Roush Rules!! Roush Dispatch The Amazing Race's Grand Finale
Phil Keoghan greets winning team members TK and Rachel at the finish line by Monty Brinton/CBSIt’s so rare in the world of reality TV when everything ends just how I want it to. Cheers all around to the latest cycle of The Amazing Race, one of the most enjoyable runnings of the around-the-world competition in a long while. Rare for this or any show, in Sunday’s finale we were left with three teams you could easily root for instead of against. That said, my favorite team won, and the runners-up each walked away chagrined but hardly bitter, given the family bonding (between father and daughter, grandfather and grandson) that occurred along the way.
Sunday’s satisfying finale came on the heels of last week’s thrilling penultimate episode, an exhilarating nail-biter that found Zen couple TK and Rachel coming from behind (having survived a last-place finish the week before on a non-elimination leg, which forced them to perform an extra “speed bump” challenge) and squeaking into the final three. This bumped the annoying and constantly squabbling Nate and Jen, the latter a non-stop headache who earned every bit of the bad karma that resulted in her being bounced on her birthday.
The final leg, which took the teams from Taipei to Anchorage, Alaska, was pretty closely contested, although there never seemed much of a chance for Nick and Don (the grandson-grandfather duo) to cross the finish line first. Still, Don holds the record for the oldest contestant (at 69) to make it to the end. Well done. If anything, the younger player was the liability at the end, not reading the clue closely enough and leaving the gear behind at the outdoor-supply store, putting them behind on the fish-gutting challenge. (The fact that TK and Rachel made the mistake of going into the crab tank—ouch—kept things competitive.)
While Christina and Ron managed to stay ahead for most of the final leg, having found their groove (and Ron his humanity) over the last few weeks to become the dominant team, everyone caught up at the brain-teasing final challenge, in which they had to group together items representing each leg of the race. Rachel figured out the puzzle first, clinching the win as they sprinted to the finish line.
Everyone found reason to celebrate at the end of this race: TK and Rachel for coming from behind to win, Ronald and Christina for strengthening their bond, and Nick and Don for proving that age and a generation gap aren’t necessarily deterrents in this game.The only thing I would criticize in any of this is CBS’s scheduling of this crown jewel in its reality arsenal. Rushed on the air in the wake of Viva Laughlin’s fast fade, the show burned off episodes on the Sundays before Christmas and New Year’s (when even the most devoted fan tends to have better things to do), and the finale aired on one of the biggest football nights of the year (airing directly opposite the genuinely exciting Packers-Giants battle, which went into overtime). I often get asked by frustrated fans if a network is actively trying to kill or harm a show. I almost never answer in the affirmative, but in this case, you can’t help but wonder.Of course, the scheduling is out of the hands of those talented people who make The Amazing Race so amazing. Once again, the show proved why it has won the reality-competition Emmy every year since the category was established. No reason to think it won’t take it home again this year.