The Amazing Race season finale recap: Flying High
It’s the final leg of the race, and as Caroline says early on in the episode, the claws are out — at least at first.
The race begins at Peckforton Castle in England, where teams are told to head to Las Vegas for the last leg. Everyone is pretty jazzed to be on their way, but Rachel is the most excited of them all: She jumps up and down and squeals with joy before they continue on their merry way. (Rachel later reveals she used to work at Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel.)
It only takes the journey from England to America for the excitement to fizzle and the tension to set in among the teams. Once they arrive in Vegas, each team has to get in a Ford Explorer that will take them to their first destination, which turns out to be a digging site where everyone must take a shovel and digs until they find something. A lot of bickering between teams happens at this point — country singers vs. Rachel, Connor vs. Rachel. Can’t we all just get along?
Dave and Connor are first to hit something with their shovels. It turns out to be a locked wooden box reading “Property of David Copperfield.” They run back to their car, box in hand, and are off to the first challenge of the leg.
While Dave and Connor fail to open the box, Rachel has the idea to use a tire iron to pry it open. It works, and inside she and Brendon find a ring of keys that will prove useful in the upcoming challenge at the MGM Grand. Way to be resourceful, Rachel.
Once the teams arrive at the Las Vegas Strip, they are greeted by illusionist David Copperfield — who invented a challenge just for them. One person from each team will be locked inside a wooden crate. He or she has to find the one key — out of the ring of keys they found earlier — that will unlock their shackles. As soon as they’re free from the shackles, they have to reach outside of the crate, find lock picks in a jar on the top of the crate, then use those lock picks to release the chains keeping them captive. As soon as they undo the chains (and the box is set on fire), they tell their other teammate via video to pull a switch. The challenge is titled “Do You Believe in Magic?” on the race’s clue cards, but this sounds more like torture than magic.
Connor takes on the challenge this time around — he was gifted a David Copperfield magic kit for Christmas one year, and “it was a dream come true,” so he’s pumped. The country singers are equally excited, but for, uh, different reasons: “You’re so handsome!” they shout at Copperfield upon meeting him. Yes; yes, he is.
Dave is blindfolded and taken to the crate before Connor gets settled in and finds out he has to open the box. He smashes it on the ground a few times and eventually gets the keys out, then is led to a van with a video monitor to watch Connor get through the challenge.
Connor breezes through all the unlocking and lock-picking, then yells at his dad to flip the switch. But as soon as Dave flips it, the now-suspended crate goes crashing to the ground in a fiery blaze that prompts Dave to nervously ask Copperfield, “where is he?”
NEXT: Brendon tries to bribe a taxi driver
He’s right behind you, silly Dave! Copperfield tells Dave they should call the fire department right as Connor, clad in fireman gear, attacks Dave with a bear hug. We basically knew that no one was doing to die in this challenge — Copperfield organized it and he’s a pro at this kind of stuff — but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t briefly terrified when the crate Connor was “in” crashed. It didn’t help that Copperfield replied to Dave’s concern with a suggestion that they call the fire department and a convincing look of worry.
After the twist was revealed, it wasn’t quite as satisfying when Jennifer and Rachel snuck up behind their teammates in the fire gear. Even more unsatisfying was that we never found out how the illusion was done. I know a magician never reveals his tricks, blah blah, but come on, Copperfield! Just this one time?
Next up, teams grab taxis and head to the Neon Boneyard, a place where bright signs from Las Vegas’ past go to die. There, they find a clue box and an order to find a silver and red question mark sign within the yard, unscrew a lightbulb from the sign, then race back to the Strip to report to the employee entrance at the Mirage Hotel. This challenge? Not so exciting. The taxi rides to the boneyard and back? Full of drama.
Rachel and Brendon find themselves in a taxi with a driver who apparently isn’t a big speeder. They try to coax her into driving faster by telling her they’re in a race, and that if they win, they’re going to have a baby — everyone likes babies, right? But the driver doesn’t respond. At all. She just looks ahead as Rachel and Brendon babble on. Awkward.
Once the Brenchels complete their assignment at the Boneyard, Brendon tries to steal the country singers’ cab by begging, offering the driver $25, getting angry, and so on. The driver is loyal to Caroline and Jennifer, though, and just shrugs his shoulders as he rejects Brendon’s requests over and over again. This is a competition, yes, but this was an especially low point for Brendon — did he really want to win the race by saying, “yeah, I stole my opponents’ cab”? (Maybe.)
