'The Amazing Race: All-Stars' Week 9 U-Turn Award: The Art of Coasting
'The Amazing Race: All-Stars' Week 9 U-Turn Award: The Art of Coasting
Bill King
Bill King
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
The gloves came off and the cliques emerged on the ninth leg of The Amazing Race: All-Stars, with three of the five remaining teams actively working together with their actions and mouths to put the Brenchel baby in the corner.

You could argue that forming the Accidental Alliance in and of itself is a mistake, because its only goal -- to eliminate the Brendon and Rachel -- hasn't worked. Caroline and Jennifer are the weakest duo left, and despite following around teams to get everywhere, being told what the tunnel-digging machine was and having the Afghanimals specifically tell them how to complete the Mustang challenge, they still finished in last place. If you're going to team up to oust certain players, you should probably make sure they're not better than the sum of your parts.

The willingness to help is certainly nice, but it also costs valuable minutes that could eventually cost someone a win, if it hasn't already. Some of these finishes have been footraces to the Pit Stop mat, and things won't be all hunky dory forever. So what was the biggest blunder this week? Let's break it down.

A Flawless Run?

Two teams made it through the leg without any glaring errors, and they were rewarded with first- and third-place finishes, though the top three teams basically stepped on the mat simultaneously. And that's where seconds count.

David and Connor won the leg with a bit of luck after separating from the other two teams at the top of the mountain. Their decision to take the elevator paid off, but there was no way they were winning a straight sprint. They didn't get lost, cleaned the room with roughly the same number of mess ups as everyone else and surged to the front in the milk challenge. I'm certainly not going to get on Connor for picking a dog slower than Cord's.

The Afghanimals were basically perfect as well, even finding bridges and hotels without asking for directions. You could point to them going back to help the girls with the Mustang challenge as a potential mistake, but that seems to be their strategy, and they still ended up with the other two teams on the gondola to Mount Titlis (heh heh). 

The Cowboys Let the Stars Guide Them

Maybe they aren't as adept to driving as they are with horses, but they put themselves in a very dangerous position while searching for the train station. I'm not sure why all the other teams found it so easily (is the Ford Focus equipped with built-in GPS?), but falling behind by missing a mode of transportation is exactly why Margie and Luke went home. 

Despite arriving on a later train, Jet and Cord got lucky that the next clue didn't arrive until daybreak. It wound up being moot, but that could have proved an insurmountable deficit if William Tell had been waiting upon arrival.

They surged ahead after that, with Jet's knowledge of the tunnel machine giving them a boost. They battled with Dave and Connor at each challenge, finishing the room cleaning and Mustang ones first. 

Brenchel's Miscalculation

It didn't take long for the team that started in first place to dig themselves a hole. They were the first team to the train station, but they lagged behind on the way to the William Tell statue. Then everything started to crumble.

First, they ditched the group on the way to the bridge, apparently because Rachel found what appeared to be an old wooden bridge on the map. Only it wasn't the oldest. They made the maneuver to throw the other teams off their scent and pretend they didn't know where they were going, and then they actually did get lost. The irony made me happy.

They recovered nicely after that, despite the other teams efforts to leave them behind. What I can't confirm outside of appearance, and what would likely be a big mistake, is if they ran to the hotel instead of driving there. It seemed like they hoofed it while the other teams drove, which would be a significant setback if they then had to run back to the car. But we didn't get to see what happened after they left, so I'm not 100 percent sure.

A Better Class of Losers

While Caroline and Jennifer are certainly easy on the eyes, they sure do require a lot of help. Or maybe the don't require it, it's just easier to have others do the heavy lifting. Until, of course, they actually  have to do some heavy lifting. The singers seem to avoid thinking as much as possible, choosing to follow instead of lead, which means that they're always behind someone. And this time, they ended up behind everyone.

If not for benefiting from their second non-elimination leg, they'd be going home ... again. They're like the anti-Afghanimals, who overcome U-Turn after U-turn, while the girls finish last and somehow survive. 

The act of following itself isn't so much a mistake, and it's not exactly Caroline's fault that she didn't excel at the milk jug lug. But what coasting does to their focus, determination and overall game faces is a travesty (and for what it's worth, it's why the Afghanimals appear weaker when they're working with other people who have taken the lead). 

The perfect example of this lax attitude is when four teams were at the Mustang challenge. Caroline and Jennifer were struggling to determine what they were supposed to do, then at least two teams walked around the corner and figured out the answer immediately. Did they think to check the other side? Nope. They just wandered around aimlessly until Leo and Jamal held their hands and told them what to do. 

So in the end, they don't win the U-Turn award for any particular action (in fact, they would have need a pretty hefty lead to stay ahead at the Roadblock). Instead, it's for what they've let their persona devolve into. They're not doing anything on their own and are so content to let others figure things out for them that when they're left to their own devices, they're ill prepared. And that's why all the teams hope they stick around to the final three. One less team to worry about.

The Amazing Race: All-Stars airs Sundays at 8pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)