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'The Amazing Race' recap: 'The Only First That Matters'

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Trae Patton/CBS

The Amazing Race

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Jerry Bruckheimer
Reality TV

And so season 28 of The Amazing Race ends — not with a bang, but with a selfie. And what other way for the “social media influencers” season to end? The Final 3 comprised often-frontrunners-occasional-underdogs Tyler and Korey, who’ve served as the sort of narrators to the season, always ready with a rapid-fire back-and-forth or a PG-13 pun to make Phil blush; and of course there were the underiest-underdogs-to-ever-underdog Sheri and Cole, who managed to come in last twice and still make it to this 12th leg of the race, slowly growing into the real heart of the group, just happy to have stuck around this long while simultaneously being terrified of nearly everything they’ve had to do; and then…

There are the Dancers. As far as teams to root for go, they were likely not at the top of most fans’ list to grab that No. 1 spot. But as they went ahead and did it anyway, I was glad for their first-place finish to give them a little relationship redemption in what has probably been a slightly tough season for them to watch. Dana and Matt — okay, mostly Dana — haven’t gotten a great wrap, but beneath all the berating, they’ve actually run a good race, and the fact they they’ve managed to do it while having pretty conflicting personalities…well, it makes me wonder what could have been if the Paparazzi had won last season, or Blair and Hayley before them. Plus, I got a little weepy just listening to Teams Alabama and Torey’s excitement at taking second and third, so I might not have even been able to handle if either team had gotten that last and all-important first place.

But this Final Leg just didn’t end up being too much of a nail-biter — and I’d like to officially blame that on TAR for giving them premium seating on the 7,000-mile flight from Shenzhen, China to Los Angeles. What gives?! There’s nothing amazing about making it through a few tricky tasks in L.A. after you’ve had a relaxing 13 hours to sleep and drink free champagne!

Though a little champagne may have been necessary to get through that first ROAD BLOCK: LEAP OF FAITH. The Final 3 teams head straight from their luxurious flight to Angelus Plaza, where they find out that one of them will be jumping from the top of a 170-foot tall skyscraper — not so bad. No, the bad part is that they have to fling themselves off of the building, and then they have a mid-air goal: to grab a clue that’s dangling an indeterminate distance in front of them. From some angles the leap to the clue looked incredibly far, but then Matt and his tall self hopped right out there and nabbed it on the first try.

Sheri, on the other hand, had a slightly harder time psyching herself up for the whole flinging process. For a moment as she sobbed, “I don’t know if I can do it!” looking absolutely paralyzed, it seemed like maybe Sheri had finally met the one task she couldn’t tackle with abandon. But then she ran to the edge, jumped, and sort of held onto her rope like she was going to swing at the clue like Tarzan. It wasn’t her best approach, but after getting over the initial fear, and getting a big hug from Cole down below, she was able to grab the clue on the second try, right about the time Team Torey was bringing up the rear after having trouble finding the clue at the plaza.

Fortunately for Tyler, he once again scores a very cute instructor; unfortunately, it takes him three times to grab the clue. (I very much enjoyed the bit with Korey keeping a positive attitude down below, classifying them as a “two-try team” that needed to be a “one-try team,” but finally coming around to being a “three-try team.”) From there, the teams take a helicopter ride 90 miles up the coast to Santa Barbara where they have to board a dingy and navigate a marina full of hundreds of boats to track down a 1926 fishing boat named Theresa Ann. When Dana and Matt use their taxi driver’s phone to research the boat, they see that it’s usually docked near the maritime museum, and locate the boat quickly…

NEXT: ‘Now we’ve got to look for the Theresa Ann, which we know is a museum’ [pagebreak]

When Cole and Sheri look up the Theresa Ann, on the other hand, they somehow manage to convince themselves it is the maritime museum and drive their dingy around the marina yelling out, “HEY! Do y’all know where the Theresa Ann Museum is?!” About the time that they decide, “Okay, let’s start looking for boats,” Tyler and Korey show up, and they find that sucker fast, even if they are operating their dingy kind of like a bumper boat.

So the Dancers should be way out in front of both teams behind them, but they make the mistake of not holding onto their cab driver, and there are no taxis in sight when they get out of the marina. That slows them down by about 20 minutes, but thank goodness, or we would have had a sweep on our hands. Because while Teams Torey and Alabama end up getting in cabs at almost the same time, Tyler and Korey’s driver is a little unsure of herself on the way to Gibraltar Rock, where the teams’ next task is located. Working together, one member Tyrolean traverses (I’m just going to trust Phil on that one) across a canyon to receive one-half of their clue; as they move, the other member is lowered down the vertical rock face to retrieve the other half of the clue. As Cole says, “If you are afraid of heights, people, do not make it to the finale of The Amazing Race.”

Even Dana and Matt have a difficult time physically once they have to pull themselves back up the mountain. There’s a lot of grunting — a lot of grunting — but they get through the task and keep their lead heading into the final ROAD BLOCK: ROLL OUT THE BARRELS. Once there, one member of each team must arrange wine barrel lids with letters on them to spell out nine of the cities they’ve visited on the Race, matching them with the hashtag that was written on each city’s clue. Dana takes this one for the Dancers, and even though she’s feeling the pressure of it all coming down to her, she says she knew from the very beginning they were going to have use those hashtags at some point.

And she was right. Even though Sheri and Cole conquer their fears, and even though Korey and Tyler absolutely book it through the Gibraltar Rock challenge, the Dancers are well on their to the Final Mat by the time Cole gets started on the Roll Out the Barrels. And even if you struggled with Dana’s “fiery” — thanks, Phil — communication style sometimes, these two certainly had a sweet winning moment. Matt says they’ve been like this since day 1, and they’ve always said, through the ups and downs, they’d rather be passionate than boring. And Phil, bless him, responds, “Well, you’re passionate, and you’re not boring.” Through 18 cities, 10 countries, and more than 27,000 miles, Dana and Matt hit that Final Mat first to win the $1 million.

And that left Sheri and Cole in second, ever so preciously noting that this is their best finish all race, and Korey and Tyler in third, professing their bestie love to each other and making me cry. Everyone did a great job; I can’t wait to watch their Vine tutorials on how to run The Amazing Race.

So what did you think of the season 28 finale? Did you enjoy the unique perspective of this season, or are you ready to get back to teams of married dentists and best friend country singers? Sound off in the comments with your final thoughts, and as always, thanks for watching along on this rrrrrrace around the world!