Originally aired on Sunday, 05/06/2007

Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: It’s the final stretch of The Amazing Race: All-Stars.  Three very different teams – the Beauty Queen friends Dustin and Kandice, squabbling daters Eric and Danielle, and high-strung but high-energy cousins Charla and Mirna are all determined to finish in first.

Episode Highlights:

  • The teams begin this leg with the return to the United States, and some clever airline wrangling gives one team an early landing.
  • Dustin and Kandice experience their first moment of team dissent as the pressure mounts.
  • Charla and Mirna fight hard to stay in the game, while Charla’s stature has both unexpected benefits and anticipated drawbacks.

It’s the final leg of The Amazing Race: All-Stars, and the teams are finally headed back to the United States. The Beauty Queens, Dustin Seltzer and Kandace Pelletier are first to depart for the airport in Guam, and find a flight that connects through Tokyo to their next destination: Hawaii. Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner are hot on their heels to the airport, but don’t make the same flight out. However, their connecting flight from Tokyo winds up being the same, so as long as they make their connection, they’ll have the chance to catch up.

Ditto for Charla Baklayan Faddoul and Mirna Hindoyan. Although they initially think they will have to make up at least two hours to make up for their later start, they end up on the same flight as Eric and Danielle, and plan to get on the same flight out of Tokyo.

However…in Tokyo, eagle-eyed Mirna spots another flight to Hawaii that arrives a little earlier. Through some effective wheedling, cajoling and begging, she and Charla are able to secure spots on that flight. Eric and Danielle, who expected the two to be right behind them racing to the connecting flight, are completely confused, and let the Beauty Queens know of Charla/Mirna’s disappearance. The two teams search the flight and when they don’t see them, they wonder if they got a better flight as the team is known for having good flight booking mojo.

Charla and Mirna do indeed land first, and are able to secure the first helicopter flight to the Detour event for this leg. The flights are scheduled to be only ten minutes apart, though, so their lead won’t be very long.

The Detour for this event is Over or Under. In Over, the partners must each paddle on a paddleboard to a buoy holding their next clue. In Under, they must take a boat to an underwater cave then swim into the cave to retrieve a clue. Under seems to be an easier task unless, like myself, you have claustrophobia bad enough that just seeing the challenge on TV makes you feel a little woozy. YIKES.

Charla and Mirna opt for the paddling, and finally there is a challenge that seems designed for the little person. Charla, being, as she puts it “low to the ground” (or water, in this case), tears it up on her paddleboard, making quick work of the trip over to the buoy. Mirna struggles a little bit but eventually gets the hang of it. The two finish the task and head in first to Shipwreck Beach where they will have to trek for one mile to retrieve their next clue.

Eric and Danielle arrive at the challenge second and, seeing Mirna struggling, decide to do the underwater task. They complete it relatively easily, and then it’s the Beauty Queens’ turn. Dustin has a bit of the panic that I would have in this challenge, and has to keep bobbing up to the pocket of air in the cave. Shudder. But they get it done and head in the third to the same beach.

Charla’s physical limitations now come into play as her slower pace on the beach gives the other two teams the chance to overtake them to get to the next challenge first. The teams must kayak out to the wreck and retrieve a clue from another buoy.

It is a hard slog as the waves pound against the kayakers. Eric and Danielle struggle but seem to have the least amount of trouble and reach the clue first. They are directed to now fly to their final destination: San Francisco. They return to the beach and speed away.

The Beauty Queens really get hit hard by the waves and their teamwork – always strong to this point – starts to crack. Dustin wants to walk the boat to the destination, while Kandice thinks she’s going to be cut on the rocks. Kandice doesn’t feel like she was being listened to, and, after they complete the challenge and get back in their vehicle, she confronts Dustin about the incident. She accuses her of not having good teamwork, and Dustin clearly feels very hurt. The moment passes, and the two make up, but it’s clear the pressure is impacting them.

Meanwhile, Charla and Mirna are still out there fighting the waves, but they don’t give up. Although they have completely lost their lead, they continue to fight their way to the clue.

No matter about the lost lead, anyway, as once again, flight arrangements equalize all three teams: they will all be arriving in San Francisco on the same flight.

Once they arrive, they all must taxi over to the Old Mint for the next and final challenge. Success at this task will require that the each partner knows the other well. One team member will go into a room, and review a series of questions about the other The Amazing Race: All-Stars teams. For each question, they will pick a number corresponding to the team they feel is the best match for the question. The answers to the four questions will then be used as a combination to a safe. The other team member will have to correctly guess the same answers in order to open the safe and retrieve the clue. Once they guess, they can depart immediately, but if they continue to get it wrong, they will have to wait ten minutes to get their clue.

The four questions revolve around perceptions of the other teams: Who is the least trustworthy? Who has the best sense of humor? Who is the most over-rated? Who is the team you’d like most to keep in touch with?

Eric answers the questions for his team, and picks Oswald Mendez and Danny Jimenez as the least trustworthy (no surprise there), Charla and Mirna as the best sense of humor, Rob and Amber Mariano as the most overrated and Uchenna and Joyce Agu as the team he’d like to stay in touch with. Dustin, who had started the process just a few moments before Eric, also picks Rob and Amber as most overrated and Uchenna and Joyce as the she’d like to stay in touch with. She picks Rob and Amber as the least trustworthy, though, and Uchenna and Joyce as having the best sense of humor. At the last moment, she makes a switch, and decides that Team Guido (Joe Baldassere and Bill Bartek), actually, is the least trustworthy team.

This is possibly a million-dollar decision. Both Kandice and Danielle enter the vaults to start their guesses, and both get theirs wrong on the first try. Meanwhile, Mirna makes her picks, with Rob and Amber as least trustworthy and most overrated, Kevin and Drew as best sense of humor, and once again, Uchenna and Joyce as the team she’s like to stay in touch with. Charla then starts her attempt at guessing.

Kandice and Danielle now try alternate combinations, and while Kandice gets hung up on the trustworthiness question, Danielle gets hers right!

She and Eric race off to the Pit Stop, while Charla and Kandice keep trying and missing, until each of their time runs out. Kandice hits the mark first, and so the Beauty Queens head out in the taxi, followed by Charla and Mirna.

Unfortunately for those two teams, they are unable to make up the time on the cab ride. Eric and Danielle make it to the mat first, and Phil informs them that they have won the million dollars! It’s an especially sweet prize for Eric, who came so close to the prize on the last season he was on.

The two are allowed to call their family, and so Eric calls his old partner Jeremy, who happily tells Eric that he will be spanking him when he gets home. Okay.

The Beauty Queens arrive and hold back tears to find they did not win. Charla and Mirna, too, but all get rounds of applause from the other Racers for their efforts.

And so The Amazing Race: All-Stars ends, with neither a bang nor a whimper, really. More like an “Eh.”  While the season definitely had some exciting moments, I still maintain that I’m not sure an All-Star season is a great idea for this show. Because there are so many elements to travel that are repetitive (e.g., the frantic cab rides, the airline ticket arranging, etc.) what helps keep the show fresh is the chance to get to see new and different people and how they handle what the Race throws at them. Since we were already familiar with these Racers, that element of interest wasn’t as strong. I think a return to a regular tried-and-true old school The Amazing Race would be a great idea for next season.

– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Images courtesy of CBS)


Staff Columnist, BuddyTV