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The Amazing Race: At least she can afford a ticket to Russia

So the producers pulled it out.  Say what you want about the tendency towards bunching at places that haven’t opened yet and flights going across the world only once a few times a day (all problems in the past), this finale showed why The Amazing Race is the best reality programming on TV.  During this whole season, one of two teams has won every leg save one, and both teams missed barely a beat during this finale which took the teams from Moscow to Portland.

Nick and Starr were favored to win, based on my informal survey of the two friends I have who also watch this show.  But I knew I couldn’t count Ken and Tina out, not when they managed to dominate the early legs of the game.  And it seemed like they were going to dominate this one, due to the combination of Ken’s competitiveness and Tina’s fantastic memory.  Ken’s competitiveness ensured that they chose the right detour, a high ropes course that challenged Tina’s fear of heights, but Starr took on fairly gracefully (with Nick cheering her on below, yelling, “You got this, you little cheerleader!”).  Tina kept up her end of the bargain by keeping calm and focused during a task that required the teams to search, Memory-style, for pictures that matched a leg’s route info, roadblock, detour, or pit stop.

But hot on their tail, always, were Nick and Starr.  The siblings had one clear advantage over Ken & Tina – speed – which kept them in it even when they missed their exit on the freeway or took the long way to get to a doughnut shop.  Indeed, at the aforementioned Memory challenge, it was the quick stepping that allowed them to narrowly pass Ken and Tina and get on the road towards downtown Portland.  And as much as I’d like to credit their win to finesse alone, Nick and Starr ultimately won because of better cab karma – their cab took them to downtown Portland faster than Ken and Tina, who ended up wasting valuable time in traffic.

So after a clue which required them to visit a place called Voodoo Doughnut (and would someone I know please have their big day there and take a picture and show me later?) and Starr doing every incarnation of the furrowed brow/whiney voice combo that she works so well when she’s stressed, the speedy siblings finished first.  The hug that they immediately gave each other after crossing the mat was fabulous, and when Starr said that “we have a bond that is really unshakable,” I believed her.  I really think that these two genuinely enjoyed each other throughout this whole shebang, which is more than I can say for the second-place finishers.

After coming in second, Ken took out their wedding rings and they put them back on.  I’ll take it as a good sign that the pair put them on despite not having won.

And that was the finale!!  I’m done, unless you want to know how Dandrew did, and really, you already knew that, didn’t you?  They came in last, but the good news is that they seemed to make the most out of the experience.  I even saw Andrew smile once, on a zip line ride.

Which leaves only one question:  Where the hell are Toni and Dallas?  At the finish line, I counted my teams:   Annoying divorcees?  Check.  Co-dependent girlfriend holding the hand of embarrassingly needy boyfriend?  Check.  Hippies who I’d long since forgotten about ?  Check.  Lovely mother/son combo who made it far longer than more competitive teams due to just enjoying themselves and each other?  Nope, not there.

Looks like Starr is going to have to fly back to Russia to get that date. . .

Till next time. . .see you at the starting line!

Season 13, Episode 11: You Look Like Peter Pan (originally aired December 7, 2008)

For another take on this episode, check out Down To The Wire by Paul Secrest.

The Amazing Race Returns to CBS on February 15, 2009.

For more on The Amazing Race, click here.

Sundays at 8pm ET/PT on CBS

Photographs courtesy of CBS

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