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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)

It's pretty clear how the game is played: you must show up at the pit stop with all necessary documents or items to check in. Period. In the past, people who have forgotten their clue or not brought a required puzzle piece like the travel gnome have not been allowed to check in until they retrieved them. Should a team that forgot to bring their clue to the checkpoint be allowed to check in and search for it between legs? That's not how the game has been played and I don't see any reasonable reason why the rules should treat passports or travel documents differently. "So Zev and Justin can keep racing" is not enough.

I had my purse, money and passport stolen in France a couple of years ago. I got a new one really quickly. It would have been worth a shot for the TAR folks to give Zev & Justin time to find and/or replace the lost passport. It's a real shame.

I've been watching this season for these first few episodes hoping to find a team to root for. Last night's episode had me at "he took me into his group of friends, and for that I'm eternally grateful.." Wow! I was crying at the end of the episode because I felt so bad for them. Even with the devastating mistake of losing their passport, at the end they were so kind to one another. I think we should all write the producers to give them another chance next season!

Completely unfair. They should have given them a decent time frame to find their passport. I mean when people break the rules during the game they have to wait 1-3 hours before being able to check in, they should have given them the time to find it.

Another question.... If cameras are always on during the show wouldnt' a camera man have seen them drop it at some point? I mean there's probably enough crew for the show that somebody would have seen what happend

My 21 year old son was diagnosed with Asperger's at about the same age as Zev states in an iterview that he was diagnosed. I am very proud of my son, and I am very proud of Zev. Of course I am extremely disappointed that Zev and Justin were eliminated. But I take heart in Zev's and Justin's characters! Their friendship their mutual respect, their teamwork, their sense of humor....I could go on and on, Zev and Justin embody all that is good. Reading their interview on another web site, I know they are ok and have dealt with being eliminated better than I did.
Zev, thank you for being such a successful human being. I hope all the best to you and Justin!

Remember the winners of season 3, Whiney Girl and Saint? They had someone help them cross the river when the clue clearly stated that they had to paddle themselves across...but they weren't penalized. And they won. It's their show...it's their game...it's their rules. So, I'm not watching this any more - I don't like the fact that bitchy and mean-spirited people win while being kind gets a team eliminated. Plus, it's embarrassing to watch Americans behave like animals in other countries.

I liked them, but I'm kind of glad they got out...I didn't want to see the way other teams treated them later.

I think that is what we love about Zev & Justin - you could tell they were disabled but they smiled and moved through the tasks. I liked that they were not afraid to ask for help from the locals - and actually noticed them (giving of jacket) - that gave them probably more of an experience than "racing" through an area but not really interacting. Sort of like going on vacation to a foreign country but sleeping at a holiday inn.

I agree that the list of cast isn't to the point that I remember all the teams. When they were checking in - two weeks ago after moving the animal statue in the wagon .. I was at the oh yeah - I forgot about them. There is not a lot of drama in this race between the teams members. They are all working really well together except for the Lawyer team - go figure. He reminds me of the Street Justice Law show - in your face litigation! Nice for maybe ... Divorce attorney?

There isn't any romance between teams nor smack downs or name calling or even endless whining of this or that disability.

The worse it got is the cheers they made when the two teams weren't making the flight... and the disappointment when they did.

I suspect as it gets closer to the finish line the gloves may come off and the tension will rise.

Zev and Justin were my favorite from before the show even aired for I went to Camp Greylock (the camp where they became friends) and had the privileged of having them as my counselors.

It was totally unfair what they did to them and it really has a lot of people angry. I agree with Jace in that why couldn't they let them search for it until the next leg? It's not like they had anywhere to go right away. The producers really blow it. I mean its not like they actually were in last place and lost, but they lost a passport, a mistake any team could make.

Lastly, how lucky can the two poker girls get? The first time they are in last no one gets eliminated and this time, when Zev and Justin get first, they come in last and since Zev and Justin are eliminated, they get to stay in.

I think the decision by the producers was outrageous and completely arbitrary. If Zev and Justin did not fess up at that moment and Phil had gone on and eliminated whomever came in last place during that leg in front of the cameras, then Zev & Justin would have been penalized or had until the groups left town to find their missing travel documents. So, by virtue of their honesty, they were eliminated from a race they were in first place in. And do you mean to tell me that photocopies of the participants passports are not held by the producers? I don't know the answer to this, but it is hard to believe that in this million dollar reality show world with their huge staffs that they are not. A penalty - yes, elimination - terrible.

I AM TOTALLY TURNED OFF BY THIS, and I don't think I will ever watch TAR again. It as if it is not a real race -- Phil and his henchmen make up the rules as they go along and enforce them arbitrarily. If I want fake, I'll watch professional wrestling.

Did you guys know that there is a facebook website requesting Zev` and Justin come back next season or be chosen for all stars? We should all join...

We want Zev and Justin in the next edition of Amazing Race All-Stars!

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