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Amazing Race 21 – Episode 9 – Do We Really Have To Talk About The U-Turn Again?

Ah, crap.

We have to talk about the U-Turn again. Seriously. I expect to hear “I Got You Babe” playing on the clock radio. And having to address this one more time is taking me away from being pissed about Team Apprentice’s removal from the Race – and connected to that elimination – the inexplicable dislike shown to this team by some of the other teams. The dynamic of this season continues to be incredibly strange.

But first, the U-Turn. For those who continue to think poorly of teams that use it – and how it “speaks volumes about” the other team (looking right at you Abbie and Ryan – you know I love you guys, but come on) – let me ask you a question. Do you hold the “Draw Four” card in Uno? Do you boo when your team blocks a field goal? Do you cry foul when someone kings a checker? No. Because these are rules of the games you have agreed to play. The minute you start running when Phil’s eyebrow tells you to, you have agreed to Race according to the rules provided. Parts of those rules include the existence of the U-Turn.

Just as you are entitled to build hotels in Monopoly, you are entitled to use a U-Turn. And just like with Monopoly, if you care to win, you should make sure you use it.

I have zero problem with Magic Mike using the U-Turn this week. None. It was actually the correct play. They were not in danger of elimination, so no need to U-Turn someone close to them in time. Why not U-Turn a team definitely behind you if it could guarantee their elimination? And given the opportunity, why not take out a serious threat to your chance of winning the Race? They debated it, and I think they were clearly disturbed about the motivations of the other teams who hatched a rather good plan to eliminate Team Apprentice. However, they reached their decision with the correct motivation – Team Apprentice has a better shot at threatening their win than the Goats. Take them out. Smart play by Magic Mike, and I respect it. And I think, out of the moment, Team Apprentice respects it too.

Now, as for the Twins and Texas. Shame, shame, know your name. I give the Twins full and mad props for devising a rather ingenious strategy to the Double U-Turn. The first team to arrive at the station would U-Turn Apprentice. The second team would U-Turn the first team, thus taking away Apprentice’s only play – U-Turning the Goats. Brilliant. What I do not like is their motivation for doing so – directly from the mouth of the Twins – Apprentice is “annoying” and due to win $2 million if the won. The hell. I would applaud them if they said to the camera – “We want to take out Abbie and Ryan because they are a serious threat to win the Race if we don’t take them out. We are using the U-Turn to better our chances to win.” Instead, they used it like 15-year-olds pissed off about what their besties said about them in homeroom.

First, the “annoying” crack. I have watched every second of every episode of the Amazing Race dating back to the first run (or with Kevin/Drew, walk) from the very first starting line in New York City. I have seen annoying teams. Oh, my. Annoying teams galore. In fact, I am watching one team right now who won’t stop screaming everything they say, and won’t stop repeating the exact same thing over and over and over again. And it ain’t Abbie and Ryan. I’m looking at you, Twinnies. Pot. Kettle.

If anything, again, Abbie and Ryan have come across as a rather genial team. Sure, they started the Race off with a lot of cockiness and with a laughable goal of beating the record of leg wins. Sure, Ryan has a tendency to say too much and be a bit full of himself. I get that. However, one thing we have watched with these two is absolutely no intrateam squabbles. Remember Jonathan and Victoria? Remember Brendon and Rachel? Remember Mika and Canaan? Remember Terence and Sarah? Remember Nathan and Jennifer? Oh, the list of annoying couples just goes on and on. None of that from Apprentice.

In fact, we have seen them and the Goats develop the strangest alliance in Show history. Granted, it is an alliance forged two episodes ago out of a horrible airport obstacle. They were forced to race many hours behind the other teams. Even an airport bunching this week couldn’t make up that difference. However, they didn’t have to Race together. They could have shook hands at the airport and got balls to the wall against each other – something which has been the norm in past seasons in identical situations. I recall Steve/Dave and David/Jeff in Season 4 stuck at an airport in France doing the same thing. Instead, the Goats and Apprentice (Apprengoat?) said to hell with the Race and did it together. The same situation presented itself this week and they did the same thing.

And Apprentice released the Goats from their word to Race together once the U-turning happened. At the second Detour, we also got one of the more endearing moments in Race history. In the rain, Abbie had to beg for Euros as Ryan cranked the organ in the streets of Amsterdam. And one woman elected to dance with Abbie. A lot. A whole lot. She then gave them several Euros to enable them to finish the task, and Abbie gave her a hug. And then Ryan did. And then Abbie again. And boy, what a hug, coupled with tears. It was one of those reality moments in reality programming which is far too rare. I call that kind of hug a “mom hug” – one that is reminiscent of when you were a kid and crying over whatever life threw out at you and your mom just enveloped you with an embrace. And all was good. I recall getting a mom hug from my aunt when my mom died which I can still recall, and do so at times of despair. Mom hugs. Good for what ails you.

Now, about the $2 million thing. Twinnies. Nat and Nad. And Texas. Lexi and dude who rarely talks. I really need to ask you this – why do you give a shit how much money Abbie and Ryan would win? It’s not your money. It’s CBS’ money. Just shut up and try to win your own million. And in the alternate universe where Apprentice did win the $2 mil, just suck it up and try harder to win the first leg when you come back for Unfinished Business 2. Seriously teams on the Race – stop U-Turning teams for revenge, jealousy or other stupid reasons.

So, it is official now – with Team Apprentice out, my allegiances fall squarely on the Goats and Magic Mike. I love the way Y is running this Race – he is clearly having fun, like in moments where he talks to ducks swimming on Amsterdam canals. His cause is a good one – I wish I could have given my parents hundreds of thousands of dollars to help them beat cancer. And the Goats just seem like good guys and have the Abbie and Ryan stamp of approval. I don’t think the Goats can win the whole thing – they have barely hung on for just about the entire Race – but stranger things have happened. Danielle won a share of the title against a roster of All-Stars – ANYTHING can happen.

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