The eighth leg of season 23 of The Amazing Race was no picnic for our 12 remaining racers, though most didn’t do much to help their own causes. The United Arab Emirates, its beating sun and entrapping sand dunes were not kind to the six teams, each of which made a pretty significant blunder at one point or another.

But which one is most deserving of the special recognition that is the U-Turn Award? Let’s break it down, step by step.

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The Norwegian Passcode Challenge

The day started off with the teams having to match up the coins they found in Norway with the images on the bag. Once they were in the correct order, there were numbers on the back that identified the passcode used to open the Fords they would be driving for the day.

After watching Leo and Jamal breeze through the challenge, both Nicole and Travis and Jason and Amy figured it out well in advance (preparation, people!) and Timothy and Reebs (Marie) put it together pretty quickly. I said to my girlfriend, “I bet Ally and Ashley will have trouble with this.”

And not only was I correct, but baseball wives Nicky and Kim also struggled to get things going. Not a great way to begin a leg, ladies. Don’t buy into the pretty girl stereotypes. 

Sand is So Much Pun

Driving the dune buggy to the next clue box turned out to be exceedingly difficult for two of the teams, who both got stuck in the sand. It was the only mistake Nicole and Travis made all day, but luckily Travis was able to back out of the sand trap before they used their Express Pass to coast to a first-place finish. 

Nicky and Kim (are you noticing a trend?) were not so lucky, and it all happened right after they had passed the ice girls on the highway. They tried to dig themselves out by hand and then spun the wheels so much they blew out the clutch, prompting an employee to come give them a new ride while Ally and Ashley zoomed back into fifth place.

Maps Are Your Friend

Three teams got lost at least once while driving from one location to the next, but it was particularly bad for Ally and Ashley. They did just enough to stay in front of Nicky and Kim, but they were constantly changing course and circling roundabouts like the Griswolds. 

Leo and Jamal went into the wrong entrance of the tree-climbing clue, giving Nicole and Travis the chance to get ahead of them. It wouldn’t have mattered in terms of the U-Turn, because Nicole and Travis used the Express Pass to skip the camel/food challenge, but it was still an unnecessary lead to give up.

Jason and Amy also got lost twice, leading to uncharacteristic bickering.

Make Up Your Minds

The decision whether or not to switch Detours once you’ve started is always a questionable one, depending on how much time you’ve put in already. Two teams made the call this week, with very different results that shouldn’t have been what they were. 

Leo and Jamal were pretty heavily invested in making the traditional Emirati wedding dish when they saw lost and clueless Timothy and Marie wandering around and decided to pick the prettiest camel. But it actually wound up being a good call for them, since they were U-Turned and had to do both challenges anyway. This way, when they went back to the wedding dish, they were already halfway done. 

The result was different, however, for Nicky and Kim. They moved from the camel to the dish, albeit without much time invested in the former, but they didn’t end up with any kind of advantage from getting U-Turned. 

And the Award Goes To…

Overall, Nicky and Kim had the leg from hell. Even after all of the above put them far behind the other teams, they still had to complete a Speed Bump for coming in last during the previous non-elimination leg. Which is also why it didn’t make much sense for Tim and Marie to U-Turn them, other than it guaranteed their safety at a rather d*ckish cost.

Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong did, and with all that stacked against them, they had no chance and were easily eliminated. And even though Kim was a huge baby about crossing the wave pool, shedding tears over a rather pedestrian jump into water, it still wasn’t enough to earn them a Uey this week. 

No, that goes to a mistake that was so dumb, it’s amazing it didn’t have greater consequences than it did. And the worst part is, it’s totally typical for the team that committed it. As was their reaction to their blunder.

Timothy and Marie earned this one with their inability to find the tower that was literally right next to them after completing the camel challenge. And not only did they somehow wander into the other half of the Detour, they then decided to get their bags from the car and walk a half-mile down the street. And then afterwards, it was all Tim’s fault and Marie knew where it was all along.

It’s these kinds of mistakes that interfere with their ability to contend as a strong team. They continually do well in certain portions of the race, but they’re so busy yelling at each other and rushing around like headless chickens that they overlook things that are right in front of their faces. 

The best part of it all is that Jason and Amy saw them aimlessly strolling the sidewalks, far from where they should have been. And I have to think if Tim and Marie didn’t steal their cab a few legs ago, Jason and Amy might actually have rolled down the window and pointed them in the right direction. 

But when you alienate the one team that doesn’t already hate you, you don’t get help. You get the U-Turn Award.

The Amazing Race airs Sundays at 8pm on CBS.

(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