Originally aired on Sunday, 04/08/2007
Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)
Episode Overview: With the playing field down to five teams in The Amazing Race: All-Stars, the margin for error has evaporated. Some teams try to build in a little wiggle room by not helping - or actively hindering - their competitors.
- Uchenna and Joyce make a risky decision for their flight to the next destination: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- The Beauty Queens, Dustin and Kandace, opt to use a Yield on another team and make some newfound enemies.
- Charla and Mirna are...pleasant. And upbeat. And don't use the weird accent too much with the locals. It's like they are a whole new team.
Having arrived at the last Pit Stop in tandem, Uchenna and Joyce Agu and Oswald Mendez and Danny Jimenez all depart at the same time to start this leg of The Amazing Race: All-Stars. Their clue directs them to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Both teams head to make arrangements for travel and Uchenna and Joyce make a risky decision: they select the earliest flight the agent can find to arrive in Malaysia…but they have a connecting flight that only allows them one hour window in Frankfurt. Since international flights close forty-five minutes before arrival, this is an extremely tight timeframe with hardly any wiggle room for delays.
Danny and Oswald, on the other hand, opt for a flight that arrives about an hour later, but gives them a route that provides for more substantial connecting times.
The other three teams all depart as well, and head off to make their arrangements. Charla Baklayan Faddoul and Mirna Hindoyan, who departed before Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner, take over the hotel computers and refuse to let Eric and Danielle on. They get some instant karma, however, when at the airport, Eric and Danielle refuse to let them jump ahead in line to ask a quick question. Mirna concedes she can’t really fault Eric for that. What? Did Mirna just have a calm and measured response to something? Did Mirna just face an adversarial situation without dissolving into self-pity and grandstanding about the other person’s moral failings? Did Mirna just get replaced by an even-tempered pod person?
No worries, though, for Charla and Mirna, as their internet research got them a flight arrive the earliest into Kuala Lumpur, even earlier than Uchenna and Joyce, who are on the second flight to depart. The other three teams are on the last flight out.
Uchenna and Joyce’s risky decision comes to an unfortunate consequence: their flight lands ten minutes late, and it’s not enough time for them to get on their booked flight. The next flight out will be the next day. The two say they are going to try to stay positive, but you can see in their faces that they realize with only five teams left, this mistake might be fatal in The Amazing Race: All-Stars.
I really do like these two – I think they’re among the most likable teams in the Race – but my reaction to their hard times is sort of “Eh.” Shrug. They already won. They have already been successful AND already have a million dollars, so I feel less emotionally invested in their travails than I do even for teams I like less. Other reality shows planning All-Star shows, take note: winners don’t get as much of our support the second time around, no matter how much we might like them.
Charla and Mirna arrive in Kuala Lumpur. Their first destination is a location called the Batu Caves. With some guidance from a local person, they successfully make the series of transport connections to get them there. The clue box is high up a large hill of steps, and although this is one of my least favorite teams, I have to say I am really feeling for Charla. With how small she is, climbing all those stairs is at least twice as difficult as it would be for an average-height person.
The clue directs them to the next location, where, they are warned, there is a yield. Charla and Mirna decide not to yield anyone because they want to win on their own merits.
Okay, what, The Amazing Race:All-Stars, have you done with our Charla and Mirna? Why are they suddenly remotely likable?
Their clue alerts them to the next Detour: Artistic Expression or Cookie Confection. Their choice is either to create a panel of batik fabric or eat their way through 600 boxes of cookies to find one cookie with a licorice center.
They choose to eat cookies, and really, who wouldn’t? They start the process of working their way through the boxes of pastel cookies, and, again, it’s like they are a completely different team this episode. Mirna is positive and upbeat, and the two seem light-years away from the frantic panic merchants we are used to seeing in challenges. They engage the crowd – there are a lot of The Amazing Race fans in Malaysia who recognize the two – and try their best to get through the cookies.
Obviously, they can’t actually ingest all the cookies they are biting, so they have to spit the cookies on the ground, and I have to wonder if this is really an image of Americans that we want to share with the world: the throwing pounds and pounds of perfectly good food on the ground in a still-developing country. The Amazing Race producers: this is just my opinion, but this might not be quite the best image to present of ourselves.
