Recap: ‘The Amazing Race: All-Stars’ – ‘Do You Believe in Magic?”

So… That was actually a Non-Elimination “Amazing Race” finale, right? 

They pretended they crowned a winner, but the reality is that they're going to do one more Leg next week and that Leg will be the one that actually determines which team wins the million dollars, right? 


Because if that was actually the finale for an alleged “All-Stars” season of “The Amazing Race,” I'm about as irked as I've ever been by this show and y'all know that “The Amazing Race” frequently ticks me off.

That was just horrible. 

If there isn't another Leg next week, “The Amazing Race” just gave a million bucks to a team based on a Final Leg in which there were two Roadblocks that required absolutely no skill and an additional task that only required screwing in lightbulbs. There was no Detour, no cumulative memory-based challenge, nothing that made anybody exert themselves in any way.

I'm not going to waste much time recapping that finale, because the “Amazing Race” producers didn't put much effort into making that finale. 

More after the break…

Let's get this out of the way: Dave & Connor were worthy winners for this season of “The Amazing Race.” They were more-than-worthy winners. They won six Legs, including the last four. They overcame cancer, Dave's leg injury and Dave's oldness. Somebody was going to win this season of “The Amazing Race” and they were the team that had the strongest and most consistent performance across the entire season. Did I take Brendon & Rachel's side in UTurnGate? Yes. And I continue to believe that not only did Brendon & Rachel do nothing wrong, but they used the U-Turn to attempt to hinder what proved to be the strongest team in the Race. That's what you're supposed to do by any standard. But even if I wasn't rooting for Dave & Connor, they had a great season. Period. But this was not a finale that ANYBODY deserved to win on.

What, exactly, did Dave & Connor do better than the other teams that earned them this Leg? 




You could argue that they screwed in lightbulbs better than Jen & Caroline. The Leg's big challenge asked teams to take a window-washing pulley to the top of the Mirage in Las Vegas and replace the lightbulbs in the “I” and count the bulbs. Jen & Caroline got to the challenge first, but the screwed in the bulbs a bit slower than Dave & Connor, who were a close second. It appeared that the task hinged on long arms, so it's not shocking that Jen & Caroline — or Caroline — might have problems. But the task was literally screwing in 241 lightbulbs and correctly counting to 241. Dave & Connor finished that task in first.

HOWEVER, Dave & Connor's cabbie got very slightly lost and there was a brief window in which Jen & Caroline's superstar cabbie pushed them into the lead. So whatever advantage Dave & Connor got on the lightbulb was gone. Then, however, Dave & Connor's cabbie moved back into the lead. 

That was it. 

The last Roadblock asked one player from each team to go up in a helicopter, find a neon sign with the last Pit Stop and then go do a skydive from 10,000 feet. Dave and Caroline got up in the air at roughly the same time. They both appeared to see the sign at the same time. Neither got anything wrong. Both sent their helicopters to the right location. Somehow, Dave jumped first and Caroline jumped second and, thus, Dave & Connor won the million dollars.

There wasn't an iota of skill to the Detour and unless the person participating had an absolutely pathological fear of heights, there was no impediment. Dave was scared, but not scared enough to jeopardize a million bucks.

I was holding my breath praying that there would be one last-second memory task for Dave and Caroline upon reaching the ground. Put the countries in order? List their currency? Remember the greeters? Remember the greetings? Remember the flags? Nope. Nothing. Instead, we got several minutes of the losing teams pointing at the sky and wondering which Racer was coming down in a hail of skydiving sparks. 

And the first Detour wasn't much better, proving that while David Copperfield is a fine illusionist, he's an awful “Amazing Race” task designer and a dismal actor.

One player from each team was handcuffed in a crate with 50 keys. They had to find the right key and then pick a lock. Then there was an illusion in which the crate seemed to fall into the fire and David Copperfield feigned concern, only to have the Roadblock participant sneak up behind, safely alive. Maybe the lock-picking was tough? It didn't seem to be causing difficulties for anybody and they didn't even bother showing us how it had to be done, so I assume that it wasn't. So that means that the sheer difficulty of that Roadblock hinged on going through between 1 and 50 keys on only one lock. In a Leg with more complicated challenges, I definitely could have tolerated wasting one task on a David Copperfield illusion. It's Vegas. Why not? But in this Leg? Blech.

The departure from this embarrassingly easy Roadblock offered the only drama in the entire Leg. Dave & Connor arrived first and left first, so who cares? Brendon & Rachel and Jen & Caroline arrived effectively at the same time, but because Brendon had already opened a mystery box and gotten the keys, they got a tiny lead. Then, leaving, they attempted to ditch their lame cabbie and buy Jen & Caroline's cabbie for the measly sum of $25. He refused. And Brendon & Rachel had to return to their awful cabbie who refused to drive quickly. Then, when Jen & Caroline finished, their cabbie was filled with hellfire vengeance and he drove them into first place. Had Jen & Caroline won the million, they would have owed nearly half of it to their cabbie. They did not. Oh well.

And that was that. Brendon & Rachel ended up in third both because they had a bad cabbie and because Brendon led them rushing by the clue box at the Mirage. They didn't do anything horribly stupid, which the editing suggested they might. Brendon suggested they may have to search the entire hotel for the clue. That might have taken a while. But they didn't.

And that was that. 

That was what the million bucks was based on for this season.

Back in Season 15, “The Amazing Race” had one of my favorite final Legs, a Leg that made great use of Las Vegas. It also, if memory serves, lacked a cumulative task, but it required a lot of complicated use of the city and had that devilish chip-counting task. 

This was just weak.

A few other quick thoughts, but I'm going to a movie screening. This isn't worth my time.

*** Brendon & Rachel were back to Old Brendon & Rachel in this Leg. Rachel spent a lot of time squealing and crying, they allegedly bumped the Country Girls at customs and then they seemed to be tossing dirt in Dave & Connor's hole when teams were digging for the mystery box out in the desert. And there were only around 10 references to Baby Brenchel, who will now have to wait for Brendon to graduate. Oh well.

*** I liked Rachel stepping on David Copperfield's “Somebody call the fire department” line. It was bad no matter who said it, but it was somehow worse to have her repeat it.

*** Did you know that Dave is old? He's the oldest person to win “The Amazing Race” and this was the first parent-child team to win. That's semi-significant. Connor was also really excited to meet David Copperfield, though I'm not sure he was more enthusiastic than Jen & Caroline, who kept referring to the illusionist by his full name like it was some sort of Russian honorific. 

*** Connor did 8 Roadblocks, Dave did 5. The other two teams, it was 7-6 (with Caroline and Brendon doing the majority). I'll let you decide if that matters. 

*** Normally my notes for each Leg are really long, but after the lightbulb task, I have almost no notes, because for the last 20 minutes of the episode, nothing determinative happened at all. 

*** The teams at the mat seemed very excited for Dave & Connor. They were less excited by the time Brendon & Rachel arrived and we saw almost no reactions to their arrival. 

*** I didn't think that was an all-time bad “Amazing Race” season. It had some good Legs and some good moments and it had a deserving winner. But if anybody can tell me a worse finale, I'd love to be reminded by it. And even the season that the cabbie with the EZ-Pass was worth a million was better than this.

*** That's now 23 “Amazing Race” Legs without a single Leg win for Jen & Caroline.

*** Again… That was an ALL-STARS season. And that's what they had to do for the last Leg. That's a joke.