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Life Ain't Nothing But Beaches And Money On The Amazing Race

Back in the good old US of A, racers put Season 27 to bed after enjoying helicopters, lobster, firemen's pants, a whole lot of yelling about taxis, and a series of memory tests.

New York's Bravest, Meet CBS's Dumbest

The first set of instructions for the final leg of this race direct teams to fly to New York, and everyone's on the same flight. Justin says that, having lived in New York for twenty years, he feels like he's got an edge over the other two teams. Chris and Logan are their own worst enemy. Joey and Kelsey just don't want to come in second place again. (Hey, did you remember that Joey and Kelsey keep coming in second place? Could that possibly be important later?)

Actually, everyone's hitting Randall's Island, off the coast of Manhattan, before they head out to Long Island. Randall's Island is known to Justin as one of the locations of the fake Amazing Race he staged to propose to Diana. It's known to most other NYC locals as the home of a large concert venue, a medium-sized sports stadium, a wastewater treatment plant, and the FDNY's training academy, which will serve as the setting for this leg's first task. I was kind of hoping for the wastewater treatment plant, but whatever.

Justin asks their cab driver if he'll wait around for them, and the driver balks, since Randall's Island isn't exactly a hotbed of return fares. When the driver asks for extra money, Justin dismisses him without a tip, which I'm sure will have no karmic consequences later on.

Justin, Joey, and Chris get kitted out in fireman gear, then walked through a training exercise in which they'll pull a body from a burning building. Unlike the token flashy adrenaline tasks of Amazing Race final legs gone by, this one at least allows for all three of them to participate at the same time rather than queueing up. After they complete the exercise, Phil says, they'll have to complete "the first memory challenge." Wait, there's going to be more than one? That, at least, is interesting, even if the challenge itself isn't: given a bunch of fire helmets emblazoned with city names, they'll have to arrange the capitals of every country they visited in the order in which they visited them.

Predictably, nobody has significant trouble with the fire part of the task. The sneaky producers have slipped a few red herrings into the memory task, but Justin is not fooled: he's in and out of the task in about three seconds. Next stop: Belmont Park, which is decidedly not within the five boroughs of New York City, and New York City cab drivers accordingly balk when asked to go there. Justin attempts to steal Chris and Logan's cab, but once the driver hears "Belmont," he nopes on outta there, leaving them semi-stranded.

As a New York native, Justin should probably have known better than to think he could easily hail another cab on Randall's Island, and he and Diana bleed enough time looking for another one that both the paparazzi and the reporters finish their memory tasks.

Logan and Chris arrive in the parking lot to find their cab gone, so they make a beeline for the one cab that's still there. Joey and Kelsey, naturally, are having none of that. They chase the cab down and order Chris and Logan out of it, and apparently Chris gets really uncomfortable when anybody other than Logan yells at him, because he immediately apologizes and hops out.

Still Life With Fire Pants

Eventually, both the green team and the paparazzi give up on finding a cab and take a bus back to Manhattan, where cabs are more plentiful. By that time, though, Joey and Kelsey have already come and gone at Belmont, having spent all of three seconds there before boarding a helicopter to the next port of Amazing Race call in the Hamptons. Basically, it's 8:19 and -- spoiler alert -- this race is already pretty much over. This sequence is accordingly fraught with post-cab-error lamentation, which, trust me, nobody wants to see.

When Logan and Chris finally reach their helicopter, Chris demands that they pause so that he can change out of the fireman outfit he forgot to ditch back at Randall's Island. He doesn't actually have any shoes apart from the fireman boots, but he says he's faster running barefoot than in the boots. (For a terrible minute, I'm very afraid he doesn't have any other pants, either, but fortunately, that proves untrue.) The helicopter departs, and there's something kind of poetic and mournful about this abandoned pair of pants left in the middle of a random field on Long Island. A more cinematographically-inclined camera crew might have done something with that particular bit of visual storytelling. I'm just saying.

Some time later, Justin and Diana observe the pants, board the helicopter, and say something about it not being over until it's over.

Lobsterin' Ain't Easy

We resume the action in Southampton, where teams ride jetskis to nearby lobster boats and tackle Task #2 -- which, like the firefighter training task, will have its own memory component tacked on to the end. After hauling in a bunch of lobster traps, the teams will have to arrange a bunch of flags in the order in which they visited the corresponding countries.

The lobster part of this task is physically exhausting, but basically impossible to screw up, despite Chris and Logan's best attempts. Things only get interesting when teams open up the flags. Everyone does pretty well with familiar flags like China and France, but Logan gets a little tripped up when they get to Africa, since, in her words, "I don't know what Africa's flag looks like." While she thinks back to their trip to the great nation of Africa and its capital city of Africa City, Kelsey and Joey are repeatedly being told they're incorrect, and it takes them awhile to figure out why.

"I wish there was extra flags [sic], so someone could make a mistake," muses Justin. "There is," says Diana, holding up what appears to be the Egyptian flag. Indeed, the instructions specifically call for nine flags when the box contains 10. This doesn't give Justin and Diana enough of an edge to overtake the reporters, but they do overtake the paparazzi, who appear to have gotten themselves tangled up in the flag ropes by this point.

The Chair Recognizes The Gentleman And Lady From California

Where the first task was solely a cool-looking test of chutzpah and the second one was brute force, the third task involves precision and spatial reasoning. Out on the beach, teams will assemble a series of Adirondack chairs, each emblazoned with a different image representing a destination on their race, and then...well, you know.

Kelsey and Joey get there first and commence to buildin', but they're not very far into the task when Justin and Diana catch up. Diana's very good at building things, he says, so he's confident they've still got a shot. Just in case, though, he heckles the reporters a little bit, and for a second, it seems like he does sort of get in their heads. After Joey's reclaiming his cab earlier in the leg, this is only the second time we've seen them yell at all, and definitely the first time he and Kelsey have turned their ire on each other. The more they yell, the more progress Justin and Diana appear to make.

(Back at the lobster boats, Logan eventually figures out that Africa is a continent containing a multitude of countries, two of which they visited while on the Race, and the boat's captain tries hard not to roll his eyes when he hands them their clue.)

The reporters are done! But something's wrong! Now Justin and Diana are done! But THEY'RE wrong! Kelsey and Joey try again! And now they're correct, and a brief jog later, they arrive in some rich person's backyard, where Phil and the rest of the racers are waiting to crown them the winners of The Amazing Race. In lieu of any kind of medal or crown, Joey borrows a gigantic gold necklace from E-Knock, which only serves to make him look even more Caucasian than he already is.

The aftermath of this victory is fairly typical. Justin and Diana roll in a few minutes later, and we're finally treated to some post-Race confessionals from the green team in which it's visibly nighttime and Justin appears to have been crying since late afternoon.

Logan and Chris wrap things up, though they're well aware it's already over. When they arrive, Phil is kind of incredulous at the fact that they haven't murdered each other over the course of many years of dating, implying that maybe they ought to reconsider their relationship.

All of the crying and relationship counseling is going to leave us on a little bit of an uncomfortable note, so let's cut back to Kelsey and Joey for one last soundbite. They goofily pretend to be reporting on their own victory, because they're #TheReporters, get it?

Verdict

It's a peculiarity of this show that the least interesting episodes are almost always the premiere and the finale. This one's a little better than most in the game-design department, but it still feels a little blah, especially considering the outcome: between their overwhelmingly positive edit and the continual reminders that they wanted to stop coming in second on every leg, CBS has been basically beating us over the heads with the story of Kelsey and Joey's come-from-behind victory since roughly October. As finales go, it's decently entertaining, but you definitely don't need to sit through the whole thing.

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