Only those with the quickest feet and most courageous hearts can muscle the endeavor of participating in Spain’s iconic Running of the Bulls. One moment, participants are sprinting toward immortal glory, the next they’re flat on their knees, being trampled by a herd of angry steer. Even though the humorously horned, plastic orb steer in this week’s episode of The Amazing Race: All-Stars, “Bull Down,” weren’t as deadly as their real-life counterparts, they still trampled the race in hopes of getting more than one team.
Did anyone really want to see Jet and Cord go? Not in the slightest. But their decision to remain neutral in the Brenchel hullabaloo ultimately rounded them up for a lonesome prairie night in last place. The Afghanimals were justified in their harsh U-Turning of the Cowboys. But in the midst of all these alliances and backstabbing, don’t be surprised if it’s Brenchel who hooks their horns into this season’s winner’s circle.
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“They’re All Threatened By Us”
The leg starts off with Dave and Connor heading to the Zurich Airport to fly over to Seville, Spain. All teams are still bitter about the Brenchel U-Turn, but it seems that the Accidental Alliance has weakened with Caroline and Jennifer having to complete an extra challenge as penalty for coming in last during the prior leg.
In homage to Switzerland, Jet and Cord choose to remain neutral in the Brenchel war zone, not buying into the drama and still moving forward. The Afghanimals, though, vow they’re going to U-Turn someone, so some team is going to be angry at the end of this leg regardless.
Brenchel is riding this outpour of hate in stride, ignoring the ill will directed their way while keeping their eyes on the million dollar prize. Rachel isn’t so cheery anymore, and she isn’t really sad either. Rather, it seems that the former pep squad captain has obtained a more realistic outlook on the race, knowing people will hate her but simply not caring. And to see that maturity in someone like Rachel is a frightening and powerful thing that the other teams shouldn’t ignore.
When the teams arrive to the airport, it’s Dave and Connor and the Afghanimals on an early flight out, followed by Brenchel, the Singers and the Cowboys on a much later one. Dave and Connor and the Afghanimals land first in Seville and head to the Alameda, but their clue isn’t available until the next morning. This gives the other teams time to catch up, but still holds a small but significant lead for Dave and Connor and the Afghanimals.
When morning arrives, Dave and Connor and the Afghanimals head to complete the Barbers of Seville challenge, named after the famous Opera. Here, they’re required to shave a delicate balloon with a single edge razor. Jamal and Connor are meticulous and detailed, but much too slow to complete the shaving in one minute. But Connor steps up his game, moving much more quickly and receiving a passing grade from the barber. Jamal makes playful remarks about Connor’s lack of facial hair and that the Mormon boy hasn’t gone through puberty yet. But Jamal forgets about the prepubescent Connor and completes his own balloon, showing that he does have some shaving skills even if his face isn’t evident of them.
The Singers, Cowboys and Brenchel all arrive in fairly short time from each other for the barber challenge. Jet is attempting to be careful, but his balloon keeps popping, with the Singers commenting on his hands not being nimble. But, alas, the perennial pep squad leader Rachel cuts the hairs of her balloon just right, getting a very impressive third place lead over the Singers and Cowboys. Caroline and Jennifer follow up in fourth, and Jet finally figures out how to cut those hairs off his raw helium hide.
A Matador Never Thinks About His Own Injured Knee
Dave and Connor arrive at the Detour first, like always, and have the privilege of choosing between Spanish Steps or Run with the Ballz. Spanish Steps requires teams to master a Flamenco dancing performance, while Run with the Ballz has teams strapping on oversized plastic bull costumes while racing through the narrow streets of Seville and gathering a message based on posters hanging nearby.
The logline for this episode hinted at someone getting injured on the Ballz challenge. And seeing how Dave got that nasty knee injury on the team’s last run of the race, it seemed that he might be treading down towards injury again. But even amongst the onslaught of other aggressive plastic bulls, Dave and Connor decode “A Matador Never Thinks About His Own Death” and leave the challenge unscathed.
