type costume and perform a Samba style dance routine. Zev did the challenge because he’d done less Roadblocks than Justin, but it was a tough one for him. Dancing does not come naturally, and Zev’s interpretation that the dance included “three weird steps and a jump” was troubling. Mallory, however, was meant for this challenge. The girl looked like a professional out there! She jetted off first, with Kisha not far behind.

Zev’s struggle to learn the dance allowed enough time for the Globetrotters to catch up, and you know they know how to dance. They’ve danced their whole way through two seasons of The Amazing Race already! Big Easy donned his tiny costume and nailed the dance after two tries – he left right behind poor Zevvie, who finally got it after what felt like 87 tries. You’ve got to hand it to both him and Justin. Zev never seemed to get frustrated like he did during the tea drinking Roadblock, and Justin never stopped encouraging him to just have fun and try his best. You’ve got to love those guys. Though I have to say, considering the ease with which both Mallory and Big Easy completed the Samba, I had to wonder if Justin was regretting giving away the Roadblock answer back in Liechtenstein.

Wax On, Wax Off

The next challenge was quick, but painful – both team members had to get a 15 minute Brazilian wax. Obviously, this was easier for some racers than for others. Mallory squealed “I can do that, I already get ‘am anyways!” and luckily Gary wasn’t a particularly hairy man. They finished the challenge and moved on.

Kisha and Jen were finishing up their waxes when the Globetrotters managed arrived, but Justin and Zev had gotten lost in their cab and fell behind. The waxing wasn’t too hard for the sisters or the Globetrotters, since none of the four were particularly furry. In fact, Flight Time seemed to be having a grand time and was more concerned with flirting with the girl giving him his wax than with the pain – “It’s your lucky day, girl!” Justin and Zev, however? They were both covered in hair, and that looked Really. Damn. Painful.

Seriously, ouch! They screamed so much it was like someone had used the Cruciatus Curse from Harry Potter (Nerd Alert!) on them. I thought they were both going to cry. At least Justin managed to get out an “Ohhhhh Kelly Clarkson!” and make Steve Carell proud. Justin was in so much pain that he almost physically assaulted his waxer, asking “What’s the penalty for knocking you out cold?” Eek, I bet she was wishing those nice basketball players would come back. Zev and Justin left the challenge looking all red and patchy, since 15 minutes clearly had not been enough to fully rid them of their man sweaters.

Boozin’ and Losin’

Where Justin and Zev made their fatal mistake, though, was with the Detour. Teams had a choice between “On the Rocks” and “On the Beach”. In “On the Rocks” teams had to successfully make 100 cocktails – they weren’t hard drinks either, just some mashed up lime, sugar and liqueur mixed with ice. In “On the Beach” teams had to head to the beach and sell bikinis. I don’t know why Justin and Zev thought it would be easier to go for that, but tasks that require selling items have typically been difficult in Amazing Race history. And neither of them were hot women, so they didn’t even have that going for them.

Once Gary and Mallory got the hang of bartending, they flew through making the drinks and landed in first place. Phil told them that if they won, not only would they be the first parent-child team to win, but Gary would be the oldest person to win The Amazing Race. As much as I loved all the teams, that made me really root for Gary and Mallory.

Kisha and Jen arrived at the bar second, finished the task second, and came in second place. Flight Time and Big Easy didn’t have too many drinks left to make when Justin and Zev showed up, having given up the other task. It was just too hard to sell bikinis on the beach. Poor Zev attributed this to “Nobody’s going to change in front of boys”, but considering how brief most Brazilian bikinis are, I doubt that was the reason. I don’t think Justin begging people to buy the bikinis in Spanish, when the language in Brazil is Portuguese, helped much either.

Since they were almost done, the Globetrotters made the most of their surroundings and danced and sang as they finished up their 100 drinks. Justin was annoyed, but what are you going to do? You can’t really hate on the guys for being fun, happy, energetic people. I mean you can, but it makes you look like a bit of a sourpuss. I know it was just because he was disappointed to know they were in last place, though.

So the Globetrotters took third place, and we were treated to a montage of all the great Justin & Zev moments as they finally headed to the pit stop. It was sad to see Justin and Zev go home in fourth place, but somebody had to do it. They were a strong team with a lot of first place finishes, but they also had some ups and downs. The decision to see bikinis on the beach instead of make drinks really did them in, I think. I loved how they toasted each other and had a drink before they departed for the mat – very cute. They even left us with a few parting jokes – as they walked down the beach Justin noted “This would be romantic if we were a couple,” and later Zev told the confessional camera “He was the Race, and I was the Amazing.”

Welcome to Miami, Bienvenido a Miami

For the last leg, the three teams headed to Miami, the Florida city made famous by Will Smith and Dexter. Right? Whatevs. Anyway, I thought it was a great place to have the last leg because you’re back on American soil but not everyone speaks English.

