Amazing Race
The Nine Best Episodes Ever

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The Nine Best Episodes Ever

Season Seven, Episode Five: "I've Been Wanting A Face Lift For A Long Time"
A.K.A. Smoked!

Many legendary endings are the result of the patient, slow-burning development of relationships between teams. The battle of Millie/Chuck versus Jon/Kelly; the battle of Charla/Mirna versus Rob/Amber; the battle of Wil/Tara versus Alex/Chris; the battle of Rob/Brennan versus Frank/Margarita versus Guido. These are endings that capitalize on the show's ability to develop team-to-team dynamics in which you invest.

But then there are endings that are about flat-out hauling ass and the unadulterated smoking of some damn fool. Sometimes, a show called The Amazing Race must end with frenzied arm-pumping and hyperventilating as two teams -- ideally, one you love and one you hate -- puff out their chests and their cheeks and try to transport themselves across a given stretch of space before somebody else does. That's what happened at the end of this two-hour episode.

This episode is perhaps most famous for the moment when lovable teddy-bear brothers Brian and Greg, who had endeared themselves to everyone, right up to a scene early in the episode where they effortlessly and joyfully bonded with the kids at a South African children's home, got a little crazy with the driving and rolled their SUV. The crash injured the boys' cameraman, but it's not the rollover that's notorious -- it's the fact that, unlike the other teams, Rob and Amber chose not to slow their car, roll down the window, and ask whether everyone was all right before going ahead. Despite the fact that production swarms around and watches over these SUVs, to the point where a couple of professional reality-show contestants pulling over to offer their help would have been nothing but a formality and Rob and Amber (as professional reality-show contestants) undoubtedly knew it, it's a formality that it would have been both wise and decent to observe, and the failure to observe it earned them an exaggerated, but not surprising, dose of enmity. (That's on top of the enmity Rob had already earned by being lucky, smart, smug, and mouthy, and by genuinely not giving a rat's right ear what anyone thought of him -- a trait that's both a blessing and a curse.)

But the critical fallout from the car rollover, and what makes this episode the stuff of legend, was that the rollover put Brian and Greg in a dead heat with Ray and Deana -- the typical bickering couple, here in the form of an older, burlier, angrier dude and a younger, quieter, constantly berated woman. The teams took different Detour options within sight of each other, with Ray and Deana melting down while desperately trying to pound corn into meal and Brian and Greg playfully but determinedly cooperating to fill eggshells with water and bury them. It was a dead heat as the teams arrived at the pit stop location and leapt from their cars to run for the mat. As a foot race, though, it was over almost before it started, with Ray and Deana instantly and awesomely demolished as Brian and Greg flew by on the way to the mat. Breathlessly, the boys learned that their camera guy would be all right, and finally, Ray and Deana went home. This was an episode to make you leap up from the couch or collapse on the floor, thrilled and sated.

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Amazing Race

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