Going into the finale of The Amazing Race, I really wasn’t sure who was going to pull out a win and take home the million dollars. In last week’s episode, Andy and Tommy, who had dominated this season by winning six legs, were booted out after not understanding the final clue, so “Go Out and Get It Done” was going to come down to a middling team on a hot streak and two teams that had a tendency to fall behind in every leg due to stupid mistakes. Not the most glamorous of match ups, right?
But if there’s one positive thing I can say about the finale of The Amazing Race 19, it’s that the teams actually got to race unencumbered by maddening time equalizers and the right pair ended up winning as a result. Too often in recent seasons, it’s felt like a lot of teams make it far on the show due to the tethering together of teams, but “Go Out and Get It Done” was allowed to breathe and that made for a better episode of television. One could argue that it made it worse, since it was fairly obvious that Ernie and Cindy were going to win by about the second commercial break, but I’d rather have the best team win fairly than have someone less deserving sneak up and “steal” first place thanks to one of the show’s “twists”. I had my doubts about Ernie and Cindy, as their extensive pre-race training didn’t include How Not to Make Bad Errors, but they proved me wrong and then some with their strong finale performance. It helped that “Go Out and Get It Done” was heavy on the strategic challenges as opposed to the typical “physical first” motto of the show, but everything finally clicked into place at the most opportune time for Ernie and Cindy and they coasted to the finish line.
Granted, Marcus and Amani didn’t get off the blocks from the first challenge until about 2/3 of the way through the episode and Jeremy and Sandy thought people used to live at the old Home Depot, but still, it was a nice win for Ernie and Cindy.
Even though the challenges were thankfully puzzle-heavy, something that had been lacking all season, they still weren’t the best, especially for a finale. The flight simulator was by far the best because it felt like all teams were on (mostly) equal footing and it combined a little physical prowess with teamwork, nerve, and strategy while making for cool visuals. Of course, it wasn’t the “sexiest” of challenges, as you could find something similar in most mid-level cities for a low price, but it was placed appropriately in the episode, required some semblance of skill, and provided enough separation to ultimately be pretty useful. The other two, a typewriter roadblock whose twist was stupid and a final memory task that wasn’t in depth, exemplified one of the main reasons The Amazing Race has been such a disappointment this season. The challenges have oftentimes been either too easy or too reliant on gimmicky details, as the memory challenge was a major dumb-down from prior years and the roadblock felt more like a minor distraction than something finale-worthy. The show has shifted the focus from watching the wheels in the minds of its team turn until someone breaks through to traffic chess and cab driver aptitude, to the detriment of everyone, including viewers at home.
After trudging through four continents, 20 cities, nearly 40,000 miles, and one final shout out to Jesus, The Amazing Race came to a close with a pretty good winner and not much else. For all the accolades the show rakes in on a yearly basis, season 19 continued to display much of the same problems that have been plaguing the show for a while. While The Amazing Race never disappoints in terms of showcasing the beauty of the world, both visually and culturally, the show too often gets bogged down in manufacturing drama rather than simply letting the contestants be and freely race. Combine the fact that the show never seems to trust itself with poor challenges and casting teams I never took to and it’s no wonder that season 19 was a slog to get through at times. I know it’s seemed like I’ve been a little too hard on The Amazing Race in my weekly write-ups, but I’ve seen how truly great the show can be when it’s clicking on all cylinders and unfortunately, it’s only going half-speed at best these days.
Thoughts, Quotes, and Observations:
-“You see how I’m breathin’? That’s how serious it is.”
-“C’mon, baby. Get your pilot on.”
-“This is not the Mac.”
-Final Order: (1) Ernie/Cindy, (2) Jeremy/Sandy, (3) Amani/Marcus
-Number of football metaphors from Marcus: 7.
-Did anyone get what Ernie and Cindy’s organization would actually do? Props to them for doing something smart with their money, but the explanation was a little vague.
-Sandy’s line about needing to go on Prilosec when she gets home was funny.
-Apparently I need to get my hearing checked, because I could have sworn that Phil said “Marvin Mitchell” instead of “Margaret Mitchell”.
-I know a lot of people on The Amazing Race message boards were annoyed by Cindy, but I found her kind of refreshing and relatable. Yes, she was a bit high-strung, but it’s nice to see someone on this show that prepared so much for it beforehand. Plus, as a perfectionist that’s a little too competitive, I understood a lot of what she was saying.
-If you’ve not enjoyed season 19, giggle/wince at Television Without Pity’s Dumbest Moments gallery and light a single candle for the upcoming 20th season.
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