In an incredibly unfortunate turn of events, Gary and Mallory got in the world’s WORST cab straight out of the airport and basically lost the competition right there. I’m sorry, Gary and Mallory. You can blame me, I think I jinxed you. I should always keep who I’m rooting for to myself.

Gary and Mallory’s cab driver was like a zombie. He didn’t know where he was going. He wouldn’t speak to them or acknowledge Mallory’s frantic pleas to pull over and ask for directions. He basically lost the race for them – from there on out, they were consistently about half an hour behind the sisters and the Globetrotters.

I know it seems so unfair, to be taken out of the running thanks to a crappy cabbie, but it’s one of those things that’s just part of The Amazing Race. The only way it could be avoided is if teams were given their own cars to drive around in the final leg, which I wouldn’t be opposed to. Driving themselves around, teams could still easily get lost, but at least then the onus would be entirely on them.

Under the Sea

The final tasks, I think, were a little disappointing. I like when the last task is kind of lengthy and complicated and requires teams to remember weird details from previous legs. I guess I’m a purist, but that’s what I was hoping to see.

In the first Roadblock, one team member had to use a massive forklift to move a boat. This thing was huge – you know something’s big when it makes Big Easy look small. Flight Time used his experience from the family fish farm and a summer job at WalMart to breeze through the task, and he and Big Easy left first. Kisha performed the task too, and she and Jen were only about a minute behind, though, and started the second task at about the same time.

Phil shows us how it’s done

Instead of a Detour, we then got a second Roadblock. In this one, one team member had to get in this weird, awesome, bubble-headed underwater motorcycle type thing and search a bunch of treasure chests for the clue while an underwater band played and mermaids floated around. Now there’s a sentence I never expected to type. Big Easy and Jen did this task, and once again the Trotters left a little before the sisters.

Unfortunately, the Globetrotters made a mistake. To be fair, I actually thought it was a good idea when they did it – when they arrived at the Roadblock, they gave their cabbie some money and told him to go gas up and come back for them. But he took too long, and they had trouble finding him. They eventually did, but by that time Kisha and Jen had gotten in their taxi, which was waiting for them. It’s hard to say if that’s what the game changer was, though.

Playing House

The last task was my least favorite. I was hoping for something great, and instead it just kind of reminded me of a task on Celebrity Apprentice. The teams each had to set up a tacky trailer spot, complete with fake grass and a blowup kiddie pool. It had to look exactly like the brochure they were given, and a lady named Miss Rose with hair crazier than Donald Trump himself would them give them the OK.

Had there not been such high winds, I think the task would have been a real snooze. But it was pretty funny to see their stuff get blown over again and again. Both the sisters and the Globetrotters made the same mistake – their table wasn’t set correctly – but the sisters figured it out first and took off for the finish line. Gary and Mallory arrived while everyone was still there, having made up quite a bit of ground, but unfortunately they were just too far behind to really be in it.

Tricycle Race

To get to the finish line, the teams had to ride hilarious adult-sized tricycles across a seven mile long bridge. It ended up being a pretty exciting end to the season, so it made up for the lackluster trailer park challenge, at least a little anyway. For a while there, it looked like the Globetrotters would catch the sisters in a wheels race. Kisha was struggled with her trike, they were riding against the wind, and the Trotters seemed to be having a much easier time. But the girls had gotten a really good head start, and at some point Big Easy realized that they were definitely not going to catch up.


On one level, I was rooting for the Globetrotters to win, since Gary and Mallory were out of the picture. They’re just so funny and likable, and they made the race look like so much fun. But they really don’t need the money, and I liked all four final teams a lot. I know Kisha and Jen might not have been everyone’s first choice as winners because they were a bit under the radar this season, but I really like them as a team. They have a great relationship, they both are very funny, competitive and strong. They never got a first place finish in the legs leading up to the finals, but they were one of the most consistent teams this season. They were always toward the front of the pack, and never seemed to make any major blunders. Plus, two all-female teams have won in a row – woohoo!

Hearing Kisha and Jen talk about how much winning the race meant to them, how they’d been raised by a single mom who did everything to give them good opportunities, and how winning the money was their chance to give something back to her, I think it would be pretty hard to be disappointed in the result. I mean, it was Mother’s Day for crying out loud!

Both the Globetrotters and Gary and Mallory seemed genuinely okay with their second and third place finishes. It was sweet to see everyone in such high spirits. Everyone except Jet – did anyone else notice that? Cord was clapping and cheering along with everyone else, and even threw his hat up in the air. But Jet seemed to have a scowl on his face the whole time, and only did the polite, slow clap. What gives, sourpuss?

What did you think of the final episode, and the season overall?

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