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'The Amazing Race': Luck be a lady

Eight countries. 21 days. More than 25,000 miles. One winning team.

To say that this season of "The Amazing Race" brought the drama is a bit of an understatement. We saw siblings squabble, a former beauty queen throw tantrums (repeatedly, no less), pro poker players lose their cool, a musclebound lawyer do his best Hulk impression, brothers bicker again and again (yes, they earn a second mention) and the tragic elimination of a beloved team due to a missing passport. 

As always, the race came down to a single leg to decide the ultimate victors, a leg in which, rather miraculously, all of the teams managed to board the same transatlantic flight and remain almost neck and neck all the way to the finish line, where a cool $1 million and an eyebrow-raise from host Phil Keoghan awaited one team.

Fortunately, the ultimate victor of "The Amazing Race" didn't come down to who could eat a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza the fastest (remember that?) but to a series of challenges that not only fit in with the Vegas setting (everything from Cirque du Soleil to Wayne Newton) but also forced them to keep their heads every step of the way.

So which team won? And who got left in the dust on the Strip? Let's dive in.

Let's be honest: This was Meghan and Cheyne's race to lose, really. They had proved themselves the most competitive and successful team out of everyone thus far this season, and, going into the final leg, I think even they knew that they had the most at stake. 

Personally, I would have been fine with anyone winning the race so long as it wasn't Sam and Dan, who continued their streak this week of driving me up the wall and making me want to rip off my ears after having to listen to their nonstop verbal assault at each and every route marker. There have been teams before on "The Amazing Race" that I've loved to hate, but I can't even say that about the brothers. 

Leaving behind the beauty of Prague, the final three teams jetted off to Las Vegas, the site of the final pit stop, on the same flight. I had a feeling that the producers would pull some strings to ensure a race to the finish line with all three teams in the running because, really, there isn't much drama when one falls so far behind. (Remind me: Was it in the first season when a team was actually 24 hours behind the winner?)

Poor Ericka had her ups and downs this week. I was super-impressed with the way that she managed to rappel down the facade of the Mandalay Bay. Face first, no less. (Husband Brian was terrified of heights, but so was Cheyne, who performed the Road Block with his eyes closed.) But while Ericka dazzled with her fearless attitude here, a later challenge led to her having a complete and utter mental breakdown as she was trussed up in a Cirque du Soleil bungee harness attempting to grab a bouquet of flowers. Although I've liked watching Brian and Ericka, the sight of her screaming her head off and sobbing profusely left me wondering if there was any way that they still had a shot at winning the grand prize.

But Meghan and Cheyne made one HUGE error. Or make that two. One was not knowing where in the world Monaco was (or make that "Moe-na-co" as Sam pronounced it) and listening to their taxi driver when he said that the most famous casino in Monaco was the Venetian. (They also nearly listened to someone who told them that Monaco was in Spain. Um, the principality is, in fact, located between France and Italy.) It was an error that let the brothers get ahead of them and make their way to the Monte Carlo.

Viewers might remember how, earlier this season, Sam and Dan had trouble with a challenge that forced them to determine the value of gold, based on a fluctuating currency exchange rate. While the numbers weren't changing, counting still proved to be an issue for Sam and Dan as they had to count out $1 million in  poker chips. Fortunately, Meghan and Cheyne were able to catch up ... and pass the whiny brothers.


Not sure why Wayne Newton told Sam and Dan who he was (the look of confusion and bewilderment on their faces was priceless) as it would have been so hysterical to have seen them wandering around the Strip attempting to find Mr. Vegas' home ... without knowing his name. 

Some tight editing made it seem as though it would come down to a footrace between Meghan and Cheyne and Sam and Dan, but that wasn't the case at all as Meghan and Cheyne made it to the finish line with some time to spare. 

As I said earlier, I would have been happy if the perennially perky Meghan and Cheyne won or Brian and Ericka, so long as Sam and Dan didn't walk away millionaires. But I have to say that I'm happy it was these two who won the grand prize. They played a good game, were extremely competitive but didn't (except for that one time with the Globetrotters) get caught up in mean-spiritedness or sink to underhanded dirty gamesmanship to win. In other words: They raced and they kept their eyes on the prize.