Embarrassing begging aside, I did feel for Rachel and Brendon because their driver really did not give a sh–. Rachel started coaching the driver, encouraging (or demanding, depending on what your feelings for Rachel are) her to pass cars ahead and speed through green lights. It was condescending — the driver is the one with the job, not you! — but the driver did seem a bit slow. Maybe she’s just not Team Brenchel?
NEXT: There’s no “I” in “team” (but there is one in “Mirage”)
As the Brenchels struggle with their driver, the other teams arrive at the Mirage and discover they must board a window-washing basket to ascend 30 stories up and install light bulbs in the “I” of the Mirage’s glowing sign. After all the light bulbs are screwed in, the teams have to count the number of bulbs they use. If it’s the right number, they can return to the ground.
Jennifer is a bit freaked out because she’s afraid of heights, as is Dave. Connor marvels at the view of the city as they rise up in the basket; Dave faces the hotel and tries to ignore what’s happening. This is one of those moments where I am very glad I am not participating in this race.
Caroline and Jennifer reach the sign before Dave and Connor, but the father-son duo still beat the country singers and complete their “I” first. This doesn’t give them too great of an advantage, though, because Caroline and Jennifer are only a tiny bit behind, making this an insanely close race. How much do you think Dave and Connor regret helping the country singers all those times right now?
Brendon and Rachel aren’t doing so well. As mentioned earlier, Rachel used to work at the Mirage. So when they’re told to report to the employee entrance, she knows right where to go — or so we think. Instead, the two arrive inside the hotel and discover that they actually have no idea where to find their next clue. Brendon thinks they’re supposed to run around the entire hotel and find it, but Rachel rightly thinks that’s ridiculous because it’s a huge hotel. He ends up being wrong, and they eventually find the clue and discover they’re last. Here come the Rachel tears.
Next, teams report to Maverick Helicopters for the final part of the race. There, one person from every team must don a light-up suit before boarding a helicopter. Once in the helicopter, that person has to scan the Strip for the right sign. Once that sign is spotted, they can jump out of the helicopter from 10,000 feet and skydive to the final pitstop.
“I’m about to do something I’ve never wanted to do before in my life,” Dave says as he prepares to board the helicopter. Caroline is a bit more enthusiastic and loves skydiving, while Brendon doesn’t really have any feelings about it — maybe that’s just because Rachel is crying about how she wants to win and how she wants a baby, and she’s stealing his spotlight. On a relevant note: I can’t wait for Brenchel Baby to watch re-runs of this episode one day.
NEXT: Skydiving to the finish
Now is the final moment of truth, and what a moment it is. Dave and Caroline spot the sign and seem to jump out of their respective helicopters at the same time as their teammates. Phil and all the other since-eliminated teams from The Amazing Race: All-Stars wait at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway below. But no one knows which body above is Dave and which is Caroline because, well, they’re tiny.
Connor and Jennifer cutely (and nervously) giggle as they watch their teammates fly through the air. Jennifer says she hopes the person closer to the ground is Caroline; Connor says he hopes it’s his dad. But where is Rachel during all of this?
A parachute holding one lucky team member descends onto the speedway and it’s… Dave! Connor runs up to his dad and then they giddily run to the final mat where Phil’s waiting for them. They are this race’s winners, making Dave the oldest person to win The Amazing Race and making their team the first parent-child pair to win. So many new titles for them! Oh, plus a million dollars. No big.
Caroline arrives next and she wraps both Dave and Connor in a giant hug before she and Jennifer turn to Phil and find out their place in the race. It’s a sweet moment, made sweeter by Dave reminiscing how he thought he was going to lose Connor because of cancer only a few years before and how he is so happy he could do this race — and win it — with his son and best friend. Cue the tears — and this time, it’s not Rachel shedding them.
Brendon eventually flies in to a sad Rachel, and the two kiss before facing Phil on the mat. They’re bummed, obviously, but take it pretty well. Rachel confirms that since they didn’t win, they won’t be having a baby anytime soon and will instead have to wait until Brendon graduates for Baby Brenchel to enter the world. Win or not, these future parents are going to have some great stories to tell.
So that concludes The Amazing Race: All-Stars. How are you feeling about Dave and Connor winning? Would the Brenchels have won if not for their cab driver? Was that moment between Dave, Connor, and the country singers cute or what? And how sad are you that this season is over?