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.


A Roaming Vending Machine hilariously won't give up the next clue until Marie (and everyone else who follows) says "please," then Marie and Tim win Leg 11 at the Konno Hachimangu Shrine pit stop. Appropriately, a much-higher-tech, no-assembly-required robot greets them. "Um, that'd be the greatest parter in the world," Marie jokes to Tim and Phil (except she's also serious, another reason I'm loving her right now). The exes are going to Aruba! Well, probably separately. They'll put Hawaii and Aruba in a hat to see who gets to seduce the Travelocity gnome in which exotic location. He's got enough deep-massage skills to go around.

Second place: Jason and Amy. He's steaming because she wasted "7 to 10 minutes" helping Nicole start from scratch on her miserable failure of a robot.

Third: Nicole and Travis. Some tricky editing suggested the Afghanimals might have outpaced the RoboDocs on foot, but in the end Leo had taken too long to notice that his robot's buttons were on the back. Leo will never build a snowman again, is my guess. Too many painful memories. Or he just won't put buttons on the next snowman he makes. Or he'll put the buttons on the back. Which would be totally fine. Terrible analogy.

Most Cringe-Inducing Line of the First Hour: "I'm not used to this, man. I'm used to relying on me. And Nicole's showing that she's not the same as me." --poor, advanced robot Travis, disappointed as usual in his selected companion's "loser" prototype.

Leo and Jamal are out. It's okay -- they'll reportedly be on The Amazing Race 24: All-Stars, so they'll get to "run around the world like crazy" a second time! (At the finish line, affable northern California hippies Brandon and Adam hinted that they'd be part of the next cast, too. Yes!)

All alliances -- fake or otherwise -- are off in the final hour, as the final three teams travel on the same flight from Tokyo to Juneau, Alaska. There's an intense boat race from Douglas Island Harbor -- "This boat'll give you hemorrhoids," bots Travis, and you can trust him on that because he's a doctor. And then there's a Road Block involving push planes, which are just about the most adorable planes you've ever seen, from a TV viewer's perspective. I loved how the little red section near the "mouth" looked like a wagging tongue. But enough about this major plot point. Time to simulate a supply drop!

Nicole (nooooooo!), Marie, and Amy compete to drop a bag of flour onto a giant target while flying 60 m.p.h. from 150 feet above ground. I would be absolutely awful at this, I can just tell. Amy gets it on her second try, while Marie surprisingly takes 12. But Nicole's plane must whiz around her disappointed husbot a whopping 20 times before she finally digs deep and hurls it onto the target.

Aside: I feel for Nicole here. She's the worst, in general, and at most things -- but sometimes you are just not good at something and no amount of repetition is going to fix the problem. One day in junior high I tried to get up on waterskis around 60 times until well after the sun had set over Lake Michigan. The only people in the boat were my disappointed father and my talented water-skier friend Katie (eff you, Katie!), both of whom kept trying and failing to coach me through it. Eventually, they wanted to die. I wanted to die the whole time. Never made it up on those damn skis. It was an amazing race back to the harbor in tears. But I lived! Great story.

Amy and Jason gleefully wrestle a non-"TRY AGAIN" clue from a wall of ice, cross an ice bridge, and stomp through a glacier, which already feels like a victory lap as Jason cannot contain his enthusiasm for a million dollars. But he doesn't say million dollars; he screams "YEAH, LOOK AT YOU! YOU'RE AN ICE CLIMBER!" I'm actually impressed at his restraint; I'd probably be so excited I'd just be involuntarily yelping "MONEY!" at every turn.

NEXT: As if things can't get any worse, Nicole loses an ice pick

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