Too bad the same didn’t prove true for Leo and Jamal. The Afghanimals enter their bouyant bull ballz and playfully sneer at townspeople while battling against their plastic stampeding steer brethren. The duo’s clothes even begin to fall off, while Leo hilariously resorts to just rolling on his side towards safety. Suddenly, Jamal feels a pop, an intense pain in his kneecap that puts this charge on hold. By this time, the Afghanimals have pretty much finished the challenge, but that knee isn’t going to prove helpful later on.
Brenchel opt for the Ballz challenge, which is surprising seeing how Flamenco dancing would have been perfect for Rachel. But Rachel quickly learns that moving through these alleys isn’t really up hers, as the team’s plastic horned enemies pummel Rachel to the ground. Cries echo from her ball — “I’m just a girl, you’re bullying me!” — as the couple tread on to figure out the puzzle.
Meanwhile, Caroline and Jennifer are completing their simple but time consuming ham delivery Speed Bump and the Cowboys get lost trying to find the clue box. Both of these teams are hoping Brenchel will get U-Turned by the Afghanimals but for different reasons. The Singers want Brenchel out just out of pure spite. The Cowboys, though, know they’re on the chopping block, and if anyone U-Turned Brenchel, it would decrease their own chances at getting U-Turned while getting a lead over the couple.
The Singers are the only team to opt for the Flamenco dancing. They choose a gorgeous female instructor, dress up in classic Spanish dance clothing and learn the moves. The Cowboys, of course, do the Ballz challenge, but have trouble piecing together the message, falling behind while losing valuable time.
Dave and Connor complete the Ballz challenge still in first and head to the General Archive of the Indies, where the U-Turn station is located. Still in first, Dave and Connor are unable to U-Turn anyone and really have no reason to, heading to the leg’s Pit Stop at the Plaza de EspaÃ±a in first place.
It seems that when Jamal suffered his injury, it gave him and Leo insight that they should U-Turn the Cowboys over Brenchel, even though the “Accidental Alliance” vowed to get Brenchel out by any means necessary. Yet Leo and Jamal know that the Cowboys are much more dangerous long term than Brenchel are, who’ve seemed to have proceeded forward just on pure luck alone. So when arriving at the General Archive of the Indies, the Afghanimals opt for taking out the Cowboys instead. It’s a wise move, but it will be remembered as a poor one by the other teams.
Brenchel, though, have been preparing to get U-Turned this whole episode. And when arriving at the General Archives, there’s a mix of relief and confusion seeing that they haven’t been U-Turned. Maybe the teams were just pretending not to like them to fit in, or maybe they just don’t see them as a threat. No matter, because Brenchel leap frog ahead of the Afghanimals for a very lucky second place. Somehow, with all the teams’ colluding against them, Brenchel are at the front of the pack. It’s better to be lucky than good, I suppose.
The Afghanimals show up to the Pit Stop and seem distraught over their decision to U-Turn the Cowboys, essentially axing them from the race. They know that the other teams are going to call them traitors and dirty and cheap, but with only four remaining now, it won’t seem to matter.
The Cowboys show up to the Archives ahead of the Singers, but are shocked to see they’ve been U-Turned by the Afghanimals. Earlier, the Cowboys said they had no problem with Brenchel, but then again wouldn’t mind seeing her go. And they know this backstabbing move by the Afghanimals just lost them the race. Yet the Cowboys remain resilient and have fun with the Flamenco dancing as the Singers move ahead and pointlessly U-Turn Brenchel who’ve already finished as they head to fourth place. The Cowboys come in fifth and are eliminated and give one final bow to the race.
Any fan of a reality TV program like this can tell you that alliances are only as strong as their members. And even though the “Accidental Alliance” was birthed out of mutual distaste for Brenchel after they U-Turned Dave and Connor, the Mormons bounced back to first and Brenchel is in second. And with the Singers all the way in fourth now, don’t be surprised if the top three teams collude to have Caroline and Jennifer sing their final encore in the next leg.
The Amazing Race: All-Stars airs Sundays at 8pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)