[Looking for details on The Amazing Race Season 15 finale with Meghan and Cheyne, Sam and Dan and Brian and Ericka? Find out who won, and whether they deserved it, here!]
Who Won The Amazing Race Season 14?
May 10th, 2009
In what began as one of the most promising seasons of The Amazing Race in recent memory, with some slick new editing and the much-loved pairing of Mike and Mel White, tonight’s season finale was in some ways a let down before it even began: while there are reasons to appreciate or even admire the three teams who have made it this far, they have all done things that have kept me from actually liking them. This isn’t to say that any of the three teams are objectionable, or that they don’t truly deserve to win, but rather that all of them feel at least a little bit problematic from an analytical perspective.
However, there needed to be one winning team, and after traveling tens of thousands of miles and visiting what seemed like even more individual countries than ever before (until the end, anyways), the winner of The Amazing Race Season 14 is…
Tammy and Victor, which is the result that I’ll admit I felt would be the most “correct” for this race.
This isn’t to say that I have something against the other teams, but I just really liked Tammy and Victor’s story in this race, as they truly grew as the race went on. They started out as an awkward brother/sister combo where long-standing superiority issues in Victor made him an obnoxious tool, but slowly but surely he started to come to terms with the fact that their relationship had changed since they were kids. They became equals as the race went on, especially after that leg in Romania where they would have been eliminated if not for Brad and Victoria’s fatal air travel errors. That was a tough episode to watch, but to Victor’s credit he has truly been reformed since then: I’ve only wanted to throw things at him on very rare occasions, and that’s a real feat considering how much he bugged me in the early going.
Admittedly, the team had an advantage in legs that took place in China, as their knowledge of Mandarin was of help in a couple of challenges and in interacting with taxi drivers. However, if you go back into those legs, I honestly don’t feel that any of those moments were defined by their language skills: anyone can trace Chinese characters (everyone did, in fact, and just followed Tammy and Victor), the other half of the restaurant detour was just as quick if not faster, and as they noted on numerous occasions being able to speak the language didn’t help when your cab driver had no idea where he was going.
In the end, they were just good racers: once they got past their issues, they were focused and precise, struggling like other teams at points but never quite falling into a spiral that would knock them out of the race. They kept their heads up, and while you could argue the language helped them in China it was no factor in their victory in this leg. Their struggles in the pig task felt like their communication issues were back, but all things considered Victor was quite patient with her and her insecurity was less in regards to their relationship and more a result of killer fatigue and the pressure of a race for a million dollars. They stayed patient while getting stuck behind the car before the roadblock, and then Victor made his way through the task with the right level of patience and poise that showed how they bounced back from that tough initial setback.
So when they crossed the finish line first, it felt like they had battled against the odds and came out the stronger team – it wasn’t based on luck, or the right cab, but through patient game play. That’s the kind of way you want to win this race, in my books, and I felt they were definitely deserving winners (and for those who question the fact that Luke struggled with the China surfboards and Victor didn’t, that had nothing to do with language and doesn’t work for me).
If you’re Jaime and Cara, this loss could be seen as karma: after attacking every cab driver in sight (she was admittedly equally heinous to all of them, so I don’t think you could really call her racist), and just not seemingly liking the idea of interacting with people (which seems a poor race strategy if not life strategy), Jaime had one last hurrah with a cab driver before finally struggling her way to the mat behind the leaders. I didn’t dislike Jaime as many did, and only really turned on her when she turned on Cara (which wasn’t as often as you might have presumed based on her general behaviour), so really their loss is less karma and more logic: they were the underdogs going into the leg, had never finished a leg in first place outside of the fake pit stop, and fell behind early.
And nothing changed, unfortunately for them: they end up so far behind at the end of the leg due to a taxi driver who thinks he knows where he’s taking them and isn’t right. It’s bad luck (it’s what did in Mike and Mel as well), but Jaime was still a jerk to their taxi driver, and there’s no way that wasn’t going to come back to hurt them. The taxi ride was too much to overcome: combine with Jaime struggling with the idea of the roadblock, and there just wasn’t any way for them to come back even when Jaime picked up the roadblock really quickly and actually brought them into second place. Sure, it’s yet another second place finish for an all-female team, and not nearly as strong as Dustin and Kandace, but it felt deserved in the end outside of the fact that they needed Luke’s help to get there.
You couldn’t have argued that Luke and Margie were bad teammates considering how much responsibility she took in getting him there; she had to bear more weight than perhaps any race contestant ever, and while this is not a social game (thus allowing for Luke to participate as well as he did) it was something that led to some traditional communication issues. While they won a fair amount of legs, largely on their shared physical prowess and their focus, in the end it was clear that killer fatigue was getting to them: Luke was truly becoming the sinister deaf kid archetype Mike White warned of, and Margie flying off the handle on Jen and Kisha in China seemed like the moment where years of struggle emerged in a moment of exhaustion.
Their failure in this leg was not that they couldn’t communicate with each other, but just that they weren’t fast enough and struggled when it counted most: their strength in catching up during the pig task was impressive but the lead it gave them was ultimately surmountable, as shown when the precision jet skiing proved a bit of a challenge in terms of their communication even though they left in first. And then we have the roadblock: I may not have been cheering for them, but how hard was it to watch Luke struggle with that task, remembering everything until the final Chinese legs where he just couldn’t piece it together. It was a tough way for them to lose the race, but it had nothing to do with his deafness: it was about sheer exhaustion, which affected everyone. Luke did so well with the start of the task, and they have to be proud of their third place finish.
And they really were an inspiration: yes, his deafness was his greatest struggle, but ignore the word deaf (as we should do) and Luke’s just your average intense Amazing Race competitor, and I think he deserves credit for running a strong race just as his mother deserves credit for both running strong (to the point of exhaustion) and for filling in where Luke wasn’t able to assist her. It was a strong performance, deafness or no deafness, and deserves recognition (and probably second place, but that’s neither here nor there). Their run to the mat, and their taxi ride, were really quite inspirational, and were more powerful because the race producers didn’t over-do their story throughout the race: anyone who wasn’t emotionally affected by their story, and the way that only Luke and Margie could understand Luke’s inspiring moment at the end, is heartless, elbow or no elbow.
Overall, it was a pretty intense final leg, featuring some interesting tasks, some good stories, and a deserving winner – yes, I’d rather have had Mike and Mel crossing that line in first, but you can’t always get what you want.