The Amazing Race Season 13 Finale – “Episode Eleven”


“You Look Like Peter Pan”

December 7th, 2008

After last week’s heartbreaking exit of Toni and Dallas, this finale is bittersweet. You have one team that’s been dominant, one team that’s been a bit tough to watch, and one team that for all rights shouldn’t even still be there. The season never really picked up much steam after a certain point, the explosive rivalries ending up being both early and driven by stupidity more than emotions (no offense, Kelly and Christy, but REALLY.)

Going into this leg, I believe that this can only be satisfyingly be won by Nick and Starr – yes, I think there is some type of story to be found in Dan & Andrew’s potential triumph, and Ken & Tina’s marital position would make for (at least) not an entirely boring victory, but I want to see good racers win for running a good race.

Or, perhaps to satisfy my demands, Nick and Starr can get the race-equivalent of pixie dust and fly to the finish line.

From Russia with Speed

We’ve only got an hour to get from Russia to the United States, so we’ll be exiting the Motherland quite quickly. Nick & Starr depart at 10:56pm. They have to fly to Portland, Oregon, which is 5000 miles away. They have to head to an adventure camp, and Nick & Starr are already at the point of killer fatigue with the finish line ahead. There’s a change in Frankfurt (which is, although Dan & Andrew have a discussion about it, one of the big connecting airports in Europe). They were a good four hours ahead of the other teams, so seems like everyone is going to be on the same flight.

Meanwhile, Nick & Starr look up where they’re heading in Portland, and they have an address and know what it is (ropes courses, etc.) We get some big words from the teams, and there’s no shenanigans on the connecting flight. Everyone there at the same time. Ken & Tina in front, Nick & Starr behind, but it’s the latter who get out of the airport first. Dan & Andrew’s cab driver didn’t put on his seatbelt, which is never a good idea. He also doesn’t know where the town is. Ken & Tina, though, jump in front after Nick & Starr miss a turn (with the cabbie following their own directions).

Detour: High & Dry or Low & Wet

Ken & Tina and Nick & Starr both choose the heights issue, and Tina is (indeed) scared of heights. That’s going to get interesting. There’s two courses, though, so Dan & Andrew are going to want to do the second half of this. Tina is not impressed – and if she fails, he has to do it again as well. Starr is on her way up now, catching up to Tina – man, Ken has yet to learn that he should not tell his wife these kinds of things about hats and the like. Starr is struggling a bit, and Tina is taking off her helmet – Nick repeats his “don’t look up or down” story, while Dan & Andrew are still in their cab.

Nick & Starr, meanwhile, are done. Tina is shaking a bit, and now Nick and Starr are on their way to “The Bridge of the Gods” where they’ll find a zipline and a trip to the island below. Ken is yelling, and panicking, and it is not going well for their relationship or their race. Tina is waiting to jump to the bar, which seems like it’s a long distance. Meanwhile, considering how far Dan & Andrew are already behind and the fact that we’re already through the Detour, we go to commercial with them more or less entirely out of this race.

Tina makes her leap of faith, and easily grabs the clue. There didn’t appear to be much time, which makes this definitely a two-man race here – this might be the last time we see Dan & Andrew. The two front taxis are right together.

Ken and Tina play Dr. Evil for a bit, which seems a little strange for their age group. The couple, meanwhile, are back ahead after getting off at the right spot. Nick & Starr keep missing the turns, their cabbie is smart but not that smart. This isn’t looking good (well, for me, who wants Nick & Starr to win), the Roadblock is going to decide it. This is going to be a few minutes worth of lead, I think. They will be two ziplines ahead, which is probably about five minutes.

The Final “Task”: The Power of Memory

Now we see the power of memory: one question from each of the ten legs. They will choose a gameboard with ten questions, and they need to fins a picture from one of the numerous groups of clueboxes in order to find the right picture to match the Route Info, Detour, Roadblock, etc. Ken & Tina have their first one done, and now their second, before Nick & Starr have their even their first. This is a tough task, as Nick & Starr’s memory is failing them a bit too much. Dan & Andrew’s cabbie, meanwhile, is killing them a little.

Nick is supportive, but they’re now two behind and struggling. Starr is rushing out and around, and that’s a concern, but Nick is trying to keep her in check. Ken & Tina, meanwhile, are slowing down a bit too much with their bickering. Ken & Tina know it’s the pit stop clue now, which is what was holding them back. Ken & Tina have it right, which is good for them. But so do Nick & Starr. Both teams are now running, while Dan & Andrew are lost. Again. What a shocker.

Tina thinks that it is now what it is, which might prove tough, but she luckily tries the right one. This seems like it isn’t the last step. Ken and Tina jump out to the lead with one more. Tina finds it, and they’re in the lead. Nick and Starr have it, and they’re running. Tina wants to see every single one of the boxes, which is tough – and now I’m too excited by half here. That was a great choice of task: it was highly tense affair, it had chances for teams to catch up, and it tested both endurance and memory within the context of killer fatigue (I also got killer fatigue typing it up, so they won that battle too).