What did you think of this season of "The Amazing Race"? Did the right team win? Am I too hard on the brothers? Head to the comments section to discuss.

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

Photo: All of this season's teams gather at the finish line on "The Amazing Race." Credit: CBS

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Comments () | Archives (26)

I totally agree with you. I too was happy that Megan and Cheyne won the race. I think they really deserved it since they were the team that came in first most of the time throughout. I also would have been upset if Sam and Dan had beat them. Their constant whining and bickering was definitely nerve grating and stealing the taxi was wrong.

I was disappointed when the globetrotters were eliminated. I felt that they had the best attitude during the race and really seemed to be having a good time and were not in it solely for the prize. They always let their hair down and enjoyed it, especially the dancing.

I didn't think you were too hard on the brothers...I had some of the same feelings...I'm also glad they didn't win. I was hoping either M&C or B&E would win. I really thought the latter, but as you mentioned, Erika had the break down trying to grab the flowers. Honestly, I think I would have too. All the pressure of trying to grab and go while your competitors were right there and getting it down when they arrived after you, oh well. It was nice to see they had a good attitude when they arrived at the finish line. I was saddend that the pair mentioned above lost a passport, I really wanted them to do well. Cannot wait for next season...I hope they're able to shoot the show in true HD or even widescreen the next time around.

I think I actually stood up and clapped in my living room when I saw Megan/Cheyne turn onto the path to Phil. Whew! So happy they won! With that said, I have to admit this race's final leg was the best one I've seen. So happy they dropped the expected "where did we go and in what order" challenge at the end. The Wayne Newton bit was a tad cheesy, but the chip-count was ingenious. It was one task where the teams had to be patient and methodical - both downfalls for Sam/Dan & Ericka (Brian gets a pass - he deserves sainthood). As soon as Sam/Dan started bickering, I knew it was the end for them.

All in all, it was a great race - can't wait for the next one!

I really wanted Erika and Brian to win because they are such an interesting couple. But I too am satisfied that the brothers lost because they were the biggest jerks. There negativity made me dislike them. Therefore, congradulations to Meghan and Cheyne who were obviously more competitive. Meghan proved that brains beat brawn everytime.

The right team did win, much as I hate to say it. I was really rooting for Ericka and Brian to come from third place to win it. That lasted until Ericka started screaming and going nuts at Cirque du Soleil. I was done with her and knew she could never pull it together for them to win.

I was sick of the brothers before this show. As a gay man I have to admit I tend to be biased in favor of the gay teams, but even that and their cuteness could not save them from being supremely annoying with their constant yelling at each other. During the poker chip counting their continuous yelling "Sam, stop!" or "Dan stop it!" made me want to pull the car over and crack them both over the head with a blunt instrument.

So there really was no choice. It had to be Meghan and Cheyne, much as I enjoyed them having no idea what hotel to go to. Somehow they always seemed to catch up on those rare occasions where they made a mistake. I would have liked to see some better editing to show us exactly how M&C managed to recover.

I was really hoping for the Globetrotters as they had the best attitude ever, and were supportive of each other, no matter what. The brother bickering, the diva attitude of the girl who came in 3rd... I'm glad they didn't win. When she was screaming at her long-suffering partner as she tried to grab the flowers I thought, Lady, win or lose you don't deserve this fellow who puts up with your cra-p. Glad the #1 couple did win, of the 3 that were left.

I totally agree. I too did not want the brothers to win, or even come close for that matter. They had to be one of the most annoying teams (save the New York family on the family version of the Race) I have ever seen, and I have seen most of the AR seasons. I think Megan and Cheyne ran a good race and deserved to win.

Ditto-If I never hear or hear of Sam/Dan, I'll be happy! Good for Megan/Cheyne-if the Globetrotters couldn't win I'm glad they did. This was my first season following this show and it's so much better then Survivor or any of the other reality trash shows on cable-nice guys (and gals) can finish first!

