Ahhhh, it's always a little tougher to watch those episodes of The Amazing Race
in which the unavoidable outcome is decided so early on that the team destined to finish last is so resigned to their fate that they don't even get upset when they're eliminated.
The show desperately tries to add some level of suspense and will-they-or-won't-they drama, but at the end of the day, that unfortunate duo reaches the pit stop under a bright moon after all the other teams arrived under a blazing sun, and we realize it wasn't all that close after all. Just as we'd suspected.
And such was the case this week for mom Margie and deaf son Luke, who were eliminated for the third time in their illustrious Amazing Race
career after being the only team to miss the direct flight to Sri Lanka or take the dangerous through-Singapore connection route. That put them a solid 11-ish hours behind everyone else as they solemnly waited out their purgatory in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
It wasn't all bad for Margie and Luke, though. They might not have won any individual legs, but they were regularly among the stronger teams. And Luke got to tell the world that he came out to his mom, and that she loves and supports him no matter what. And isn't that worth more than a million bucks?
To Connect or Stand By?
The conundrum of this week's U-Turn Award is that not only were there no egregious errors, but there weren't any real blunders at all. Everyone struggled with the Roadblock, but I'm certainly not going to judge anyone's ability to sew. No one lost his or her cool, and they all stuck with the task until it was complete.
Likewise, the closest thing to an error in the Detour was when Jessica and John couldn't catch fish and decided to switch to the plate spinning. It's hard to argue that it was a bad move when they nailed it on their second attempt.
So the only thing you can really look at is the flight to Sri Lanka and the fact that both Brendon and Rachel and Margie and Luke failed to get on the 11pm flight, on which the other six teams had all secured seats. And thus the dilemma: Attempt to fly standby? Or attempt to make a near impossible connection flight.
Brenchel vs. Lugie
Brendon and Rachel decided to defy the travel agent's advice and make up lost time by flying through Singapore, while Margie and Luke hoped that a couple of seats opened up on the 11pm flight. And I can't blame either of them.
Sure, Brenchel's decision paid off as they raced to their second gate and checked in with mere seconds to spare. But you only need to look as far as last season to recognize it was an extremely risky move. NFLers Chester and Ephraim were riding high off a leg two victory when they decided to trust the on-time record of the airline industry. And they didn't even make it out of the airport, as they were so far behind that Phil had enough time to travel to them for the elimination.
That decision earned them their first U-Turn Award, but it was an entirely different scenario. At the time, they were on par with the rest of the teams and took the risk specifically to get an advantage. And it backfired. But in Brenchel's case, they were in dead last. It was do or die, and even if they'd stuck with Margie and Luke and arrived later, they probably weren't winning that head-to-head matchup.
So their risk paid off, but had Margie and Luke caught the standby flight and they missed their connection, we'd be having exactly the same conversation, except the weaker team would have been sent home.
So What's Really to Blame?
I also have a difficult time blaming Margie and Luke for the unsuccessful decision to fly standby. I don't know percentages of lucking into an empty seat on a red eye flight versus catching a very tight connection, but I can't imagine the odds were in anyone's favor.
Any way you slice it, the same team is getting the U-Turn Award. The debatable point, however, is why. I'm tempted to give it to Margie and Luke for not following Brenchel, connection or no connection, to keep them on even ground. Even 11 hours behind, Lugie would have to feel confident about securing the seventh spot if it was just those two teams.
In the end, though, I think the biggest mistake that affected Margie and Luke this leg was still Luke's Sky Bar meltdown during the drink mixing challenge. It might seem like a cheap choice, but if he didn't lose his cool, shatter those glasses or take a bathroom cry break, they would've gotten to the Pit Stop that much sooner.
And even if it was only by a half hour, the slightly earlier departure time would have been enough to get them two seats on the 11pm flight with the other teams. And then this whole discussion is moot, because Margie would've flown through the sewing Detour and they'd likely be finishing first. But instead, no amount of effort could have made a difference.
The Amazing Race: All-Stars airs Sundays at 8pm on CBS.