One might think that two hours of The Amazing Race finale would lend itself to a slew of sloppy mistakes, but in reality (TV), the 11th and 12th legs of season 23 were actually some of the cleanest yet.

Sure, teams struggled with some of the challenges, but I’m not in the business of penalizing anyone for stuff that is hard. It’s not a blunder if someone just has a difficult time with something.

Now, if a team does something stupid while struggling with a challenge, that’s a different story. But we were hard-pressed to even find any of that. If anything, it was actions from earlier in the season that could’ve prevented some of those troubles. And for the likable teams, it did.

The Amazing Race Season 23 Finale Recap: Which Team Wins? >>>

Nicole Fails, Jamal Rails, Marie Wails

Poor Nicole ran into so much trouble with all of the recent challenges, and the way hubby Travis treated her throughout that stretch was deplorable and certainly didn’t help. Thankfully, Amy did. For the second time, Amy completed the construction of an object for Nicole after she had finished (before, an angklung, now a robot), and the teams that played their way out of any alliances didn’t appreciate it.

Jamal, who with Leo alienated all the other teams with pointless lies, called Amy and Nicole’s robot collaboration “pathetic.” And Marie, who stabbed her only friends in the back by stealing their cab, was shocked that no one wanted to tell her where the robot model was? After holding the fact that she had an address over the other racers? C’mon,

Amy and Nicole figured out what they did wrong together, and it benefited them both. But Leo couldn’t figure out that the torso of his robot was on backwards, and that’s why they were eliminated. So which is more pathetic? A partnership? Or finishing in last because no one cares enough to help you?

Nicole Can’t Keep It Together

As I said, most of the things that held teams up were honest struggles, but unfortunately, they almost exclusively happened to Nicole. In addition to getting flustered with the robot, it also took her 21 attempts to drop the bag of flour onto the target. That’s compared to 12 for Marie and just two for Amy (which was arguably the key moment in her and Jason’s win). 

She also dropped one of the ice climbing picks after crossing the ladder and had to climb the other side of the glacier with just one pick and her boots. And while I’d never consider these things for the U-Turn Award, I did give a little thought to Travis’ treatment of her. 

Dating back to when she couldn’t figure out the angklung, he’s been embarrassed, disappointed and extremely hard on her. And it brought out the worst in both of them. He was particularly ugly at the totem poles.

Instead of focusing on completing the tasks, she was anxious about how she was letting him down. And I do think that played a role in her failings. It’s hard to see things clearly when everything is blurred by tears.

Hindsight is 60/40

I though the legally binding written contract regarding the split of Tim and Marie’s potential winnings also garnered a dubious mention. Who thinks so highly of one’s self and so little of one’s partner that you’d be so sure up front to pull a stunt like that? 

Don’t you think you’d be more concerned with besting the other 10 teams that you’d be happy to share any prize you’d be lucky enough to win with the person who helped you get there? Get your priorities straight! 

But Stupidity Reigns…

In the end, the U-Turn Award must go to the team that was responsible for the dumbest move. And this time, for an Amazing Race-leading third time, that was Tim and Marie. President George W. Bush once wisely said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” Well, shame on them, because they done got did twice.

First, the Travis and Nicole/Jason and Amy alliance tricked them into leaving the much-easier “Call It Up” Detour, even though they were already inside the park where the challenge was located. 

And all they had to do was walk aimlessly around like they didn’t know where they were going, and Marie hopped into a cab and sped off in the hopes of getting a leg up in the other half of the Detour. Yet another demerit for the anti-cooperation bunch.

Then after completing the human bowling challenge, Leo and Jamal had the wherewithal to neatly fold their uniforms. This tricked Tim and Marie into thinking that the first-place Afghanimals had airline trouble and were woefully behind.

Combined, the two tricks led Tim and Marie to believe they were leading the pack when they were instead bringing up the rear.

In the end, it didn’t cost them anything because Marie was the first to figure out how to assemble the robot correctly. But it could have ended very differently in a crucial leg where every rushed minute counted.

The Final U-Turn Tally

Tim and Marie — 3

Leo and Jamal — 1

Ally and Ashley — 1

Nicky and Kim — 1

Jason and Amy — 1

Brandon and Adam — 1

Chester and Ephraim — 1

Rowan and Shane — 1

Hoskote and Naina — 1

Nicole and Travis — None

Tim and Danny — None 

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order