Hello there. Before I kick off my recap of the season finale of The Amazing Race, I want to let it be known that this will likely be my final recap for Cinema Blend for a good long while. Over the last few years, I have recapped five seasons of this show, along with three seasons of Survivor and The Biggest Loser, two seasons of So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Got Talent, and even the final season of Medium. Damn, that’s a LOT of recaps.

I’m not even sure just how I started doing this, but I’d really like to thank the folks at Cinema Blend for letting me do it, especially Kelly, my editor and a really great lady. I would love to continue, but I just got a new job, and that has given me a lot less free time to write than I need to put out quality work, so I am going to have to take a break. I may decide to return next summer to do AGT again, but I haven’t decided.

I’ve never been quite sure just how many people read my recaps to begin with. Do people who read them actually watch the show and just want someone else’s take on it, or do they not watch the show and read them just to catch up? Whatever the case, I try to paint a picture in an entertaining way without giving in to using too many words (a battle I’ve lost more than once, ahem). And if you have read my stuff, whether you’ve loved it, hated it or been totally indifferent to it, I thank you for reading.

This week’s episode was two hours long, covering two legs, and since it ended with a winner being crowned, I am going to forego my usual format and present the events of the episode much more linearly. If you are tuning in just to see who won, well, you can pan down to the end of the recap and find out, but if you want to find out how they got there, make yourself comfortable, because this may take a few minutes. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.

Ten weeks ago, eleven teams departed from Pasadena. This season featured a twist that was offered before the race even began: namely, that the team that won the first leg would race for $2 million, not $1 million. This chance was won by Abbie & Ryan, which immediately put a target on their backs. From that moment on, three teams (Texas, Magic Mike and Evil Twins) formed an alliance to get them out, and two legs ago, it finally happened.

Going into the second-to-last leg, it was the hope of this unusual alliance to be the final three, with only Team Capricorn left to play spoiler. I have to hand it to the goat farmers, they’ve hung in there admirably despite never having been in the lead for even one second this whole season. They’ve missed flights, had injuries, and even incurred a four-hour penalty, but they’re still around! Needless to say, a win by them would be the most improbable since the Miracle on Ice team in 1980. Ahem. They really are the Fabulous Beekman Boys.

Last week, the final four teams travelled from Holland to Spain. They played on some of the same clay tennis courts that Rafael Nadal grew up on, fixed windmills, visited a bullring, and were briefly beset by a troupe of creepy individuals clad in full demon regalia. Team Texas (Trey & Lexi) and Team Magic Mike (James & Jaymes) were neck-and-neck for first for most of the leg, which Texas eventually won. Meanwhile, the Evil Twins (Natalie & Nadiya) couldn’t cope with a stick-shift, and they fell behind so far that even Team Capricorn (Josh & Brent) were able to pass them by. However, the twins were saved by yet another non-elimination leg. BOMP.

Starting Line, Leg Eleven - The Castell de Bellver, a historic castle located in the capital city of Palma on the island of Mallorca (or Majorca, if you prefer), Spain. The first clue of Leg Eleven told teams to fly to Barcelona, and from there to take a train across the French border to the Loire Valley. Upon arrival, their next clue would be found underneath the windshield wiper of a Ford Escape that would be waiting for them.

After an uneventful train ride, the teams retrieved their next clue, which told them to load eight empty crates from a local café into their vehicles, and then drive to the Château de Villandry, the site of the world’s largest ornamental garden. Somewhere on the grounds would be a small stone dog statue where their next clue would be found. Not willing to get lost, Capricorn made the smart decision to simply follow the pack, knowing that they would stick together, and also knowing that it would infuriate the Evil Twins (which ain’t that hard). It is also revealed that Josh speaks French, which takes the other three teams aback.

The next destination was the Château D’Amboise, a humongous house in the Loire Valley that just happens to be the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci himself. Of course, before getting back on the Road, the Evil Twins had to contend with a Speed Bump for finishing in last in the previous leg. What they had to do was to go inside the Château de Villandry and help a women get an 18th-century costume on, complete with corset. At this point, Texas and Magic Mike finally decided to ditch the Evil Twins, which is just common sense. If you let Capricorn get a lead, one of your alliance is going to be eliminated anyway, and you don’t want it to be you, even if the twins’ complaining can be heard from ten miles away.

How poetic it was when the tables turned. Texas and Magic Mike would probably have gotten lost in minutes, but the big-hearted Capricorn, armed with Josh’s fluent French, quickly replaced the Evil Twins in the alliance. I probably would have told them all to go hang, but whatever. They all get to Da Vinci’s tomb – which as majestic as one of the most influential figures in history deserves – at the same time, and a given Leg Eleven’s (and the season’s final) Detour, and the choices were Chow and Plow. In the former, teams had to fix the daily meal for a large and hungry pack of local hunting dogs, consisting of various types of raw meat and kibble. In the latter, teams had to correctly coax a plough-horse to till four furrows in a field.

Texas got to the Plow option first, and the other three teams got there soon after. Magic Mike also did the Plow task, forcing the other two teams to do Chow. Plow proved to be the quicker of the two options, and before you know it, Texas and Magic Mike were on their way to Le Caves de Roches in the commune of Rochecorbon. Capricorn finished Chow soon after, leaving the Twins fuming and cursing the “Evil Gays”, which is just one more reason I hate them so much.

The Caves were the site of limestone deposits from which many of the local castles were built. In Leg Eleven’s Roadblock required teams to memorize three distinct types of mushrooms, search the caves for piles of them, and then bring back ten of each. Given how closely many types of mushrooms are in resemblance, this was a truly difficult task. The cave was sprawling and poorly lit and even working together, Lexi and Jaymes took a while to get it done. Teams went directly from there to Leg Eleven’s Pit Stop, the Château de Chenonceau, a castle built direct over the River Cher.

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