The Amazing Race season finale recap: Oh, the Places They Went!

The final legs took the teams to Japan and Hawaii, with rubber chickens, sushi bingo, and shaved ice along the way
Ep. 11 | Aired May 6, 2012

FERRY TALE ENDING  Despite a strong start, Vanessa and Ralph were not long for this finale

CBS

Hey there, Race cases. Like many of you, regular recapper Joseph Brannigan Lynch was crippled with sadness after Mark and Bopper's elimination last week, so I'll be filling in for TAR's season 20 finale. With the loss of those two Kentucky gentlemen, we had left four fairly unpalatable options to win the $1 million. Would it be Big Brother's emotionally volatile Brendon and Rachel? Their nemeses Ralph and Vanessa? Strong-arming Border Patrol officers Art and J.J.? Or ragebot army officer Dave and his much, much better half Rachel? Either way, we've got a 50-50 chance a Rachel takes home the prize, so get an extra fliptacular haircut and say cheers to all the Rachels as we begin the final two legs!

After a brief rest in Cochin, India, the teams were off to Japan. Team Army (Dave and Rachel) led the pack, followed by Team Big Brother (Brendon and Rachel, a.k.a. Brenchel),  the Dating Divorcees (Ralph and Vanessa), and  Team Border Patrol (Art and J.J.), though the playing field was evened at Hiroshima's Itsukushima Shrine when all the teams had to wait until sunrise to receive the next clue. They headed to the Peace Memorial for a service honoring the victims of the 1945 atomic bombings then resumed the Race with a Shinkansen (bullet train) trip to Osaka.

And then! The three greatest words in the world: Japanese game show! And not just any Japanese game show, a game show brilliantly titled Bring That Chicken Home. (Coincidentally, this is the name of my forthcoming memoir.) In this Road Block, one member of each team had to run on a conveyor belt and leap to grab a rubber chicken hanging above. Just in case you need that spelled out, that's basically a surefire route to comedy gold. After grabbing the chicken, the teammate had to run the entire length of the treadmill and jump on a mat at the other side to collect the next clue.

Despite donning a gigantic helmet that made her look like a Foosball figurine, Vanessa and her twisted ankle had the greatest trouble by far. She took one spill after another, growing more and more exhausted -- not to mention developing a serious strawberry on her shoulder. Worried about her health, Ralph begged her to quit, but Vanessa kept at it and finally secured her fowl. Surely, running to the end of the treadmill and jumping to the mat would be easy? Nope! Vanessa had one last shameful fall in her reserves before her team could move on.

NEXT: Will Ralph and Vanessa's game show cluck-up take them out for good?

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