TAR 10: Finale

If you placed a hefty bet before the season started that the youngest, fittest all-male team — Tyler & James — would win The Amazing Race 10,
you have a lot to smile about. And you’re the only one, because the
rest of us had to suffer through a boring and predictable finale.

Teams began the leg in Barcelona, Spain, where they found their first clue in a park behind the impressive Sagrada Familia basilica. The clue contained a photo of the Eiffel Tower, so teams were off to the airport, to catch flights to Paris.

Since
they arrived at the airport late at night, teams had to wait until 4
a.m. for the earliest ticket counter to open. Rob & Kimberly were
the only team to get on the first flight to Paris: a 6 a.m. flight to
Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Tyler & James boarded a 7:05
flight, also to Charles de Gaulle. Lyn & Karlyn, however, got a
7:25 flight into Orly Airport.

Lyn & Karlyn’s strategy
worked. Orly is much closer than Charles de Gaulle to central Paris, and they
were able to take a taxi to the Eiffel Tower, while other teams went by
train from Charles de Gaulle. The Alabama moms reached the Tower at the
same time as Rob & Kimberly.

The clue teams found on the
Tower’s third floor instructed them to take the train to the town of
Caen and then by cab to a nearby airport. All of the teams traveled on
the same train.

In Caen, Tyler & James’s cab arrived at the
airport first. Rob & Kimberly arrived last, but they also arrived
most spectacularly, as Kimberly nearly toppled the cluebox in the
process of falling on her can.

In a Roadblock entitled “Storm
the Beach,” both team members would ascend in a small plane, and one
team member would skydive with an instructor onto Omaha Beach, a key site in the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.

The
other team members would endure a surprise nosedive in the plane before
reuniting with their partners at a train station near the beach.

Tyler
took the leap for his team, and Karlyn did so for hers. Her instructor
insisted that she was lucky to be with him, in part because he’s
“crazy.” I know that’s the most important quality I look for in a
skydiving instructor.

Race rules limit the number of Roadblocks
each team member can perform over the course of the season, and Rob had
already exhausted all his opportunities. So, Kimberly did the skydiving
for her team. But Rob was not happy about it, and he pouted, “The one
thing I wanted to do on the race…”

After everyone was safely
back on the ground, teams got their next clue, directing them back to
Paris. All teams got tickets for the 5:23 p.m. train to Paris via Caen.

As
teams waited for the train, Rob & Kimberly walked to a post office
to change their money from dollars to Euros. An early train to Caen
arrived at 5:10, and the two other teams hopped on.

Rob &
Kimberly were surprised (and scared) when they returned to an empty
platform, but their ticketed train arrived at 5:23, and they caught up
with the other teams in Caen.

Back in Paris, teams found their
next clue: a Detour called “Art or Fashion.” In Art, teams would carry
a large painting from a gallery to a street artist. But none of the
teams even considered this task.

Instead, everyone opted for
Fashion. At the Anatomy fashion studio, teams followed a jacket
pattern, cutting out pieces of fabric and properly pinning them in
place.

The task was made for models Tyler & James because,
as Tyler said, “We’ve been fitted a million times.” They finished their
jacket as Lyn & Karlyn and Rob & Kimberly struggled to make
proper pleats.

On their way out, Tyler gloated, “We’re good. We’re models.”

The
next clue instructed teams to fly to New York and retrieve a clue at
the Daily News Building. The models took a cab to Charles de Gaulle
Airport, as did Rob & Kimberly, while Lyn & Karlyn went back to
Orly.

Unfortunately for the ‘Lyns, Orly doesn’t have direct
flights to New York. So, the moms headed to Charles de Gaulle, and they
wound up the last team on the standby list for seats on the first
morning flight to New York.

During the night, Rob found a
manager at the airport and was able to get confirmed seats for the
morning flight. As passengers began boarding, he and Kimberly were the
only racers with seats on the plane.