No, you're not too hard on the brothers. I seriously wanted to *****slap them for the constant arguing and bickering. I prayed that Either Meagan & Cheyne or Ericka & Brian would win. It was too bad that she had to have that nervous breakdown. It was extremely impressive how Meaghan & Cheyne stayed calm at the poker chip counting.
Great Season!

Rubbish review. Sam and Dan ran a good race. They did what they had to do within the bounds of the rules. Even though they did not win the race, I will always support them. I wish them the best in everything and I hope they will have a good life.

Agreed, although I know that when they sped off in the cab toward the Venetian, I was hoping that ignorance wouldn't be rewarded. Still, I'm glad they recovered to win.

I agree with you totally - The right team won. Megan and Cheyne were the best players by far, and always worked as a team. No where was this more evident than at the Monte Carlo, where they were the last team to arrive, and they ended up finishing first. Regarding the brothers: This was one unpleasant team. Personally, I think Sam and Dan got a break when Wayne Newton told them who he was. The way the clue was stated, the racers had to figure out who Mr. Vegas was. Had Mr. Newton not told them, they would have left the room not knowing whose house they had to go to. This pair also got a break the week before when they delivered the statue with a broken arm. I'm surprised the producers let those things go, as well as the pushing and shoving of the Globe Trotters. If Sam and Dan had won, The Amazing Race would have lost this household's viewers for sure. To Megan and Cheyne - nicely done!

In all my many seasons watching The Amazing Race, I can't remember a team with the exception of Rob and Amber that I hated more than Sam and Dave. Their callousness and calculating abuse (remember the cab they stole from Brian and Ericka?) of other teams was an even bigger reason to hate them then their overall whininess in the heat of battle at nearly every unfavorable turn. They didn' t like playing by the rules or cooperating with anyone else...ever!
Meghan and Cheyne looked very confused in the first half of the finale, but their supreme teamwork, which had won six previous rounds finally asserted itself against the dorky whining brothers and the emotional Brian and Ericka.

Overall I wasn't impressed witht he finale...the final challenges were somewhat less daunting than previous finales (save the descent down the Mandalay Bay which started the leg). Time to plan for the next one!

I thought the final leg of the race this year was to easy. What happened to the part of the final leg where the teams had to remember all the places where they had been and put them in the right order. I think I have been watching for about 7 years and they had to do it every time before. just missed that part. I think Meghan & Cheyne ran the best race overall. They should have won and did.

I think I'd have shot myself if Dan and Sam had won. They were the most annoying whiny men I have every seen in my life!

The Monaco clue was tougher than you think..... It's not between Italy and France, it's completely in France.

I had to mute the sound when Erica was going through her hysterical rant. I feel sorry for Bryan. Good luck man with this one, you're going to need it.

I agree. I was happy to see Meghan and Cheyne win the race. They were strong competitors and had a great attitude. I loved Brian and Ericka (although he must REALLY love her) because they seemed to be up for anything - remember the wasabi bullet?! And Sam and Dan were just obnoxious. Actually it was Dan - or maybe Sam - who was the most obnoxious. I love this show! If only I could find someone to go on it with me....

Well... there WAS another time when Brian and Ericka let M&C take their cab, asking the driver to call for another one where Meghan said "no, don't call for another one. We don't care about them."

That was dirty. But aside from that, yeah. They were fairly nice (mostly because they were always so far ahead that they never ran into anyone). So I'm okay that they won.

I was rooting for Brian and Ericka, though.

I totally agree with your review. I was hoping for Brian and Ericka - mostly because I've been a Miss America fan all my life - and to see her win would be great; however, her tantrum -- I fast forwarded my TiVo. I did not want the brothers to win - they played dirty, especially at the phone challenge, the Globetrotter let Dan know his answer all the time, but when Dan got the right answer he just leaves. Then their constant whining and arguing - mute button. Glad for Megan and Cheyne they ran a good race all the way.

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