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Gut-wrenching ‘Race’ offers satisfying ending

Rob Mariano loses fourth reality show in a row
/ Source: contributor

Another "Amazing Race" finale, another two hours of gut-wrenching tension, another loss for Rob Mariano.

As "The Amazing Race 7" concluded, Uchenna and Joyce Agu proved that the only rule that should guide teams is “never give up,” as the married couple came from a distant third place to win .

For most of the final two legs, which took the remaining couples to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Miami, all three teams could have easily given up as they were stymied by external things: slow cab drivers, flat tires, stingy strangers, airport ticket agents, airplane pilots, a delayed flight, traffic. Uchenna and Joyce were the recipients of much of this bad luck, but they also benefited from a few things that were outside of their control.

Although they were 15 minutes behind in the second-to-last leg, Uchenna and Joyce quickly caught up and led the pack on the way to the pit stop. After Jamaican police pulled Rob and Amber over, Uchenna and Joyce seemed like they’d breeze into first, but then their cab got a flat tire. Although Rob and Amber’s cab driver had to stop and get directions, the "Survivor All-Stars" couple, dubbed "Romber" by fans, came in first place once again.

Uchenna and Joyce checked in last at Montego Bay, but were saved by the race’s final non-elimination leg. Still, that meant they had to begin the final round with nothing except the clothes they were wearing and their passports. Just 10 minutes behind Rob and Amber, they were completely broke and unable to convince strangers at an airport to give them a few dollars. It looked like the end for Uchenna and Joyce as they eventually boarded a flight that was seven hours behind Rob and Amber’s flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico.Operating hours, the great equalizerAgain, though, circumstances beyond the teams’ control affected the race; this time, it was one of the infamous equalizers of “The Amazing Race”: operating hours. Uchenna and Joyce were far, far behind, Rob and Amber had a commanding lead. But once again, it instantly became anyone’s race, as the hours of operation at a roadblock task caused all three teams to even up as they waited for the location to open.Ultimately, while all three teams were affected by things not under their control, the race all came down to mistakes teams made on their own. Rob and Amber made one of their few errors at the roadblock, misreading the clue and falling to third place.But that wasn’t as fatal as Ron and Kelly’s inability to read carefully — and communicate civilly — which cost them the race. On their way from the roadblock to the airport, they misread street signs in San Juan, which delayed their arrival at the airport. As a result, they were only able to get on a later flight.At the airport, Rob and Amber almost jumped an hour and a half ahead of Uchenna and Joyce by getting a standby seat on a flight. Although the flight was closed and the doors were shut, the pilot decided to let Joyce and Uchenna on the plane, completely wiping the smug, cocky look off of Rob’s face, and once again making it anyone’s race. As the plane touched down in Miami, the two-team race to the finish line kept viewers’ hearts beating rapidly.Joyce and Uchenna pulled ahead as Rob and Amber struggled to interpret a clue correctly. But then the external came into play one last time, as Joyce and Uchenna ran out of money on the cab ride to the finish line. When they arrived and paid their cab driver, he said, “Not enough money. You’re joking.” The finish line was just a short jog away, and it held the promise of $1million, but they had to beg people on the street for $45 to pay their driver. “We can’t just run in — we gotta make sure this man is covered,” Uchenna said.

As much as taking money away from last-place teams increases the tension, the irony and obnoxiousness of this rule became obvious as we watched them beg. These are teams competing for $1 million on a television show that costs millions to produce, and they’re begging for money from kindhearted strangers.

Uchenna and Joyce were finally able to collect the cash they needed, and they bounded to the finish line, collecting the prize and hugs from all of the previously eliminated teams.

Rob loses once againRob and Amber’s scheming and competitiveness kept them ahead for most of the race, and they “used their celebrity status from Survivor to get ahead,” as Phil said in his recap. But they arrived at the finish line in second place, well behind Uchenna and Joyce. Throughout the finale, Rob said things such as, “I’m telling you, we’re winning this race,” nicely foreshadowing their loss. “It’s not possible that anybody’s going to win The Amazing Race except Amber and I. End of story.”

The story ended, however, with Rob losing $1 million yet again. This marks his fourth consecutive reality TV show loss, if you count the "Survivor All-Stars Viewers' Choice" vote (two ”Survivor” appearances, Viewers’ Choice, and now “The Amazing Race”). In addition to the second-place prize, though, they also had their wedding paid for by CBS; the results air on May 24, when the creatively titled CBS special "Rob and Amber Get Married” will air. So ultimately, they’re not really losers at all.

And in typical “Boston Rob” style, Mariano managed to erase at least some of his critics’ irritation with him when he said, “We finished second, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve got Amber, so I’m in first place in my book.”

For some, Rob and Amber’s loss and Uchenna and Joyce’s win was, unfortunately, not much of a surprise; weeks ago, betting on this season of the show was stopped by a company because an unusual number of bets that were placed on Uchenna and Joyce. That betting correctly predicted “The Amazing Race”’s outcome.

Before the season began, host Phil Keoghan also foreshadowed the couple's win when he told TV Guide that they were “there because they want to win the money and use it to have a child. There’s a real focus there and you don’t see that with a lot of teams.”

That focus, and their refusal to give up, helped them achieve their goal, and from the finish line, Uchenna proclaimed, “In vitro, here we come, baby — and if that doesn’t work, adoption,here we come!” As they showed during the race, Uchenna and Joyce aren’t going to let anything get in their way. is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of reality TV news.