Meanwhile, although the other three teams all arrive on the same flight, differing transport options stagger their arrival at the Batu Caves. The Beauty Queens Dustin Seltzer and Kandace Pelletier arrive first, and they do decide to use a Yield. They select Eric and Danielle, thinking that team is physically stronger. They decide to skip the cookies (years of pageant training has probably engendered a distrust of carbohydrates), and head off to complete the batik task.
They are followed by Danny and Oswald, who apparently have no fear of carbs, and pick the cookie challenge. This is primarily Danny’s idea; he strongly believes it will be the easier task and so Oswald goes along with it, albeit reluctantly.
Eric and Danielle arrive at the clue box to find they have been Yielded. I will concede it is not the nicest thing that the Beauty Queens have ever done, but I don’t know. I don’t think I would Yield someone were I in their shoes, but then again, I’m not that close to a million dollars. I don’t know what I would do if I were. Eric is ticked and calls the two “dirty hookers, dirty pirate hookers.”
At the challenge, tempers continue to run high between Danny and Oswald. Oswald thinks that each cookie must be bitten into, while Danny insists it’s just one cookie per box that must be tested. The instructions are, admittedly, not crystal clear, but it definitely seemed to me that Oswald was correct. The two argue, and decide to go try the other challenge. Danny grumbles along the way that Oswald never listens to him, and so Oswald tells him they can go back to complete the cookie challenge, so they do.
Meanwhile, Charla and Mirna stick to their plan to abandon the cookies, and arrive at the batik area, just as the Beauty Queens are finishing up. Mirna realizes she will have to do the bulk of the work because Charla can’t reach it, but again…she doesn’t freak out about it and seems to keep a good attitude. If they keep this up, I might have to start liking this team.
Danny and Oswald make another attempt to complete the cookie challenge, but it’s just too much so they leave it – for good this time – to go to the batik section. Unfortunately, they struggle there, too, accidentally miscounting the pattern and having to start over from scratch.
Charla and Mirna complete their task successfully and head out in hot pursuit of the Beauty Queens.
The next task is a Roadblock. One team member must pedal around a bicycle and collect old newspapers. Candace from the Queens seems to have some quick success, although it is clearly hard work in the heat. They complete this and then proceed to the Pit Stop where a very cheerful Phil tells them they are the first team to arrive. I think Phil likes the Beauty Queens a little.
Mirna must complete the task for her team since the bicycle is too big for Charla, and, once again, she does this with a minimum of complaining. I know I keep harping on this, but I am just a little stunned. She completes this as well, and, after delivering a little “Be cool! Stay in school!” pep talk to the local young folks who assisted her, they get to the mat in second place.
Eric and Danielle have waited out their Yield and decide to try their luck at the cookies. Unlike the others, they manage to complete it and speed off to the Roadblock. Oswald and Danny, who finally did complete the batik challenge, had some difficulty getting a cab, and so the two teams arrive at nearly the same time at the Roadblock. Oswald doesn’t like bicycles, so Danny – who is already in a grumpy mood at this point – is on deck to complete this hot and strenuous task. He is made even more grumpy by this, and Oswald frets about his friend’s bad mood.
Danielle completes the challenge for her team, and she’s a little grumpy as well, especially after she bends the wheel of her bike. However, she eventually gets it done, as does Danny. He takes an unorthodox way to complete the challenge: buying papers in bulk from a store once the neighborhood runs dry. While I admire his clever solution, I’m a little surprised that this is within the rules. But apparently it is, and so he and Oswald get to the mat in fourth, behind Eric and Danielle.
Notice how I haven’t said anything about Uchenna and Joyce for a while? That’s because they have been MIA from the show this whole time. They finally arrive in Malaysia, and I am momentarily dismayed, wondering if the show is about to make them go through all the hot and difficult challenges. But no; although they still have to make their way to the destination listed on their clue from Poland – the Batu Caves – once they arrive at the clue box, it just directs them to the Pit Stop. Once all the other teams checked in, the original clue must have been replaced by this one. Ouch. Now that is rough. That is like one of those times where you are in so much trouble your parents don’t even bother to yell at you, they just send you right to your room. You know you’re in for it now.
And Uchenna and Joyce sure are. They get to the mat and this is no non-elimination round. The two won’t get any more chances for that second million from The Amazing Race. They do seem to have grown closer through the Race and we will certainly miss their low-key, good-natured ways.
Four down, and only a few more episodes left. Read an exclusive interview with the eliminated couple right here at BuddyTV on Monday.
- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Images courtesy of CBS)