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A Shot At The Finals Hangs In The Balance On The Amazing Race

On their way to the final three, Amazing Racers visit Shenzhen, China's answer to Epcot, where a couple of teams form an unlikely 11th-hour coalition.

It's A Small World After All

Racers are bound for the city of Shenzhen, China's tech and commerce hub. Tyler notes that, now that the Frisbee bros are out, everyone's got a chance to make the finals -- even Dana and Matt (who miraculously haven't killed each other yet), Sheri and Cole (who admit even they don't think they're competitors), and Burnie and Ashley (who haven't managed to budge from second place all season).

Once in the Shenzhen airport, teams are directed to search for a clue box in the Departure Hall. Everyone but Sheri and Cole finds it with ease, and Tyler and Korey caution the other teams not to help. Naturally, someone helps (Burnie and Ashley). Naturally, Tyler and Korey get indignant about Roosterteeth blowing their cover, and Roosterteeth get indignant about Tyler and Korey being shady, because hardly anybody's gotten indignant about anything this season and the show's getting pretty desperate for conflict.

The first actual destination is Window Of The World, a theme park filled with these fairly awesome-looking scale models of major world landmarks. The team member doing the Roadblock will have to embark on a little meta-race of his or her own, stamping a pretend passport, exactly like the kind you might have if you were drinking around the world at Epcot. Sadly (for them), the Racers are not given a selection of international spirits; the only drinking this segment is done at home, by the commentator.

Fightin' 'Round The World

Stylized, minor-key renditions of various national anthems play in the background as the Roadblockers run to find the mini-landmarks on their clue sheets. One particular source of consternation is a clue that asks Racers to find a statue with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, which is a nice shout-out to the Singapore leg a few seasons ago.

Tyler and Dana have teamed up to try to beat juggernaut Burnie, who's apparently now in a full-blown feud with them over the fact that Tyler and Korey lied to other teams about finding their clue in the airport, and then the fact that Tyler doesn't help Burnie with one of the clues that's confounding him. Self-righteous posturing being one of the cornerstones of every good Amazing Race episode, of course.

Burnie's out of there first, with Tyler and Dana finishing shortly after them. Cut to commercial on Sheri, stumped by her final two clues.

Cycling Through All The Options

While Sheri betrays herself as someone who wasn't paying close attention to Season 25, the other three teams are on their way to the Detour, where they'll choose between "Commuter Cycle" or "Master Of Art." "Commuter Cycle" involves riding something that looks like a cross between a hoverboard and the wheel the guys in the B.C. comics used to ride. In "Master Of Art," teams will deliver some paintings to a gallery and hang them to exacting specifications. Burnie and Ashley opt for the cycles, while the dancers and Tyler and Korey pick the art. Everyone idly wonders where Sheri is, although the answer -- still wrapping things up back at the microcosmic theme park -- should be pretty self-evident.

Burnie and Ashley explain that they'll try the cycles; if they're impossible, they'll go ahead and switch, but they think the harder-sounding one might, paradoxically, be quicker. Once Sheri and Cole finally finish the Roadblock, they also opt for the cycles.

Neither task is particularly easy, as it happens: the specifications on the paintings are really exacting, and the learning curve to the cycles is not quite as steep as Ashley had hoped. Even though it means losing their lead, they decide to switch, right around the time Sheri and Cole roll up (pun intended) to the scooters and begin having about the same amount of trouble as Team Roosterteeth had. To underscore their incompetence, we cut to a shot of a six-year-old child riding this same cycle with no trouble.

Tyler and Korey, and Dana and Matt, wrap up their Detour. Roosterteeth spots Tyler and Korey as they commence the task, and realize they're no longer in the running for first place.

Roosterteeth Bites Off More Than They Can Chew

As the dancers and Tyler and Korey head for the Pit Stop, Sheri starts getting the hang of the commuter cycling -- well before Cole does, it should be noted. Burnie and Ashley, for their part, are just figuring out that the paintings they're delivering have to be hung in a particular order.

It's pouring down rain as Tyler and Korey hit the mat in first place and become the first of three teams who'll race in the final leg. (Phil is the only person who gets an umbrella; not even the greeters are allowed to take cover, apparently.) In short order, Dana and Matt follow suit. So it's down to Burnie and Ashley (who successfully hang their paintings on what looks like the first try) and Sheri and Cole (who make several less-than-successful attempts to traverse the commuter-cycle route). Of course, since you never see the two teams in the same frame, it's hard to tell who's really in last place. "We chose the funnest Detour. Every time we've chosen the funnest Detour and we think we're out, we're not. I think...somehow...we're in it," says Cole, as Burnie and Ashley's cab parks at the Pit Stop. Which team will be racing to the finals?

...surprise! It's Cole and Sheri, and everyone goes apeshit! Nobody has any idea where Burnie and Ashley are, although all of the teams are allowed to hang out until they materialize and are summarily Philiminated.

So let's recap the three finalist teams: Tyler and Korey have the most wins under their belt. Cole and Sheri are lovable underdogs with heart. Dana and Matt have overcome many obstacles (mostly involving yelling at each other). Next week, there'll be a lot of crying, some kind of epic death-defying stunt, and one team walking away with a million dollars.

Verdict

You know how the show frequently tries to make you believe two teams are neck-and-neck when they're really, really not? This is one of the rare occasions on which it actually succeeds. While this probably sets us up for a pretty boring finale, considering the field of competition, and the tasks weren't anything to write home about, this was still somehow fairly action-packed.

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