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

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

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

Comments () | Archives (31)

I thought that it was totally unfair for them and they were probably the only reason that I was watching the show.

I agree. It was really disheartening when they realized they were missing a passport. I had a feeling they would eventually be eliminated, despite them being one of my favourite teams. They were really funny this particular episode too (Zev's reoccurring line, "I'll call your mother!" cracked me up the whole night).

No, I don't think it was fair to eliminate them without giving them enough time to look for it but in that situation, I think the producers needed a team to be eliminated, and even though Zev and Justin were given some time to search for the passport, they probably felt it was easier to just eliminate them there, rather than give extend the rules of the show and give them a few hours to try and locate it.

Besides these two awesome guys, my money's on Sam and Dan, who haven't been focused on a lot yet. With Zev and Justin losing their first place check-in, I guess that puts them first.

The race definitely will not be as enjoyable without the quirky, wonderful, and adorable pair. Sigh.

I think this was so unfair. This is my favorite reality show or was and now I am not sure if I am going to enjoy watching anymore. They did not have enough time to look for their
Passport and I think that was so unfair.

I think that the producers should offer an opportunity for Zev and Justin to come back next season and race again. After all it has been done on shows like Hell's Kitchen and Survivor. I will miss them too. Is it just me or are this season's crop of racers exceedingly bland and/or annoying?

I recorded the show last night to watch tonight. Thanks to the unavoidable spoiler smack dab in your headline, I suppose I won't bother. Is it REALLY so hard to write a headline that doesn't include the names right there? Is "heartbreaking exit" alone somehow insufficient for those who DID watch the show and are ready to read the article?

Next time I'll try harder to avoid your web site. Please pass that along to your marketing people. We are avoiding your web site and therefore won't be seeing your advertisers, either.

Note to the article's author: I know you're not the one writing the headlines. This is not directed at you. I'm just annoyed that someone at your organization couldn't come up with words other than the names of the eliminated to sell the story. It wasn't necessary.

I'm sorry to hear that the loss of a travel document cut the race short for Zev and Justin. They could have enlisted the services of RushMyPassport.com, which is able to have passport applications processed in 24 hours. Just throwing the idea out there... The producers could add in a challenge/ competition to provide some type of protection against the loss of travel documents.

This is really one of my favorite shows but I'm starting to think that the producers make up rules as they go along. It seems to me that Zev & Justin could have been given to the start of the next leg to locate the missing "travel document." That way there would have been two teams "on the bubble" and the final outcome would have been a lot more interesting and suspenseful rather than just discouraging.

They should have been given the time to look for them until the next leg started.....so many more people would have turned in next week for the "cliffhanger" Did Zev and Justin find them? You'll have to tune in next week!!!
Stupid producers missed a big chance for must see tv!

Just watched "Elimination Station." They did find the passport it was lost by Justin at a temple. They had misread a clue before the "Monkey task" and went inside a temple. It was dark and Justin pulled his head lamp out of his pocket and dropped the passport and didnt know. Somebody did turn it in to the Embassy. Its not clear when they found it, they were in the same clothes and it was still light out so I'd think it was the same day, if the other teams hadnt left yet for the next leg I still think they should have been able to continue and the lying poker players should have been gone.

I felt it was a terrible shame that Zev and Justin were eliminated for losing their passport. They ran such a strong race - everything right down to asking the taxi driver to drive ahead slowly whilst they followed behind slowly on foot was so clever of them.

I also agree that they should have allowed them to search for the passport during the intermission and eliminate them if they weren't able to relocate it before the commencement of the following leg.

I found Zev to be extremely inspiring. He really shone a new light on those living with Aspergers. I also found Justin endearing for the very fact that as a kid he took Zev under his wing and became best mates with him. Most other kids probably would have tease and bullied him.

Hopefully they'll be offered another chance to return in another season.

I am probably not going to watch the rest of the show. no reason to. I totaly agree they should have been given time to find their documents, but those are the breaks. These two guys played a good game and they can be proud of each other. And hey, they did get that first place finish. Go team Zev.

Jet, I totally agree. I thought that the anecdote about how Zev and Justin became friends at summer camp was absolutely poignant and touching. As you said, it did speak volumes about how accepting and kind Justin is as well as shedding light on people who have Asperger's in a way that's rarely ever seen on television. They'll definitely be missed.

CE: The mention of Zev and Justin losing their passports was played all afternoon in the previews for the show during football. There was no poiler that most people shouldn't have already known about.

Fair enough, Rob, but although I saw that "someone" lost their passport in a promo last week, I did not know who or that it would lead to their exit (in past seasons, teases about lost documents haven't necessarily meant elimination, and the promos are often red herrings that hide what will really happen).

If yesterday's promos told the audience who was going to be eliminated, that'd be REALLY bad marketing. Not that I saw any, because I wasn't watching football... which should narrow down who my favorite football team is, as they are definitely not worth watching this season, passport or no passport. ;)

The rules are established before the race, and everyone knows what they are. To change the rules because someone we like has a problem would be unfair. I'm really sad about it, and really wanted them to win, but it's a game with a large cash prize and the rules must be followed.

Zev and Justin touched a lot of hearts and added warmth and humor to the race....no ohter team appears tp have that potential. BRING THEM BACK NEXT SEASON!!!!!!!

It is fair. A couple season's ago the mother and son lost his passport, they didn't even appear in the finale. I liked them too, but unfortunately that is the game.

I think that the producers of TAR need to revamp some things. I find it disgusting that a team can be eliminated for an innocent mistake yet, in past seasons, teams have blatantly cheated or disregarded rules and only incurred a time penalty. (like when the stuntmen team purposely sabotaged the equipment at one challenge) They should have make teams who don't have their documents sit out a time penalty and then check in and then have the mandatory rest period to locate their documents and if they do not find them then they should be eliminated and the last team to check in given their spot in the race.

There is something very wrong with a format that will allow those who willfully break the rules to continue on while giving the ultimate punishment to those who make an innocent mistake.

I think losing two people in a huge city (Maria & Tiffany) is way more serious than losing a passport.

As for the person who recorded the show and saw that the headline spoiled it, sorry, that's what you get for recording a show. You posted your comment the morning after it aired all across America. Should the L.A. Times wait 48 hours so you can get caught up on your TV shows? I think not.

It was totally unfair for them to boot the guys out without giving them an overnight attempt at finding a passport - or better yet - seeing if the American Embassy could expedite the creation of a new one within 24 hours if they could have it done.

If I were the people who created the rules, I would basically say if you can either find your passport or get an expedited order for one to be created at the American Embassy by the time the teams leave out, then you may proceed as the last team. It would give the actual last team that thinks they were saved some suspense and worry instead of a free pass, and it would give fair shake at letting someone who simply lost documentation but performed on the game at staying on.

But for whatever reason they made the decision they made, and it sucks. I was rooting for Zev and Kevin simply because they seemed like nice people, and I like that Zev has had to overcome challenges.

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