There’s not much left to be said about the final episode of Amazing Race 26. The finale is very frequently the least interesting episode because a) most of the truly dysfunctional teams are long gone, b) the fact that they’re back in the U.S. means there’s usually very little in the way of travel porn, and c) there’s not usually very much suspense around the eventual winner.
Thankfully, we at least had some suspense near the middle of the episode as Blair and Hayley blew a giant lead, allowing the power alliance of Tyler/Laura and Jelani/Jenny to forge ahead (even though Tyler and Laura left #TheLegalTeam in the dust soon after that). And watching Blair and Hayley, arguably one of the most conflict-ridden teams to make the finals, finally implode for good was decent as far as closure, even though it’s not what I personally would have wanted. But overall, this show almost always goes out with a whimper rather than a bang, and Season 26 was no exception.
The NYC finale party I attended didn’t really reveal much that I didn’t already know (or at least suspect, especially once I had to send my cover charge to one Tyler H. Adams). Tyler and Laura remain good friends, and they both remain friendly with their old alliance-mates Jelani and Jenny. Rochelle and Mike are amazingly down-to-earth, super-nice people, and seem a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. Nobody ever wound up hooking up in any major way (at least, not that they’ll admit to). I kind of wish I’d been able to be at both of the parties — Hayley threw her own in Florida, meaning I didn’t get to meet her, Jeff, Bergen, Kurt, or either of the first two teams out.
(By the way, despite what you may have seen on social media, Bergen and Kurt are not actually engaged. They’re kind of amazed that anybody fell for it.)
But now that we’ve closed the book on Season 26, and now that we know for sure that we’ll see a Season 27 in the fall, let’s finish our look back and start looking forward.
I haven’t heard much about what’s being planned, but I can tell you a few things I do know:
- The fact that we haven’t heard anything about the Racers taking off yet means absolutely nothing. If I had to guess, I’d say that there’s a route planned, a cast getting all packed (or maybe even already sequestered), and a start date set in stone. But it’s a little early yet to be keeping an eye out for racers. Season 25 began filming on May 31 and that was a little on the early side for an odd-numbered season; if I had to guess, I’d say we won’t be hearing anything until the first week of June at the earliest. (FYI, guys, I do skim some boards on Reality Fan Forum — though not the finish order spoilers! — and I’m friends with a few of the hardcore Racer-hunters. I totally appreciate the heads-ups when you hear something, but trust me, unless you see something in your city with your own eyes, I probably saw it too. And, if you didn’t know what RFF was…that’s where you go to get the scoop on the race in real time. Be warned: the night is dark and full of spoilers.)
- Casting was indeed taking applications from single Racers. Whether or not that means they’d be down to do another blind-date-themed season, I don’t know for sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say probably not. This was just an experiment, and a low-rated one at that. If we see teams of strangers again, I seriously doubt it will be quite so heavy-handed, at least not when it comes to the whole romantic angle. Next season I would guess we’ll see one of two things: either we’ll be pretending the Blind Date thing never happened, or everyone will be strangers. Either way, Phil should definitely be relieved that he no longer has to pretend to take a prurient interest in the dynamics of each team.
- Here are my total blind guesses as to route: Like most summer-filmed seasons, I think we’ll be heavily northern hemisphere. In Europe, I’m thinking it’s Eastern Europe’s turn, since that’s where the last few European countries the Race has never been to are (Slovenia and Bulgaria are on my personal bucket list!), and we’re probably also overdue for a visit to the eastern side of the Mediterranean. In Asia, I think we’re back to China or India, or maybe South Korea. If I had to guess, I’d say that Australia’s due for a return visit, and Melbourne seems like the most likely city there. But they could go practically anywhere. A lot depends on weather, politics, and budget.
- You need not sit on your hands for five months while you wait for the next season of TAR:US to air. Why not fire up an old season or two on CBS All Access and catch a glimpse of its glory days, or hit YouTube and explore some international seasons? And speaking of international seasons, TAR:Canada season 3 is currently filming and will likely be airing in mid-July…and a little bird tells me there’ll be plenty of RHAP coverage to go along with that.