All bets are off on Sunday's Amazing Race All-Stars finale. The final three teams — Dave and Connor, Caroline and Jen, and Brendon and Rachel — will head to Las Vegas, where they'll skydive and participate in David Copperfield's great escape challenge on the way to the closest finish since Season 2's epic footrace.
"I remember saying to the other teams waiting at the finish, watching them come to the mat, 'Who's it going to be?' It was down to the wire," Phil Keoghan tells TVGuide.com. "It's a different kind of show. We took advantage of being in Vegas; it was just showing off. We've never had a final leg at night. If you're gonna do a leg at night, Vegas is the place to do it."
Phil Keoghan: I'm surprised by Caroline and Jennifer. I didn't they would make it this far, and I don't think they thought they would make it this far! They've had a lot of luck. Their approach has been to follow other teams. I guess you can argue that although that might not be a strategy that a lot of people like, it is in fact a strategy. I'm not saying that would be a popular win, but you'd have to consider that as a strategy. ... The other two teams, I'm not surprised. Brendon and Rachel took quite a different approach. I felt they were more compatible. Rachel has matured a lot since their first season. Dave and Connor, they were so strong when they had three legs instead of four. I'm not surprised at all they're there.Were you surprised at how upset Dave and Connor were about getting U-Turned? That's a totally legitimate move, regardless of what Brendon and Rachel's reason is.
Keoghan: Yeah. .. I think the fact that Dave has used his age as an excuse is sort of ridiculous. If anything — and I would say this directly to him because I have a lot of respect for him in terms of his fitness — I actually tweeted it, "C'mon, Dave. Enough complaining about how you're older. You're kicking people's ass who are half your age." He has consistently beaten people younger than him, so the whole age factor should not be something that is coming out of his mouth. He is very fit and quite frankly, I wish he had embraced the age thing more, like, "Hey, I'm older, but I'm kicking your ass!" I'm not a fan of age discrimination, but I think by making a statement like that, he plays into it.It's like he's using it whenever it's convenient.
Keoghan: Yeah. Look, I understand it's also got to do with the pressure. He's frustrated at being U-Turned — everybody is. He's desperate to win, so what is he going to focus on? The only thing he can think of is, "How could they U-Turn the older man?" I tweeted a few weeks ago, "Look, this is a race. And if you have the ability to slow down another team so that you can get ahead and it's a legal move, why not do it?" It amazes me sometimes how it's like, "Oh, if you U-Turn someone, you somehow become the bad guy." It's a legal tool that can be used by one team to slow down another team. Do you think people will ever get over that?
Keoghan: I hope so! People need to. Even some viewers are like, "Well, it's not in the spirit of the game." But it's part of the game! I get people who are like, "I race clean. I'm not going to U-Turn." But there are times that maybe you should've U-Turned and it would've affected the outcome of the race. I understand that they're upset because I would be upset if I were U-Turned, but as far as disliking another team because they U-Turned you and to continuously complain about it, that's ridiculous. I think the smart move when using the U-Turn is to think about who they want to race against in the end. Sometimes a weaker team will not get U-Turned because the team that's doing the U-Turn will think, "Well, I should use this on a stronger team."Which is what happened to the cowboys. And they told Dave to take being U-Turned as a compliment.
Keoghan: Exactly! It made more sense for Leo and Jamal to use it on them. I think Jet's reaction about the U-Turn was emotional, but he got over it pretty quickly. One of my all-time favorite teams is the cowboys. I love how they race. They're good guys. Cord's even more level-headed than Jet. When I let Cord ride the horse at the end, it was such a fitting end to their race. To me, they sort of epitomize what we look for in a team. But you can't have a whole cast of teams that are just like the cowboys. I would love to go have a beer with those guys, but there are other teams I want to see on The Amazing Race who I don't want to have a beer with! [Laughs] I'm not saying everybody needs to be like the cowboys; I'm just saying I love them not only as racers, but just as guys. I would love to go hang out with them.
Keoghan: That was so cool, what he came up with. It's everything you know about David Copperfield. The piece itself was really great and captivating. ... He was really excited about being part of the show. You could see his huge billboard way off in the distance. On a personal level, I got a real kick out of it because I remember watching him way back in the day. It's like, "When did I ever think I would be doing this with him?" What else can we expect?
Keoghan: We set something up at the end hoping for a really dramatic finish where the [eliminated] teams didn't know where the teams were going to come from. It was a risk to set it up that way. If the teams were separated by a certain amount of distance, it wouldn't have worked. The episode is really a lot about suspense with David Copperfield and the finish. It was such a relief and so rewarding for it to play out the way we wanted it to play out. What we want every season is the way it played out in Season 2 — that dramatic footrace with Wil standing on the hill, looking back at Tara and these two big burly guys go running right by Tara and going on to win. But it was rolling the dice. This is the closest to that finish where the teams waiting had no idea who it would be. It was incredibly exciting.How close is it?
Keoghan: It's all three teams lining up to come in and two are right on top of each other. You don't know as a viewer until the last second which one it'll be. ... Even when I watch again, I go, "Oh, my God!" The finish was just perfect. This is when it's exciting in what we do. I don't think people would think something like Season 2's finish would ever happen, but it did. This is one of those as well.Its there a memory task?
Keoghan: There's not so much a memory task. They have to look for certain things. There's hidden information. It's actually quite a different ending from what we've done before.Rachel is from Vegas. Did she have any hometown advantage?
Keoghan: I think anytime a team is in their hometown, they feel they have an advantage. But if you look back, like in Season 1, Rob and Brennan beat Frank and Margarita, who were from New York and decided to take the subway. You'd think they had home-court advantage, but sometimes ignorance is bliss. I think from a psychological point of view, you have an advantage because you can be like, "This is my territory," but when it comes down to it, I don't necessarily think there's an advantage.Will the Accidental Alliance still be in effect?
Keoghan: The final leg, there's nothing left at that point. That's not going to help anybody. I don't think we've had any final leg alliance ever work. It's like we're all in this for ourselves.So many teams say they want to be one-two. But do you really want to be two?
Keoghan: Exactly. Who wants to be the first loser? I think that comes down to complacency, like, "I'll settle for second." I know some teams on this race who thought that would be fine, but no way. At that point, I don't think any of those three would be fine with second.
Keoghan: I wasn't surprised because two teams that I thought might be there in the end were there. With Caroline and Jennifer, I figured they have as much of a chance as the other two now. Over the whole season, I don't know how the cowboys got eliminated, or Leo and Jamal, or the Globetrotters the way they did. I mean, I know how, but it was surprising the way it unfolded. Caroline and Jen really snuck in off the back of the other teams, and I think they would be the first to admit that. Brendon and Rachel, I don't think they had any doubt in their mind they would go all the way. Dave and Connor, I don't think they had any doubt either. But I didn't see that final three. I saw maybe the cowboys, Dave and Connor and maybe Leo and Jamal, with the Globetrotters fourth.What can you tell us about Season 25?
Keoghan: I'm excited to dig into the unknown again after All-Stars. This new season, we have really interesting characters. I love the All-Stars, and I'd love to do All-Stars again, but I think at its core, what really makes the show work is new faces going to new places. I've always believed that. I think when teams come back, they're fun to watch, but I don't think it's quite as fun as the first time we see them. There's something wonderful about the first time any team goes on The Amazing Race. The Amazing Race All-Stars finale airs Sunday at 8/7c on CBS. Watch a sneak peek of the David Copperfield task below and catch up on the season here. (Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)