The Amazing Race recap: The Final Frontier

In the season 23 finale, teams chase a rhino and and vending machine in Tokyo, then end up in Alaska. And the winners are....
Ep. 11 | Aired Dec 8, 2013

'I'M THE KING OF THE ZOO!' Jamal finds momentary glory.


I love seeing Tim and Marie try and explain their relationship to a rapt group of Japanese game show audience members who are willing to cheer or boo wildly at just about anything. "She broke my heart," Tim says, pretending he's sad. (Correction: He is sad about it. He loves her. I bet he'd have done the Race with Pinky for, like, 15 percent of the winnings instead of 40. Or maybe even zero.) "It's an American Horror Story!" Marie yells in triumph.

Road Block: While Amy and Nicole putz around working together yet again on Build a Robot, Leo and Jamal must complete their Speed Bump: Capture an escaped rhino from a local zoo. Like the Roaming Vending Machine they'd later encounter, this desirable creature was just a fabricated structure with live, human feet at the bottom. ("Human Rhinoooooooo!" yells the game show host in my mind.) There's an elaborate process the Afghanimals need to follow -- someone's shooting at the rhino with a gun and they have to wait for like eight other guys to follow rhino-capturing protocol. But it's darn good fun, and Jamal's exuberant climb atop the rhino as Travis and Jason glower at him from across the playground is too perfect. Leo races over to join Amy and Nicole in the robot-building massacre.

Now, I'd significantly warmed up to Marie all season, especially last week when she sailed through that volcanic egg challenge because, as she explained, "I overcook things, it's what I do." But never have I rooted for a pink-haired mechanical genius-monster more than when Marie bounded onto the Road Block playground in last place, worked furiously on her large-scale model until there was practically magenta smoke puffing out of both of their ears, then ran away with a correctly built robot FIRST!

Bully or not, the woman is a marvel! And Nicole and Amy were totally the bullies here, giving Marie the silent treatment when she asked what the hell she was supposed to do. Like the dumbfounded Travis and Jason sitting helplessly off to the side during Build a Robot, I'm in awe of Pinky's physical prowess. And I just like the way she thinks -- her "Listen, I'm gonna blast you into the wall" plan for Tim during Human Bowling Ball was another great call!

As Nicole and Amy struggle together, Nicole cops an extremely icky Travis persona in the way she yells at Amy. "DO NOT LOOK AT HER. SHE'S GONNA DISTRACT YOU." It's getting very ugly -- on the sidelines, too, as the guys lament their poor Road Block decisions. "Nicole kills us," says Travis. "She's just, like, weak." I mean, he's right in that Nicole has not been good at much of anything. But to say that out loud? Repeatedly? To her face, plus in voiceovers, confessionals, and probably to any passerby that'll listen? He's just awful.

And Jason's not much better, as he can't fathom that Marie "came in as a woman, 20 minutes behind these two girls that'd been working together from the stahhhhhht." "Man, the unexpected, enlarged testicles on this female!" is the gist of what Jason is trying to say, VERY poorly. I kind of hate Jason now… just in time for him to win a million bucks.

NEXT: 'This boat'll give you hemorrhoids.'

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