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'The Amazing Race': Zev and Justin's heartbreaking exit

October 11, 2009 | 10:36 pm

98246_D0836 I am absolutely devastated.

I had intended to write this week's "Amazing Race" column about the scary fact that most of the contestants couldn't recognize Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis from a photograph (with various competitors saying that she was either a queen, a princess or "someone of Cambodian descent") and Lance's bizarre karate-style kicks at the mat, but after the gut-wrenching twist at the end of this week's Cambodia-set installment, there's only one thing to say.

Zev and Justin have been eliminated from the race.

It would be awful enough if their elimination stemmed from a flight delay, from getting lost or from performing poorly in the detours and roadblocks. But the fact is that the dynamic duo had overcome some difficulties in the roadblock and arrived at the pit stop in first place. They had even checked in already. 

So what derailed their chances at the million-dollar prize at the end of the race? A missing passport. This isn't the first time that this has happened on "The Amazing Race" (remember Toni and Dallas' fate?), but it's the first time that the resolution was so completely heartbreaking. Toni and, er, online exhibitionist son Dallas weren't going to win that leg of the race, even with their passports and money, whereas Zev and Justin had managed to reverse their fortunes after being at the back of the pack. 

I understand that the race has very specific rules of conduct and that the contestants can't obviously move onto the next leg without having passports. So, yes, that makes sense. But what doesn't make sense is why the producers couldn't give the team the opportunity to use the downtime between the legs to locate the missing passport. If they couldn't locate it, then I would totally understand why they'd be cut from the competition.

But they didn't have that opportunity. Despite arriving in first place, they were only given a few minutes to either find that passport or forfeit their participation in the race, and their first-place spot was brutally ripped from them right away. While I hoped that they would manage to find the document (it couldn't have been in Zev's bag or in their taxi?!?), I knew in my heart that it was likely to be the end of the road for this fantastic team.

In their way-too-brief time on the race, Zev and Justin managed to endear themselves to many, many viewers (including this jaded writer), and I was rooting for them to go all the way and take home that cash prize at the end. If they were going to go out, I had hoped that it would have come down to something race-related. Certainly not this way and not after they found their footing and pushed ahead in "Sean Penn, Cambodia."

I'm going to miss Zev and Justin. They added not only heart but also humor to the proceedings, and they made the race an infinitely more interesting journey. Sadly for these two, the good karma they put out into the race didn't come back to them. Despite the elimination, I'm proud of them for the way that they played the game and for their unbreakable bond of friendship. High fives all around, indeed.

What did you think of the elimination? Was it fair that the producers booted them right away? Should they have been allowed ample time to locate the passport? And with Zev and Justin gone, who will you be rooting for now? Head to the comments section to discuss.

-- Jace Lacob (follow my musings on television, food, and more television on Twitter at @televisionary

Related:
'The Amazing Race': I survived a Japanese game show
'The Amazing Race 15': 5 reasons you should get on this trip
Complete "Amazing Race" coverage on Showtracker 

Photo: Zev and Justin monkeying around during happier times on "The Amazing Race." Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

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