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'The Amazing Race' finale recap, 'Do You Believe in Magic'

By Richard Gorelick, Chris Waldmann and Melissa Wilson

The Baltimore Sun

12:02 PM EDT, May 18, 2014

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Well, that was a pretty spectacular finale, wasn’t it?

The final episode of "The Amazing Race” All-Star season managed to solve the major problem of finale episodes. They’re often anti-climactic. Too often, one of the remaining teams – sometimes there are two teams at the end; this time there were three — builds up an insurmountable lead. And all the editing in the world can’t convince viewers otherwise.

For this finale, the “Amazing Race” made sure that there would be some drama, if not for the viewers, than at least for the eliminated teams that are gathered at the finish line. 

So, they created a final task – a sky-dive, performed in a special-effects suit that made the sky-diver appear to be a falling star — that in effect made the identity of the sky-diver impossible to tell from the ground. It wasn’t until the sky-diver (Was it Dave, of the father-and-son team Dave and Connor, or was it Caroline, who with Jennifer, forms the Country Singers?) landed on the ground that everyone knew that it was, in fact, good old Dave.

Dave and Connor won the 12th leg – their fourth victory in a row. And, as a result, they, of course won the All-Star season.

They deserved it, too. The cancer survivors were an exceptionally well-equipped team. They never finished a leg worse than 4th, and they never were remotely in danger of being eliminated. Connor struggled with a few tasks – typically, those that required patience and hand-skills seemed to unnerve him.

Dave, at 58, is now the oldest contestant to win on “The Amazing Race,” and Dave and Connor are the first parent-and-child team to win.

The Country Singers deserve credit for resiliency. Some might thing they had no business ending up in second place. Twice they arrived last at the Pit Stop, but luckily for them, each time they did, it was a non-elimination week. But they never gave up.

It wasn’t really clear why Dave and Connor performed better than The Country Singers at the neon light bulb Road Block. The men were just a bit faster at it.

For a final task, this Road Block lacked something – maybe an element of luck, or a tricky clue – that would have let a trailing team, in this case Rachel and Brendon (aka Team Brenchel) make up some time.

Not that many viewers were shedding tears for The Brenchels, who were shown behaving pretty badly on the episode —panicking, bickering and whining. It wasn’t so pretty. They did get a bum deal, with their Las Vegas taxi driver, who should get her own reality TV show.

All in all, it was a pretty good season, with some impressively staged tasks. The finale had a cool-looking task designed by the illusionist David Copperfield. Part of the task involved one member from each time thinking, at least for a second, that their partner might have perished in the flames that engulfed the box they appeared to be trapped in.

But it was only a trick. A nasty trick.