Not really getting to enjoy the splendors of Panama City: engaged couple Ernie and Cindy (left), married football couple Amani and Marcus (center) and dating friends Jeremy and Sandy.
Not really getting to enjoy the splendors of Panama City: engaged couple Ernie and Cindy (left), married football couple Amani and Marcus (center) and dating friends Jeremy and Sandy. (CBS)

It's finale time! I hope most of you are still invested after the tragic Philimination of the Snowboarders last week. Sure, they were the easy favorites, but now you have to dig down and ask yourself who you really want to win. You all know Ernie is my TV boyfriend, so perhaps I didn't have to dig that deep to find a team to cheer.

So let's start in Panama, where everyone leaves just after midnight. They're flying to Atlanta. Sandy is mad, you guys, and I couldn't figure out why she hated Atlanta so much until she says that Amani and Marcus are from there. I guess if I was a better NFL fan I would have known that. 

How to Psych Yourself Up, Pre-Flight Quote Edition

Sandy: "The game is on."

Ernie: "I'm ready to work some magic."

Marcus: "[Football.]"

As the teams run throught the Atlanta airport, I notice that Jeremy, Sandy and Cindy seem to have ditched their backpacks. Remember one season when we saw someone stuff their backpack into a trash can? Probably nobody did that here.

Putting Race Lessons into Action

Getting into a cab from the airport, Jeremy verifies that the cab driver has a full tank of gas. Smart! I don't recall whether stopping for gas has ever thwarted a team, but it sure doesn't help their mental game.

Sandy gives directions to the cab driver and says, "Don't tell the other cab drivers." It was all fun and games last time, but there are no friends in the final leg.

Amani, out of breath, tries to impress urgency upon her driver with, "This is a serious race. You see how I'm breathing? That's how serious it is."

All that time in airplanes paid off, kind of

First stop is an intense, realistic flight simulator. The pilot must successfully land the plane, while the copilot must monitor speed and pull correct levers. It's a detailed operation, and Jeremy nails it on the first try! Did he just win the Race?

Cindy fails at her co-piloting the first time, but they manage to land the plane the second time.

Marcus, well, he skids off the runway.

The Dump? Really?

 The next clue leads the teams to a residence formerly known as The Dump. The correct answer is the former home of Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind." The incorrect answer is a home furnishing retail store called The Dump.

Jeremy and Sandy ask a guy in a parking lot. Their 20-minute lead disappears (yay!) when he directs them to The Dump and they wander aisles of couches looking for a clue box.

Cindy finds a magical answer person using her cab driver's phone, and she and Ernie get to the next location.

Marcus, meanwhile, still can't land the plane. Oh, dear. He's getting the dramatic music of "the Race is lost." I hope it's fakeout music!

Do Kids These Days Even Know What a Typewriter Looks Like?

Inside Margaret Mitchell's house, the Roadblocking team member must type out a short clue using an old typewriter. Kids, typewriters are like computer/printer combinations, but without spell check. Or computing brains. And they get a little bit testy if you type too fast.

The typewriters are missing the 1 key, which is unfortunate because the clue contains a 1. Only the creative, quick-thinking person will figure out that a lower-case l is the appropriate substitution. Kids, look at your screen: do 1 and l look alike? Change your font. How about now? You know, typewriters only had one font. Can you imagine a world without Comic Sans?

Ernie has a head start, but we all know that he's not the A+ student that Cindy is. He also can't type as fast as she can. Will he ever finish? Oh yeah, he's out of there before Jeremy and Sandy show up.

12th Time's the Charm

Yes, Marcus lands his plane on the 12th time. He's shown punching the ceiling in frustration and just looking sad. Amani never gets upset, though. I love her. When he finally lands his plane, it's accompanied by more music of sadness. Aw, man!

In the cab, Marcus is terribly upset that he can't close the Superbowl. Amani says that she still would have thrown him the pass, though. The woman has a cool head and she talks football. I lover her some more.

Let's Tie This Thing Up

The final challenge takes place at a baseball stadium (Hank Aaron, home runs, yada yada). It's a giant map the size of a billboard, about 50 feet off the ground. One team member gets harnessed up and has to loop a rope through countries in the correct order of visit. It turns out that this challenge only has eight answers, unlike some other final challenges that were just crazy (hats worn by greeters, anyone?). So the execution is physically tricky, but the mental part isn't that tough.

Cindy, my Race-prep hero, takes the challenge for her team and nails it on her first try. They hop back into their cab, thrilled that it's equipped with GPS. Then the GPS voice keeps recalculating because, I don't know, it heard Amani breathing earlier and knows this is a race and knows that I'm sitting in a hotel room worrying that this fakeout might not be a fakeout, even though my husband is sitting next to me telling me that of course it's a fakeout. What were you thinking?

Jeremy handles the final map challenge. He misses one country but reworks it so easily that I'm mad at him. And his cab doesn't seem to be recalculating. Man, I was nervous.

The Winners! Eeee!

All of my worrying was for naught. Ernie and Cindy win! Yay! And yay some more! They're as happy as can be. Phil gives them a nice interview on the mat, and they explain that they want to use their money to help people in need and contribute to the global economy. Aw.

Jeremy and Sandy come in next, and they tell Phil that the Race taught them how to communicate. That's one less relationship ruined by "The Amazing Race"!

Marcus and Amani were last seen at the typewriter challenge. I'm sure they did the map challenge, because as Amani tells Phil, winning means never quitting. Oh, boy, did they never quit. They never quit the heck out of this Race.

Group hug on the big mat! Were you satisfied? I was. Kids, go out and do some bungee jumping and bike riding and world traveling. When you grow up, maybe you can win the Amazing Race, too!