You know the drill: After five continents, 10 countries, and 34,000 miles, we finally have our season 27 winners. (But don’t you even try to take Phil’s line — Phil doesn’t like it when you take his lines.)
The three finalist teams — Diana and “If I lose this I will never get over it” Justin, Chris and “Keep my name out of your mouth” Logan, and Kelsey and “Old women love me and that’s basically the only thing you know about me” Joey — could not have been more different from each other, but even with such variety there were no real underdogs, endearing weirdos, or dominant sweethearts among them. So I was pleased to find that I actually ended up really enjoying this finale, mostly because it gave me a surprising amount of closure on what had amounted to a pretty odd season of The Amazing Race. In the end though, each team ended up in exactly the right place.
The Paparazzi were near impossible to root for throughout this race for obvious reasons (it was hard to hear anything they said because they were usually speaking to each other in tones only dogs can hear) and yet at some point, I started — well, not rooting for them — but at least thinking it would be interesting if they won in some dark, twisted kind of way that would have taken this recap in a very different direction. Instead, they ended up exactly where they belonged in this lineup: trapped at sea in a prison of their own design, made exclusively of screaming and flags.
The Green Team were my biggest conundrum, as I could never quite figure out if I really wanted then to win or not; they loved the game so much, but also, Justin talked so much. As it turns out, not only did I not have to reckon with those ambiguous feelings, but I also came down pretty firmly not on Justin’s side, round about the time he got lippy with his cab driver and doomed his team to a second-place finish. (I stand by Diana, however, if she would like to return with, like, her equally sweet and competent sister or something.)
And I should have known all along that The Reporters were the team to root for — nice, capable teams who play well with each other deserve to win (make sure to read my Q&A with the winners, in which the Reporters make it known that Kelsey is every bit the TAR historian that Justin is). We didn’t hear too much from The Reporters during the first three-quarters of the race (except for the occasional fake news segment on a train), but the team with the most second-place finishes in TAR history were consistently on the money about two things: 1. There’s only one leg that first place really matters on, and 2. They would need to run a perfect leg to beat the Green Team. And this is how they went about doing exactly that…
All three teams are on the same flight back to the United States for their final leg in the rrrrace around the world, so even though the Paps and Reporters finally beat the Green Team last leg, everyone is once again on a level playing field heading from Hong Kong to Long Island, New York. The Reporters and Paps agree that they’re concerned by the fact that Justin is from New York and by the fact that they’ll have to hear Justin talk about being from New York, which leads to Logan’s Justin impression that sounds a little something like, “AaaggghlaaaaallllghTheBronx.”
After landing in New York, the first clue takes the teams to the FDNY training facility on Randall’s Island. They all take cabs there, and while the Paps and Reporters both make agreements with their drivers to stay nearby while they complete the ROAD BLOCK, Justin loses his cool when their driver tells him the fare will be more and sends him away — which, for a huge fan of TAR with a working knowledge of Randall’s ISLAND is a pretty egregious mistake. And much like last week’s elusive goldfish, the editors luck into some drama here, because FIRE DRILL doesn’t present much on its own. I mean, yes, one member of each team has to complete a real-life training drill used by the New York City Fire Department, which is certainly physically demanding… but it also doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for error: Put on the protective gear, climb the ladder, go in the fiery building, get the child-sized dummy, bring it out to the stretcher, don’t drop it (that last instruction is just for Chris). There’s a memory game to arrange the country’s capitals in the order they were visited during the race at the end of the Road Block, but it seems like Justin, Chris, and Joey all finish the challenge within minutes of each other.