In this Road Block, Sweet Scientist Maya must perform a stunt by crashing through a plate glass window in order to receive the next clue on the season finale of The Amazing Race 25.
Leg 12: Philippines to United States
When I pitched recapping the 25th season of The Amazing Race to Isthmus, all I wanted was to get paid to watch TV. That's the American Dream, right? I honestly hadn't thought about the possibility that contestants Amy DeJong and Maya Warren, a pair of students in UW-Madison's Food Science doctoral program, would actually make it all the way to the finale, much less come from behind to win it all. That's how it all ended, though.
On last week's episode, the #SweetScientists came in last place and assumed they were not going to continue on to the final leg. However, that's when host Phil Keoghan let Amy and Maya know that there would be no elimination, and that they were to depart immediately to Los Angeles to race for the finish line. This second chance energized them, though, following the exhaustion they encountered in the Philippines.
The other teams have been more or less amused by the #SweetScientists over the season, referring to them as the “Candy Girls," and yeah, Amy and Maya had not seemed to be a threat to the other competitors. They didn't win any of the first 11 legs of the race, and for the most part were towards the middle or back of the pack at each Pit Stop.
That all changed when the other three teams -- #TheDentists Misti and Jim, #SoulSurfers Adam and Bethany, and #TheWrestlers Brooke and Robbie -- saw them stroll into the Manila airport like it was no big deal.
You see, this season ended up being a little different than the previous 24 editions. The show's producers mixed things up by allowing four teams along to the finale, as opposed to the traditional three, which meant that much more competition for everyone. An added twist to this development was that at some unknown point during the final leg, the team in fourth place would be eliminated.
There were three challenges on this last leg, which I would say was maybe too many since the episode ended up feeling waaaaaay overstuffed. Since it was L.A., the first Roadblock was film-related, of course. In it, one team member trained with a stunt coordinator and then jumped through a third-story window. Maya, who suited up for this challenge, of course took a moment to explain how the break-away glass was made using sugar. In order to even get to this point, though, the teams had to visit the city's film clerk at the downtown Los Angeles City Hall and acquire a filming permit, because nothing says edge of your seat suspense like bureaucratic paperwork.
The #SweetScientists found themselves with a strong lead after completing this challenge, but Maya forgot to take off the stunt costume upon leaving the location, and so had to double back, ceding the lead to the #SoulSurfers and remaining barely ahead of #TheDentists.
Lagging far behind were #TheWrestlers, who had gotten caught up with direction and traffic issues while making their way around L.A. That left them in a position to be eliminated, even before getting to perform the stunt. Given Brooke and Robbie's previous interactions with the #SweetScientists, it made for some high-quality schadenfreude.
The remaining three teams raced on their next challenge, a search-and-rescue exercise at the United States Coast Guard base on Terminal Island. After taking a short cruise offshore in a response vessel, both members of each team had to swim out to a buoy, set off a flare, and bring a floating dummy back to the boat. It was pretty straight-forward, for the most part, unlike the challenge that would follow. For their third challenge, all three teams headed out to a massive industrial yard filled with shipping containers and asked "who can't contain themselves?" in their final clue. I still have no idea what this "devil is in the details" type mission was exactly, but it had something to do with memorizing nine numbers hidden in a maze of containers, each associated with the name of a city previously visited on the race this season.
Since Maya performed the stunt challenge, Amy was tasked with completing this feat of memory and stamina. She was the first to assemble the final code, providing the #SweetScientists with a huge lead as they received directions for the final stage of the race. It was theirs to win at that point, and both Maya and Amy beamed with big smiles as they ran across the Finish Line at Point Vicente Lighthouse to win the $1 million grand prize.
Phil Keoghan and the other teams each credited Amy and Maya for using their mental acumen to win the race, an analysis that the #SweetScientists agreed with, in as much they could still believe that they had actually won it all.
Their victory did sink in, though. "When we go back to Madison, Wisconsin, we know that people are going to be smiling at us," said Maya, reflecting on the experience.
I will be interviewing Amy and Maya soon, and can't wait to hear from them about what got the #SweetScientists into the competition and what they each have planned next. Congratulations!