”Amazing Race” finale: The winners are…
So the insistently rude spoiler posting on this site was right: Eric and Danielle won. Somewhere out there, our little suspense obliterator was grinning happily as the platonic duo hit the mat first, pleased with himself that this was no surprise to anyone. Now that it’s over, how will he spend his summer? Attending birthday parties and shouting out what’s in each present just as children are about to unwrap them?
But how did Eric and Danielle — yielded twice and always on the precipice of being eliminated — win? Perhaps they just wanted it more. As Eric said, missing first place by only five minutes his first time around was one of the most bitter things he’s ever had to deal with. Considering his unmotivated slacker lifestyle, I’m guessing this just edged out the time he ordered cheese fries at a beach stand but only got regular fries. Near the end of the episode, he swore that he would not settle for second place; it was first or nothing. I didn’t want to break it to him, but second is nothing.
When the finale began, Charla and Mirna took an early lead, thanks to some due diligence checking flights. (After making it this far on their second race, how could no other teams go beyond asking one ticket agent when trying to find the quickest route?) To get their seats, Mirna danced in front of the airline counter, presenting an anguished persona that was half ”person who just lost a loved one” and half ”person who really has to pee.” Whatever it was, it worked, and they got a flight that landed 20 minutes before the other teams.
Then came a commercial break, and it raised a question I kept meaning to ask readers: Has anyone actually been tempted to text Sprint or visit CBS.com to find out ”what music helps the teams through the race,” as was constantly advertised? Every time I saw that ad, I wondered what Mirna piped through her headphones. I’m guessing it was the foreign-language tutorials she bought on eBay that are made by some drunk guy who just tapes himself doing an impression of Colonel Klink while he screams at his cat.
Anyway, in Hawaii, Schmirna continued their lead through the detour, but as soon as their next clue said they’d have to run a mile on the beach, I knew their advantage would soon vanish. Sand is like kryptonite to Charla’s Heelys. And Mirna’s yelling is like kryptonite to my ears. As she kept up her steady patter of ”Charla, you have to run, it’s a race, oh, my God, they’re going to pass us!” I realized that an oil spill would be less of a blight on Hawaii’s beaches than Mirna’s voice.
There was no roadblock on this final leg. Instead we got a group challenge where each team had to kayak against strong currents and waves to fetch a clue on a buoy. I felt bad for Danielle, who, with the boat camera placed right in front of her splayed legs, was the victim of one of the most unfortunate camera angles ever. It was like watching a weird upskirt fetish video for coxswains.
I knew Schmirna would have trouble with this challenge, but I didn’t predict how the beauty queens would struggle. (Or at least I wouldn’t have, had the producers not teased it last week.) Dustin wanted to get out and walk the kayak in the shallow water and apparently wasn’t listening to Kandice’s pleas to get back in the boat. The team that had not bickered once in two seasons finally hit their breaking point, and after the challenge, they had it out in the car. Well, they did the beauty-queen version of ”having it out.” I’ve never seen a calmer argument in my life. It was to reality-TV arguing what a purple nurple is to ultimate fighting.
Kandice calmly chastised Dustin for not being a good teammate, and Dustin apologized and said that Kandice was her number one bestest buddy and that there was no one she’d rather have sign her yearbook. She leaked out a couple of delicate tears (which made rainbows on their way down her cheeks!), and then they agreed that they indeed were best friends 4-eva. ”We have a race to run, sister!” cried Kandice, and I expected them to both turn to the camera and say, ”Stay in school, kids!”
The final sprint came in San Francisco, with a challenge that was a mix of Big Brother and The Newlywed Game, in which the teams had to prove how well they could predict their partners’ answers. Thankfully, the questions were all about the other teams, so no one was made to consider the strangest place Mirna had ever made whoopee. (The correct answer, by the way, is ”Please, sir, wherever you want it to be, just take my money and get me to airport!”)
Now, I just made fun of Mirna yet again, but this challenge put her and Charla in a new light. The teams were asked to assign superlatives to their competitors; one of the categories was ”best sense of humor,” and Eric and Danielle and the beauty queens both picked Schmirna. Considering we’ve only seen other teams curse the cousins, this gave me pause. What if all their foolishness was an act for the camera, and the other teams were in on it? What if they’re really funny, likable people? What if Charla is actually six feet tall? What if Mirna’s T-shirt isn’t ”What Cool Looks Like”? The mind reels!
But with 10 minutes left to go in the entire race, it was too late to change my opinion, so I shook off this nagging doubt as Danielle matched Eric’s answers and retrieved their last clue from the safe while Charla and Kandice struggled. Though the other two teams were behind them and the editors tried to make it seem like the beauty queens were hitting nothing but green lights while Eric and Danielle got nothing but red, the end was obvious. Eric and Danielle trotted in to the awkward reaction shots of their fallen rivals. Drew looked no more enthusiastic than he did when he was eliminated. I expected him to give three weak claps, then say, ”Let’s go, Kev, my mitts are killin’ me from all dis applaudin’,” and wander off.
Rob and Amber’s smug applause looked particularly odd, as if it were shot separately and inserted into the show. Maybe Romber couldn’t attend the finale because they were already on to their next TV series. Maybe they had an appointment that day to pitch a new show to Fox Reality about Rob learning how to be a kosher butcher. (”Ambah, if I’m gonna go all the way with this, I need you to keep that pawk away from me! It’s wicked pissah tref!”)
Even with the joy of winning a million dollars, Eric couldn’t muster up any real affection for Danielle, settling for uncomfortably pressing his lips against her forehead. Jeez, in season 6, after Hayden and Aaron landed only in fourth place, and he had spent the entire race being browbeaten and whined at by Hayden, Aaron still proposed to her on the mat. But all Eric could muster was a lip noogie? Now, I am a romantic, and I wanted to believe that he and Danielle were truly as meant for each other as they claimed, so I was determined to ignore his apparent hesitation….
And then, as an added prize, Phil handed Eric the phone. It was his old teammate and close, close, close, close friend, Jeremy. ”I’m gonna give you some spankings when you get home!” cried Jeremy, and a glow came over Eric that I hadn’t seen him get once from his current teammate. Sorry, Danielle, you busty beard, you. You never had a chance. I’ll bet our spoiler never predicted that.
So, now that it’s all wrapped up, what do you think about the whole season of The Amazing Race: All-Stars? Who would you have named as the team with the best sense of humor? And did Eric and Danielle deserve to win?