That’s when Tyler &
James began to pray. Really hard. It must have worked, because they
went from “standby passengers” to “confirmed passengers” just moments
before the plane departed.

I assume that God convinced a couple
devout French people to skip the flight, so that the Models would have
a shot at the Race’s million dollar prize. Finally, after countless
generations of oppression, God felt that good-looking, young, white
male Americans have suffered enough.

(If you’re a conspiracy
theorist, you might suspect that the show’s producers had bought a
number of seats on the flight in advance. Then, they would have the
option of releasing them later, if it would help keep a couple teams neck-and-neck until the end. If the Models hadn’t
caught the early flight, Rob & Kimberly would have won, going away.)

Lyn
& Karlyn prayed, too, but obviously not as hard, because they
didn’t get seats on the flight. That meant they were out of the running
for first place. It also means that God plays favorites.

Once
the teams landed in New York, it came down to a classic duel of wits
and skill. Just kidding; the result was decided by cabs and dumb luck.

Rob
& Kimberly’s cab driver didn’t know exactly where the Daily News
Building was, so he followed Tyler & James’s cab — until they
reached a toll booth. Rob & Kimberly’s cabbie was stuck in the cash
lane, while Tyler & James’ cabbie sped through the toll, thanks to
his E-Z Pass.

The race was effectively over for Rob & Kimberly at that point.

The clue at the Daily News Building sent teams to find a sculpture called The Alamo
in the East Village. The models had no trouble running the two-mile
distance to the sculpture, and it helped that they were both familiar
with Manhattan.

The clue at the sculpture told them to find a
cabbie willing to drive them over 50 miles to St. Basil’s Academy in
Garrison, New York, where the finish line awaited. The first cabbie
Tyler & James found agreed to take them, and the Models jogged to
victory.

Phil Keoghan had another surprise for the boys, on top of their $1 million. They got to make a phone call — just like in jail!

Phil
handed Tyler a cell phone, and he called his mom to tell her he was a
half-millionaire. James’ dad (and his massive eyebrows) just happened
to be hangin’ at Tyler’s mom’s house, so he got to hear the good news
as well.

As Rob & Kimberly ran to the mat, they noticed the celebrating models. As he ran, Rob muttered, “Damn, the boys won.”

At
the mat, Rob & Kimberly confirmed that they still wanted to get
married, even though $1 million would’ve paid for a much nicer wedding.
Phil said to Kimberly, “I know you were very keen on having a big rock
on your finger.”

Kimberly looked over at Rob and said, “Now he’s just gonna have to work for it.”

Then Lyn & Karlyn arrived and they cried, proud of finishing in the top three.

Tyler
& James’s victory made this the fifth season won by a pair of
strapping young lads. Such an outcome also occurred in seasons 1, 2, 4,
and 9 (which had all-male teams finishing in both first and second
place). Considering that three of the other seasons didn’t have any
real alpha male duos — 5, 6, and 8 (the Family Edition) — the odds
often seem to favor these teams.

It’s silly then that several of
the tasks on this leg seemed designed to further benefit the Models.
They’ve had lots of experience being fitted for clothes, they’ve both
worked in New York, and they were certainly in fine shape to run two
miles.

Viewers already expect the young, fit, male teams to do well. Those teams don’t need to be given any extra advantages.

And
because the audience expects these teams to do well, it makes it less
exciting when they inevitably win. Everyone loves an underdog. But, as TAR
history shows, the underdog loses more than half of the time. And
that’s even when the underdog teams outnumber the alpha dog teams by a
ratio of ten to one.

It’s time for the producers to stop casting
these teams, and not just because they have the best shot at winning.
These teams also often make for the worst TV. As in Seasons 1 and 2,
the latest winning team was actually one of the season’s least memorable. (Maybe instead of casting ex-addicts/current models, they could cast some ex-models/current addicts.)

An unsatisfying ending tends to sour one’s view of the season that preceded it. Let’s hope next season — the long-rumored TAR All Stars — lives up to its potential.

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