“That’s the race… expect the unexpected.”
The quote above is from Jelani at the top of the season 26 Amazing Race finale, referring to the semi-unexpected arrival of Mike and Rochelle as the fourth team headed to the Final Leg. But he could be referring to any portion of this race through Dallas. I didn’t expect monster trucks; I didn’t expect Team Truck Stop to start off in the lead; I did expect Hayley to yell at Blair, but I didn’t expect her to yell at him because he wouldn’t direct the English-speaking driver to drive to a place that Hayley alone knew the location of. But TAR Historians, most of all, this is truly one for the record books (which is to say, your trapper keeper decoupaged with pictures of Phil raising his eyebrows, of course) because I’m sure that when this season began, none of us would have expected that the Final 3 would be composed entirely Blind Date couples.
Team Truck Stop kept up the Established Couples banner as long as they could, but in the end there was just something about Team SoCal, the Lawyers, and Team Truck Stop. In a pre-finale interview with host Phil Keoghan, he credited Laura and Tyler’s compatibility, Jenny and Jelani’s perfectionism, and Hayley and Blair’s experience in working under pressure in the medical field as their teams’ greatest strengths. I mostly agree, but the theory falls apart a little bit when you think about Hayley and Blair frantically searching for the red and yellow marker that would take them to the Final Challenge, and the mistake that ultimately cost them the Race.
I’ll be honest, legs that come down to eyesight aren’t my favorite, and while this Final Leg had a lot more going on than just the clue box search from atop the Reunion Tower, that was certainly the deciding factor of who got ahead and who was left behind (unless you were Mike and Rochelle, king and queen of unfortunate taxis). This finale was big and bold as any true Texas time should be, and most of all it seemed fun. And that was fun to watch, but I would have loved to have seen a Final Leg that was a little more physically and mentally demanding.
But I probably only think that because I got some bee in my bonnet that Hayley and Blair were going to somehow win this thing despite the fact that they have a timeshare in a love/hate relationship, and one tenant is pulling overtime in the hate condo. But of course it should be the team that’s been somewhere in the lead for the majority of the legs, has gotten along like gangbusters, never said a harsh word to each other, and had confidence in their ability to win the whole way through. The Team Formerly Known As Attractive (and obviously still actually attractive, if not a little more weathered from their time herding cattle and scaling buildings), Team SoCal may have gotten a touch cocky in the last few weeks, but they proved tonight that it was warranted. Because they did the damn thing!
Flying from Trujillo, Pero to Dallas, Texas, all four teams were on the same flight, giving the three Blind Date couples plenty of time to realize that the last remaining dating couple, Mike and Rochelle, were still… remaining. Even though the EW comment boards were alight with skepticism about the random elimination (seriously, no one is mad that the sweetest team in the game got another chance to race for the million) this leg, the other teams seemed to accept Team Truck Stop showing up as a completely fair possibility, and later, the random elimination (I agree—it’s annoying) was handled with grace by the eliminated team. It was handled with a little bit of pouting by your recapper.
NEXT: Flying and football, cowboys and cattle…