Racing to the Finish Line

Nick and Starr are off into the parking lot to find their next clue – they find it on a bridge. They now have to take a taxi downtown, which hopefully Nick and Starr’s cabbie knows better (scratch that, there’s new cabbies). They appear to have Dan & Andrew’s cab driver, which is kind of hilarious. Dan and Andrew, meanwhile, are rushing through their memory task. Ken & Tina pass Nick & Star, and now everyone is in the hunt. The Portland Building seems to be a bit of a mystery, which will make this interesting. The cabs separate, and we’ll see who went the right way. Apparently, it was Nick & Starr, as they spot the dinosaur and get across to the Standard Building.

They must now run to the cart pod, where there will have to find the Russian food cart in order to get their next clue. They think they’re in the right direction, but they didn’t know what side of the street it is on. Nick and Starr get there first, but they find Italy first before finally getting to Russia. Now, there’s yet another CLUE – an actual clue this time, requiring them to ask people about it. They find someone pretty quick: it’s the Voodoo Doughnut, where “the magic is in the hole.”

Starr rocks the episode’s best line so far: “Thank god that guy likes doughnuts!” The woman helps them, and apparently Nick & Starr went the long way as opposed to the quick way. It’s Nick and Starr who get there first, and are then racing for a taxi. We don’t know how far behind they are at this point: we don’t know how much editing misdirection is here, but both teams are struggling getting a taxi at this late stage in the leg.

And the winner is…

I can’t believe this show still does this to me, but the suspense is really killing me. The editing is trickery from here on out: they’ll get cabs at the same time, at least according to editing, and we won’t know who made it to the pit stop until we see them coming around the corner to the mat. Ken tries to buy someone out of their cab, which doesn’t work sadly – Nick and Starr grab a cab first, editing wise, but they both are on their way to the mansion. Nick and Starr’s cabbie is rubbing his hands together with excitement, while Ken and Tina are praying in the back of their cab.

It’s pure excitement, pure adrenaline. There doesn’t seem to be any issues with directions, so it’s whoever gets there first. And the winner of The Amazing Race is…Nick and Starr! All of the racers are welcoming them with cheers, and there it is: one million dollars for 23 days work. Starr says some very nice things to the other teams, and they are proud of one another as people, competitors and racers.

Ken & Tina arrive before Nick and Starr leave the platform, which is at least good for them – here we have that final moment of reconnection discussion, and whether or not their ups and downs will end up with an up. He seems to think she’s the best, and so he has something prepared. He pulls out their wedding rings on the mat, after they haven’t been wearing them for a while, and they get their highly emotional moment even in defeat. Best of both worlds, I’ll call it – Tina says that she’s glad she hasn’t thrown the marriage away, and they want it to be an “amazing marriage.”

The Racers, apparently, love Dan & Andrew, who arrive a considerable amount of time later and get their own cheering section, and note that they got beat by two far superior teams. They’re glad to be finished, and that all frat boys will be proud of their performance – I disagree. I saw that march.

I’ll have more thoughts on Nick & Starr’s win in a moment, but a few more things about the episode.

Cultural Observations

  • The saddest thing about this episode: that Toni and Dallas couldn’t be at the finish line to meet the other teams, as their passport must not have been able to be found in time for them to jump on Phil’s flight to Portland. This is infinitely sad: it robs us of Dallas and Starr’s post-race reunion, and it means that one of the best teams never got to experience this moment and be part of that final group shot. They didn’t deserve that fate, and it just makes me even more sad.
  • Why don’t more normal legs of the race have the kind of vague clues we had here? This was a great final leg, with the tough memory task, the challenging location with the “around the area” visual clue, and then the “slogan-driven” doughnut shop as the next stage of the clue. This was the kind of leg I wish we had more often, as even if there was bunching in between it would separate the good racers from the bad much faster.


Filed under The Amazing Race

4 responses to “The Amazing Race Season 13 Finale – “Episode Eleven”

  1. Pingback: Who Won The Amazing Race Season 13, and did they deserve it? « Cultural Learnings

  2. Pingback: Season Finale: The Amazing Race - Season 12, Episode 11 « Cultural Learnings

  3. Elizabeth Creighton

    What a tough race to watch. The frat boys were likable at first, bickered between themselves most teams do but there was a certain attitude that made
    them appear uncaring about the other teams – glad they didn’t win. The ending is always exciting just wish Dallas and mom could have gotten there. Looking forward to the start of the next season…Thanks for an incredible show. Lou Creighton

  4. Sooz

    Thanks for the write up. Missed the finale because of Christmas day (in Australia). Glad Nick and Starr won, they seemed to be the smartest. Cheers

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